Saturday, November 17, 2012

SATs in Prague

SATs. That was the last thing I posted about here on my blog. Well, I got the results.

I got 520 points on the Math section! That means I reached my goal of passing 500 and increased my previous score by exactly 100 points. I am so thankful that all the work I put in and my tutor Mrs. Gemrotova put in was worth it and showed real results. Thank you, Lord for helping me through that!

I have already sent out one application to Wheaton College in Illinois and later I will send some to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College in Chicago. But I have very little anxiety. I trust that my scores on the SAT will help me get to the school God wants me to be at.

So I made a few cartoons which describe the experience of taking the SATs in Prague. My dad drove me there on Friday evening with my little brother Isaac. We all stayed in a hostel room. On Saturday morning Dad drove me to take the test at the Prague International School and he and Isaac went to the zoo.

I like taking tests for some odd reason, so this was primarily fun for me. The hard part is just endurance. After three hours I find it hard not to do silly squirmy dances in my seat. It is kind of like a distance run for the mind. Also it is a trick to get in line for the bathroom so as to make it back within the 5 minute time allotted for toilet use.

All went well though.

Thank you, Lord and thank anyone who prayed for me.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mrs. Gemrotova

Whew! I just returned from my last Math tutoring session before I take the SATs for the second time on Saturday. Ever since I got a 420 on the Math section, my goal has been to yank that thing up to at least a 500.

SO, this summer my dad asked the math teacher at the high school where he works (BMA) if she would be willing to tutor me in math. She was willing. So once or twice a week we met and practiced math for two hours at a time. Things were slightly complicated because Mrs. Gemrotova does not speak a word of English and I had to translate every single problem into Czech. BUT we stuck it out.

The whole experience has been super important to me, not only because I believe I have become a better mathematician (we will see on Saturday), but also because of Mrs. Gemrotova, my teacher. I must tell you about her.

Mrs. G is an older lady, but she has so much energy. After two hours of math she is still raring to go on indefinitely, whereas I am wilting. This may be because she is addicted to coffee. Before every lesson she offers me tea or coffee, and then jokingly remarks that she absolutely must have coffee, because she just loves it so much.

Almost everything she owns is red; from her lipstick to her little red car to the sweatshirt she wears on Sundays. But even more striking than her love of red is her goodness. You know how you discover someone's true character when you see them in a trying situation? Well, I can assure you that for any math teacher, I Lucy, am a trying situation! I have always struggled in math, but moving to the Czech Republic has just set me even farther back, and going to an art high school doesn't help.

So Mrs. G has had so many opportunities to be frustrated with me, but she never is. If I get completely lost during a problem on say, functions (my ultimate downfall) instead of giving me up as hopeless, she pauses, says,"OK. I see that we need to approach this from a different angle." If I forget that rule about exponents for the millionth time, instead of whacking me on the head and rolling her eyes, she smiles as if we are sharing a joke and tells,"Lucy, this rule is still the same as it was yesterday." Towards the end of to hours she sees my eyes glazing over and motivates me to hang on for the last few minutes. And if I do get something right, she says,"Lucy, I really like the way you went about this problem."

She spends every night before our lessons going over the points where I am still unsure. She sacrifices her Sunday mornings and her vacation days to help me. In addition to all this, she refuses to be paid. In my life right now there is no better allegory of Jesus. She has His patience and His loving yet firm teaching style. And just like with Jesus, I have no way to ever repay Mrs. Gemrotova. I pray that she will know one day what this summer of grueling math has meant to me.

P.S. Please pray that I do well on the SATs Saturday the 6th. Thanks!

In fact she refused to be payed!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Exhibition Opening

Dear People,

Yesterday was the opening for my very first group exhibition. In Czech this is called a "vernisáž" because it sounds like the French word for varnish. Apparently the French would varnish all the paintings on the opening day of the show. Whoah! Off topic!

I haven't told you what my contribution to the show was. I made a light installation consisting of five unique lamps. The inspiration was a passage in the Biblical book of Ephesians.

Here it is:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
-Ephesians 5:8-11

I believe that God helped me and inspired me throughout the whole process. Here are some of the reasons I believe that:
I had no idea what to do for my part in the show until I quieted myself for a moment and asked the Lord for an idea. "Dear Jesus, please give me an idea." Pause. "Thank you, Lord. Great idea!" I am being a little silly here, but this is basically what happened. I really did have the idea for a bunch of intricate lamps right after I prayed. The technique I ended up using was different from the initial idea, but the concept stayed the same.

