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