These last few months have been incredibly formational for our family. What was once a situation that would leave us wide eyed and wondering what the day to day will look like is finally starting to even out into a quality rhythm. There are still the many facets of culture shock that exist for us, and thankfully we know what is normal for people all around the world in our situation (Click here for a brief example of the stages of culture shock). But with the challenges of getting used to a new world, we're now beginning to find our niche, as we're settling into a way of life that is healthy for the long run. Having the long game in mind has been one of the most consistent pieces of advice we've been given, so we've been taking that seriously.
One of the key skills that we need to develop here for the long run is to learn the Czech language. It is one of the most difficult to learn from English, and at this point we truly understand why. There are many complexities and exceptions to the many rules that it can be disorienting, and frankly we feel like our brains are put into a blender after every lesson. But at this point Lisa is taking home lessons with a good friend of ours from the church and I am enrolled at the local University, taking 18 hours per week of Czech studies. Just when I thought school was behind me, it locked me back in.
Though the process can be difficult, the mistakes I've made along the way have made the class a little more fun. When you want to say the word "painting," but wind up saying "love making," you tend to get weird looks. Another time I wound up telling the professor "train station" in response to his sneeze. And "the pub" has taken the place of "the hospital" on more occasions than I'm willing to tell you.
The quality side of this kind of rigorous training is that we're catching on a little better every week. When we first landed here, being surrounded by discussions in Czech was extremely overwhelming, but now it feels a little more natural to hear, and I'm actually catching on to some of what is being said. One of the key qualities of knowing the language here is not only communication, but there is a ton of cultural knowledge that tailgates the language, such that you wouldn't really be able to have a firm grasp of it without it.
In terms of ministry, I have to say we've been given more opportunities to serve here than I thought we would being so new. Our church has become as close as family very quickly and by the grace of God we've seen more people coming and being apart of this movement. Our home church in Olomouc has almost doubled since we got here, so if you're praying for us we would be grateful for you to turn your attention there. But on top of hosting a community group in our home, I had the privilege of preaching at both Metro Church in Olomouc and Majak Church in Vsetin. And each time amplified the motivation to know the language.
On top of our Sunday evening gatherings and meeting in our homes, we have had other opportunities to serve by using our native language. On two occasions over the last few months were able to teach english and share the Gospel of Jesus through our stories of who we are and how we got here. And that opened up deeper conversations with a number of people. A few weeks ago we were able to share on a panel alongside a few Syrian refugees and it was incredibly encouraging to see what God is doing around the world, even in the darkest places.
Our family has been doing well as we've settled here. There is definitely culture shock for the kids as well, and we can see it in their interactions with other Czech kids (they can sometimes be more reserved when they realize they don't understand what's being said). Not knowing the language is a huge barrier to relationships, and we have come to the point where we are going to find a Czech school to enroll them in for the sake of their knowing the language and making Czech friends. But in the meantime, they are keeping with their home curriculum and have opportunities to connect with kids at community group and different weekly things that we have them involved in (Andrew is loving Muey Thai). But on top of all of that, we can tell the kids have grown closer together as a result of the move, and we just recently surprised them with a kitten (and a puppy on the way next week.....Shhhh, don't tell them).
Interestingly, Nora believes that police officers punish traffic violators with kittens after Daddy got his first traffic ticket on the night we brought the cat home in a box.
When it comes to support, I couldn't ask for a greater situation. Our community group has come to be an immense encouragement to us and our Pioneers team is a diverse group who get along really well. So, between the Czech's and American/Australian team, we have a well rounded group of people helping us to keep our eyes on the reason we're here
While the world of visas has been an interesting puzzle, we're now only 1 step from receiving our 2 year visas coming in January. What was once a crazy spiral of experiences has become a little less intense now that we know where to go and the right people to talk to
Our city goes through the waves of a typical college town, but it is different to be in such a completely post-Christian society. We have resemblances of that in the States in small pockets, but here there is so very little understanding of the Christian worldview that a lot of pre-evangelism work needs to be done before a grid can be laid for the Gospel to make any sense. Our heart is to see Gospel centered churches planted, so to see the health of the local church on mission is of the utmost importance to us. A Word and Spirit driven community that multiplies is what we long to see in our lifetime, and by the grace of God we get to be apart of that.