Sunday, July 31, 2016

note: this isn't my best post ever. my writing is choppy and fragmented, split and rambling. my mind is all over the place. but this is the first time i've gotten the entire story down on paper in one composed whole, and besides, it's a messy story.

but here you go.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


out + about: prague, czech republic

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prague was one of the most beautiful cities I've ever had the privilege of visiting.

intersecting lives / the europe gallery

Thursday, July 21, 2016

this is a shot of LA, when we were coming back to the U.S.

i like cities.

#RachelTakesEurope | 3 weeks' time

Monday, July 18, 2016

three weeks’ time

first off, i would like to say, HOW ARE YOU ALL DOING? because throughout all my adventures and travels and conversations, one of the underlying threads that has constantly been on my mind is HOW IS EVERYONE DOING? I NEED TO TAKE PICTURES OF THIS FOR THEM! I NEED TO MAKE A GREAT VIDEO FOR THEM! I NEED TO WRITE GOOD POSTS FOR THEM!
i’ve lived with more joy in these past three weeks than i have in the past school year, and even though i’m tired and i miss my bedroom and i miss not feeling the pressure to do things all day, every day, i’ve loved my trip here in Europe so freaking much. it’s been one of the best trips i’ve ever had, for several reasons.

number one, the people. i met a lot of people on this trip, particularly in the first two weeks when i was on my missions trip in the czech republic. there were three churches partnering together to help local missionaries run an english camp (that has been going on for 11+ years!!), and my family was privileged enough to be able to join in on it. 

meeting people from the other two churches was fantastic. it was amazing to see how likeminded we all were in Christ, how focused and serious and fun they were, etc. 

and the conversations i had on this trip were so good—so much more purposeful and intentional than i’m used to, and it was so encouraging for me to take them as examples for how my own speech and attitude should be in my everyday life. the way everyone treated one another—the way we spoke to one another—the way we prayed with one another, talked with others—it was a huge blessing, and even though that’s a cliché, it honestly was. the czech missions trip was a great first missions trip for me, and because of it, i look forward to many more in the future.

pictures from that are coming as soon as i get home, and then i’ll be able to sort through all the memories and figure out which ones i want to put on the internet and how to format them. 

number two, the culture difference. my family + i were transplanted out of our suburban SoCal lifestyle to a different culture, one we had heard about for a long time but never actually experienced. we lived out of our suitcases, attended devotionals every morning, interacted with unbelievers, ate food we’d never eaten before, talked to people we’d never known existed before. even here in london, it’s different. + i appreciate it. i so wanted to be out of the suburban American bubble, and the three weeks here showed me—showed us—how people elsewhere live. it’s different. and even though there are adjustment bumps, i love it. + now i’m refreshed and ready to go back home.

number three, the lessons. God taught me so much on this trip, and evidences of Himself were revealed through so much in Czech. the green was unbelievable, His creation, works of His hand. how much i need Him, how much the entire world needs Him. there were some emotional instances on this trip, and i definitely made missteps that only served to draw me closer to Him, and for those i’m truly thankful. days that started out feeling great ended in sadness, and days that began sadly ended with joy and fruit. i’m thankful that there were so many older, more mature, wiser people around me who shepherded me and guided me through my struggles.

number four, the environment. both england + czech are BEAUTIFUL. like honestly, i’ve never seen so much green. the views were wondrous. the photo opportunities were beautiful. prague looked so stereotypically european that it was wonderful. and london! there’s so much construction going around, but the alleyways and random triangular streets are so characteristic and unique. + the countryside is to die for. i LOVE the english countryside.

i am glad to be going home, but there’s a nice, even-keeled balance—i’ve learned so much here. i’m not aching or longing to go home; i’m just glad that i am. the suburban lifestyle will be the same. but i hope—i pray—that i will be different when i go back: my countenance, the way i interact with the same people i’ve known all my life, the way i interact with God. 

no matter how many missions trips i go on, or other European trips that might possibly be in my future, this one in 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart. it’s my first. and, hopefully, not last.

the land of cobblestones & bacon chips

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

She emerged from the land of cobblestones and bacon chips, blinking at her old world with eyes born anew.

She’d left her old world with expectations and hopes, following the flickering torchlight that left shadows dancing on the walls of the stone cold castle in which she had resided for nine months. It had been hard—a land full of plenty, but the walls and moat that had encapsulated her had nearly swallowed her whole. There was a world out there, she knew, but she couldn’t see it.
When the opportunity came to leave, she hardly dared believe it. When she was able to take the chance, she did. 
She left.

When she landed, it was lush and green, a contrast against the gray from which she had come. It was alive, vibrant, crackling.

