Monday, December 10, 2012

cece is four!

Four years ago today I started this blog because of Cecelia. My first post was the day she was born. At four something in the morning on December 10, 2008, Brian and I got a phone call from Cecelia's birth-grandma saying that we had a baby girl. We went to the hospital later that morning to meet her.

(The funny thing to me about this picture is the way I look. I won't post a comparison from after I delivered the boys). 

Her first birthday was our very last day living in Charlotte, NC. 

Her second, third, and now, fourth birthdays have all been in the Czech Republic.

This weekend, we had a birthday party for her and took her ice skating for the first time. 

Then, we went to a near-by cafe for cake (and hot chocolate, in Cece's case, as you can see from the pictures).

And, here is my little girl this morning, on her birthday. She makes me laugh and thank God every day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

the poliklinika

For those of you living on this side of the ocean, my morning will seem very normal to you. However, as I was leaving the poliklinika in our little town this morning, it dawned on me, that for those on the other side of the ocean, it might be of interest.

Two weeks ago, I took Gabe and Alex to their 18 month doctor's appointment. Both boys were supposed to get a vaccination. However, Gabe was a bit congested, so the doctor did not want to give him his vaccination. I was to come back in a week. So, Gabe and I went to the doctor last week, without a translator. I figured if he's just getting a shot, I can manage. Well. The doctor still didn't want to give him the vaccination last week and told me to come back this morning. She kept pointing to her arm, so while I thought it was a little strange where she was pointing, I assumed we were coming back to get his vaccination.

So, I snuck into the boys' room at 6:40am and grabbed Gabe, trying not to wake up Alex. I got Gabe's jacket, hat, and coat on him in his groggy state (he's like his momma, not a morning person). Gabe and I rushed out the door to make it to the doctor at 7:00, which is what was written on my little piece of paper that the nurse gave me last week.

Last week, the doctor also asked me to have a friend on stand-by that I could call to translate. Thankfully, I understood that correctly, and my dear friend, Danca, was prepared for a phone call early this morning.

We arrived at the doctor's office, and as the doctor was "prepping", I called Danca. After the doctor and Danca talked, Danca explained to me that Gabe was not getting a vaccination, instead, the doctor wanted to take his blood. Boy am I glad I had someone translate that; I would have been a little surprised. The doctor wanted to see if Gabe had a respiratory infection and also wanted his blood tested for allergies.

Well. My boy was a little trooper. While he did not enjoy getting his blood drawn, at all, he didn't cry. And, it is not an easy process, they let the blood drip into this little vile. It took awhile. Afterward, Gabe was totally fine. He and I waited in the waiting room for the results, and though I wasn't sure if he'd want to go back into the doctor's office, he marched right back in there smiling, "Hi! Hi! Hi!"

Here's the part that might be of the most interest. The doctor explained to me (through my friend Danca) that I was to take this little envelop that contained Gabe's blood to a poliklinika where the blood could be tested. Yep. That's right. I took the blood, myself. (I have actually done this before several times while I was pregnant with the boys--take my own blood to the lab, but have never written about it.) So into my purse went Gabe's blood.

Then, I drove back to my little town of Frydlant and found my way to the poliklinika. I went inside the building, up some steps, and knocked on a door that says bio something, something, in Czech. A woman in white pants and "inside shoes" answered the door. I handed her my son's blood. She asked me what I later realized was--did you pay for this in Frydek? I answered, "Gabriel is my son." She just smiled gracefully and repeated the question in another way. I called another friend to translate, and I managed to hand deliver my sons blood to the poliklinika and to pay the 74kcs to have it tested (about $4). Just another day in the Czech Republic.
Please note: Most of this post was actually written a week ago, but I didn't have time to finish the post that day. It seems kind of trite considering the election in the US. I actually would love to write a post on that, but I feel a little uneducated. All morning I have been reading blog posts from others more educated than myself in regard to politics and even Kingdom theology. I just wanted to at least mention that my brain is engaged in other things besides trying to figure out how to get my son tested for allergies. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

one of those days

In the grand scheme of things, I may not even remember this day, so to render it "bad" may be a little exaggerated, but none-the-less, there was one moment that, for the bitter and sweet of it, I want to remember.

Brian has been in the US for two weeks-JV board meeting and JV new missionary orientation.

He was scheduled to arrive in Prague this morning and to then, take a train to a near-by city where we would pick him up this afternoon.

Cece started asking me the day Brian left when he was coming home. She's starting to get the days of the week, so all this week, we have been talking about how Daddy comes home on Saturday.

Well. Brian's flight from Chicago was delayed causing him to miss his flight from Helsinki (it's in Finland; Brian thought I should know that, but I didn't) to Prague this morning. It's a long story, but I searched train schedules, tried calling some guy named Mirek about changing our summer tires to winter ones today, and I was even prepared to drive all the way to Prague myself to get Brian home today. Saturday. However, none of my plans worked out, and the best thing for Brian to do is to stay overnight in Prague and come home tomorrow.

So, while stuck in the Helsinki airport, Brian skyped with us this morning. All four of us were crammed in our little office/guest room. While I was talking about Daddy's flight being delayed all morning, the reality of that doesn't sink into an almost four year old until you say Daddy is not coming home today; he's coming home tomorrow. All this while we are skyping with Brian.

