Sunday School Speaking

Something amazing happened today: I heard Titus speak Czech. Now, before we get really excited, I will say he was just saying Czech words, not phrases. However, this doesn’t really make it any less amazing in my mind because of what was going on in Titus’ brain. Here’s the story.

During Sunday School this morning I stayed with Titus in his classroom. The kids were doing some kind of activity where the teacher was asking them questions and she was going around in a circle and they were responding. When she got to Titus, I heard him say something and we couldn’t really understand it. I said to him, “what was that, buddy?” He said it again and I was still unclear. Then the teacher said, “Ohh…tři, čtyři, pět” which means “three, four, five” in Czech. Even though Titus couldn’t answer or didn’t understand what was being asked, he had made the switch in his brain to answer in whatever Czech he could–in this case it was numbers. It was literally the first time I had ever heard him attempt Czech numbers or words in response to someone speaking Czech to him. A little later the kids were playing a game where one person thought of an animal and the kids had to guess. I was impressed by Titus because he figured out what they were doing and tried guessing an animal. He said, “krokodýl” nice and loud which means “crocodile.” His guess wasn’t right, but I was amazed at the process in his mind. It’s a fun process to watch him grow and learn.

I didn’t get any photos today, but I did get a little timelapse video from Titus’ Sunday school class. Usually they have a little drawing activity and so I got some footage of all of the kids at their tables. You can watch it below.

Sunday School Timelapse from Shay on Vimeo.

As for the rest of the day we had a great lunch at home with some fresh croissants we got at the store. Steve and Judy spent a lot of time just hanging with us today which was a lot of fun. I just love the questions they ask and they have been a huge encouragement to us. We’ve talked of books, ministry, life, parenting, missions, and anything in between. It truly has been such a joy to be with our “family,” that is our extended church family from the States.

Tonight we decided to have a quick dinner with Steve and Judy at McDonald’s in Poland. We ended up going to Poland because there’s a new McDonald’s just inside the border, about 7 minutes from us. But when we got there it was actually not even open–that is, it’s so new it’s still under construction. So instead of going back in to Czech we drove a little further into Poland toward another set of Golden Arches. I’m so glad we did because our drive home was right around sunset and it was stunning. Rain had been falling this afternoon, but the sunset peeked through the clouds while we drove and we were in awe of God’s amazing creation. A photo wouldn’t have done it justice!

There are some plans tomorrow do a little shopping with Steve and Judy in the morning after we take Titus to school. Right now I’m planning on staying home for the morning to get a little work done, but hopefully we’ll find something fun to do in the afternoon. They are only here two more days so we’ve gotta pack our time in and see what else we can show them! There’s also a rumor that Bethany and I will be taking a date night which just sounds really fun. Until then…goodnight!


On Trying New Things

Friday (4/17/15)

We had our weekly language lesson this morning with Tamara and it was a very helpful one. Above you can see a photo of us trying to categorize certain words based on masculine, feminine, and neuter and then we had to add an adjective in front of it. In English this really isn’t too hard grammatically, but in Czech there are a lot of things that change based on the gender. The simple act of drilling these things is always so helpful to get it to really stick.

Friday (4/17/15)

This afternoon we were driving up to our house after picking up Titus from school and we saw the postal service lady on her bike delivering our mail. As we got closer we saw her launch a package over our fence on to the wet brick. When I say “launch,” I mean it. That bad boy flew! After parking the car in the garage Titus ran and got the package off the ground and I heard him say, “Hey!!!” as he realize who’s name was on there. He saw “Titus Thomason” written on the front and it was a package from Nana and Papa for his birthday. He was so excited (as you can see in the photo above) and I quickly grabbed my camera to try and capture his emotions. We haven’t let him open it just yet, but he’s getting excited about turing five next week!

Earlier this week I was driving in to the office and I was thinking about how much harder it is to try new things. As we’ve been here almost 10 months we’ve basically settled in to a routine and haven’t really branched out as much lately as we did in the beginning. This goes for everything from food we buy at the store, trying new coffee houses or restaurants, and even just exploring the town. Now, it has been pretty cold until recently so walking the town hasn’t been high on the priority list, but I still think we were a lot more open to getting out there and seeing things in the early days of arriving here.

