Sunday, January 23, 2011

The "Live" Americans Go to School

Earlier this month we visited our friend Vendula Jaskova in Trebic. She had asked us if we would come to her school and speak to her students. Vendi teaches English in a village school with about 120 students. Her classes include students from around 10 up to 16 years old.

Apparently, she had told the students about her American friends some time ago. Some were skeptical and asked her if we were really alive! When we finally showed up at school many of them were shy and didn’t want to use the English Vendi had taught them. However, we found that there were some in each class who weren’t afraid of the “live” Americans and we had some interesting conversations.

Annette decided to create a presentation based on things that are common in America, but are unusual or can’t be found in the Czech Republic. This turned out to be a great idea and held the children’s attention during the entire presentation. We showed them pictures of our family, wildflowers in Alabama, tornadoes, the Rocky Mountains, huge waterfalls, and a rattlesnake. In each class, we got lots of questions about our pictures. My personal favorite was from a boy who wanted to know if you could get inside a tornado by dropping in from above.

Vendi had assigned the classes questions they could ask us to help start conversations. They used these questions with us in small groups after the presentation was over. They were really modest about their abilities in English and very rapidly reverted to speaking Czech when the conversation went beyond the most basic information. We can honestly identify with them. We told them that in order to learn to speak a foreign language you must be willing to sound foolish and make many mistakes.

It was a very enjoyable day. Like many other experiences we have had here, we aren’t exactly sure how this one fits in with the mission we are on - but we are sure that God knows. For now, that will be enough.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Weatherman Says…

The Road to Vysoké Pole
 The picture on the top right shows a lovely mountain road scene in winter. We’re not too sure, but would guess that the cumulative total of all the snow we had experienced prior to living in Zlín was around 30 inches. A few more inches of snow here this winter and we will have experienced more snow in a couple of months than we had seen in all of our lives prior to moving here. The other picture in this post shows the view from our balcony this afternoon - a day that was predicted to be a “clear” day.

Having lived in Alabama for most of our lives, we realize that weather predictions must be carefully interpreted in order to be properly understood. For instance, if a certain Birmingham-based weatherman – who will remain safely anonymous in this post - uses the “s” word in his forecast, it means that you’d better get your boots on and boogie over to the local grocery store if you ever want to eat bread or drink milk again. Based on this knowledge, and a few months of interpreting the local forecasts here, we offer the following interpretations of Zlín weather predictions:

Clear – Enjoy your 60 minutes of sunshine

Partly Cloudy – Enjoy your 20 minutes of sunshine

A "Clear" Day
 Trace Amounts of Precipitation – Anything from one flake to 6 inches

30 cm of snow – Prepare for a new Ice Age

Cold – If you stay outside for more than 30 minutes, your nose will be an icicle

Very Cold – Your nose will freeze and fall off before you get to your car

We hope your New Year is blessed,

Johnny and Annette