On to Brno

As I work on this, I’m on the train to Brno. As you can see, the weather is lovely.I’ve always loved the trains here- in spite of the fact they now have WiFi. (Actually, I’m thankful for it, I guess.). Tonight we have the lecture on Jesus, Muhammad, or Buddha. It should be interesting.

Prague Lecture

We had our first Prague lecture on Tuesday evening. The turnout was not good. I think they probably need to review the venue. Nevertheless, I was not as disappointed as I might normally have been. Though the topic was chosen to attract visitors, it generated a great study and discussion with the members. The lady on the right of the photo did hang around and talk for a while after the Q&A.

Arriving in Prague

Honza met me at the airport and took me out for lunch. I was so anxious to eat the pork and dumplings that I forgot to take a picture of the plate. We pray, studied, planned, and solved the world’s problems for about 3 hours before he took me to my accommodations. Though I spent part of the evening working on arranging for my suitcase to be delivery, it was a quiet evening of settling in.

A Walk Through the Old Neighborhood

A Good Trip

I was a little stressed out about my flight schedule when the day began.  The good price from the airlines I chose included two layovers that were short enough to make a veteran traveler nervous. When I checked in for the flight to Atlanta, the agent assured me the first connection would work, if all went well.  Experience told me that I could relax- but only a little.  As I waited to board that flight, I became involved in a conversation with a couple of guys who were going to Prague next week.  I’d like to say the conversation was deep with powerful soteriological undertones, but it wasn’t.  It did, however, last long enough that I missed the boarding for my section of the plane.

That did not bother me at all.  The later I get on, the less time I spend there.  But, what happened next kicked the stress level up a couple of notches.  As I was making my way to board, an announcement was made informing passengers who had not yet entered the gate that there was a mechanical problem that had halted boarding.  Folks already on were stuck while the rest of us waited.  I knew that brought to an end any hopes of making even my first connection.

At the advice of the agent at the gate I made my way to the help desk which was located a couple of minutes away.  I told the agent there that I didn’t care when my bags made it to Prague, but I needed to get there- hopefully by finding a seat on a direct flight to Amsterdam that was scheduled to leave from a nearby gate within a couple of hours.  She told me that I had to be on the same plane my bag was on.  Given the fact my plane was already boarding, there was no realistic hope.  They would need to offload my bag, and there just wasn’t time.

With the stern and determined look on her face she kept pecking away at her computer until suddenly a boarding pass for the direct flight to Amsterdam spat out of the machine.  The bag would be transferred and I was back on schedule to arrive in Prague with a few hours to catch my breath before my first study.

As, at 36,000 feet I take the time to reflect, I’m reminded of several things.  First, while I wanted to arrive on time, it wasn’t that important.  If I’m a day late or don’t get there at all the world will keep spinning, God’s people in Europe will keep serving their master, and God will still be in control.

And, as I have done too often in the past and fear I will sometimes do in the future, I judged too quickly how things would work out based on my finite knowledge and limited view.  Just when I knew things were all messed up, something even better than I had planned or hoped for came along.

The lady who resolved the problem in such a wonderful way has a tough job dealing with tired, irate, frightened travelers hour after hour.  I’m guessing the fact that I managed to smile and be polite didn’t hurt the process any.  Does smiling and being polite ever hinder a good outcome?  I hope I will remember that next time as well.

I won’t pretend I understand what all the working parts are in this scenario, but please don’t think of me as “lucky.”  I’m thanking God for his care.  As I write this I don’t know what will happen between here and Prague, but for now, I’m reminded to cast my cares on him because he cares for me.  Hopefully my faith I will be strong enough to do that again tomorrow.

Assessing the Trip

Let me begin by thanking everyone for your interest and prayers.  I know I was very blessed on this trip.  I feel really good about the opportunities I had while at the same time feeling the gnawing sense of frustration about having to forgo some good teaching possibilities because of time.  I feel the loss of not going to Bulgaria keenly.

The new opportunities I chose did prove very rewarding.  The classes in East Bohemia led to us already having tentative plans for a spring encore.  The contact with the school looks like it will lead to a spring set of lectures as well.

The steady progress of things like the church in Brno as well as the lectures there as well as the continuing growth and maturation of the church in Prague have become the kind of constants that gives me a basis for being optimistic that subsequent trips will continue to be fruitful.

Of course the brethren face some challenges, and a higher than typical percentage of my time was devoted to helping address some of these. Sadly, they are learning that well-intentioned outsiders sometimes lose sight of the importance of church autonomy.   They have seen the damage done to their young people when those they should be able to look up to disappoint.  Even in these things their love of the Lord and determination to do things well shines through.

The power of the gospel, the efficacy of prayer, and the wisdom of the Lord continue and shine brightly.

Finishing Up in Prague

Thursday in Prague was was productive and refreshing.  I spent most of it with the Novak family in their home.  Pavla had overheard me tell someone at the lecture that I liked rabbit, so she cooked that delicacy for us.  Honzik was home from school, so I got to visit with him for a while as well.  In addition to studying/discussing a variety of spiritual topics, Honza and I begin developing an idea to wed some cutting edge technology with class material for kids.  (I’m extremely excited about this!) Before Honza drove me back into the city we took advantage of the perfect weather and nearby hiking trails to walk a couple of miles.  It was a delightful end to not only a good day, but also a rewarding trip.