Providence near Poland

Providence is a beautiful thing.  Who would have thought that a decision I made when I was fifteen would be a stepping stone to landing me in this country for an indefinite amount of time?  Yet, here I am, a Midwestern girl, who has left the lovely landscapes of sowing and harvesting corn for an industrial city an hour from the mountains.  I am blessed by the diversity of the people, nature, and places around me.

Sonia and I are standing right next to each other in this photo;
we're in the middle centre, above Dr. Perkins.
Not only did Providence land me here, but I've also been able to connect with people in the Czech Republic and Slovakia that I actually met stateside.  One key moment was back in December 2006.  I was at the Urbana conference, held that year in St. Louis.  I was waiting in line and I heard a voice near me, a voice that seemed to be speaking English with a Czech accent.  Minutes later, I had met Sonia for the first time.  We saw each other off and on over the years at school together, and we got to know each other a bit more through the education department as well as through Freedom Tour, a trip in which a group of students travelled to key sites of the Civil Rights Movement and explored issues of ethnicity and prejudice today.

On July 10, 2012, we both  sat on planes.  Hers travelled from the United States to the Czech Republic. Mine travelled from the Czech Republic to the United States.  Last weekend, I met Sonia again for the first time in over a year and half on the platform of a village an hour away from O-town.  What a divine appointment!  Two people, first acquainted in St. Louis, growing in acquaintance in Minneapolis, exploring issues of ethnic/cultural identity in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, and finally reunited in the Czech Republic.

It is altogether fitting that our weekend reunion in her hometown was filled with peace and beauty.  It was a quiet weekend in her hometown.  We spent Friday night in her kitchen over warm cups of tea.  Saturday, she equipped me with warm clothing (and even hiking boots), and we took a journey to Filipka, another mountain in the familiar Beskydy range.  For the first part of the hike, we were joined by the Czech and English George/Jiří, whose family is well-known to Sonia, and who splits his time between Brussels, England, India, and the Czech Republic--usually accompanied by his violin.


Boršč--ie beet soup.  This one also had veggies and cream,
and it was a delightful way to warm up in the middle of our hike.

Sonia said that these silver trees reminded her of the settings of fairytales.
We came across some of Sonia's acquaintances when we stopped  for soup, so we joined ranks for a while.
Here Sonia indicates to a place where she used to go for camps when she was growing up.
We wandered down there on our hike and she reminisced over the time spent there.

En route home, we went through a town which houses
the church she attends, and which I joined her at on Sunday morning. 

That weekend was the first following All Saints' Day, and the cemetery was bright with bouquets.

Well refreshed by the day's hike, we returned to Sonia's for a relaxing evening of chatting, food, and more hot tea.  It was a delightful time.  Sunday morning I had the privilege to go with her to the church where she had attended before coming to the USA and that she attends now.  We sat before the organ and looked out on this revelation-revering display before the alter.  We concluded our time together with a relaxed time in the kitchen, discussing English and the United States and our common faith.  The afternoon stretched on, and I took an early evening train home, thankful to think of how our next reunion might not be so far off in space or time.
Sunday morning, we worshipped in her church, and we sat before the organ in the balcony.


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