Rained Out

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Homemade droplets brought the fever and sick
Collected into a water puddle
I’ll clasp, wringing my coat but water’ll stick
Aching fingers and shivers I settle

I’m small when the air cries and the waves sing
Wind slapped cheeks cut me a vibrant rouge
The downpour floods in a banal, dull sting
Reality beared, guaranteed, I lose.

Hardened by delusions and fed with pride
We shake water away, screaming back
But seas and the clouds raise eyebrows and chide
Battered in hopelessness at my shrewd lack

Hunched, I study the sky, calling Him
And a flash of light slashes me within

The Little Bastards

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They come to me in strange moments.
They swarm me like wasps
Buzzing past my ears, whispering me threats
I’m first, sitting on a sidewalk,
then suddenly slapping at the little bastards
They giggle as they dash away

They are like vile spiders
Crossing onto private property
Not causing any immediate trouble, but definitely not where they should be
I shove them across the boundary line and again explain,

“THAT is your side, and THIS is mine”

Like mice gnawing through my cereal boxes
Contaminating my granola
So now I have to replace that granola I guess, annoying.
I get that they’re hungry, that’s to be expected–they’re mice, but they can eat someone else’s granola, I don’t want mine ruined

And while they are small frustrations, these little thoughts point to something grosser
I must cut down their nests,
plug the holes,
and lay the traps

His Ghostly hand might be the best exterminator,
Thus I’ll rely on that contract, but I’ll have to remember to stop by His office on my way to work.

A Letter to My Student

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Dear mine,

We look at each other, me in the front, standing in strappy Danskos (for comfort) with a button up tucked into Costco trousers–trying to look like an adult–and you lean back in your chair with your arms crossed, or maybe today your hand is supporting your head, or maybe you’re trying to discreetly text on the phone in your lap, or today you are staring at the kid you have a crush on. Just 40 more minutes, hang in there kiddo.

I see you there. Here I am, trying to act the teacher part, resurrecting knowledge from the depths of my mind, trying to articulate in a way that is clear, the difference between an allegory and an allusion. Maybe you’re interested today, but you have a far off look. Are you thinking about your parent’s divorce? Are the others talking about a party you didn’t get invited to? Did you look in the mirror today and hate what you saw? Did your best friend start dating the guy you thought you loved?

I’ve forgotten how hard it is to be a teenager, but you’re making me remember. I can see you’re rattled right now, but just give me 30 more minutes of critical thinking about 18th-century satire, please. And if you could stop tapping your foot like that, that would be great. Who am I kidding? You are hearing my voice, but I can tell it’s not going in. Do you think you’re too smart for this? Or maybe you think you’re too dumb, and that’s why you’re fighting me. If you only knew how much it breaks my heart to see you aching in the adolescent absolute of sanctifying personhood. I know it burns a bit.

If I could step in front of life’s bullet for you, I think I might actually do it. I didn’t know I could feel this way, I mean I didn’t expect to. I’m just a dumb kid that is pretending to be a teacher, or well, trying to be a teacher at least. And then you go and sit in front of me, you explain the difficult decisions you have to make about your future, how you have had to grow up far, far to fast, that your family is fragmenting in front of your face, that you are dealing with loss that isn’t even on the emotional ricter scale, that you are in love for the first time, that your mom is mad at you because of your grade, and that you have another meeting with a psychologist for that trauma with which you’ve been grappling.

I get little glimpses into your heart through your writing, the way you interact with your peers, and our conversations. You have a beautiful heart. I am so amazed and impressed by you. I feel lucky to even know you.

I’m sorry they pick on you. It makes me want to scream.

I’m sorry you feel like you have to pick on him. It makes me want to scream.

I can read the sleepless nights from under your eyes. I see the glint of fear of failure and wish I could squelch it out. I mean, if you only could see how precious and valuable you are, you sure wouldn’t be treating yourself like this. I can tell you are thinking about the sunshiney field outside the window and will sprint out of here as soon as possible. But please, just 15 more minutes and I’ll let you go. Now, what is Golding trying to tell you in chapter 4 of Lord of the Flies?

If it weren’t inappropriate I’d take you in my arms and tell you it will all be alright, I promise. There is this divine light that seems to be opening my eyes to compassion in a greater capacity than I have ever known. By Him, I am finding myself splintered for you. Would I have come if I knew your broken heart would break mine?

I think I might’ve.

