Who would show up for the lecture? That was the question that we almost feared to raise Sunday night as we talked about our preparations for the next day. It had been 30 months since our last lecture. The venue we had been successfully using had closed because of Covid. We didn’t know if people were quite ready to come back out either for fear of Covid or just dreading dealing with possible protocols. To say the new venue was an historic one would be an understatement. It was a room in the old city hall of Brno. The facility dates back to the 1200’s though the more recent iteration only to the mid 1600’s. Due to the legend of the dragon (crocodile,) it is also one of the best known places in the city. We had a couple of fallback consolations if the crowd was small. First, it would be recorded and thus archived online. Also, it was to be streamed live….
We had 22 visitors, 21 of whom we had never seen before. 13 people streamed the entire (70 minute) presentation. It was a good night.
Sunday in Brno was really nice. Unfortunately, some infrastructure issues make it impossible to worship in Prague in the morning and make it to Brno by train in time for their afternoon worship. Yet, this does make for a less chaotic day. The train is beautiful as you transition from the river delta into the highlands and the edge of the mountains near Brno. I wish they had washed the windows of the train. It was probably a Covid thing.
The group was small on Sunday, but included a newer Czech couple converted not too long ago who live in England. They not only join by Skype each Sunday, but he takes a turn in helping lead the assembly. After the worship, Jan, Jozef and I went out for a bite to discuss some logistical issues for the lecture on Monday. Following that, Jan and I had time to talk about a wide range of Biblical topics. His continued growth is inspirational.
Friday was the kind of day that lingers in your mind ass you relish the opportunities. It was the 12 hour non- stop sort of day that really doesn’t leave you feeling tired. Several hours of it included studies. Topics included things like the condor Canaan, the influence of false teachers, the role of western philosophy in Christianity, and more. It also included two meals with a great people, a four-hour road trip, and a cold hike around a lake. Honza and Paula drove me to “CB” where we visited with Mira and Ruzinka. Mira is still dealing with some health issues that have plagued him for about a year. Thankfully, he is improving. We also visited with Jindra and “little” Jindra before making the cold, snowy drive home. The small structure is a cottage that Mira has on the lake.
Saturday was a little disappointing, it a blessing in a different way. The two studies that were both canceled. I used the time to catch up on some work and also have a couple of impromptu discussions with unbelievers.
The work here settles into a predictable and positive routine. As time passes, the opportunities shift more to non-Christians. That is a obviously a positive and exciting change. It is something that makes leaving more difficult. This has followed that pattern. Of course there have been several studies with the Christians, but the balance has shifted to about 50/50. Of course along the way there has been some good food. I was reminded that the centrum can be a small place as I have run into some of our young folks in various places. If you happen to know and like these sweet wafers, this store will amaze you.
Saturday began a hectic weekend that had me slightly out of breath by Sunday, it with a great feeling inside. Saturday included, in addition to a good bit of preparation time, four classes/meetings that only ended around midnight. Sunday morning found me walking about 50 yards from my flat to the meeting place in Prague. The assembly was well attended, including two young ladies who were visiting. I have known both of them all of their lives, so seeing them join us was especially encouraging for me. After a long visit following the conclusion of the worship, I traveled to the nearby village where the Hodankovi live. Another member of the group in Prague as well as another visitor joined us for a delightful lunch(by then it was 3 PM.) it gave us a great opportunity for more visiting and spiritual discussion. Karel drove me back into the city where after preparing my evening meal I caught up on some work before joining some other friends for a visit. What a great day!
The middle of the week was a blur. The days continue to offer wonderful opportunities for studies that include classes with people in age from 7 to 55. Some discussions are as short as 30 minutes while others last more than 2 hours. The size of the classes ranges from 1 to 5. The venues include my flat, the home of others, tea shops, and walks through the forest. A meal is often a part of the meeting. I must say, that while loving all of this variety, this week was especially encouraging because the classes were heavily balanced towards some of the college students/young adults. We also managed to finish planning the European Lectureship for this summer. This is always a challenging task, so having it behind us felt like a true accomplishment. For a “taste” of life here, I’ll throw in a few pictures- including the favorite meal of some of our younger folks (I love the taste, but haven’t had it in several years. If it happens to look like raw ground beef with a raw egg and tons of garlic- it is.
The weekend was an example of what makes the work here so exciting and productive. On Saturday we had the Praha-Brno study that was very well attended considering the weather and other circumstances. After morning and afternoon sessions that ended at 2:30, the people stayed until around 4 to visit. We made the trip by car to Zderaz to stay with the Lustykovi’s. The timing was perfect because Marek and I had about 10 minutes to prepare for our study with the Bulgarians in London. Though it was still partially by Skype, Marek and I being together and the time zones corresponding much better helped a lot. Andrey continues his recovery from some recent serious health issues.
Early on Sunday morning, a friend of Marek’s opened an office at city hall to address a paperwork issue we were dealing with. Country folks are great in any country. We then made the trip to Litomysl was the assembly. It was great to see the folks there, the lessons seemed well received. After an amazing lunch back in the village, 13 people and two dogs gathered in the living room for one last study before we headed to the train station for the trip back to Prague.
Tuesday through Friday returned to a fairly routine with 3-4 hours of studies each day. Sadly, one visit was cancelled out of an abundance of care about a possible Covid exposure. Our Tuesday study included an extra young couple whom I had never met before. The young lady was someone who several years ago I had played some small part in helping her find brethren in south Bohemia. She and her husband made the trip to join us so we could finally meet in person. Though they will be traveling for the next few months, they are building a home here and will be a huge asset to the work in this country. One of the studies occurred in a venue that made me nostalgic. It was in an iconic coffee shop on the river. In keeping with tradition, a classic pianist played softly in the background during the discussion.
The weekend was shaping up great. The studies on Friday with the children followed by one with the parents was wonderful- at least for me. The visit and meal were memories to be treasured. While one study on Saturday unexpectedly canceled, the other went very well. To top that off, Nancy arrived not only safely, but on time. Supper was tasty, but apparently the chicken leg I ate had been out and cold for too long. Without going into too many details, Saturday night was no fun, and I was unable to get out of bed other than to go to the toilet on Sunday.
Thankfully, by Monday, I was feeling noticeably better. Not well enough to venture out to eat with some our dear friends we met more than 30 years ago, but there was a hidden upside there. Our landlord’s brother who I had mentioned in an earlier post came by for an unexpected visit. After that, another impromptu study opportunity occurred that didn’t require me leaving the flat. While I feel badly about Sunday, I am thankful things seem to be back on track so quickly.