30 November, 2010

Snow

There is still three weeks of Autumn left and it snowed here! I was happy to see the snow the day before Thanksgiving, it was light and fluffy-looking as it floated down past my window. I was even more happy to see though that it wasn't sticking. I'm not a fan of the snow... at all. Weird that I would pick such a freezing-cold-winter-having country to reside in, huh? Yeah, must have not really thought this one through. Well it snowed Friday and Saturday as well. And it stuck... and it hasn't melted. The temperature stays between 0 and -5 most of the time. I'm complaining I know, but what I'm trying to get at is the exact opposite. If I were in Portland right now I would be miserable. I would hate it. Like I said, I don't like snow, but for some odd reason, I've never been more excited about it. I feel ill-prepared- not the right shoes, or outerwear, but that can be fixed. This morning on the way to work, we go through a couple of patches of nature on the bus- which now looks like grandmother nature took her sift and topped us off with some powdered sugar- but it was beautiful and peaceful looking. Like all the critters are sleeping in a warm place, even the trees-sleeping, dreaming of Arizona. Sounds silly, but nature seems so fragile and delicate right now. Well, except the pigeons- those birds are tough (I saw a few in walking through the snow yesterday)! It's weird, but the cold is comforting to me. I'm enjoying myself.

25 November, 2010

Díkůvzdání

I've been away from my family on Thanksgiving before, at Kelsey's house. The last two years were spent with the Pearce Family. I like it there, but there's nothing like my momma's cooking! I like being home and helping my mom with everything, from baking to cleaning the nice dishes to cooking and cutting and stirring. It's nice; my mom and me verses the hungry, anticipating stomachs of the world. Her kitchen is small, but there's always room for one more cook.

For some reason, when I was a kid, I was infatuated with tradition. Not old tradition, but traditions that I would make up. From about nine years old, everything I did during the holidays has been repeated. I've made the same things, worn the appropriate attire, read the same books, watched the same movies and so forth. Can I just point out that growing up is not all it's cracked up to be? Growing up means different traditions, splitting holidays between families maybe not even being able to be there. Not being able to fulfill my duty to making cheese cake every fourth Thursday of November.

I thought being away for Thanksgiving wouldn't be so bad, but waking up this morning proved to be different. I heard Kelsey say something about wanting to watch football with his Grandpa Bob. I pictured them sitting on the couch talking about the season, how terrible the Cowboys are doing and I wanted to be there too. I wanted a hug and a kiss on the cheek from Grandpa Bob. And then I wanted to be home. To see my mom and dad. To hug and kiss them. Don't get me wrong, I love being here and I'm pretty excited about my first Thanksgiving (with no help from mom). The ECF (English Christian Fellowship-a group of international students) are coming over to celebrate with us. Everyone will bring pictures of their families and we will get to brag and tell stories about them and most importantly we will get to pray for them, for you. Bitter-sweet has never been such a perfect word.

Last night as Kelsey and I were lying in bed, I asked him, "Do you think that anyone will invite us over for Christmas?" He said yes. I hope he's right. If there's anything I've learned about myself is that being alone, is never a good thing. Which of course got me thinking about all the people I am grateful to have in my life. I have a lot. More than deserved. But my God is so great and merciful and loving.

I am thankful for (in no particular order)...
>My family, both sides: Crowell and Pearce
>My friends, especially Becca and Maryellen
>My husband
>ECF
>The ability to read
>Mercy
>Love
>Forgiveness
>Salvation
>Childhood
>Tradition
>Tomatoes
>Oranges
>The robot dance
>Kelsey's jokes
>Hector and Major Eloisa
>Soft blankets
>Mint flavored things
>The ability to Pretend and use my imagination
>Forts and camp outs
>Communication

The list could go on forever, possibly too long already. What are you thankful for?














10 November, 2010

Everyday a lady by the name of Donka comes into the corps to volunteerby cleaning. After she is through cleaning, she uses the corps' guitar to practice and teach herself. On Sunday she blessed us with a song she'sbeen practicing (Captain Malach is assisting her on drums)...


video

13 October, 2010

Chete Mluvit Česky?