With more love than you know,

-your teacher

Hefty Material

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Upon my word! Totters something of mass
And though the usual is an ash puff
This time, I’d hazard, it’s another class
Of tendons, of rib, heavy, dense, and rough

This time it’s fixed True North, not spinning round
Nor exhibiting jerky spasms hence
It cries instead with a frank, booming sound
It curdles the erroneous past tense

Glass eyes are unfogged and rehydrated
The slithering words seem elephantine
It’s as if the thick smoke dissipated
And before me, a penetrating shine

Richer, more succulent than honeycomb
Birthed from the pages of His good tome

Purple Tulips Baked on Glass

pexels-photo-131043.jpegA History of Eating and Living Around the House

Learning to eat in Slovakia has been similar to my first years in Eugene. If I could characterize the eras of my living and eating experiences so far they would go like this:

(A) The Child. Spends a majority of the time being cared for than caring for others. Some light laundry and cleaning required as a participant in the Cramer family, but parents tag-team cooking a variety of healthy and wonderful dishes. From meats, soups (personal soup passion can be traced to this era), extravagant salads, and green juices.

(B) The Dorm Rat. First time on her own and lives primarily off of the university dining plan which acts as an intermediary between the college student and cold, hard reality. Chef skills are not exceeding those necessary to find the perfect soup to complement that day’s particular bread roll. Coffee addiction becomes inflamed due to free-flowing black gold. Eats vegetables out of familial indoctrination.

(C) The 4 Pronged Fork. Living with 3 roommates (at one point just 2) for the first time in a real house, expectations for culinary crafting is set very high. Expectations grossly exceed reality. Mainly cooking for oneself with an occasional group dinner. Specialties include pancakes and “fancy ramen” (has an egg in it). More often than not, food of a lower quality is consumed in a greater quantity.

(D) Spatulatic Scepter. Holder of this scepter is endowed with the power of cooking large quantities of food for groups of people in a short amount of time. Deep passion for dinner party preparation becomes an ever-present fire ignited in the bones. Generosity and hospitality become written on the soul–when cooking for oneself, look around and find other hungry people. The golden era of soup making.

(E) Table for One. The bustle of a full house dies away, sitting on a porch at sunset with taco salad. Pondering over the vast quantity of food that got, by nature, prepared and lamenting not sharing with another.

(F) The Lady. For the first time, a housemate who is not a fresh-faced university student. Instead, with hair tied up haphazardly, she labors over cakes and roasts, soups and puddings, stirfries and crepes. Little pots of coffee and tea, blended smoothies, and fresh cut lemons, flowers in vases surrounded by garden gathered fruits and nuts. Watching as she crafts, masticates, and mixes. A blue tablecloth and a half-opened window, an explanation of how to make the cabbage soup, the Slovak dubbed “The Nanny” on TV with a glass of wine in hand. Trying a new recipe or two, attempting to not dry out the pork chops.

As the years drip on by, I will take the flower gathering and cups of fresh coffee with curling steam to each oncoming era. The drawn-out soup making process and the tables surrounded by hungry friends. This careful art of culinary labor has become a ringing gong. I sit, closed-eyed, with a song on my lips, clutching a mug with spiraling fumes. Opening, to see yesterday’s tulips–placed on the windowsill–have been baked onto the glass, and I laugh.

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The F Word

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I never wanted to be HIS sister
He was supposed to be MY brother
But instead, I got stuck with his FAT sister
I liked that one a little less.

When you are a girl, that word (the f word), is more odious than all the others combined
When its dropped you immediately rate all the other women with you on a fattness scale

Am I the fattest one here?
If I’m 3rd fattest that’s safe
2nd fattest is far less comfortable
And FIRST FATTEST?
Good luck.

Do my legs look fat?
What about my shoulders?
I saw a picture of the backs of my arms once–that was hallowing

Another time, I was sitting outside of a building on my University’s campus
An inebriated man approached me
Settling down onto the bench next to me
Took a loooong look over me
And told me I have a juicy ass
But apparently, that was a good thing

So what is it?
Fat is bad bad bad
Juicy is good good good
Am I fat or juicy?
How do I know? I’ve heard both.
Maybe I can pass out a questionnaire to my most trustworthy friends, family, and coworkers and they can give me some insight.
They wouldn’t give me a dishonest answer.

I am still not sure if I’d prefer to be fat or juicy–are they different?
I’d probably talk about a steak using both of those words.

