Sunday, January 28, 2007

A word or two about life in general

I live in Alaska. That means snow. Snow piles up everywhere. As days go by it gets deeper and deeper and deeper. It may appear to be an innocuous pure and fluffy substance, but this is FAR from the case. Snow has a sinister side. It seeks to ensnare. It makes the roads treacherous, and in my case, the driveway as well. It causes me to appear incompetent when I want to make a speedy exit from the house. My car no longer obeys my commands to glide in a straight line down the hill. Instead it opts to run, without fail, into a snow bank, forcing me to plead for help in order to leave the premises. Fortunately the neighbors have now allowed me to park at a lower level, meaning I have a longer walk in which to attract the attention of moose. If you've ever seen Rocky and Bullwinkle, allow me to inform you that the moose caricature is a correct one. Moose aren't bright. They are large, and dim witted, and prone to gore with little provocation. Do you begin to see now the treachery that is snow?

The longer I remain here, the more I begin to make sense of the fact that Eskimos have about a bazillion different words for the icy white substance that comes from the sky. Now, a variety of names for rain have always made sense to someone like myself who has spent a considerable quantity of time in Oregon, but until now I've been able to classify snow as either big or little flakes. Here I have seen snow in an endless assortment of varieties. Sometimes the flakes are so small you can scarcely see more than a sparkle in the air. Given an hour or two, however, the depth of white on the ground has miraculously grown deeper. Then there are those days when fluffy flakes float down like cotton, light and airy and capable of being easily blown off of any surface. I could go on and on in such a manner, but no doubt it would cease to be entertaining after the billionth variety, so I'll leave it at that. Needless to say, it snows here A LOT. And that snow piles up rapidly.

Yesterday I decided to make a dent in the snow that had decided to cover the back deck. As I began to shovel I was amazed by the strata of the snow. All those layers of different types of flakes could be seen, and wanted to break into segments as I shoveled. I spent over an hour working on clearing off the upper level of the deck. To further make my point that snow is not all friendly and innocent, my back and arms are soooo sore today you wouldn't even believe it.

So, for all of you out there who think that snow is sweet and innocent, or that half an inch of snow that melts off in half a day is worth canceling school over, let me inform you now that you are mistaken.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A few points of interest

So I've been being a good and proactive kid and reading up on the materials I've been provided about the Czech Republic.
Education: As in some other European countries I've learned about, after 9 years of mandatory study, students chose whether they want to attend a traditional 4 year secondary school (which would be like our high school), enter a 2 to 4 year vocational school, or take on some sort of apprenticeship training. The idea that they actually have chosen to be going to the school I will be teaching at is encouraging to me. Having dealt with a good deal of very reluctant scholars in the public school systems around these parts I'm looking forward to teaching people who actually have some desire to be learning. According to what I have read, university positions are quite competitive, a further reason for students to work diligently in their early education. Also of note is the fact that Charles University, which was founded in 1348 making it one of the world's oldest universities, is in Prague.
Religion: Despite the fact that the martyr Jan Hus was a Czech, 39.8% of modern Czechs consider themselves atheists while 39.2% are Roman Cahtolic and only 4.6% are Protestant. There is freedom of religion in the Czech Republic, but after years of communist rule, when church attendance was highly frowned upon, many of the residents continue to stay away from the church. There is definitely a need for the love of Jesus to be shown to these people.
The more I study up on this place the more excited I am about my upcoming opportunity. What an intriguing place and people I will soon encounter. I truly am blessed to be able to experience the world in all my drifting...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thoughts for the day

Since this is looking like one of those boring blogs that no one ever updates, I thought I might add a thing or two. First of all, my sister said I didn't do a very good job telling what my ministry is going to look like in the Czech Republic. I suppose she is right. This is partly because I still don't know exactly what all I will be doing. I know that we will run Bible studies, and that we can use scripture verses in the curriculum (unlike in the US) but that's about all I really know. The majority of the ministry is based on making connections in the schools and in the community. The Czech Republic is a very atheistic country. After years under communist rule, the people have lost faith for the most part. From what I can glean from the information I have been given, it seems that they see faith as being irrelevant and anti intellectual. By acknowledging that we are believers, and displaying the fact that we are also intelligent, we can help to show them that being a Christian is not a sign of ignorance.
I've read a bit about their Christmas traditions, and this helps to illustrate their disbelief. In Czech tradition, baby Jesus is the one who flies around the world to deliver gifts, instead of Santa Claus. Consequently, when children become aware that their parents are the gift givers they likewise cease to believe in the relevance of Jesus, just as we disregard the myth of Santa. Hopefully this helps to answer some of the questions people might have about what I will be doing. I'll try to add this in to my next newsletter as well, so that it all makes more sense.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

All Things Transient

Even my blog sites are transient. For those in the know about Bebo, I will maintain that site as well, but thought this might be nice as one set up specifically for updates on my upcoming Czech Republic project. As always, my life remains in flux, so let the next wave begin...