Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ok, so I've been gone for a while. I'm not even going to try and play catch-up. Instead, I'll direct you to the blog of my roommate, Jackie, who does an awesome job of blogging on a weekly (daily??) basis. Her site is: www.czechhockeyadventure.blogspot.com. I think she even posts pictures every once in a while! ;)

I guess I'll start at today... make that yesterday. This weekend is the semi-final round of the European Women Champions Cup (EWCC), which we are hosting. We're playing host to three other teams: Finland, Khazakhstan and Denmark.

Yesterday we opened the tournament with a game against Finland. The first period was a whirlwind... I hadn't played hockey at that speed since last year's Euro Cup tourney in Berlin! Once that monkey was off our backs, we relaxed in the second and played really well. Unfortunately, we lost the game 2-1, but despite the loss I think we gained some confidence. I don't know that our team has ever played a Finnish team and being that they usually play in the top pool for world championships and the Olympics, a 2-1 loss was not so bad.

BUT, if we want to move on to the finals, we have to win the next two games. Today is Khazakhstan and tomorrow Denmark. So it's going to be an intense one today as Khaz is a great team as well (it's pretty much their national team that's here).

After this weekend is over, my roommates and I start to trickle back to Canada. Jeni leaves Monday morning, Jackie next Thursday, Arielle 4 days after that and I'll be home the 19th. Wish it was sooner, but I work until the 18th so I'll be home as soon as I can.

You can check the tourney out on the web at www.iihf.com if you're interested!

GO SLAVIA!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

night at the novaks... better than TV

last night we went over to a teammate's house for supper. Sonja joined our team a few weeks ago... her parents are Czech/American and Sonja is also half and half. So hanging out at their house was a great blend of both cultures, though in English... much appreciated. it was amazing to have a homecooked meal made by a MOM (though Sonj did a lot of the cooking!) and to sit around the table, eat together and enjoy conversation.

Sonja's dad is a famous writing, with articles, books and journals published everywhere from the New York Times, to Men's Journal to non-fiction works in Czech on things that have happened in the history here. needless to say, Mr. Novak was an amazing story teller and we had our fill of laughter and entertainment. on the walk home we all remarked that we could have sat there and listened to him talk for hours. we were there for quite some time though, and managed to get the inside scoop on the latest assassination here in prague (just last week) within two mafia circles, to hear about the bbq mr. and mrs. novak went to in chicago to celebrate the movie "a league of their own" with some noteable names... Madonna, Tom Hanks, Gina Davies... etc. not to mention when he pulled out a story about Dominik Hasek, a friend of his (do we know him... he plays in the NHL...? to which we replied... we're CANADIAN! of course we know who he is!). so he told us a story Hasek told him about one of the olypmic games he played in with the Czech Republic.

it was a great night, very imformative. we discussed our team, czech culture - the things that are awesome and those that more like drive us crazy, the first time mr. novak saw a man die ("his face looked like hamburger", according to our descriptive storyteller... i guess that's what you get with a writer!)

much appreciated evening and a ton of fun!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

jesus

last week the lord, in a few different ways, impressed upon my heart the stark and simple truth of the following sentence:

Jesus is all i have.

way too often i get caught up in the DOING of my faith and forget that as much as that has value, the only thing i have to cling to is jesus. there's nothing i've done in my past that anything i do in my future can erase. there's no way that on my 'best behavior' for the rest of my life i'll measure up to anything even remotely close to being worthy of the lord's presence.

there's no do that is required of me, just YES. will i say YES to jesus today? will i say yes to spending time with him? to knowing him more? to opening up ALL of me to let him have even the parts of me that are so ugly i can hardly bare to let them show? will i say YES when he asks me to give up something i don't want to give up?

if jesus is all i have... if he's the way, truth and life... if there's no relationship with god without him... why do i think i can earn my way into anything?

jesus came that we might have life and have it to the fullest. when i simplify my thoughts about life and remember that

Jesus is all i have,

life seems so much less overwhelming, so much more do-able and my problems seem small in comparison to what he's already done for me. i feel able to approach the throne of the lord, still trembling, but knowing that he sees christ where there is really only a sinner.

it's not about what you do... it's not about being a better person and living a good life... it's about accepting christ everyday and living in the freedom of what's he's already done.

