it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Month: November 2014 (page 1 of 6)

I’m Sorry, I Don’t Speak Headlight

Feels Like 20 (11/30/14)

We spent this morning at church in Titus and Avery’s class. We weren’t exactly sure why there wasn’t a class for Avery’s age today, but a lot of her class were combined with Titus’ class so we all ended up just staying together. They did a little activity (photo above) where they had to put gifts on their colored fabric. Tamara, today’s teacher, told us in English that they were supposed to give their gifts to another person in the class the same way God gave his gift to us, Jesus Christ. She followed that by saying, “But none of the kids want to do it.” I guess they’re all still learning how to give gifts.

Here’s a couple more photos from class today. The little gifts they chose from were wooden ornaments, plastic gold stars, and metal bells.

Feels Like 20 (11/30/14)

Feels Like 20 (11/30/14)

This afternoon I spent a good two hours trying to replace the driver’s side headlight on our car. Outside it was around 28 degrees, but my phone said “feels like 20” because there was a wind chill. I had purchased what I thought was the correct light bulb a few days ago and figured I would be able to quickly replace it. Our owner’s manual is all written in German, so it was no help, and I tried searching online and that didn’t help much either. After removing the entire headlight because I really couldn’t find another way to do it, I replaced the light, turned the lights on and…I had fixed the wrong one. Back to the store for another bulb and to try again.

Feels Like 20 (11/30/14)

Since I had already taken it apart once, getting to the light again was a cinch, but the lowbeam bulb was more challenging to replace. On our cars in the States, this process was always very simple and usually didn’t take a lot of time (and often I didn’t even need tools!). Today I had to remove about five different screws and the entire headlight. The cold was hurting my hands outside, so I brought everything inside where could let my fingers thaw out and try to see how to get the bulb replaced. It proved much more difficult than I thought and thankfully my dad head given me a metric star shaped screw driver which was a life saver today since I don’t have any of those kinds of tools. Finally, I got the lowbeam replaced and in, took it outside, and put it all back in place. Amazingly, it came right on and we have two working headlights again!

I really only share that story because it’s another example of what usually is simple is just harder here. Learning the stuff of life here is on the same level of difficulty as learning the language and apparently I don’t speak headlight. But with a little more work and some extra time I was able to get it fixed and get everything working again. Now maybe with a little more work and a little more time the lightbulb of the Czech language will turn on too!

Ice Skating in Poland on Avery’s Birthday

Never in my life would I have imagined spending Avery’s birthday ice skating in Poland, but that’s exactly what happened today. Our friends, the Millers, have a daughter with the same birthday (she’s a few years older) and they planned a big ice skating trip with a few other missionary families today. They invited us while we were at the JV Thanksgiving event and we were pumped to join them. The ice rink they chose is about a stone’s throw from our apartment, but it’s across the river in Poland. I think it actually takes longer to drive there than walk, but since it was in the 20’s outside we decided to take the car.

There were five families, including us, and we had a really fun time on our first ice skating adventure. The rink was very nice and really reasonably priced for skate rentals and time on the ice. I have done a lot of rollerblading, but I don’t believe I have ever actually been ice skating before. Bethany has gone, but it has been a really long time. Titus was excited, but Avery just wasn’t having it today and didn’t even want us to put skates on her. Later she warmed up to the idea (ha! “warmed up”…to ice) and let me carry her around the rink for a lap or two. Titus wanted to try a few times so I would hold his arms while his little legs and feet scrambled for stability beneath him.

Here’s a few photos with captions beneath each one to give more of the story.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

We arrived a few minutes earlier than the other families so Titus and I were walking around the building just checking it out and found a big pile of snow. This is not snow that had fallen from the sky, but I guess they made it for some event or practice they were doing. Behind this pile was a large ramp thing where I assume they were skiing or snowboarding. But that didn’t matter to Titus; he was just excited about all this crazy white stuff.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Here’s Bethany and Avery as we were waiting to buy tickets and get our skates on. Avery had just gotten up from a nap so she wasn’t quite camera ready.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Here was the scene inside the locker room where everyone was getting their skates on. I was really impressed that the same electric key that got you into the room also unlocked your personal locker. Not bad for $11 which got all four of us an hour of rink time, a locker, and skate rentals.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I know ice skating rinks are cold, but I’m pretty sure it was colder inside than outside (and it as cold outside!). For a while we skated clockwise and then an announcer came on in Polish to tell us to turn around and go the other direction. Since we don’t speak Polish you just kind of follow the crowd. You’ll also notice the big sign that reads “Welcome to Cieszyn.” Cieszyn is the Polish name for the same town in Czech which is Český Těšín (where we live).

