Thursday, September 24, 2009

Personality Disorder?

One of the first things I ever learned about myself was that I am an introvert. My dad was really into the Myers-Briggs type indicator tests when I was a kid/teenager and he often told my mom and I how introverted we were.

So last week when Petra and I visited some friends in Zagreb and they had us sit down to take the Myers-Briggs test, I knew what the I vs. E result would be. What I soon realized was that the fact that I am introverted has some influence on my ability to learn a language.

Here's why:

1. "I am a very private person and I don't like a lot of attention...I really like solitude" That's what the M/B evaluation says. And I agree. Usually in solitude, I don't do a lot of talking - especially in another language.

2. I value deep relationships with few people more than surface-level relationships with a lot of people. I don't do well in groups. Here's the problem. For example, I began a conversation with a good friend of mine like this a few weeks ago without asking how he was, or commenting on the beauty of the day:

"So I was thinking about how in Philippians we are told to immitate Christ. But when you live in a nation-state (like Croatia or America) and in some ways feel it's part of your duty to defend your family, culture and tradition you are suddenly thrown into an environment where you may have the choice to act agressively towards another person for "good" reason. Jesus never did that. So to what extent are we to "humble ourselves" in the way Christ did given our present situation?"

My friend, even though he had better things to do, indulged me and we had a good conversation. But had I tried in Croatian, we would have been there all night. Sure, it's much easier to talk about the weather, the nice new doors on the church or my friend's haircut. But honestly, I don't care nearly as much about those things (unless we'll be playing baseball in the nice weather soon) as I do my question that would make me think and perhaps build a closer relationship with a friend.

Is this an excuse? Well, sort of, yes. But knowing yourself goes a long way to improving yourself. For me, learning Croatian means learning how to be more extroverted. Just thought you should know.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ride With Those Who Ride

In Romans Paul tells us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep". Lately the Wilsons and Josiah have been riding a roller coaster through major improvements and discouraging setbacks. While it's impossible to join them, we do have the privilege of bringing them before the Lord. Please remember to pray and stay updated on Josiah's progress!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Most Important Verse in the Bible

In a more focused endeavor to learn Croatian I've set out to memorize several verses in Croatian during the week. So yesterday, wondering which verse I would memorize today and partly out of curiousity, partly out of laziness I did a quick google search: "The Most Important Verse in the Bible."

I soon realized I had opened a can of worms.

I was expecting John 3:16 to come up at least 5 times out of 10. But what I found was that most sites I clicked on often had long, very opinionated explanations or testimonies about a certain verse that people centered their lives around.

The author of one site explained that "if a person really believes Genesis 1:1, they would not find it difficult to believe anything else recorded in the Bible."

Someone else feels the key is in Matthew 7:21. "Not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven..." They go on to exhort everyone to actually do the will of the Lord rather than merely calling on his name. (Interestingly, neither of these verses, nor the authors of the webites - mention grace.)

Is it possible for there to be a most important verse and still have a well informed faith?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Labor Pains

"The thing I dread most about having another baby is not the labor - it's the paperwork!" My wife announced the other day. And for a woman who had contractions for 59 hours last summer that's saying something.

Take, for example, a few years ago when Petra had to figure out why some of her paper work had "Kuzmič while others had Kuzmić". The difference in the last letter is the difference between a Slovenian last name and a Croatian last name although both letters are in the Croatian alphabet. Still other American documents had a plain "c" that complicted the matter even more.

We spent a month gathering birth certificates, passports, high school and college transcripts and identification cards, while visiting police stations, health insurance offices and city halls in several different towns. Why all the fuss? Because Petra had to change her name to Bohall.

When we first moved to Croatia my mom had to drive to Albany NY from Worcester MA to get my birth certificate. Had I lost mine? No. They just needed an original that was "up-to-date".

And though this kind of bureaucracy causes headaches and short tempers on both sides of the window it's much worse for those people going through legitimate legal battles or need urgent medical attention.

Take my friend for example. His mother who passed away years ago was fired from her job illegally. The State has declared that her family has a right to the money she would have earned had she continued working. Unfortunately the town in which she worked has found a way to stall the legal process indefinitely. He's not sure if he'll ever see the money that has been declared legally his because of a glitch in the system that no one cares to look into.

Sure, I've waited in DMV lines in the States. I had to fill out college applications and scholarship forms. I even hurried up and waited in the military. But if someone would rather go through labor than go through this process, I'm thinking some changes are in order.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Baseball World Cup Comes to Croatia

Apparently telling your average Croatian citizen that the Baseball World Cup is coming to their country is like announcing that your Grandpa's croquet league is holding their championship in your backyard. They think it's nice, but then they continue their conversation.

Yesterday we had the chance to see Croatia and Great Britain play the last game of the opening round of the Baseball World Cup in Zagreb. I knew Stuart Scott wouldn't be called in to cover the game for ESPN or that the fans wouldn't be calling their local radio station talking about Ivan Racic's lack of production the previous day.
But I was plesantly surprised. Despite a low turnout for Batting Practice, the stands eventually filled to standing-room-only making the announced attendance of 600 seem low. Even among all the Croatian spoken during the game I ingested a steady diet of "line-drive" "strike-out" and even "DH" baseball lingo. The guy next to me was able to tell me about each hitter and also informed me as to where most of the baseball talent comes from in Croatia.

Despite the 4-1 loss, I was convinced that there's a lot of potential in Croatia. They played a polished defensive game, didn't give up a run until the 6th and played to win despite their very slim chances of advancing to the next round.

The best part was I was able to share the day with my wife and 8 players from our team in Orahovica. Here are some sights and sounds of the game:

For more information about the 2009 Baseball World Cup go here.

For more about Croatia's part in hosting the first round go here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No Smoking - A Thing of the Past

I walked into a Croatian restaraunt the other day. With hardly a sniff, I felt like I was transported all the way back to...4 months ago.

Bravo Croatia! You were the only Balkan country to ban indoor smoking. Who cares if it only lasted through the summer? With hardly a thought to how it would affect local bars and restaraunts you pioneered an effort to lower the number of smokers in your country. You made a statement to the nonsmokers (the majority of the country) by showing respect for their desire for clean air. You even distinguished yourself as a country who would comply with this EU standard even if you weren't completely on board with other European Union requirements.

I applaud your efforts Croatia.

Too bad the temperature dip, the subsequent move inside and the drop in sales forced your efforts to go up in smoke.

Can't say I'm surprised.