Painted Churches of Texas: Praha, Moravia and St. John

No scampering for us as we continued our journey down country roads in search of the next Painted Churches in Texas built by Czech immigrants.

Having started our tour at Queen of the Holy Rosary and St. John the Baptist we meandered down more rural roads in search of our next stop.  We didn’t have to go far since all of the parishes are within a few miles of each other.

St. Mary’s Church in Praha (English for Prague)

The next two churches were only open to guided tours.  Since we were doing self-guided we were not able to go inside.  They were still gorgeous in their simple and quiet surroundings.

Ascension of Our Lord in Moravia

 Looking through glass doors Hubby managed to get a picture of the altar.

St. John in St. John, Texas

Many of the parishes had these wonderful outdoor spaces for gatherings.  What a great concept!

Next up – we attend Mass in High Hill at another church named St. Mary’s and also known as the Queen of the Painted Churches.  You won’t want to miss the beauty!

 

 

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Painted Churches of Texas – Hostyn and Ammansville

Mention Texas and the first things that might come to mind are cowboys, horses, oil wells, Tex-Mex and barbecue. Or maybe it’s our love of all things football and our flare for doing things BIG.  While all of that is true it only describes a portion of who we are here in the Lone Star State.

The reality is Texas is very diverse culturally.  And, one of those cultures I recently experienced is the Czech heritage.  I was born in Dallas and have been back in Texas since 1979 and yet, I had no idea what a strong influence Czechoslovakian immigrants had on Central Texas.

First arriving in Texas in the mid-1800’s they built some of the most beautiful European influenced churches I have ever seen.  Who knew Texas contained such amazing dwellings for worship? Still in active use,today they are known as the Painted Churches of Texas.  My mom, having seen a piece on television about them, encouraged us to take a weekend trip and begin exploring.  A total of eight were in the area of Shulenburg which is off of I10 – smack in the middle between San Antonio and Houston.

We were overwhelmed by their beauty and the heritage which has been preserved so lovingly.  For this piece I bring you the first two churches we saw located in the towns of Hostyn and Ammansville

Our first stop was not actually one of the painted churches.  However, we were in the mood to explore and so we followed the signs to see what was what.

We were not disappointed.

The Queen of the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Hostyn had something going on and we did not step inside.  That was okay, though, because the outside was enough to make us say, “wow”.

The Lourdes Grotto was the largest.

Smaller grottos dotted the church property.

The cemeteries at each church were similar and different from a typical American style.

From there we went to St. John The Baptist in Ammansville.

As we pulled up we saw a sweet little country church.

The quaint white building gave no hint as to the beauty inside.

The detail was amazing and intricate.

The back of the church – containing the choir loft – was also pretty.

Wandering around this sweet and holy property we were in awe of the magnificence we were experiencing.  Knowing we were at the beginning of the tour we couldn’t wait to see what other beauties were out there.

Tomorrow – St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption in Praha, The Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church in Moravia and St. John’s Catholic Church in St. John, Texas

 

 

 

 

 

Stormy Day in Jiading

The rain came fast and, because I hadn’t been watching weather reports, unexpectedly.  Thunder followed and a stormy day set in.  It was a good time to relax the schedule as the heat and humidity, while sightseeing the day before, had tired all of us.

When the rain tapered off we ventured out for lunch and ended up exploring the streets and shops in the surrounding area.  Our group split up which left my son, Patrick, and I hanging out together.  JIading shoppingWe were wandering around, ambling in and out of the little shops when I spied a sign with a teapot.  Loving all things tea, and especially drinking tea in Asia, we went into the shop to see what was what. The shopkeeper seemed excited to see us and began talking to us.  Unfortunately, we had no idea what he was saying.  We wanted to ask him questions but were not able to communicate effectively with him.

Note….Patrick has had two years of high school Mandarin and both my fluent-speaking Mandarin son, Joshua, and me, his mom, (speaking absolutely no Mandarin) are highly impressed with how well he has been able to communicate.  However, this chatting was above his capabilities.

Finding no success in asking him if his teapots were for sale or display we left the shop to find Joshua and, upon our return, discovered this gentleman was completely delightful and wanted nothing more than to share his tea while working on his painting and flute-playing.

One of the things I love about staying in the less touristy areas is stumbling upon these amazing experiences that you can’t buy with money.  It had been a lazy, rainy day calling for a ponytail and no make-up.  No matter that I was ultra-casual though, our host could have cared less.  Discovering this hidden gem and being treated to an absolutely wonderful encounter completely made my day.

Jiading Tea

Countdown to Coming Home

My second child, Joshua, has been living in Asia since early 2007.  Between his two younger brothers keeping us super busy, the distance, time difference and travel expense we haven’t seen him quite as much as we would like.

Don’t get me wrong – we have seen him.  Just not as often as my mama heart wants. He has been home to Texas a couple of times and we were fortunate enough to travel to Beijing in 2008 to see him.

We also had an amazing trip to Japan in October 2013 to witness his marriage to a beautiful young Japanese woman, Emma, and spend time with her family in their home.

But – it’s been a while.  The last time he was stateside was 4.5 years ago and the last time I was able to hug him was during our trip to Japan.

Family pic 2011

Our family has grown and changed a lot since 2011

Kids 2010

My kids have changed a lot too in the last several years

The time is coming though.

Having booked their tickets during the summer I have been waiting impatiently for their arrival day.  Trying to be cool I’ve done my best to avoid a daily countdown.

But now it’s December 1.

It’s officially the Christmas season.

And they’ll be home in just a matter of days.

Soon, all my little birdies will be in the same town at the same time.

It’s been over 2 years since we saw him in person.

My heart is so excited.

My heart is soooooo excited.

My heart can hardly get through the days it’s so excited.

They are coming home.  Let the official daily countdown begin.