Thursday, November 29, 2018

A Week Later

Do you remember the last time you were up all night, so sick you couldn't sleep?

I know when my last time was. 😔

Though I'm writing this days later, I'm posting it the day it happened. I'd been sick for over a week, and had even been to the doctor already. But he said it was just a virus then and that if I didn't get better to come back in a week.

So. Here I am a week later.

By the way, for my American friends, I'm here in the early morning because if you come in to my doctor between 7 and 9 AM you don't need an appointment. However, you wait your turn in line and watch to see who was there before you so you know when it's your turn. It was about an hour before I got in.

Although feeling positively miserable, I couldn't help but notice as I waited, this older woman (maybe in her mid 80's or more?) wearing her spiffy red boots accompanied by a nice looking red purse as she waited too. Hope I'll be classy like her in 20+ years! (I wasn't feeling very classy that day, that's for sure).

It didn't take the doctor long to see that I had a raging sinus infection that needed antibiotic help immediately. Oh those infections are brutal, not just on the sinuses but everywhere. In a word, I was miserable.

I came home with several medications and directions to sleep and drink warm tea.

Unfortunately a decision had to be made within 24 hours as Dave and I were supposed to go to Slovenia for a retreat with our JV team. More on that in the next post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Vision Come True

What my dad envisioned years ago came true today when Judah and Asher came over for a visit.

I don't remember how my dad happened to get this talking Christmas bear who tells the whole "Twas the night before Christmas" poem (I've looked it up online and see that it was produced by the Avon company in 2006!), but I remember he sent it to me years ago and said someday some little grandkids would surely enjoy it.

And they absolutely do!!!

I've been putting it up with my Christmas decorations for over ten years, even though my kids were big, and there were no grandkids in sight. But today my dad's vision came true!

Thank you dad for that gift all those years ago! It was such a big hit today when the boys came over; and for sure will be a hit again when Charlie comes for Christmas in a few weeks! It was the boys' favorite thing to play with today!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Many Memories

Once a year I return to Havířov, the city we first moved to 25 years ago here in Czech. I have a doctor there, so see her every year for an annual check-up. 

After I finished at her office, I headed to a few favorite stores in the area to do some Christmas shopping.

And on the way, saw this in town.

If you're in the States, you're probably thinking to yourself, "KFC? What's the big deal about that?!" It's true that I can't remember the last time I went to a KFC in the States. But trust me, it's a different experience here!

But aside from the food, there are actually a number of reasons why this stuck me so deeply today.

From every direction I turned in the parking lot, I saw something that provoked a very strong memory.

That orange apartment building is the very first place I ever spent the night in this city.

The Czech family that we partnered with when we first came lived here in one of the apartments. Dave and I drove into Czech from Germany (where we were living at the time) in September 1993 to find a place to live. It was my first visit to Havířov.

I remember standing outside the building, just down the street a little bit after having taken a walk with Dave to talk through the decision about where we'd live.

So many of my first impressions were formed right there in that very spot!

From the same spot where I stood to take the picture of that apartment, I turned to the right and saw this building.

Though it's hard to tell what this is exactly, it's the first place our kids came to take swimming lessons as 4 year olds in pre-school!

One teacher, and an assistant, would walk 20 kids here every week, help them put swimsuits on, and lead them out to an instructor in the pool. Then they'd help them dress again, and walk them back. This would take at least 2 1/2 hours each week. Parents only came when it was time for them to "graduate" from the lessons!

I'm sure our kids have even more memories there than I do.

Again, staying in the same spot, I turned again to the right and saw this.

In that far parking lot used to be the circus that came every spring!

I especially remember the time it came over an Easter week-end, and we went, in the snow, to see a performance on Easter Monday!

I also have a memory that some college students from the States, whose parents had some connection to us, came and spent that Easter with us and went to the circus that day. I have no idea who that was now! But I wonder if they ever think about that memory?