Monday, September 15, 2008

rainy day in prague

this morning jeni and i are perched on my bed, checking email and chatting with frinds online. "what's this?" you say, "they have internet at home now?!"... umm, not quite. we're kind of borrowing a signal from a travel agency across the street. it's an unsecure line, therefore anyone can access it without a password. the funny thing is, the only place in our whole flat that can pick up the signal seems to be on my bed! how funny.

so we're typing away, finishing off mugs of coffee and listening to music... and the rain as it comes down. these are the days in prague that i love! i heart rain... to me they're like sunny days for most normal people.

jeni and i were just having a brief chat about life... and how we're all searching for something to make us happy and give us passion. my thoughts keep travelling down this path as we resume typing and i can't help but think about the Lord. and then thinking about my own life. what happens when i neglect to engage with him in my daily life? i KNOW him, and yet i still have days where my sinful nature eclipses the joy of my salvation... until i enter into his presence and am reminded of HOPE, JOY, LOVE and the fact that my passion is rooted in him. i am nourished with living water and the kind of food that satisfies beyond what we can imagine... or even know we desire.

the world is searching for something more. aren't we all??
praise him that we know where to look.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The life of every great man is
the cross
and it is also
the way and
guide to
paradise.
And now that it has begun,
It is not lawful for me to turn my back
upon it or proper for me to abandon it.
Have done, therefore, my well-loved
brethren:
Let us go forth together.
Jesus will be with us:
For Jesus we have taken this cross,
For Jesus let us persevere and
He who is our guide and leader will be
our help.
So, our King who fights for us will go
before us.
Let us follow Him boldly,
let us fear no perils, but
be ready to die for Him manfully in
battle,
so that we place no blot upon our glory
or diminish our reward by fleeing like
cowards away from
The Cross.

-Thomas A. Kempis
being in the czech republic has given me a glimpse into just how big god's kingdom here on earth really is. last year i had the strange experience of coming to the realization that czech people are just like me! ...i just don't understand what they're saying. they have hurts and joys, they want to be loved and valued, to find purpose in life. communication is so important to finding common ground with fellow man, whether that communication be in the same language or not. i can't imagine how much our world would change if we took a step back from one another and remembered that we're really all the same when it comes down to it.

on friday, as i was in slovakia for the weekend, i got to go to martina's christian group. i didn't understand the songs, i didn't understand the dialogue, and when her pastor got up to speak, i didn't understand her either. here are things that i did understand: closed eyes, contented smiles during times of praise, heads bowed together in prayer, laughter, giggles, the intensity and authority with which pastor mima spoke. though i didn't know what she said, i could feel her passion for the word and for the lord and i felt joy because of it.

martina loves the lord with all her heart. she spends time with him everyday, she reads her bible, she surrounds herself with people she can be encouraged by and those she can witness, too. when she talks about god, her face lights up. she's so real - god's not something saved for sundays... he's part of regular conversation. martina speaks some english, i speak some czech (similiar to slovak) and the words we don't speak are filled in by the spirit of christ in both of us. martina's heart beats for her teammates - that they would know the lord as she does. she's my sister in christ and one very cool reminder that god is everywhere and he's not restricted by our small minds or different languages. god is big here and everywhere.

there were so many random things that happened on the trip that were hilarious... here's just one of them. sarah and i were sitting in our cabin on a stop and low and behold, 6 guys in medieval garb hop on the train - complete with shining metal swords! we got a pretty good look at them as they were standing in the aisle right outside our cart. unfortunately, not only did they look medieval but we figured they were really getting into character as they smelled somewhat medieval as well (use your imagination! ;)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

we just got home from our week of training camp in strakonice. the week was definitely a challenge all-around. from stretching sessions, aerobics, practices without pucks, interesting czech cafeteria food, to an hour long team meeting we did not understand the week could hardly be called uneventful. oh ya, and then there was that american style football game we played. coach karel instructed us all to put on our shoulder pads and helmets and we headed over to the soccer field to run laps and then play some football. i don't have my computer now to download some of the video footage/pictures of the event, but lets just say it was hilarious. another interesting thing was the night before we had a game against a boys team, our curfew was lengthened to 11:30pm and lots of the girls went out drinking... some of them coming back in an 'interesting' state.