What if I just nix this as a conversation topic
Completely disregard my appearance altogether
Not talk about it, not think about it
I can layer up
Buy clothes are little bigger
Dress my body in tarps to hide what lies beneath
Shrouded in blacks and grays

There has to be a difference between shame and modesty

Modesty is liberating
Shame is debilitating
But century after century we have used one to achieve the other
Before the fat word was the brown word was the pale word was the skinny word was the weak word was the ugly word was the plain word was the foolish word was the poor word

A history’s worth of heavyweight vernacular to lock each proceeding generation to the same stupid trick, and we’re so quick to hand it off to the next. We reuse and recycle but we also invent.

A haggard and ancient lie that gets a nose job and is cheered on. Instead, we ignore the fervent call of the One who actually has a proper say

The Divine whispers that Truth.
Untouched by culture, undefined by man
Sturdy and lovely
Pulsating with the vibrancy of a new star

you, child, are lovely.
you, child, are loved.

L.O.V.E.

synagogue-architecture-brighton-church-48809.jpegThis ideally would have been posted two months ago around Valentine’s, but life, as it does, got nutso.

“For our next unit will be looking at poetry from the Renaissance in England, specifically from during the reign of Elizabeth I and James I, even more specifically, love poetry.”

The class makes assorted noises, some express their delight, and others–the more disillusioned–their horror. I notice immediately, however, that the whole class has seemed to perk up, the slumpers are less slumpy, the doodlers’ pencils have slowed, and the one who is trying to secretly panic-study for the next class’ exam looks up. This state of captivation is rarely attained in a British literature course.

Before we fling ourselves at the poetic mercy of Marlowe, Spenser, and Shakespeare, it is helpful to evaluate what we bring to the table. We all have our own understanding of what love means. Our individual perception is a flavorful mix of Hollywood’s re-vomited rhetoric, our capacity for self-awareness, our observations of other’s experiences, and the dreams we harbor deep in our souls. It can be tainted with idealism, abuse, misunderstanding, or longing. Love is a loaded word, and it has been flagrantly dumbed down and overused. It is something we’ve thrown around haphazardly for years that to understand what someone might be saying by the word itself, “love” takes enduring empathy and patience.

Regardless of our overuse, it is something we pay attention to. Boy or girl, young or old, wounded or hopeful, it seems like we all have a stake in it.

I start by asking the class to consider a few questions to try and identify what their ideas about love are:

  1. Who or what do you love?
  2. How do you know you love what you love?

This lead to a discussion (that I was very much hoping we would have) of what actually is love? The bulk of what we read this year has to do with 3 things, death, love, and broken love, and so it is key that my kids understand their predisposition to “love.”

The first student to speak, heartily pronounced that love it an emotion. Pure and simple, emotion all the way. I asked why they thought that, and they said it was something they had felt. More voices chimed in, indeed! Love was when you liked something, wanted to be around it, or wanted more of it. How did they know they loved their dog? They wanted to be around it.

Our discussion hit a bump when it was brought up that sometimes liking and loving were not experienced at the same time. Everyone could understand liking but not loving. Some of us have liked someone but haven’t loved them, I can say I like peanut butter but I don’t love it (Nutella is a different story), but it took them a second to think about loving and not liking. Some outright said it was impossible.

I told them that I disagreed. This as met with more indignation than I expected, a particularly outspoken student (one of the ones that eagerly proclaimed that it was an emotion, but not just that, he also announced that it was just what happened when certain chemicals went off in your brain, so it was ultimately an illusion), scrupulously asked what exactly did I think it to be.

“It is an action.”

Again, this answer seemed to discontent some the group. I used the example of a little brother, sometimes you want to be around your brother, sometimes you want to end your brother, but still, somehow, you love that guy. They seemed to agree that sometimes their siblings, parents, or friends would be real jerks but they still loved them.

We encountered the second question. How exactly do you know when you love something then?

“You make sacrifices for who or what you love.”

How do you make sacrifices for a Netflix show or a sport or clothes?

“Time, money, effort, these are all good indicators of what you love.”

After this discussion, we went on to discuss some of the sonnets from the English Renaissance and in time the students got to submit their own sonnets for a poetry competition. This resulted in a collection of around 40 poems. Some were humorous, some were kids just trying to make the rhyme scheme work, some were sad, some dark, some romantic, and many were incredibly deep and heartfelt. Many of the poems submitted were taken from real experiences, beautifully articulated pieces wrought from humility and vulnerability.

Loving is something that is not always easy and it is a special thing to be invited to that place of sadness and joy by my kids here.

Life is rolling on.

Surový

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Raw.

Brutal.

Uhgg.