It's crazy to me that there is now a self standing KFC in this parking lot that is associated with so many memories from the time we first moved here!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Celebrating Mel

We spent a delightful afternoon with these two, celebrating Mel's birthday a few weeks early!

Since we won't be here on the day of his birthday later in December, we made plans to enjoy lunch together here at Cattaleya in Čeladná.

It felt like being in a "Top Chef" kitchen, seated here with a full view into what they were doing in there, which was definitely special!

Everything from the soup (pumpkin and? I'm not sure what else but know for sure it was GOOD!) to dessert was not only so tasty, but also presented beautifully!

That was some kind of smoked chocolate mousse!

As we lingered over coffee, we gave Mel the gift of words, a tradition we've been doing for many years now.

All three of us talked about how much he means to us, different qualities about him that stand out, how much and how often the Lord uses him in our lives and the lives of many others, and how thankful we are that we get to do life life alongside him and serve the Lord together!

Mel, if you're reading this, we want to say again, "We love you and are deeply thankful the Lord made you the way He did, and that He led you here, which means we get to share life with you! That's a joy and privilege! We wish you an incredible year ahead, full of God's richest blessings, mercies and love, and that by next year you know Him and His love even more. Thanks for being our friend!" 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Second Day of Thanksgiving

Since I started blogging in 2006, we haven't had snow at Thanksgiving at Malenovice.

How do I know? I looked up every post about Thanksgiving over the past thirteen years I've been writing about them!

I remember other Thanksgivings before then where we did have it. But as far as I know, this is the first time in at least 12 years that it's made an appearance. It certainly gave a cozy atmosphere inside the hotel for our celebration yesterday.

By today the snow was almost all melted, with sunshine streaming in the windows as we gathered for the traditional tortellini "after Thanksgiving" lunch here.

Somebody's definitely enjoying it.

Asher has absolutely no problem with messy eating. And even seems to enjoy himself while he digs in!

Judah, on the other hand, is the epitome of a "clean eater"!

He reminds me so much of his dad in his early days, while Asher reminds me of his Uncle Caleb, who had a similar eating style when he was young!

Oh how sweet to now get to enjoy both Judah and Asher in their young days.

Soon it was time for everyone to head for home. But not before one family picture to remember this Thanksgiving by!

I'm thankful for the Lord's kindness in letting us have some of our family with us again on a Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

JV's Got Talent

If you live in the United States you've probably heard of the show, "America's Got Talent".

Well let me tell you...there are some JV Kids over here who've got some real talent too!

Tonight was our annual JVK Talent Show and it was the highlight of the day!

As our JVK specialist, Claire got things started by introducing the show, and then turning it over to the oldest JVK who emceed the evening.

Judah and I sat in the front row, excited for his first ever JVK talent show!

This year's "senior" group, six kids from Czech and Slovakia (three sets of siblings!), started off with a video introduction to the evening. They're a clever bunch!

First up tonight was Lia and Myah, from Czech and Poland, beautifully and so meaningfully singing the worship song, "No Longer Slaves". Honestly, they brought me to tears as they sang.

Next up were a set of siblings from Czech, accompanied by their dad, singing a Czech folk song!

Five year old Roman was up next with his dad and sister. When they started and he was still just hanging on to his drumsticks I wasn't sure what to expect.

But his talent totally took me by surprise.

He's a GOOD drummer! His dad said that his skill surpassed him a year and a half ago, which is saying something since his dad is quite a good musician. It is so fun to see this talent being nurtured at a young age.

I'm not quite sure I got pictures of all the acts, though I was sure trying to. I know for sure I missed a couple of budding pianists because I'd moved to the floor with Judah, which meant I couldn't see their heads as they were so small behind the music stand on the piano!

But next up according to my photos was this interview done by the senior kids.

It had been their idea to ask these three, Tyler, Claire and Jacob Hash, to come up and talk about what it's like to be back in JV now as adults, serving in JV! All three of them have arrived on the field since last year's Thanksgiving. For Tyler it had been ten years since he'd been at a Thanksgiving, and six since Claire and Jacob had been to one!

