it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: first things first (page 1 of 3)

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.

family-of-five

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.

Karis’ First Doctor Visit

This is it. We’re in our last week of our first year in Czech Republic. A week from today is June 24, the same day that we landed in Czech and when our lives were completely changed. For those that have followed along, it was also the start of a blog that has been published every day since we’ve arrived. I don’t want to get ahead of myself (I gotta save something for the blog next week!), but it’s kind of momentous and exciting.

This morning as I was taking Titus to school I stopped him and said, “Let me take a picture of you, pal.” He might be five years old but in that moment I felt like he was fifteen. I think it’s mostly just the clothes he’s wearing and how he’s walking with his backpack, but he just seemed really grown up. Here’s the photo he let me take.

Teenager Titus (6/17/15)

Today was Karis’ first post-hospital doctor visit. You might recall that we tried this on Monday, but had just missed the opening time that the doctor was seeing people. I think it was the sovereign hand of God because we didn’t have anyone to translate for us on Monday, but our friend Martina came with us today and I’m so glad she did. When you’re speaking about medical issues and other things, I just think it’s a lot easier to translate it than to try and catch things in broken English. Below is a photo of Martina, Bethany, Avery, and the nurse before we saw the doctor.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

Minus the part where Karis pooped all over the examination table, down the doctor’s leg, and on to floor, I thought things went great! Karis is definitely growing. Her measurements today were 9.28 lbs and 21.45″ in length. As the doctor said, “She takes after her dad in height!” Awesome. The doctor only found one issue and that was that Karis’ belly button had gotten a little infected. We have been cleaning it daily with alcohol, but I guess we weren’t being rough enough in there so she prescribed a little antibiotic cream to take care of that. Otherwise, the doctor said Karis is healthy and looks great. This is always a joy to hear and we’re thankful for God’s grace. Here’s a couple more photos from the appointment.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

After all that, she was a little sleep. Here she is in mommy’s arms.

Karis' First Doctor Appointment (6/17/18)

I returned back to the JV office after a few weeks of enjoying family and working from home. I also had the chance to meet our interns for the first time who have been here since the last part of May. They have been traveling around Ukraine the past week or so and just returned back in Czech over the weekend. We all enjoyed a nice lunch together and worked at the JV office. It was a fun time to have a big team again and to be plowing ahead with projects this summer.

Back at home our friend Rachael was so kind and made us dinner! I picked up a big back at her house tonight that was full of great food and a yummy dessert. She had told us a few weeks ago about her desire to gift us a meal when we no longer had family in town and I think tonight was perfect timing. I’m pretty tired, Bethany is tired, the kids are not tired (in any way whatsoever), and when you mix all that up in can be a challenge. Needless to say we were very thankful for the meal! Thank you, Rachael! You are a blessing to us.

Box Girl (6/17/15)

Finally this evening I spent a little time outside with the kids playing in the yard just to get some energy out of them. Avery brought a box from a desk fan we bought for their room recently and was playing in it. I got a couple photos, but this one (above) was my favorite.

That’s all from me. I’m heading out for a late night store run because we’re apparently out of toilet paper (as announced by Avery yelling about it down the hallway while sitting on the potty) and we also need milk. Have a good night!

Our First Easter in Czech

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

“Mom…Dad…” whispered a little voice from Bethany’s side of the bed as we were asleep early this morning. The voice continued, “…it’s Easter!” And with that proclamation we were awake. The voice was that of Titus and he was pretty excited because he knew today meant a “party” at our friends house after church. We got out of bed and made our way to the living room. I looked out the window when, “what to my wondering eyes should appear,” but freshly fallen snow (minus the sleigh and reindeer). Yes…snow on Easter Sunday. Such was the start of a really fun and joy filled day.

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Bethany had put together the kids Easter baskets last night and set them out for the kids to discover them this morning (shown in the photo above). Inside each were a few eggs with some candy and just a few small presents that Bethany had picked up, including new placemats for the table, shoes, socks, and some stickers. Other than the candy and stickers, I think the other things were mainly just those things you know you need so you turn it in to a present and everyone wins. The kids really loved opening everything and discovering what was inside the eggs (gummy bears and chocolate).

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

We made it to church this morning and were dressed for the occasion. Bethany had the kids all dressed up with Avery in a dress and Titus in a suit. I had actually ironed different clothes but when I saw Titus in his suit I decided to do the same and made a wardrobe change. At church there was a lot of special music, a lot of which was done by this women’s singing group. They were actually really talented and sang a bunch of different songs, including an old Stephen Curtis Chapman tune that had been translated in to Czech. Someone actually brought us a translation headset so we got to listen to the message in English, which was a great blessing because the message was really good and focused on Christ. There wasn’t any Sunday school for the kids, but we enjoyed having them with us. Here’s a photo of Avery and Bethany–Avery’s face is classic.

