Culture Shock!!! Part 1: Distraction

Culture Shock!!! Part 1: Distraction

What could it be that is shocking this man?

Shocked
Originally uploaded by liber.

As my time in Slovakia grows with every passing minute, I would like to share with you some of the things that are happening related to Culture Shock!!!
I am hoping to make this an ongoing series of entries. So I guess this would be “Culture Shock!!! Part 1”

Culture shock by definition “is the feeling of disorientation when someone is suddenly subjected to to unfamiliar culture, way of life or set if attitudes”- Oxford American Dictionary. Needless to say I am feeling a little disoriented. I have been in Slovakia for about 6 weeks. I am still getting used to the language and to life in a small village but, I am enjoying my time. There are of course times when I ask myself “Why am I here?” or “How much longer is this year going to last?”

When you are in a somewhat disorienting experience such as Culture Shock, you tend to cling to the things you are familiar and comfortable with. These for me have been Books and Television. I brought many books and several episodes of my favorite TV shows on my computer. These can be blessings when you use them occasionally and in moderation. For me though I have been finding myself going beyond moderation and into mild obsession. I don’t spend all my time reading or watching TV but, I am missing many opportunities. When I think about what I’m doing, I realize that I am not using my time to study the Slovak language or to spend time getting to know the people I am living with. I am escaping from my reality to be in a familiar one. So, I realize I have a problem. And the old saying, “The first step toward recovery is recognizing you have a problem.” is starting to ring clear in my head. It also helps that during ELCA missionary training they drove many of the culture shock symptoms into our heads.

In many ways I am distracting myself and refusing to answer the many question I have for myself. “What exactly is my mission?”, “How can I be more effective in demonstrating the Gospel when I am a fish of water?” The more I ask these questions, the more I am realize I am dependent upon God’s grace for any glimmer of an answer. I am challenged to receive the hope He gives and learn how to share it ways that seem foreign, frustrating, and without immediate results. And of course this reminds me of one of many words I am learning in Slovakia, “pomaly” or gentle/slow. Learning to do things slowly with patients and focus. What can be more true, God’s grace is an amazing gift, we sometimes distract ourselves from it because we just are not feeling it, or feel like we don’t understand it right away, or because God’s grace can seem so distant and foreign to us. We must learn to be gentle and patient in understanding God’s grace. It is something we must remind ourselves of and learn to how to live by everyday.

In the end and by God’s grace I can put down my books and turn off my computer to take the opportunities He has given.
In the words of Saint Francis “Always Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” It is hard to do that alone in your room.

On the brighter side of things. The more time I spend in Slovakia the more I see the similarities. I can drive down a road in the Slovak hillside and see cows in a field and it looks very similar to many fields I’ve seen in my home state of Virginia. I can teach and play with kids and realize they act the same way in any culture or language setting. It is a blessing to realize they God’s in control. Despite that fact that I’m in a different culture and far away from home God is in the details. He is in a laugh that sounds the same whether it in the US or Slovakia or in the green grass in Slovakia that looks so much look a hillside somewhere in Virginia.

So Ends Part 1…Check back later for Part 2

So here I am in Slovakia

So here I am in Slovakia

Vrbovce Church
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

Here is my lastest Newsletter for you reading Pleasure

If you are interesting in seeing pictures here is a link to my flickr page
flickr.com/photos/themoltron

Ahoj (Pronounced ahoy and it means hello)

Here is my very first newsletter from Slovakia. I want to first thank all of you for all your support with prayer and financial support. I wouldn’t be able to have this opportunity to serve the Lord without you. Please continue to pray for me and the other young adult volunteers around the world.

I have been in Slovakia for about 5 weeks now. The first week I spent in Bratislava taking care of paperwork and taking the opportunity to see many of the sites.
It was interesting being the only guy in a group of 7 girls. 3 of them were volunteers from the ELCA and other 4 were from Germany. During our stay The Slovak Parliament was open in celebration of the signing of The Slovak Constitution on Sept 3rd, 1992. It was fun seeing the pride the Slovak people have in their government as well as seeing them celebrate their culture heritage at Bratislava castle near by. We were able to see many folk dances, music and handicrafts. This first week in Slovakia was exciting and an interesting experience just seeing the immediate similarities and differences between american and slovak culture. Here are a few things I noticed that were funny or interesting:

-A Sign for Mexican Food at McDonald’s in Slovak, It struck me that Globalization is more real than I thought it was.
-Hamburgers are just not the same in Europe
-We were told the American Embassy wanted to have a huge wall built around it but, the Slovak Government wouldn’t let them.
-American Music is heard everywhere, sometimes it didn’t feel like were in Slovakia yet
-Slovak Superstar is just as funny as American Idol, if not funnier
-The Slovak crown is roughly $1 dollar for 24 crown but, prices are about the same or more expensive compared to american prices.

