it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: growth

Sledding in Czech, Church Youth Group, and Hope for Language Learning

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Today was a beautiful, sunny day in Czech. I don’t remember seeing a single cloud, even though as I write this evening the clouds are rolling in for another round of snow. Our plan to go sledding today came to fruition and we had a blast! It’s hard to describe Titus’ excitement when we made it to sledding hill, but he was basically squealing and jumping up and down. The hardest part was keeping him from running to the hill himself while we got everyone in their snow gear before heading out to it. This specific hill (shown below) was one I saw while teaching last week at the Josiah Venture Leadership Academy. There were a lot of other families there today, and now I know why.

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Not only was the hill easy to get to, it had great runs which today were really fast since it was around 26 degrees outside and the snow was packed down hard. I’m pretty convinced some of those Czech kids were moving around 20mph down the hill. Our kids weren’t so ready for those kinds of speeds so I would take them about half way up and send them down on their bellies at first (like Titus in the photo below). We got a couple of cheap plastic sleds this morning that worked really well.

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Here’s a video of Avery heading down on her own. You’ll see just how far and fast she could go and we were only half way up the little hill!

Here’s a video of Titus using the red sled in a sitting position. He mostly liked the little blue slide that Avery was using, but I’m glad he was brave and tried the bigger one too. In this video he puts his arms behind his head like he’s relaxing and then crashes. But like any boy having tons of fun he gets up quick and smiles for the camera with mommy cheering him on.

Here’s a few more photos that Bethany got while we were playing and having fun.

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

Sledding in Czech (2/7/15)

If there is “Part 2” to this post, then this is it. Tonight I was able to attend our church’s youth meeting which happens most Saturday nights at 5pm. Bethany stayed home with the kids because they were basically exhausted from sledding. It was a sweet time with the young people, and I had the chance to talk with a young man named Simon. At 19, Simon already speaks five languages (Czech, Polish, English, German, and Slovak), not to mention a local dialect called “Poneshemu.” He’s a great guy and plans on going to university (college) next year to study engineering. We were paired up tonight to play a game where I tell him what I see on a piece of paper that was given to me and he draws it. The only catch is that we’re sitting back to back and of course he can’t see what I’m looking at. I thought it he did great and here’s a photo of us during that little game.

Youth Group in Czech (2/7/14)

They also prayed for our friend Misa who is heading to America to study. I got a photo of the prayer time and I thought it was really neat to see them kind of send her off. They also sang a song in Czech to the tune of Happy Birthday, but I’m not exactly sure what they were singing.

Youth Group in Czech (2/7/14)

After a testimony from a gentleman in the church, there was a shortened message from one of the gospels (I couldn’t quite figure out which book we were in!). Then we spent some time singing an English song that had a bunch of motions. After that we all played a little round table ping pong, but there weren’t enough paddles so I used a clipboard. I did not win. Here are a few more photos.

Youth Group in Czech (2/7/14)

Youth Group in Czech (2/7/14)

One fun thing about youth group was that this was the first time I got to see the new youth room that has been being built since before we arrived in Czech. They’ve only been meeting in it for a few weeks and it’s really, really nice. It has basically been a labor of love as many volunteers have helped build it from the church. In fact, in one of the walls there is a large stone sticking out (shown below) that confused me. I asked Simon what it meant and he told me that he didn’t know how to explain it English, but they have a word for it in Czech. Essentially, he said it’s like a piece to remember that the building was, in his words, “built by this generation” and they should remember that. It sounded like a neat thing to me and I took a photo of the stone, which sits near the entrance next to the light switches.

Youth Group in Czech (2/7/14)

Finally, a few avid blog readers know that our friends Jenny and Landen moved to Czech a few months after us and we were all living in the same town in California before coming to Czech. Jenny is actually from Czech and Landen is an American, but they have been in the states for I believe 6 or 7 years. Their current ministry focus is with the youth group at our church and I saw them tonight and Landen invited me over to their place tonight to chat and catch up.

During our discussion, it became clear that we have the same passion to learn Czech and do greater ministry here. I loved Landen’s statement that he’s “learning Czech to love Czechs” (this may be a paraphrase, but the gist is there). His heart is to learn their language so he can have deeper relationships and more impact on them (e.g. love them), not to mention he would be able to preach and teach God’s Word. As we talked, they both shared their desire to help Bethany and I get more opportunity to learn language and so we’re basically going to work together in this process. With Jenny’s help as a native Czech speaker, we are going to use some of the tools we all learned at pre-field training in the States. This should give Landen, Bethany, and me more opportunity to study and engage the Czech language on a consistent basis. This is huge!

All of that is really exciting to me and it seems like a huge answer to prayer! As we talked tonight I could feel my heart stirring with greater passion and excitement in a way that I haven’t in quite some time. Jenny and Landen have such a great heart for Czech and we share their passion to see God work in mighty ways here, even through our efforts in language. Many people have been praying, as have we, and I feel like this simple discussion was such an answer to prayer and the work of the Spirit of God in all our hearts. I’m excited to see what the Lord does with this and how it will have a greater impact for the Kingdom of God!

Work and Parenting

The other morning Titus came up to Bethany and I and showed us something on the iPad. Apparently he saw something in the App Store that looked interesting to him, so he told us that he “wanted to buy it.” We kind of chuckled and said, “Do you have any money?” Quickly Titus replied, “In my piggy bank!” and ran towards his room. When he returned with his blue piggy bank we opened it up and found 14 Czech crowns inside. It’s not enough to buy a $0.99 app, but it’s about halfway. Bethany explained to Titus that he would need to save his money up. I don’t remember the specifics, but he was a little confused. So we explained to him further about earning money and saving it in his bank. Bethany had the idea that he could do jobs around the house and earn more money–extra tasks outside of normal responsibilities. Titus, of course, got really excited and that’s when I knew we had opened up a can of worms.