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Church actually ended early to our surprise which was the Lord’s blessing because we needed to get back to get the food prep done for our lunch with friends this afternoon (which was at the Yorman’s house). Mostly, the party and lunch consisted of a bunch of Josiah Venture families getting together. Bethany made a green bean dish, deviled eggs, and fresh salsa! They were all delicious. Everyone brought different appetizers and parts of the meal so it was one big potluck. Here’s a couple photos of some of the meal. We ate like kings!

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter Sunday in Czech (4/5/15)

We enjoyed sweet fellowship this afternoon together with the other missionaries and even had time to talk about Jesus with all our kids, as well as enjoyed a time of singing worship songs. Casey and Kristin asked if I would be able to bring my guitar and sing some songs which turned out to be a really fun time. Our friend John actually brought a small hand drum and his accordion, so we had a small band. While we were singing it started to snow pretty good outside, so we ended up singing two Christmas songs. Why not celebrate Christ’s birth and resurrection in the same day?!

The women had planned to do a egg hunt for the kids, so everyone pitched in to put eggs together and hide them. This was probably the highlight for the kids so we I got a ton of photos of it. They are below and I’ve put captions beneath ones that need more explanation.

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

This is Titus deep in thought over where his eggs might be. All the eggs were divided up by kid and Titus’ were “sports” themed while Avery’s were all pink in color.

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Easter in Czech (4/5/15)

Some of these hiding spots were pretty tricky.

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

There’s a pink one under there for Avery!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

And another one!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

When it was all said and done every kid had ten eggs. There’s was a little confusion for a bit because everyone thought they had hidden eleven eggs, but we think it was just a miscount. Each egg had either a sticker or a little toy inside. In the photo above Avery is enjoying discovering each little toy and you can even see on the ground that she lined them up as she opened them. Great times! What a fun day celebrating the risen Lord, Jesus Christ (even though the snow made it feel we were celebrating His birth)! It stayed pretty cold all day, but we definitely felt the warmth of friends and fellowship all day.

Finally, here are a few shots I got of the kids in their Sunday best. He is risen!

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Easter in Czech (4/5//15)

Our First Snow Day in Czech

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Like a little child waiting for Christmas, I have been waiting for our first snow day in Czech. Today was that day, and it was beautiful. Bethany grew up with snow in central Washington, but being a child of southern California I didn’t see many snow days. There were a couple of them, but they were definitely few and far between.

Today’s snow didn’t really pick up until around 2:00pm, and we really needed to head to another town and do a few errands. After checking the weather forecast, we decided to take our chances and left early this morning for the mall that’s about 40 minutes away. One thing we needed was a cordless phone so we could connect our Internet phone which will allow us to make calls to the States. We ended up finding the perfect phone at a great price at the first place we looked. In celebration, and because our friends gave us a gift card, we headed over to Starbucks.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Much to our surprise, the Czech baristas wrote “Have a nice day” on our cup…in English! That and the drink we were a nice little treat. From where we were sitting in the mall we could see the snow starting to come down outside, so I wanted to make sure didn’t linger too long. Our next stop was the mall play place. Titus and Avery have mental maps of every mall we have ever visited with precision GPS that can guide them there so we really had no way out of that. This mall’s play place was actually new to us, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. One thing they had was this giant, 2-story twisty slide. Titus was too scared in the beginning to go down it, but Annie Oakley Avery had no problem climbing the stairs and shooting down the tube. Below is a video that Avery took while sliding all the way down. You’ll notice the little Czech boys in front of her trying to talk to her.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Eventually, Avery convinced Titus that the tube was “a slow slide” and he went down. Here they are going down together. You can see Titus leaning on his back (probably because he was nervous) and Avery is all smiles as they make their way down.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

It’s always worth mentioning just how kid friendly Czech is. We went into multiple stores today that had little kid activity tables. Here’s a photo at the grocery store (yes, the grocery store!) that had a little Lego table. I played with the kids for a bit while Bethany grabbed a few items. As an aside, you’ll often find grocery stores inside the mall in Czech, and this one was no different–it’s actually quite convenient!

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

The snow had been coming down, but wasn’t really sticking much until about the time we were leaving the mall. Here’s a photo of us walking back to the car and it was just starting to come down harder. When we got to our car, there was just a thin layer on it.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Right as we were arriving home, the snow really began to come down and was sticking. The kids had fallen asleep in the car but we managed to get them inside and lay them on their beds without really waking them up. As soon as we were settled, I grabbed my camera and took a few photos along with a slow motion video of the scene. Here’s a little 16 second video I got that I added some music to. The church next to our place looked so incredible as the snow was falling.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

This afternoon I setup our new phone and ended up talking to my mom in the States for a while which was a real blessing. It was just morning time for her so we chatted as I watched the snow continue to fall outside. When the kids woke up from their nap we got excited about going outside to play. Bethany had called her parents on the phone too and then we ended up video chatting with them, so they were able to watch us playing outside via the computer. Bethany held the computer by the window as we threw snowballs and made snow angels in the yard. I think I had just as much fun as the kids, and it was a real joy to just play with them. Here’s some photos from our time.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

Avery had gotten a little cold and went back inside before I could get a photo of the three of us. But here’s Titus and me before we went back inside too. Yeah, I was excited.

