Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Good Life

Life is good here in Prague. The weather is pleasant, the architecture is divine, and all the food/drink is on a whole 'nother level. I spend my time talking to people about anything and everything; in pubs, in parks, in cafes, in museums, in English and Czech, and generally I am pretty satisfied most of the time. It is the little things about this culture that sometimes catch me off guard. I love that instead of going to wal-mart I have to go to the butcher, the baker,(the candlestick maker..) the vegetable stand, and the supermarket to get the things that I need to eat for a week. What can upset me is that sometimes I find myself being dissatisfied that things aren't as "convenient" here as they are in America. My dissatisfaction comes from realizing how lazy living in the states can make you if you aren't careful. I have no car, and I don't need one since the public transportaion system here is more than satisfactory. I have no internet in my flat, but once again wireless is not hard to come by in the city. I do have a cell phone that I use often, but that is the only real "convenience" that I feel has carried over from my former life to my new one. I am so happy for the opportunity to live and work cross-culturally, I can see and feel the ways that I am growing, and I can't wait to return home with thousands of new experiences and stories to share with my friends.

The Czech language is hard. Even native Czechs can agree to that. I have been taking language lessons three times a week for the last month, and despite the progress made it is still quite easy to feel overwhelmed and useless in a Czech-speaking world. Today I was at a restaurace(czech for...thats right, restaurant)and I ordered what I thought was a salad, but instead I got a bowl of what I think was soggy shredded cucumbers soaked in pure vinegar. Gross. This is what they call a "cross-cultural" moment.

Top 5 things I have seen since the last post:

5. Envelopes from sienna. They are beautiful.

4. The wrong train stop for Nelahozeves (Dvorak's birthplace). I sat in a middle of a field on a concrete block for an hour because of it.

3. The house where Dvorak grew up, the place where he is buried. And his viola/piano.

2. The men's Wimbledon Final.

1. A Czech woman wearing a t-shirt with nuns holding shotguns sharing a speech bubble that said,"We hate T.V.".

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Josef Tava

A couple of days ago, I took the number 22 tram out to Dvorka Sarka and got off at the last stop, right by the mcdonalds. I met Mark Richards there, who is actually a native Czech who studied in America and is starting a prayer retreat center out in one of the national parks near Prague. The center will be contained in three very old buildings in the middle of the woods, im talking early 18th century old. He and his family have been working to restore these buildings over the past 10 years, and it is a slow and difficuly process, but I can only imagine how beautiful and perfect this place will function one day as a retreat for Christians in the Czech Republic.

I went out to meet mark because I simply was going to walk around the campus and pray for the buildings, the future inhabitants, the restoration, and basically every facet of the process. I prayed for a very long time. It was an interesting thing, to walk around this beautiful old eighteenth century restaurant and house, praying for it's future. Mark had such appreciation and avid passion the prayers that would be offered up for the place that he has poured his life into. It was so encouraging to be freshly reminded of the power and privilege of prayer. So good.

Top Five things from the past week:

1.I saw Uma Thurman walking through an alley in Old Town Square. It was the best 8 seconds of my life. She walked right past me.

2. I cut down about an acre of 5 foot tall grass in the woods at Dvorka Sarka, with a scythe. From the 18th century.

3. I went up to a monastery on top of the mountain next to prague, for the second time. It is surrounded by rose gardens and has one of the best views the city has to offer.

4. Seeing a large group of drunken Germans get stared down in the metro station by a few extremely hard Czech guys. The germans were singing the glories of Deutschland, literally, and at high volume. Germany kind of sucks to Czechs, at least these guys certainly thought so.

5.The weather of the past three days. Nothing better than a breezy, sunny day in Jewish Town, the synagogues are all brazen and guilded, and they really catch the light so well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

top five!

5.almost got pissed on by a man in a park. i didn't really see anything, but i walked past a tree, and he let out a yelp and stumbled away, still peeing.

4.a room full of assorted people who were laying on the floor, making invisible snow angels, and generally just relaxing. it was the warm-ups for my contact improv class, which is sweet. just google contact improv dancing, and it will all make sense.

3.a beer garden full of czechs dressed up in red white and blue, who were the happiest people i'd seen, until the last 5 minutes of the match, when russia scored twice and won. i thought the place was gonna explode.

2.a group of american college students (from ohio) about to pay 500 crowns for a beer. the handsome barman, (brian gillikin) took pity and told them it was in fact only 30 crowns for beer. it's always fun to ask. know your exchange rate, people.

1.a rose garden lining the top of the large mountain/hill outside of prague. it is tended my monks who stay at the monastery in the middle of the garden, and those monks actually brew their own beer. word.

dobry den.

so czech is a really difficult language. it's not a romantic language, in fact it's sort of the opposite, so having learned spanish before czech has made learning czech more difficult. the vowels are pronounced different, the consonants include both hard and soft, and it's hard for me to discern where one word ends and the other begins. when i am at a supermarket or a karnavoka (coffee shop), I find myself responding to a befuddling blur of czech with a response spoken in spanish. i think this is because my mind knows that i'm not allowed to speak english, but since it takes me years to form sentences in czech i immediately switch to spanish. if im not careful, i'll start streaming spanish at some unsuspecting tram conductor who is confused by the spaniard-american who can't speak chesky. i was actually once pleasantly surprised by the baggage check dude at one of the clubs in old town. i went upstairs to drop off my bag before the dancing took me, and he said something in czech that i didn't understand. i tried a few feeble czech sentences and then helplessly lapsed into spanish. his response brightened the room: "Catracho, no? Mi amor, espanol esta aqui!" Which translates to, "Honduras, right? I love it, spanish in prague!". He was from spain and working in prague, and apparently my accent is still authentically honduran. cheers to that.

