Monday, February 14, 2011

Conclusion: Juggling a monthly newsletter, FB updates, teaching responsibilities, NCIS (:o), and a blog has its challenges, and we become slightly dilatory in nature (Now there's a word for you!). So, the following is our attempt to update you who track our lives via Blogspot. Here we go!

Following the brilliantly colored autumn here in Martin, the tag-in of October and our second November in Martin tumbled into our lives once more. Fall brought familiar routine and surprises as well. (OK, so this pix isn't so brilliant with color, but it was taken in the fall and I like it :0)

Larry found himself teaching a new level of English learners at Zilina U, this time English majors in their final year of coursework before testing for state certification in English. With a minimum of assistance, he has stepped up to the plate with this opportunity (two 2-hour classes on Mondays), supplementing university curriculum with his own resources, and in the process is acquiring a larger community of young people who are again curious about his doing this type of work as a volunteer. Opens all kinds of doors! He continues this course this semester, which began Feb. 7, with even more students.

A plus to these Monday classes is ongoing conversations with Larry's office mate, who speaks fluent English, giving them both opportunities to discover and share a great deal about each other.

On August 15 little Johana (third baby from left) joined her parents, Biba and Bohdan and big brother Martin; then September welcomed twins (first babies on left) to Janka, the Bible School secretary, and her hubby. Several of us visited her when the babies were only 2 or 3 days old. All of us squeezed into this tiny room designed for two patients---both beds were occupied with moms, both of whom had twins in the room with them!

October/November brought an updated slate of elementary school teachers who want individual English instruction. And new teachers are currently joining the staff since several teachers will be taking maternity leave between now and June. Last week was the last work week for one teacher whom I've tutored since our arrival in 2009. She has requested that we continue to meet during her leave--I was delighted, for our conversations take us into deep heart matters. She's growing--in more ways than one!

November brought us a special taste of an American Thanksgiving in that, not only did we have our local group of ex-pats here (Americans, Norwegian med students, as well as our Slovak crew) in our flat to enjoy turkey, etc., but we also hosted two young American college students from the Vancouver, WA area who are currently experiencing a "semester abroad" in Florence, Italy. L-O-N-G ago our daughter babysat Bethany, one of these young women.
Bethany's mom even sent table dec's for the meal. Pumpkin and pecan pies added the finishing touch.

By the way, the turkey was hand-delivered to our door the day before our T-giving dinner by the local turkey farmer. He was fully dressed--I mean the turkey. Well, now that I think about it, I must clarify--BOTH were dressed, of course. Hmm, the further I take this, the messier it gets.

In the middle of all the T-giving festivities, a care package of goodies arrived--"Just a Little Help from Our Friends."

One late November afternoon Milan Kubik, one of our pastors, invited us to join him for a "nature walk" as it is called here. It turned out to be a spectacular walk up into a nearby national park where, upon our arrival, the snow began to fall and turn nature into a winter wonderland.

About .5 km into our walk, we left the main path to maneuver a winding, VERY narrow path til suddenly looming above us were the ruins of an ancient castle (c. 13th century). Up we hiked for some breathtaking views.

December was filled with Christmas rehearsals for the annual church choir's Christmas presentation Dec. 12. In addition, the choir sang Christmas selections throughout the 3 days of Christmas services (Dec. 24-26). In this country December 24 is the day of celebrating, family gatherings, gift openings, and worship services.
This choir continues to embrace Larry and me, exhibiting a great deal of longsuffering as we attempt to communicate in their language. Now I'm having to learn some basic musical terms in Slovak since the director requested that I teach the choir a praise/worship song to sing in English. Oh, could I use your prayers on this!

The elementary school here also presented two student Christmas programs--I'd never seen the Christmas story presented via ballet until now--it was lovely:

This has not much to do with Christmas but: I grin from ear to ear every time I walk through/by a group of young students and hear them chirp their friendly greetings--in English.
One group of first graders, however, surrounds me each week as I'm concluding a tutoring session with their teacher, and they literally bombard me with questions--in Slovak, of course. They are incredulous that not every human on this planet speaks their language. So I manage to eek out, "Prosim, ešte raz, pomaly," and they smile, but mostly their smile means, "You're not listening!" and the "conversation" begins once more--and louder!!

On the first day of Christmas vacation a family I tutor invited Larry and me to the family’s country home to enjoy Christmas goodies and conversation. This family home has seen 6+ generations of the Mizur family come and go; it’s located in a tiny village whose claim to fame is a beautiful cathedral AND the birthplace of ancestors of Benjamin Franklin!
In the photo below sits Grandma Mizur (on the rt.), who is learning English right along with her son and family--an admirable trait, wouldn't you say?

On the left is what happens at the gate of a very delayed flight (ice storm)--almost one computer per passenger!
We were on our way to Germany where we celebrated Christmas with the Philipps family. (Their daughter Ina had spent 6 weeks with our daughter's and son's families as an exchange student the summer of 2009.) How we thrived as this gracious family with five children welcomed us to their celebration of Christ's birth. Deep snow blanketed that area of Germany (the Cologne/Bonn area),
We decorated the tree with them, we worshipped with them, we all experimented with each other's language, we ate way too much chocolate, we exchanged recipes (even my Grandma Jones' Chicken and Dumplings), and we sang and laughed together more times than I can count!

Danke schön, Klaus and Lena, Yasmin, Ina, Leonie, Nicklaus, and Lisanne, for memories we will carry in our hearts the rest of our lives.

January can be a bit slow in this country of only 7-8 hours of daylight this time of year. But it was recently brightened by folks like these in these pictures.

More about them next blog!!! :D

Thank you for following this incredible journey of ours. We stand in awe.

And--Happy Valentine's Day!