This a little video I took going around the rink one time.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I held Titus and Avery while skating around the rink a few times. I only fell one time and sadly I had Titus in my arms. Both our kids were well padded today, but when you’re dad is 6’4″ it’s a long way down. I saved Titus’ head from hitting the ice, but his bum hit hard and he cried. He settled down after a few minutes and we went around again. I tried hard to make sure he wasn’t completely freaked out about the ice after that considering that it was his first time. When we got home he said, “Ice skating was fun!” so I don’t think I did too much emotional damage.

After ice skating, the other families had plans to go back to where they were staying and invited us to have sundaes with them. It was just a little too far for us to go tonight and would’ve been another hour of driving, so we left and went to a local hamburger place in the Polish square.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

While at dinner we were waiting for our food (at the table above) and Titus was drinking his apple juice we had gotten him. I was sitting across from him asking him to sit down when he reached for his juice and it slipped and began spilling on the his seat (the bench seat). In a moment, I got up from chair, hit my head on a hanging light and all I heard was a big crash and glass breaking. It hurt and I was a little confused in the moment about what exactly had happened.

You’ll notice in the photo above that the glass lamp shade is sitting on the bench. Basically, my head knocked the huge lamp cover off the wire it was hanging from, it broke the light bulb, and everything fell on to our table. Amazingly, the lamp cover didn’t break, but we had broken glass from the light bulb, juice, and drinks all over the table and floor. Here’s a few more photos after we cleaned it all up with the help of the employees at the burger joint.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Finally, we did have time this morning to give Avery a little something from us which she opened in our living room. Here’s a few more photos of Avery opening that. It was a really fun day and we’re glad we got to spend it with friends and enjoying another new adventure here.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

On a So-Called “Black Friday”

It’s amazing what a day will do. You go from happy, fun Thanksgiving to this intense, maddening holiday rush where sleepless people wait all night to save $20 on a big screen. I was a little sad to be out the States yesterday, but I’m not missing “Black Friday” at all on this side of the Atlantic. As I watch the news stream in from the States of big lines and huge sales, I’m struck with the fact that it’s become such a part of the American culture. From what I can tell, that doesn’t seem to be the case over here, but only time will tell just how strong that American influence is to the rest of the world.

We packed and left the hotel this morning and were back home around 11am. My voice is slowly returning, but I woke up with a pretty bad sore throat today. My energy hasn’t returned much either. We had a little meeting around 3pm with our landlord to get a new copy of our rental agreement which is needed for our long term visas. She has an office above our flat and while we were signing papers the kids ended up bringing her drawings they made which she was really excited about. Through her computer she translated, “I am going to bring them something for Christmas.” I’m glad our landlord likes our kids enough to want to bring them gifts!

Presents Await (11/28/14)

Speaking of gifts, tomorrow is Avery’s actual birthday. Above is a photo of her last present, which is from us, so she’ll have something to open. There’s also a chance we’ll be joining some friends for ice skating tomorrow. They too have a daughters whose birthday falls on the 29th and they invited us to join them. We have never taken the kids ice skating, so this should definitely be an adventure.

Shortly after our meeting with our landlord, we decided to lounge around and watch a Christmas movie together. With me not feeling well and all of us a little worn out from Thanksgiving, it was nice to just “veg” as my dad would call it. Bethany prepared some food and I made popcorn. Avery loves to make popcorn from scratch and watch the popcorn pop on the stove top. She giggles and says, “That’s silly!” which I think is just hilarious. We had a lot of fun just hanging around today and being together. Hopefully I can feel good for ice skating tomorrow and Avery’s birthday. Being sick just isn’t fun, especially when you’re trying to celebrate holidays and birthdays!

