Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Visa Hallelujah!

We received news this week that our Visa applications had been approved and our visas were ready to be picked up in Bratislava, Slovakia. We had an appointment today at 1:30 p.m. to pick them up. There is a limited time for Visa pick up — 30 minutes. So, early this morning we headed to the train station to catch the train to Bratislava. We wanted to be sure that we had plenty of time, allowing for late trains, bus waits, and any other hindrances. The good news is that God has been so gracious to us and, as you can see, we have visas in hand! We give thanks to our great God for all He has done in opening so many doors for us, and to Sid for all of his hard work and help.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers for us and this visa. Our hearts just want to sing Hallelujah to the King!

We are including a few other pictures of Bratislava for you to see. The city is filled with lovely squares, statues, and embassies.   


Monday, August 16, 2010

The Blessing of our first Czech Wedding

Having only been living in Zlín for only 10 weeks now, it is actually quite amazing that we would be invited to a join a Czech wedding celebration. Usually only the closest friends and family are invited to attend. The wedding was to take place about two hours from Zlín. Saturday morning we were up early and on the way. We were very excited, as we had been told that these events are so special. The day promised to be especially wonderful for us as the couple to be married are new believers and sweet new friends. We were privileged to be invited to join them.

We arrived at the bride’s house in Karolinka and were welcomed by family and friends to a breakfast of goulash, sausages, bread, chips, chai, and kava and other assorted food and drinks. And yes, the famous Czech liquid was available too. Around 11:00 a.m. it seemed that all the wedding party had arrived, the bride and groom were dressed, and it was time to leave. The wedding procession was about to begin. Little did we know at this point that we would be held hostage until we paid a ransom of sorts, to get out of the apartment building. It seems that one Czech wedding tradition is for friends of the bride to dress up as the groom’s ex-wives. The exit to the house or apartment is blocked, and money is demanded to support all the poor children of the groom, since they are being left destitute. All of the money collected is later given as a gift to the bride.

Before the procession, all of the cars are decorated with simple ribbons across the front of the car. The bride’s car follows all the others and is decorated with a big bouquet on the hood of the car. So, with the cars all decorated and lined up we set off for another drive, this one up to the Beskydy Mountains, approximately an hour away.

Decorations for the cars in the wedding procession ~ and the bride’s car

The wedding itself was beautiful, the setting glorious, Eva and Michal, radiant. It was such a sweet joy to see her walk down the aisle to the song, “I Trust In You.” This is the English translation.

My times are in Your hands, I trust in You.
Your love will never fail, I trust in You.
Even though the mountains fall into the sea, I trust in You
Even if the stars should start to fall
And all the world is shaken.

When I can't see the way, I trust in You.
I believe the things You say, I trust in You.

Even when I'm sinking down beneath the waves, I trust in You.
I know that You will lift me up And put my feet on solid ground
Every day you're faithful, new mercies from above,
Like a tree in your temple, surrounded by the strong walls
Of Your love.

A beautiful setting for an outdoor wedding.

The couple had asked Rene to preach about the marriage covenant; we were told he did a beautiful job. We pray that God will use the message to change hearts and lives.

We were truly encouraged by the some of the comments by the bride’s friends. They said they noticed a difference in Eva and her brother, Roman. They said they wanted to have what they have. (Roman and his wife, Martina also are believers and attend the church in Zlin.) Others showed an interest in coming to visit the church. Pray with us that God will not let them go and that the difference they saw will draw them to Jesus.

After the beautiful wedding, we headed up to the dinner meal. But first the proprietor of the hotel came out to the front steps and handed the bride and groom a broom and dust pan. Then he threw down and broke a plate for them to clean up—together. Some of the wedding party did not think that the plate had been broken into enough little pieces, therefore “extra” help was given in breaking the plate. There was more than one interpretation regarding the broken pieces. Czechs say that the working together in the clean up process—or not, is a precursor of how well a couple will work together in the marriage.

With the steps swept and clean we went in to lunch. I’ve included a few pictures so that you can see the beauty and even the simplicity of the meal. Another of the interesting Czech tradition is feeding each other soup. The couple is tied together and each may only use one hand to feed the other one the soup. This is much more difficult than our feeding each other cake. We have even been told that sometimes the task is made even more difficult by giving the bride and groom a spoon that has a hole in it.

An hour or two after the meal, we gathered again to cut and eat the cake. The rest of the afternoon was spent simply visiting, talking, dancing and enjoying one another. All the guests were invited to spend the night. This also seems to be a standard Czech wedding tradition. As you can see, it was a glorious day.