Thursday, February 21, 2008

God Speaks - With and Without an Accent

So this is my very first post. I usually leave the writing to Matthew, but he's convinced me to try my hand at it. We've been in Slovakia for a little over three weeks now and I can honestly say that the transition to a new country, culture and language has been a good one. We were able to secure an apartment before we arrived, so we moved in two days after we landed. A friend here introduced us to Miriam, who is now our language tutor that we meet with twice a week. We've learned how the transit system works in Nitra, and even managed to get ourselves all the way to Bratislava one day! We decided to get involved with the young adults small group at the church and have made friends quickly. All in all life is good and we are happily adjusting to our new life here.

While I say all this, it doesn't mean that there haven't been moments where Matthew and I have looked at each other and said... what are we doing here?!

Well the good Lord was listening in on our little conversation. At small group this last Tuesday night the girls and guys split up for some prayer time. While many of the group know some English, the majority of the evening was done in Slovak, which makes sense. Anyway, one of the girls named Ludka was praying fervently and then all of a sudden broke out in fluent - not even an accent - English with a word from the Lord... for me.

The words she spoke were ones of confirmation and encouragement. That Matthew and I are in the right place, at the right time; we aren't in Slovakia by accident. The words Ludka spoke were exactly what Matthew and I both needed to hear.

Today, Matthew and I are more sure of what God has called us to do than ever. We begin our life here in Nitra with a great sense of courage and strength, knowing that God goes before us.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Going, Going - Gone!

Buckle Up - here is the last month in a few paragraphs....

On January 7th the pace of our life was completely re-defined when we were given official permission to go. Within 24 hours we had booked tickets to Toronto and made our travel plans on to Slovakia. We found ourselves moving quickly to pack and purge our belongings and wrap up all the details of life in Canada - we soon learned that the little details compile a long “to do” list. All the while we were telling ourselves to slow down and enjoy this season of transition...

In our minds we did not think we were overly stressed, so our bodies had to start sending us signals - for the first time ever, Matthew developed a twitch in his left eye, for example. With the clock counting down, we took the unhealthy option and kept working hard (Matthew often working with one hand as he held his eye with the other). A toe-sock wearing missionary friend of ours had told us that our emotions would be running high and fast during our transition and that we would experience everything on an intensified emotional level. They were right. The perfect example of this came on our final night in BC. We came home, looked around our then empty room, hugged, and at the exact moment that Matthew burst out laughing, Amber began to cry. So we stood there, hugging, crying and laughing.

Our time was also filled with many celebrated moments with friends, family and church family. We do not believe these were “good bye’s”, but rather a change in the proximity of our friends. Relationship is based a great deal on communication and so we will now rely more on Skype than Starbucks to stay connected. Some “see you later’s” were weepy, some were light hearted while some felt somewhat numb as it was our 28th “see you later” of the day. With each “we’re so happy for you”, “we’re praying for you”, and every “we’re so excited for you” we felt that God was confirming that we are on the journey He has planned for us.

With life squeezed into 5 bursting suitcases, 4 more bags that we passed off as carry-on appropriate and 3 plastic totes (which are still in transition), flight AC1130 transported us from Vancouver to Toronto a brief 2 weeks after we booked our tickets. With only 6 days in Ontario we were not able to see everyone we wanted to, but we took some time to recharge with family and a few friends (we even did a belated Christmas dinner). It was a wonderful 6 days.

After stressing about over-weight charges we, boarded our next flight that would take us to a new chapter in life. It seemed fitting that we should look out the window at Canada fading behind us - a tangible moment indeed. We arrived in Slovakia jet lagged but running on pure excitement. After one night in a hostel we were able to move into a flat that we are renting. It made us feel that God is really providing for us. The flat is located in a part of Nitra called Chrenova, is close to several stores and puts us within a 20 minute walk from downtown. Our building has 5 floors, of which we live on the top, and no elevator. Between the stairs and our lack of a car we intend to be super-fit in no time.

Alas, this entry has become too long and so more thoughts will be shared on another day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Somewhere Over the Atlantic

Intense, rapid, fleeting, encouraging, exhausting, whirlwind, fun, stressful - all descriptors of our last few weeks in Canada. Now, we call Slovakia home. We arrived safely at the end of January and have been moving quickly towards getting settled. Internet access is still a work-in-progress, so for now we just wanted you to know that we are good and off to a great start. We'll post more - I guess this counts as a cliff hanger ending....