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Czech Courses Students: #LockdownStories with Leendert

April 17, 2021

I remember exactly the day when the beautiful Wolters family first came to Czech Courses and was shocked when Leendert told me during our interview it was exactly 8 years ago. Time flies! Read our latest blog release about how his job at Network Praha looks like and how much he enjoys cooking for Help Prague's Homeles.

"My name is Leendert Wolters, I am married to Nelleke, we have two children, Jesse (16) and Chaja (13). We are from the Netherlands, we came to the Czech Republic 8 years ago, tomorrow exactly...

We came with a Dutch organisation to support Czech Christians, in whatever they do. We work with the Czech Evangelical Alliance, which is a network of Christian organisations.

Before Corona, I would spend 3 days a week in an office with my colleagues, working on several projects, training or conferences. We were organising a week of prayer in the Czech republic. I would have lots of meetings, I was coaching. Once a week we would meet with a group of young men, we would read a Bible and pray together.

I used to take Tuesdays off, I called that my sabbath. I got a book of old pictures of Prague from my son, pictures like one hundred years old. I would go to these places and remake this picture to see how much the places have changed.

On Saturdays, I would cook for the homeless. With a group of volunteers, we would feed 100 to 150 homeless people at Hlavní nádraží. I love cooking and it was always nice to get compliments from them for serving good food. 

 On Sundays, we would be active in a church, which was one of the main purposes why we came here. We started a new church here that we call Network Praha. We are international and have colleagues from all over the world, but we want to stand in the Czech protestant tradition. I am an elder in the church, which means that I am part of the daily leadership. Sometimes I preach or lead the music at the worship, I was responsible for finding theplace where we could meet for the service. 

For us, the „church“ is more about the people than about the building. So we decided not to own a building. We meet in flats where we share a meal or in cafés. We found a place where we can meet and we rent it for 3 hours a week and that's enough for us.We meet in one centre in Ve Smečkách street, which is not one of the most beautiful streets in Prague, with all the clubs and brothels around, but in my opinion, the church should not be separated from the world, to withdraw in some nice building. On the contrary, it should be a part of the world and even such a street needs a church. 

Now, during corona, we can meet only online or outside, in very small groups, with respirators, no singing. We have established the habit of meeting online and it seems that people are more consistent when the meetings are online. It seems that we will partially stay online even after a corona. If we can do it by force, we can do it by choice.

When we came to the Czech Republic, we noticed the closeness of the people, we are still struggling with that. They can be very silent and not talking to strangers, for example on public transport; even if something strange happens.

When the lockdown came, I thought I would finally find the time to read the books. But I found myself spending a lot of time organising things. I was constantly online, having meetings.

The second and third wave of the pandemic has been a bit easier, for the church and our family.As a family, we are having a good time, there are not too many fights, even with two teenagers. We feel very blessed by that.

We have made a lot of walks together, and don't want to binge-watch series on Netflix, so we watch documentaries together. We have this rule of no use of computers in the bedrooms, only in the living room, that way we can monitor better when they are gaming.

Chaja, my daughter, started sewing, so we got her a sewing machine for her birthday. Because everybody is online, even my parents got used to using Zoom and WhatsApp. My daughter and my mum in the Netherlands are more in touch now and they talk about how to sew new things. This is nice. 

I hope that this pandemic brings some real-life questions. But it is hard to find the answers to those questions because churches are closed and it is not possible to meet anywhere.

There are now 25000 crosses on Staroměstské náměstí for the people who have died of the corona. I saw people putting flowers and writing names of their loved ones. Each one of those has left friends and family who are grieving. What I hope for when society opens up a little bit again, it will not push the questions for the meaning of life away. And I hope I will be available for those questions. And I am looking forward to lots of cakes and coffees."

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