Trying to Escape the Heat

It’s really hot right now. According to a Czech news Web site, we’re experiencing some of the hottest days on record in Czech Republic. That wouldn’t be a problem except for one big factor: no air conditioning.

Now I want to make sure I’m really careful about what I say and how I say it. I know, for instance, of missionaries who live in intense heat all year round. They have to live with constant warm air in their house with very little relief. That is not the case for us whatsoever. To those friends and missionaries that serve in unbearable heat week in an week out, God bless your ministry. I mean it. Just little taste of the heat this past week is reminding me to think and pray for you, wherever you may be. That being said, I do want to comment on what we’ve been trying to do to escape this heat.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

Our apartment just holds heat in. With concrete walls and no air conditioning, we’re just stuck trying to get air to move through the house. Over the weekend we just couldn’t do it anymore and decided we were leaving town to a large mall in Poland to find some AC. On Saturday we basically the entire day there, walking around, eating meals and letting the kids play in the air conditioned play area. Judging by the number people there I think they all had the same idea we did. Above is a photo I got of Karis while Bethany looked around one of the Polish stores.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

When we got to the mall, the first place we decided to go was to Pizza Hut (shown above). For you American readers, you’re going to have to lay aside all your preconceived notions of what Pizza Hut is and allow me to tell you about Pizza Hut in Poland. To compare it, it’s more like California Pizza Kitchen. It’s a fancy, sit-down, restaurant (at least this one was). We had heard they were nice, but we were shocked. They had waiters, lots of salads and pasta on the menu, and really good pizza! We all ordered pan pizza, except for Titus because he wanted spaghetti. Everything tasted it great and we even decided to go for the Chocolate Chip cookie dessert which was an oversized cookie with vanilla ice cream on top. It was a lot of fun and here’s a picture of Avery’s pizza.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

After food we did some shopping and eventually grabbed some coffee. The mall we went to is huge and we eventually made our way to the kids play area. You pay a few bucks for an hour of play time and they have staff there to help the kids and there’s a ton for them to do. Why America hasn’t jumped on this money making machine is beyond me. I sat and read a book while the kids played and Bethany did a little shopping with Karis. Here’s a photo of Titus with the playground behind him.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

Since we were going all American on the food we decided for an American class, Burger King, for dinner. We wanted to get the food to go and head to the hardware store to look at little air conditioning units. Titus went with me to order the food and we got those Burger King crowns which I wore through the mall with Titus all the way back to the car. At points their were Polish people tapping each other on the shoulders and pointing at me because I’m sure I looked ridiculous. Bethany and the girls were in the car and when we got there Bethany was just laughing at me and said, “You’re a good daddy.” Thanks, babe. I’m sure you were laughing WITH me and not AT me.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

We tried six different stores to find a little air conditioning unit that was both powerful and affordable. This is no easy task in a place that doesn’t really have AC. What we ended up finding and buying was a little unit that was around $160 (US) that we currently have sitting in our window sill. It’s a swamp cooler that uses water to cool down the room and it’s been a pretty big help the past few nights. Here’s a photo of it in the store (the price on the side is in Polish currency). I’m calling it R2-D2.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

The next day we basically did the same routine, only this time we went to a Czech mall instead of Poland. Essentially all we did was go there for lunch, walk around, and let the kids play. There was a bench near the kids area with Ronald McDonalds so I took a little photo of the kids next to him. Quite honestly I’m a little jealous that Ronald gets to sit there all day, enjoying the air conditioning looking all happy.

Escaping the Heat (8/10/15)

We’re trying to have a positive attitude, but it’s been rough. Right now I’m sweating, we have six fans running, and we’re sleeping in the living room because it’s just too hot in the bedroom. Every time I get hot I just go and take a cold shower which really does help. The weather is supposed to be like this for at least the next week so we’re buckling up for more heat. If you think of it, pray for us, especially our kids. It’s hard to sleep when you’re sweaty and hot and we’re all trying to just make it through until cooler air comes our way.


A Birth Certificate-ová

There is something kind of neat about Czech and Czech culture that hit close to home today. I don’t claim to understand exactly how this works, but When a girl is born in Czech her last name is given the letters “ová.” For example, check out this list of Czech female tennis players on Wikipedia. The overwhelming majority of them have the added “ová” to their last names. As I understand it, at their birth or when they’re married, if their last name was say “Smith” then it would be come “Smithová.” So what does this have to do with us?

