Monthly Archives: July 2012

Prague’s Countryland

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So to start off with, I’m currently sitting in a new favourite cafe of mine. Bohemia Bagel, is the name it goes by. They have great food, including a smallish American menu. I look forward to coming here one morning and ordering blueberry pancakes. I’ll make it a birthday thing, since it’s tradition. Yay for continuing the blueberries in the pancakes!

 

OK. Now to the meat of the message. These picture to the left are from my week in the Czech mountains. A  friend of mine had a church retreat, and she invited me to join her. In fact, while I’m at this cafe, I await the start of church so I can worship God in ways I never thought of. For starters, most of the songs were in Czech, so I didn’t know how to sing (which is my usual way to worship). A woman was dancing in  the front, waving flags of beautiful colors, and lifting her head to the Lord. I asked to join her. She was

  more than willing to allow me the joy of praising God in the dance. This is something that I’m not used to, but I found it even more peaceful than worshiping with my voice. I wasn’t worried about hitting the notes or not knowing the words. I wasn’t concerned about how I looked. It was miraculous! I worshiped God in Czech without even saying a word.

God spoke directly to me through various people on the final night. So, I can finally answer many questions that I’ve not only been asking myself, but that others have asked me as well.

1) Is this God’s will for you? [yes, it is.]

2) Why Prague? [I don’t know. I do know that God wants me here for these few months, and especially this summer. I’ll need all the prayer I can get, especially on the basis of language.]

3) Are you sure about acting? [Yes. Yes. Yes. I’m going to be a missionary, and acting will play its part.]

If you ever come to Prague, one of the best ways to enjoy the true traditions is to find a family–preferably one who has been doing it for years–and enjoy a full day of mushrooming! I was just walking along the road, and one of the families from the church pulled over in their car and asked me if I wanted to join them. “Sure!” I said with a big smile. “I’ve never done that before!” And thus began a day of really seeing what Czechs do for fun when camping. It was exhilarating! I was able to enjoy a full day of learning about different types of mushrooms — yummy ones, poisonous ones, bitter ones, and so forth.

I’ve made many new friends here. The language is still a challenge, but it’s one that I will accept, as long as it means that I get to stay here with my new family. Thank you for you prayers and support!

((On a side note: During this week, a few of us took a day to visit a castle. On the drive, with the windows down, I smelled something familiar. After rolling down the window, I stuck my head out, sucked in a big gulp of air, and got excited. The girl next to me was staring quizzically at me, so I explained, “Cornfield and manuer! It’s just like Ohio!” Ahh, what a great moment of laughter that was.))

Two Words

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Lokal. Blok.

Now let me build up to how I got these words.

Let’s start the day at 10:30 when I take a train to the gym, spend about two hours there, including meeting up with a personal trainer, and then heading off to the center of Prague at 13:00. I have one goal, and that is to see the Loreto monastery. I’ve been wanting to visit this building for a while now. I get off the train around 13:30 and walk around (where I’m pretty sure it could be), get lost in some garden full of statues, climb a billion stairs, get lost again, ask for directions, climb some more stairs, once against ask for direction, climb some– oh, you get it– and then finally hear the bells tolling 17:00. The statues of little angels surround the building, with its gold decorations and grandeur (look up pictures on Google!). It’s a magnificent spectacle. It is also closed. The sign reads that it closes t 17:00 on the dot. What time did I finally find the building? That’s right. 3.5 hours of getting lost and wandering around in search of it, and it’s not even open by the time I reach the top of the hill. mountain. All right… hill.

I finally head down, head lowered, but still determined to find something worthwhile… maybe a monument or something. Instead, I come to a halt in front of a giant house with a beautiful view. No. Not a house… a palace? I’d unknowingly walked all the way to the royal palace. What a treat! Because it cost so much for a tour, I determined that I would come back eventually and spend a day exploring and touring (shh!!). Until then, I would fully enjoy staring up at the cathedral in the middle of it, and even spend a little time staring at the stone-faced guards in front of either entrance to the castle.