euro 2008 is pumping up in intensity. i love football (soccer, dummy) in europe. no american sport brings thousands upon thousands of screaming fans into the streets to watch games on huge screens. it is such a unanimously loved sport, and I love that that is the case. im for spain all the way. they played a shotty match against italy last night but won in penalty kicks. here's the link:

Monday, June 16, 2008


“Prague doesn’t let you go. That little mother has claws…”

It’s only day two and I have found this saying to be quite true. I don’t usually think that love at first sight is a very practical way to describe one’s affections for someone, but I think if you are talking about geographic locations it could be a very fair statement. I had heard of the beauty of Prague, how amazing and historical it was. Well, it’s all true. Easily the most beautiful and well put together city I have ever been to. The public transit system is flawless, and the buildings are eloquently baroque in architecture. There are pubs and cafes dotting every street, and people of all nationalities and tongues are constantly flooding my synapses with appearances and languages that intrigue me to no end.

Break. Right now my roommate Will is playing a Dvorak violin concerto in our kitchen, and it is very VERY pleasing to my ears. His intonation is off the charts.

My team is an amazing group of people from across America, and I am very excited to get to spend the next two months with them. We get along well and are all excited to see what will happen in the next two months. Today was Sunday and so me and the team went to the church plant in Prague 6. It is called Faith Community and technically it is a church plant of Midtown in Charlotte. It is pastured by Phil and Shana Davis, who are a WHM missionary couple. Before and after church the team and I spent all day moving around the city getting acquainted, as our internship will consist of us traveling around the city meeting people for meals or drinks and hanging out with them, getting to know them, and trying to plug them in with the Christian community that the WHM team has formed.

I have so much to say and too much time to say it. I need to let it all simmer a little before I try and form it into words. I’ll be keeping this regular. Check the flickr for pics soon, I gotta find a camera cord to upload them, and I’ll probably do that tomorrow. I left mine at home.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

im here.

I don’t sleep well on airplanes. I am sitting on the right side of the middle row of an Airbus A-330 600 flying 34,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. I am sitting next to a woman from Germany with two adopted children from Guatemala. She speaks English; not well but she still speaks it. I am sitting on the second story of a two-story airplane.

It has all kind of hit me at once. Preparing for an internship that was rather ambiguous in it’s description has looked like Michael praying that God will “prepare”, and “provide” him for what lies ahead, whatever it is that is lying ahead. When I say it all hit me at once what I mean is that I think God chose to wait until I was on the plane heading to Prague to give me a solid reason for why I raised bookoos of money to go to a foreign country to ” build relationships” with people and hopefully share the good news with them.

This morning at the World Harvest sending center all the full-time staffers gathered with the London and Prague interns and prayed over them before we left. They asked us to share specific prayer requests concerning the next two months.

---Hold on. The little Guatelmalan girl, Rosie, just laid her head on my shoulder and is ------snoring. Very adorable.

I have been struggling over the past two months to well, justify, me going overseas at this point in my life. I shared with the WHM staff that I not in a totally financial secure position and as a result really was having mixed feelings about my eligibility to raise support to do the Lord’s work when I could be working to solidify my fiscal standings. They were very understanding and encouraged me and prayed for me; that I would turn from fear and cling to faith, that I would really believe in the Lord’s provision and sovereignty. It’s hard, you know?

So I was sitting next to Rosie and we were watching “Horton Hears a Who” on our little T.V.’s that we have. As I was watching this movie, a rather shocking dichotomy was set before me. In this movie, Horton the elephant finds a speck of dust and hears a voice eminating from this speck. Upon further investigation, we find that this speck is actually the world upon which the Who’s of Whoville exist. There world was so small compared to Horton’s, yet he was inextricably drawn to protect them and make sure that they went on existing.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in my small world. I easily freak about monetary security and it is easy for me to forget the goodness of God when things are tight. The realization that hit me was this: I am going to where I am going to have my small world stretched to a completely unrecognizable, new size. So much of this internship is about the Lord using other people to teach me, as opposed using me to teach others. If I succeed in the latter it will be a miracle. Oh, and Im not saying that Horton is a Jesus symbol.

Rosie wants be to play her gameboy, so I am afraid I must indulge her. I’m not even in Prauge yet, but I’m going to do a top 5 list anyways (sorry will, it’s a good idea).

Top 5 things I have seen after leaving home.

1. The smiling face of Christopher Taylor and Grant Withington in the Chattanooga airport. Topher and I ended up making the entire trip to Philly together.

2. The 300 dollar travel voucher that Northwestern airlines gave me for overbooking my flight from Detroit to Philly. I was delayed an hour and a half, so the way I see it I got payed over 100 dollars an hour to take a refreshing afternoon nap in the Detroit airport.

3. The Elvis impersonator that sat directly in front of me on my first flight.

4. A German mother of four that was laughing uncontrollably with her children as they ALL exited one of the bathrooms downstairs in the plane. Those bathrooms are tiny.

5. Sienna’s face upon arriving in Chattanooga. What a good stay I had.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easters, and beyond.

Major happenings: Easter break has just occurred, and I have returned to school safe and sound. Safe definitely, sound not so much. I have 3 tests and two papers, all happening in this 4-day academic week. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but it is and I am seriously debating whether or not I have the time to write this post.

Easter was excellent, friends came from near and far and good food was et by all. We had hours of fun on the ping pong table, the trampoline was enjoyed often, going for walks and sitting and smoking away the day on the front porch was one of the preferred pastimes. Oh and not doing anything productive, did I mention that?

This picture is dear to my heart, it shows the incredible flexibility that my friend Kyrie Howard is capable of, and I think it pretty much captures the attitude of our easter break. More amazing flying pictures after the jump!