Tomas Update: Prešov

It’s been a bit since I’ve given an update on Tomas, I realized. Let’s see if we can correct that right now, shall we?

Last week, he was transferred from Pilsen and back to Slovakia to a town called Prešov. (It’s pronounced PRESH-oh, more or less.) It’s a city with around 85,000 people, about 2 hours from the border with Ukraine. (And before you ask, the fighting in Ukraine remains all in the eastern part of the country, so this is kind of like if Tomas were in Missouri, and there was fierce fighting going on in South Carolina. He’s fine.

All told, he was in the Czech Republic about four months. He enjoyed his time there, but I know he’s also happy to be back in Slovakia and just worrying about a single language again. His Ukrainian and Czech are both pretty good, however. Still crazy to me that he went and learned three languages on his mission.

We talk to him every Sunday for about an hour and a half on FB Messenger. It’s not the most ideal way to communicate, since often there’s a noticeable lag, but we make do. Usually we have about a half hour with everyone talking together, just to give an update on all the bigger things that happened in the week. Then we split up and talk individually for about 15 minutes each. It’s not exactly enough to get a really good idea of everything that’s been going on.

On the other hand, if we didn’t have that weekly check in, I’m not sure how much we’d really know. Missionaries tend to write more at the beginning of their mission than they do at the end. At least, that’s how it was when I was on my mission. You just get to the point where everything you’re doing feels like the same old same old, despite it being very different from anything your friends and family are doing at home. So it’s still super interesting to them, but to you, it just feels like you’ve already written it all before.

But he’s still doing very well. Enjoying his time out there, meeting a lot of different people, and having memorable experiences. On Saturday he took a trip to a small town just west of Ukraine. There’s a senior missionary couple in his town who are in charge of humanitarian efforts of the church in that part of the country. As part of that job, they go check in with places that the church has been supporting. The couple doesn’t speak much Slovak, so Tomas was there to translate from English to Slovak and Slovak to English for about 2-3 hours. He said it was interesting, but also pretty draining.

I asked him if he’s still playing his violin. The answer was a definite yes, though I’m not sure how overjoyed he is at that. It sounds like he’s played in church pretty much every week for his entire mission. When he went to Prešov, he didn’t even mention he played the violin, hoping to get a bit of a break, but the members there already knew he did, and so they asked him to play right away. So he’s still playing. It’s not that he doesn’t enjoy playing, but if he’s anything like me, there comes a point that you feel like people just take you for granted. I call it being treated like a trained monkey. They know you’re good at something, so they just assume you’re ready at any point in time to do it at the drop of the hat, and they don’t even seem all that grateful. (This is all me talking here, not Tomas. He didn’t say any of this, so I’m 100% projecting.)

Anyway. I did ask him if he might send another letter, and there’s a chance he will, but I wouldn’t bank on it. He’s got another 6.5 months to go. Definitely getting down there.

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