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Month: March 2008

Feb. Update– The Mid-Point

Feb. Update– The Mid-Point

kids’ church.JPG
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

Greetings,
Here is my feb. Update enjoy

Mark Molter’s Missionary Notes February 2008
News about what God is doing in Slovakia

Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia.
February has been an interesting month with comic and frustrating moments. There were
moments when the month seemed to take forever and moments when it seemed to fly by very
fast. This marks about the mid-point of my year here, it is hard to believe. Thank you all for your
continued prayer and thoughts. Please pray for all the other people who are serving in various
places around the world as well.

I also have many more pictures
available at http://flickr.com/photos/themoltron

For me February is usually the month where things seem to drag on and you feel like somehow
that the great new beginning of a year had in January is long gone. For me this month has been a
time when many of cultural frustrations are starting to come to the surface. I’m also realizing that it is about that time I have to start considering what I will do when I get home. Despite all these things this month has been fun.

February has been interesting because we’ve been catching up on the some of the smaller projects around the village. The Kulturny Dom (Civic Center), which is being renovated, is full of junk and old clothes. We have cleaned, burned or thrown away most of these things making it easier to get some of the larger work done. In the process we have found old newspapers and others antique things. It is interesting seeing how the village and cultural has changed. In the Stara Škola (Old School) where we live, we have been doing some small repair projects that involve some electrical work. Much of the stonework around the
church is starting to fall apart this includes the front steps to the church. We have been working making some to concrete steps. I am not an expert but we take our time and think things through we end up making really nice work. When projects are more of a mental challenge it makes the work that much more enjoyable.

The youth group has been going well, although sometimes we ended up planning things at the last minute. One of these last minute plans was the week before Valentines and we talked about what it means to love and what love is. Discussion is not a very popular thing in Slovakia for some reason. So our conversation was somewhat brief but I think they got something out of it. We then made Valentines for people they might not usually give Valentines to. We encouraged them to not just say love your neighbor but show it. As much as I want the kids to get out of youth group, I find planning and preparing a source of spiritual renewal.

The following weekend I had the opportunity to take a mini-vacation to Velky Slavkov and Hybe where some of the other American Volunteers are. It was great to see them and see some other Slovak faces than the ones in my Village. One fun thing we did was visit and Wild West Tavern in Poprad. (On a side note: Most of what the Slovaks know about the Wild West is from German author Karl May who was never actually in America.) Nothing like the Wild West in Slovakia. In Velky Slavkov I visited the home for Gypsy Boys. I helped Kristen and Jessica (the volunteers working there) with an English class and had some interesting conversation. In the area I live there is not a very large gypsy population. So it was interesting to interact with
them. Getting to know them as people instead of just those Gypsy boys.

After my short trip it was back to work. This particular week the students we out for vacation. Because of this we were invited to several families to eat lunch instead of going to the school. I don’t think I have ever been more stuffed in my life. Slovak’s enjoy eating and feeding people. One of the other Volunteers hears quite often “Food is for eating” implying you should eat even when you’re not hungry. It was an enjoyable week visiting and talking with the various families. I feel like I’m getting to know the village more and sense of appreciation for the work I am doing here.

As I’ve mentioned before Language is a constant struggle. I am learning something new everyday and the more I learn the more I find I don’t know. The struggle now is trying to learn and communicate beyond just getting by. Some days I just don’t want to speak Slovak, some days I do. One of the things I’m learning is that this year for me has been an exercise in listening. Learning to understand and really listen even when I don’t have a strong desire to so.

One of my other struggles is related to Alcohol. They have a very liberal view of Alcohol and
generally most people drink in moderation. It is not uncommon for everyone to have a shot of
Slivovica (Plum Liquor) before lunch or dinner. The struggle I have is with how they treat and
ostracize members of the community who are Alcoholics. It happens in America too but here
because Alcohol is such a commonplace thing for everyone being an Alcoholic is common and to
find recovery or help of any kind is non-existent. One such man is Ivanko; he is unemployed and
works at the church doing various things on occasion. The other Volunteers and I have tried to be his friend and encourage him when he sober. There is really little else I can do. I pray that he
finds hope in the situation and that my actions will make others see how to love their neighbors.

One of the small things I do on occasion is assist (or should I say lead) the Kid’s Church. The Pastor has asks us to fill in when he can’t find someone at the last minute. It is difficult but, we try and the kids seem to enjoy it. During the sermon the kids leave the church and have a small lesson for about 30 minutes or so. It is quite a struggle to keep about 15-20 kids entertained and
teach a bible lesson when you don’t know the language. Many of the kids we know from teaching school or from guitar and drum lessons, so they help us. For all of you who say they can’t lead a kid’s bible study try doing it in Slovak.

As I am passing the mid-point I can’t help but think of home more often. One of the many things
that give me a sense of home is music. Especially one particular song during my times of struggle and longing.

“So if I stand let me stand on the promise that you will pull me through
And if I can’t let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you
If I sing let me sing for the joy that has born in me these songs
But if I weep let it be as a man who is longing for his home”

This Chorus from a Jars of Clay song has spoken to me and given me strength.
The last line particular speaks to me especially, I am here enjoying my time and serving the Lord
but I am a man longing for his home. I am thinking about and craving for the familiar. Hot Dogs,
Peanut Butter, Baseball, Family, Friends, English Language. I began to think about what home
means to me. It’s not just a place. It is people, small things and cultural quirks. It is a feeling of
being accepted and loved for who you are. I then began to think, what about our Heavenly home?
Do we as Christians have a sense of what our Heavenly home will be? One Vision of heaven is
described in Revelations,

