After we arrived in Prague nearly 5 months ago, it didn’t take long for a strange feeling to sink in. Czech friends greeted us at the airport, gifted us bottles of juice, Kofola (Czech cola) and Czech chocolates, drove us to Olomouc, and helped us unload our luggage into our temporary flat. When they left us to rest, we took in our new surroundings. Of the Czech art on the walls, one particularly large painting featured a dead pheasant on a table. We snacked on pizza they prepared for us, which happened to have corn on it as a topping, and we realized, we are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
We are surrounded by the unfamiliar. Going from life in the suburbs, traveling everywhere in my air conditioned car with my iced coffee to go, to learning to use public transit, has been a big change. We consistently missed trams and busses, were on the wrong side of the road for our bus stop, and accidently rode a bus to a small village late one night when we were just trying to get home. Even walking on the cobblestone seemed like an invitation to roll my ankle.
Tasks that could be easily taken care of in the States have become major ordeals… we are incredibly grateful for all of our helpers.
Getting groceries for the first time (and many times after that) was a lot of work. It took several weeks to successfully identify and buy sour cream. While struggling to navigate our visa paperwork, we learned that even the paper size here is different. I remember well, the feeling of panic when someone turned to me and started speaking Czech!
Tasks that could be easily taken care of in the States have become major ordeals. The process of acculturation definitely takes a toll, and because of these challenges, we are incredibly grateful for all of our helpers. Here are a few of the people who have been helping us through this first five months.
Of course at the top of our list are Jared and Daniela Kenning. They have been supportive with both our practical and emotional needs. Jared helped us navigate getting inspections on the car we purchased. And Daniela was a superstar when it came to getting Zack’s NORD out of customs and saved us over $1,500 on import taxes and fees. Jared took us to the foreign police to register and they both helped us fill out our visa applications.
Rachel was a soldier for us, especially the first few weeks after we arrived, helping us get transportation passes, a phone plan, a Czech bank account (it took visits to three different banks), and insurance for our flat. Not easy tasks for foreigners!
Geri and Dave Fuehring are American missionaries who were moving out of the Czech Republic as we were moving in. We are now in the apartment they were renting. They helped us better navigate the public transit, showed me where to buy laundry detergent at the grocery store, showed us the good local bakery, and where to buy espresso and coffee beans (an absolute necessity to survival)!
Ruth was our angel who helped us get haircuts in time for our friends Tomas and Natalie’s wedding and stamps at the post office!
Petr, the pastor of the Baptist church helped Dave carry a mattress up the stairs to our apartment when Zack hurt his back and was bed-ridden for days.
Veronika helped me get photocopies and important documents authorized at the townhall for our visa application. She also found us a local family doctor who can speak English.
Pavel and Magda, members of the Baptist church who we met through Dave and Geri, spent time with us over dinner when many others were gone for the summer. We also took a bike ride with them to a nearby lake to decompress. We appreciate their encouragement and concern for us as we acculturate.
Our friend Stepanka, took time out of her schedule to give us a tour of Brno before our semester class started.
Our WorldVenture field leaders took me to a store, while visiting them in Prague, where I can get brown sugar. (It’s not available in Olomouc.)
These are only a few examples of the variety of people who have been helpful. We’ve also had many encouraging emails, messages, and Skype chats with family and supporters back home. Thank you for helping us get through these difficult first five months, especially when we’ve been overwhelmed with language school!!!