we were thankful the week came to a close yesterday morning as we made the trek back to prague. the week, though being trying at times, was also a lot of fun. jackie, jeni, arielle and i got to spend some quality time hanging out with each other and also with our czech/slovak teammates.

in other news... a former AIA teammate came to visit me this morning. sarah's here for 10 days from boston/nova scotia and i'm really blessed to have this time with her here! we'll get to hang out, see some of the czech republic and encourage one another. i love the verse in proverbs that says: "as iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another" (17:17)... especially because it's a picture of the way the Lord has blessed our friendship. yay!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

that's what you get for being flexible

have you ever seen one of those documentaries on eastern european/russian gymnastics techniques? the ones where they force their bodies into bizarre stretches that look completely unnatural... and PAINFUL? well, lets just say i got to experience a little piece of just that in our training yesterday.

this week we've been training like crazy. we spent an hour with our "trainer", Petra, doing aerobics, stretching and other things that i've never before done when training for hockey. then we spent an hour and fifteen minutes on the ice, with the last 15 minutes spent doing, what i think at least, is purposed to make us all either pass out or throw up. after practice, we run for 10 minutes, then spend another 30 minutes with Petra working on our "briko" (stomach), "zada" (back) and doing "strecink" (streching). it's killer!

so yesterday before practice in our session with Petra, we were doing a bunch of stretches and holding them, and actually bouncing in the stretching position, in order to - i think - be able to stretch our muscles further. next thing i know, i look up and she's standing behind one of my teammates who has her legs spread in a "v" in front of her. Petra then proceeds to push on my teammates back and force her down as LOW TO THE GROUND as my teammate (who's name is also Petra, so I'll call her Petra #2 to keep things somewhat sensical!). once Petra released her, Petra #2 rolled over on her side and began basically wimpering in the fetal position, hands holding her groin area. if you need witnesses to this story, feel free to talk to jeni, jackie or arielle. all 3 can verify it's validity!!

Petra then goes to each girl on the team, pushing on our backs as we're sitting with our legs in the "v" position, bracing ourselves for the pain to come. when she got to me, i wasn't intending to stretch to the max, but being the pretty flexible person that i am, with petra's help i was able to touch my FOREHEAD to the ground. not even kidding. of course, she's so excited that i'm able to do this that she yells for everyone to look, holding me down there even longer so everyone can get a look. suddenly i hear this "pop" and something in my inner thigh/lower buttocks/upper leg feels terribly wrong. Petra moves on, everyone gives me a congratulatory call or salute for my flexibility and i put on a tough-girl-i'm-so-flexible face... all the while coming to the sad realization that something is SO not right - with that stretching technique and with my now aching buttock!

post-practice: my uber flexibility is gone. i now cannot touch my right foot with my right hand. looks like the european method of flexiblity is not such a good idea after all. next time you're watching one of those documentaries, i hope you think of me. ;) i'll keep you posted on my recovery!

Monday, August 4, 2008

after our long journey to prague finally ended yesterday, we walked out into the prague airport to see mr. kott (team president), mr. nemec (team manager) and michal (our agent) with big smiles on their faces and a rose for each of us! talk about a warm welcome. i think arielle was pretty impressed. they were super organized with maps and public transportation tickets. one vehicle whisked our bags to the rink in kralupy while mr. kott and michal took us and all our luggage to our new and old flats... the only not so great news of the day was that it looks like we'll be splitting up into two flats instead of living all together in one (as we originally requested and were told would happen). the new flat has just been reconstructed and is as beautiful as the "old" flat, so that's nice. it's relatively close (a 10 minute tram ride) but not as close as we'd like it to be! apparently we'll get to reevaluate in about a month and if we're really unhappy living separately, management will see what can be done.

our flight was seemless in contrast to poor jeni, who missed her connection from paris to prague and then missed two other flights after that - none of which were her own fault or a product of her falling asleep in the airport! needless to say, when she arrived last night at 11pm after hanging out in paris for 12 hours, she was quite ready to go to bed or get on a plane back to canada. we're quite thankful she stayed!

this morning in my insomnia (aka jetlag) i sat out on the balcony and got to thank the lord for his goodness. it really feels so great to be back in prague... it feels a bit like home, to be honest!