The next 2 weeks were in Velky Slavkov which is in middle of the country near a city called Poprad (about 3 1/2 hour train ride from Bratislava). It was a beautiful place to study Slovak with the Tatras Mountains in the background. We had time during the week to travel up to several places including a waterfall and Štrebske Pleso (Pronounced Shtrebsky Pleso) which is a large Glacial lake and has skiing in the winter. We stayed at a christian retreat center and spend 6 hours a day having Slovak lessons.

The Slovak language is more difficult than I original anticipated. I have learned some basic sentences and grammar. The grammar is difficult to grasp because every word has many different forms depending on how it is used. So, my basic grasp of Slovak is going to take awhile. I am learning to catch what people are saying despite how fast seem to speak. For the time being I will share with you some words that I have learned and maybe extreme helpful if you are in Slovakia.
Ano- Yes
Nie- No
Dobré- Good
Dobré Rano- Good Morning
Dobrý De?- Good Day
Neviem- I don’t know
Nerozumiem- I don’t understand
Neviem po Slovensky- I don’t know Slovak
Som z Americky- I am american
Som hladny- I am hungry
vlak- train
Kde je Vlak- where is the train?

So after spending that time studying slovak, I traveled by train to Vrbovce where I was greeted by Pastor Miroslav. He speaks some basic english and I can understand him ok. We arrived in the village where upon immediate arrival I was invited to an older gentleman’s 60th Birthday party in the building where I will be living. It was quite a shock. I learned Slovaks are very generous people. I got a delicious soup and then dinner. And of course wine, they kept on insisting I drink more but, I had to stop at 2 glasses. Speaking of food. Slovaks eat a lot of bread, potatoes and pork. The biggest meal of the day is Lunch and usually includes soup then the main meal. Lunch can sometime be sweet which might include sweet dumplings with cocoa on top. Breakfast consists of fresh vegetable when available and sometimes lunch meat… ok back to where I am living.

The building I am living in is the old church school building, it is beautifully decorated with gold and white and resembles an ornate castle. They have many social functions on the 1st and 2nd floors. On the 3rd floor where I am living there is an apartment where the Seminary Intern Zorka lives, she is very nice and knows a little english. There is a music studio and a spare bed room. Then we have a fitness room that leads to 2 bedrooms. 2 german volunteers from another organization are there and I have the other room. All in all it is not a bad place to stay.

Most of my time in Vrbovce has been spent doing various bits of handiwork around the church and the old school building. I spend a few days putting grout in on a sidewalk. We also pick-up lunches and deliver them to elderly members of the parish every weekday. One day a week I help with english class at the local school. I also with be giving music lessons on drums or guitar. I am learning and reminding myself I am working for the lord in every task I do, even if it is boring or apparently minor. I know the Lord wants us to please him and serve others by doing our best in everything we do. I am also hoping to learn slovak from the interaction with the kids and build some relationships through all the work that I am doing.

We have been fairly busy most sundays with traveling from one place to another so I have had few chances to attend a Slovak language church service. It is very interesting to see the similarities and differences. They general order of the service is the same from what I can understand and figure out. We share many of the same Hymn melodies. One sunday we traveled to another Church in Bukovce where they were installing a near Pastor. I met a member of a church from Bratislava there who spoke english his name was Marian. I was asking some questions about the church service I pointed out the difference in liturgical robes. Slovaks wear more Academic black robes with white lace covers from Martin Luther’s academic tradition, which I thought was interesting. That sunday they also had a women’s fellowship which was hosted in Vrbovce. This of course met there was fun and food. I was able to meet and talk to people in the little slovak I knew. One thing about living in the old school building is whenever there are social functions there are leftovers and they usually save some for the volunteers.

So that has been my first couple of weeks in Slovakia. I am doing well and living by God’s grace daily. Everyday is a learning process. Before I end my newsletter I would like share a bible verse with you.

“Whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17

As Christians we are called to be Ambassadors for Christ wherever we are, whether that be in Slovakia, teaching, playing soccer, or working in an office. We are called to live in Christ with everything we do. You may not feel called to do anything special but, all believers are called to be Christ wherever they work and play and that is a our great gift and responsibility.

God’s Peace be with You,
Mark Molter

So I’m going to Slovakia: The Nitty Gritty

So I’m going to Slovakia: The Nitty Gritty

Flag of Slovakia
Originally uploaded by herwigphoto.com.

Did you know that the ELCA supports around 250 missionaries around the globe?

30% of these are participates in the Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) Program. Every year young adults between ages 19 and 30 spend a year abroad, serving communities and sharing the Gospel. This year I will be one of them. Starting in August, I will be spending my year of service in Slovakia. I am excited to share this opportunity with you and I want to share with you a little about what I am doing and how you can support me and my fellow YAGM.

