Thursday, July 23, 2015

Volleyball: The Universal Game of Fun

As all of you know, I am already home.  Jet-lag is hitting me hard this morning so I thought it would be a great time to let you all know some more happenings in the Czech.  I still have so much to show you from my time in Europe and my heart is heavy as I think back to my time with friends.  But I wouldn't have traded a minute of it!  One of the most fun times we had at camp was the time spent on the volleyball court.  These pictures were taken by my wonderful translator, Radim.  I was playing in the game and having a great time so I can't take credit for this awesome shots!

Bret was one of our translators and apparently he could use mind control to
make the volleyball float ;)

LaVern always had her head in the game

Impatiently waiting for the opposing team to receive my serve

These ladies were on the same team, but hey, two is better than one right?

Vojta was one of my students and could jump crazy high .  Thankfully he was on my team!

Klara (also one of my students) was lucky enough to have Kelsey teacher her how to throw a football like a pro.

Being short, I had a massive disadvantage against our team leader Rob when we faced off at the net.

As you can see in this photo, there was no stopping Rob on the net.

These two silly gooses from my class, Klara and Lucie, Didn't actually play but they had fun
watching the rest of us face off.

At the end of the day though, everyone was a good sport and we had a ball hanging out together.

I don't want to flood every post with pictures but I hope all of you enjoy actually seeing what I saw while at camp.  More pictures and posts will be up tomorrow of my class and our sightseeing days as a team!

Ahoy! (That means goodbye in Czech)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

But Wait! I Have a Good Excuse!

     I know, I know.  I have heard from my mom that my lack of posting as been causing a bit of distress back home but I assure you, I had very little time for anything other than my responsibilities there at the camp.  Computer and wifi issues also bogged down my blogging schedule so I am just now able to really post more than a sentence or two on facebook.  The team and I are back in Brno now at the penzion where we were for the first few days of our stay in the Czech.
     We all had had a ball at the ski resort and I made friendships that I know will last long after I head home next week.  Saying goodbye was beyond hard but I made it through the long farewells yesterday and I will do my best to fill all of you in on the last few days of my time there. I can't tell you everything of course, but I do want to show you a bit of a picture diary of my amazing trip to the waterfall on Mt. Pardědn.  It was breathtaking in every sense of the word.  LaVerne and I were huffing it all the way to the top as we climbed over perilous bridges, rocks and logs.  But check out these amazing views!
This was only the starting point of our expedition!  So much
beauty before we even hit the trail.

The bridges most certainly did not meet any sort of safety standards but all the
wobbly planks is what made it even more exciting!

Watch your step!  Its a long way to to the bottom!

I thought this gnarled stump was really cool in a creepy sort
of way.  The forest (which is what all of the Czech's call the
woods) was littered with these types of fallen trees.  

This was one of the few bugs that actually posed for my camera.
 Thank you bug!

Lush doesn't begin to describe all of the flowers and plants here.
Simply gorgeous shades of greens, yellows, pinks, blues and purples were
dotted across the landscape.

The dificulty of the hike did not leave me much time to take pictures.  I felt as though if I pulled my
camera out, I might just fall off the mountain!  But I just had to snap this photo of the waterfall.
Bonus:  I didn't fall of the mountain and die after taking this picture, yay me.

After that long, tedious hike we all needed a cold drink and a snack so we stopped at the pub right by the trail and had a well deserved meal.  This is my Briell and Bramorácky.  Which were both excellent.  The Bramorácky are basically potato pancakes with all kinds of seasonings including a healthy dousing of garlic.  Oh the starchy goodness!  
Now that I have reliable wifi and a little bit more time on my hands, I really will be able to post more about our camp experience.  Keep your eyes peeled for more info!

Ahoy!! (Translation: Goodbye!)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Let the Olympics Commence

After today's events, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be an English teacher overseas.  These people, and this place, have re-kindled the spark inside me that was nearly quenched from the drudgery of college work. Not only has God given me the ability to get through to my students so they feel at ease, but I just immensely enjoy my time with them.  We laughed and sang and acted and learned together today in a way I did not think was possible with the language barrier that exists.  The day started with prayer, of course,
with the team followed immediately by a typical Czech breakfast. After that, it was time for lessons.  I was struggling at first to get past mine and my students nervousness with the new situation.  But the bugs were worked out after a 30 minute break where I regrouped with my translator and switched strategies.

Vojta was a high roller in our game of Toss Up

 The next part of the day was spent playing outside of our beautiful hotel.  We had the "winter" Olympics today.  I have no pictures because I was participating, but let me tell you, I have more new things this first day of camp than a year of regular life back home.  I skied in the grass, curled on a driveway, slalomed in a field, and shot put with a real live shot put ball.  I did poorly on everything obviously but my team took first place out of all the campers in spite of my inept performance.  Needless to say, this was an amazing day.  Check out the grounds!

