Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Decomposing Bodies in an Ice Cream Parlour

Over our mint and raspberry ice cream, he described the complications of burying dead bodies. If not contained in a bag or box, the decomposing body will exude fertilising minerals, so that the vegetation over the body's resting place will be highly prolific. This is a sure sign of a buried body, especially in a barren patch of land.

The topic was strangely fitted to our surroundings. We were sitting in a pink ice cream parlour, where all of the wire chairs had hearts twisted in them. The walls were decorated with tie died paper ice cream cones. The other patrons were families with sticky children.

Zachary was telling me about a summer college course he had taken on forensic anthropology. Zachary is a friend, whom I haven't seen for a year and a quarter. He is like family, because he grew up in the same Czech town as me. Our families spent tons of time together. He went to the same school and church as we did.

Four years ago his family moved back to America. This week they were in the Wheaton area and Zachary and I met up for coffee. After using our respective Starbucks graduation gift cards to buy drinks and baking ourselves for a few hours outside, we relocated to the ice cream parlour where he told me about burying corpses.

We spoke Czech when we wanted to talk about strangers passing by, but also just for fun. There was a lot to catch up on: graduating high school (he and I graduated at the same time although on different continents), starting college and family gossip. Hanging out with a someone from my Czech life was like being home for a few hours. It blessed my socks off, as my mother would say.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chapter College

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”
Psalm 42:8

This is my verse for the next chapter of my life. I am on my own now and God’s promise of steadfast love and night songs is extremely comforting. The next chapter is called College. Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. (for my foreign readers Wheaton is a town near Chicago) Even though I grew up in this general area (for my US readers who know their Chicago suburbs, the area was Mount Prospect) this is a big hairy deal. I left the Czech Republic where I have lived with my family for the last nine years. My parents said goodbye half an hour ago and I will not see them until Christmas.

The photo is of me in Chicago under a statue of a famous Czech poet.

People have been asking me whether I am excited to start college. My answer for the last several months has been the same. I tell the asker, “Well, Asker, I view the months ahead like a long distance race with several hurdles involved. I have not been able to let myself get excited, because there are still significant hurdles to be jumped.”

Here are the hurdles I meant:

Hurdles Jumped 2013:

#1 End of year final art project

#2 Maturita* oral, written and standardized testing exams

#3 Maturita art project

#4 Saying goodbye to Czech friends

#5 Packing life into one suitcase and carry-on

#6 Cross country trip with family, spanning New York, Chicago, San Marcos, Austin and Peoria

#7 Saying goodbye to family

Now all that is left is:

#8 Finding employment for the rest of the summer

God is so good. His mercy has been huge, but has manifested in the smallest of details like finding a Thai restaurant in Chicago with my Aunt Jennifer, finding a good parking space when we were running late and 60 percent of the family had to find a bathroom or finding a good clothing sale.

His mercy and goodness has been channelled to us through dear friends and family. Along every step of this crazy journey have been people who gave us beds in their homes, food off their stoves and their precious, precious time and love. It kind of reminds me of the Underground Railroad, where people would shelter runaway slaves and usher them on to the next safe place. There are differences, yes, but the sacrifice of the people at the safe houses is similar. Except I do not think our friends are at risk of imprisonment. And we were not being tailed by our slave owners.

Ok. I am tired and drained. Not as bad as my poor family who still have to fly back to Europe with a freshly birthday-ed six year old, but enough so that this post needs to end.

Thanks for reading this, Friends. Pray for my parents and younger brothers' travels. Pray for me too.


*Maturita is the Czech high school graduation exam. It is taken very seriously and is considered a right of passage for every Czech. There is a ritual quality to the exams and the ceremonies involved. Maturita consists of oral exams in front of a panel of teachers and government people, written tests and separate components for specialized schools like my art school. I posted about it a little while ago if you would like a little more info on what I did.

**I am starting anew here in Wheaton and I have decided to seize this opportunity to reinstate my second first name Rose. I dropped it when we moved to the Czech Republic because it was easier for people to say, but now I want it to make a comeback. It is tricky to do, which is why I have employed the handy hyphen in hopes that this will encourage users to utilize both of my names. Whew.