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Heading to Slovakia

Heading to Slovakia

Hi,
everyone I’m just letting you know I am going to be heading to Slovakia to Teach English at High School in Bratislava. I going through a program with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I will be getting a stip-end and housing is provided. Of course whenever you go someplace  new for an extended period time the initial expenses add up. I hoping to raise about $150, it may not seem like much but, every little bit helps. Donate what you feel you can. If you can’t I understand just keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I have a link to Donate via paypal if you would like or you can email me and I’ll give you the details for snail mail. Thanks and God Bless.


Returning to Slovakia

Returning to Slovakia

View from St Michael's tower, Bratislava

View across Old Town, Bratislava
Originally uploaded by pmecologic.

Hi, So a quick update…After Spending some time in Chicago to sort through things, and find some direction. I have been given an opportunity to return to Slovakia and teach English. I will be in Bratislava at the Lyceum School. I Should be leaving by the end of January, which is just around the corner. (If you would like to help me out financially you are more than welcome. Please let me know. Don’t get too worried about me though)

My time in Chicago has been fun, I’ve met some amazing people and done some pretty cool things. I’ve been to a Slovak Church, I’ve been to Millenium Park, I’ve riden the CTA, I have eaten Chicago style deep dish, I spent New Years downtown.

I still a list of things I want to do before I leave though. Like eat a Superdawg, actually get some pictures(I’ve been really lazy with that), See a Jazz concert or something and probally more will come up later.

Chicago was just a pit stop, maybe I’ll come back and stay alittle longer next time but for now Slovakia calls. The future looks bright. Who knows where I’ll around the bend, God has a crazy way turning our world upside down.

Last Newsletter from Slovakia…for now?

Last Newsletter from Slovakia…for now?

Last Photo in Vrbovce before I said Goodbye

Last Goodbye
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
http://flickr.com/photos/themoltron

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

Mark Molter

May Newsletter

May Newsletter

How beautiful we all are in our Kroj

Naše Kaplanka
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia.

My May has been quite interesting. I saw the Maj Strom go up, Confirmation, Sväty Duch and had opportunities to travel. My time here is getting closer to when I return and it seems like every week is flying by faster and faster. I’m starting to realize that I will be going home and what that means for me.

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

On the First of May, the village had a huge celebration and erected a Maj Strom or May Tree…basically a big pole with a small tree on top. It stays up during the whole month. It was great seeing all the familiar faces and sounds in the village. Pan Gavornik, who takes pictures of everything, the kids from school running around crazy, the small brass ensemble playing classic Slovak tunes and the pleasant sound of laughter.

That Sunday we had Confirmation Sunday. Confirmation is considered a huge deal, a rite of passage for many of the youth. The Service was packed and the confirmands were dressed in their finest. The Girls in stunning white dresses and the Boys in suits. For many this is the first time I’ve seen them in something other than jeans and a t-shirt. Family members from all over came for this special occasion. Each confirmand was called up to the altar and given a blessing from the Pastor. Ve?era Pánova (Communion) is only given a few times a year and this was one of those occasions. I was asked to help which I felt honored. It took about half an hour because there were so many people. The Service itself was beautiful and it took a little longer because of all the pomp and circumstance.

Afterward I had some reflections about my own Confirmation. Is it just something that people do and just go through the motions? It is a hard thing to determine, I can’t see people hearts. The week before confirmation the confirmands were asked to answers questions about their faith. The answers they gave were from a textbook. I can remember during my confirmation learning answers to questions just because I had to know them. I not sure I was any different. There are many things that point the way and help us to wrap our heads around Faith but Faith isn’t found in a textbook. It is found when our hearts meet God’s. I think this is one of the greatest struggle our church faces. That we think faith can be distilled down to the right answers.

The Next Sunday was Sväty Duch Nedela or Holy Spirit Sunday. The Pastor asked everyone in the village to wear Kroj (the traditional Slovak folk Costume, each village has a slightly different costume). Flo and I spend the day before walking around the village trying to find Kroj for us to wear. What an experience. Apparently not many men wear kroj so only a few people had things we could use. We walked from house to house. Everybody told us of someone else who maybe had something. In process we were given our fill of kola?ky(cookies), Obed(lunch) and Kava(coffee). We were blessed so much from the hospitality. After being stuffed full of food and conversation we were able to find everything we needed. So on Sväty Duch we wore Kroj and were like real Slovaks for a day.

After all these events I took some much needed time for travel. My first stop was in Budapest with some of the other Volunteers in Slovakia. Budapest is such a beautiful city. There are times I’m traveling that I’m in disbelief of where I am. You hear and see things about cities like Budapest and when you get there it is a little surreal. Many of the sites we like being in a movie or fairy tale. We visited many interesting places and were lucky enough to be there when they had a folk festival going on at the National History Museum. I was wonderful to see, hear and experience some of the native culture. Of course when you’re in Hungary you have to eat Hungarian Goulash, which by the way is amazing. Hungary being so close to Slovakia you would think the language would be similar but, No. Very different indeed. Apparently it is related to Norse and Icelandic languages.