lately i've been reading the writings of st. augustine... a guy who lived from 354-430AD and who was passionate about the lord. one of his entries i read a few days ago keeps drawing me to read it again and again:

oh! that i might repose on Thee! oh! that Thou wouldest enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that i may forget my ills, and embrance Thee, my sole good? what art Thou to me? in Thy pity, teach me to utter it. or what am i to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and, if i give it not, are wroth with me, and threatenest me with grievous woes? is it then a slight woe to love Thee not? oh! for Thy mercies' sake, tell me, o Lord my God, what Thou art unto me. say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. so speak, that i may hear. behold, Lord, my heart is before Thee; open Thou the ears thereof, and say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. after this voice let me haste, and take hold on Thee. hide not Thy face from me. let me die - lest i die - only let me see Thy face.

i was curious to read some of his writing when i listened to a podcast that included some of his quotes. it was this line that got me intriged "i have had such delicious thoughts about the Lord" that made me giggle and want to know what this guy was all about. he's one of the passionate guys of old that just couldn't get enough of jesus. what a cool guy.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

the big day has finally arrived! tomorrow morning i head to the czech republic along with 3 fellow canadians: jackie, jeni and arielle. i'll be gone for the next 10 months, with a possible trip home at christmas. it seems like a long time when i look forward now, but i know that time somehow always seems to pass quicker than i think it will.

my summer at home has been a huge blessing! i am overwhelmed by the body of christ and the support i've received from family and friends. my thoughts about this keep coming back to ephesians 4:15-16 which says:

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

i love the picture of the body of christ being one. we are all called to be different and to walk the path god has called us to - using our gifts, passions and opportunities accordingly - but we all fit together as one through christ. as we grow in christ we work together to share his love with the world and to build each other up. i've felt so encouraged through the ways i've been able to share about the ministry in the czech republic with people at home... and also learn about what god is doing in your lives as well.

as i leave tomorrow, i can't help but be bursting with joy and thankfulness for all god has done in me this summer, for relationships with so many special people at home, for new friends and for reacquainting with old ones, too.

everyday the call is to follow jesus. to know him and love him more. one way we do that is through loving each other. thank you for loving on me this summer! i'm excited to see what god has in store in prague, but i'm also excited to hear about the works he is doing and will be doing in the year ahead here at home through all of you.

much love and blessings... we'd appreciate your prayers for travel safety for the four of us tomorrow! we fly out at 10am.

talk to you soon from the other side of the ocean.

ps - praises to the big guy for finished visas! jackie and i received our visas in the mail along with our passports - in time, if you can believe it! :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

visa update

travel plans have changed in the past week... especially after a conversation with the czech consulate in toronto. after losing one passport in the mail, jackie and i have both had to re-apply for not only a passport but re-submit our applications to the czech foreign police as well.

because of that we won't be able to leave on our scheduled dates and now will be flying out on august 1st. no "jagr team" camp for us, which is pretty disappointing! it would have been awesome to work at a hockey camp run by czech's very own hockey celebrity, jaromir. maybe next year!

you could keep our applications in your prayers as we trust in the lord for his timing on this... whether it's what we'd planned or not. god's got this and we know things will go according to his good and perfect plan. please pray for the details to come together so we can make it to prague in time for training camp as well as patience for us during the next 3 weeks.

the good thing is - we do get to spend more time with our families and friends before we leave. definitely a blessing! god is good :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

more pics... this is fun ;)


i can never stay out of water... if i'd had my suit, i promise you i'd have swam in the chilly water!

my birthday, post-lunch with grandad

also post-birthday lunch, this time with dad

an afternoon trip out to qu'appelle valley - posing with mom

family bowling night! aivi's first time with 5-pin bowling. l->r aivi, me, jord

josh peters came to visit for about 24 hours - we took in the rcmp museum and parade!

during aivi's visit we took a day trip to watrous to see jackie's cousins

how could i forget?!

it's so easy to petition god, through prayer, to work and move in our lives. often times i forget to praise him for the things he does and the prayers that go answered! soooo praise god for great news!! jackie and i have been approved for work visas in the czech republic :) thank you for lifting us up... god clearly answered!