I am happy to report that I feel more encouraged about Czech than I have since before I left the States. This language is possibly the hardest thing I have committed to ever.

Let me explain to you a little about the language (or at least how I understand it):

I touched a bit on it already, seven cases for proper names, or seven endings for nouns; all for different contexts.

CASE MEANING OF CASE

1. kdo/co? (who/what?) nominative

2. bez koho/čeho? (without whom/what?) genitive

3. ke komu/čemu? (to whom/what?) dative

4. vidíme koho/co? (We see whom/what?) accusative

5. oslovujeme/voláme (I address/call) vocative

6. o kom/čem? (about whom/what?) locative

7. s kým/čím? (with whom/what?) instrumental

Then there are the genders of nouns; male, female and neutral. And non-living or inanimate items have genders as well, which dictates the endings of verbs and adjectives.

Confusing, right?

My brain is capable of handling most things; understanding ideas and grasping concepts, but for some reason, when it sees a big picture, that is really big. It shuts down. I go into the why-try-when-I-know-I-am-going-to-fail mode so instead of putting in effort, I get stubborn and don't do it. I'm ashamed to say that I've hidden behind the people I've met who speak English and Czech and have them translate things for me, instead of just trying, learning, sounding silly and correcting my mistakes as I go.

Something happened last night though; something clicked. While I still don't know very much Czech, I feel like I am understanding the concept of Czech and more importantly I know that I need to be careful about checking out and giving up.

06 October, 2010

Honziku!

By far my favorite part about being here is the children. I absolutely love playing games and hanging out with the kids! There is a boy named Honza or John in English, he is six years old and doesn't talk very much, but he is one of the most joyful people I've ever met. When he laughs, he laughs with his whole soul and it's beautiful.

He was very shy the first time we met, he would hide behind his sister or pretend that he's not listening when I would call him, even though he was siting right next to me. But then I taught him a hand-shake; slap hands, pound fists and then snap. And he began to open up. He would "tag" me when I wasn't looking, expecting me to ran after him and laugh, oh he would laugh so hard.

When we play board games (Connect Four, Frustration-something like Sorry, or others) he has the keen ability of winning. He doesn't always know when he wins, but when he finds out, you can see the joy in his eyes spread through his body. And he is genuinely happy and it makes me happy.

Yesterday, we were with the kids and we began playing a board game that has tokens. Kelsey started stealing his tokens. Honza thought this was hilarious. He started stealing Kelsey's tokens back(there went our game) and laughing so hard he could barely breathe. Kelsey says to him, "kolik?" (How many?) and he opens his hands and shows him and Kelsey stole all his tokens. Honza was already laughing, but this topped it off, he was laughing so hard, with his whole body, his whole soul. It was great. This boy brings joy to my life.

I may not speak his language or get to lead him to Jesus, but I know that I can show him the love of Jesus by making him laugh and holding his hand when we walk to the park and by being his friend.

02 October, 2010

Oink, Oink...I love pig!

Jesiko here. As always. Just a writing on my blog...ain't no thang. PS Blog, Do you feel left out? Like we don't encounter often enough? Well, here we are. An unlikely crossing of paths, so what should we speak about? It's been so long. What's funny is- it's like, I don't know what to say to you. And then once I get going, it's like we've never skipped a beat. I really do appreciate the fact that you, um, you've accepted the responsibility of information conduit, without you, I'd either have a higher phone bill or less sores on my finger tips. Anyways, as much as I enjoy your company, I came here to talk to my friends and family. So just know that you're doing a fine job.

Sincerely,
Jessie

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Lesson one: In the Czech language nouns, proper nouns, can have seven endings. I'm not exactly sure what they are yet, or in what contexts to use them, but my first formal private Czech lesson begins next week. Let's hope I know more then! :)

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Kelsey and I have been vegetarian for quite sometime, but before we left for the CR we decided it would be better to start eating meat because we didn't want to offend anyone who cooked for us and we weren't sure, or more so I wasn't sure if I could make sure we got all the necessary nutrients. So we're eating meat.