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Above is the view we woke up to this morning. We’re staying at what is called Hotel Malenovice. This building has a story of it’s own, but it’s basically the Josiah Venture training center where all of our major training events are held here in Czech. As I type the sun has gone down, and this view has turned in to sparkling lights over the city. We just finished our big Josiah Venture family Thanksgiving meal downstairs and it was a wonderful time. Dave Patty, president of JV, led us in a little devotional out of the Psalms and we spent a few minutes sharing with each other how God has been faithful this year to each of us. Before we started eating, Dave also led us in prayer and the singing of the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Here’s a little video I took of us singing.

The food today was incredible to say the least. It is a rare moment where you can gather so many people from so many different places and enjoy home made food from each family. Most of the people here this week are American missionaries so they all brought their own family’s traditional dishes and let’s just say I did a little sampling. Oh, and the turkey…amazing. There’s a local guy here in Czech that cooks the turkeys every year for JV and they are delectable. I don’t know how many turkeys it takes to feed 100+ people, but here’s one of them in it’s glory.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

I also got this photo of Bethany and the kids as we were finishing up our meals. Clearly, Avery is not finished yet.

Our First Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Here’s a couple photos of the kids playing outside today. Avery loved the swingset, and you can see Titus with his toy light saber while playing with the other boys (who were hiding from him).

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

Thanksgiving in Czech (11/27/14)

What you’re seeing in the photos and video above are about as much as I was involved in today’s events (actually less because Bethany took the photos of the kids playing outside). Pretty much every other moment I was laying on the bed in our room. Even though I went down for breakfast in the morning, I came right back up and slept. I remained in bed right up until we went down for the Thanksgiving meal at 1:30. Today was just the worst of my sickness. I’ve got antibiotics working their magic, but the sinus pressure and overall energy sap really did me in. It really bummed me out and I was sad to miss the football game they had outside and just spending time with my family and other people. In some ways, I feel like I missed Thanksgiving and that’s definitely not fun.

The night ended with a talent show put on by all the third culture kids (TCKs), where they performed and sang in front of everyone. Think of it like a recital, but not as serious. The kids were great and there was a lot of amazing talent up there and definitely a lot of laughing going on. Our kids were pretty tired afterwards so we rushed them upstairs to bed where I’m finishing this post while they are fast asleep.

Besides being tucked away in bed most of today, I’m thankful to have been here. It really is a special time where a lot of families can just be together while they are so far away from their own families. That’s really just a testament to God’s grace for bringing so many like minded people together, in a land far away from their own, to share the Good News of Christ to such a dark place like Central and Eastern Europe. God has a big vision for bringing more people in to his family which involves all of the families here today. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

A Doctor Visit and Two Days Away

After much prodding on behalf of my teammates, I finally saw a doctor for the first time in the Czech Republic. When you can barely talk, that’s usually a sign you need to see someone about your health. The doctor I saw today was fantastic and he speaks great English which makes the entire process just a lot easier, not to mention lifting the burden of trying to find someone to come with me an explain the situation in another language.

Doctor's Office (11/26/14)

He asked where I was from and when I told him California he started to share how he visited the San Francisco area two years where his uncle lives. He was actually asking me because he was curious if the weather in Czech was affecting my health and there’s definitely some truth to that. But after a few minutes of discussion and listening to me breathe the doctor was sure I have an infection, probably a sinus infection. He graciously prescribed some antibiotics and I left with a smile. It’ll probably take a week to clear up but I look forward to getting my real voice back and feeling better.

Tonight started our mini getaway with some of the Josiah Venture family. Every year Josiah Venture puts on a Thanksgiving event for the missionaries and we’re invited to stay at the training center (in Czech), have meals together, and just enjoy the holiday together. Since everyone is away from their families in the States, it’s an opportunity for the JV family to be together and give God thanks for all we have and what He’s doing in our lives. Bethany made her family’s famous green bean casserole and some deviled eggs and other families brought their own traditional family dishes. I’m excited about the meals tomorrow and hopefully getting some time to rest and take a break. We’ll be here until Friday morning, so hopefully I can get some photos of where we’re staying and what we’re doing when the sun comes up tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be cold but sunny so we praise the Lord for that too!

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