Thursday, August 29, 2013

on why my slovakia recap stopped...and why it will start back

have you ever been really in love with something? I mean really in love? I'm not talking about a person, I'm talking about an object...or a place...something that you just really feel deeply about.

that's how I feel about Slovakia. I've been told (countless times) that its just because its the first place I ever traveled. I've been told that its because it was my first adventure. I've heard that its because of the people that were there. but honestly, I just really love that country.

the day I got home from Slovakia, I wasn't happy to be here. yes, I love my family. I really love them. I was glad to see them, but my heart was hurting so bad. I held it together all through the airport hugs and stories and more hugs. I made it through the kids trying to tell me everything that happened while I was away. we drove to Sonic and I made it through an entire watermelon slush and a medium fry. but then, as Moms and Daddy and the kids and Thomas and Becca stood, scooting tables and throwing away trash, I just leaned up against a table, and thought for a minute. and I started thinking about Slovakia. and about how much my heart was hurting. I felt my lips trembling, and a tear rolled down my cheek.

Mom saw it and she came over and just hugged me, as I sobbed, right there at Sonic. I cried because I missed the people that I had grown to love. I cried because I was angry that I was my heart was hurting so bad. I cried because I just wanted to be back in Slovakia.

and you know what? I cried every day for about 2 weeks. nights were the hardest. I cried every night. and guess what? I still cry sometimes. I cry because I miss it, so so much.

as I was crying into Michael's shirt about two weeks ago, I said, "Will it ever stop hurting?" and he nodded. but honestly, as I think about it now...I don't want it to stop hurting. I don't want to ever lose my love for that country and that people.

there is a need there, friend. yeah, they seem to be well-off, they don't live in mud huts, they have shoes. they even seem happy. but you can see the need. you can see it in people like Peter. you can see it in the gypsies. you can see it in the eyes of the kids. you can see it even in a church service, when people cry as they worship.

that's why my slovakia recap suddenly came to a screeching halt. it was because the more I posted, the more I shared my heart, the more I missed it. and so, I haven't written any posts about Slovakia in over a week. but I'm coming back. because I want to share with you. I want you to know about the need. I want you to know about the fun parts. I want you to share in the adventure. and so I'll be back with more posts soon. I'm not sure how soon...but soon. if I don't show up soon, just email me and yell at me.

(as a complete side-note, I'm guest-posting over here today for my dear blog friend, Callie. go check it out and make sure you read some of her posts! she is so encouraging!!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

slovakia, part 11: the gypsy camp

we went there on Tuesday, July 2nd. its a night that will stick out in my mind for a long time. way longer than I probably want it to. it was one of the hardest nights of the whole trip for me, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.

 Mr. Hayward came and stood behind me at dinner and told me that I would be sharing my testimony in front of the gypsies. I momentarily freaked out internally but put a pleasant smile on my face and said, "you got it." I had less than an hour to prepare. and so I just didn't prepare. I knew that Pica would be sharing as well, and figured that if I failed, he would redeem me.

I didn't really think about it again, until we got there. I had never seen anything like that in my life. the living conditions...the clothes...the people was like no one cared, which, to be honest, no one really did. these people are outsiders. no one cares about them and they care about no one. they live in poverty and somehow make it work. the kids were running around with little to no clothes on, the women were all wearing long skirts and the men sat around with their beer bottles. it was devastating.

I helped Pica, Mr. Lou and the two David's do some singing, and then I shared my testimony. to be completely and totally honest, I have zero recollection of what I said that night. everyone said I did a good job, but I have no clue if it was good or not. I spoke for 3-5 minutes and sat back down. the people clapped for me. Pica stood up and shared and I really don't remember anything he said either. my mind wasn't processing anything that anyone was saying.

we finished our time, and the adults spread out to talk to the gypsies and pray for them. I was standing in between Pica and David, trying to understand and comprehend what was going on around me. Samuel came up and said that a woman wanted me to pray for her. she was an old woman, wrinkled and small. she had a disease in her stomach and couldn't understand why God was making her suffer. she believed that he existed, she just didn't understand the fact that he was allowing her to be in pain. I couldn't speak, I could barely breathe.