Well. The poor little girl threw a fit. She just started yelling, "No! No! No!" And sobbing. Now, let me be clear. We do not throw fits in this family, and we are hard core about this. From the time Cece was nine months old, she has been getting consequences for throwing fits! Brian and I have been teaching her to be brave and strong, and that while it's okay to cry, it's not okay to throw a fit. Well, today, folks, I held my little girl tight, and I let her. She was crying; I was crying, and Brian was trying very hard not to cry.

While this is all happening, Gabe climbed up on the chair and with as much enthusiasm as he could muster, he was waving and saying hi to his daddy as loud as he could. Alex, who is much more analytical, was just sucking his thumb, trying to figure out what in the he(double hockey sticks) was going on.

As I turned the computer toward Gabe, so Brian could see, time stopped for just a moment. This was so sad and so beautiful at the same time. Family. To love so much that having to wait one more day to be together hurts. It just does, as silly as that is. And, then, Gabe, just trying to say hi in the most exclamatory way while Cece and I are throwing a fit. Oh, and to think of Alex, just sitting there, trying to make sense of it all.

Oh my goodness. It was one of those days.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

my favorite night as a JV missionary

In 1999, I spent my first summer interning with Josiah Venture in Poland. I lived in Torun with Greg and Heidi Carlson (some of the very first JV missionaries). That summer, I gave a piece of my heart to Poland that I will never get back, and it's nights like last Friday night that remind me of that.

Here I am that summer in 1999, with much longer hair, baggy jeans, and a sweatshirt that would fit my dad (those were the 90s). My cousin, Melanie, and I were at English camp. That summer, I learned the beauty of the triple kiss. Traditionally, you are supposed to kiss three time on alternating cheeks, but once is "enough" if you make it count!

Last Friday night, Brian and I were invited to a very special Fala (JV's partner organization in Poland) dinner. The leadership of Fala was transfered from Greg Carlson to my dear friend, Michal, a national who came to faith in Christ around the age of 14. Him and his wife Silvia have been with JV for nearly ten years serving Fala and their local church.

It was probably my favorite night since joining JV full-time nearly three years ago. It seems strange that it's my favorite, but when I think back to all those summers serving in Poland, my heart for Poland and the young people of that country still beats loudly, and my desire for more and more people in Poland to be transformed by Jesus is part of the reason why I serve with JV today.

There were three beautiful things that happened last Friday night at this dinner. First, Greg gave Michal the freedom to lead the organization in Michal's style. He conveyed this with a gift, as Greg often does. He gave Michal a pair of sunglasses, and then, told him that Michal could exchange the sunglasses for any color or style that he wanted. Explaining the same to be true of how Michal needs to lead Fala. Lead it your way, Michal.

Next, Michal shared his vision. When Michal speaks, he speaks from his heart. What he shared was simple; it was his testimony. But, he shared from his heart in such way that Brian is ready to "follow him" (but Brian can't really because we serve on the Bteam in the Czech Republic). Michal shared about what it was like for him as a young Polish teenager living without Jesus. He said he was lost, and he cannot even imagine who he would be today if not for Jesus. Then Michal said, that is why I am here, and that is why we are here because there are so many Michals in Poland today that need Jesus, and if I had not found Christ when I did, at the age of 14, it might be too late. (Michal's my age, and we're old now.)

Then, Lukasz, who is another national JV missionary in Poland said something very powerful. He explained that just hours before when the Fala board had their official voting time, he hesitated to write down Michal's name. The reason Lukasz hesitated is because he understood the responsibility that he was placing on Michal by voting him into leadership, and Lukasz also knew that if he gave Michal this responsibility that Lukasz would have to stand beside him faithfully.

As I sat listening and watching what was taking place in Poland one week ago, I cried like a baby because I sensed something really important happening in the ministry in Poland. A national is now running the organization there, but not just any national, a dear friend of mine with a heart for Jesus and a heart for the young people in Poland. Keep praying for Poland. There is a whole new generation that doesn't know the transforming power of Jesus.

Here are some other photos from my favorite night as a JV missionary, so far.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

no small task

Last week, my Uncle Neal was here visiting. His initial mission was to help another JV family in Poland with landscaping and concrete work, which he did. Then, he was to spend "a few days" with us. 

Well. At first . . . we were unsure of what he would do . . . then, an idea turned into this:

Let's just call this project get rid of communist concrete!

Spend a lot of time digging!

And then, lay down some nice pavers!

Still needs a few finishing touches, but our yard is "better than it was" (as a Czech friend said the other day)! Huge thanks to "Uncle Neal" for all his time and hard work!

Friday, August 24, 2012

cece would rather hang out with her friends

When we arrived back from the states, Cece went back to preschool for the month of August. She goes to preschool in the mornings and after her lunch, Brian picks her up.

A few weeks ago, she asked me if she could sleep at Skolka (preschool), which would mean staying all day. I said, "No, you need to come home after lunch."
"Why, Mommy?"
(The reason is because when she comes home, I do early literacy activities with her, and we read together, and I want her to have that time with me. However, I don't want to make too big of a deal out of this, or she'll catch on that I'm teaching her, and she might not like it.)
So, I said, "Because I want to hang out with you."
Her response, "I don't want to hang out with you, Mommy; I want to hang out with my friends!"

So it begins.

Cece's preschool has been so great. Not only is she learning Czech, she really loves her teachers, and obviously, she loves her friends too.

This summer, the theme at Cece's preschool was centered around Native Americans (however, they don't use the politically correct term). Today was the "Farwell to Indian Summer". Here are some photos!