Airport Campout

What do you do when your diary is so outdated you feel like you don’t even know the person who wrote the last entry... and it was you!? You start writing again... and hope your diary will forgive you for losing touch. You might have guessed it... you’re the diary and I’m the writer. I hope I haven’t completely lost the faith of those of you kind enough to check out my blog and keep up to speed (as much as I allow you to!) on the goings-on in my life.

I’m currently writing you from the Boston airport in good old US of A. I was supposed to leave 4 hours ago, but thunderstorms seem to have encompassed the Boston and Toronto areas... my places of departure and destination. So what better time to do some writing than dead time at the airport? I’m headed onto Regina after Toronto (weather permitting). Anyways, the part you’re here for... an update on life. Here’s a quick (hopefully) Coles Notes version of my most recent adventures (and the normal things I do in life!):

-I’m working for the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region in the Palliative Care office. One of the things I got to do was help organize a weekend camp for bereaving children at Dallas Valley. It was an amazing experience. I might have to re-think my job aspirations... helping those kids and connecting with them was extremely rewarding. It was sweet to spend the weekend working with my mom, too, as she’s a social worker in Palliative Care and volunteered to come. I got to witness just how clearly God has called her into this profession for a reason!

-April and May saw a special visitor come to Canada. A teammate of mine from my team in Prague spent 3 weeks at our house; she trained Canadian-style, got to experience Canadian culture and I think had a really great time. We had some great conversations and I was able to get a Czech bible into my hands to pass onto her. I also got to tell her about Jesus, which was really cool. She’s got lots of questions and I think she was challenged to think about things she’d never thought about before. A very cool experience for all!

-The beginning of June I set off for Prague, CZ, for our team’s training camp. I went with Jackie and a new teammate we’ve recruited from Canada, Jeni. Our flight got into Prague at 2:30PM on a Friday – that evening we packed onto the bus to drive to Croatia for 12 hours. Saturday was a pretty rough day. We started working out a few hours after we got off the bus and hardly stopped to breathe all week. It was an interesting mix of pain and pleasure as we ranged from running sprints, doing aerobics, lying on the beach, doing weight lifting circuits and taking ferries to quaint little cities to enjoy dinner on a rooftop restaurant!

-I had my flight home from Prague routed home through Boston so I could visit a friend I met on tour with Athletes in Action this past August. Sarah just finished her fourth year at Northeastern so I got to experience the campus culture here and have a fun week enjoying her company, meeting her friends and getting to be a part of the awesome fellowship she experiences here! She and I marvelled at the fact that before this week together we’d only known each other for 10 days on tour. God is good and it’s been awesome to stay in touch since tour, pray for one another and build one another up as we walk with the Lord and strive to love Jesus in our daily lives. God is SO good! His timing has been all over our friendship from day one.

So now I head home to work for another month, spend as much time as possible with my family, continue support raising (please talk to me if you’re interested in joining my team!), and enjoy Canadian life for a bit longer. I have one more excursion on a jet plane before I leave for a while. In July I’m speaking at an Alliance women’s conference in Ottawa. I’m really excited to get to share with the ladies present, about my walk, pursuing Christ and what God has done in my life as a woman of God and an athlete.

The day approaches (July 20th – don’t remind my mom if you see her!) when I will pack up for another year and head to Prague. Only He knows what good things are in store. I pray today you are experiencing Jesus – his peace and love that can overcome all things!

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

ńĆelza (my Czech spelling)

Monday, April 21, 2008

home sweet home

i'm home! yay! i'm not sure if there are any faithful readers left out there, but if there are, thanks for staying with me! i haven't done the most stellar job of keeping up with my blog. my mom gently informed me that "...jackie keeps her blog very updated, you know..." yes mom, i want to be better at keeping this up. but i'm still here and i'm still writing, so that's a good sign.

so now that i'm home, what's the plan? i'm home until july 20th when i leave for prague and another year once again. in the meantime, i'll be working, training, doing a bit of travelling and spending as much time as possible with my friends and family here at home. i'll also be having a few visitors over the next month. at the end of april a friend that i studied with for 2 months in quebec a few years ago is coming to visit. i think we're both looking forward to getting caught up after about 3 years! and this friday one of my czech teammates will be flying into regina to spend 3 weeks with my family, soaking up canada and training with jackie and i. we're going to work her pretty hard. but i'm really looking forward to her coming. it will be great to have her experience life like we know it - and hockey like we know it! the only thing that's going to be a challenge is that she doesn't speak much english. looks like i'll be getting a lot of czech practice in real soon!