It has been a tough week. I am trying to finish out the last week before I leave with as much refinement as I can muster but I hobbling to the finish line like a tri-footed moose. I am a mess and I am trying to figure how to cope with that as Jesus’ feet.

I am gracing what feels like “the bottom” for a handful of reasons: exhaustion, culture shock, lack of time with God to name a few, but the straw that snapped my back was the student reviews I received last week.

They burned a bit. I can write this now because I have processed them a bit more, but they are throwing me for a loop, that’s for sure. This feels like a real low point.

I should welcome this chance to bear up honestly. Life is not always breezy and joy-packed (though often, it is). Instead, I shall relish in the hardship, in the tilling, with dirt still on my face, and eyes too dim to see past the present. I look upward in expectation, but the soot and wind are lashing around my frame, distracting me.

“Under-qualified,” “childish,” and “not enough” are my brothers today, they are the lies that a negative review can incite. I question my intellect constantly. One of my greatest fears is to find out one day that I’ve been an idiot all along, fluttering aimlessly through life with ungrasped reality with not an ounce of difference to contribute. Comparison is the bottle of poison I drink from readily.

These things are lies, I have identified. So check, check check, NOT TRUE (not that identifying them makes them shrivel up and disappear, but it is a start). Faith is when you act on something even when you don’t see it. Well, I don’t see the truth in myself, that I am qualified by Him, readily adopted by Him, and good enough for Him but my only move forward is to act like it.

So this is what I feel today. A break is coming, my family will soon be with me, and I will once again regain my stability. Today, however, I weep. And that is okay if I do, I don’t have to be happy all the time. I know my life still has significance when it feels generally craptastic, and it won’t always feel this way.

Cheers To Five Months Abroad

pexels-photo-280173.jpegHey you, it’s been a while since I’ve shouted into the void. If your reading this, I am still kicking.

Last we left off, some pretty dramatic things happened; namely: the visa sitch. I guess part of the reason I haven’t written anything since is,

  1. Nothing has topped that for excitement and,
  2. I have been in this weird stage of trying to assimilate to life and work–both of which have been shifting rapidly from what I am used to.

It was a funny way to start the year, but I am thankful for it. While the visa stuff was happening, I was stressed and frustrated to a degree that I almost can’t explain, but despite the unwanted attention and resurging feelings of causing more problems than alleviating, God gave me some very precious gifts:

  • I was immediately known by everyone in the school (which while this made me a little uncomfortable at first). People say hi to me in the halls, and I felt really welcomed because of that.
  • People can know straight up why I am here and I have a platform to speak about my God and what He is doing in my life.
  • God has used this experience to open my eyes to people in more difficult situations and has given me empathy for them and a desire to serve them in some way.

But enough on that.

If you’ve read my updates on the FB page, you’ll have more info about how teaching has been and what I have been up to lately. I am wary of posting too much publicly (ie: on this blog) I am not sure if my students can find it, but I know some are adept at the art of internet stalking so I will be thoughtful in how descriptive I get on this site. I have several incredible stories from teaching, and when I say incredible, I mostly mean hilarious, and I do intend to share them in some capacity, but I also want to preserve the dignity of my students (not that anyone has done anything all that embarrassing, but still if I knew my teacher was writing things about the things she thought was funny, I’d be more conservative with my relationship–probably anyway). That being said, keep your eyes peeled for those–check the “dat Slovak flava” if you are interested.

Culture shock has started to creep in a little bit, but so far it was really just last week that was the pits. I am seeing how I need to challenge this compulsion for me to put my identity and feeling of success in the hands of my students and their receptivity to the class. I am reaching an epiphany that apparently British literature and Lit and Writing are (for some inexplicable reason) NOT the most important things in my kid’s lives, and some days they just don’t friggin care about Anglo-Saxon poetry. I have to accept that (even if I am developing a real passion for the stuff).

One of the best things about my job is the absolute freedom I have to basically do whatever I want. I am finding that I have a strength (or perhaps a potential strength) in developing activities for people to do together. Doing this job has made me see a few separate things about myself more clearly. I like bringing people together, I want there to be fun involved, I want what we are doing to have some bigger, deeper significance, and I like being one of the ones in charge. Maybe my life calling really is to be a camp counselor. My parents seem to think so. The tricky part is however, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Sometimes you have to push your kids through the boring stuff so they can figure out the harder stuff (sometimes I’ve gotta push myself through the boring stuff before I can get to the good stuff).

