It is good to give thanks to the Lord … How great are your works, O God, your thoughts are very deep. Psalm 92:1, 5
Dear friends and family
Warm greetings and hugs from
visas and finances
Well, the visa saga has finally ended in the last few days. Last week we each had half-hour interviews at the Foreign Police office to confirm that we were really married and knew the details of our wedding and life together (ie. that it wasn’t a marriage of convenience). Fortunately we got most of the details right – all you newly engaged couples, make sure to remember the details J. This Monday, as we were walking together to
Financially God has graciously provided for us through so many of you - our budget goal of $19,220 has been met and exceeded by more than $1400! Thanks to each of you and each church family that has so generously supported our work here in
reaching out to Czech people
We’ve been busy with various weekly activities: Miro’s 5 English courses ranging from beginners to advanced, Christy’s class for parents with their 5-8 year old children, Christy tutoring Sarka and her two daughters in English, and Miro and Christy each doing Czech/English language exchanges. In addition we had a Canadian Easter presentation in April (about 20 people came) and a visit to the Usti Zoo in May (about 10 people came). Right now the churches in the area are gearing up for the LIFE festival on June 20th, with which Miro has given a hand (li-fe2009.blogspot.com). Christy is assisting ShineBean, a non-profit ministry that helps the poor in
The first few months in Czech we spent so much time just settling down and doing visa application work. Now in the last 4-6 weeks we are refocusing on why we’re here - to reach out spiritually to Czechs through friendships and outreach activities. This has meant just spending more time over coffee, on hikes and casual meetings. Because we are foreigners, sometimes there is more of an openness to spiritual conversations. For example, back in April Miro was getting off a bus and started up a conversation with a Vietnamese man, Duc, with whom we’ve been connecting slowly. This friendship is really growing as this week in honour of Children’s Day he brought over a toy elephant for Isaiah. Last week Christy went to one of our favorite local coffee shops and spent an hour talking with the server (mostly in Czech!). Pray that we would have courage to take the opportunities as they come! Its interesting to note, that Czech on the surface seem quite cold and distanced. For example people do not strangers on the street, or even at the Mother’s Centre where we take Isaiah to play with other preschool children. But once you are invited into their lives, they open up through hospitality and warmth.
life in Czech
Just a brief note about life here in
On a different note, gardens are a core part of Czech life. Since most towns are houses, low-rise apartments and high-rises, all clumped closely together, there is relatively little space for people to have a garden. So most people own a garden plot somewhere else, usually within a few kilometers of home. Once April roles around, they spend weekends there planting, tilling and growing fruit trees and vegetables. Ironically, salads and veggies are not a major part of most Czech diets. For example, lunch is the major meal of the day, and you’re lucky if it’s more than meat and potatoes. Czech people are quite generous with what they have - recently on a visit to one family who keep bees, we were blessed with a jar of their honey, while a couple weeks later someone gave us a bottle of dandelion honey to help Isaiah with his cold.
Culturally there are some different holidays here. Easter is mostly about celebrating spring coming, at the end of April there is a straw witch burning and May 1 is a worker’s holiday (connected with labour movements). Finally each day of the year is a name birthday, where different Czech names are celebrated. In March was Miroslav day, so my cousin presented me with a bottle of wine and kisses.
Finally the geography around Litomerice is simply beautiful. On one side are the farms and fields of flat prairies, extending all the way to
It’s been such a pleasure to visit family here in
Family wise Isaiah is such a joy to us. We speak to him in Czech (Miro) and English (Christy). Although he has yet to say any words, he obviously understands both languages. He’s a great walker, he has 10 teeth, and knows various sign language vocabulary, especially “I want” and then pointing at what he wants. Last week our downstairs neighbour called Isaiah a little cricket. At first I thought this was a note of affection, until I realized that he was emphasizing how a small creature can make so much noise! Oops – we put down a rug onto our ceramic floor kitchen to soften his cricket sounds. Isaiah also loves us chasing him as we say, “I’m going to get you”; his giggles are magical. It’s cute how he will pull out a book and bring it to you, asking that you spend time with him. And this last week he has finally learned how to wave goodbye, now to everybody he sees. Yesterday Christy said, when he is in his stroller, he looks like the Queen in her chariot, as he waves to one and all. And hair-wise, we’re taking him for his first ever haircut (which is bound to be an ordeal in Czech or English), the result being that he will lose his precious curls!
We’ve all had colds the last 8 weeks, with Isaiah visiting his first Czech doctor and us trying to navigate how to get over-the-counter drugs (why can’t you get Fisherman’s Friends here?) at the local pharmacy.
And finally, because our Sunday church experience is entirely in Czech, we supplement our English spiritual lives with a dose of Willowcreek sermons and our biweekly English bible study.
As many of you know, we had substantial visa preparations last fall and then all the hoops of superlegalization and applications once we got here. As I think back over the details I am struck with how some of the very things that were hindrances/road blocks at the time have actually made it possible for us to stay here. For example, normally you’d want to get your visa approval before you left the country. But we didn’t find out that the application was denied until after we got here. In hindsight, if we had found out that the application was denied while we were still in Canada, that is, after we had rented out our house and were jobless and living in one of our parents homes (in NS or ON), we might have just had to decide to not go at all, because waiting for 4-8 months for another application response while living in a parents basement without an income would have been unthinkable. Another example – when we were making our second application, we discovered that we had to wait at least 2 weeks before we could even submit the application. But because of that delay, I was given the chance of applying for my Czech citizenship and consequently Christy could apply for a temporary residence permit, which has in the end meant a possible open door for longer-term ministry in
At the end of the day, I take this all as God’s providence and timing. It also makes me more hesitant to necessarily call ‘bad’ or ‘not God’s will’ those things that don’t work out for me. Rather, I think that God can take ‘bad’ situations or circumstances (maybe I could even say that in some cases God created those situations?) and turn them into good.
Things to thank God for
- that our fundraising needs have been met, and with excess!
- that we have our stay until Dec.10th confirmed
- that friendships and doors are slowly opening
- for the English Bible group, for the challenge and encouragement that we’ve received
- for Isaiah’s development and growth, despite the changes in culture and place
- for Christy’s considerable language growth in the last month
Things to ask God for
- Miro will end each of his classes with each student receiving a New Testament and a brief account of his faith journey. Then we will have our last class in a coffee shop to connect. Pray that God would open doors for conversations and that Miro would have boldness to speak and wisdom to speak well.
- some of the people who we are reaching out to, Duc, Hana and Patrik, Ivanka, Kveta and her family, that their hearts would be stirred with curiosity and longing.
- for Isaiah in his language acquisition, since his little brain is trying to process two very different languages.
final words - We miss connecting with you all. Thanks especially to SBC for your monthly prayer updates, we feel like we are in your midst. We pray that each of you reading this may enjoy some of the richness of grace that God is pouring out even this moment.
PS.Sorry about this update being so late and so long. To be more realistic with our time, we will give our updates bimonthly (end of July, Sept., Nov. and Jan.). To stay connected, read Christy’s blog updates (with pictures too) at www.rakersons.blogspot.com.