after my visitors leave, i'll be heading to columbus to spend about two weeks with jody. it's going to be pretty cool to have that time together and even better if jordan joins us for a week like he's planning.

in june jackie and i, along with the latest canadian recruit to join hc slava for next season - jeni creary, will be flying to prague and travelling to croatia with our team for training camp. it seems the president and coach really want us there - they're taking care of everything for us. a little canadian work ethic at camp is apparently worth it! we agree. :)

july will follow soon after two weeks in the czech and my departure date to come soon after that. july 20th we take off for another adventurous year!

next year will also look a little different for me as i'll be joining staff with athletes in action as a STINTer (short term international missionary). i'm really excited because i know i'm going to learn a ton. this past year i was working, along with jackie and sara, at the nursery school just outside of prague. so in the upcoming year, i'll instead be working for AIA. we'll be spending time at the sport university, planning events with my team and i will have the awesome opportunity to learn about missions close up and how to love on my teammates even better. great news!

there are a few things you could be praying for right now: jackie and i are in the process of getting our visas sent away and we need prayer for the speedy processing of our visa applications in order to reenter the country not only in june, but in july as well. the czech just joined the shengen agreement, so we're only allowed to be in any shengen country for 90/180 days. complicates things a little.

thanks for reading and for your prayers!

blessings :)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

here we go...

here's the video from the bus trip... about time, i know!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

waaaaiting

i'm struggling to get the video figured out... so will do that asap so ya'll will know what i'm talking about in my blog!

in other news, sara would like me to give a little shout out to let everyone know that she's just recently posted after a few month hiatus from writing. so czech her out!

bus ride sing-a-long

this beauty of a video was shot last sunday on our way home from brno, cz. it was our second last game of the year and with the 6-0 victory (kudos to sara on yet another shut out) we clinched the czech league title.

it also happened to be easter sunday and our trainer, milo, pulled out some classic english music, including quite a few popular and christian songs that we just happened to know. fancy that! we quite enjoyed singing along - we, being the operative term and only including sara, jackie and i. the rest of our team didn't so much like the tunes coming out over the loudspeaker. so, what happened was, the girls began to try and drown out the music and sing their own song louder than the one being played. needless to say, it was quite funny.

check out the dude without any hair singing along with the girls. he's pretty much our super fan. he lives and breathes slavia women's hockey. i so wish i had footage of him cheering in the stands because it's so funny that i can't watch or else i start busting a gut on the bench.

this weekend is our last game of the season, against brno as well, but out in kralupy at our home ice. afterwards we have a team wind-up/party which will start with bowling and i'm sure progress in hilarity as we go.

it's been so amazing to live in this country and play with this team this year. i consider myself extremely blessed... it's been hard at times, but so rewarding as well. god has been present through the tough stuff with hockey and life here, and it's been amazing to see him work through it all - in myself and in others - and to see how he works all things for good!

can't wait for next year!!

Friday, February 29, 2008

jsem studentka

for the past three weeks i've been getting on the tram every morning at 8:17 to head to school. i'm halfway through a 6 week intensive czech course and having a blast. it's a really great set up for learning czech and also meeting some new and fun friends. i just happen to be the only north american in my class. there are people representing all the following countries: uzbekistan, ukraine, egypt, argentina, russia, siberia (i know it's part of russia but worth noting!), israel, moldavia, bulgaria and australia.

there are only a few who don't speak english, so i've been able to converse with a lot of them about more things than our basic czech will allow us. even though we're all from different countries, it's amazing how a sense of humour knows no bounds. many days i'm giggling in my seat or trying not to roll on the ground laughing.

today, during our first break, two of the students decided to demonstrate their tango skills in front of the class. our professor had left the room and people were just lazing around. all of a sudden the music gets turned on and edgar and masha are tango'ing' in a circle at the front of the class. i turned to ulrich, who sits beside me, (he's from australia) and we bust out laughing. he was making hilarious comments as they danced which only increased the hilarity of the moment and everyone else was laughing and trying to stay under control. our prof walked in a few minutes into the dance and, once she got over her shock, laughed along with the rest of us. i'm not sure if it was more funny or disturbing, that 37 year old edgar and 19 year old masha were dancing such an "intimate" dance. i'm pretty sure it was a mix of both.