I finally found some words and prayed for the woman as she held my hand. I felt Mr. Hayward's hand on my back as we stood under a tree, lifting up that woman's pain to Jesus. I finished my prayer and she kissed my cheek.
we walked away, and I climbed into the car and we went to get ice cream. just like that. but my heart was heavy.

it hurt me to know that people lived that way. hurt that most of them didn't know Jesus. it hurt that that woman was in pain and was questioning God's love for her because of it. it hurt that I couldn't do anything to fix it.

I was reminded that night that there is pain and suffering in this world. we, as Americans, pretend there isn't. we live in our nice houses, drink our cold drinks, live in the air conditioning during the summer, buy new clothes regularly...and we act like that's the way it is for everyone. but it just isn't.

there's a line in a song and it says: "Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours." God has a heart for the people in this world like those gypsies. and His heart is breaking for them, because a lot of them don't know Him. He broke my heart for them. He opened my eyes to see that the world isn't really all about me, that people do hurt and suffer. but He also showed me that there is some good in this world, and its worth fighting for.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

slovakia, part 10: pictures!!

just sharing some pictures today as I didn't get my post finished last night. i'll be back soon with more details!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

slovakia, part 9: our mission-relationships and camp

well hey there, friends! welcome back. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

so today I want to share some details with you about what we were DOING while in Slovakia. our main goal, purpose, mission....all those good words.

primarily, from the beginning, the goal was to build relationships. Mr. Hayward laid the relationships out this way:

-a relationship between us (individually) and God
-a relationship between us and the other team mates
-a relationship between us and the kids

one of my favorite parts was that we ate together every night

one morning I got up at 5:30 to have my Jesus time and sat in the window seat. it was so peaceful

me, Hutch, Emily and Paul studied James 1 together with Mr. Lou and Mrs. Sue
I would say we accomplished the relationship goal.

our next mission was the VBS/English camp. so I'll talk about that now....

every morning we got to the school around 8:00 a.m, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little all depended on who you rode with! we all gathered in the "Hawaii" room to prepare for the day. we would have a devotional, led by Mr. Hayward, Pica and Mr. Lou and then we would pray, write out our kids' name tags, drink Kofola, and just chat. then we would proceed out into the hallways to greet the kids as they arrived.

we would all eventually make our way into the "Slovakia" room. we all assembled there every morning. we sang songs, maybe played a game, prayed and then we would split up into our individual groups.

there was a morning rotation and an afternoon rotation. throughout the morning my group of kids went to three different classrooms: crafts, Bible, then English. they ate a snack in between crafts and Bible, then had a fifteen minute break in between Bible and English. they usually used the break to try and run away from me and cause as much trouble as possible.

so that's how morning rotation worked. then at 12:15 we all went downstairs and ate lunch in the cafeteria. yep, 62 Slovak children eating in the same room with all the leaders. it was loud, to say the very least. but it was always a good time of the day. I had to sit at the table with my kiddos while they ate their lunch and Zsolt and Brian would take turns feeding me bites of their lunch until I could get my own plate. sweet, evil boys...

and then afternoon rotation would start. it involved inside relays, outside activities and crafts. I kind of floated during this time. a couple of days I helped Gabby lead the youngest kids around, one day I worked in crafts, one day I helped in relays. it all depended on where I was most needed. the afternoons always seemed longer than the mornings. finally, 3:15 would roll round and we would all meet back up in the Slovakia room for closing. we would sing, play a game, and then the kids all ran downstairs. this was the hardest part of the day. 

we were each in charge of making sure that our children were delivered to their aunt, grandpa, mom, dad, sister, whoever...and not letting them escape. I DON'T SPEAK SLOVAK. my children didn't cut me any slack here either, because they were all very ready to go home. it was a stressful process, but none of my kids ever got kidnapped, so it all turned out alright.

and then all of the leaders would go to the Hawaii room and eat some sort of  snack and drink Kofola and talk over the day. we would discuss what had gone well and what hadn't, and if anything could be changed for the next day. it was really so nice and relaxing to just sit for a while.