Saturday and Snow (1/24/15)

I truly praise God that our first snow day came on a Saturday where I could spend it with my family. Just seeing Titus’ face and hearing him laugh when we were throwing snowballs at each other will be etched in my mind for many years to come. Watching Avery do her best to build a little snow man with the dry snow was cute and special. But even more than that, one thing I noticed today was how beautiful Czech looked. Even some of the grungier parts of the city were covered in white, perfect snow. That, of course, reminded me of the gospel and the great hymn “Jesus Paid It All.” All the grungy parts of my life–my sin–are covered by the sacrifice of Christ, and now I’m washed, “white as snow.” Praise the Lord for His amazing kindness and grace towards me.

Ice Skating in Poland on Avery’s Birthday

Never in my life would I have imagined spending Avery’s birthday ice skating in Poland, but that’s exactly what happened today. Our friends, the Millers, have a daughter with the same birthday (she’s a few years older) and they planned a big ice skating trip with a few other missionary families today. They invited us while we were at the JV Thanksgiving event and we were pumped to join them. The ice rink they chose is about a stone’s throw from our apartment, but it’s across the river in Poland. I think it actually takes longer to drive there than walk, but since it was in the 20’s outside we decided to take the car.

There were five families, including us, and we had a really fun time on our first ice skating adventure. The rink was very nice and really reasonably priced for skate rentals and time on the ice. I have done a lot of rollerblading, but I don’t believe I have ever actually been ice skating before. Bethany has gone, but it has been a really long time. Titus was excited, but Avery just wasn’t having it today and didn’t even want us to put skates on her. Later she warmed up to the idea (ha! “warmed up”…to ice) and let me carry her around the rink for a lap or two. Titus wanted to try a few times so I would hold his arms while his little legs and feet scrambled for stability beneath him.

Here’s a few photos with captions beneath each one to give more of the story.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

We arrived a few minutes earlier than the other families so Titus and I were walking around the building just checking it out and found a big pile of snow. This is not snow that had fallen from the sky, but I guess they made it for some event or practice they were doing. Behind this pile was a large ramp thing where I assume they were skiing or snowboarding. But that didn’t matter to Titus; he was just excited about all this crazy white stuff.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Here’s Bethany and Avery as we were waiting to buy tickets and get our skates on. Avery had just gotten up from a nap so she wasn’t quite camera ready.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Here was the scene inside the locker room where everyone was getting their skates on. I was really impressed that the same electric key that got you into the room also unlocked your personal locker. Not bad for $11 which got all four of us an hour of rink time, a locker, and skate rentals.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I know ice skating rinks are cold, but I’m pretty sure it was colder inside than outside (and it as cold outside!). For a while we skated clockwise and then an announcer came on in Polish to tell us to turn around and go the other direction. Since we don’t speak Polish you just kind of follow the crowd. You’ll also notice the big sign that reads “Welcome to Cieszyn.” Cieszyn is the Polish name for the same town in Czech which is Český Těšín (where we live).

This a little video I took going around the rink one time.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

I held Titus and Avery while skating around the rink a few times. I only fell one time and sadly I had Titus in my arms. Both our kids were well padded today, but when you’re dad is 6’4″ it’s a long way down. I saved Titus’ head from hitting the ice, but his bum hit hard and he cried. He settled down after a few minutes and we went around again. I tried hard to make sure he wasn’t completely freaked out about the ice after that considering that it was his first time. When we got home he said, “Ice skating was fun!” so I don’t think I did too much emotional damage.

After ice skating, the other families had plans to go back to where they were staying and invited us to have sundaes with them. It was just a little too far for us to go tonight and would’ve been another hour of driving, so we left and went to a local hamburger place in the Polish square.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

While at dinner we were waiting for our food (at the table above) and Titus was drinking his apple juice we had gotten him. I was sitting across from him asking him to sit down when he reached for his juice and it slipped and began spilling on the his seat (the bench seat). In a moment, I got up from chair, hit my head on a hanging light and all I heard was a big crash and glass breaking. It hurt and I was a little confused in the moment about what exactly had happened.

You’ll notice in the photo above that the glass lamp shade is sitting on the bench. Basically, my head knocked the huge lamp cover off the wire it was hanging from, it broke the light bulb, and everything fell on to our table. Amazingly, the lamp cover didn’t break, but we had broken glass from the light bulb, juice, and drinks all over the table and floor. Here’s a few more photos after we cleaned it all up with the help of the employees at the burger joint.

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Ice Skating in Poland (11/29/14)

Finally, we did have time this morning to give Avery a little something from us which she opened in our living room. Here’s a few more photos of Avery opening that. It was a really fun day and we’re glad we got to spend it with friends and enjoying another new adventure here.

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

Avery's Birthday (11/29/14)

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