One of the sweet things about JVK is how much the older ones care for the younger ones.

This piano duet was done by kids from two different families in Czech; the younger one wanted to play but needed someone to play the second part. Asher volunteered to help our Adam, which was just the sweetest!

We not only have musicians in our JVK but some artists too! Gabe was showing off his many artistic creations. And they were so good!

I remember when this teenager first played drums at a JVK Talent Show a number of years ago.

And now here he is, playing a very complicated drum part to a punk rock song!

Judah was very impressed (he just got an electronic drum set for his 3rd birthday!) and played along with Caden as he drummed!

Earlier he'd listened to him practice and didn't need his ears covered; however adding in the music meant he needed dad's help so he could still drum along, but not with quite as much noise!

I love the range of talent among our JVK. Shaylee from Slovakia made some delectable homemade peanut butter cups and invited five volunteers up to taste test them as she explained how she made them!

Back to our budding artists! Gage asked Chris to come up, saying that he was going to be drawing what he thought he'd look like as an old man!

In reality he'd already drawn the picture, but it was such a clever way to display his talent!

Different JVK rotated in and out of my lap throughout the evening, including these two cuties, Era and Noel!

And do you notice how my son photobombed our selfie?! HAHAHAHA TYLER!

The seniors had not only thoughtfully divided up who was going to be the emcee for different acts, but they also included some fun audience participation to spice up the show!

I can't remember if they had a name for this game...but basically the instructions were to act out certain items with a partner.

Any ideas what this item was??

A creative version of a violin by Kyle and Amy!

And this was a flashlight by Chris and Kelly from Poland!

Another one of our artists, Caleb from Czech, had his art ready to go in a Powerpoint presentation. So impressive!

Jaylin from Slovakia sang gorgeously, accompanied on the piano by her brother!

And Míša from Czech played a very complicated piece in a duet with Shelby! Being a pianist myself I loved hearing them play together!

Next up were two "Veggie Tale" rappers!! Oh my, these two friends, Toby and Hampton, were so good!

As the program is going, the little kids roam a bit which is fine, as long as they don't interrupt their other JVK's during their acts. I'm so impressed by how well the kids do at managing themselves, even this little guy!

I heard later that Asher spent a half hour in Papa's arms, some time in Aunt Claire's, and then he came to sit with me for a bit.

But that didn't last long! He has discovered his fellow JVK and he likes them a lot!!

I literally felt like I was watching my grandsons move into their JVK-ness right before my eyes tonight! It was so sweet to watch the older ones caring for them, and even instructing them!

Jayce is another one that I remember from days gone by, when he was just a little guy, performing at the JVK Talent show. And now look at him, almost all grown up! And his guitar playing has gotten so good over the years!

Next it was Sammy from Czech's turn to come up and play his violin. Sam from Slovakia did a short interview with him, asking at one point if he likes to play the violin.

His sweet response elicited such a giggle from all of us when he said, "Not so much" in answer to Sam's question!

But then he went on to play his violin while we all sang along!

Next up were best friends, Cece and Julie, singing a Czech folk song in their "oh so adorable" Czech folk dresses!

Hannah, one of our senior girls, brought her ukulele and shared a song with us that she wrote!

Inspired by something God taught her on a ski trip last winter with the older JVK, she wrote a song to express it. Oh how lovely her gift is, both in voice and in lyrics.

The final act of the night was introduced by Tate (who'd already performed at the piano with his sister!).

These are two sets of siblings from Slovakia who decided YESTERDAY to learn a swing dance and perform it for us all!

I found out later that the boys have NEVER DONE ANYTHING LIKE THIS!

You would seriously have never known...they were all so good!

Their sisters must have been good teachers because they pulled this off flawlessly. I seriously wanted them to do it again for us as it went by all too fast!

I think this talent show goes down in history as the best, and the longest! We were there for an hour and 45 minutes...with kids and adults "all there" the whole time!

It's an evening we won't soon forget. And I'm already looking forward to next year's talent!