Originally uploaded by themoltron.
Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia.
I apologize for such a long delay in my newsletter. A lot happened in June, July and August. Summer is a season where more than just the temperature and daily routines change. It has gotten warmer and my usual routine is being replaced by many summer activities. I had my final seminar, done some traveling, finished teaching English in the school, and helped with youth camps. It was rather exciting and at the same time realizing that my time is quickly coming to an end faster than I wanted. And then my leaving came and went. As I reflect on this past year, I have lasting memories of places and people I will never forget.
I also have many more pictures available at
In the beginning of June I had my final seminar with all my fellow Volunteers in Slovakia. It was fun and didn’t quite feel like we were leaving. We had enjoyed our time sharing memories and frustrations. We shared pictures and experiences and realized each of had a unique story to tell.
After the seminar a few of us took a trip to Prague, Czech Republic. What a beautiful city. It is a mix of old and modern. It quite crowded in places. The Prague castle with its huge cathedral in the center was inspiring. We were there for only for a few short days and there was more than we could take in. We arrived around the time of the European Cup for Soccer. So it was great seeing all the football fans throughout the city. I took a night train from Prague to arrive in my village so I could attend a gathering of all the Church choirs in the district, despite my tiredness I enjoyed the celebration of music and faith and seeing many friends from other parishes.
After this I spent some time working various projects we had started and not completed and preparing for the next big adventure Camp. The pastor in Vrbovce owns a small Cabin or Chata in Kova?ova. It is near several spas and water amusement centers. This particular camp was for adults learning English or German. It was a fun experience. It was nice for a change to have students who were eager and interested in learning and speaking English. It was a challeng trying to teach a moment because my mind would be thinking in Slovak so I would switch words randomly. For example Once upon a time because Once upon a ?as. Of course I had some help from the lovely vicar Zorka. I didn’t spend all my time teaching. We enjoy going to the pool and spa. On the last time we went to see an Opera in Zvolen. The entire week was a great experience and I made many new friends.
Upon my return from camp I had to prepare a short sermon to present to the church in Slovak non the less. With alittle help translating from Zorka I gave a simple lesson on love, how the simple things make all the difference. How through people opening their homes and hearts I have learned to accept grace. I stumbled through some of the words but, everyone was thrilled.
My parents came to visit me in July. I was wonderful for them to see, hear and meet all the people and things I have been sharing about this past year in person. We spent time in Bratislava and in my village, Vrbovce. Most of the people who met my parents commented on how young they look. They stayed with one of my favorite people who was a like my slovak grandmother Kristina. We took some time to explore the hills around the region and visited a few castles. We then spent a few days in Vienna. I think most slovaks assume americans are fat and wrinkly. My parents thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
I spent two weeks at Kova?ova again this time with Youth. The ages ranged from 4 to about 16. It was difficult at times to control such a diverse group. Luckily I was alone. There were about 3 students from the Seminary in Bratislava there. They were a fantastic group mainly because their slovak was much better than mine. We sang song, played games, went to the pool. At the end of the week they had a special festival where all the kids got to wear a costume. Some kids brought theirs, the cabin a a box full and other made their . Many of the costumes were rather creative. I chose to be a Mexican Merichi and I sang La Bamba. They got a kick out of that. Camps in Slovakia are less structured than they are in the US. But, we weren’t lacking in Fun.
After camp I spent time packing and reflecting about my time in Slovakia. My time here has changed me. It has opened by eyes to a variety of things. To how to the world works and a desire for a simpler life. A desire what is important. I have learned to worship and hear God’s voice in new ways.
On my last night in Vrbovce we had a small going away party. It was fun to just sit around and share stories. Saying Goodbye was difficult but, it had to be done. The following day I left with my friend Oliver to spend some time in German with his family before I headed home. Miroslav(the pastor) gave me a bottle of Slivovica for my future wedding.(we’ll see about that one). I said my goodbyes and I left for Germany. In Germany I traveled to Wittenburg and saw the Luther house and then to Liepzig and saw St. Thomas church where Bach was cantor. They both we spectacular. I was only there for 2 days and then I caught my plan to the US from Berlin.
I had a stop in Frankfurt, I almost got bumped from my flight but, at the last minute they gave me business class. Needless so say they 8 hours over the Atlantic were bliss.
I’m currently working for the ELCA Global Mission until mid November as a Short-term recruiter. I will be promoting the many vocational opportunties Global Mission has to offer and sharing my experience. It will be a great experience. I spent a few days at home and then headed off to Chicago for 2 weeks. I got to help orient the new volunteers in the YAGM program and make contacts for my recruiting position. So now here I am at another chapter in my life. I am just now starting to adjust to being back in the US.
The hard part of living in another culture is coming back to your own with new eyes. One of the first things I noticed was the vast amount of choice. 14 different kinds of ketchup…what for? I was sorting through the boxes of things I had packed before I left a year ago. Half of it I don’t need. I had lived for a year with two large suitcases of stuff. Why do I need more. I’m sure I’ll discover more things as I continue this strange new journey in a familiar land.
A part of me is still in Slovakia. I’m adjusting to what was once normal but, seems alittle foreign right now. I’m straining to hear Slovak at every corner just because I’ve grown to love this once alien langauge. I grown to love the people hear as family and I think of them often and I can see them again. I’m hungry for things I didn’t even know existed before like Halušky and knedla (potatoe dumpling noodles and Dumplings). So this now is a new faith journey, Learning how to take my experience share it and continue learning from it.
Thank you all for your Prayers, that have helped me in ways that I’m not even sure I’m aware of yet.
God’s Blessings and Peace be with you,
? Christ’s Servant in Slovakia