I have never thought of myself as especially strick, but I have been told by a few students that I am. Of course, I am also learning that whatever a teenager thinks about me is going to be super biased, and so when receiving criticism or compliments from them I should always ask for someone older and with more experience to weigh in too. I have one group of freshmen that I feel like they see me for who I am, we joke around, and we get along great (even though they are occasionally psychotic) and my other group seems to be scared of me. They don’t really want to talk to me, it almost seems to me that they think I am out to get them (which I really hope that is not how my actions are being read). This job is the friggin best for someone who needs to have a reality check when it comes to people pleasing because there is literally always going to be someone who is angry at you or thinks you should be doing something else or something better. What a way to challenge where I get my meaning and purpose. Maybe everyone else has experienced this in other jobs, but this is in many ways a new experience of working with many people of differing beliefs and values.

I feel like I am waking up to a new chapter with God. I feel like my eyes have been opened to some of the brokenness of both myself and the people around me. I feel heartbroken for some of the kids I work with–and that isn’t something I always feel. So I am grateful for it.

Well, sorry this was more rambling than anything else. (I just came off of a Star Wars marathon all-nighter at school, and I am trying to not sleep through the day). Please expect something more cohesive soon, and also less about me. This has just basically been a walkthrough of what I have been thinking about these last few weeks.

The Visa

pexels-photo-164645.jpegBut now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.

Isaiah 43

Here is my compilation of posts from start to finish that will serve to document what happened in August and September of 2017. God did some wild stuff in my life (I am still sort of reeling from what happened, so this is also a way for me to process). So, to share my joy, proclaim God’s grace, and for me to remember and hold to His faithfulness, here is: THE VISA

August 29th

My first two weeks are done and I am now starting my third (its a home office week so we work from home). Next week is when it all officially starts–the teaching anyway. I have a few prayer requests, but the most pressing at the moment it for my visa.

My FBI background check took forever to go through, so because of that, we are just now able to start my visa application process. All of the paperwork has been collected and I’ll be going to the foreign police tomorrow (usually an all day thing to my understanding) however once I am approved and my visa is processing I will only have about 3 weeks to stay before I’ll be here illegally (the 22nd of September is the day I am officially done). There are several ways this goes down:
A) I get my visa back before the three weeks are up and I can legally stay! Possible, however unlikely.
B) I stay illegally until I get my visa. If I keep
My head down and don’t travel, I might be able to swing it. But if I’m caught, I’m banned for 5 years–no questions asked.
C) the third option is to go to one of the countries that aren’t a part of the 90 day visa that I am on–so the UK, Croatia, and Romania are options. I’d leave a few days before my visa expires to have a buffer so as to come back and get my visa.

if you have any questions I am happy to answer them, please be praying for our team, and that’s we make the wisest decision. Right now Mike is looking into me staying with someone in the U.K.

 

August 30th

6:00am–Mike and I are at the foreign police as we speak! Please pray that they accept our paperwork!!

7:30am— Update: we have been here for a few hours already and they are just now letting people in, however, we discovered that there was a list that they created last night, so when we got to the front of the line they turned us away because we weren’t on it. However, we are standing next to the door, hoping to get in as soon as the list is finished. Hopefully, it will be today!

9:00am— Okay, good news: I don’t have to wait all day at the police station

Bad news: that is because they ran out of numbers. The next day the station is open is on Monday–when school starts. We are trying to look into a few options, but the visa will have to be shelved for the next few days.

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! His lovingkindness is everlasting, and He is good. Holding onto Psalm 118 this morning, and praise God I don’t feel too terribly discouraged.

Not totally sure what the next steps are, but Zuzka from the school is amazing and is helping me. It is looking pretty likely that I’ll be taking a month off a few weeks into the school year to wait out my visa outside of the eurozone. I’ll continue to keep you guys updated! Thanks for the encouraging messages.

September 7th

Tomorrow is round two at the foreign police! I’d appreciate your prayers for endurance, patience, a good attitude, and a friendly person behind the counter!

September 8th

6:00am–So we checked for a list around 11pm last night, and there was no list. But got here at 5, talked to some people and it turns out there is now a list. Please, please pray that I get in today. It is looking a little bleak as there are a lot of people ahead of me.

 

 8:00am–They have run out of tickets, but Zuzka and I are waiting to see if we might be able to sneak in, otherwise, I’ll have to come back
 9:00am–There is a group of about thirty of us waiting by the ticket machine for a number. The way it works is they will issue a certain number of these tickets (about as many as they think they can get through in the hours they are open) and then the machine will not print anymore. If the people get through enough of us it will print some more. Zuzka asked me to stay for another hour, however, if I don’t get in, I’ll go next week with the Rotary students.

