it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Month: January 2015 (page 1 of 7)

Last Day of Teaching and Living in a Winter Wonderland

Malenovice (1/31/15)

I had a great time the past three days teaching a design class at the Josiah Venture Leadership Academy. Today we finished up our little workshop and I realized how much I enjoy teaching and helping others learn and grow, even when it’s a technical skill. What I enjoyed most is that ten people in our class are all serving the Lord in some capacity in their respective countries and will taking the things they learned this week to do their ministry better. Above is a photo of a few of our students from Slovakia who were working on a design for their upcoming English camps. Thousands of young people will come to Christian camps this summer and hear the gospel for the very first time. Maybe, just maybe, the poster these leaders create is what will invite those young people in Slovakia?

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Above is a photo of a group from Estonia. Kuldar (far left) is a leader up there and doing great things through sports ministries, specifically soccer. I actually met with him a few weeks ago and just got to hear about his passion for discipleship in a country where dads are distant and young men need mentors. I love his heart for young people. I just happened to walk outside today while he was trying to get a photo with this group and got to take this photo for them.

Malenovice (1/31/15)

It was a surreal world outside today at the training center. The snow covered everything and I believe we got another 4-5 inches last night of fresh powder. After our class, Daniel and I were walking back down the hill from the the main center with our cameras in hand and were just overwhelmed with God’s amazing creation. Here’s some photos of beautiful wintery Czech Republic that I got.

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

I can only assume that a snowman died here (below). May he rest in peace.

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

Malenovice (1/31/15)

You Just Get Used To It

Instead of trying to get the entire family ready to walk down the street, I usually end up taking Titus to school. That was the case this morning, but while walking towards the school I noticed a few things that seemed out of place. First, there weren’t any other families with kids walking that we usually see. Second, there were very few cars parked outside of the school. And thirdly, when we got closer I looked up towards his class and saw that most of the lights were off. This is not a good sign.

Titus and I got inside, got our shoes off, and headed up to his class. There was only one strip of lights on and all the chairs were on top of the tables, presumably the way the cleaning crew left them. Without hesitation I turned to Titus and said, “OK, let’s go.” We went back downstairs, put our shoes on and walked back home. I didn’t even question the confusion. In fact, you just get used to it.

Bethany met us back at the front door and I told her what happened. We assume at this point we got our days mixed up regarding Wednesday’s carnival. His teacher was probably trying to tell Bethany earlier in the week that there would be a fun thing on Wednesday and then no school on Friday. That’s life as a foreigner. You just get used to it.

Moving Slowly (1/30/15)

Shortly after bringing Titus back home I had to leave to head off to the class I’ve been teaching this week at the Josiah Venture Leadership Academy. As I approached the highway I normally take, the police were blocking the entrance. I didn’t even question it and just began driving on a backroad. Was it going to take me an extra 15 minutes or longer? Most likely. Would I be late to my morning pre-class team meeting. Definitely. Above is a photo of me siting behind a huge semi on the now traffic heavy back road. You just get used to it.

When I did make it back to a main road I got stuck behind the smallest car I’ve ever seen two people fit in. It was going approximately 4mph in the passing lane. I have no idea why, but I had time to take my phone out and get a photo (below). You just get used to it.

Moving Slowly (1/30/15)

I spilled my coffee in the car. I slipped and fell on our snowy driveway and on the way down fell into our landlord’s car. I pulled in front of a car that had to firmly apply his brakes and honk at me because apparently my mind was somewhere else! I don’t know…I guess you just get used to it?

Don’t misunderstand me. Even though my side hurts from hitting the concrete hard during my driveway slip, I’m not upset. Maybe the Lord has been working on my heart, but I’m getting used to the crazy, different, unfortunate, confusing, and annoying things that happen. I’m sure you have had your share of days like mine and you might even have other things to add to the list. That’s just life and it’s OK.