The people fed her. The conversations, the interactions—they were exhausting, and sometimes she emerged with a sore throat from all the talking, but they fed her in ways that she didn’t know. People had these kinds of conversations? She’d always wanted them, but she’d never had them. And now that she was having them, she didn’t think she could ever go back to banal phrases and monotone words, sounds that lacked meaning or depth because no one knew how to speak differently.
If people were the same everywhere—if the human nature was consistent—then surely people at home could act in such a way, with clarity and response. She would just have to initiate it. And now that she knew how to, she could. But she had to find the courage.

The building was a triangle shape, so that the snow would slide off it more easily in the wintertime, but in the summer it was more of a decorative outerwear, two slanted pieces of wood that always had open windows sticking out of the sides, a squat little home that housed a hundred people for a week. Kids poked their heads and legs out onto the roof, went sliding down the metal slats when it was warm and the night was young. They taught each other how to dance and laughed and talked, even with the language barrier that was invisible and solid, tangible to all.

She learned how to smile and to hug, to push through it all even if it felt awkward to her, even if she felt helpless or useless because she couldn’t get past the barrier, no matter how hard she tried. They gave her gingerbread cookies, partially coated in hard white sugar glaze, and a bar of soap that smelled good. They let her make mistakes, and she allowed herself to make them, and God let her make them because she needed to learn.

She felt feelings again, feelings she wasn’t sure she could feel again, especially because she hadn’t felt them in three years, and it was strange, but it was nice. And, when they went nowhere, she was satisfied. Waiting was a part of life, she discovered. She just had to sit back and trust God that it would all work out in the end. 

Joy was her main harvest. Joy in the tears, joy in the emotions, joy in the triumphs, joy in the sorrows. Joy was singing hymns in the rain with others by a blazing campfire that somehow kept going, even through the storm; joy was roasting sausages over the campfire until the fat rolled off the sides into the flames; joy was tearing through slices of bread with her teeth, soft, almost sweet, complementing the saltiness of the sausage.

Joy was waking up at six-thirty in the morning every day so she could go downstairs to read Psalms with her other team members—worship and fellowship. Joy was staying up late, sharing bad driving stories, laughing at nothing in particular, laughing at everything and everyone, making fun of herself. 
Joy was staring out the window, listening to Jon Bellion, thinking about love and God and everything that was happening with the world—the bad stuff, the horrible things that had happened back home while she was gone, and their place in history—and everything that was happening with her. But even when she wasn’t happy, she had joy.

At the end of the last week, she walked around the big city with the rest of them, staring at the buildings and feeling the cobblestones under her feet with every step she took. They ate gelato in flavors weird and conventional; they rowed in boats and observed and talked about life and love.

And, at the end of it all, miles away from the place she’d gone and one step closer to the only world she’d ever really known, she contemplated things, writing them out, but it didn’t feel right writing it from her own perspective. Sometimes third person is what you need, even if it feels pretentious, writing from someone else’s perspective, examining yourself, spilling words on the page with earbuds in your ears that transmit no sound, with scattered bacon chip crumbs at your fingers and your family speaking in fake British accents to one another in the background.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What can I say about Czech Republic?

What can I say about Europe?

What can I say about this missions trip, the people here, the food, the culture, the language, the interactions, the fellowship, the friendship, the likemindedness, the joy, the hope, the peace?

What can I say when I feel inadequate, when I finally see faith being played into action, when I finally see what it means to be a missionary and to serve others?

What can I say when I feel at odds with a culture, with a language that I cannot speak other than the word "hello," with people who can only speak the language that I cannot speak?

What can I say when I wonder how crazy it is that these lives intersect--how seemingly coincidental, but in reality how providential it all is? That I would someday meet people on the other side of the world, who never knew of my existence and I unaware of theirs, until this trip?

I think I will become a better writer after this. Because I don't know the language, I simply observe how people communicate, how their personalities express themselves in ways that are indirectly linked with words. How would a bright and vivacious person communicate to me that he/she needs food? How would a quiet and shy person do the same? It's all interesting and intriguing--Czech isn't 







AS I WAS SAYING before my wonderful friend texted me my scores (California got their AP scores first this year, and I'm international, so I couldn't check them and THANK YOU TIANNA FOR CHECKING THEM YOU MADE MY DAY), Czech isn't a melodic language, but it's an interesting one. And I'd prefer interesting over melodic.

This is the most beautiful place I've ever been to ever in my life. The green here is glorious, the sky is expansive, and the sunsets linger, like they want to stay longer.

What do I say about the people here? Our missions team is from three different churches, and getting to know everyone else has been amazing, because there's a level of likemindedness that forges bonds between us even if we don't know anything about each other.

I'm so glad I'm here.

More to come.
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