Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Ostrava Saga Pt. III

Well, this is embarrassing. I officially fail at providing consistent updates. I would apologize, but I have a feeling that it would come out sounding like a list of lame excuses, so I shall refrain and simply assure you that I intend to do better in the future. One thing I would like to point out to you before charging ahead into this post is the addition of "pages" on my blog. They can be found on the righthand side of my blog. Currently, there are two. One is about Fishnet, the language school I work at, and the other is about my ministry here in Ostrava. I also plan to do another one about why I chose to teach overseas in the first place. The information on these pages will help give some background to my blog posts, so please give them a glance.

Now, without further adieu, I give you: The Ostrava Saga Pt. III: A Change of Plans

Sounds scary, doesn't it? Plans are comfortable. Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to have all my ducks in a row. However, as one friend recently told me, "Want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans." I entitled this post "a change of plans" for a few reasons. Reason #1: What I was originally going to post in the last part of the saga I instead chose to create pages for. Reason #2? Hold this thought. I'll come back to it later... ;)

I have been here in the Czech Republic for about 3 months now, and the time has flown by so fast. Teaching started on September 6th with business classes, and then public courses started on the 20th. Since then, I have learned that teaching is a full-time job. Even with only 24 teaching hours per week, there are lessons to plan, meetings to attend, and plenty of ministry opportunities to be a part of. Each week is quite full, but in a good way. I wish I could give you a play-by-play of the past two months here, but the truth is, I can't. Besides, your eyeballs would probably fall out attempting to read all about it anyway. However, I can give you some highlights and details of my time here the past two months.

*One of my best friends, Claudia, came to visit me the first week of September. She lives in Germany, and I hadn't seen her in about two years, so it was a great reunion. I felt a bit helpless since I'd only been here for a short time, but we did some exploring in Ostrava and had a lovely time. A few days after the visit, she flew out to Oregon to study for a year at a university in Ashland. There's nothing quite like swapping continents, but I am very excited for Christmas, as she is coming home and has invited me to stay with her and her family in Olbernhau and experience Germany for the first time.

*I never thought I would be a teacher OR work with youth. Boy does God have a sense of humor. After being here and experiencing both of these opportunities, I am pleased to say that I have amazing students and I am altogether in LOVE with this place. God is doing something big here in Ostrava and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. The past few film nights have had an amazing turnout...upwards of 80-90 youth! We meet in the cafe of the church I attend, and there's almost not enough room for everyone now. Also, at the last Young Life club, we had over 50 youth attend. In a country where so many people are tolerant of Christians but remain unbelievers, seeing God working in the hearts of the youth here is such an encouragement to me.

*Around the end of September, I was invited to go to the mountains with one of my students, her husband, and two-year-old son. It was such a wonderful experience of many 1sts, including: my first time picking wild blueberries, my first time truly hiking in the mountains, my first blueberry frgal (boy oh boy is this a delicious pastry), and my first time seeing a real wolf up close. Don't worry...the wolf was actually a domesticated Czechoslovakian wolf (AKA it thought it was a dog) and it was quite friendly. Oh, and of course I supported my team and wore my Notre Dame sweatshirt. Thanks for asking :)

*Arts in the CZ are much more available, not to mention much cheaper. I went with my team in September to see Carmen (for about $8!) at the opera (which was quite an experience, as it's a French opera, set in Spain, and it had Czech subtitles scrolling across a marquis), and I recently saw the ballet Giselle with the same student that I went to the mountains with. There are at least three theatres here in Ostrava, and I look forward to seeing many more shows.

*I had a wonderful experience in the mountains two weeks ago at a Young Life event called Film Weekend. To make a long story short, about 35 kids, not including leaders and a few Fishnet teachers including yours truly, spent an entire weekend watching and discussing films, playing games, and having a grand ol' time. This is of course AFTER hiking up the side of the mountain in the dark and at a practically vertical angle. I'll never think of steep in the same way again. Gotta get myself some hiking boots... I could probably do an entire post on this weekend. Perhaps I shall. Regardless, this was a weekend that I will never forget.

There are many more details and events I could share with you, but this is already getting quite lengthy. However, before I bid you adieu, I will take you back to reason #2. Ha, that rhymed. So, "a change of plans" also refers to my current predicament. When I originally signed on to this adventure across the pond, I only thought of it as a one-year kinda deal. It didn't even really occur to me that I would have the opportunity or desire to stay longer. However, the reality is that 1. I love it here. 2. ESI (my sending organization) wants to know in March whether their teachers plan to stay or return to the states. 3. I am prayerfully considering staying for another year. You might ask, "What is the benefit of staying longer?" or "Isn't one year enough?"

To answer these questions, let me share with you a question that EVERY single student and acquaintance has asked me since I arrived: "How long are you staying?" The people here are so used to people like me coming and then going after one year that they are afraid to truly invest in a relationship if we're only going to be here a short while. I don't blame them. Don't get me wrong, it is possible to build relationships here in one year, but think of what can be done in two. Trust takes time. Therefore, I ask that you keep me in your prayers as I continue this year and contemplate the future. I am not hasty in my decisions, and I don't do this to frighten you. I tell you this so that we can pray together. Plus, I've found that it's better to let the people you care about have time to get used to an idea instead of springing it on them right before a deadline.

I shall end this post with a good quote that I found recently. "Decisions come easier when your will to please God outweighs your will to please the world." -Anso Coetzerny

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your prayers. I love you all.