Moving Slowly (1/30/15)

I often remind myself that life could be worse. Some people don’t like that argument because it’s negative, but for my heart it’s a reminder that these things (and this world!) are temporal. We live in a broken and fallen world that will disappoint, annoy, frustrate, and sometimes physically hurt us. Despite that, God is on the throne, He is sovereign, and he is working all things together for my good. Those truths help. They realign my heart to think on a loving and faithful God, and not on this temporal world.

None of what I just wrote was what I sat down and planned to write tonight, but I feel like that’s exactly how things have happened to me today. That’s just life. You just get used to it.

Teaching Fun

Teaching Fun (1/29/15)

I woke up this morning and heard Avery in her room talking. I have no idea how long she had been awake before I got up. When I walked in I found here like this (photo above). She immediately told me, “Daddy, we’re having a party.” For past few days we have noticed Avery doing a lot more playing like this where she sets up a scene or tells you a story about what she’s doing. It’s been fun to see her begin to change and I just wanted to write down this small, but sweet memory.

Teaching Fun (1/29/15)

Today was kind of a special day as I had the opportunity to teach a class with my team at an event called “The Academy” (photo my class is above). Young men and women from around Europe are gathered this week at this event which is led by another team of ours at Josiah Venture. I was asked if my team would teach a workshop on design and I thought it was a great idea. We started today with some basic info, but we had about 10 people in our class, and about half as many countries represented including Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia. These young people mostly serve in their churches and countries and are just looking for practical skills to help them. Other classes included video, music skills, and even productivity classes. All of it was part of a larger event where theme is “team work.” I’ll be teaching tomorrow and Saturday morning and am already having a ton of fun!

One amazing thing about today was the view we had from our classroom. We were meeting in the library of our training center and the view from where I was teaching is shown in the photo below. At one point it was snowing and I was distracted by just the beauty of God’s creation around us. What a blessing!

Teaching Fun (1/29/15)

Teaching Fun (1/29/15)

Lastly, Bethany had the special opportunity to get away from the house tonight and go on a really fun date. Our friend Misa offered to stay with the kids for the evening so we drove to the Ostrava mall (where we often go for dates) and had a great meal, coffee, and hanging out at the mall. These times are not super often just yet (still working on finding regular babysitting), so we cherish them when the do happen.

As we were leaving the mall we realized we didn’t know where we had parked our car. Unless you are really paying attention when you walk in, it is easy to forget! We must have looked really confused because a really nice Czech man said to us in English, “Do you need some help?” We told him we forget where we parked our car and he said, “Oh, this happens even to me!” He recognized us as Americans and we began to chat with him and found out he has been to the States a few times on business and that his house in Czech is not far from where we live. We told him we were missionaries and he told us about his businesses and family. It was actually a sweet exchange, and he was really, really nice. I’m constantly blown away by Czech because this is so strange that he would even approach us this way. If you think of it, pray for him. His name is Marek and he has three kids. Our exchange was short, but it would be really neat to run into him again and talk more with him. Honestly, I feel like we missed a rare opportunity to share the gospel in English with him and I’m really sad about it. Mostly, I think I was surprised by the exchange and caught off guard. Lord willing, we will see Marek another time and get another opportunity!

The Carnival We Didn’t Know About

As soon as Titus, Avery, and I walked in to the door, I knew we were in trouble. The only thing that can explain all of these shoes in the entry way (shown below) is that the parents are at the school too. And if the parents are at the school, that means there’s a good chance that some kind of event is going on. While taking my own shoes off, I saw Pluto walk by (that is, I saw a kid dressed as Pluto–Mickey Mouse’s trusty dog). The kids said, “Daddy, we saw Pluto!” Uh oh. What is going on?

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

While making our way upstairs it became clear that there were lots of festivities going on. Parents were rushing up and down the stairs with their kids who were dressed up as princesses, pirates, fireman, and I even saw a little Darth Vader running around. Where were they taking these kids, I thought. Arriving at Titus’ classroom, we found the place completely filled with more dressed up kids, parents, and dressed up teachers. That’s when I called Bethany. “Uh…so this place is nuts and I have no idea what’s going on. But you better come and bring Titus’ Buzz Lightyear costume…and bring your camera!” The kids and I made our way through the camera wielding parents and I dropped Titus clothes off in their changing area. There were other families in there too so I snapped a photo of some boys and one of the dads.