I was having serious trouble figuring out how to do the electrical lighting inside the lamps until God provided in a really cool way. It was the Saturday before Tuesday's opening and all I had by way of lighting was a jumble of Ikea reading lamps suspended from bits of wire from the ceiling. The effect was terrible. Tangles of wire, switches, and clips stuck out all over and the entire contraption would topple if breathed on. After a good straight talk from my dad (after he found me beating one of the reading lights with a hammer) we decided that I needed some new lights. We went to one of those mega hardware stores and I wandered hopelessly around looking for a solution, praying that God would somehow provide a solution, but not really believing that there was one. Dad on the other hand, asked someone for help. The employee he asked listened to our problem and said, "Of course I can help. All you need is some wire, plugs, and sockets and you can make your own lights." She then spent the next forty five minutes teaching us how to create our own light fixtures. Problem solved. Oh me of little faith.

So after the whole lighting hurdle the only thing left to deal with was the backdrop. I knew that my lamps would show up best against a plain dark background, but all I had by that way were some old faded blue sheets. I spent the Monday before the opening draping sheets in dissatisfying arrangements and taking breaks from that to assuage my frustration with a Czech delicacy called liver paste (or "paštika"). (I learned to love this last week on our senior class trip to Prague. Makes me feel so Czech!) Anyway things were bad so when the girls took a break from work to buy some supplies I tagged along to get my mind off the problem. In the school supply store my eye was caught by the rolls of crepe paper. Aha! Thanks again, Lord. I bought every single roll of black crepe paper in the store and rushed back to the gallery to create the backdrop.

God was so good. The opening night was lovely. The proper thing to do at a "vernisáž" is to provide refreshments and wine and have a little ceremony of thanking and toasting and maybe even a song or two. We wrote a song ourselves and performed it to our own accompaniment. Lots of teachers, friends, family, and random old men came. I am so glad it's over, but so grateful for God's provision.

P.S. Thanks to Jonny and Dad for the photos.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Undressed: Our Debut Exhibition!

My first exhibition is coming up! A group of friends and I formed an "art group" and we will be showing our work in a gallery in Havířov, CZ. The concept behind the exhibition is "Undressed" or perhaps "Uncovered". The Czech word is "Svlečená". We decided on this scandalous name, because undressed is exactly how we feel when we let someone look at the artwork we have so painstakingly created. There is so much vulnerability involved and this being our first public show, we thought the name was perfect.

Please come take a look!

When: September 18, 2012 is the opening night, but it will stick around for a month. On the opening night we will have a short program and refreshments. That starts at 6:00.

Where: Galerie Spirála, Havířov, Dělnická 18

Friday, August 24, 2012

My Summer Job as a Herder of Half-Sized-Dirt-Coated-Humans

Today was my last day at preschool. My summer job was working as a teacher's aid at an English language focused preschool called Happy Day. My heart feels full of everything that happened. I made new friends, some big and some small. Most of them were only about four-years-old. I gained new skills and learned
a whole lot about negotiation and toddler diplomacy. Now I wish I could take a few days to digest it all, just as one does after a feast.

All summer I have been asking myself and God if teaching is something He would call me to someday. I go through lists in my mind of the things I loved and hated about teaching preschoolers to help me in the decision making.

Here's a sample list of WHAT I LOVED:

-I loved figuring out creative ways to get kids to do things. Sounds manipulative. It is! But not in a bad way. Sometimes it's just super hard to get a kid to do something as basic as wash his hands after he picked his nose and wiped it in the sandbox. So if he would refuse I would have to try a new approach. For instance one little guy named Eduard would not wash his hands. So I had to make it fun. I would take each of his hands in one mine and stretch his arms so that each one was in a separate sink (we had the tiny kind of toddler sink) and then I would wash them at the same time, just in two different sinks. It worked. He came to love hand washing.

-Another thing I loved was thinking up crafts. For instance mini tee pees out of coffee filters. Or a giant paper doll for whom we painted outfits using sticks and leaves as paint brushes. I loved preparing all the materials and explaining how to do it. I loved watching them enjoy working on the project.

-And finally I loved the kids. I loved slowly building up trust and friendship with those small humans. I loved having them look up to me as someone they could tell stuff to or run to with an owie or give gifts of rocks and pictures to. I loved that after I came back from a week of vacation they were excited to see me.

