Monday, February 21, 2011

They're Still Here...

Sharon and I went across the border to Poland for our anniversary.  We saw several things that reminded us of the Communist heritage in this part of the world.  Check out the reading material our stone friend is carrying.  In the second picture, Sharon is standing in front of one Warsaw's most impressive buildings, "a gift to the Polish people" from Stalin.     But more significant than the architecture is the lasting political and cultural influence.  Here in the Czech Republic we are constantly coming across things that remind us that this land still needs deliverance.  Our attempt to buy our building will have to get past a legislature with many Communist Party members -- possibly the ones who go to the annual Spring fundraiser at the restaurant on our street.  (Please jump to the BMA page for more information about our building.)  The way people of our generation and older think about leadership, about business, about education -- all these things are still deeply influenced by totalitarianism.      I'm not just speaking as an American who gets frustrated by the tired shopkeepers who treat us with disgust until we acknowledge their authority.  Our Czech friends and colleagues lament their own bureaucracy, and the attitudes of the bureaucrats.  
     We took Izak to the clinic the other day, and a kindly nurse asked him what name he was giving to his new toy puppy.  She was a gifted health care professional who had given Izak the present a week ago with the assignment: "Why don't you tell me what it's name is when you come back?"   Izak decided on "PomeranĨ" which means "Orange."  When he told the nurse, she said right away, "Oh, no, we don't give doggies names like that."  No affirmation for creativity or even cuteness.  It was remarkable that a woman who performed her job so capably felt that she had to squash our three-year-old's happy idea. We were puzzled.  Was this simply a cultural difference?  Later, though, Petr Hermann heard about it, agreed that it was strange. His comment was: "The heritage of Communism."  
One of the exciting things about BMA is the determined attempt to teach from a different kind of heritage.  Communist education stressed conformity without questions, and shame.  We try to encourage creativity and questions, and care for the students.  We hope this brings honor directly to Jesus Christ, author of creativity, who invited questions and cares for us still.

Izak and PomeranĨ

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Hugh Peregrine Till

Paul Hugh Peregrine Till was born this day fifteen years ago.  He has always been amazing.  

  But today we are especially proud of the young man who struggled so hard to enter this new culture, who succeeded, and now is helping a demanding little brother find his way in Till culture.
A few of Paul Hugh's greatest hits...
Prayer time, August 22nd, 1999 (Paul Hugh was three): "Help no lions to come and no sharks and no swordfish and no bloody fish and no trees with mouths and black knights are evil, and gold knights are good... Amen." 
In the car, January 2nd, 2003 (Paul Hugh was almost seven): 
"I hate the word 'may.'  I always say, 'CAN I please?"  
"Because I hate words that start with the letter M."
"Because they remind me of people running around naked."
"Why is that?"
"Because 'naked' starts with N and M sounds so much like N." 

Much of Paul Hugh Peregrine's name is hidden in the older translations of Psalm 84: 5.
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage."
"Hugh" comes from an ancient word for heart or soul, and "Peregrine" means pilgrim.  
Please pray with us for Paul Hugh's pilgrimage, that he would truly go "from strength to strength" until he "appears before God in Zion." 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Blog

     Thanks for visiting our blog.  We are rookies.  Here's what we think is on this blog page, although you never know -- what I thought was a nice update on our family might actually be a link to something awful. Please let me know if I made a really silly mistake.
If you don't know who we are or what we are up to, please go to the Introduction page for an introduction.  Paul and Sharon's pages are for honest reflection -- less news than opinion and commentary.  We expect to be brutally honest in both our observations and in our thanksgiving to God.  We know that people who support our ministry want to keep track of our financial needs, so there is a page for that.  The Beskydy Mountain Academy page is about the school with a strong emphasis on spiritual developments and prayer needs.
     It is Saturday afternoon, February 5th.  Izak is supposed to be napping.  Paul Hugh and Lucy Rose are out in the woods somewhere with friends: Lucy walking, Paul Hugh fighting with wooden weapons.  Sharon is practicing the piano and singing ("Simplemente" from the old Rehoboth songbook) and Patrick is back at Brown University.  This evening we will cash in a big pile of food certificates and treat my director's family to dinner on the town square.  (All teachers in the Czech Republic are assigned monthly certificates to cover their lunch expenses and I've saved mine up.) My director, Petr, is a faithful and courageous believer and we are looking forward to getting our families together because it doesn't happen often enough.
     "Spring" break has just begun.  Czech school districts rotate their vacations and our region has just been put back to the front of the line where we started six years ago, in other words, early February.  I don't think I mind.  In fact, it feels like it's just in time for us.  We are a tired bunch.  Sharon has only just got the cast off her broken right hand and is learning exercises for rehabilitation.  Izak is still learning about obedience and truth-telling, and that's demanding for all of us.  The weather has been frigid.  We're weary.
     You will notice on this page a new e-mail address.  Please feel free to use it.  Up until now, the best e-mail for contacting us has been
but we are now experimenting with
so please feel free to write us at either.
     Thank you for your prayers and your visit! - Paul