and those were two of the reasons we went...but you'll have to come back to hear more...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

just popping in to say hi...

hey blog followers and new comers and anyone else who is reading this...

okay. here's the deal. I pinky promise (does anyone still do that anymore?) that I am not abandoning my Slovakia recap. just been working and saying lots of prayers for a dear friend of mine and...well, yeah, that's basically all. but I will be back on Monday with more Slovakia posts and more details and more pictures!

so come back then.

and have a lovely weekend!

xo, jen

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

slovakia, part 8: mirko

{hi friends! I'm going to be back soon with more in-depth posts about my time in Slovakia, but for now, I'm just sharing some "journal entry" type posts of some individuals. hope you enjoy!!}

he was my hero the entire week of camp. he didn't say much of anything the first day, just smiled and was agreeable. I knew he would be a favorite, because he was just so good. he didn't give me a minutes trouble.

Tuesday came and he walked through the double doors of the school and called, "good morning, Jennifer!" I looked at Filip and said, "does he speak English???" Filip nodded and said, "a little. just enough." I freaked out. I stood up and walked over to him and said, "Mirko, I had no idea you spoke English!" he smiled, a little sheepishly. "very little," he muttered. "well that is great! now you can help me out in class, yes?" he nodded, smiling.
Mirko and Nika

from that moment on, he was my translator. if I had a problem in class, it was, "Mirko, ask Denis to put his chair on the floor, please," and he would translate for me. the kids would want to tell me something and he would translate to the best of his ability. sometimes he would get confused and be speaking in English and ramble off into Slovak, seemingly without even realizing it.

he was quiet. he would speak up in class sometimes, offering his two cents worth to the lesson and answering questions. in general, he was just a really good kid. if I had a problem, he would try and help fix it. he would get confused sometimes, trying to say something in English and failing, but it was okay. at least he tried. and at least I had someone in my group that spoke some English.

he was absent-minded. he would walk out into the hallway to check his mailbox, but would end up wandering the hallways, without even realizing it. I would walk out and there would be Mirko, just walking, with this far-away look in his eyes. I would call his name and he would grin and come walking back to class.

we never really got to say goodbye. just a quick hug and smile in the hallway when the ceremony was over on Saturday. I saw him leaving with his mom later that afternoon, but didn't make it to him in time to really say goodbye. but I knew Mirko would understand. he always understood.

Monday, August 12, 2013

slovakia, part 7: brian

day one of camp. he walked through the doors, wearing a bright blue t-shirt and the most mischievous grin I had ever seen. I thought to myself, "he is so cute, and he's gonna be nothing but trouble." I was right.

that day he didn't put up much of a fuss. kept his distance and watched me. he was 12 years old. his name was Brian, and he scrutinized me. I caught him just watching me more than once that day. Julia asked him at lunch if I was his group leader and he said, completely serious, "nah, she's my girlfriend." someone forgot to tell me. but very quickly, he took possession of me. walking by me in the hallway, slipping an arm around my waist while we were standing in the lunch line. giving me a bite of his snack. offering me water. trying to help me out when I couldn't understand what one of the other kids was saying. he would turn around in class just to smile at me. he was very touchy-feely.

it was obvious to everyone. that kid needed to be loved on.

so I loved on him.
brian and another one of my kids: frederic
its funny how you can have jokes with, laugh with and be sarcastic with someone who doesn't even speak the same language as you. I could only understand a few of the words Brian said to me, and he understand yes and no, and that was all. but we were able to communicate perfectly. sometimes he would get so frustrated, trying to tell me something, and would go grab Filip and have him translate our conversation for us. it all worked.

