Here’s song I wrote and recorded recently. Enjoy.
Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia, Thank you everyone for your prayer and other support.
My time here as been very full and very fast. A lot of exciting things have happened. I feel like I am just starting to get to know the students. Each student has a unique personality and brings something special to the classroom. In many of the classes I teach the level of English they know is varied. I have to be constantly aware so that I can make sure I am addressing all of the students’ needs and prepare them for the years ahead.
I have also learned a lot about my faith, church here in Bratislava and the Slovak Church.
Near the end of the year, the 5th year students take exams called Maturita. These exams are subject specific and cover everything they have learned over their 5 years of study. These comprehensive exams consist of a written part and an oral part. I teach a few 5th year students and they definitely get nervous around this time of year. Taking these Exams is a huge deal. They weeks studying and on test day they where suits, ties and dresses. There is quite the pomp and circumstance. Many of these tests will determine if they will attend university or not. We try to study and prep them as much as possible, but it is up them. It has made me more aware of the challenges and skills I need to teach to my younger students. It is definitely something I will take with for next year.
The written portion is standardized by the Slovak Ministry of Education. The Oral part is conducted by their teachers and a representative from another school. I participated in the grading process for the oral examination of English Language. They are supposed to demonstrate their knowledge and ability to communicate based on a topic that is selected on the day of examination and they are given 20 minutes to prepare notes. The students I taught did very well.
Another thing I have been enjoying is the summer weather has it gets close to summer. It is nice to see be able to sit and chill in an outdoor cafe. I have enjoyed going to see some of the other American teachers play baseball in a Slovak recreational league. They aren’t pro-player by any means but, I have seen some nice double plays. Since it is the end of the year the students have been hosting several events to celebrate the end of the and the 5th students who get to leave school 3 weeks earlier because they have completed their exams. The only downside to all this nice weather is the students don’t want to be wasting their time in class. I try my best to make my lessons exciting but, there is only so much I can do.
I only have several more weeks of school. I feel like I just got here and now I’m leaving. I feel like I just have gotten to know my students and started to enjoy teaching. I am looking forward to a new experience next year as I move to a smaller town called Tisovec to teach.
Next year will be quite different for everyone because Pastor David Schick and his wife Karla, will be leaving after 6 faithful years serving the Bratislava community. I haven’t been in Bratislava long but, they are definitely a light of Christ that will be missed. They have done a lot to reach out to the English speaking community to give them a place to worship and experience faith. They have made connections with the Slovak church, learning, teaching, sharing how different cultures experience God. They have truly been a blessing and we hope dearly that God will bring a new pastor just as amazing.
One of the things I struggle with here is how faith is viewed by some in the Slovak Lutheran Church. They tend to emphasis Doctrine quite a lot. They tend not to be very Evangelical despite being known as Evanjelicky in name. They have a hard time expressing their faith in the world. But, don’t we as well? When taking a deeper look, this is a universal church thing. We all struggle trying to live a life of faith. The Slovak church had to deal with the repression of religion under communism and is reluctant to be more active in sharing its faith because of this. My job here is not to just to teach English but it is to live and show a life that expresses my faith daily. To my students, to other teachers and to the Slovaks. This should be the goal of all Christians. I struggle sometimes just as the church struggles. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. Part is engaging in dialogue. The English speaking congregation gets many visitors from students at the Slovak Seminary. It is exciting to talk to discuss things of faith and how we can learn from each other to express it. The next generation of Pastors are excited about their faith and enjoy seeing what others are doing to express our faith. I am excited to see how they will lead the Slovak Church in the future.
One of the other things I have been participating in is a Bible study based on “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller. We have had a lot of insight into what faith is, where it comes from, What atheist think about God. We always get a variety of perspective as we have people from Africa, Asia, Europe. Everyone has brought something unique to the table. These discussion have really strengthened my faith.
I recommend taking a gander at this book, it will definitely challenge how to look at God.
As the school year starts to end I must begin thinking about my summer plans and next year. Starting in July I will be working at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp as a counselor and/or various other tasks working with Children doing outdoor and faith building activities. I had worked there about 2 years ago I enjoyed it emensely. In Mid-August I will be returning to Slovakia to teach again. They cost of travel and finding quality English teaching resources can be expensive. I am hoping to raise around $1200 to help with airfare and teaching resources. That’s 100 people who give $12 each. It is very do-able.
Every little bit helps. I want to thank all of you for your prayer support and that you continue to pray for me in the following ways.
– Patience and Perseverance in my teaching.
– My Summer as I work at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp
– Bratislava International Church as it searches for a new pastor this upcoming year and goes through transition.
– The People of Bratislava- that Christ may be known.
– That I would be successful in raising funds to help me with Travel Expenses to Slovakia and English teaching materials.
God’s Blessings and Peace be with you,
Christ’s Servant in Slovakia
Here are 2 songs I wrote as I was sorting through my feelings for a girl who just wasn’t really interested in me.
“Just because you wish for a thing doesn’t make it so.”
Tell Me Straight Up
I found out my grandmother has passed away. I was unable to attend the funeral because I’m in Slovakia. My mother was very lucky to have spent the last few days with my grandmother alive. My grandmother was rather happy despite dealing with the pneumonia and have eating problems. She died peacefully. My mother said the funeral was nice. She gave the Eulogy. Please pray for me and my family in this tough time.
Rest in Peace
BETTY LURENE VAN RENSALIER
Aug. 25, 1926-April 20, 2009
Death is a funny thing, we hear about so often we become numb to it. It seems to hit the heart when it is someone you know. I knew it was coming, but somehow I didn’t expect it so soon. I’m still try to figure out what to actually feel. As I sort through my feelings I am reminded of one of my biggest fears: Not death itself but, Dying and nobody caring. Sometimes it scares me to think about it. I have to remind myself that I have friends and family who will mourn, be sad, care and remember me with fondness. And most important ,that I have a God who has gone through death and cares for me when my moment comes.
Every now and then I’ll read the news and my heart will beat just a little off rhythm and feel heavier in someway when I hear about people that have died that day. I think in some small way that feeling is God’s way of sharing his pain and concern for all those who die, with us. No one dies alone or unmourned because we have a God who is there and cares deeply.
Here is a video featuring some teachers from Slovakia.
For a quick reference the grading scale is by number:
5 or Pätku being equal to F and 1 or Ano being an A