Monday, April 30, 2007

Still exploring Prague...

Still no internet at home, so this is a short one...just a picture from a park above the city that I walked to with some of the girls from the fellowship Sunday after church.

I'm on a blog-roll...

Hey everybody, check out (literally!) the new blog that I'm helping with for our team in Prague.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Prague at a glance...

I guess everyone knows how beautiful Prague is, so I have been innundated with requests for photos. So here are just a few...
**(check out a previous posting called "Bridges" and see the added photo there, too. No, I didn't take it. It is actually kind of a cheesy photo of a postcard, but you get the idea.) But these here are mine...

Monday, April 16, 2007

So what is the scoop? Part 1: WHO?

Ok, enquiring minds want to know what the heck is going on with me in Prague so here is the first in a short series of "factual" updates (as opposed to LOTS of philosophising and few facts, as I usually like to do).

My departure from Kyiv was a whirlwind, to say the least. And the trip here was...well...a trip. :} More on both of those later (complete with pictures...that is still a bit problematic due to no internet at home).

I could do a full posting on each of these following points (complete with photos!) and I probably will, but here's the scoop thus far...

WHO: I have a wonderful roomie, Noelle Swedlow, whom a lot of you Calvary-ites know from various spots around the globe. She served for three years in Hungary and was a student at the school there, too. She is from CA and is currently serving in Spain and the plan is that she is just here with us in Czech for a short time to fulfill visa requirements for Spain (to be out of the country). But we'll see! She is a huge blessing and I am so glad she is here right now.

Jason Carlyle is leading our little fellowship. (We just have a weeknight study right now). He helped start a fellowship in Hungary and was a student at the school there, too. He was a youth pastor in Idaho and is just a great guy. He has a very humble heart and a zeal to serve God and love people. He's been here since Sept. learning the language and culture.

Jon Atkins is also here temporarily, unfortunately. :( Jon is a CA transplant that now hails from Idaho, too. He is studying here at an international university and is the fodder for many great sociological and cultural conversations. He is a gifted worship leader and guitarist, so he will be greatly missed when he leaves in May to finish his studies in the states. Maybe I will learn guitar to fill in when he leaves? Pray about that! :)

Tomas (pronounced "Tomash") is our faithful translator/cultural instructor/friend. Tomas has been involved with the other church plant efforts over the years here and is a real asset to our little team. He is an English teacher in a local school and our translator for the Bible study. Pray for him, all you my translator friends, as YOU know more than anyone how much work is involved in being the translator for a new work!

So that's our little team! :) As for who is attending the study...this is getting long, so that's another post. WHO, Part II. :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Springtime in Prague

Just a quick note to keep in touch...STILL so much to say and so many pictures to post...but STILL no internet at home so this will have to do for now. A beautiful little hidden courtyard here in the center of Prague.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Prague is a city of bridges. There is the famous Charles Bridge seen in movies (I think Tom Cruise fell off it in MI 1 or something.) There are others, too (I haven’t learned their names yet).

Bridges are interesting, you know. They connect places (obviously). But as much as they connect they give a sense of disconnectedness, as well. Even though two places may be connected, thanks to a bridge, the very presence of the bridge is a constant reminder that those two places, although connected, are very much separate and not connected, not really… fully. Not one and the same essence, from the same whole.

Of course many analogies come to mind with the thought of bridges. I had intended to only write here about how it is so accurate a picture of how I feel right now. I am in Prague but my heart, my mind, my actions even, and so very much of my stuff still remains in Kyiv! (**And so my future blogs will probably be divided between what’s going on new here in Prague and my team and still remembering, thanking, celebrating, etc. everyone and all that was in Kyiv).

But so even if “it” (my heart, mind, etc.) is actually 100% here it acts as if it just got off the plane from not a European flight but a trans-Atlantic and is still suffering from severe jet lag! So that’s it. Emotional and intellectual jet lag. Groggy. Disoriented. Sleeping when I’m supposed to be alert and wide awake for things that I should probably just ignore and roll over and go back to sleep.

But I am here and it’s amazing. Prague is beautiful. I have been here before. So I already knew that. It is teeming with life and culture and things that captivate the timid but persistent little artist within me. I knew that, too. But so much more is my team and the oh-so gracious little treats, signs of God’s favor that He has given me since I got here. My team members are not just full - but overflowing! -with grace and tenderness. I did not know that. God’s grace is not just full – but overflowing, especially in face of my brokenness. I did not know that. I thought I did…but then I didn’t know just how deep my brokenness went. So then I didn’t know how deep and wide and amazing is His grace.

This is not Ukraine. And that is as it should be. And right and good…and yet how do you stand on one edge of the bridge and not want to run to the other side, to that which is familiar? It seems safe there. I know “all that” over there. And maybe, just maybe… well, ok, I won’t go back there, but maybe I can bring it all here? Or find something that looks a lot like it here? But that is the past. And this is now. I won’t burn the bridge, (although I can see the wisdom of those who burned the ships having reached the new world. It would maybe take the edge of the longing…or make it worse? I don’t know.)

In any case, I remember yet another bridge. One that I cross everyday, and yet one that was planned and built and crossed for me thousands of years ago. So often I feel like it is really two bridges….one from death into life…then stopping on the island of “this life here” until continuing onto “life eternal”. But maybe that’s the mistake? Maybe the more I realize that for me there really is only one bridge going now in one direction. Behind is spiritual death and a life without God or forward…stumbling, falling, learning, walking, running, falling again and on and on the process goes towards the final resting place of life eternal. A marathon not a 10 yard dash. I know this. But not really. I am still learning. I forget so easily. Lord help me.

Because I know that “yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will gives us later. For all creation”, not just me, “is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are”. Cuz ya know…I just don’t feel like this is me sometimes. Honestly. The one who puts her foot in her mouth. The one that so wants to love and be loved but is afraid sometimes and so puts up walls and barriers and hides in the cloaks of dysfunction and familiarity. God has shown me another Cara, and that’s not her. But, “against our will”, I – along with “everything – has been subjected to God’s curse.” And also against our will (or without our say-so) God made us able to be subject to release from that curse through Jesus. “Therefore all creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” We know it because we feel it. That’s why something silly and little cuts so deep. Yes, yes, its forgiven. And yes, yes, we aren’t even talking great tragedies or hardships here, in my case. But oh that’s not how it is supposed to be! To quote those great theologians of the 80’s “we are spirits in the material world” :) and this is not our home. “ And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory” (we’ve stepped on the bridge) “also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to his freedom. For if you already have something you don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.”

And that’s where I’m at…without something…sometimes without wisdom, without maturity, without self-control...without without without ….leaning into “patiently and confidently”. So I’m good on the “without” side of things. :) I’ve got that nailed. And God, he’s got the “patiently and confidently” side of things… “He is ever faithful, and He will not let me go”. :) And thankfully, to God be the glory….He’s got that side nailed….a long time ago.

Love you all…doing well (not good, as my brother corrected me…when it modifies a verb it is well, not good) :) just hitting that steep learning curve of cultural adjustment that I somehow had forgotten would happen! :) More pictures and specific details of the great stuff God is already doing will be here soon…