God has blessed me with a Brno bestie. Technically, Ashley asked me to mentor her, but after she got to know me better and saw how mature I actually am, I think it's clear that we're "just friends." Ashley has lived in CZE for seven years, the last 18 months in Brno, along with her husband. They work with Young Life, which holds a special place in my heart because of its impact on me in high school. God ordained that we would attend the same church in Brno and we girls, along with our husbands, became fast partners in crime, er, I mean ministry. Ash and I meet every Thursday morning to go running (I hate running, but she peer pressures me), to review weekly material from "Multiply" (I whole-heartedly recommend this resource), to pray for one another, and to plan a city-wide English camp we're hosting along with our church this coming July. Having a like-minded friend in the trenches with me is a true gift.
I kicked my somewhat-sick kids outta the house today and sent them packing to school. It was time, really. I mean there were some sniffles and coughs, but one more day of dubbed and subtitled Czech cartoons might have pushed me over the edge. Here are some photos from their school, which I definitely didn't take today.
Abigail came home from school happy about an invitation to go play at her friend's house. Her friend's family is from Vietnam and they run a store in our corner of Brno. There are actually many Vietnamese families in the Czech Republic, as strong trade relationships run historically deep due to communism. Being the only two Third Culture Kids in their class has bonded these girls together very tightly--not to mention sharing Asian snacks during class breaks. And I think it goes without saying that I love her parents' store. It's Brno's SunSea--if you've ever lived in Okinawa you know what I mean. You can buy hair ties, kitchen tongs, a hammer, underwear, candy, and shoes all under one roof--kind of a dollar store meets Target.
I headed out to the grocery store while Abby was at her play date. I feel like you guys should know that the deli cases here are full of gelatinous pork products... do you see the ham marbled in clear gelatin. Haven't tried that yet.
Zoe and I walked the dog to pick up Abby from her friend's house. This afforded us the opportunity to chat with six different neighbors. And when I say chat, I mean embarrass Zoe with my poor Czech skills, causing her to stand there with eyes bulging, but mute, and absolutely no help to me at all. One neighbor was disappointed that we would be out of town over Easter because her grandsons were planning to come over and spank my girls. Yes, I said spank them. You'll have to wait on my "Czech Easter Traditions" blog for an explanation of that. But I digress. I love walking the dog because I love getting to know my neighbors--our corner of Brno is so very friendly.
How about this graffiti? Watch out for the Damage Gang.
These signs will help you get around Bosonohy. You can find the preschool/kindergarten, the pharmacy, the Catholic chapel, the elementary school, the town hall, and the post office.
Vítame vás dům Oshmanovi
This is a photo of my sweet neighbor Simča, which I actually took about one year ago. She came over today to help me practice speaking Czech. It pretty much sticks on my tongue like glue and Simča has to wait patiently while I drag the words out of my head. She speaks English really well and her sister was Hannah's kindergarten teacher last year and her mom is the head teacher at the kindergarten school. Living in this small community is fabulous for building relationships.
Most Wednesday and Thursday nights find Mark on the basketball court. He has found a couple international groups of men who play ball together once a week. It's been a good opportunity to meet guys who hale from around Europe and Asia, as well as get his dunk back. Yes, he's pushing 40, but this white man can jump. Here's the outside of one of the gyms at which he plays. Raise your hand if you've ever seen such an historically gorgeous gym in America.
No, Mark is not in that picture. For some reason he wouldn't let his entire family tramp into the gym so his wife could snap a photo of him in action.
In closing, you should know that I spared you from seeing photos of Mark sermon prepping and paying our taxes online, as well as Mark and I both listening to Czech CDs, wrinkling up our foreheads and noses and whispering, "What did he say?" Well it was more like me asking that question and Mark saying exasperatedly, "Jennifer! Be quiet! I can't hear!" But, at the end of the day, Hannah rates me 8 stars and asked me to "please sign here" to verify that I am, indeed, the Best Mom on Earth. Thank you, Hannah, this is my favorite portrait yet.