Brian wasn't a bad kid. but he did what it took to get attention. if that meant causing a little ruckus, he would totally do it. I learned that on day one. over the course of the week, if I wasn't giving him my full attention, he would stir things up a little bit in class. even getting fussed at seemed to make him happy. unfortunately he wasn't the only boy like that in my class. out of my 6 boys, 4 of them wanted my attention all the time.I tried to divide myself evenly among them.

the last day of camp came. it wasn't even really a camp day, just a day for the kids and their parents to come and hang out. I don't think Brian's parents were there...he seemed to be alone except for a friend that he brought with him.  the day ended and I was saying goodbye to my kids and watching the guys dismantle the bouncy houses. all of a sudden there was an arm wrapped around my waist. I knew who it was without even looking. he was wet from playing with the water hose, and sweaty from running around, but I didn't really mind. I put an arm around his shoulders. we just stayed like that. we walked around that way, talked to other people that way, and sometimes just stood there. we didn't say anything.

after a while, his friend came up and said something to him in Slovak. Brian protested, but the kid was insistent. Brian shrugged his shoulders and shifted his position so that we were in a full hug. he was squeezing the life out of me. he wouldn't let go either, so I just kept hugging him. we stood there, outside under a darkening sky, just hugging. we stood there for a long time. people walked past, kids ran home, parents called their goodbyes in Slovak and in English. the guys got all the bouncy houses put away. and Brian and I still stood there.

finally, he loosened his grip slightly. he looked up at me. he had blue eyes that usually had some impish plan in them, but today, they were sad instead. he was close to tears. my heart broke. I pulled him into a tighter hug before letting him go. "goodbye," he said, speaking the first English I had heard from him all week. "bye, Brian. see you next summer," I said, rubbing his shoulder. he nodded, understanding.

I watched him walk away with his friend. he glanced back at me one time, smiled and waved. he pulled his shoulders back and walked off, standing tall. I smiled and waved back.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

slovakia, part 6: peter

I met him at the center for drug addicted people. he was 22 years old. his head was shaved. he had huge arms, and was wearing a tshirt and jeans. he sat in a chair out in the crowd, but his eyes kept meeting mine. maybe it was the pain in them that made them feel like a magnet. you could read the sorrow and regret in them just by giving him a quick glance. he gave me a half-smile when we locked eyes for the first time. I was sitting on a platform with Pica, Emily and David Cekov. we had been singing. it was so nice out, almost cold since I was wearing shorts and a tank top. the breeze was blowing as Hutch and Mr. Frederic shared their testimonies and Pavle shared the gospel with the people gathered around him. 

he had a presence about him, Pavle did. I don't know how anyone could hear him share the gospel and not want to do something about it. he was so passionate about everything he did and said. hearing him share never got old, and I don't think it ever could get old. 

when he got done, I saw the guy I couldn't stop watching repeating the prayer after Pavle in Slovak. my heart did a somersault and I knew I had to talk to him. I tried rehearsing something clever in my head, but my thoughts got jumbled and I could tell I was close to hyperventilating. what if I said something stupid? what if he didn't speak english? maybe someone could translate for me... 
Pavle finished his prayer, and asked that we talk to the people. I couldn't move. it was like I was glued to my chair. David Cekov stood up and handed me his guitar and pick, telling me I could play if I wanted. I took it, not knowing exactly what I would do with it. then I knew. 

I grabbed a stool and headed towards the guy. Mr. Lou was already talking to him...both of them sitting in chairs. I sat down, and began to lightly strum. if I could just keep playing, my words would come. the music freed me. his name was Peter. I will never forget the look in his eyes. I'll never forget the way the tears trickled down his rough cheeks. I remember clearly that his arm was bleeding because he had been scratching his mosquito bites. He didn't understand Jesus' unconditional love. 

I looked around as Mr. Lou talked to Peter, never stopping my strumming. the other teammates were spread out. I watched David Cekov and Pica praying for a guy who looked to be about Peter's age with tattoos up his arms. I could see the brokenness in his eyes as well, as he watched David's face as he prayed over him. I watched David's lips moving, not knowing what he was saying, but sensing his passion even from a distance. 

sometimes, words just aren't enough. sometimes, no matter what good things you can think of to say, they just aren't enough. Mr. Lou got up eventually, and went to get a pen to write down his contact information for Peter. I just sat there, kept strumming the same chords over and over again. I couldn't think of anything to say. I had said a few words about God not looking at his past anymore, and only seeing Jesus, but other than that, Mr. Lou had carried the conversation. 

we sat there, in the coolness of the evening. he just looked at me, and I looked back at him. he had some of the bluest eyes I had ever seen. neither of us said anything for a few minutes. finally he cleared his throat and said, "why? I don't understand. I don't understand why you came here. why do you care?" I half-laughed. "Peter, we came because we do care. I care." he shook his head, still obviously confused as to why we came. 