Upon completing dinner, it was the American's turn to entertain the campers so we all gave translated introductions of ourselves and shared a crazy talent we had.  The highlights of the talents were Kelsey and LaVerne's performances.  Kelsey claimed to be the fasted diaper changer ever and proved it to be true when she went head to head with fellow mother, Lanka. Kelsey pulled out all the stops by changing her baby CC...BLINDFOLDED!  LaVerne displayed her perfect coordination and impeccable reflexes when she managed to catch 19 out of 20 quarters off her elbow. Her challenger, Radim, managed to catch 1 out of 20.  It was a wonderful time for everyone involved.

Finally, we all finished our evening at the camp fire where I played guitar and sang, everyone simply enjoying each others company.  So there you have it folks, today in a nutshell. There are so many stories I would love to tell but they will have to wait for another post.  Thank you all for reading!


Friday, July 10, 2015

Details Details

 Okay, I missed a day so lets play catch up...Here are yesterday's events in a nutshell.
I found a Michael Jackson look alike on the tram stop wall! The grafiti here is awesome!
One very fun but somewhat stressful aspect of surviving here in Brno is navigating the tram stops.  It would be easy if not for the approximate 10 seconds the tram driver gives the people to get on and off the tram before slamming the doors and laying on the gas. It is so little time in fact, that I saw a woman get shut between the doors!  Ammygray and I have both seen people fall down on the tram because they did not grab hold of the handles or rails in time to steady themselves.  These trams wait for no one.

Somethings never change
One very nice part of this whole trip is that we are really not that far removed from American cuisine and shopping.  Its been difficult to souvenir shop because so many of the things they sell here are just like back in the states.  Unlike South America or Africa, Europe is very modern and the greatest differences are found in the customs and food.  Neither of which make decent souvenirs.

A typical Brno neighborhood
This  is my one of my interpreters (Camilla) neighborhood.  She lives about a 15 minutes tram ride outside of the city.  We would say her house is in a suburb.  I went to Camilla's family's house for lunch yesterday to go over lesson plans with her and Radim, my other interpreter.  We had a great lunch and a fun time hanging out and getting to know one another.  I will have pictures of all of us very soon.

The absolute best cake/bread combo I have ever had
  This is a poppy seed peach cake that Radim's mom made for us to have at lunch.  Something I have discovered that makes me love the Czech Republic all the more is that these folks make no delineation between dessert, and dinner.  Some entrees they serve for dinner at resturants are what we would consider dessert.  So when I was at Camilla's house, this cake was served as the appetizer.  Now that's the way to eat dinner!!

BBQ chicken thigh, Czech style
This dinner was not BBQ as the menu said, however, it was delicious.  That light red sauce was supposedly my barbecue sauce to dip my chicken in but alas, it tasted nothing like It seems that every "restaurant" here is actually a bar that happens to have a full menu rather than a restaurant with some alcohol.  But everywhere is very clean and the food has not been bad once since I've been here.

Now onto today:

The best thing happened today I finally FINALLY, found a water bottle big enough for me! While we were out shopping, I desperately needed some NON carbonated water and so we went to a little shop to buy a bottle.  Then Olga said I could get a bigger one than the little 16 oz ones and showed me this mammoth bottle. 1.5 liters!  Obviously I bought it with great excitement and it actually lasted me more than an hour.  The times of course are funny here because as I am typing this at 1:00pm the majority of you all are just not getting up at 7:00am but this morning was yet another shopping day and tonight we had a BBQ to attend.  I played guitar and another team member shared their testimony with several unsaved folks.

We went to Otmar and Zussca's home this evening for the barbeque and Otmar is a gardener by profession.  Here are just a few pictures I took this evening from his beautiful farm.

I cannot tell you what a wonderful time we had tonight, all the good fellowship, funny talk around the fire, and the awkward practicing of English among new friends.

  Tomorrow we leave Brno to head to camp about three hours from here in the mountains.  We will be driving in personal vehicles of some Czechs who will also be attending camp and helping there.  I look forward to another eventful, jet lag free, day!

Ciao Ciao! (as the Czechs would say)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day 3

Hello everyone,
  I have to say, after re-reading my last post, I can actually see the jet lag in my writing!  I’m so sorry you all had to read that…Jet lag is finally fading and Ammygray and I are getting into the swing of things.  I know I said a blog post would be up yesterday but I’m afraid I crashed once again without much getting done.  As many of you likely saw on facebook, we went to the catacombs downtown yesterday and visited the mass grave of 50,000 people. I think that these photos will speak for themselves. (I do apologize for the blur, we were not allowed to use flash so my pictures were unsteady).
The longer you look, the more skulls you see among the leg and arm bones.

Still my favorite photo

I'm not sure why these three gathered no dust but it made an awesome photo opportunity

One of the few tomb stones recovered

Like these pictures, yesterday was a bit of a blur.  I did however, have a much clearer time today as I met and worked with my interpreters, Radim and Camilla on our lessons for the teen group next week.  We have all sorts of music, games, crafts, and vocabulary planned and ready to teach!  Ammygray and I had a wonderful team meeting and dinner tonight and we have another busy, fun day planned tomorrow.  More updates with greater details and stories are on their way, just trying to find the time and energy!
Love you all very much and thanks for reading!!