The CR is apart of the European Union so this means their quality of meat is held to a much higher standard. No genetically modified foods allowed (including seeds as opposed to Corn and Soy in the States) and the meat, when you see it in the store looks so much more healthier. But this is beside the point. The point I'm trying to get at is that I'm enjoying eating meat.

Growing up I wasn't a huge fan of pig by any means, however, after partaking in meal after meal of pork and ham on most pizzas and bacon for breakfast sandwiches, I must say I might be pig's biggest fan! Yum-my.

22 September, 2010

You Forgot It In People

Capture the Flag started to play as the tram took off. Yesterday, Kelsey and I finalized plans for a small holiday in November. In preparation for the Broken Social Scene and Menomena show in Holland, I thought it would be fun to experience Brno with a soundtrack.

After three or four days of looking out the windows on the tram, I began reading. And I've finished my first book :). It was, Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. It is a journal of the author's life as he augments his skin pigmentation from white to black in 1959, before freedom rides, Rosa Parks and the great MLK jr. He keeps his same identity-name, credentials, clothes, etc.- the only thing that he changes is the darkness of the brown in his skin. He tours the southern states and tells you of his accounts.

I recently watched a movie called, Hurricane, with Denzel Washington and in the beginning there is a boy and his mentor attending a used book fair and the boy asks his mentor how on earth is he supposed to find a book. His mentor responded with something along the lines of the book often chooses you.

Black Like Me, as cheesy as it may sound, chose me. One of my favorite things about marrying Kelsey was his book collection. He has many books, all of which I plan to read. We were fortunate enough to take one small suitcase with us full of books, sketch pads, colored pencils and paints. When packing our apartment we were going through what books we wanted to bring with us, I would see a book and ask Kelsey if he thought it was a good one to bring and vice versa. When I came across Black Like Me Kelsey said it was an excellent book, but I should save space for a different book, so I put the book in the maybe pile and it ended up in the suitcase.

As I began reading this book, I felt this knot in my stomach that this wasn't going to be relevant to my life right now, that how could the integration era of the States be at all helpful to me, right now?

The Salvation Army or Armada Spasy has three centers that Kelsey and I help out with, all of youth clubs, Jonas (Pronounced: Yo-nush), Stankova (sta-nko-va, if that makes sense), and Kornerova (Korr (roll that R!)-nerr-o-vuh). Jonas has Czech kids that attend, while Stankova (the corps building) and Kornerova has gypsy kids that attend. Kornerova is in a particularly rough neighborhood and the kids there are different than any other kids I've ever dealt with (dealt is a bit of funny word here, but it will do). They are tough kids and very very clever. There is a sort of unspoken pecking order among the kids that surprises me every time I see it pan out. When I found out we were coming to the Cz. Rep., I was instantly excited about working with the gypsy or Roma community. I wanted to play games with them and hang out with them and love them. After being at that community center twice though, I felt like I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to be with the kids who picked on each other, who didn't know how to share and who didn't listen to anything anyone said. Then I started reading my book...

The book really did chose me. Or more so, God chose that book for me. I'm happy that I read it and I'm more happy that God supplied me with a heart for those children once again.

So, I've finished Black Like Me and have moved on to a book called, Green Revolution: coming together to care for creation by Ben Lowe. It is pretty self explanatory what it's about, you know taking care of what God has entrusted us with- a little thing called the earth... ever heard of it? Pretty important. Well, I've been reading that each morning and evening listening to Broken Social Scene and having beautifully scary moments with God. Feeling so convicted, thankful, hopeless, encouraged, enraged, confused about why we as humans, more so as Christians have stood back for so long throwing away creation...this is a tangent, more of a rant that I probably shouldn't get started on.

a great equation:
God + books + music = happiness.

