Can You Catch the Butterfly?

živjeti jednostavnim životom (living a simple life)

What does this picture make you feel? My eyes are drawn to the cloth hanging in the wind, airing out to dry. Not too long, we, the humans, lived a simpler life. Things were much slower then. This was before my birth. I can only speculate what life was really like based on what little knowledge has been imparted to me by my elders.

Today in 2012 humankind looks at technology as the best thing since sliced bread. Funny how that saying is so dated in itself. As we move forward in our innovations, inventions, interventions, and conventional methods always improving, evolving, involving communities seeming smaller and smaller as communication grows larger, speed becomes relatively slower at an inversely accelerated pace. What’s the next best thing? What’s the faster, smarter, better, hotter, nicer, you-name-it product we can have?

When does it stop? When is enough enough?

Is peace and quiet no longer valued? Surely not. Is simple accepted? I hope it still is. In America, we value these aforementioned ideas yet we miss out on the lesson God says. LIVE A SIMPLE LIFE

Fast food, cut-throat pressured deadlines at work, time crunches, soccer games, doctor appointments, fit it in, squeeze a little more out, keep up the pace, don’t stop, stop, stop, but when is it time to take a breather? We as Americans pay a person to relax us whether through some therapeutic spa session, massage, acupuncture, or you name it! Can you believe where we are today? Who said we had to get on this hamster wheel? Who said we had to run this rat race? What are we generating this energy for? Do you know why you are working your 9-5? I hope it’s for more than the house, two cars, wife, 2 kids, and surround sound stereo entertainment center.

Maybe we need to hang ourselves out to dry on the clothesline for a moment and feel the wind. The calm, serene tune of nature. Could be that it’s all for naught.

I read a quote coming back from Zagreb the day this picture was taken, just a few days ago. It’s by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He says the following:

“Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is just out of grasp…But if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

We are most certainly closer than we think to getting what we want. Like before, let me leave you with a song, a recent favorite, by my favorite band OneRepublic. You might have heard their songs “Apologize” or “Good Life” or “Secrets” but this one is called “Passenger”….



Croatia: Getting Accustomed

It is Friday afternoon, May 18th.  We have now been here five days.  The jet lag has worn off and I feel great!  We have close to 30 readers now.  The three of us (Amerians) average about 5 readers a day.  We have about 8 each total.  Some have only come once and some come back daily.  They are both young and old, male and female.  It has been neat to see and hear the different perspectives of a native Croatian.  There are many similarities here and yet many differences.  Interesting all the same.  I am getting used to reading the language as well.  I have picking up a few words here and there ESPECIALLY the ones that are used in the book.  Like “glory” in Croatian is “slava”. And in Croatian, “j” makes a “yuh” sound instead of “juh” sound in English or the “huh” sound in Spanish.  I’ve caught myself speaking English in more simple terms, like with less parts of speech.  I think today I said to Billy or Mitchell something and I didn’t use any articles.  It wasn’t Tarzan-speak, but it was a step down.  It reminds me of an intro to an episode of “The Office” this season when Kevin decides he is going to start speaking….like Tarzan basically because it will save time.  It’s not until Jim is trying to ask him something and there is a double meaning issue and the miscommunication runs rampant.  It’s pretty funny! Read below:

Oscar: He’s making a statement. It’s an ironic comment on our expectations of him. A funhouse image of our model of Kevin.
Kevin: Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?
Andy: Sometimes words you no need use, but need need for talk talk.
Kevin: Many small time make big time.
Jim: Kevin, are you saying see the world or Sea World?
Kevin: Oceans, fish, jump, China.
Kevin: When me president, they see… they see.

The world has gotten even smaller in my mind and today I spent a good while discussing all of Europe with Marijana, one of the workers here at the place we are staying.  Marijana has been very friendly to us and very helpful.  We decided today that tomorrow we will probably be renting a car (probably a VW) for only some where between 170-250 kunas which is only $40-50 US Dollars.

