I can still remember holding that tiny little baby (5.0 lbs, 16.75 in) and thinking to myself, only eighteen years with her! Well, time has flown by and Elisabeth turned eighteen in June. Since Slovakia has a thirteen year school system she still has one more year to go, but she’s looking to the future: college in the States, developing her voice talents and driving (have to be 18 in Slovakia).
Making the Hard Choice
At the end of eighth grade Elisabeth went through the application process for bilingual high schools. Bilingual high schools in Slovakia offer one year of intense instruction in a second language and they start in the ninth grade instead of the tenth grade. After ninth grade some of their classes are taught in the second language. Elisabeth had been accepted into the Lutheran High School’s bilingual German class but she had decided to finish ninth grade at Narnia instead.
Then things changed. Instead of starting ninth grade at Narnia, we spent the first semester of her ninth grade in the States where Elisabeth started Deerfield High School. In January of 2017 we moved back to Slovakia. After starting Deerfield High School in the States, going back to junior high didn’t seem like the right path and the Lutheran bilingual school had openings in both their English and German bilingual classes.
Elisabeth decided not to return to Narnia but she still had a choice. She could take the easy way out and choose the English bilingual program, or go the much harder route and select the German bilingual program. To make it even harder, she had already missed the first semester of intense German instruction.
If you know Elisabeth, then you know she’s not naturally inclined to take the harder route when she can sip tea and nibble scones instead. That’s why I’m really proud of her for deciding on her own to go for the German bilingual class. The remainder of her first year was a bit of a struggle and she had lots of catch up to do but she worked hard over the first summer break and her grit has improved every year.
Elisabeth has just started her senior year of high school. This is the year of “school leaving exams.” She will be focusing on four subjects and taking comprehensive exams in each of those subjects at the end of the year. Everyone in her class has to take leaving exams in German and Slovak. For the remaining two subjects Elisabeth has chosen English and Math.
This is a big year and these exams can be quite difficult.
Elisabeth has always had plenty of activities outside of school. Her first “job” was in radio for an English language program when she was in fourth grade. (I’ll never forget sitting in the booth with her and watching her stage fright as she nodded her head to answer a question on the radio!)
She was also an active participant in the Fusion music ministry where she first discovered her love for singing. She eventually became a student leader in that ministry and then a student music counselor for their summer outreach camps.
This year it looks like Elisabeth will be on the student leadership team for our youth group.
Violin and Voice
Elisabeth has always loved music—everything from pop to classical including opera, blues and jazz. Jana started teaching her piano at about 5 and then she started violin in third grade. She’s still playing violin.
Her real love, it turns out, is voice. She started taking voice lessons in sixth grade. I always thought that a person either knew how to sing or didn’t and so I’ve been amazed to watch Elisabeth’s singing improve every year. Still, when she first mentioned that she’d like to study voice performance at university, I was skeptical. To me, studying voice means racking up a lot of school debt and then not being able to get a job to pay it off. Someone else said, “Oh, so she’s going to work at Amazon!” 🙁
As we’ve watched Elisabeth grow and seen the decisions she’s made, we have increasing confidence that she’s following the Lord’s path with this decision. Elisabeth is going to apply to music performance programs at five schools: Gordon College near Boston, Wheaton and Northwestern near Chicago, and Biola and Westmont near Los Angeles. She (and we) would appreciate your prayers as she goes through this decision process and as the Lord leads her in the next few crucial years. And of course, as we say goodbye!