me, being the smart person i am, just happened to pull out my phone and take some video footage of the whole event! it's currently on my phone, but will bluetooth it to jackie or sara's computer and get them to send it to me so that i can attach it for ya'lls viewing pleasure!!

i know you're worried, so i'll reassure that we do study a lot too :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

clarification

after a convo with my mom, i was reminded that the term, "tongues out" really has no meaning to most people. sorry about that! tongues out refers to the style of your hockey gear (your shin pads in relation to your skates, to be specific). in the picture, the tongues of my skates are sticking out in front of my shin pads, whereas they are usually tucked in behind. going tongues out when you don't normally do it is just something hockey players do for fun, or to be silly, or whatever. so the connotation for the blog was mostly just to indicate that it was a lighthearted, fun set of games. hope that makes a little more sense!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

tongues out

jacks and i hit the ice tonite against the czech national team. the cz girls are having a weekend training camp for the upcoming world championships in march, held in latvia. lucky us, we got to play today and will also tomorrow against the cz team (made up mostly of our teammates from hc slavia).

there were a few highlights on the night, but i think i summed it up best when i gave sara the 411 on the phone: we lost 2-0, jacks played defence, and i went "tongues out". FUN.

czech out the pic below!


i'm also posting a picture of martina and i that we took after practice during my visit to slovakia. the next pic includes a few of her christian teammtes.


Friday, February 15, 2008

the heywoods come to town...

yesterday morning i tearfully said goodbye as mom, dad, uncle ken and auntie heather headed off to the airport. they arrived on monday, feb 4 and spent the past week and a half spoiling me rotten! it was wonderful.

some of the highlights of the trip included an overnight stay at the Grand Hotel Pupp. if anyone here has seen the movie, "the last holiday" (not to be confused with "the holiday"), then you know what i'm talking about. lets just say i didn't leave quite the mark queen latifah did on the hotel and staff, but it was a blast nonetheless. we went to the spa and saunas, had a fabulous meal at a local german restaruant and walked around the breathtaking city. apparently, the nickname for karlovy vary (where the pupp is located) is called 'little russia' since almost half the people that live there are russian. the pupp is almost 300 years old and in 1701 was the biggest hotel in europe. not bad, eh? considering canada wasn't even a country yet!

we also toured around prague, seeing the old clock tower, the castle and cathedral, getting the best view of prague from the top of petrin hill and hitting up a ton of great restaurants. thankfully we did so much walking or we'd all be on the lettuce diet right now! the crew also got a taste of regular life for me, coming out to practice and seeing two games on the weekend. the games were both blowouts, but the second game was a bit of a gong show, so at least that was entertaining! apparently there's some bad blood now between our team and plzen, the team we played on sunday. next game with them should be interesting.

dad and uncle ken also got to show off their hockey prowess by joining us on the ice for two practices. it was great to have them out there - kind of weird for me though as my two worlds came together. i'm glad my team and coaching staff got to meet some of my family and vice-versa.

we also spent some quality time playing cards, which i never seemed to be able to win. another interesting passtime was watching dad and uncle ken learn to drive in prague - definitely an acquired skill!

already, i miss them, but i'll be home before i know it and there's still so much for me here! but such a blessing to have them here in my new home across the world. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

mam rada slovensko!... i love slovakia :)

i spent a weekend in slovakia - on a rare weekend off - with a friend of mine, martina stasova, who i got to know on two previous athletes in action trips. martina and i bonded over hockey and the rest is history.

i had an interesting journey to kysak, slovakia, over a 10 hour time period on the train. i've taken the train before - on a cross canada trek to northern quebec in the summer of 2005 to study french - i don't think that trip quite prepared me for this one!

after about 2 hours of journeying alone, i was joined by an older man and a younger guy. the older guy was pumped for life and definitely wanted to talk. unfortunately, when i told him in czech that i didn't really understand much czech, his vigor for conversation did not die down. he prattled on and i tried to pick up what i could. eventually, i just apologized and said i just couldn't understand, and picked up a book. the younger guy looked like a bit of a vagabond. or maybe he just smelled like what i'd imagine one might smell like. either way, an interesting combo. thankfully, by 3am mr. talkative had peaced out and the vagabond soon after. around 5am, people started to board the train, presumably for work. by about 7, my compartment was packed with 8 people squished onto our small bench. when my stop finally arrived at kysak where martina was to pick me up, i was half asleep trying to gather all my bags, including my hockey stick, to rush off the train before it took off again. i only wish i could have watched myself - it would have been extremely funny! obviously, i didn't think it was at the time.