At this point I am feeling pretty frustrated, it sounds like in order to get in you literally have to stay the night here, because at some point (at an undisclosed time) a police officer will come and take down names, but after that you have to stay to avoid losing your place in line. There are also no bathrooms for people. I feel angry for the people who don’t have the opportunity to leave for the U.K. for an almost-vacation and come back, there are a lot of people whose stakes are a lot higher than mine. These people by the machine are frantically pushing the button to get a ticket. This is tough, team.

11:00am–No dice today, I was feeling pretty bummed, however, I am feeling better after a good cry in the park. A toddler on a bike stopped short about 10 feet from me, he pointed (which as first I thought he was pointing because I was indiscreetly crying through sunglasses, but then he just held up his hand and waved his fingers and said “Ahoj!!” He stayed there (demanding that I wave back) while his mom called after him.

 

So the things I can be grateful for today:
I made a Russian friend in line today, and she only spoke Slovak but we could communicate
The salad in my stomach
That Ecclesiastes demands that I don’t find satisfaction in my job or my accomplishments, and sometimes crap just happens that you can’t control.
All the people here (and at home) that are helping me

It’ll be okay, and once I snag some sleep I think I’ll have a newer, clearer perspective.

 

September 18th
Hi guys! Looks like tomorrow is round 3 at the foreign police–please pray I get in. I will be leaving for the UK (or maybe Albania or Ukraine) this Friday or Saturday. Still a lot of uncertainty right now, I could use some encouragement  Thanks for praying!
September 19th
7:45am–And once again they are out of tickets, I’ll again wait for another few hours to see if the machine turns back on, but it looks like I will try again tomorrow 

8:00am–So, tomorrow night is a thunderstorm, but it is one of my last chances to submit my paperwork so I might be camping in the ☔️

Good thing I love you Slovakia

 

9:00am— Fantastic news! I have made a friend! Her name is Kate, and she is a Belarusian student, and we will stay the night together at the police office! I am thankful to not have to go alone! I am feeling encouraged!
9:50pm–Got here at 9:50–already tons of people here. I am 49th on the list, I have to stay here all night in order to hold my place, but I think is unlikely I will get in. Feeling very frustrated!!
September 20th
7:00am–S/o to Mike and Janka who brought cocoa and tea, sweets and sandwiches throughout the night. You’re the real MVPs!
Also–I have neglected showing photographic evidence of “the sitch” so here you are–it looks worse than I think is, it is two lines, and I am at the middle point
Image may contain: 3 people, indoor
8:00am–Nope, not today. I have one more shot on Friday, or else I’m out 90 days. Bit of a mess, today is a day of heartbreak

9:00pm–Thank you guys for all your encouraging words–I may have cried more tears and dropped a few more swear words (sorry) than I would like to admit in the last 24 hours, but if anything, I am stunned at the ways people have shown me kindness. I am more than ever resolved to press on, because when I think over that critical question: is it worth it to stay here even though this part bites? I am continually coming up with the same answer: yes, yes it is.Thanks for loving me through my tears (especially Zuzka and her husband–oh my gosh, that was when I both at my most tired and most emotional), I have not been the picture of gracious suffering, but God doesn’t need me to be, and I am glad for that. We shall press on!

Dusan (the principal) is calling all sorts of people, they are attempting to extend my visa for a few days so I can hopefully file my papers. If the process doesn’t get started, that is when we will be in hot water.

Apparently tomorrow at the school there is going to be some sort of rally to garner a physical presence of students at the foreign office. Dusan painted a mental picture of having 30 or so students perhaps staying the night with me in front. I must admit, being this much the center of attention is a bit mortifying. My pride just wishes I could solve this myself and not draw a bunch of attention because of it, but as these things go, that is not the case. I hope if anything, maybe some of the other people might feel encouraged.

Okay, that is all for now  Resting in Philippians 4, crying when I need to, and setting my heart and mind on the bigger picture and seeing the joy therein.

One last thing: my friend who I met at the foreign office–the one who stayed last night as well, is AMAZING. Like, I actually see us being really, really good friends. She, even after staying there all night, has offered to come back and wait for part of the time with me tomorrow. Who knows what God is up to? But since relationships are my most precious possessions, I feel really blessed!

