Tellus

Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Avocados and Fallen Umbrellas: Stand Watchmen and Wait

{Post 3 from blog}

Ok, so I left off explaining some of the cultural differences that I have seen so far in Prague along with a brief overview of what I had been doing. I am now settled into my flat and it has been a blast! My flat mates are hilarious and we have a lot of fun together. It has been quite the experience living with four other girls whom I had only known for three days… but it has been totally worth it :) I have even cooked my own dinners (and have fallen even more in love with salads – tomatoes, avocados, bell peppers, cranberries, cheese …. yummm)!!

During our week of orientation, I was able to visit the Prague castle, which was beautiful! I got to see the St. Vitus Cathedral and the beautiful stained glass windows.

Also as part of our orientation, we toured the Jewish Quarters in the Old Town where we saw four different synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery. The cemetery was the only place the Jews were allowed to be buried between 1400- 1700. Tombs were piled on top of each other and people will leave pebbles (flowers of the desert) atop some of the tombstones, which parallels back to when rocks where piled on top of the sand graves.


{Photo taken by Arianna}

We also got to tour Prague from the Vltava River. It was wonderful! It was so nice to get away from the city and be on the water.

I have started school. I am still going to my intensive Czech language class. During my last class we had to go to the grocery store and find different items and figure out how much they were. It has actually been a really fun class…despite how terrible I am at the language. My lips just don’t want to make the sounds that are necessary. People here have been pretty gracious. I am getting good at asking for stamps :) I also started one of my art history classes and my walking tour/history of Prague class. That one was a blast! We are basically going on tours all of the city for three hours once a week. This week we learned about the famous Charles Bridge and St. John of Nepomuk.

St. John was thrown off of the Charles Bridge apparently because he wouldn’t reveal the Queen’s confessions to the King. I stood at the spot where he was thrown over.

If you look above his head, you will see five stars. Legend has it that when St. John died in the river, five new stars appeared in the sky. Interesting to say the least. ;) If you stand in site of the statue, there are two plaques below it, each with its own scene. One is of St. John being thrown off the bridge and one is of the Queen confessing to St. John. People come to touch the image of St. John and kiss their fingers for good luck. The funny thing is they generally touch the wrong thing. On the plaque of him being thrown overboard, most people touch the woman on the shore rather then St. John’s tiny image being thrown off the bridge and on the other plaque, many people touch the dog in the forefront — ironically the dog is an evil character, seeing as it was one of the King’s hunting dogs that killed the Queen.

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Seeing all these “beautiful” things, I have been thinking more about beauty — especially that of a foreign place — and I have come to a conclusion. Yes, buildings can be beautiful – you wouldn’t believe some of the architecture here and the history behind it is even more amazing. But beauty goes much deeper than that. In terms of being in “beautiful places,” what makes a place beautiful and magical isn’t the buildings or architecture – but the people who you experience that (and life) with. That is what makes it beautiful.
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Since I have been here in Prague, I have been taking a lot of time to think. About life, about God, about friends, and about myself. God has been answering so many prayers and I can’t wait to see what else He will reveal. It is amazing how being here, so much “noise” that surrounded my day to day life has receded to a whisper or nothing at all…and I have been reveling in the silence. Being thrown into a world of unfamiliarity has caused me to stop and think about everything! My feelings, my thoughts, my actions… It is showing me things that are truly important in my life and the things that are not. The last few weeks have been hard. Really hard. I remember on one of the rainy days I saw tons of discarded umbrellas, fallen on the street and broken from the wind. I felt like I could relate to them… tired, wet, alone, overwhelmed, broke down…and in a sense I could. But I am learning to take the focus off myself and look around and above. I am learning to turn to the God who I love and I am learning to depend on Him more and more. I have been understanding more and more how much God has done for me and for the world through His Son. I have been blessed with so much freedom (in Christ). My identity is not in myself, or the world.. but in Jesus Christ. I am learning what it means to STAND in Christ. I am learning that I COULDN’T stand with out Him. Without His love and mercy, where would I be? Psalm 130 says:

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. ”

I am standing in the Lord and He is my rock. It makes me think about Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress and the burden on his back. When he goes to the cross and repents, the burden falls from his back, never to be seen again (I realize that this isn’t necessarily what the Psalm is talking about, these are just where my thoughts took me). Christ has taken that burden away — He was victorious and was not crippled by it — and through Him we do not have to be crippled by it either.

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