it's all grace

a journey with the Thomason family

Tag: learning (page 1 of 2)

Please Sign Receipt

Man am I dumb. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking, but what is done is done. In the words of Kronk in the Disney movie The Emporer’s New Groove, “I hope that doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

Tonight I needed to to go to the store and pick one item: a metric screwdriver. I decided I would take the kids with me, get gas, and then hit the store. I went to the local Kaufland mainly because (to be honest) I was avoiding the drunk guys hanging out at the other store I usually go to. Everything went great. We found the screwdriver, it was cheap, and then I got the kids some gummy bears just for a fun thing to do since we were out. I wen through the checkout stand, paid, signed the receipt and off we went. As we walked to the car in the parking lot I said, “Who wants a gummy bear?!” to the kids who both said, “ME!” Oh I wish it ended there.

As I was buckeling Avery in to her car seat a store employee came running outside to me, yelling at me in Czech. The only things I could understand was “kartu” (which means card) and “podpis” (which means signature). I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and showed it to her but she kept motioning for me to come back inside. I told her “moment!” and got the kids out of the car and went back in.

Card Problems (2/11/15)

When I got back to the register where I paid there was a huge line of people and now three different employees who were visibly upset and trying to fix the computer which apparently had frozen after I left. My total was still on the screen and it read “Please sign receipt” on the card reader. Again, I showed my receipt to a second employee who was now picking up a phone and calling someone (you can see her in the photo above trying to get the computer to work). Titus said to me, “Daddy, are we done?” Of course, I couldn’t answer him because I really didn’t know what was going on. After a few minutes of button pushing and a phone call the lady finally came around and got under the register to where the cables were (see photo below).

Card Problems (2/11/15)

I think she reset the computer or something because a few minutes later they cleared the screen and said I could go. During all of this I had said to myself, “I’m not showing them my card again,” mainly because I had an authorization code on my receipt and I didn’t want to be double charged. They told me I could leave and as I was about to step away the lady said, “Chislo! Kartu!” which literally means “Number! Card!” Apparently, she wanted my card number. I said “Ne chislo!” and showed my receipt but they weren’t going for that. So in a moment of confusion and just not knowing what to do I pulled my card out and that’s when they started writing it down on the back of another receipt. I told them I was upset and didn’t like it, but couldn’t communicate that well. The clerk who spoke a little English said, “You don’t have to worry” which is theologically accurate but didn’t really calm my worry in the moment. So now my debit card number is on the back of some receipt at some store in Czech.

After rushing home, I put a hold on my card and will keep it that way for a few days. I’m actually kind of a freak about that stuff to the point where I don’t even share passwords, numbers, or just about anything over the Internet or on paper. If I absolutely have to write something like that down, it ends up going through the shredder. Even in our home I find myself whispering that kind of info to Bethany because you just never know who’s listening! Unfortunately, I just can’t cancel my card because having one shipped to Czech is even more difficult so I will just have to trust the Lord. Lord willing, it won’t be misused and hopefully will be thrown away! Like I said, I’m dumb.

New Print (2/11/15)

Ironically, I hung the above frame and print in my team’s office at Josiah Venture today. It says, “Never Stop Learning.” It’s really a philosophy I live by and am applying tonight. I thought “never give your card number to a stranger” was a given, but when you’re in a new place and unsure what to do you can find yourself doing weird things. Hopefully I learned something tonight.

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!

Back in the Saddle…I Mean, Sedlo

Language Learning (2/6/15)

We were back at it this morning, continuing our formal language learning with our our Czech teacher. It felt really good to be back in the saddle and just pushing forward. Speaking of forward, that’s pretty much what we we were learning, that is, directions. In the photo below, you can see Bethany working hard at reading a sentence with directions on a map and then trying to understand where exactly we are supposed to go. Left, right, down, up, turn, forward, straight, go. These are the kinds words we were focused on.

Language Learning (2/6/15)

For me, today was one of my favorite lessons because I’ve begun to write down confusing sentences and words in my Field Notes notebook so I can ask Tamara (our teacher) about them and get some clarity. I like the idea of capturing words and then working on what I hear. If you look closely in the photo below, my notebook has sentences like “I am not stupid,” “I’m cold,” “Let’s go (forward)!” and “Nevermind.” Those might sound pretty scatter brained, but they are legitimate phrases I’m curious to know and now have in my book where I can review and see regularly. Our ears hear lots of things throughout the day, so being able to say, “What does that mean?” and write it down is just really helpful.

Language Learning (2/6/15)

We also had a little review time, which you can see in the photo above. Tamara was holding up photos and asking us certain things about the case (masculine, feminine, neuter) to see how much we could remember. Bethany was much better at recalling that info that me, so I have some studying to do!

Avery Shades (2/6/15)

We’re planning a little fun for tomorrow with the kids. It’s actually supposed to be sunny, but cold and we’re hoping to do a little sledding near the mountains. Titus has been asking me when Saturday is because we told him about it earlier in the week and he’s been pretty excited. We have a wooden sled that we got a few months ago, but I’m hoping we can find a plastic one on our way out of town. We’ll see how it goes!

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!

More Visa Applications and Making a Million Mistakes

Unbelievably we’ve already been here long enough to begin processing another round of visa applications. Our first set of visas are for six months so technically they don’t expire until the end of January. But with all the holidays and time it takes to process things here we have to get started earlier to make sure there are no hangups. Today we spent most of the afternoon just going through the paperwork and trying to make sure we have got all the information correct. These new visas will be good for two years and give us simpler identification (something other than our passport). We’ll be working this week with the team here to help get it all moving forward. Most likely we’ll be headed to the Foreign Police in the next couple days to begin processing them so that’s a point of prayer for us this week.

Filling Out More Applications (11/23/14)

When we were at missionary training last year, one of the language teachers said, “In order to learn a language you have to be willing to make a million mistakes, so start now!” Today I took that instruction and butchered Czech about as much as humanly possible. I had a conversation today with our landlord about the light not working in our garage. I felt terrible because I couldn’t understand much, but basically she was trying to tell me that she got it fixed and that the light was actually on now and we needed to turn it off. This took me about four minutes of conversation with her until she finally just pointed for me to come outside with her and she showed me the light. I remember asking her “why” and just getting a blank stare. Who knows what I was asking her because I sure don’t!

Then tonight at the grocery store Avery left her Hello Kitty coloring book in the store and we didn’t realize it until we got home. Titus and I went back for it and I was trying to explain to two different store clerks that this was my daughter’s book and I wanted them to know that before I walked out of the store with it. What they were understanding from me was that my daughter had left a book like the one I was holding and that they didn’t have it. Finally we had to walk over to where I found the book and try using my phone to translate the whole thing and when something finally clicked they just started laughing. Thankfully, they did understand and were very gracious, but that doesn’t change the painful interchange that went on for ten minutes. Only 980,854 mistakes left to make before I learn Czech!

Titus is a Big Help (11/23/14)

On a parenting note, a friend from the States asked me yesterday on the phone about Titus and how he was doing. It was a timely question because I’ve been thinking a lot about Titus lately. As a dad, especially one of a boy, I’m really trying to process how to be intentional with Titus and train him well. Yesterday before the party I asked him to help me take the recycling out. He was really excited and carried “the big box” down the street all by himself. It may have only been a few minutes of time but I was really enjoying watching him grow and mature, even in things like helping with work. Lately Titus has been showing a lot of mature answers to questions and really starting to put things together. We see him asking lots of questions and just engaging more. It’s fun to watch him change and grow.

Tonight after we got Avery’s book at the store, Titus and I had a funny little conversation in the car which I sent out on Twitter. Here’s how it went:

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