Kelsey is sick, poor guy. I gave him my cold... I'm pretty good at sharing. Yesterday after work I didn't want to go straight home so I told him to go home and I would meet him later and bring home something yummy to eat later. I kissed him goodbye and very soon after I realized it was one of the best decisions of my life. I put on my Ipod, more BSS and Menomena and wandered around looking at the brightly painted multi-hundred year old buildings, trying my absolute hardest not to sing and dance with excitement. I felt free-not because I was without Kelsey, but because I could only think and wonder in amazement at each passing store, sign and person.

I live in Europe.

I live in the Czech Republic!

I live in Brno, serving God and his people! What a blessing God has given to me. I am almost in tears thinking about what I have on my plate right now, what task I have been given. How is it that God loves me so much even after I continue to let him down, that I am here. Here on behalf of Him. It blows my mind.

16 September, 2010

Concrete Games

Every morning, Kelsey and I walk a little over a mile (or about two kilometers) downhill to the tram stop. My bones feel wasted from walking the same mile uphill the night before and I'm usually hungry by this time. There is a lovely bread and pastry shop down at the tram stop, I get dva (2) stanbikovas for osm Korunas (8 Krowns or roughly 40 cents)- YUMMY!... I'm getting a bit off topic.

I find myself playing these games, that I did not agree to, that I for some reason know the rules and follow. There are cracks on the ground, there are lines on the ground, there is tons of cobble stone! Well the rules are quite simple actually, ten lives. If you step on a crack, you lose a life; if you step on the line where two stones meet, you lose a life; if you step on a solid painted line (note the solid) you get an extra life.

I find myself playing this game mostly when Kelsey and I are walking up to our flat. We are usually either pretending to know Czech and talking to each other or making some weird joke that I'm sure make the people around us know that we are foreign (of course nothing rude or belligerent) - we don't look Czech though, so people already know we're foreign, though I'm getting off subject again.

I fall into the same routine, avoiding the concrete lines and cracks, walking along the curb when there is lots of little cobble stone, going out of my way to make giant strides when the cross walk comes so I can get my extra lives. Kelsey will sometimes follow suit avoiding the same things or he'll run defense for the concrete and push me as I walk on the curb or pretend he's going to push me so that I flinch and lose my balance.

I just can't help it, I begin walking and automatically begin playing these concrete games.


mír

09 September, 2010

Ahoj!

Today marks a week of being here in the Czech Republic. Allow me to break down my first couple of days....

We arrived at the airport at 12:00 pm on September first; my husband, my mother, all ten of our bags (three suitcases and two carry-ons a piece) and me. Our flight was to leave at 2:50 pm and we were scheduled to land in Frankfurt, Germany at 10:35 am the next day... we were in for a long ride! After successfully navigating through LAX International we grabbed some lunch and waited to board our giant Lufthansa plane.


Kelsey, right after landing in Frankfurt, Germany for our one hour layover
23 hours later (taking into account the nine hour time difference) we arrive in Praha, Ceska Republika with nine bags... that's right, my biggest bag, with my favorite clothes and my uniform, was missing! I filed a report and we met Pavla and Ruth outside. We walked over to the car and our bags barely fit (maybe God was saying to me that my missing bag was a good thing). We headed over to the DHQ in Praha and met a few more people, Major Mike (Ruth's husband, in charge of Cz. Rep.), Ales (our new boss) and some others. I was barely awake and was being asked if I wanted tea or coffee every ten minutes, all I wanted was to go to my new home and sleep.

The original plan was that Kelsey and I would stay the night with Ruth and Mike and then drive to Brno the next morning with Ales. Thank the Lord that the plans changed! Ales drove us that night; we left for Brno about 5 o'clock. On the way, we spoke of likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and other things.... somewhere, I'd say about 35-40 minutes into the drive, I was wrapped in two new Armada Spasy fleece jackets, sitting in the back seat when my eyes felt warm and tired. I tried with all my might to stay awake, doing the embarrassing head-bob and the chime in to the conversation every so often, but the task was unmanageable. A little while later we arrived at McDonald's. From the parking lot it seemed like any old McDonald's, but when I stepped inside, I realized, McDonald's is taken very differently here! It was without a doubt the nicest MD I'd ever seen! There was a McCafe Coffee stand and there were booths with pillows and candles. The bathrooms had the double flush (half flush for liquid and full flush for solids) and the toilets were closed off from the sink area. We sat down and I began eating the biggest, freshest snack wrap I've ever seen when I asked Kelsey to go get some Ketchup. He stood and was stopped by Ales reaching into his pocket for some money. "You will need to pay for the Ketchup." We were stunned, the nicest MD and you had to pay for the condiments... how funny.