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

In our defense, Bethany was aware of a carnival but she honestly thought it was going to be on Friday and that would only be in the afternoon. She actually had called me on Monday and asked if I would be available to come, but since I’m teaching a workshop at a conference this week I wouldn’t be available. Titus’ teacher did her best to make us aware of it, but again, the date just got lost in translation.

Bethany arrived a few minutes after I called her and she brought Titus’s costume. We quickly changed him so he could join the other kids. The teachers had congregated the kids in another room where they were doing what I believe was a fashion show. They were literally walking down a wooden plank on the ground and the teachers were taking pictures and video along with all the parents on the sidelines.

Here’s me getting Titus ready.

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

Here are the kids walking down the runway.

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

Meanwhile, Avery was enjoying all the toys in the classroom.

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

We were scheduled to have language lessons this morning, but with all the commotion we didn’t feel like we could leave. That, and Titus got really sad when we tried to leave and started crying and saying he wanted to go home. To be honest, it was hard. I felt caught between getting to our language lesson and taking care of Titus, and we just didn’t know what to do. It was decision paralysis. We tried to console Titus, who I think was just overwhelmed. Finally, we cancelled our lessons and stuck around with Titus. Eventually he calmed down and even starting participating with the class in their dance. Here’s a little video I got and you’ll see Titus dancing with his teacher.

Remember those parents rushing up and down the stairs when we first arrived? We found out where they were going. There was a professional photographer in another classroom who was taking individual portraits of all the kids. Titus’ teacher asked one of the little kids to show us where he was so he could take Titus’ picture. We made our way down and had a few shots taken. I seriously can not wait to see how those turned out. Later, that same photographer took a group shot of the entire class. Here they are in the main hall of the school getting ready for their class photo. You can see Titus in the upper left.

The Carnival in Czech (1/28/15)

After some time, Titus was doing much better and we left. He did well for the remainder of the school day and Bethany said he came home really happy and excited about his experience. Apparently they had a clown who juggled and they blew bubbles and even passed out balloons to the kids. At the end of the day I can look back and laugh, but in the middle of it it was really difficult. I’m bummed we missed our once a week Czech lesson because that’s so vital for us long term. On the other hand, I’m glad I got to experience something fun with Titus and our family, even thought I had no clue it was going to happen.

Let It Snow

Loving the Snow (1/27/15)

We’re a little enamored with the snow right now. As you can see in the photo above, Avery was sitting in our kitchen window this morning just staring at the falling snow. It is unbelievably beautiful to watch. Bethany even mentioned today that the snow actually makes Czech brighter which is just interesting. Everything doesn’t feel so gray and dreary, but nice and clean, and soft. Even some of the other Josiah Venture missionaries were talking about this today. One friend commented about the color of the buildings in Czech. Often they are bright orange, green, and even pink and he was observing that they look so much better against the clean white backdrop of snow. He’s right.

My team is preparing to teach at a big event this week here in Czech called the Josiah Venture Leadership Academy. There will be 220 attendees (if they trudge their way through the snow!). The communications team (which I lead) will be doing some training in the area of design and design software. Our class has 10 participants and people are coming from all over Europe to be together for a five day conference. Mostly these are people who are lay leaders in their churches and are just looking for some practical skills and training. I’m excited to teach a 3-day class with my team and hopefully share our combined love for design and Jesus! Pray for us as we prepare for that and for the time with our class.

The Bakers (1/27/15)

Tonight Bethany had some fun baking with the kids. We have been talking about making cookies for a couple of days now and it just feels right to enjoy some warm cookies on these cold days. Titus some how convinced me to let him eat three cookies. Little stinker. They enjoyed using their Czech chef hats and aprons so we got a few photos of them. These are fun days.

The Bakers (1/27/15)

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