OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)- Pentecost Sunday. Yesterday I bought another suitcase for the trip home. As a pack-rat I have accumulated a bunch of stuff over the past year, thrown out a bunch of stuff and still have a bunch of stuff to bring home. I already shipped four boxes of winter clothes, gifts and what not home and I STILL have a bunch of stuff left over. Then there’s the hat I got as a gift. I’m not sure if I should find a box big enough to ship it home next week or wear it on the plane. I know the airline rules about one carry-on and one personal item, but I’m sure you have seen people schlep more than simple carry ons through security. That’s why I think I’ll wear the hat. It’s not a normal hat, it is a Wallachian hat that is very tall, something Pharrell Williams would wear. Of course he can get away with it because he’s…well… Pharrell Williams. I’ll figure it out.

My neighbors, Lydia, me, Ondra and Eva

Today is the Feast of Pentecost a time when we remember that no matter what language you speak truth burrows it’s way into the sunlight so all can understand. People with terminal short memory syndrome (TSMS), like Republicans in the U.S. hate the truth even when it’s simplified. To the rest of us,  it’s pretty obvious. But I digress…again. Speaking of truth,  I went to a Czech Brethren service this morning in “upper town” with some friends and although I didn’t understand the language the music was great. I wish I could bottle it and take it home with me. That’s why I bought an extra suitcase…for more stuff. It was a friendly group and I didn’t feel like an outsider. My friend, Hana, translated the pastor’s sermon which turned out to be a pretty universal message. The kicker was just because you have a “fish” magnet on your car doesn’t mean you are automatically Christian or for that matter, act like one. We all know that, don’t we? Ignatius Loyola talked about the “principle of attraction” or as written in the Gospels, “by their fruits shall you know them” (Matthew 7:16). It’s the deeds, not words. Do you profess to “love one another?” Then show it! People will noticed it more than just preaching at them. It’s as simple as that and yet sometimes very difficult. Oh, one more thing, after the service I met a Giant’s fan here deep in Moravia. He is a young man who had spent about a half a year working for a tech company in San Francisco and while there began to understand baseball. There is hope for Eastern Europe!!

Kristof gives his mom (Hana) flowers

Yesterday I was treated to a visit to a cottage in the forests above Vsetín. I went with Susan, Hana’s family, Karel and Kristof and my neighbors from across the street. No words can express the beautiful setting of this very old home. It’s only 15 minutes by car from the city but a world away. It was very quiet in the forest. It’s what I imagined a traditional Wallachian house to be, low doorways and minimal conveniences. I wondered what it would be like in the winter. We brought our own food and sat on the porch and just took in the natural beauty of the place. No agenda, just being with each other. The conversation was 3/4 Czech and 1/3 English. I wish I could tell you I understood everything but I didn’t and that’s just the English part. Wonderful company and good eats. I picked up another recipe to take home to try out on the folks in the new world. Watch out! I’m not sure if it will have that Czech taste I have come to enjoy, but I can try. I think I have mentioned it before a long time ago, but I have not eaten anything in this country that wasn’t delicious. (Although I long for genuine Mexican and Central American food.)

So, tomorrow begins the last week teaching English in this town and in this wonderful country. I’m not thinking about it until it happens because today is spectacular and I’d be a basket case thinking about leaving. So, I’ll focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the little moments as they happen. I still have to sort “good stuff” from “I-think-I-can-leave-this-behind stuff.” However, I know the latter will wind up in the suitcase anyway. Maybe that will give me something to do at home. Stuff is important.

and so it goes…