T.

That Was The First

One year ago today, on a rainy night in Prague, our plane touched down in what would be our initial move to the Czech Republic. It was from our hotel room just across the street from the airport that I wrote these words and posted them to this blog.

This is the first. This is the first of what I hope to be an ongoing journal of what transitioning life to a new country and culture looks like. Lord willing, it will be daily. My hope is that for a year I can maintain some thought, long or short, from our days in Czech Republic. I hope it will be a testament to the Lord’s grace in our lives, what He is doing, how He is working, and just how our lives are being transformed into the likeness of Christ.

family_2014-LAX-v2

Reading them again today has brought tears to my eyes. I don’t really even remember writing them, but I do remember meaning them. Somehow I wanted to capture, mostly for our own family, the memories of what it was like for us to move across the globe. I wanted to share the joys, fears, funny stories, and all the “firsts” that only a journal could document, but I wanted it to be often and I wanted some kind of accountability. Writing every day and posting to this blog seemed to be the answer. It would force me to sit down on a daily basis and ask “What happened today?” It would challenge me to take regular photos and even constantly ask Bethany, “Hey, do you have any photos or stories from today?” More than that, I knew it would serve as a memory bank of all that God would do in our lives.

The truth is, God has done so much this past year. This little blog has tried to be a testimony of what He has done. I know and believe that God has used this first year in our lives in ways that I don’t yet understand, but I’m so thankful for the many different experiences we’ve had as we try to figure out life in a foreign land. Just being a foreigner is a stretching experience all by itself. From day one we have fumbled our way through the once simple tasks of grocery shopping or ordering food at a restaurant. We have struggled (yes, even this morning!) to know what’s going on at Titus’ school and how best to communicate with his teacher. We have battled sickness and wondered often if it’s just mold in our home or the new air we’re breathing. We have made countless language mistakes and have regularly wondered if we’ll ever master Czech enough to share our faith. But those struggles are part of the way God is working. They can not be seen by themselves, but have to be viewed in the context of God’s sovereign hand and sovereign plan. Romans 8:28 is appropriate here, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

kitchen

As I look back on the year, I can’t just think about the struggles. We had so many joys this year too! Most recently we have had the joy of seeing our third child born here. The process of working with a Czech doctor and a Czech hospital was amazing. To watch little Karis grow in the womb is an amazing joy. We have also watched God answer many prayers, including Titus’ transition to preschool. Not only did Titus start school for the first time in his life here in Czech, but he has also had the challenge of doing it in a second language. God has been so faithful in that entire process. We have had the joy of meeting and knowing some amazing people, both Czechs and missionaries. Just this week I was reminded of how I thought of the Czech people when we first arrived but so much of that has changed this year. We have worked alongside some incredible missionaries and made many new friends. Their hearts for the lost of this region are a constant joy and I’m regularly spurred towards greater love of Jesus, and greater compassion towards unbelievers, because of their love for the lost. They have helped us transition here, invited us in to their lives, and have been a phone call away when we’ve been confused or just needed help. Lastly, we have also had the joy of many visitors to our new home here. From the early weeks here until very recently, many friends and family have come to visit us and stay with us. Those were some of the sweetest times for us as we didn’t feel alone but had a familiar face here, someone who we could talk and share our lives with, and someone who we felt like really knew us. These are just a few of the many joys we’ve had.

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Looking back is only half the battle. We must also look forward to what is ahead for our family. As for this blog, we will be taking a “blog vacation” (if there is such a thing). It’s been incredibly fun to write every day, but it’s time to refocus and take back some much needed time. The blog will return, but it will not be every day. As for our family, we’re continuing to push ahead into language, culture, and ministry here in Czech. We know the Lord will give us the strength and courage to plow ahead with all that He has for us in the next year. We covet your prayers in this process!

Thank you for joining us in this journey. In all of this I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” This is not about us. It’s about Him. To Christ be all the glory.

Y.

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.