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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,
? Christís Servant in Slovakia