Leah Cox's blog of youth ministry in the Czech Republic with Josiah Venture (plus stuff)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Why Europe Rocks: Reason #2

Customer Service (does not apply to all of Europe)

The other day I went to our little corner grocery store to grind coffee beans because they have a coffee grinder by the door. I walked in and asked the nearest clerk if I could use their grinder.

Me: Can I use this machine? (pointing to the grinder and showing the bag of beans)
Clerk #1: Yes.
Clerk #2: No.
Clerk #3: Blah blah blah blah (something in Polish to me)
Me: Umm, excuse me?
Clerk #4: (to #3) She’s American, speak slowly.
Clerk #3: You can use it, but just put a little in at a time.
Clerk #5: What’s going on here?
(general discussion among the clerks)
Clerk #5: (to me) Where did you get those coffee beans?
Me: America.
Clerk #5: (sarcastic) Oh, AmERika...
(more discussion among the clerks about whether or not I could use the machine, but I’m already grinding the beans and am not listening)


Once More Please?

One of the things I've been doing more of is teaching English. And I'm starting to actually like it. I have (as of now) two English discussion groups, one actual class (the one with high school kids in Karvina) and two individual students. The two students are Lenka (pic below) and Anicka. Both are some form of beginner and are super hardworking. Here's a sample for you:

Me: Anicka, what did you eat for Easter dinner?
Anicka: What is it, Easter?
Me: Velikonoce
Anicka: Oh yeah...we had potato salat and kitchen meat and soap.
Me: Really? Kitchen meat and soap?
Anicka: No! Blbost! Chicken meat and soup, yeah.

anicka in the cafe after english Posted by Hello

lenka on the bus Posted by Hello


Karvina is a city of about 70,000 people. Of those, about 150 attend a few small churches. Karvina is right next door to Cesky Tesin. Last year, my church (CB Cesky Tesin) started a church plant there. One thing that they did was to start a non-profit community organization and began having kids' clubs and English classes and church services every other Sunday afternoon.

I resisted getting involved with Karvina for a few reasons. One reason was that I had never even been to Karvina, and it's hard to care too much about a place you can't even picture. Another reason was that they (Pastor and Standa) wanted me to teach English, and honestly...teaching English is not in itself necessarily strategic (could that be any more qualified?) My experience has been that I as an English teacher cannot be the only bridge from the world to the church. There has to be community involved. The Lord graciously provided Ika and Honza and Bea. Every Monday afternoon for two hours the four of us and Katka, Iva, Pavlina and David meet and speaka Englisha (kinda) since February. About a month ago, an English conversation group formed, this time with working people in their twenties (see the "Greek Federation" pic below). No one from church has been consistent in that group...yet.

It's hard, this church plant, and I don't know why. Not very many people from our church are committed to it, and even those that are seem a little half-hearted...maybe it's because of the way our denomination does church plants, or maybe it's the way it's been presented in church, or maybe...I dunno. But I do know that my attitude towards Karvina has changed completely, and I'm excited about the people I'm getting to know and what could be in the future.

Please pray for the city of Karvina!

For more information about Karvina, go to http://www.karvina.org

on the main drag in karvina: signs protesting living conditions. karvina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country Posted by Hello

Why Europe Rocks: Reason #1

So many cultures, so little...ummm...

I love Europe, man I love Europe. Do you know what I did Saturday night? I went to a Greek festival in Karvina. Yeah, in the Czech Republic. Two of my conversation students (Jana and Lenka) are half Greek, half Polish, 100% Czech. So, they invited me and Lucka to a Greek celebration that a Czech Hellenistic organization puts on to celebrate some battle where the Greeks beat the Turks (Lenka's husband Jarek says that every Greek celebration is about beating the Turks). Basically, what we did was eat cheese and olives and dance traditional Greek dances like crazy for hours. (Jarek said I dance like a cowboy. That Jarek is a funny guy.) I know there are Greek celebrations in the States, but for some reason it seems double cool to me to yell "OOPA!" in Czech.


conversation group with the "greek federation":lenka, me, jana and iveta (jarek not shown) Posted by Hello

English Camp Training Weekends

The average was 40. Forty students were coming to English camps who weren't involved in the Czech youth groups. Of those 40, maybe a few made their way to the youth group...on average. Mel (English Camp guru extrodinaire) asked all the youth groups gathered for the training weekend: why? The youth group I was sitting with (Pisek) wrestled through it. One girl said they weren't doing enough activities, and a boy said that their activities weren't interesting enough for unbelievers. The conversation started to take on this complain-y tone when one of the youth leaders gently said, "We can have all the program we want, but if we don't have a relationship with these kids they're not going to come." As the youth group kids thought about this, they realized the truth of it. They themselves had come to youth group because of relationships. We ended the time praying for their friends and classmates who they wanted to invite to camp this summer.

English camp season is coming soon! And we want to be ready...not just logistically (although that is for sure important) but we want our hearts to be ready. One of the things that Mel said at the traing weekends that struck me was this: Often, when we do some big evangelistic event, we seem to assume that someone else is talking to the non-Christians there; someone else is spending time with them and getting to know them. I've been to a lot of English camps, and faces and names tend to blur. I don't want to see camp students en masse.

Please pray for camps, that not only would the logistics fall into place, but also that our hearts--Czech and American--would be ready to love: individually, sacrificially, supernaturally.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

cesky tesin english camp team Posted by Hello

getting into groups at moravia (eastern czech) camp training weekend Posted by Hello

miriam and martina writing names of students to pray for Posted by Hello

friends my own age

One thing I've been asking God ever since I got to Czech has been for friends my own age...not that I don't have friends, but I really felt like I needed some Czech female friends who weren't in ministry or involved with church. Finally, this fall I met Jana (30) and Iva (26). Jana teaches English at a school and privately, and every other week I join her lesson with Iva to "help." Actually, Jana's an amazing teacher, and I think the only thing I've helped with has been messing up Iva's blossoming British accent. A few weeks ago, I said "stop," and Iva repeated it just like I said it. Jana yelled, "Ahhh! What are you doing? The word is 'stOp,' not 'stAp'!" We're all 3 very different, but I'm so glad that I get to know these great women.

Iva and Jana Posted by Hello