Friday (4/17/15)

With that in mind, today at our lessons we were talking to Tamara about our town and things and she mentioned that the Polish side of the town we live in has really good, inexpensive restaraunts. She even pulled out her computer and showed them to us on a map. We wrote some notes and I even put some info in to my phone so that we might explore that later. But this afternoon Bethany said, “Do you want to go try one of those new places Tamara told us about?” I said, “Sure, let’s do it.” Her next questions was, “Are you sure you’re up for that?” What she’s trying to ask is, “Are you ready for the language barrier and the hassle of getting out trying something new.” Because Bethany knows that it’s not easy, just the same way I do. I think that’s part of the reason we haven’t explored more in the recent months. It’s not easy to get out there and test the waters, be vulnerable, make mistakes, waste time, be confused, etc. But we decided to venture out and I’m glad we did!

Friday (4/17/15)

The restaurant we went to is only a few minutes from us by car, just inside the border of Poland. It’s in the town square and we’ve been there before, and the kids love chasing the birds around. The place we ate was inexpensive and the waiter spoke English which made the experience for us much nicer. The hardest time we had was trying to figure out how to pay for our parking because I didn’t have any Polish coins! I ended up using an ATM to get wash, walking into a Kabob shop and buying a coke just to get change (again, inconvenience often keeps us from trying new things). But we had a sweet time with the kids and we even went ahead and tried their vanilla ice cream with hot raspberry sauce dessert…mmm….it was good. We all loved our food and I’m just really glad we tried something different today. I’m constantly amazed at how hard it actually is to get yourself to do something you know will be annoying, hard, and difficult, even when it’s just going to a new place to eat! That’s all part of the transition, I guess?


A Language Day

Language Day (3/13/15)

The last couple days have been wet and dreary. Even though the weather had warmed up a bit last week, it was really short lived and is currently just above freezing. Us southern Californians aren’t used to that because usually when it warms up it stays that way for a while. As I walked to Titus’ school this afternoon to pick him up I took the above photo to give a little bit of an idea of how it looked pretty much all day. The rain is like an all-day light mist and everything just kind of stays gray.

Language Day (3/13/15)

As I approached Titus’ preschool today I realized just how funny the entrance is (shown above from the photo I took today). After you walk through the gate and up the path you come to a large door that for an American is something out of a movie. The doors are heavy and loud and if you didn’t know that there were a hundred little kids running around inside you would think maybe I was entering some kind of castle. I like it.

When I got to Titus’ class they had just started the Lego movie (dubbed in the Czech language). Titus was pretty excited and didn’t want to leave so I let him watch for a few minutes. Plus, it’s always a bonus to hear kids movies in Czech because the language is usually simplified and I can try following along. I also liked that Titus had his hand on his friend Denis’ chair. Also funny was that it was basically almost all the boys watching the movie while the girls were in the other room playing.

Language Day (3/13/15)

We had our biggest language study day to date and it was absolutely wonderful. Our language teacher Tamara came to our house today because she had a car available and was already running errands (normally we drive to her place about 15-20 minutes away). For two solid hours we worked through our Czech language textbook, and we also had a little time to review a Czech tourism book that Tamara brought us (below). What I really enjoyed about our time with her today was that Tamara will just speak Czech while we do things. For instance, while we were looking at the beautiful photos and scenery shown in the book she brought, Tamara was just simply telling us about the places all in Czech. She was speaking slowly and helping us in English along the way, but it’s an exercise of just listening and paying attention to the words you can understand while picking up new ones along the way. Oh, and by the way, this is a beautiful country.

Language Day (3/13/15)

Between 2:30-4 we had a little break before our second round of Czech lessons started with Jenny and Landen. We also try to have hot water for tea and some snacks on the table (which you can see below). I took this photo today because I realized this has become the norm now and we’re well prepared to get into the Czech language!

Language Day (3/13/15)

Today was kind of special because Jenny and Landen brought a young girl from our church who speaks both Czech and English (I also think she speaks Polish!). Her name is Miriam, and she became a little bit of our “Czech helper” (it’s like a teacher, only she doesn’t have to prepare) and we had fun listening to her speak and laughing at all of our mistakes. I think this was the first week we have done five straight days of language time with Jenny and Landen in the afternoon so it’s been a really fun and full week. I can already tell that with how much studying we’re doing that things are starting to click in my mind much faster. By no means are we great Czech speakers yet, but we’re definitely making progress! Here’s a photo of all of us (minus me, of course) sprawled out on the table working on our lesson.

