Hello everyone! 🙂 October was quite the month for Keifer and I. Not only did we celebrate our first month of marriage (yay!), but we also got to make a two week trip to the Czech Republic. We had so many adventures in CZ, from paperwork to puppies, from moving into a new apartment to “mountaintop” experiences in Slovakia. If you enjoy stories and pictures, then keep reading. I’ve included some fun ones.
So why two weeks in CZ? Well, our most important reason (though perhaps the least exciting…) was that we needed to report our marriage to the Czech government within a short period of time after receiving our marriage license. Keifer, Max and I spent an entire day running between seven different government offices in three different cities. Even though we didn’t have one particular paper they needed, we received grace and favor from the government official to bring it back with us in January. We felt really blessed.
Our second reason for returning to the Czech Republic was to establish ourselves as a married couple there. When Keifer and I returned to America to get married we still had two separate apartments in two different parts of ValMez. We were living like single people with separate lives. Well, we still have two different apartments, but now we have two right next to each other on the SAME floor in the SAME building. We will be living and doing ministry in one, while the second, smaller flat (which used to be mine overlooking the river) will also be used as a ministry space and guest apartment. We are excited about this big new step, and the chances it will give us to grow our ministry. The way it all came about was truly a gift from God. Not only did the apartment open up at just the right moment, but we were able to see it and agree to it in just the little bit of free time we had before coming back to America for our wedding. We have the most awesome landlady who has been super kind to us. She consulted me about paint colors on our trip back and is even planning to remodel our kitchen while we are away. She, and all the friends who helped us move Keifer’s furniture to the new place, have been such a blessing. We couldn’t have done this without a huge amount of help and love.
Friends, Great and Small
Since our apartment wasn’t livable right away, we needed a place to stay. The Steel family, now temporarily back in America, let us stay in their home until ours was ready. When we reached their house in Hostašovice, we found their two small dogs, Bianca and Sophia, waiting to greet us. Bianca and Sophia have always been an important part of my trips to CZ. They love to cuddle, and during the worst bits of my culture shock they’ve always been there to minister to me by curling up in my lap and letting me stroke them. But this time it was my turn to help. Both dogs were very lonely without their owners around all the time, so I took it upon myself to pet and cuddle them as much as possible. I jokingly referred to it as my “puppy ministry.” But it actually became an important part of my trip. It’s easy for those of us who minister to only want to do the big, exciting things that get us noticed and sound good in our newsletters, but often true missionary work is paying attention to the small things (in this case, small dogs) that need our love and attention.
Towards the end of our stay at the Steel’s house we decided to travel with Max back to his home in Slovakia for a visit. Since we couldn’t leave them alone, we took Bianca and Sophia with us. If you had told me a few years back that I would one day be taking a train through Europe with two fluffy dogs on my lap, I would have said you were crazy. I mean, I still think it’s crazy, but as you can see from the above picture, that’s exactly what I did.
Slovakia is a gorgeous place to be in Autumn. The leaves were just starting to turn colors and the weather was gorgeous. Max’s family lives on one side of a town nestled in a valley amidst a ring of hills. You have to climb down one hill from the train station and climb up another hill to get to their house. It was great to see Max’s mother, sister, and brothers again. They’ve become family for Keifer and I as well. Max took us on several walks around his home, showing us the cultural heritage of his town. My favorite place was the “Jerusalem Hill” overlooking the city. You could see for miles all around, and there were signs pointing out particular sights. One sign, though, was pointed in the direction of Jerusalem, a reminder for me of ancient times and of Christ’s desire for us to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” The spot was beautiful in the daytime, but also at night, when the clouds blew aside and gave us an awesome view of the stars. I remember praying about my time back in America, and that God would bring me back to this same place again someday. If He does, I know I’ll be able to look back and see the many ways He’s been changing me. This became my “mountaintop” experience.
Our trip to the Czech Republic would not have been complete without our Rock Solid family. 🙂 Since we left, the Rock Solid Club had changed locations from their rooms in the nearby school to a different building they’ve named the “Aquarium” because of its windows all around. We had a wonderful time seeing the young people again, and seeing how much the club seemed to be flourishing since moving to its new location. I loved helping with games and practicing my Czech vocabulary, and Keifer taught the Bible story one night through a translator.
The next day, several of the Rock Solid leaders showed up at our place and prepared a huge feast. Since we couldn’t have our wedding in CZ, they saw to it that we had a wonderful Czech reception instead! Other leaders and friends from church and a bunch of the Rock Solid youth showed up after everything was ready. We played games and talked and ate, and they even gave me a bouquet they had made to look just like the one I’d carried at my wedding. Before everyone left they prayed for us and our marriage and for our time in America. Saying goodbye was hard, but it is good to know we will see each other again. There are many more adventures ahead.
From CZ to Iowa to Kansas City
I cried the morning we boarded the train and waved our last goodbyes to Max. I hate leaving family behind, and Max is a truly wonderful brother. Keifer and I traveled by train to Prague, and from Prague to London and then Chicago. A wonderful friend let us stay the night with him in Chicago, and the next day my siblings picked us up and took us back to Iowa. From there Keifer’s brother and sister picked us up and carried us back with them to Kansas City, where we will continue to live in temporary quarters until we move back to the Czech Republic in January. Please continue to pray for us as we adjust to marriage and prepare ourselves for life on the mission field. Pray that we could connect with our friends and family and supporters while we are here, and that I could move forward with my Czech language lessons as well (I’ve started Duolingo’s new Czech course and I’m pretty excited!)
I hope to keep you all updated in future posts.
Until Next Time!