But the work was not easy.
Here's a sample list of THE HARDEST PARTS:

-You had to talk ALL THE TIME! You were constantly cajoling or reprimanding or praising or yelling or explaining or reading stories... After only half a day I would come home and not even want to say "hi" to my mom because I was so tired!

-Knowing how to corral a group of antsy, barely potty trained, sticky,
motor-skill-undeveloped individuals. It is hard to get a bunch of kids to listen and comply. Whew.

-Parents. Thankfully, because I was just an aid I didn't have to communicate a whole lot with the parents, but from observation I could tell that it is not easy. You have to somehow get across that you and the parent are on the same team. But at the same time you have to be humble and pliant, because the parent is the boss. I can tell that if I become a teacher this will be one of the most the most difficult parts of my job.

The Lord really blessed me this summer through this job. I am positive that He was guiding me the whole time. I still need prayer about my future as a potential teacher, but I trust Him that He has a plan for me.
Thank you, Heavenly Father!

Photos courtesy of Mr. Paul G. Till. Thanks, Dad!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Trains and Rocks

So I have been working this summer as a teacher's aid at a preschool. When I do the morning shift I come in early and wait for the first kids to arrive. Today I had two little girls; Simonka and Vanesa, come in first. Both are completely adorable with endearing speech impediments and just all around cuteness, but secretly Vanesa is one of my favorites.

Simonka and Vanesa played happily with their train set for a while while I looked on from my spot on the couch, poised to jump in if a scuffle broke out. And one did, or I thought it would when Simonka decided to take all prettiest red trains away and hug them tightly to her chest.
Vanesa asked very calmly, "Could you give me a red train, please?"
(I always get attached to the ones who say 'please')
Simonka clutched the red trains tighter, stuck out her lower lip looked Vanesa straight in the eyes and gave a firm, "NO!"

This was the moment I lifted my bottom from the seat ready to console a crying Vanesa and chastise the non-sharer, but there was no need. Vanesa did not cry. She merely dropped her hands in her lap and looked sad for half a minute and then reached out a dimpled hand towards the shiny red train. She stroked it longingly a couple times and told Simonka earnestly,
"I just wanted to pet it."
Then she turned around and found a different toy. I did not need to intervene.

Sigh. That made my day. So did the rock one little girl gave me as a present.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Family Vacation August 2012

Dear Stumblers-Upon-My-Blog,

It has been awhile, eh? Yes indeed. But as Miranda Hart, my favorite British comedienne would say,"Let's jolly on with the show!"

This Wednesday my family returned from vacation in Bohemia. We folded myself and my gangly younger-but-larger brother Paul Hugh into the backseat and then sort of stuffed five-year-old brother Isaac into the cracks. Dad drove and Mom read Harry Potter out loud. Away we went.

Each day we had a new city a new hotel and a new goal of what to see there.

Destination #1: Třebič

To see the old Jewish Quarter and the largest and best preserved Jewish cemetery in the republic. It was lovely and sad and fascinating. Unfortunately I was starting to feel ill and could not enjoy it too well.

Hotel rating:
Two Stars. Did not smell great. The pool was small and murky. Above it was probably the most tacky mural I have ever seen. It was an airbrushed, completely naked version of Kate Winslet in that scene from Titanic where she poses for Jack in nothing but a necklace.

In the mural version, however, her legs are inexplicably severed. Maybe to make way for the Titanic which appears to be careening towards her. Her expression is immovably sexy despite legless-ness.

Paul Hugh did a great underwater impression of Kate. Except with trunks. And legs.

Destination #2: Kutná Hora

To see the small and very unique cathedral of Saint Barbora.

Hotel rating:
Two and a half stars. Very nice people. Much cleaner rooms. Badly working hot water dispenser.

We had lots of adventures in Kutna Hora:
-My mom accidentally drank a contact lens.

-My dad got caught in a spectacular rainstorm because he was out having a cathedral photo taking session. SO as not to get his one pair of shoes wet he took them off and wrapped them in his shirt. He ran shirtless and barefoot across the main square in the pouring rain.

-My sixteen-year-old brother Paul Hugh spent the whole time contemplating the best way to climb up the side of the cathedral.

-Izak and I got scolded by a rude lady who thought I wanted to throw him off the balcony of the cathedral. What, in fact, I was doing was boosting him up to show him the little tiny people and pews below.

Whew. It was fun. The cathedral was lovely.
We had studied about it in History of Art, so it was awesome to see it in person.

I am so grateful God protected and provided for us throughout!

Lucy Rose