The easiest to way to think of the currency exchange is to divide the amount of kunas by 5.  Good thing I have had a lot of practice the last few years as a banker.  he he

I have really loved getting to know my readers and talking with them about anything and everything.  I would say at the beginning we would talk 95% about the material in the workbooks and now it is closer to 80-20%.  I suspect as the time moves along, it will be even less.  The way the program is designed is that of a two-edged sword.  You talk about God and Jesus, the gospel, as well as our own thoughts and experiences.  It really is just like sitting with someone and having a bible study.  I see no difference in the two.  There is way more opportunity to sit with a foreigner who just wants to practice English than your typical non-Christian from the states when it comes to evangelism.

This has been a growth spurt for me so far and it has only been a short while.  As I spend more time with these people, it gets easier and easier to open up to them and ask them some semi-personal questions.  To my surprise, almost always they are more than ok to share.  I think that’s true of most people.  Don’t we all want to be asked about things, even if they are personal?  Some people might feel offended to be asked a question that seems inappropriately too personal but still would feel a little bit flattered that you would want to know.  It also depends on motive though too.  We ask here, for curiosity’s sake and to build our friendship, not just to be nosy.  At least, I hope that is the impression.

What do you wish people knew about you but don’t because they’ve never thought to ask?

me..left-handed, allergic to shellfish, never broken a bone, used to skateboard, never been to DisneyWorld, but I’ve been to Okla-HOMA! Well the ladies are insane there, but I really don’t remem-BA.  Ok, if you just got totally lost, I am butchering a song from the a 70s Supergroup cassette tape we used to listen to in the car when I was a kid.  Yes, we were exposed to the classic Rock’n’Roll genre.  I’m thankful too!  There are some really great bands I think everyone should hear.  Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon was my first CD I  actually ever bought.  Kinda strange I know for a young kid in the 90s to purchase but some of my older skater friends really liked them and I liked what I had heard too.  Plus it was like $3 at a pawn shop and I was basically broke as a young teen.  Add that to my list of things you should know.

Well, it’s almost time for my next reader so I must go…

Let me leave you with some great lyrics from this album and I actually would like to hear your responses about what it is people should know about you.

Time by Pink Floyd
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lieing in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
And racing arond to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but your older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the english way
The time is gone the song is over, thought I’d something more to say

Time(zone) Travel, The Matrix, LST, Plitvice Lakes National Park, bank talks

As I sit here, it is now 5:15 PM in Zapresic, Croatia but my body and mind still feel as though it is about 10 AM or probably more accurately, somewhere in between as I adjust to the seven hour timezone difference. It’s been an interesting last 48 hours. As I’ve experienced my first timezone crossover, I would describe it as pulling an “all nighter” only this time it’s as if you are sleeping during the day and staying up at night every day and night for the next two weeks.

It’s all like a dream.

If you’re old enough and nerdy enough (or should I say COOL enough ) to have seen The Matrix movies, it’s like what the guy at Neo’s door tells him about being on some drug. “You’re not fully asleep, but you’re not fully awake” OK, that’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea. This has been my face the last couple days. Anyway enough about that.

Today we had our first informational meeting. Only two showed up; one man and one woman, but we are having another meeting 90 minutes from now. This will hopefully draw in much more people as they will have been off work for the day. We expect to have around 20 or so. Hopefully even more than that.

I sat down with Anita today who is an endoscopic nurse in Zagreb. We went through lesson one of the book of Luke, the first and main book of the Let’s Start Talking program.

A quick rundown of LST: You sit with someone who wants to learn conversational English. You have them read a short excerpt of the bible, in this case Luke, and you talk with them about what they’ve read. It’s dually beneficial. They get to hear/read the gospel and learn English with a native speaker simultaneously. I sat with Anita today and was impressed with her understanding and knowledge. She said many people are taught English in grade school all the way up to college. It’s the primary foreign language taught here. Most people also know a little bit of German, few know Italian and Spanish as well. Marijana, one of the workers of the church, knows all four. Pretty impressive. Many Croatian words have a German root as well. I learned that this is because Croatia used to be a part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire about 100 years ago or something like that.