Then I headed off to London. Being in Slovakia and not being around very many native English speakers for quite a while, arriving is London interesting. I couldn’t help listening in on people’s conversations just because I could understand them. It also made me realize just how much I will miss speaking Slovak and that my time there will soon be coming to a conclusion. In London I met up with one of the other YAGM volunteers Eric who is living in a neighborhood of London called Camden. I arrived on Corpus Christi, so I was able to celebrate a traditional Church of England mass. Smell and Bells as they call it. Incense and lots of ringing bells. In some ways it felt like being home worshipping in English. I also made me realize how much of our worship traditions come from England. I traveled all around London visiting Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Piccadilly Circus. I even traveled to Greenwich Village and stood across the Prime Meridian.

As Much as I wish I could assimilate myself into this strange and now somewhat familiar culture. I am constantly being reminded that I am and always will be a foreigner. Sometimes I’ll try to say something in my best Slovak and people don’t understand. Why Slovaks don’t grasp the concept of a coffee machine or when they don’t understand No!!! When you say you’ve had enough food. I will never understand but I love them for it anyway. We are all like foreigners trying to make sense of our environment based on previous experiences, expectations and values. How does God shape our experiences, expectations and values? How does our own culture shape our Faith? I’m still trying to figure that out. I have grown from my experience here, seeing how others see and worship God in a completely different context than I’m used to. It has given me a larger view of God and a different lens to see the influences my home culture has on my faith.

Lord,
Open are eyes to really see the influences on our Life and Faith
Shape our lives with your Presence
Give us Compassion for understanding
Help us to makes sense of what it means to be a Christian in today’s world
Amen

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

Mark Molter

A VERY VERY LATE APRIL NEWSLETTER

A VERY VERY LATE APRIL NEWSLETTER


VRBOVCE CHURCH & FLOWERS
Originally uploaded by themoltron.

Ahoj and Greetings from Slovakia.

Well April has arrived quickly. Spring has arrived. What an experience to see Life coming back into the surrounding hills. Green leaves and flowers of every color. It has been so much fun seeing kids playing outside. Sometimes after-school I play soccer or hockey ball with the kids. It is nice getting to know some of my students when I don’t have to teach them English. I am meeting new people and getting to know friends better. I’ve celebrated name days and birthdays. I’ve started to call this once completely foreign place home. And in that there is something significant.

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

Spring in my Village has to be the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. All the houses have flowers and the hills surrounding the village are filled with green and yellow pastures. The trees have blossoms and will soon bear fruit. Almost every house has a Slivka or Plum tree.

In the Slovak Culture there is a name celebrated on everyday and mine was on April 25th, Marek. The name day or Menniny is celebrated like a small birthday. You receive little gifts, cards and blessings from everyone. I had a fantastic day. It was also great seeing the kids in the Village named Marek too and we celebrated together.

Another small event that was really enjoyable was Pan Zigmund’s Birthday or Narodenniny. We celebrated at Spevakol or Choir Practice. He brought his Accordion and we played and sang a bunch of traditional Slovak songs. It was amazing. I’m not sure how old Pan Zigmund is but he is so young at heart. He is one my favorite people in the Village. He, the other volunteer Oli and I keep the bass section of the Choir going.

I’m not sure of what else to share this month other than with what I am struggling with internally. I’m realizing how close it is getting to the time I will be leaving. It seems like the weeks get faster and faster. In one sense I’m glad to be going home but now I’m just starting to get to know people and grasp the language. I feel like my heart and my head are often in several places. In some small way I’m starting to grieve leaving. The people, the language and this place have become a part of me. My return home will be another journey all together.

I’m starting to get to know people more and I wish I’d had these opportunities earlier. I’m trying to value every moment I have to speak Slovak and these people who are now part of my life. There are other moments when I think these people are crazy but, then a kid says something funny or one of the old ladies tells me I need to find a Slovak girl and then I’ll learn perfect Slovak. It is strange to think at the beginning of my journey here, I wasn’t sure what to expect and I still not sure. I am different person. Not only because I’ve gotten used to the Slovak Culture and Language but also, because God has molded my heart to be a little more like Jesus in some small way. I’ve learned to see people through eyes love. It is said if you climb the hill of struggle you suddenly find, the hill you thought was so hard to climb has become a blessing. A new favorite song of mine by Sanctus Real describes how I am feeling and how important it is walk this journey with God is

“Whatever You’re doing inside of me,
It feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace,
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see,
But I’m giving in to something heavenly…”

The Biggest struggle for me is not knowing what I am going to do next. I feel torn between home and this new place I call home. Will I come back? Will I not? Will I forget the Slovak I learned? Will these people remember me? Will I remember them? These are all really tough questions that only God knows the answers to. So as I struggle, I’m learning what trust is and embracing my fears about the future. If you expect to share the Gospel and not be changed yourself then you are not sharing the Gospel. If God is love then the Gospel is Love. Love can be painful sometimes. God has a habit of turning people’s lives upside-down. It has already since I’ve arrived in Slovakia. I’m not so sure I want it to happen again. On the other hand God’s journey are always the most exciting. If I could have one wish for all of you it would be that you would trust God and let him turn your life upside-down a little. That is when you experience the Gospel.

Please continue to pray for me and the other Volunteers around the world.

Lord,
Love is a crazy thing,
It is Joyful and Painful,
Help us to embrace the unknown,
Help us to realize that life changes,
Give us peace about the future,
Shack up our Lives a little,
That we may live for you and not by Fear.

Amen

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

Mark Molter