Titus and Work (1/22/15)

All day yesterday he couldn’t help but talking about doing “jobs” and making money. At one point I got a call on my phone and it was Titus telling me, “Daddy! I made enough money to buy something!” He was really enthusiastic and it was fun to hear him get excited. Today Bethany let him and Avery take out the recycling which allowed them both to earn a few more crowns each. And apparently in-between jobs Titus is doing a little shopping because he already has his heart set on another purchase.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this for Titus, but I feel like I’m the one learning the most. It’s weird as a parent to engage in this kind of discussion because I have this strange fear of teaching Titus something wrong about money. I keep thinking, “I don’t want Titus to think just because he made some money that he can buy whatever he wants.” I also think, “I don’t want Titus to be a consumer and not be wise with his money” and “I want Titus to be a good steward of what God has provided!” We want him to learn how to work and how to save. We want him to be thankful for what God has given him and make good decisions. I know he’s only four but I feel a pressure to not mess these lessons up. That’s probably a good pressure. It’s reminding me that as Titus grows older he will need more and more help in learning to be wise and he’ll need our instruction to guide. That might sound elementary but it’s what I’ve been thinking about today.

Pray for us as we engage our kids. Parenting requires great balance, patience, and wisdom. Even in these little discussions about money there is a lot to be learned and taught and I just really want to do a good job.

Learning New Things

One of the greatest blessings of moving overseas has been the opportunity to learn new things. I honestly don’t know if we would’ve had the motivation to learn certain things had it not been for us moving to Czech Republic. For example, Bethany now makes all of our pancakes from scratch. This week she even tried a different recipe because she felt like if she was making them from scratch they should taste a certain way. I have little doubt that had we stayed in the States we probably never would’ve tried to make our own pancakes. It’s just so easy to buy the big bag of pancake mix at Costco!

Today was another day of experimenting and trying new things. Since I was awake at 4am with the kids (p.s. they were up at 11pm…that’s right, they didn’t even make it until the next day), I decided to start pursuing something I have been thinking about learning: drawing. Because of the work I do, there’s often times that I need to sketch out an idea on paper before we design it on screen. I always feel like I’m behind in my understanding of drawing, so I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to learn. This morning I started an online class on the “Foundations of Drawing” which has been helpful and challenging. One of the tasks was to copy something in sections with the thing you’re copying facing upside down. The point is to train your brain to not think about what the picture is, but just look at the lines (you have to retrain your brain to see lines and not try to constantly figure out what the picture is). Here’s what I ended up with (mine is on the right). Mine isn’t perfect, but go easy on me…I’m a first timer.

Learning New Things (1/17/15)

Bethany was also learning something new today. She made English muffins! A friend of ours sent us a recipe on Facebook, so Bethany tried it out for the first time today. They tasted awesome and it was her first crack at it. Baking in general I feel like is pretty tough, so I’m super impressed. Again, I really don’t think we would’ve tried making those had it not been for the simple fact that we can’t just go pick them up in the store here. Tomorrow we’re going to make breakfast sandwiches with them and I can’t wait! Here’s some photos from the process (and here’s the link to the recipe!):

Learning New Things (1/17/15)

Learning New Things (1/17/15)

Learning New Things (1/17/15)

Jet lag has continued to be rough, but we’re doing our best. Avery just went to bed and it’s only 5:40pm as I write this. Titus is hanging in there and I’m hoping he’ll stay up at least until 6:30 tonight. We actually went over to our friend’s house, the Yormans, to have play time and chat just so we could stay awake. They were completely understanding because they just got back from California a week ago and are a few days ahead of us in the world of jet lag.

I’ve had some relief from my toothache today and it’s been feeling pretty good. I can’t eat an apple yet, but I’ve been doing my own pain tests and so far, so good. It’s been a slow process, but I am really I got that thing fixed before we left the States. Trying to explain all of that in another language would’ve been tough!

Well, it’s time for bed. Bethany is taking the first shift tonight (e.g. she goes to bed first and gets up when the first kid does due to jet lag) and I’ll be putting Titus to sleep later when he gets tired. We’re hoping to make it to church tomorrow, but we’ll just have to wait and see how we all feel. Thank you for continuing to pray for us!

Driving Home

Today was mostly spent in a car. Bethany and I left Krakow early this morning around after checking out of our little rented apartment, we headed back to Katowice where our kids were staying. We had a great time together but it was a lot of fun to see the kids after two nights away.

When we got to the Millers house, I saw Avery come around the corner of one of the room and I would’ve sworn she had grown. Both Bethany and I genuinely think they have grown a little since Sunday. Maybe this happens to a lot of parents, but it’s kind of bizarre to experience. Maybe we should change the phrase, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” to “Absence makes the kids grow taller?” Or maybe there’s something in the water in Poland? I don’t know, but they look bigger.

With a few days out of town, the rest of the week is shaping up to be a little busy. We have a visa application thing tomorrow for our 2-year visas, a Christmas party, haircuts tomorrow, Bethany has another doctor appointment to check on the growing baby, and Titus apparently has something going on at his school. I don’t know what’s got to give at this point, but as we get ready to depart for the States next week I fear something will have to. Well, I guess I’ll see you on the flip side.

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