The YAGM program is designed for Young Adults to serve a year in a global setting. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) believes in investing in Young Adults. The ELCA is committed to helping develop leaders for our church who are globally formed and globally informed. The mission model we follow is one of accompaniment. Like Jesus we are asked to walk along side our neighbors. We are asked to show them that God is already where they are, ready to meet them and love them.

YAGM Volunteers serve in a variety of places from the United Kingdom and Kenya to India and Argentina. Many work with the poor through local charity organizations or through local congregations. Each Volunteer receives a meager stipend to pay for daily living expenses. The volunteers are challenged in through work, language, culture and faith.

I will be serving in Slovakia. Slovakia is located in central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Ukraine and Hungry. I will be spending 3 weeks doing intensive language study in Slovak and then I will be placed in the Tren?ín region in the town of Vrbovce. During my year of service I will be working with a local congregation as well as various other tasks such as helping out in orphanages and working with the Romany population. The Romany are a unique ethnic group that is often poor and neglected. I will have more details as I get closer to leaving in August.

My service overseas is not just my experience, it is your experience too!!! It will be a shared experience for several of the following reasons.
Prayer: This opportunity would not be possible without encouragement and support from a larger body of believers. Please pray for me and the other volunteers serving the lord all over the world. Please let me now how I can pray for you as well.
Letters: I will be sending monthly newsletters and pictures highlighting my faith journey and of those around me. I encourage you to share with me what is going on in your lives, as the people I will be serving will love the opportunity to see and understand American culture.

Financial Support: The ELCA spends about $9,000 for every YAGM volunteer to send them for service overseas. We are asked to share some of that responsibility by raising support. Volunteers are asked to raise $3400 dollars. If you contribute you are investing in not just in my mission but, all the missionaries that the ELCA supports.

If you would like to contribute please send a check to

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
1201 Courthouse Road – Stafford, VA 22554
Phone: (540) 659-6366

Please make the check out to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.
Designate it for Mark Molter Mission

I am very excited to share this opportunity with you. If you have any questions or would like to be added to my newsletter email list please feel free to contact me throughout the year. Mark@moltron.net

NOTE: I will be spending my summer before I leave as a counselor at Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp in Virginia. Email would work best. Mark@moltron.net

I will be sending a copy of my newsletters to the Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church of Stafford office if you would like to receive a hard copy.

The world turns rather fast sometimes.

The world turns rather fast sometimes.

Sign for Embassy of Slovakia

DSCN0030.JPG
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

OK so I haven’t updated in awhile. I apologize for that. I do have some exciting news, actually it is quite a lot of exciting news.

So After applying to do Global Mission work in February I was accepted. I then attended a weekend event in April where I interviewed for several countries. I now know I will now be going to Slovakia. This is really exciting. I will be spending a year in Slovakia learning the language and spreading the love of Christ. It will most definitely be a challenge. Related to this is that this past weekend May 12th, Washington DC had an event where a large majority of the European Union nations embassies were open to the public. I was able to visit and see the Slovak Embassy and meet the Ambassador.

The other exciting news is in June I will be starting summer camp. I will be a camp counselor at Caroline Furnace. This is a new experience for me and I am psyched about it. I will have plenty of fun in the outdoors teaching and leading kids. This is a great opportunity to prepare me for my service in Slovakia.

On a lesser note I found a job until camp starts. I was looking for one for quite awhile. I am working back at Professional Healthcare working in the Personal Care department. It is interesting and harried work. I am learning just how much our healthcare system needs improvement and realizing that many immigrants who come to our country work very hard for little pay. We complain all the time about but many things these hard working people do we wouldn’t even think about doing for the pay they receive. I am learning and understanding a different side of economic divide that many being overlook.

Well that’s all the news I have at the moment.

Tangy and Sweet Del.icio.us Update

Tangy and Sweet Del.icio.us Update

i keep tarts in my room
Originally uploaded by sherrieberrie.

Well it has been awhile but, here my Del.cio.us Picks for this post. The picture is some pineapple tarts. A little sweet and alittle tangy but oh so Good. Much like life. Enjoy!!!

Life Explained in Diagram form
This Blog is interesting and hilarious. Using various forms and charts to depict observations of life. They are funny because they are true.

Youngest Premature Baby Born
A baby was delivered premature by about 4 months. The earliest on record. This will definitely raise debate and concern about the abortion issue.

India and Pakistan unite to condemn train bombing
In wake of tragedy it seems this event might be doing some good. India and Pakistan were affected and vowing to work more closely to prevent further violence. It makes me think how easy it is for us living in America.

Top 12 Movies in History That Were Ahead of Their Time
Of course I’m a huge movie fan. This list is definitely worth looking at. You can’t always go by the Oscar Awards. Sometimes films gain more favor after they hit the limelight. We are often left wondering does Art imitate life or does life imitate art. I think it is definitely both.

British, U.S. kids worst off in industrial world, UN says
Worse off, we think we have it all. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to see the truth. Maybe the US needs to do a little reevaluation of its values.