Monday, July 30, 2012

My Czech Experience

I am back from the Czech Republic and have been for five days.  Here is a video that kind of wraps up our time in the Czech Republic nicely.  Check out the Czech team.

Because I wrote a nice newsletter for family and friends, I am going to post that here, as it sums up most of the trip... hopefully in a nice manner.


I have successfully made it back to the United States, from the Czech Republic.  Before heading out on this trip, I prayed that the California, Chicago, and Czech teams would get along famously and that we would connect with our students quickly.

We were told that it would take until Wednesday for our students to bond with us.  I am here to report, that we were very successful in the relationship front, and I believe that that is how God got four students to become Christians by the end of the week.  But, I am getting ahead of myself.

The trip:

It was so exciting to meet the Chicago team for the first time at O’Hare International airport and instantly have stuff to talk about and be able to form friendships, before we even got on the plane.  Friendship is a great thing to have when you are sitting on the plane for two hours before take off, due to some cargo mishap.  Once we took off, our nine hour flight to Helsinki, Finland went very well.  However, due to being two hours late, we missed our connector to Prague and had to sit in the airport for seven hours.  Ahh!  I don’t know how we did it, but playing card games, walking around, and eating helped pass the time.

Once we landed in Prague, we boarded two separate trains, ending up in Vysoke Myto (Northern Czech Republic, near Poland).  Our hosts were waiting for us and whisked away to their respective homes.  All of the hosts were a part of the Czech church team and they would serve as English camp leaders and translators in our classrooms.  It was nice to sleep in a bed, after 36-ish hours of traveling.

Friday, Our first full day in Vysoke Myto, the Czech team took us to a Chateau and we got to tour it and gain some knowledge about local history.  A student and church member set up a garden party in our honor and we got to use this time to get to know the other teams better.

On Saturday, we left by bus, for camp.  Many of the English camp students were on the bus with us.  We got to the camp in the rain and that was very foreshadowing of the weather for the entire week at camp.  That night we had the chance to meet our classroom students and then we played a game outside, and that was pretty much one of three moments at camp, that there was no rain.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think rain at camp is very fun.  You expect to be outside and playing, having fun.  But, with grace we accepted this challenge and moved forward into the week.

During the week this is what the schedule looked like:

7:15 am daily devotions.  (This was mandatory for all team members, but was open to anyone that would like to come.)

8:00 am breakfast (time to hang out with students)

9:00 am Classes (Two lessons, sometimes three)

12:30 pm Lunch and the beginning of free time (I usually used this time to play Uno, Catchphrase, and any other old camp game we could think of.)

4:00 pm An afternoon camp game

6:00 pm Dinner

7:00 pm an Evening game and then we moved into the night ‘Sermon’.  I use that word lightly, because it was very Christian focused, but done in a way to interest those, that might not be interested.  We always opened with worship songs and the camp song.

8:00 pm Night discussion groups.  We had two different types of groups… Spiritual and Non- Spiritual.  In the spiritual groups, students who were interested in God or had questions about Christianity, could discuss with students, teachers, and translators that would help guide them.  The non-spiritual groups, we still introduced God, but not directly.  We asked them questions that got them thinking about qualities of Christianity and God, without throwing it in their faces.  Planting seeds, and nurturing them, but allowing time for God to work, even if it takes a year.  This discussion time lasted as long as the students were talking.

Midnight-  Lights out.

The schedule was the same everyday, but of course variety found its way into the mix.  Vlada, the pastor of the church in Vysoke Myto led games everyday and they were wild.  Some took place in the rain and some involved us touching slugs (eww!), sticking our heads in mayonnaise pasta water (eww!) and being intentionally stung by stinging nettle.  Yes, I did all of those things and more.

I saw God working in the close relationships I made with Czech students Ota, Ondrej and Lucie.  Some members of my team and the Chicago team hung out with these students everyday, we played games together and we ate together.  We sat together at the evening sermon.  It was great and Ota and Ondrej left with a Bible at the end of the week.  Ota is seriously considering becoming a Christian and thinks he will be the first in his family.

My roommate and student Eva,  asked me about God when I was in the non-spiritual group and I got to tell her about the trinity.  The theme of the camp was ‘Challenge’ and I think it was a challenge for her to ask me that question and it was a challenge for me to answer her in a way that would encourage her to ask more questions.

Four students came to Christ by the end of the week:  Evča (Evcha) , Simča (Simcha), Esther, and Tomaš (Tomash).  It was nice to see them at Church, the day after camp ended.  I am excited to keep in touch with them and to see where they will be in a years time.

Even though it rained just about everyday, we were able to make connections with our students and form relationships that will hopefully continue throughout the years.  You wouldn’t believe how easy facebook makes it to keep in touch with these students!  I’ll be able to use that as a tool to answer any questions that may arise throughout the next few weeks, months, or years.

To end, I’ll share a funny camp happening:

There isn’t much curly hair in the Czech Republic, so once again, I was thrust into crowds of people wanting to touch my hair.  Well, one student, Kiki always wanted to touch my hair.  One day, she touched it and said, “Your hairs are like little worms.”  Ha ha.  Sometimes, I would be standing in a group, and I would feel someone touching my hair… it was always Kiki and she would say, “Hello, it’s me, are your worms happy today?”

Thank you for your support during the preparation of this trip, and during it.  I think I speak for everyone when I say, your prayers were heard and we all had a great time getting to know our Czech teammates and students.  I have been asked if I will go back again next year and right now, the answer in undoubtedly, Yes!

Thanks again!

Love, Tiffiny

Here are some photos from the trip as well:

Spending time in the Helsinki airport...

At the train station in Prague (Praha)...

At the Chateau...

In Vysoke Myto (Vi-So  Kay- Meto)...

English Camp...

They are trying to get me to solve the puzzle below... but they mostly speak Czech...

I really did not like this part of the game.

Having my portrait drawn by an English student.

Kayla teaching the vocabulary for the day.

Our students acting out a restaurant scene. (Host, Guest, Waitor)

Niko's back after stinging nettle.

My friends and teammates for an afternoon game.

Us girls had to pull them al apart.  Success!

Classroom 1 is the best!  Would you learn with us as teachers?  Of course!

They learned so much.  Ha ha.

But really, they did learn over 100 vocabulary words and their English truly improved throughout the week.

Before the broken window!

One of the best dinners of the week!  Blueberry dumplings.

 Ondřej and Lucie (siblings)

Ota and Eva (Cousins)


Classroom 1!

The teachers and the translator!

These guys... always playing games on their phones and computer...

How many people can we get in one frame?

The church in Vysoke Myto.

With Katka (middle), our Czech Host.

For those who suffered under communism. (Prague by Petřin Hill)

Oh escalators in Prague...

On the Charles Bridge.

At John Lennon's wall.

I ate so much zmrzlina (ice cream) on this trip!

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