 

September 21st

5:00pm–So today is a crazy day! I am again at the police station–number 14 on the list!! There will be students visiting me all through the night–some staying with me until dawn, I just got interviewed for Slovakia’s largest tv network–haha, what is happening?

6:45pm–Possibly on a list!!! Like the OFFICIAL list!! Don’t know for sure–the police say it is not the list, but they video taped all of us (our faces) and checked our passports–they say the will come back every once and a while to check and see if we are still here, so we will see!!

8:30pm–This is insane!! There is a TV crew here–also like 15 students, well, this is an adventure! Who knows what God is doing!!

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11:30pm–Because of the media attention, it sounds like there is a small chance they might approve my visa tomorrow–crazy!
September 22nd

11:30am–I apologize for the delays, my phone died about 4 in the morning, some details are still unknown but I can tell you things are looking very positive for my visa. If anything, the paperwork is submitted and my fingerprinting is done.The past 24 hours were some of the most bizarre and wonderful of my entire life, I will now recap to the best of my ability:

Thursday

10:50- Dusan (the principal) calls an assembly and asks students to join me for the night, as well as come to the foreign police in the morning to show solidarity. I am embarrassed at first and then encouraged and shocked at the student’s response…

12:00- I teach a lesson I call “literary terminology yoga” (it didn’t go great)

1:00- I write a letter to the American ambassador while eating a mustard sandwich.

2:30-I get together with Steph, Caro, and Gabika and we pray for my visa, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Isaiah 43, when God is talking about moving nations and giving others as a random for me sticks out.

3:30- I and a crew get to the police station and get my name on a list–number 14.Most of the students are sophomores who don’t even know me but just wanted to show support.

5:00- I get a call from Dusan saying a guy from one of the news networks wants to come interview me–I nervously say yes.

6:00- There are about 30 people waiting now, and several police officers burst through the door and demand we line up with our passports. They write our names down, what we are doing there, and then they film our faces with a camcorder. One officer tells the girls I am with that if they see anyone cutting in line and they tell him, he will move us to the front.
The officer also dramatically destroys the list in front of us, shouting: NO LIST!

7:00- Students begin the flood in to join me. At one point there are about 15. Helenka also comes and somewhat of a party begins. A guitar is brought out, pizza is ordered, and laughter and dancing ensue. Helenka makes a note that this environment is oddly reminiscent of a Serbian refugee camp.

9:00- Dusan alerts me that another news crew is on its way. They arrive with at least 3 massive cameras and bright lights. They film and interview as many people as they can. The anchor Darius, is very kind and says he’ll be back later to film more.

10:00- Matej Hadvab brings a table, Niki and Viktor bring some soup (and teach me some Hungarian), Samo brings a double bass (still not totally sure while), and Maria and Sara bring a boom box. We have now properly set up camp.

10:30- I see a man lurking in the corner of my eye, he keeps on wandering out of the little shelter and back in again. Eventually, he comes over and tells me he is a reporter for a newspaper. He asks for an interview, and then he asks if I am aware that the Minister of the Interior offered to let me in there and then if the media went away. No way in heck!

11:00- I make a bathroom/coffee run and Zuzka runs over a curb.

Friday

12:00- A formidable force of teachers join me on the front lines and Darius the newsman returns with maybe more cameras. Janinka and David give a great interview and my colleagues prove evermore more wonderful. Caro dances in the background of an interview Sierra delivers in perfect Slovak.

2:00- Discussing the American legacy of reality television with Sierra and students and Malaysia with Caro.

3:30- Pass out on a mat in front to the building.

4:15- Wake to bright camera lights in my face for a moment, and then they are taken away. I see my friend Martin waving to me, and then I fell back asleep.

4:30-People start panicking about getting in (because most of the people have been waiting all night, but the list was destroyed, so those who came after six are furious because they felt they should be closer. A tired and angry Ukrainian man makes a few punches at a Brazilian man.

5:00- The people in the line noticed the camera attention I was getting through the night and for some reason look to me to explain things rationally to angry people in English.

5:15- I befriend the angry Ukrainian man, and we give solemn nods to each other for the rest of the day.

6:00- Students and teachers begin to show up, I am offered cake after cake after cake, and a cup of tea after cup of tea after cup of tea.

6:30- People in the line begin to get restless. I befriend 4 Filipino men who work as truck drivers. They seemed to be above the panic. I also am surrounded by Caro, Marian, Katka, and Miska. They keep me company while I am crowded in line. And Miska talks with stars in her eyes about our revolution.

