Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey Everyone. :) Just wanted to post a little note, to let you know I'm still alive and well.

The past few weeks have been pretty busy, but all with good things. I'm feeling much more connected to life here, this side of Christmas, and I've been spending a lot of time with friends in my community. I've been out to coffee, visiting museums, having people over for dinner, and lots of other little things in between. It's been nice. :)

Classes and tutoring are still going well - I'm really enjoying the private lessons with the family I do twice a week. I was also a bit worried that adding that to my schedule would feel a bit overwhelming, but it really hasn't at all. I've been praying for God to give me the strength I need, and he's answered that prayer abundantly.

This Sunday I'm going skiing, which I'm super excited about! :) Hopefully I'll still remember how to do it... :)

Anyways, that's all for now. Love you all and miss you lots!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

4 Months!

Well hello and Happy Four Months Day! It is officially my 4 month anniversary of living overseas here in Prague. When I say that out loud, however, it really doesn't sound as long as it feels... not that that's a bad thing. Just interesting. It really does feel like I've been here for a while, and that summer is just around the corner. I still have lots of time to explore and try new things though, that's for sure, and I'm ok with that.

People have been asking about me staying for another year, if I'm thinking about it, etc. That still really isn't a possibility in my mind, however. I don't have any regrets about coming here, whatsoever. The city is absolutely beautiful, and the ways in which God has provided for me and blessed me here are astounding. I still feel, however, that the time I've planned on spending here from the beginning is enough. I'm excited to continue my work here and finish strong, and then to come back home and see what God has in store for me next.

One thing you can be praying for, is for God to provide more teachers who are willing to come and work with the English program that I have been a part of here in Prague. (It would make my leaving at the end of the year as planned, much easier I think. :) It is an amazing program to work for and with, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great teaching opportunity.

This past week was a busy one, with lots of interactions with parents and events in the evenings. On Tuesday the father of one of my first grade students came to observe our class. He was concerned about the progress his son was making (or lack their of, in his opinion). We've always said that parents are more than welcome to come at any time - they are paying extra money for their child to attend and it is important to us that they have a good understanding of how our program works. To make a long story short, he sat in my class for a while, and then went to observe the other class as well. He came back in during the second half to speak with me and what he said was not what my assistant and I were expecting, to say the least. He wanted to apologize, he said. Our program and our classes were absolutely perfect in his opinion. He said he could tell the students loved us and responded to us extremely well. They were speaking English and understanding what was going on, even without my assistant translating very much. He was blown away by what he saw and his opinion was completely changed for the better. He said thank you so much for what you are doing here, and he absolutely loves it.

Anyway, that was a very intense but positive day to say the least. :) I also started a new tutoring job this week (2 hours on Mondays and 2 hours on Thursdays) and it is going very well, although the travel time to and from is a bit tiring. I think I have a faster way of getting there now, so that should help some. It is with an entire family, actually - a boy in the first grade and his younger sister, as well as their mom and dad. :) They are so sweet though, and they are very excited to work with me too. It's lots of fun! I'm excited to build this new relationship with them and see what God does with it!

Well, that is all for now. I'm headed to Starbucks down town to work on lesson plans with my friend Jessica. :) Have a wonderful rest of your days!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two in a row!!

Well, I couldn't let the weekend pass without filling you in on all of the SNOW we've gotten the past few days! We had heard through the grape vine that Prague was due to get quite a bit, but we were still pretty surprised when it started snowing Thursday and kept going with only a few breaks in between until Sunday! And even then when I woke up this morning, there was still more floating down. I haven't heard the official total (and we don't have a ruler in our flat - I know, I'm ashamed to call myself a teacher) but it is definitely close to a foot. We also didn't get out to play in it at all, much to our dismay, but maybe we'll have a chance this weekend.

There is one unfortunate thing about it all - Prague is apparently not familiar with the concept of SNOW DAYS. While I know I could count on at least two, maybe three, if Cincinnati saw this much snow, everyone here just keeps pushing through. When I saw there was more this morning, I even allowed myself to wonder if maybe I would get a call... but apparently I was the only one thinking that was a possibility.

But yes, it has been lots of fun, nonetheless and it makes for some interesting sights along the way. It only took one trip of sludging through the drifts to the grocery store the other day to think that maybe these people are on to something... cross country skiing anyone?

And not to mention, some beautiful pictures...




You can see a few more snow pics at the end of this album:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Holiday Summary :)

Hi again!

I'm back with more of the details and pictures I'm sure you ALL have been waiting SO anxiously for. :) :)

You can see my pictures from our Christmas holiday here:

The Tuesday before Christmas I left by bus and headed to my Aunt Ang's house in Konigfeld, the Black Forest of Germany. I switched to a train a few hours later and had a pretty uneventful 8 hour tour of the country side.

I had seen lots of pictures of my Aunt's house over the years (she's lived there with her roommate Edda for the past six years, and in Germany for the past twenty!) and it was so fun to see it all in person. The rest of my family wasn't coming until the Saturday after Christmas, so we had a few days to spend on our own. (The first few pictures in the album are of their house and town, after Mom, Dad, Maria and Nick had arrived)

I honestly felt like a little kid at Disney World - Aunt Ang and Edda's home was so cozy and beautiful, and they were so welcoming and willing to do whatever we wanted for the day! :) On Wednesday we went to a little town a couple hours away called Rothenburg o.d. T. (Those are next in the picture order). It was a 900 year old Castle town with a large part of the Castle walls still intact. We were able walk around a good part of it, and then went down into the cute little streets and shops.