I took a quick breath. "you know, when I was 14, I was really angry at God. my great-grandmother died and I was angry that He took her away from me. I really loved her. but God gave me another chance. He kept chasing after me, kept loving me. He always gives another chance. Peter, I want you to have that chance. I want you to have the chance to be loved." I ran out of words. really, there was nothing else to say. he tried to be a man, but his eyes were full of tears, and one ran down his cheek. 

Pavle called that it was time for us to go. Mr. Lou came and shook Peter's hand, the hand that was stained by the blood he had wiped off of his arm. I looked into his eyes and said, "I'm gonna be praying for you, Peter." he gave me that half-smile again and said, "─Ćakujem" which is thank you in Slovak. I walked away, stuck David's guitar and his pick in the case and put it on my back, carrying it to the van. as I walked away, I turned around and looked back at Peter. he still sat in the chair, his head in his hands.

Friday, August 9, 2013

slovakia, part 5: church, host homes and school decorating

Sunday morning came bright and early. (every morning in Slovakia came bright and early!!) we got up and ate breakfast and got ready for church. I was super excited about my first "Slovakia church experience."

Michaela translating for Pavle

clockwise starting with red and white stripes: Paul, Hutch, Pica, Mr. Lou, David, Emily, me, David and Samuel
the service that morning was absolutely wonderful. I can't even describe it. people singing in English, Slovak and Romanian. prayers prayed in different languages. testimony sharing. singing duets. Mr. Hayward sharing some stories. team introductions. it was wonderful.

after church, Emily and I went to a host home for lunch. our family was absolutely AHHHMAZINGGGGG! yeah, folks. they rocked. Stefan and Katarina and their little daughter, Deborah. she was an absolute sweetheart. they were all just the greatest.

Stefan shared stories with us. he told us about his past and how God worked in his life. he told us about how he proposed to Katarina. showed us his wedding picture album, and pictures of Deborah. it was the greatest thing. I didn't want to leave.

after that, we went to the school to decorate. I have zero pictures of this process....but LUCKY FOR Y'ALL....some of the team was better about picture taking than I was.
this is what the rooms started out like

and then this is what the AMERICA room looked like after 
assembly room 

the assembly room again 

and that's the general idea of the decorating.

(I fell off of a chair that day. I hit the floor so hard that my vision seemed black for a minute and my ears were ringing...but it didn't hurt me. everyone freaked out. Pica said I was "very strong" because he thought I would be very hurt...but I had slammed my tail bone...and let me tell you, a few days later I was very hurt. painful it was...)

and then we went to the center for drug addicted people, but that story won't be told until tomorrow.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

slovakia, part four: van rides, translators and Banska Stiavnica

hey there! I'm back for part four of my Slovakia recap!!

so. Saturday came. we were going to be spending the day with the Slovak team and our two Romanians. it was our day to bond as a team. I woke up bright and early and threw on my favorite chambray shirt and pink skinny jeans (cause honestly, is there anything better?) and we headed out.

we were heading to Banska Stiavnica. its totally fine if you can't pronounce it. it took me try after try after try. it rolls right off my tongue now, though. so there's hope! :) it was about a two hour drive from Nove Zamky and we were riding in a van, me in the very back seat with Emily and Hutch.

now, I get extremely car sick at times. I need air coming out of the vents, pointing right at my face, or be able to see out of the front, or something. and...I always get deathly ill when driving in the mountains, and the place we were headed was very hilly and twisty-turny and I got deathly ill. I thought I was going to die and was about to ask them to let me out, when we pulled over because Mrs. Sue wasn't feeling well either. we both got some fresh air and arrived at our destination shortly afterward.

the Cerrillo family: Mrs. Sue, Mr. Lou and Paul
I officially met most of the Slovak team throughout the day. Marcel. Gabika. Filip and his sister, Nika. Eva. they were fantastic, y'all. we all just clicked. we had jokes. we made fun of each other. we were like siblings. Eva and I teased each other mercilessly, but we knew that we each cared about the other. she joked that she was gonna throw me in a river, and I brought her cups of Kofola when she was outside with the kids. really, honestly. this team was the greatest mission team ever.