7:00- More students show up, more cameras show up. The people in line are both intrigued and also nervous as to whether or not they will get in. I am sort of just stunned at this point. As far as I can see, there are about 70-80 students and teachers (probably more than the people in line) waiting there for me. Winking, nodding, waving, and telling me that we are going to do it.

7:30- The police are having trouble handling the rowdy crowd, there are huge cameras looking at them and then switching back to the line–it doesn’t good great for them.

8:00-I make it inside the building. Finally, after 15 long hours of waiting, and I hear literal cheers from outside. I take number 313 and await my fate.

8:30- I befriend another Ukrainian and he spends several minutes trying to convince me that Bill Clinton was the best president ever and Monica Lewinski was a scam. Afterwards he makes eye contact with me across the room and mouths “I love you”

9:00- Zuzka and I make it to the office. The lady looks carefully at every piece of paper Zuzka hand her. Asking a different colleague for everyone. It is agonizing, but then she accepts it.

10:00- I get fingerprinted and have my picture taken. THE PAPERWORK IS DONE!!!

10:15- I get simultaneously interviewed by 3 different newscasters, there were actually like 3 of those foam mics in front of me. I cry when talking about what the school did and Darius makes them turn the cameras off.

10:30- Mike and Steph pull me aside and tell me that it sounds like the head of the police has just called Dusan to tell him that not only has my visa been accepted, but I am free to stay.

I should tell you guys–this doesn’t happen here… I cannot thank you enough for the ways you have encouraged me and pushed me to trust God even when it didn’t make sense.

I am stunned, I am tired, and I am thankful. What a wonderful way for God to show His power in my life, and His love for me through the love of you all.

11:30- Home, and it is time to sleep.

Links to newscasts:

https://domov.sme.sk/c/20655688/prisla-ucit-anglictinu-pre-policiu-takmer-nedostala-viza.html

https://www.noviny.sk/slovensko/261420-ucitelka-anglictiny-z-usa-nocuje-pred-cudzineckou-policiou-aby-sa-dostala-k-vizam

6:00pm–Thank you guys for keeping up with me and praying for me! Final update for now–my visa is technically taking longer to process, but I CAN STAY!!

They have granted me extra time in the Schengen, which just doesn’t happen. I emailed the US consul on Thursday about my situation and they said that there was no way that I could stay and that I would for sure have to leave.

This is for real a miracle. Praise Jesus!

 

September 25th

9:00am–We might have celebrated a little early, we are still waiting for either my special exception to stay or my fully processed visa. I will find out in the next 2-3 hours if I can stay or not–they need to give me a paper by this afternoon. If they don’t, it is likely that I’ll have to leave for just a week or two. So, the drama continues. But I am optimistic!

11:00am–Okay–more drama is ensuing. The police had accepted my papers on Friday, but they had told us today that there is a problem (we don’t know what the problem is), if they accept the papers they are not supposed to change it. But it isn’t likely a mistake on their end, they might have accepted papers should not have, or something got lost, I have no idea, haha.

And in other news, the website I used to calculate my 90 days didn’t count the first day, so I am officially illegal today (we just discovered this like 10 minutes ago). This is really bad, please pray that the system will have mercy on me, because as of now, I am in the wrong because, while I had verbal assurance from the higher-ups that I could stay, I don’t have any legal documentation so I might be in trouble.

Now, according to Dušan, since this story ran on all 3 major networks and was literally all over Facebook, they believe about 1 million people have seen it (that information makes me want to go hide). The media will be here in about an hour, and they will be announcing my fate. Please pray for strength and for God’s will to be done.

12:15–Also they had a brief assembly, and some students brought out this sign, and I was given flowers

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 1:00pm–I have just received a call from the foreign police, I am to come at 2 to the back door and ask for someone called Tomčo.This is basically a political thriller. Our principal, Dušan, is literally amazing.

We don’t know if I am getting my visa or not at two, however, we are prepped to buy a ticket to London for tonight.

4:00pm–Finally, the case is put to rest! I can officially stay! They broke out some legislation from back when it was Czechoslovakia to do it, but I am here!

I am officially a tourist so I will not be able to work until I have my visa, but I will hopefully have it within the next two weeks!

Also, they got me 🌸 🌺🌹
And, another fun fact, in the news, they have been calling this case: Kramerova vs. Slovakia

Weird life, man. I am glad it is over, I am pretty tired, and I am thankful for everyone who kept encouraging me and for God and His word which was my daily hope to cling to! We made It! So, now the real work begins (well, soon anyway)

 

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Fin (for now)