Living the Dream

The days have come that I dreaded since I arrived. Tomorrow, I will be on my way back to the United States, and I look back at my summer now. I did many good work this summer with my fellow intern. We lead worships, youth groups, and lead many of the events at camp. Honestly, time sure flies! I do not know what is more true: time sure flies when you are having fun, or time sure slows down when you are having fun. This summer has sure been fun and challenging. I knew coming in that I would struggle this year. I was going to a foreign country to live for 10 weeks with people I had not built extremely close relationships to. Last year, I had my best friend Brad with me to share the adventure. We kept each other accountable, and made sure that this trip would not be too difficult for us. Now, I am currently sitting in my room that will be vacant this time tomorrow. Packing will start pretty soon, but until then, I will be napping, praying, and hopefully be recharging. Today will be the most alone time I have had this whole summer, and I am grateful for it.

People that I have met over the last few years have told me that I am an extroverted person. I would respectfully disagree. I remember a time that I would not be very popular because I could not go up and talk to people. Even today, I struggle trying to meet new people if I do not need to. This summer has shown me a different Tony that I had not realized was there. I call myself the same thing a huge role model of mine calls himself. I am an introvert by nature, but an extrovert by necessity. I believe that in order to bring more people to the Kingdom, I must become more outgoing and meet more people. This summer I discovered I needed more alone time in a place out of my comfort zone. With Brad, I would not need to worry about comfort zone for at least half way through the summer. Even then, I still did not need much time alone. This year, without that good friend to give me energy and play off my jokes, I became drained. With Brad, I knew that we both were not in our comfort zones, but that was fine because we artificially made one. We play off of each other’s jokes, and encourage each other. There was no competition of who was the better intern, we just knew the mission. We both were servants in the Czech Republic, and we had no intention of changing the status quo.

During camp, I had to have much more alone time because it felt as if there was not the same atmosphere like I had with Brad. I was drained every single day. It did not help that I was also sick for the week.

Before camp, there were many preparations to get the new Zakladna ready. Everyday we would have painting, putting drywall up, cleaning the floors, or cleaning the paint on the wooden paneling. Usually, we would have a day off once a week. We call it the Sabbath and it takes place on the Monday. It is a day dedicated to just recharge the batteries and do no work. Out of the 5 weeks before camp, there were 0 Sabbaths. The whole trip, maybe there were 4. I did not realize these Mondays had such an effect on me. Even with the 4 Sabbaths, I was never truly alone. At least, not for long. Maybe these are small problems, but to me I struggled with energy both physically and mentally. These introverted qualities were part of the struggle.

But do I not have any extroverted-like struggles? Of course! Last year, I felt as if I met much more people off the streets to talk to them and try to invite them to events. This year, every time I heard English, I was ready to run to them and talk to them. I had been craving new social interaction with people. I told the other intern that I do not consider myself an extrovert, but if I had the chance of talking to new people, I would take the chance like a heartbeat. New social interactions are refreshing to me.

To add of top of my problems, I had classes starting online during camp! It was not a big deal, to be honest, but the anxieties of school came back. It was not helpful that I ran out of my performance anxiety medication during this summer. Now I am afraid to start writing a synopsis for fear that I cannot write in turabian style! Irrational fear, I know.

All these are completely overshadowed by the one thing that has been bugging me for the past year. My struggle with bitterness and hatred I feel like has made me revert to 1st year Christian Tony. I feel much more selfish and manipulative. Romans 7 speaks to me much more now than ever. I feel as if my public attitude is a dramatic shift from what goes on in my mind. I hope my motivations are good in what I do, but I feel as if in my mind, I have other schemes going on. I do not feel trustworthy. I catch myself thinking about what I could do to destroy unity. Why would I think of such a thing? I think about factions and dissent. I want to defame people, and lift myself up. I feel as if I have lost all the humility I had. Two years ago, I loved where I was. I was on fire for God and constantly kept searching him. I rejoiced in seeing a brother come to Christ – having more added to the Kingdom. I tried to push away negativity and dissension, but today, I urge to embrace it. I feel as if I left my campus ministry with a bad taste of Tony. Sin is crazy. Parasitic sins affect you in so many negative ways. Satan has really hit me hard this time.

So I continue to find myself.

Regardless of my problems, I hope I have helped the Kingdom this year. I hope that my love has maybe touched someone’s heart this year or made them question if God exists. This is why I come here. I see a place that God wants to come to him. No, I am not offering Jesus because I think you are a bad person (I think we all pursue sin), but I offer Jesus because I want you to know how great Heaven will be. I want you to experience eternity in praise and rejoicing! I offer you the gum, not because I think your breath stinks, but because I think this gum is soooo good, and I want you to try it! It’s that good!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Which reminds me, If you are ever in Olomouc, Czech Republic, there is this place called Morgan’s Restaurant. They have the best burger in the world! The buns are homemade which already makes the burger better than all American burgers, but then the taste of the meat takes it up a few notches, the meat is juicy, the sauce is soooo good, and even adding cucumber to the burger just made it that much better!

Anyways, the title of the post says Living the Dream. This whole post so far does not explain what that means. About 2 weeks when I arrived in Olomouc, I was invited to go visit a friend’s school. During their English class, there was just a Q&A where the students would get to ask the “the super cool American” (self proclaimed) questions about himself and America. One of the students asked me what my dreams are. I had not dreamed in a while. There was a time that I wanted to be super rich, have a nice truck, and research psychology. But that died down years ago. I did not think about my dream in a while. I told them I had to think about it, and after a few questions later, it dawned on me. I had no dreams. At that moment, I was living the dream. I still do live the dream. Yeah, I have these problems that I mentioned before about my summer, but that does not change that I am glorifying God. When I was a teenager in Jr. High, I wanted so much to do the Spring Break trip with my school to Europe. Bless my parent’s hearts, they wanted to help me with that, but they could not. Today, I spend so much more time in Europe compared to the collective 2 weeks I would have spent in Jr. High. To this day, I have spent 26 weeks in the Czech Republic. I have been blessed by the churches that support me to come here and help out the mission team. I have been blessed by God to have softened my heart to mold me for this work. As long as I am glorifying God, it does not matter if I may be suffering or going through trials, or if I am challenged like I have been this year, I am living the dream. I love what I do. I will love what I do. I do not even consider it a job, I do it here in Olomouc, or on campus in America. I am a Christian that happens to be a student or studying to be a minister of sorts. If God’s name is glorified, I will continue to live the dream. Amen!

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