As we looked over the bottle of rosé wine, my roommate asked me if I prefer sweet or dry wines. As I delivered my ever-eloquent response, she started to grin. In our usual playful manner, I asked her what it is about my answer that caused her to laugh. She replied, "Well, if I asked you this question one year ago, you would've had no idea how to answer it!"
Thus, we began a lengthy conversation about the plethora of new experiences I've had over these past 20 months, and how they have influenced me as an individual...
I have been on adventures.
Skiing for the first time, blueberry-picking on beautiful waterfalled hiking trails, surviving a week in a chata (cabin) with no electricity or cell service, and--heck--even riding the train without getting completely lost is an adventure!
I have learned to try--and even like!--new things.
Saurkraut, ginger tea, mushroom soup, beer, buckwheat, rabbit, svařák (mulled wine), corn and egg on pizza, and Christmas Carp (sorry, but the last one's not a like!). I went to a wine tasting at a small, private winery. I also went to a small town's annual beer festival, complete with a Queen cover band. (Can I say, the Czechs with me were shocked to discover that they knew more of the songs than I did!)
I have grown into perfect housewife material... or, just learned to feed myself (and often 20 others, in addition).
I've learned to bake, cook, handle a budget, and keep my house clean (well, sometimes). I've had to buy my own groceries, pay rent... well, basically learn how to be an adult.
I have made a fool of myself.
Anyone who's ever learned to speak a second language knows that full-on embarrassment is not only normal, but it's a given. I told our youth group that I turned a sweater into "panties," asked a cashier for "meat-sauce to put on birthday cake," called my guy friends women, and spent several months consistently mixing up the words for "excited" and "furious."
I have learned.
I've learned how to function in a different currency, to speak a completely different language, to avoid cultural taboos, read a bus timetable, speak in front of an audience (yay, toastmasters!), and prepare lesson plans for students ranging from preschool to university professors. I've learned how to say "no" when I've taken on too much, how to stay strong when I don't hear from friends or family for weeks, and how to recognize which relationships are the most important.
I've realized that a visit to the US is really that: a visit. And even if I spend 90% of that time with my family, I grieve for that 10% of time I didn't have snuggling with the kids or playing board games with the adults.
I have recognized sad truths about the state of our church.
I've realized that those who give the most time, energy, and money to missions and ministry are usually the ones who can spare them the least.
I have also seen beauty in the church.
I've seen how people can come together to take care of a foreigner, and help her to feel included. (**cough**me**cough**) I've seen how people from different backgrounds and denominations can get together to worship God, and celebrate the gift of Jesus. I've seen the beauty of a group praying together, using different languages, and realizing that God understands every one.
I have fallen in love.
I found my best friend: a man who treats me as his treasure, even though he knows my flaws and scars. A man who is--miraculously--even weirder than I am! (Yet is still level-headed enough to keep me grounded.) A man who wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and is as excited to learn about my country and culture as I am his.
|Traditional womens' dress for this region|
I'm sure if I spent more than an hour preparing this blog, I could come up with many more examples of how I've grown and changed since June 2013... but for now, I let it rest, and ponder about...
this strange new land.
this strange new life.
this strange new me.