Finally, I headed onto the metro and decided to head to my favourite cafe here (Cafe Louvre) for some tea with milk and sugar. Instead, I got off at the wrong exit and much to my surprise, I found a Korean market! I found myself some kimchi and aloe drink. That was my evening snack! (It’s probably the healthiest thing I could have had at that moment, and it’s one of my favourite meals back home.) I then got a text to meat up with my new friends at the Andel exit off the metro. We met up, sat in the park for an hour, and then headed to….

LOKAL BLOK.

‘Bout time, right?

So, anyway… this place is probably the best part of the day because I’ve had the best soup in the entire world. Yes. The. Entire. World. It’s a simple mix of vegetable soup with some coconut milk. Simple, but worthy of its title. I will be back here for this. Also, I’ve had my first official ratatouille. The only other time I’d had it was at home, cooked by my wonderful-chef-of-a-sister. This is true-to-the-core ratatouille–the same stuff from the movie. So, basically, a perfect end to a spontaneous day.

May the Lord bless your day tremendously with spontaneous blessings as He did mine. (Also, check out the book The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun. It’s a fantastic story about a pastor in the midst of Chinese communism and Christian persecution. Definitely a must-read. I listened to it on my iphone while on the metro and walking around. It’ll shake your world, and you’ll never be the same. Shame to you if you are.)

Much love!

Cookies and Beyond!

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So to start off with, I did not burn down the house. I know. Amazing, right? However, because my family here didn’t have measuring cups of any kind (except for a liquid one) I had to go with, “ehh,” measurements. (Meaning. “I don’t know if this is exact but… ehh, it really doesn’t matter, right?”) So, the cookies ended up flat, chewy, REEEEALLY sweet, and super chocolaty! Instead of using semi-sweet chips (since they don’t have chips here) I used milk chocolate Milka bars. Three of them. Much less to say, it was almost impossible to save two of the 24 I made for the Mr. of the house. (I have no clue how to spell his name, but it sounds like Vlasteek…)  The picture to the right is of Josephine (Jojo, as well call her) with her first plate of cookies. She actually had 4, I think. She came down twice to sneak some more, despite the scoldings.

I’ve been into the city a few times. I must say that it is the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to! It has so much art and personality in it that I sometimes struggle with what to take pictures of. These first two are of The Dancing House. (For more official information and better pictures from ALL angles, visit this website.) It’s beautifully created and artistically designed. Actually, my new bosom friend, Johanna, and I came across it completely by accident! I just called her up and said, “Hey, you should explore with me today!” She said, “sure!” And asked where we were headed. I told her the traditional: that I had no clue whatsoever, but wherever we
went, we’d end up somewhere fantastic. Look what stepped in our path! I had seen pictures about this building all over the internet whenever I looked up Prague. What a treat to come across it in real life.

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The last four were taken on a tram down from Petřín Hill. The smart thing to do would have been to take the tram to the top. That would have taken about 3 minutes. I did the Kristyna thing and suggested we walk to the top, climbing the numerous stares, and almost passing out along the way. (Note to the smarter… bring powerade or gatorade. Sometimes water just isn’t enough.) And we took the tram down just because silly little me doesn’t like to get wet, and it had begun sprinkling outside. Not even raining. Sprinkling. Let’s just say I got my exercise and keep it at that.

Seeing at it’s so late, I’ll put a stop to this post here. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Prague is truly magnificent, and it even takes away my breath when I walk down the back roads, free from tourists. (After all, I am the Anti-tourist.) I also had my hair cut by a man who’s traveled the world! It’s probably the most expensive haircut that I will ever have. I didn’t know the full price util he finished the cut. I thought I’d done my research, but apparently not enough. Otherwise, my hair looks fabulously Czech! 

TTFN!

 

 Oh, all right… you can see my new haircut —>  

Apples for all occasions

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A few days ago, a friend of the family decided to drop off some of her best, freshly-picked summer apples. Three whole crates of them. For several meals now we have had delicious, small apples. They’re kind of like Granny Smiths, but smaller, and Czech. 🙂

So for breakfast I decided to have a healthy, apple-friendly breakfast. I stewed some apples! And it was deeelish (meaning delicious, but better than that, so deserving of a shortening of the word and a plethora of “e”s).  I have to give props to one of my new favorite blogs, Stone Soup. You see, the night before, I had many ideas going through my mind of how to enjoy these apples for breakfast. I wanted cereal, so after doing a Google search on “apples in cereal,” this site came up. (The recipe is in the link, and you won’t lose my page by clicking it, as it should pop up in another window/tab.)