Thursday was Christmas Eve and we spent the morning and afternoon relaxing and drinking tea. In the evening we went to two different Christmas Eve services. The first was at Aunt Ang and Edda's church. It was all in German, but they were kind enough to welcome me to Germany (during the announcements up front! :) and wish me a Merry Christmas. I tried my best to say it in German, but it never did turn out too well. :) The second service we went to was at the Moravian church in their town. Here they had a huge tree up at the front with real candles all lit on it! This service was in German as well, but I was able to follow what the Pastor was saying while he was holding up a highligher - that the birth of Jesus was the one story that God highlighted and said to world "Look at this! This is what it's all about! Don't miss it!" Good service. They also had a beautiful brass choir that played during the service and outside afterwards (Stille Nacht!).

Friday was Christmas Day, and we spent it in a very delightful way - Aunt Ang and I drove to a salt water springs spa town about twenty minutes from Konigfeld. They had about three different pools, all hot and salty and two different saunas. One of the pools was outside and we enjoyed that with the snow falling all around :) That evening some of Edda's family came from Switzerland and we had a very nice lunch and dinner with them.

Saturday was the big day and Aunt Ang and I went early to pick up the family in Zurich, Switzerland. We got stopped at the border and actually had our car searched and passports checked (I guess we looked pretty suspicious with our sunglasses and bagpacks lol) but we were soon on our way and got there in a little over an hour. We took a train up to a mountain close by and spent a few hours in view of the Alps! (The next set of pictures in the album). Pictures can obviously not do it justice, but it was hard not to try and capture the beauty. There was an observation tower to climb up for a better view, and a very nice restaurant we had lunch at. We were able to spend a couple of hours there and view the Alps at different times of the day. So fun! We then got a call from Dad saying that they were actually still in London and wouldn't be getting to Zurich for another few hours. While we were very anxious to see them, we were pretty excited to have another few hours to look around the city. It reminded me a little bit of Prague, but it definitely was a unique city, sitting on a lake at the base of the Alps.

We picked up the family and spent the next few days hanging out and enjoying our time together. On Monday we visited the town of Triberg, home of the world's largest cuckoo clock, and on Tuesday we all packed up and headed back to Prague.

I loved being able to show everyone around - both to my favorite "home-town" spots and the glorious post card sites Prague is known for. Old Town Square at night and the Castle were some of the favorites, I think. We were also all able to stay at my flat, so that was fun and convenient too.

New Years Eve was lots of fun - Prague is known for it's fun party scene for that evening, including fireworks being set of by anyone and everyone, metros and dark alleys not excluded. So, rather than risk losing a limb, we decided to do our own celebration at our flat. We went grocery shopping and made a big pasta dinner and welcomed in the New Year with some wine and a Berlin station count down on TV. At midnight the fireworks exploded and we went back and forth from my top-floor living room, balcony and bedroom, looking out the windows watching them all on the horizon. It lasted for almost an hour and sounded like we were in the middle of a war zone. Definitely a fun thing to experience.

Well, that about sums it up, I think. :) It's past my bedtime now so I'm going to go. More to come later though!

Love to all!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to "normal life..."

Hello everyone, and Happy New year! Can't believe it's 2010. Crazy. I hope you all a wonderful Christmas holiday!

I know this should be a long post, since it's been two weeks since the last one, but I will have to fill you in with details and pictures in a day or two. I'm still trying to get caught up on lesson plans and Christmas thank you's, and all that fun stuff that comes with taking a two week vacation. :)

I will tell you though, that the past two weeks were absolutely wonderful and the time spent with my family over here in Europe was so so good. We had a blast exploring my Aunt's world in Germany, playing games in their cozy log cabin and just being together. Then traveling 8 hours back to Prague with everyone where we crashed at my flat for the next three days. Again, it was the perfect mix of exploring the city and relaxing at home.

Saying goodbye again was (or should I say, is) hard though. I'm so thankful that God worked everything out for my family to visit, but it is hard getting back into life here again. The moments of feeling homesick are once again quite fresh. I know God is still with me though, and He has brought me here for this time. I'm trying my best to remember that, and look forward with excitement to what he still has in store for these next 6 months. I'd greatly appreciate your prayers for all of that too.

As I was reading a favorite passage of mine after I dropped the family off at the airport, I looked at it in a new way for the first time...

Psalm 139 is written by David to God, expressing his praise for these promises that he knows are true. When I looked at it this time though, I read it as God speaking those promises to me...pretty encouraging when you think about it...

"o (your name here), I have searched you and I know you. I know when you sit and when you rise. I perceive your thoughts from afar. I discern your going out and your lying down; I am familiar with all of your ways. before a word is on your tongue, I know it completely, My love. I hem you in - behind and before; I have laid My hand upon you. Such knowledge is too wonderful for you, too lofty for you to attain.

Where can you go from My Spirit? Where can you flee from My Presence? If you go up to the heavens, I am there; if you make your bed in the depths, I am there. If you rise on the wings of the dawn, if you settle on the far side of the sea, even there My hand will guide you, My right hand will hold you fast.

If you say 'surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,' even the darkness will not be dark to me; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to Me.

For I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother's womb. You can praise Me because you are fearfully and wonderfully made; My works are wonderful, you know that full well. Your frame was not hidden from Me when you were made in the secret place. When you were woven together in the depths of the earth, My eyes saw your unformed body. All the days ordained for you were written in My book before one of them came to be.

I know how precious My thoughts are to you, My love! How vast the sum of them! If you were to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.

When you awake, you are still with Me."

Ok, that's all for now. More details of the week and pictures to follow, I promise! :)