“The main street was pure gold, translucent as glass. But there was no sign of a temple, for the
Lord God – The Sovereign-Strong – and the Lamb are the temple. The City doesn’t need sun or
moon for light. God’s Glory is its light; the lamb is its Lamp! The nations will walk in its light and earth’s kings bring in their splendor. Its gates will never be shut by day, and there won’t be any night. They’ll bring the glory and honor of the nations into the City. Nothing dirty or defiled will get into the City, and no one who defiles or deceives. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life will get in.” Rev. 21:21-27

What a description of Heaven. A whole City in the presence of God. We should be people who
are longing for a heaven home, a place of God’s Presence. A place of love, forgiveness and grace.
When the early immigrants came to the United States they set up communities to reflect a sense
of home. You can see it in the China Towns and Little Italys. It just feels like you are walking
into another culture sometimes. This sense of making a home in a foreign land is reflected in the
bible during Israel’s exile in Babylon. God commanded the Israelites to make homes in the place
they were. “Make yourselves at home there and work for the country’s welfare, Pray for her wellbeing.” – Jeremiah 29:7

Later Jeremiah announces “[God] will show up and take care of you as
promised and bring you back home” in verse 10. Jesus showed us how to live and through his
death and Resurrection made it possible for us to be citizens of heaven. God’s command is not to
twiddle our thumbs but, to make a heavenly home here on earth so that when he comes in full
glory we will be that much more familiar, that much more prepared.

What are we doing to reflect a sense of our Heavenly Home? How are we conveying Forgiveness
and Grace? I am realizing this longing I have for home is a reflection of a deeper desire for my
heavenly home and deeper desire to see God’s Presence Reflected no matter where I am.

Lord,
Let us be people who long for our heavenly home,
Helps us Pray that it will come sooner
But, that we would build reflections of your hope
Here and now in the places we live and work
Amen

God’s Blessings and Peace be with you,
? Christ’s Servant in Slovakia
Mark Molter

January…Alittle Late I know

January…Alittle Late I know

DSCN0507.JPG
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

So here is my January Newsletter about a month let on my Blog Sorry!!!

Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia.
Can you Believe it’s 2008? It is hard to believe I’ve been in Slovak for almost 5 months a lot has happened. This January has been rather busy.

In my last newsletter I talked about my New Years experience in Geneva, which was awesome. I after I arrived in my Village I was there for only a week before I headed of Wisla, Poland (a little skiing town near the Czech Republic). In Wisla, I had the opportunity to meet the other volunteers in Slovakia and well as Volunteers from Poland and the Czech Republic. We all got to tell our stories of where we are living and the things we are doing. Everyone has their own unique experience and it is fun to hear about it. It has also been great to share the many similar experiences of culture. Even though we live sometimes several hours away from each other we can laugh about the way Slovak’s do certain things. One thing in Slovakia that is rather funny is that families always ask what you think of Slovak women or men and then proceed to encourage to find and marry one immediately. Being a Guy I don’t get as often as some of the girls. My trip to Wisla was fun and nice break to reflect and laugh on this strange and interesting culture I’ve been thrown into.

When I returned to my Village is was back to normal (or Slovak normal I should say). Right when I got back I started to feel a little homesick. At about 5 months all the initial excitement is starting to wear off and I just can’t help but question what makes this culture so alien to me sometimes. Like when you drink coffee with the grounds in the cup. Why is that no one knows how to use a coffee machine with a filter? Is just one of many question I have. And when anything is rather out of place. I just say “Typical Slovakia”. Even when it might not be true. I can only hope I don’t become a total cynic.

The youth group or Mlady Skupina has been a struggle for me to get kids to come and plan activities that are fun but, also allow me to be involved in conversation. So far Oli, Flo (the other volunteers here) and I have a small group of kids who have been coming regularly.

One very sad event occurred about 2 or 3 weeks ago when a young boy (16) committed suicide in the village near the beginning of the week. I didn’t know the boy but it effected me. It affected everyone. While I was delivering lunches to the old ladies, instead the usual smiles, I saw only sad and somewhat shocked faces. I kept asking myself is there anything I could have done. I didn’t attend the funeral but when the funeral procession was at the church I stood, watched and prayed has almost the whole village march up the street with flowers and mournful faces. I talked to the Pastor about it and he said the boy wrote a note to the effect “No ones loves me, life is not worth living”. It makes me said that he lost all hope. It also gives me a desire to see Christian live and love the hope that Christ promises.

Later that week we tried to plan our youth group around the theme of death so that the youth could find comfort and peace from the situation. We chose 2 texts, Jesus on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32) and Jesus and Lazarus (John 11). These to stories reflect for me what it means to follow Christ, that Christ fulfilled his promise and is alive and that he cares for all those who die or mourn. As much as we tried to have a discussion they were typical kids and didn’t say much. I pray that they maybe heard a spark of hope during this difficult time.

Although there was this rather sad event, this month has been full of many fun and exciting thing as well. We have celebrated the birthdays of the triplets, Monika, Dominika, and Veronika, who help us with Slovak once a week. We made them an awesome card with some picture we drew of all things we have done together.

We were also invited to attend a celebration at the village school. It is has been 10 years since they moved the school into the larger facility. They had dancing and excellent food prepared by the most amazing lunch ladies ever. They also had a raffle for door prizes. The kids prepared some traditional dances. It was great seeing the little kids in costume and dancing. We didn’t we anything but, celebration was nice and I felt like we were appreciated for the teaching we do even if it is only once a week.

That’s all I really have for now. Before I go I would that you pray for some of these specific concerns.
– That the village would seek Christ in the midst of this suicide
– That The Lord would give me wisdom and strength for the rest of the year
– That I would not become a total cynic in regards to the culture I’m living in
– That Christ’s love and the church would grow in Eastern Europe

God’s Blessings and Peace be with you,
? Christ’s Servant in Slovakia

Mark Molter