For breakfast I had my Fit cereal with yogurt, stewed apples, and honey drizzled across the top. Yum!! It was so good that I had to share this new experience right away. It’s easy. {Side note: the girls are currently singing about not having chicken for lunch and instead celebrating a birthday. Don’t ask. Just laugh. It’s the cutest thing!}

Today I will teach the girls how to make chocolate chip cookies. I know. I know. You’re probably thinking one of two things:

1) They don’t have chocolate chip cookies there?! REALLY?? (Yes, they do. However, they’re only bought in a store. They’ve never actually baked them for themselves.)

or

2) You? You’re going to teach them how to bake cookies? You? Teach? HAH! What a joke! Don’t burn down the house! (Yes, I know my skills with the oven don’t quite make it to expert cookie maker yet. Just use this chance to grow in your prayer life and pray for me, the house, the cookies, and the health of the girls after we eat the cookies.)

Or you’re thinking both. Otherwise, we’ll spend the day cleaning and having the time of our lives, singing off key, making the house pretty, and blessing their mom in the ways she deserves.

First sauna experience

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Picture this: It’s a reserved American girl’s first time going to a sauna at the local gym. She’s prepared for the worst–a hot room full of naked women. False. Upon arriving, she finds that the only sauna there is a shared sauna between men and women. (Inner thoughts: “OK. This really isn’t that bad. At least that guy is getting out. Oh no… he’s getting IN!”) A veeeeery LARGE man then proceeds to remove his speedo, put on the sauna sheet, and enter into the sauna. (“Get a hold of yourself, Kristyna! This is Europe. Pretend to be European!”) She goes into the shower, changes into the sauna towel, takes a gulp, and then walks into the VERY HOT SAUNA. The very large man is sitting right in front of the door, in all of his naked glory. Girl looks up, glad for the heat to hide her tomato-red face, and walks to the opposite corner. She sits down, looks at the wall, closes her eyes, anywhere but at the man. She–obviously–stays covered. Very much like an American girl would in this situation. About five minutes later, the man stands, removes his towel, and stands at the door, probably taking a minute to have some fun causing the girl in the corner to suffer more embarrassment–and then leaves.

Nothing else to say except, WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! I feel as if I have been initiated into the European lifestyle. As soon as I noticed him removing his bathing suit (or lack thereof) in the shower area (which is also shared) outside of the sauna, I averted my eyes… and just in time. Praise God for speed!

A rainy day

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Before I begin this post, may I just say that I am thoroughly annoyed with this internet. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s the internet, seeing as I’ve never used this before. But, anyway, the reason for my annoyance is because I cannot see the words I am typing. The screen is completely white, and in order to know what I am saying, I need to highlight it so the white words can show through.

Anyway…today has been a marvelous day in Prague. Let’s begin with a late morning (I consider 8:40 to be sleeping in). Then I had a great breakfast of toast with cream cheese and ham, also some beans. The parents went out to a conference, so I was able to help watch the kids while I watched my favorite show, Downton Abbey. Family returned, we made tortillas from scratch, filled them with tatziki(?), lettuce, cucumber, cheese, and chicken. After that I was free do do whatever, so I took the bus to the gym (only to get caught in the rain. My clothes are still soaking. Yay for wet jeans), and had an hour workout session. I am now enjoying a nice cup of Japanese Sencha green tea in a cafe right above the gym. Relaaaaaxing!! I’ll head to the grocery store next for some needed food articles and then head home for dinner. (By the way, my Czech mom cooks EVERYTHING from scratch. Talk about yummy! Don’t be too jealous. ;P )

Two weeks of Bosnia… one post.

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First off, I was (and still am) and idiot to think that I could sum up these past two weeks of Bosnia into a few paragraphs. So much has happened, and so much has rocked my world, that I wish you’d be able to experience it as well. But you didn’t, and it’s not really possible, because God’s plan for each of our adventures is perfectly suited to our own needs. I know and somewhat understand that now. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

(I’d like to apologize for some of the pictures. I forgot to change the date to 2012, and they say 2011.)

