Saturday, May 17, 2008

Did you Know the Slovak Word for “drain” and “oven” are the Same?

To add to the ongoing saga of Price-neighbor relations, we humbly submit this episode:

Three days ago Amber decided to try to unclog our abnormally slow drain. She fiddled with the drain and loosened it. Little did we know that our plumbing was in poor condition and the drain doubles as an anchor for the entire pipe. We tightened everything again and thought nothing of it - until the next morning. Matthew showered and then Amber showered and then there was a knock on the door. Still sporting a towel Amber made a dash for the bedroom while Matthew opened the door to reveal a never before seen neighbor (wearing a house robe, slippers, bed head and a scowl). He spoke quickly, then realized that Matthew speaks English, rolled his eyes, and spoke slower: "water is pouring into my apartment".

Minutes later our building manager, who insists we are German and speaks to us accordingly, was rummaging around in our pipes. He turned our water off and told us that a repair man would be here by 1pm. Edmund, our repair man, arrived at 1:30pm sharp!

A few moments after that came another knock on the door. Matthew opened it and found a lady who looked familiar. It took a moment, but then he realized - she was the lady who screamed at us over the Great BBQ Fiasco of 2008! She then greeted Matthew with "hi" - a distinctly English greeting. She then began to explain, in nearly fluent English, that we were leaking water. This whole time she spoke English!

The next morning, at 7:15am Edmund arrived at our door ready to work. He chiseled away the tiles encasing our bathtub and exposed a very broken pipe dangling from the wall above our very own indoor mini lake. The next 3 hours involved Edmund muttering continuously from under the tub, 2 trips to the store for parts, 6 comments on how many stairs he has to climb to get to our flat, 11 words that needed to be looked up in the Slovak-English dictionary, 3 requests for assistance (which landed Matthew in the tub pulling pieces of pipe through the hole where the drain used to be) and 1 repaired drain pipe. Apparently he will be back this week to do something else – we did not understand what…

In an attempt to squelch the building gossip about the ridiculous foreigners on the top floor, we bought boxes of chocolates for the three apartments for whom we had provided new shower facilities and for the building manager. Each gift was accompanied by a card saying sorry and that everything is fixed (our language tutor helped us as to ensure we did not say something that would offend anyone beyond the initial property damage). On Saturday we spent the day assisting at Catalyst (local leadership development program) and returned home to distribute our appeasements. Here is the score:

-2 different families pretended not to be home (though we could hear them inside, saw their cars on the street and noticed the shadow as they looked through the peep hole)

Strikes 1 and 2. So, we left the gift on their doorstep.

-1 family may have been home, but we are not sure – either way no one answered the door

Strike 3. Not out yet.

-1 family was legitimately not home, and after leaving their gift by their door, we passed them in the hall. They accepted our apology and thanked us for the chocolates.

It felt like a tie game.

When we got home last night there was a note on our door that simply said “thank you” with a smiley face. We do not know the name signed to it, but it felt like a home run.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Teams x 3

These past few weeks have been focused on short term teams. Along with the Armitage’s and Christina, we worked with three teams: one was from the Alberta District’s women’s ministry, one was from St.Catherines Ontario and the other was a prayer team sent by NLI with representatives from the UK and the USA.

For us this was an introduction to the hosting aspect of short term trips. We learned a lot! It was exciting to meet new people, share stories and have others grasp Canadian humour. Even more interesting was to hear people’s observations of Slovakia. Different people provide such varying perspectives and t is surprising what has become normal to us (apparently our J-Walking skills have hit an entirely new level).

The added people-power of the teams helped us take positive actions. The teams were involved in a variety of valuable activities: multiple speaking engagements, hosting a regional women’s event, being a part of our university outreach discussion club, volunteering in a mother’s centre, helping us build influence with a local university by volunteering at the dorms, construction (or more like destruction) on a building being used by a church plant, strengthening our ties to other churches by helping with some spring cleaning and of course, lots of prayer!

One of the more valuable contributions from these teams were the relationships they helped us build. While walking around the city praying with a team, a young couple stopped us. Intrigued by this large group of English speakers, we began to talk. It turns out they live very close to us, were married the month after us, have just moved to Nitra from eastern Slovakia and would like to have a newlywed couple as friends. Just like that we had a new connection into our community. Also, through our work at the university, the team was able to introduce us to one student. This one student works for a university student exchange program and through him we have been able to connect with young adults from around Europe who are living here in Nitra. We are so grateful for the teams willingness to connect with new people.

The NLI prayer team took time to visit several cities around Slovakia. They would meet with workers in that city and then pray together. We were so pleased that people understand the value and power of prayer. We are big believers that lasting change must start with prayer. This has us excited for the things that have already begun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Plight of Standards

We were just watching the BBC and a spokesperson for the European Space Agency put out a Europe-wide call for new astronauts. Apparently they are down to 8 and need a team of 16. The real attention grabber here is not the fact that they are casting a very wide net, but the requirements to apply. They are as follows:

1) applicants must be between the ages of 25 and 30

2) must have a masters degree in mathematics, physics, earth sciences etc. OR be an experienced pilot

3) interested applicants must have a "keen sense of adventure"

Does this not smack of a singles add that should end in "enjoys long walks on the beach"? It seems as though a lot more Europeans may be achieving their childhood dream of being an astronaut after all.

These are the little things that help us better appreciate our life in Europe.