Language Day (3/13/15)

Since we had such a focused day of language, and because the kids did pretty well during all of it, we decided to take them out to eat tonight. It’s bit of a drive to find a place we can all enjoy, but it’s just nice to get out. We went to a newer mall about 20 minutes from our place and enjoy an easy dinner and just walked around a toy store together.

Bethany has been talking a lot lately about how much baby #3 has been kicking and hiccuping. I believe she’s officially entered her third trimester and she’s starting to feel a little more uncomfortable. In the next month or so we have to begin to figure out which hospital Bethany will deliver at and put together a “birth plan” with a Czech speaker to try to minimize the surprises when she does go into labor. You can be praying for us as the due date gets closer and closer and as we begin to finalize our plans of having a baby in another country.


Czech Makes You Do Funny Things

Czech Silliness (3/11/15)

“You put the green book under the yellow head.” I think that’s the sentence that Landen was putting together in this picture. To the left you see his wife, Jenny, laughing because it’s hilarious how silly we look sometimes but how focused we are while we’re doing these things. You may not think that putting a green book under your chin with a color card would mean much, but for us it’s helping us understand adjectives and how those words change. In the Czech language the endings of words change often and that’s true of adjectives, like when you’re using a color to describe an object (e.g. “the green book”). So we’re building sentences from simple objects and trying to listen as Jenny tells us what we’re doing in Czech. Fun times!

Czech Sticks (3/11/15)

Another funny (maybe strange?) thing about Czech is an Easter tradition where boys use sticks to hit girls on Easter Monday (that’s not a typo, it’s the day after Sunday). Above is a photo Bethany got of those sticks today at the grocery and instead of trying to describe the tradition myself, here’s how one Web site explains it:

Young, live pussywillow twigs are thought to bring health and youth to anyone who is whipped with them. An Easter pomlázka (from pomladit or “make younger”) is a braided whip made from pussywillow twigs. It has been used for centuries by boys who go caroling on Easter Monday and symbolically whip girls on the legs. In the past, pomlázka was also used by the farmer’s wife to whip the livestock and everyone in the household, including men and children. There would be no Czech Easter without the pomlázka.

I guess I’ll make sure to keep Bethany indoors on Easter Monday!


Verbs, Czech, Love, and Optimus Prime

Friday Grab Bag (2/20/15)

We spent a more extended time in our Czech language study today and it was a mix of grammar and speaking. This morning we had our normal language grammar lesson with Tamara and we were working on verbs. There are so many forms that verbs in Czech take, it’s amazing. After some serious drilling and writing, I was feeling much better about it. Tamara has been a huge blessing and I’m very thankful for our time with her.

Above is a photo I took of Bethany during our second round of study today. We were doing our normal speaking drills with Jenny and Landen Llamas and we were building simple sentences like “I picked up the book” or “I put the book on my head” and I just had to get a photo of Bethany because it made us all laugh. You’re not really thinking about what you’re physically doing, but mentally just trying to put sentences together and I realized I should probably get a photo of it.

Friday Grab Bag (2/20/15)

As Jenny and Landen were leaving they found a package on our doorstep from America. Even though it took a little while to get here, we received our Valentine’s Day cards from Bethany’s parents which they have been sending to us for years now. There was an envelope for each of us and they threw in some of our mail that was delivered to them in the States. Bethany’s dad also included a handwritten note inside which was really nice. We don’t get much mail, so when anything comes it’s kind of special. Thank you, family, for thinking of us even on Valentine’s Day!

Friday Grab Bag (2/20/15)

Tonight we took a short trip to the grocery store as a family just for something to do. We only picked up a few things, but as we were walking around and just browsing I turned around to find Titus with this mask on (shown above). He kept saying, “Dad! Take a picture of me!” I didn’t realize until tonight that it was a mask of Optimus Prime from Transformers. Titus has no clue what that is, but I just love that he’s enjoying being a boy. While driving to the store he told Bethany he wanted to go on a date with her tomorrow. They have been talking about it for a while now, but I think it’s going to happen tomorrow. I just hope Titus has more ideas on what to do on a date in Czech because I’m just plain out of them!

We had some plans to make a little trip to Prague tomorrow to see our friends, but we’re delaying them until maybe next week. The youth group at our church is having a big party tomorrow and we would really like to be part of it. But we also want to get out and explore Czech. We’ve never really had much opportunity to spend time in Prague so we’re hoping to do that soon. It’s so crazy that we live in Europe.