Mrs. Donna, Pica and Mrs. Nancy
that day was spent touring, looking at wood work, I got to check out a castle with an extraordinary view, the kids (meaning Paul, Emily, Hutch and David M). went through a mirror maze, we ate good food and drank Kofola and got to walk through another castle. it was a great day. now I'll shut up and show you some more pictures.
Peter and Michaela and their two little girls 
clockwise: me, Emily, David and Hutch
clockwise: Mr. Lou, Paul, Mrs. Donna, Mrs. Dee and Mrs. Deb

Emily, Hutch, David and Paul

22 of our 26 teammates while we were in Slovakia
I rode home in Filip's car with him, Nika, Emily and Mr. Frederic. but guess what? I slept most of it. sleeping was better than getting sick again! we got back and then went to supper. as usual, it was delicious. (it always was delicious).

when we got back, the "worship team" practiced for Sunday morning, and that was fun. it was me, Emily, Pica, David M., David C. and Mr. Lou. we sounded good together, too. it was my favorite part of the trip, singing with them.
me, Emily, then Pica and David, and then David....yeah...its confusing. :)
 And then we all went to bed...trying to get a good night sleep in preparation for Sunday...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

slovakia, part 3: Nove Zamky, the Salur hotel and new faces

hey friends! welcome back! thanks for reading my ramblings!

the view out of my window

the front of the Salur hotel. the window right above the R in Salur was mine. 
I absolutely loved our hotel. we called it "the ranch." it was homey. not fancy, just nice and simple. everything about Nove Zamky was nice and simple. I shared a room with Emily, (she's 17) and we each had our own bed. the funny thing about the beds in Slovakia is how low they were to the floor. but it all worked out and we loved it. (well, at least I did!)

the view from my bed 
 it was a little overwhelming that first night. we met Samuel and David Cekov, Pavle's sons. I rode in the back of the van (which you'll hear more about on another day) with David. he was wearing a purple t shirt and black jeans. I remember that much. I remember that he said a total of 23 words that night. (haha, that's not exact people. I wasn't really counting). I remember that I was SO tired and overwhelmed and so jet-lagged, that I made zero sense no matter what I said.
samuel and david cekov (otherwise known as my big brothers in Slovakia :) 

it was overwhelming because it was all SO new. Samuel and David sat across from me at dinner (I mean, supper...) and they would just randomly start speaking to each other in Slovak. it kind of pushed me over the edge. (it later became totally normal and I learned to just say, "guys...English please?") let's just say I was very happy to sleep that night. so happy. 

the next morning we woke up and ran downstairs for breakfast (which was always WAY TOO EARLY) and then we got ready for our day. we were going to see the school that we would be having our VBS camp in. and I was about to meet Andrej. 

Andrej was the man with the plan. he always knew exactly where everyone should be and when and if they weren't there, he figured out a way to get us there. he was funny in a very dry way and made me laugh hysterically more than once. he got us out of some sticky situations (like that one time when both my room keys got locked up at the church and I couldn't get in my room...) 
 and so we went and checked out the school. it was two stories and all our classrooms were on the second floor. no air conditioning, and boy, did it feel warm up there. as we were walking down a hallway, we saw a drawing of the Ten Commandments that one of the students had put on the wall. very different from the US.

after that, we got to go really see the heart of Nove Zamky. the Old Town as they call it. then we had lunch. then we went to a shopping mall. we felt right at home. :) except for the fact that I had to have David Cekov translate everything for me, because I understood nothing.

and then it was back to the hotel to have a meeting and meet some new people.
michaela, andrej and juli
we met Michaela and Juli that afternoon. I fell in love with those two women. big hearts, full for Jesus and children and their families. they were both radiant. Michaela and her husband Peter had two little girls and Andrej and Juli had a son and are expecting a daughter in October. Andrej and Michaela are brother and sister, in case you hadn't already figured that out by the picture above. and they were so great together. 

