Building bridges in Blatna

Day 5 began with us sharing a lovely little breakfast together and enjoying one another’s company.  Laughter among us is NEVER in short supply!  The day began with prayer for God to help us in our classes, for the children to be actively participating in conversation, and for bridges to be made with the teachers, so that we could begin building stronger relationships with them.  When we got to the school, we split up for classes, Martina and Matt were to teach fourth grade, while Jon and I were to teach ninth grade.  Our class was awesome!  Their EImagenglish was quite good, we were able to carry in fairly extensive conversations with them.  We had them draw some family trees and when we broke up into smaller conversation groups, we had them describe their families to us.  It definitely helped have the family tree in front of them.  Next up?  We had a break where we were able to sit down and really verbalize with the teachers that we were here to really help them and support what they were doing in their classes.  We asked them what they needed most from us, so that we could make those needs a priority in our lesson plans.  It was great hearing from them, altho I think some of our questions got lost in translation.  Our next class was fifth grade.  What a fun class this was!  Our theme for the class was animals.  We had the kids list as many animals as they could and then we played a game with them.  We even got their teacher to play as well!  Finally we split up into smaller groups and worked on conversation with them.  The next class we had was eighth grade.  We decided Food was probably a pretty safe topic at this point with the kids.  I mean, come on!  Who DOESN’T like to eat???  The kids listed different foods, we talked about meals etc and then broke up into groups for conversation. (Can you tell conversation became a theme here?)  Lastly we had another ninth grade class.  This class wasn’t quite as advanced as our last ninth grade class so we had to simplify our Family Tree and conversations with them, but overall they did quite well.  We had a delicious lunch of rabbit with dumplings and gravy at school, and then headed back to the hotel to decompress for a little bit.  During the morning at the school, much to my surprise and delight, Lucie, the teacher who organizes all the classes we teach in, invited me to join her and Martina, as well as a few other teachers for coffee in the afternoon.  The guys left to find a coffee shop before Martina and I met the ladies from the school.  Just as a side note to let you know how amazing this was, and what a clear answer to prayer this was, we had literally been praying that we could meet with the teachers outside of the school in a more social setting, just the day before.  Our time with Lucie, Olga, and Petra was so sweet.  They were really open and shared their lives with us.  This seems to very out side of the norm for Czech people, according to Martina.  Upon returning from coffee, during which we found out we have a lot in common, we met up with Larry and the guys to head back to the school for some English conversation practice, open to the public.  About 12 people came from town, ranging in ages from young to old.  It went so well we ended up going over time!  Then it was off to dinner.  We decided to try a new pub that Petra (from coffee) had recommended.  To our surprised and delight, the pub had great wi-fi and good food.  We brainstormed lesson plans for our next day’s classes while trying to stay awake.  When we got back to the hotel, deliriousness had set in, we were to the point of laughing hysterically at just about everything!  Make sure to ask Martina about dog-shoe after chili when she gets back!    Team time was spent praying and laughing together, and then we all fell into bed exhausted but thrilled that our day had gone so well, and God had opened so many doors for relationships to grow!  Our hearts are so full!  

Day – 1: Traveling to Karlovy Vary

Arriving at the church at 7:30am, we loaded up the cars, said a quick prayer and we were off to the airport to begin our big adventure.  After a fairly uneventful check in and the smallest security line I’ve ever seen at Austin-Bergstrom, we grabbed our first meal together as we waited to board the plane to NY.  After an hour delay we finally boarded the plane!  We were off!  Landing in NY we had a chance for a quick lunch together before it was time to leave for London, England.  The flight to London was much shorter than we had anticipated and we had to actually fly around in a holding pattern due to the country’s curfew laws.  We had made excellent time and ended up having a tail wind across the Atlantic.  In London, we had to go thru a type of security once again, where poor Paige was randomly selected, after none of us having much sleep on the plane, to have her bag examined by security.  We have affectionately named her back-pack, the Turtle pack for a variety of reasons, the first being the size of the bag, and the second for how long it sat in the security line at London!  Meanwhile, the rest of us being sleep deprived and nearly delirious, searched out and found Starbucks in the airport!  Thrilled at the idea of having some caffeine, we grabbed some large coffees for everyone and waited for Paige and Matt to join us.  After successfully arriving at the departure gate, we loaded up the bus and headed to our flight to Prague.  The flight was short and uneventful.  Surprisingly, customs was extremely quick and efficient, and ALL our luggage arrived with no problems!  We were thrilled!  Of course, the obvious “tourist” in us surfaced immediately, and we started in with the picture taking almost as soon as we set foot on the ground!  (See the pictures below!)  We took a bus ride to the beautiful Karlovy Vary!  After a few hiccups in some of our travel plans, we arrived at the hotel and finally checked in.  Exhausted and a little chilled from the climate change, we decided a good cup of coffee and a little pastry might just help get the juices flowing again.  After a quick freshen up in our rooms we bundled up and grabbed our umbrellas and headed out to find some liquid fuel and explore the amazing sights of Karlovy Vary.  A local coffee shop provided us with delicious Cappuccinos and pastries to help give us an edge over sleep deprivation before we headed out to see the town.  Karlovy Vary is a local “spa town”, known for its hot springs which people come from all over the world to experience and drink the mineral waters in little adult “sippy cups” as we call them.  While Matt Evans and Geoff left to shop for dinner the following evening, the rest of the team, thankfully led by Martina, walked around the area taking in the picturesque town.  We saw the amazing architecture and art, saw some of the local spas (no we didn’t get massages, we probably would have passed out!), and the local colonies.  It is so beautiful here, I just wish the pictures did it justice!   After our walk around the town, we met back at the hotel and headed off to the local church here.  The elders and pastor of the church, and their wives, prepared a delicious meal for us, and provided us a wonderful warm welcome, and spent time in conversation and getting to know one another.  It was a time of sweet fellowship for us, and definitely a high point in our day.  Our evening concluded with a time of highs and lows, and prayer for one another back at the hotel, before we all fell into bed exhausted from travels and a fantastic first day here.  We are looking forward to tomorrow as we will have a chance to spend some more time with our Czech brothers and sisters here.Image