Friday, May 29, 2009

Hard to Believe

Tyler has graduated from his Czech high school!!

Since this is my blog and I don't have to be unbiased here, can I just say that I am S
OOOO proud of him for what he has accomplished??!!!

We've heard that he is most likely the first American to go all the way through the Czech school system, from beginning to end, 14 years. That in and of itself is amazing to us, and something that only God could have seen us all through.

I remember when he was in 3rd grade, and the going was tough, we considered taking him out. Ironically, he came down with mono and was out for three weeks. We were praying like crazy at that time for God's leading on what to do, and in the end knew that we were to press forward.

On a day like today, as we watched him graduate, I am SOOOOO glad we did! What a rich person he is for having done all his schooling in a language that wasn't his first language!

He finished his exams on Wednesday with flying colors...oh, I think I already said that in my other post! Can you tell I'm a proud mom??! Ha...good thing this is my blog and
I can shamelessly say that! :)

The scoring on exams goes from a perfect "4" to a "20". There are four subjects that you take oral exams in (his were the compulsory Czech literature and English, as well as history and information technology), and each one gets a grade from 1-5, 1 being the best, 5 being the worst. Tyler got 3 "1's" and 1 "2", thus receiving a "5" overall for his poi
nt short of perfect!

Wow!!!! I think that's amazing!! He graduated with honors because of those grades. Who would've ever thought that possible in 3rd grade when he was struggling SO v
ery much??!!

So, this is a happy day for us...our son has graduated from Czech high school, wi
th honors. Just want to soak that in a little bit and say "Thank you Lord for seeing him through these 14 years of schooling here!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tyler Finishes Czech High School

The title of this blog post sounds like a reading primer! But maybe that's appropriate since it's about the fact that he's finished 13 years (14 if you count kindergarten!) in the Czech schools. Wow, we are so proud of him!

Today he passed his final oral exams (called "maturita" here in Czech), something he's been studying for all year. This is a monumental accomplishment for any student, but we think it's especially noteworthy since he did it all in his second language! He scored almost a perfect score on the exams...truly something for him to be proud of.

Friday is graduation and then a week-end of celebrating around here! Hard to believe Dave and I are the parents of a graduating senior.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Going Back

The kids and I took a trip down memory lane today. We went back to their first elementary school in Havirov to visit a special person.

Blazenka was one of the after-school teachers at the elementary school where our kids started school. She took a special interest in Tyler during first grade and suggested that he come to the after school program, though it was meant for kids who had working parents.

But she had the foresight to know that Tyler would need some special attention in school and wanted to be the one to give that to him.

Eventually all three kids were in "druzina", the name of the after-school program here. Blazenka made every effort to draw them into the community of children there, as well as help them with every aspect of their education...language acquisition, homework, special pr
ojects,etc. Back in those days most of the kids left by 3 PM so she gave them her undivided attention until 4 PM when druzina ended.

As I look back on our years of educating the kids in Czech schools, I feel one of the greatest blessings came through Blazenka and her special attention to our kids' needs in school. How often I have thanked the Lord for sending her into their lives, and for the important role she played in getting them started well back in those early days.

We hadn't seen Blazenka in 6 years but it was on my heart to let her know that Tyler is graduating this year. So we just showed up at druzina this afternoon and surprised her! It was the very best kind of surprise! The look of delight on her face at seeing the kids was worth millions!

As always, she was especially tuned in to the kids as we sat in that very same druzina room from long ago and she talked to them, asking dozens of questions. They felt so valued by her, as they always did!

While we were there, Claire's first grade teacher happened to walk in the druzina room - so we had time with her, as well as the other druzina teacher. It was one of those magical afternoons of walking back in time and remembering the care and love of the Lord that came through these special women!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

JV Spring Conference 2009

It was wonderful to be at spring conference this year since Caleb and I missed it last year. That was the second time in 15 years that I've missed a conference due to being in the States with kids for health reasons...missed one with Claire back in 2001 too!

I know many of you reading this haven't been to one of our conferences, and that it's probably a little hard to envision what they're like. The best way I can describe them is to say it's like a family reunion...with 180 family members there! You don't always know everyone super personally, as can be true at a large family reunion, but you feel this kindred-ness and connection because you're family.

That's how it is for us when we come to a JV conference! There is something so wonderful about sharing a week together in the Word, in worship, around a cup of coffee...ahh, love that!

This year's conference was sweet and sad. I don't want to use the word bittersweet because there was nothing bitter about it...just sad. We had a lot of good-byes to say to people we love, but two in particular stand out because of their connection to our family.

Ken and Andrea Pitcher have been with us here in Czech since the beginning, and were with us in Germany as well, thus we've shared 20 years of life. So saying good-bye to them means the end of a long chapter that we've shared together...not just in ministry but in all of life.

Lots of shared birthday parties, meals together, holidays celebrated, trips, passing in the grocery store,
seeing each other at school and church events, etc...a lot of life together! We will miss them as they head back to the States. (Couldn't find the photo of their family that I wanted so put in one from the early days of JV...that was our team in about 1996 or '97! Ken and Andrea are on the far right.)

Becca McMartin came to us back in 2001, just after Claire and I were in the States the first time seeking medical answers to her mysterious health problems. Becca came in the nick of time...staying with t
he boys for a month even though she barely knew us, while Claire, Dave and I were at Stanford Children's Hospital getting Claire cared for. Those summer months turned into 8 years of her living life here! She eventually developed our JVKid ministry and has given her heart and life to all of us in JV. How we will miss her as well. (Picture is from the early days when Becca came!)

It's hard that life is full of good-byes...we all wish life could just go on the way it always has. But the reality is...good-byes won't stop until heaven. There are many reasons to look forward to heaven, but this is definitely one of the top ones! I think we'll see each other again through the years, but one day we'll have all of eternity to spend's a comforting thought.