Rodny List!!! (6/9/15)

Today we went to the city hall in Ostrava to obtain Karis’ Czech birth certificate, or “Rodný List.” We need it in order to move forward with getting her a passport and social security number. Although she’s an American citizen by birth (because of Bethany and I), we have to go through the normal process of obtaining these documents so we can travel with her (among other things). Culturally in Czech, moms don’t usually take their babies away from home until six weeks after their born, so it’s often the dad who will go to obtain the birth certificate and the mom is not required to be there (of course, because she’s at home recovering). So today I, along with our friend Jenny and my father-in-law went to do just that. Jenny was kind enough to come and help translate and I’m so thankful she did.

Basically what happened today was that I had to decline the Czech naming convention so Karis’ last name wouldn’t be “Thomasonová” but just Thomason. Normally this requires the mother’s signature, but Bethany wasn’t with us. The Lord was gracious, however, and somehow we got it figured out today without having to drive back another forty minutes and get Bethany. The lady at the city hall was really kind and through Jenny translating we were able to get it squared away. We were only there for a few minutes and we left with a complete birth certificate and Karis can carry our family name in the traditional, American way. Step 1, done.

Karis Gets A Birth Certificate (6/9/15)

Step 2 involved going to the “Foreign Police” to register Karis (shown above). Because we don’t have a passport yet, we were a little unsuccessful but got the ball rolling which was good. Again, Jenny was a huge help in navigating the language barrier and figuring out what will happen next (THANK YOU, JENNY!). It sounds like the Czech government is going to send us some documents in the mail and give us a 60 day window to make it all happen. Step 2, done.

Step 3 involves multiple things, but it involves getting a “Consular Report of Birth Abroad,” applying for passport as well as a social security number. For us this means a trip to the U.S. Embassy in Prague which will happen on June 22 (unless we can get an earlier appointment). We’re going to Prague this week with Papa and Nana for a few days and we’re hoping that an appointment might open up while we’re there. It would just make it easier on us as Prague is over four hours by car or train. We’ll see how it goes!

At the end of the day I’m thankful we were able to get what we needed to take the next steps in this big process of having a child abroad. Even tomorrow we’re hoping to get her passport photos done right here in our town. Pray for us!


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!


Spring Rain

As you can probably tell from the photo below, it was a little rainy today. I don’t think the sun came out at all and I woke up this morning to rain hitting our windows so I assume there was just a little bit of a breeze. The temperatures dropped significantly from where they’ve been, but that didn’t stop Avery, Titus, and me from going outside later this afternoon and playing.

Polka Dots (3/27/15)

Titus was back at school today, but he struggled again this morning. He’s been out all week with sickness, so that’s not too surprising. Bethany took him this morning and he was really wanting her to pray with him, which of course she did. It’s hard to evaluate how he’s doing there, but we have noticed when we pick him up the other kids will say goodbye and he just kind of ignores them. This has always been a concern for me that he is doing the same thing to his teachers, but again we really don’t know.

Normally on Fridays we take Titus to school and then drive to our Czech lessons in a nearby town. But this morning our Czech teacher, Tamara, called and asked if we could do them at our house since she was coming this way with her son to see their family. Her coming to our place is great, but I actually ended up walking out of our lessons and laying down because I wasn’t feeling well. I ended up sleeping another two hours! I don’t know if my body is fighting something or I’m just actually that tired, but I ended up missing the rest of the lesson which Bethany finished by herself with Tamara.’

We just got back tonight from spending some time with another missionary family. The wife, Lauren, is going to be helping us with all the hospital and baby stuff and we had a great time talking through the details tonight. Lauren has delivered all four of her own kids here in Czech, speaks Czech, and is actually a certified doula in Czech! She knows a ton about the systems and how the hospitals work so tonight we had dinner together and our kids played with her kids while talked through some of the process of having a baby in Czech. Mostly it sounds similar to the States, but there are still many cultural things that are different and will probably come up. It’ll be nice to have Lauren’s help and we’re blessed to have her be part of this journey with us.

That’s all from me. Good night!


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!