Orientation in NYC

[right] On June 17th, 20 of us gathered in NYC for orientation. Nat, our team leader, gave us a fantastic intro about the Bosnian culture. We spent about 24 hours together, praying, reading the Bible, and preparing ourselves for the field. Even before this, Nat and his team sent us emails about Bosnian culture, weather, and traditions.

These are some photos of Bosnia. Yes, the landscape really is this beautiful. Everywhere I turned there would be mountains in the distance. The picture below was taken from the main bridge on the way to the Centar of Bihac.

The main religion is Islam. When we arrived we went through a small orientation where we were informed about how Christianity and Islam are viewed as very similar there. We’d have to be careful not to get into theological debates with anyone, and try not to offend. Five times a day the call to prayer sounded throughout the city in many, many different mosques. It broke my heart the first time I heard one. I wanted so badly for the prayer to shut off or for the electricity to break. I would have survived two weeks without electricity or cold food just so I didn’t have to hear something like that going off… Besides, we already didn’t have any air-conditioning. Nights were spent with the windows open.

The weeks were spent doing some major schedule-setups. Here’s what a rough of the day would look like:

7:15 – wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, leave for the ministry center (where we all met and ate meals)

8:30 – have personal devotions, talk with the team, and worship

10:00 – drive (5 min) or walk (20 min) to the park to pray and minister to Bosnians there; or have coffee with a new Bosnian friend.

12:30 – head back to the mc for lunch

2:00 – head back to the park; go for more coffee with Bosnian friends

5:00 – go back to the mc for dinner

7:00 – have a watermelon party with all the people we invited (there could be as little as 40 people to as great as 150)

11:00 – discuss the plan for the next morning, set a time to meet, and leave for separate homes

12:30 – after showering, brushing teeth, and discussing the excitement of the day with my roommates… SLEEP

[One of the awesome treats when arriving was European pizza. The toppings are fresher, as well as the cheese and sauce. Also, the crust is THIN! Thick crust is not a popular thing there.

If someone asked me to describe what the Bosnian people are like, here is what I’d say: They love very strong coffee and cigarettes. I mean, every bar that had alcohol also had espresso. And when someone was drinking espresso, they usually always had a cigarette in hand. Most of the people are also healthy in their figure. I saw very little sticks or obesity. I noticed healthy curves in the women and good figures in the men.]

Many of the days were spent with gypsy children. God completely stole my heart with this one. I fell in love almost instantly. The first moment I met a big group of them, I introduced myself as Kris. One child looked up at me with his big, brown eyes, and said, “Neh Kris.” (No Kris.) I responded with, “Da, Kris.” (Yes, Kris.) This repeated several times until he realized I was going to chase him down until he told me that my name was really Kris. He sprinted, I ran and caught him, threw him on my shoulder, and carried him to be laughed at by the rest of the children. He finally gave in and I set him down… only to have the rest of the twenty children begging me to pick them up, too.

I want to share many pictures with you, but for the safety and comfort of the people of Bosnia, I have to abstain from that. I will tell you that I had the blessing to stare into the eyes of a man exiting death and entering into life as he turned away from Islam and turned to the true Jesus. That would probably be the defining moment of my entire trip. I wish I could show you pictures, but I don’t want to endanger him.

Overall, thank you to all who supported this trip! The prayer worked. I know because this trip was saturated in it, and place we went changed. One new friend who had been there for about two years said this: “Before you guys came, the park was like a rock. Everything was cement. You could feel the hardness of the people towards the gospel. Now, it will never be the same–I will never be the same–because the park feels more like moss. It’s kind of… squishy, to say the least. I feel people will be more receptive to the gospel. I can almost feel that there is going to be a revival. I hope I’m still here when it happens.” Even though I had only been there for two weeks, I, too, could feel the difference from when we arrived to when we left. Part of my heart was left there. In its place I feel God. He’s stretching, tugging, pushing, and refining every sharp edge that I allow Him to take hold of. I once thought I was designed for missions. Now I have no doubt.

[Below: My friends took a few of us swimming in the most beautiful place I have ever seen! The water was crystal clear, icy cold, and blue as I’ll get out. This is the view just before we got to the swimming area]