Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A trip to Ceske Budejovice

It's a bit odd to type Czech words on a normal keyboard as you miss out on all the special diacritical marks that tell you how the words should be pronounced. So let me just say that it's kind of like Chesky Budehyovitzay if you want to try to pronounce it as an American.
Friday we had a day off as it was the end of the first term. That means that we're now halfway through the school year. Five months down, another five to go. Not wanting to miss any opportunity for travel, I was happy to have been able to arrange a trip to CB to visit my friend Cari and her family. I first learned that the Wendels were moving to Czech before I ever even looked into coming here with ESI, but I didn't remember this was where they were coming until after I had been accepted. Having a family to support, and being here as full time missionaries, it just took them a lot longer to raise the support to get them there. Be sure to check out their website which you can find as Wendels in my sidebar. Their job is to build relationships with people during the next couple of years as they do intensive language study before starting a church plant in nearby Cesky Krumlov. (I won't bother telling you how to say that one for the time being!)
The family arrived in Czech a little less than two months ago, right before Christmas. Since their intention is to be here long term, they shipped over a crate, so upon arrival at their flat - after a long train ride that involved two buses due to construction, and a very helpful babicka who made sure I got onto all the right transport without the use of any English :) - I was transported back to their house which is filled with such miraculous things as overstuffed leather furniture, fluffy towels, and a cat that understands English and disdains the title of kocka! Not only do they have a lovely house, they also have a lovely crew of children who speak English!
It's no secret that I have always loved children. It's amazing how much I can even manage to communicate with kids here without the use of words. But to have the chance to hang out with English speaking kids is an enormous blessing. This entire weekend was really a step out of the reality of living in the Czech Republic. I had an time of intensive child therapy, as well as the chance to reconnect with an old friend.
It was great to have the chance to hang out with Cari again. I hadn't seen her for 7 1/2 years, but the time just seemed to melt away. We reminisced about Hong Kong and college, we shared the joys and struggles of living in a new country, and the journeys that brought us to where we are at the moment. I enjoyed getting to know her husband Steve as well. While I knew who he was from school, I don't think I'd ever talked to him before, so it was nice to have the chance to learn a bit about him also.
I must confess, I enjoyed getting to play the Czech expert. They had questions about things, as well as just needing the chance to talk about things with someone who understands this side of life, as well as life at home. I was thankful I could be a listening ear for them, and hope that my presence was helpful to them. I'm sure it could in no way compare to how great the whole trip was for me though.
January tends to be a month where I end up in a slump. After the thrills of travel during the holidays, the month of January is a rather dull reminder that work is still work, and that winter still has a long way to go. (Amazingly, however, the sky is blue at the moment! Will wonders never cease.) I definitely needed the chance to get away from the daily grind, and this trip really did the trick.
So I spent a few days just basking in the joy of family life. Let me introduce you now to the crew. We have Erica who is 5 and a total cuddler, Claire who is 4 and has a very definite idea of how EVERYTHING should be done, Elisha who will be 3 this month and who has boundless energy, and Gavin who is seven months old and gloriously happy and squishy!

On Saturday Cari and I were able to spend a little time kid free. We went around the square, and in introduced her to the beauty of shopping at Kenvelo and Bat'a. Then we did a quick to go lunch from McDonalds. Steve really wanted us to eat in a restaurant so Cari would have a chance to practice ordering, but we just couldn't pass up the ease of McDonalds today. The rest of the day was spent playing with the kids, coloring pictures with the girls, and watching the Princess Bride. A true classic!
On Sunday I went with them to church. I enjoyed having a sermon in English as another one of the missionaries was preaching this week, but I must confess that I was more excited about getting to hold Gavin through the entire service. He's such a little cuddler, and after the songs were over he fell asleep and stayed that way til the end. If you've never had a baby sleep on you, you're definitely missing one of the most amazingly beautiful experiences in the world! Hands down!
After church we ran through the McDonald's drive through one more time. Probably had my Micky D's fix for a while now. Then we headed home for the last few minutes before it was time to catch the train home. Steve noted how interesting it was to see how much the kids have changed already in this short period of time overseas. Had I visited them in California they would have been shy and slow to warm up, but here, they were just so excited to have someone they could communicate with and who was happy to play with them, that they opened up to me immediately and Claire kept referring to me as her mommy's sister. Way too cute :) All in all it was a great weekend. These last couple pictures are just before I left. The first is me with Erica while Gavin sits happily on the floor, the second is Erica with Cari and the last is of Erica, smiley Gavin and Cari.

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