the weekend was a ton of fun with highlights being: attending martina's practice on friday night (with gear - minus my skates - almost entirely donated by teammates not in attendance (i don't think they knew about it!)), going for pizza with some of martina's teammates along with her christian friends (i shared some of my testimony and got to ask her friends a bunch of questions about life in slovakia and the spiritual culture there - totally interesting to hear their points of view), celebrating with martina's family as her uncle celebrated his 50th birthday (i kid you not, the party started at 1pm and went until 4am - luckily i peaced out at 12), ate quite a few delicious slovak meals and was downright spoiled my martina, her sister, mom and dad.

it was a precious weekend. it's amazing to see how the lord brought martina and i together in friendship and continued that as i've come back to prague repeatedly. martina has been an encouragement to me and a prayer warrior. we're trying to plan an AIA hockey camp in slovakia for august. there's a definite need for it and i don't think something like it has ever really been held there for women.

i had the strangest ride home from slovakia. again, a night train, but this time with a bed. and 3 men - who stripped down to their undershirts and boxers and snored the night away. probably one of the strangest experiences of my life and one i'll never forget (and don't really want to repeat either). i took a moment to gaze down from the topmost bunk and marvel at how this would never have happened in canada.

g'nite!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

just another day...

this morning came early as prayer meeting started at 7am. most wednesdays we meet as a group with athletes in action and pray together. it's seriously such a blessing to starting the day and for connecting with one another. everyone is very busy with different schedules and many things on the go. meeting early was pretty much our only option. today we went around and shared a bit about what our lives look like including what the future holds, so we could pray for and encourage one another. who better to submit your will to than the creator of your own life plan? sounds like a good idea to me.

when it came my turn to share, i was excited to say that i'm coming back to prague for another year. i'm not sure exactly what it will look like - whether it's through aia or just as a christian athlete on my team - but i'm thankful for the peace the lord has given me about it and the knowledge that i am, indeed, supposed to be here.

i'm really excited about a few things. namely, learning this language a lot better so that i can communicate with my teammates. and in turn, getting to know these awesome girls better and being able to share my life with them and vice versa. i love these people and the more i pray about it - the more i realize that my heart, right now, beats for the czechs! i don't know how long god has called me here, but for now, it's one more year and i'm content with the knowledge of that.

call me crazy!

Friday, January 4, 2008

new year, new look

no, you're not at the wrong blogsite, but things have changed on my homepage. i decided with a new year it was time for a new look on my blog and a fresh start. so i hope you enjoy this new template and continue to read up on my adventures in the czech!

home is full

i say those words because my time at home has not just been full of things to do, places to go and people to see. home has been full because my heart is full and i am ready to head back to the czech republic. to my friends and teammates that i've truly missed over the holidays, i am looking forward to connecting with them again so much.

i got to spend almost five days with jordan and just over a week with jody. both were way to short, but such a rich time that i'm trying to feel satisfied with that. it's amazing how as we get older we become friends and parting becomes so difficult. it's hard to remember the time when our days were filled with playing and fighting, but mostly fighting. it's amazing my parents made it through all of that without being severely scarred. or maybe they are and we just haven't realized it yet. we'll hope for the former!

another highlight of the holidays was having the Czech Under-18 team at my house for a meal, with Jackie, Sara and I sharing the billeting duties among the 21 players. it was so cool to see these familiar faces walk off the bus and into our city. i am so thankul that the Lord has led me to the CZ and that i am a part of the lives of these people. i am thankful too, that my parents got to meet my coach, karel, as he was here on the coaching staff with the u-18 team. it felt great to speak czech again and makes me excited to get back to class and conversations with teammates.

it's been wonderful to see so many people while at home. i marvel at god's goodness and how his plans are so perfect. he is continually blowing my mind.

blessings to everyone in the new year! looking forward to staying in touch.

cheers!

chelsa :)