Finally, we arrive to our flat. It is fully equipped and I fall into bed and go to sleep no later that 8:30 pm.

Of course the next morning I wake up at 5:45ish am and start rummaging through cabinets. Folding my clothes and making eggs and toast. My bag was delivered that morning about 8:30 to my doorstep, oh joy I have my uniform! ;) This was Friday morning and for the most part this day was pretty uneventful. We met with Sarka and Ales (pronounced: Sharka and Alesh) for a couple of hours afterwards we bought our tram pass. We were showed around a bit, got our money exchanged and had mall food for dinner at a place called Panda, it was Asian food, but not Panda Express. On our way home, we were brave and told Sarka we could get home by ourselves.... we took the right tram home, but we had a mile to walk to our house uphill and we weren't sure what hill to take. We started walking and we look at a map and our building isn't there. So we walk another direction (mind you it is almost 8 pm and it is very dark outside) and we ask a man which way Teyschlova (our building and street) is and he points up the hill and through hand gestures, he makes out two buildings (oh yeah the whole, everyone speaks English-untrue! my life is currently a big game of charades), we were to go through them and there we would find our building. Thankfully, we got home. We were pooped. We got into bed and were asleep again by 8:30 pm.


My first meal cooked at home :)

Again, the next morning we wake up 5:45ish and we start getting ready. I put a converter on my computer speakers so that I can listen to the Ipod and it's working fine for about ten seconds when BAM the lights go out, I see sparks and something shoots me in the back. The power is out and it's 6 am so we can't call Ales and Sarka for help. We wait in our barley lit flat for 9 o'clock when we can call Sarka for help. She tells us to get a chair and flip the breakers in the box above the door (we searched everywhere for this box!), but nothing worked, so she said she would be over in an hour to fix it. We see her from the window as she and her two daughters, Eliska and Katka (Pro:Elishka and Kotkah) arrive. There is another breaker box in the corridor and they had flipped off, Sarka broke into the box and flipped them back on, she was my new hero. The girls left and Kelsey and I were starving. Our food was bad and we hadn't eaten all morning. In order to lock the door, even from the inside, you need to use your keys, so I thought to myself, we should just leave our extra key in the door. Bad idea. We go to lock our door from the outside and nothing, we can't turn the key, we try to open the door and nothing, we can't get in! I call Sarka and she comes back. She had to call a lock smith and 775 crowns later (that's $45 US) we are able to get into our house again. I was thoroughly embarrassed by the trouble I had gotten us into in the third day of being here.

There are many more funny little things, but I am running out of time to share.

mír

01 August, 2010

Czech this...

We completed our tenure at The Salvation Army in Merced, California on July 15, 2010. It was sad to say goodbye to all the friends I made, but I knew that it wasn't forever. We packed up and away we went to Portland...

Our first week home we saw my family and hung out with friends. I've really missed my mom and dad.

Last week we helped out at SAY camp. I taught Focus on the Arts and Confident Cook, while Kelsey taught Team Sports and Physical Fitness. For those of you who don't know, Kelsey and I met at Camp Kuratli.

The first day felt empty. A rush of memories and joy, but this camp was not mine; it belonged to the 30-40 other teens and young adults working this summer. I wanted to be apart of it.

A crazy storm hit camp last winter, damaging Cross Creek and the bridge leading into camp. With the repairs made, camp changed. Campfire was now at Cross Creek and the campfire pit was the nature center. HOW WEIRD.

