Hello from the Czech Republic! This may have been my longest pause in posting, in a while. I hope I had not kept you waiting, maybe so long that you gave up all hope of pondering. The last few weeks/months have been quite the busy one. I graduated from my University, I bid myself farewell to my campus ministry, I stressed about the financials to get my Masters (I am still stressing about that!), and I came to the Czech Republic for my 2nd internship. It has been fun!
I do not have much to post. I can give you an update on the work here in Olomouc thus far. This day marks about a week and a being the Olomouc. My trip here was quite the interesting one. I guess I had to make up for the lack of traveling my first year after freshman year since I eventually decided not to come. So I left Arkansas at 11:59 Wednesday the 24th of May. On our way to Charlotte the pilot said we had to take an unscheduled landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Weather stopped us from getting to Charlotte on time! We were in Charlotte for 2 hours before we left, when we got to Charlotte, I missed my flight to Madrid… I get an email about how I was rebooked because of the weather situation. Oh yay! I had no idea how to work this situation, but now an answer. The email said there was another flight that I was rebooked into at 7PM the next day. That was over 24 hours at the airport! I then decided to do what everyone else did that had to get delayed because of weather: I waited in line for around 1 or 2 hours to talk to the American help desk. As I finally reached an American Airline worker, she looked at my itinerary and was shocked. I was the problem child she joked. We eventually were able to make a plan of me going to Chicago, and from Chicago to London, then from London to Prague. Sounded all good!
Now I arrived at Chicago to find out the flight to London was not right after my arrival, but instead at 7 in the morning. I experienced my first night sleeping at an airport. I thought to myself, the devil is trying to tempt my patience and trust in God by throwing these curve balls, but these little things were nothing to me. Bring it on Satan! You cannot budge me with these small inconveniences! I decided to try and find a spot that looked secluded to sleep, and I took my rest. 4ish in the morning and everything was loud, people were all around me in the gate I slept in and I could not sleep any longer. I decided to walk around the airport, and boom, there it was. It was a section with comfortable seats that you could lay down on that sleep peacefully. It was barely a distance from where I was… I failed at my first night in an airport!
I then got on the plane (7.5 hours of pure flying) and arrived at London at 10:45PM. I was ready! I tried to find where the connections were, because most people were going to the UK border to stay in the UK. I eventually found the British Airways area and they told me the next flight to Prague was at 8 in the morning. ANOTHER NIGHT AT THE AIRPORT! I was a bit discouraged. The devil kept giving these small curve balls at me, and I kept saying “good one, but I am stronger than that!” The London airport has a policy that they round up all the people overnight to a gate to supervise them while they rest. I thought it would have been a place with cots to sleep in as the lady in security told me. That was not true, the best we could do was lay down on a “couple’s seat” (two seats that had no armrest in between them. Everyone had to lay down having their legs hanging off the armrest on the end. I was tired, hungry, thirsty, and felt unclean from not showering in a while. The small curve balls just added up and kept testing my willpower. I had no idea by the end of it, my spirit would be weak.
The morning came, and roamed the airport to get something to drink and give me energy. I was afraid to spend much money because I thought I only had $60 to get from America to Prague – long story short, I forgot to ask about how I would receive my funding before the trip; the answer had to be the money would be waiting for me in Olomouc, and I had to navigate with only $60 for food and travel to Olomouc. I did not eat much during the trip because I wanted to conserve my money so I would be safe. We left for Prague and those were 2.5 long hours for me. I wanted to sleep, but the energy drink that I had before made it impossible.
Once in Prague, I converted my money in the first exchange place I saw so I could buy a ticket to the train station, then a ticket for the train. After going through customs, I found out that my baggage did not arrive with me, so it would have been delivered to an address I provided. By this time, I was fine with what little inconvenience was thrown at me. I had no toiletries. On the bus to the train station, It felt good to be back, and to be navigating to Olomouc by myself. I decided to start converting to using my Czech wallet by putting my money and identification in it. But when I opened my wallet, I saw something I did not expect. I had 3000 Kč! That’s roughly $125! I had more than enough money to navigate from Prague to Olomouc, and the $60 I tried not to spend was saved for no reason! I was sad and relieved at the same time. This trial was an intense one, but I pushed through with the help of God’s strength.
I was on the train to Olomouc, and I decided to sit next to two locals that I asked if I was on the right train. They assured me I was, and I sat my them. The girl was also quite good looking, and why would I move away from her? The man kept looking at my left arm and realized that I had Czech written as a tattoo. He saw that I said “God is Love (Bůh je láska),” and asked me if I was really drunk when I got the tattoo or if my Czech friends pressured me while I was drunk to get it. I told him not at all, and the function of my tattoos worked. It got people to asked about them so I could then talk about God. I had great conversation with this man about what I do in Olomouc, the time I’ve spent in Czechia, the difficulty of the language, psychology, Czech culture, Czech/English/Spanish jokes, and his life in the Czech Republic. It was a great 2-3 hour conversation with someone I did not know. Very refreshing and uplifting.
Finally in Olomouc, my good friend Honza picked me up to take me to the dorm to check me in. We went to a grocery shop so I could buy some food and toiletries to get me going for until my luggage came. Shampoo and soap and toothpaste. Yay! After 48 hours in the same clothes and no showering, I could finally wash all the grime off of myself. But wait! My towel was in my luggage… Proč!!! Why!! I had to wait until the next morning to get my luggage and shower. I smelled with a strong odor. But at last, I was home and I could relax.
This experience was definitely a strong trial in my life, but as James says in chapter one, verse 2-3:
“2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
My faith was tested, and the devil did not prevail. I hope this post was encouraging, uplifting, and brought a few laughs to you, because it has me. I will soon post about the work being done here in Olomouc, but until then, Keep on Pondering on.