Hard to believe I'm down to the last three days of school. Classes are pretty much over, so now it's just time for fun and games. The daily students are in the process of making (hopefully) fabulous videos. Of course today one of the guys informed us that his portion of the video should be ready in a couple of weeks. Hmmm...not exactly the time frame we were hoping for, but he's promised we will see it one day, and it will be Excellent. I just made him promise not to make me look like Quasimodo like he did the other day. The program has one of those functions where you can change appearances and it was more than creepy. I told them today it would make my mom cry to see me looking like that, so I'm hoping that does the trip and protects me from future distortion!
This past weekend we headed out to a little conference center near the town of Pardubice for our End of the Year Retreat. I'll confess that I was FAR from excited about it. Mostly due to the timing. Laura flew back to the US yesterday morning, and the last thing I wanted to do was to have to share our goodbye time with the whole team. Especially since I haven't spent much time with a lot of them anyway. I was made even more bitter when we arrived at the Prague train station only to discover that we WestBo Girls had been forgotten. Rather than being added to the group train ticket, we were forced to buy tickets on the train at a far higher price than the group rate would have been. Needless to say, I wasn't feeling warm fuzzies about this retreat. To make matters even worse, I didn't even get to share a room with Laura, which meant we got zero alone time to talk while we were there.
But God is good. Even in my state of discontent He managed to get through my thick head and speak. There were good points here and there throughout the weekend. Take for instance, when Laura and I fell in love with 6 year old curly haired Lincoln whose missionary family had just moved to Czech three months ago after 11 years in Italy. He was the youngest of 5 boys, giving even Janet a run for her money, and was so adorable. It was so fun to have a little boy say "Thank you." One of the girls later remarked how impressed she was to hear children properly using the present perfect continuous, a concept difficult for our adult students to master. I didn't have any interaction with the other boys, but as our bus pulled out I think all our hearts broke a little as the boys ran after us waving...too sweet.
It was also good to spend time with friends that are leaving Czech. It's always hard to imagine what the team will look like next year without them. The weather was bad, which meant we spent more time indoors where they miraculously had ping pong and air hockey! Nice!
The part of the weekend that spoke most to me, however, was the devotional that Lydia gave on the last morning. She asked us all to consider what we feel entitled too. There were comments from good service to understanding, public transport coming on time to being able to spend our last weekend in the Czech Republic the way WE want to spend it, rather than being at a retreat. As we went around the room saying things we feel entitled too, many things that are actually good, it was eye opening to realize just how much of life we feel we deserve, when in truth, we don't. I can see that part of it comes from our American upbringing. We have experienced service with a smile, and just expect that the rest of the world should see the advantage of living life this way. And how many times have I railed against the oppressive feelings of entitlement I experience every time I return to the United States. But it isn't just about our "me" focused society. It's about how we take our blessings for granted. How we expect good things to come to us just because we exist. But what did we do to deserve Jesus sacrifice? What amazing wonderful things did we give to God to show that He should suffer for us? How have we changed our lives in light of His gift in order to express our thanks?
I'm really excited to be going home for a few months. My mouth waters at the thought of refillable Dr.Pepper and crunchwrap supremes. I've worked hard this year. I've given up being with family and friends. I deserve two months of quality relaxation time, right? It was just good to take a few moments to put it all in perspective. I mean, what did any of my sweet babies do to deserve starting life in an orphanage? But in God's graciousness He offers us so much in life. It might not always look the way we think it should, but there is beauty to be experienced even in the most trying of times. Even when you know your family is all together to say goodbye to your grandfather and there is nothing you can do to be present physically with them. As I walked the woods alone that weekend it was Jesus who wrapped His arms around me, it was the Spirit who whispered words of comfort in my ear, it was my Heavenly Father who spoke to me through His word. And not because I deserved it, but because, wonder of all undeserveable wonders, He loves me.