we also met two other special people that afternoon: Pica and David.
this was taken the morning they left...but we'll pretend it wasn't.

they stole my heart, those two crazy Romanians. Pica, from the very beginning was my big brother. he took care of me. made sure I was where I needed to be. he would call me over to him and say, "what songs should we sing tonight?" or "you go get in my car, you ride with me." he was great. he was hilarious as well. and his nickname for me was "gypsy." long story there, but for some reason, gypsy stuck and so we called each other that. (although he always pretended to be SERIOUSLY offended when I called him that). he Skyped his wife, Codruta, almost every day. she stayed in Romania and is expecting their first in October. (a little girl named Sofia). 

and then David. he was 15. I guessed that he was 18. (epic fail on my part, but hey, you win some, you lose some). he really loves Jesus so much. he loved the kids. and he was the life of the party. made us laugh 24/7. he is super talented musically and made up silly songs just to make us laugh. but more about them later...

there were so many new faces, and I was busy trying to fit a name and personality with each different face. and on Saturday, I was going to meet four more new people...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

slovakia, part 2: long flights, Vienna mornings and Bratislava

howdy y'all. welcome back for part 2 in my adventure! so excited to be here, as always!

it was an eight hour flight total. I was in a middle seat, in between Hutch and Emily. now, Hutch is a 15 year old growing boy, and he took up his fair share of the room. and Emily took up her fair share as well. not to mention the fact that the middle seat just isn't the most comfortable. but somehow we managed. (I managed...) Hutch slept most of the flight, Emily slept some and I slept none. I listened to my iPod for hours straight, read some, wrote in my journal and just sat there, drinking water, eating when I felt like it.

that is NOT the way I recommend enjoying a long flight. that's a good way to be miserable. just fyi. :) but it was all okay. I was just happy when we landed. I gathered up my trash, my backpack (which felt INCREDIBLY heavy) and we disembarked cause the ark was parked. :)

we expected it to be hot. in the 80s, maybe even the 90s. y'all. it was 54 degrees. it was absolutely heavenly! I quickly found a bathroom and changed into a different shirt and skirt and then we all just stood around. our flight was early, but Pavle was on his way.

Pavle Cekov. that man is one of the most amazing, godly, passionate men I have ever met. from the moment he walked into that airport, I knew that we were going to be good friends. and we were. it was the best thing, to be around him and learn from him. he has so many stories of how God has worked in his life. I literally could have sat for days and just listened to him talk to me.

we were able to tour Bratislava that day. it. was. beautiful. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and it was your typical old European city. old buildings, castles, cobblestone streets. it was breathtaking. I was in awe the entire time.


a palace in Bratislava

Pavle gave us so many great details about Bratislava. 

the US team with Pavle in Bratislava

From Bratislava, we hopped back in the van and drove towards Nove Zamky. (let me be honest here, I slept every spare minute that day. "we're gonna be in the van for 10 minutes?" I'm sleeping. "We're gonna sit down on this bench and wait for someone?" I'm sleeping. it was ridiculous).

we stopped for a very late lunch. I had some delicious chicken soup and pizza. (for the record, Slovaks have soup before every meal except breakfast, so we ate lots of soup). I had my first taste of Kofola. what is Kofola, you ask? oh honey.

{prepare yourself for what's coming...}

 Kofola. and we are not obsessed. AT ALL.

okay, so I just totally lied. we are obsessed. and proud of it.

Kofola is a Slovak/Czech Republic drink, that's kind of like Coke, but not really. its flat, isn't sweet at all and tastes so doggone good. I literally drank more Kofola in the 12 days that I was in Slovakia than I have drunk any other beverage ever.
the "Kofola team" consisted of Hutch, David from Romania, Samuel and David Cekov and me. we added some others to make them feel loved, but they weren't the real deal. they weren't obsessed, they just tasted. weirdos. :)

okay. we can try and move on now. try. because I would just talk about Kofola all day...

we finally made it to our home away from home. Nove Zamky. the place that totally stole my heart. but you'll have to wait to hear about that tomorrow.