We will be getting a day or so to travel in this two week time frame. We were initially thinking about visiting Vienna but as we have found out the travel time would most likely be like traveling from Tulsa to Dallas (4-4.5 hours), we aren’t so sure we’re going to do that now. I think we’re leaning towards traveling to the Coastal region to the West. The beaches are supposed to be very beautiful and there is a national park that is ranked as one of the most beautiful areas in the world. It is called Plitvice Lakes National Park. You can see more about it here:

I’m certainly not opposed, as you can see! I love the beach too. So yeah, that’s probably what we’ll do.

We went to Kaufland, a German grocery store this morning. I was pretty proud of us. For the most part we figured out what we needed to buy and although we couldn’t read most labels, most places have the staple foods: bread, lunch meat, milk, cereal, chips, pasta, juice, etc.

We didn’t really see too much out of the ordinary (or what Americans would call ordinary) We did noticed Paprika was the chip flavor of choice. We found some BBQ chips that were simple referred to as “Western Style” 🙂

I met a few kids yesterday and we played a little bball on the church’s bball court. Their names were Peter, Ian, and Luke. Probably not how they spell them, but I’m sure I’m close. Good kids. They did not want me to stop playing but dinner was ready and I was plagued with jet lag so I was very hungry and very tired. Maybe I should have pushed through a little longer, I don’t know.

Today we drove around to more of the area and registered ourselves with the police. It was kinda funny the way Ivan (the preacher) phrased it at first. He said he was going to have report us to the police. We were like, “did we do something wrong?” but we figured out what he meant pretty quickly. In Croatia, if you aren’t a citizen, you must report to the police within 24 hours if you plan on staying longer than a day. We are only here for two weeks so we are considered tourists and don’t have to get visas or anything like that. It was a fairly simple process. We just showed them our passports and filled out a little form.

Then we went around with Ivan to witness him do some of his business with banks. Billy and I were especially interested in this since we both work in the banking industry back home. It was interesting when you go into the branch because they have a machine there with different buttons. 1 would be Checking, 2 Savings, 3 Credit, etc. You would push a button and then get a receipt with a number on it. Then when they called your number, you could go up to the teller line. It was interesting, but not as much to you non-banker folks.

Then we drove around a few of the neighborhoods. We saw some duplexes Ivan said were about 1500-1800 sq ft. He said they went for $200-250k. Unbelievable. It’s like what you would pay on the coasts in America I guess. Oklahomans really are lucky in that the cost of living is so low.

It’s been fairly cold and dreary these last two days. I hope it warms up soon because I only have so many jeans! I brought many shorts and short -sleeve shirts and I plan on using them.

All in all, it has been a great experience here so far. Let’s see what these next few days bring. I’ll try and keep you updated as much as I can.

Until next time…check out this view!  We’ll see if I can see it in person.

Blessings and expectations, faith and Croatia, SEVEN in 2012

I sit here in bed before allow myself to fall asleep just contemplating this task at hand. Is this me?

Yeah I think so.

Am I nervous, yeah.

It’s been set. Everything’s lined up. Now it’s just time to go.

In 35 hours I will be getting on a plane to fly to Croatia. What an interesting time this is. I’m 28 and unmarried. Just started a new job in marketing. Karissa and I celebrated our third month of dating a few days ago.

2012 has been a year of expectations from God. Not testing Him but having faith that he will bless me when I obey. 2012 has been a year of success after success. I don’t credit any of it to myself either. It’s all been God. All of it. I have watched him take over and just sat back and smiled. I am starting to get comfortable with giving it to God.

As soon as I get back (first week of June) I will be diving deep with some of my closest friends in a discipleship initiative called SEVEN. Previously it was called NINE. This year it has been shortened by two weeks but I believe it will leave no less of an impact on the hearts of those who commit to it. I did NINE back in 2010 and it helped me fall in love with Christ and allowed me to feel the deep love he had for me again. I think it had been a few years since I had felt that. It was amazing. I’m really looking forward to seeing how God shows up this time and what miraculous things there are to see.

Well, I just thought I’d do something different with this one and make it a little more personal. Thanks for reading!
Be back in a couple weeks with some good European stories hopefully.