As the mosquitoes came out to play, "we were throwing pebbles in the creek" was heard. I needed a walk. Kelsey and I strode up to Merlo Field. We swung and climbed and slid across the playground. The sprinklers came on. "I dare you to run through the sprinklers," Kelsey said. It was 60 degrees and 9:30 pm. I stared at the field.

"I will if you will." Kelsey took off running, I followed close behind. I met the water with a harsh deep breath. Kelsey dove-summer-saulted through a stream of freezing water, I ran in circles around and under each spring I could find. Huffing and puffing, we stood wet on the blacktop laughing. "I feel like a little kid."

"That's because you are a little kid." Kelsey said.

The second day, camp seemed a bit more inviting. I was greeted with warm smiles and, "hey, weren't you Nurse Red?" The day crept on slowly. After releasing my girls from Art, I quickly found Kelsey and we drove into town. Menomena was playing Music Millennium and it was FREE!!!! There was no way we were going to miss this, even if we were at Camp.

200 fans were stuffed in the rows of a music shop. Menomena played four songs off their new album. I had chills the whole time. After the set was played, we lined up to get our CD signed. As the line shrank, my armpits grew sweatier, I didn't know what to say. "Hi, what's you name?" Brent asked.

"I'm Jess and this is Kelsey."

"Who should I make this out to?"

"Both of us." I said smiling.

Kelsey inhaled and said, "Do you remember about three years ago, some guy got on-" (Kelsey asked me to marry him on stage at their concert in November of 2007)

"YOU!" Justin said as he pointed at both of us. They remembered us. It felt nice to know that our favorite band, even though growing in popularity, was still cool and down to earth. We joked and laughed, "we could do your divorce too". We talked about moving to the Czech, "come 'check' us out there!" And we said goodbye.

Success.




Okay, okay. I'm getting a little carried away, let me get to the part that pertains to my Česky sen. Wednesday evening we received an email from Hector-THQ Missions Department Admin.

This is what we were given via email from Major Mike Stannett (Regional Leader, Cz)

Appointment/Role
Just to confirm. They will be stationed in Brno. This is the 2nd city of the Czech rep. It is unique as a city that it is more cosmopolitan than any other city in the country. The Armada Spasy has extensive work in the City including a Men's Hostel , Night shelter and Day centre. Attached to the Corps building is family in crisis accommodation flats. There are three day centres run by the Corps each proving social services to either youth or children. Then of course there is a small corps. The corps is also unique in that there are several young students from the university that come from all over the world and enjoy the Corps fellowship as the meetings are usually bilingual.

Their role will be as Corps assistants, with an emphasis on youth and children's work, especially to develop a link to the Corps/Church and the Community centres. Each Community centre provides a 'registered' social service with qualified non Salvationist staff. We would like to develop some 'freetime' activities with these children and relate them more to the life of the Corps, also to develop where possible links to the families. The majority of these children come from Roma Community.

We would also like the Pearce's to be involved in other parts of the Corps ministry in supporting the Officers especially in the Hostel, Prison ministry and with the International students as well.
Yeah-yah! Needless to say, I'm excited.

The rest of camp went well. My girls made sculptures and mac 'n' cheese. Rest, teach, remember and experience, what a week!

Next order of business... getting our visas.

mír

14 July, 2010

My Česky Sen

We arrived at THQ Friday, July 9 at 9:15 am. With time to kill, my husband and I waited anxiously in the waiting room, while we joked with those who walked by. My armpits were growing more and more warm as the time passed. Col. Hudson showed up and heckled Major Judy, "Don't keep these two waiting!" Major Judy called us in; we will FINALLY find out where we are going!

We were informed that we will be working with the corps in Brno, Czech Republic. A job description has yet to be drawn up, but we will most likely be working with youth and social services. Pending our visas, we will be leaving the first week of September.

Česky Sen translates to Czech dream, which is what this is for me. I thank God that I have been given this opportunity and I pray that I can do what He wants me to.

mír (peace).