I have been home for a week now. I intended to post sooner, but kept waiting so I could provide a little more information about a couple of situations. First, let me thank you for your interest in the brethren in the places I do this work. I am overwhelmed by the numbers of visitors to the site. The situation in Sofia hasn’t changed a lot. Biss still hasn’t accepted a new position, but has two good offers. Savella’s father is still in very serious condition. What appears to be gross neglect on the part of Aaron’s lawyer makes me fear he will lose in his efforts to stay in the country.
Several brethren in Budapest did assemble last Sunday. Nothing was resolved concerning their future. They do plan to meet again in December. please keep praying for these situations.
A catering problem on a flight which lasts just over an hour caused me to miss my second flight. Consequently I’ll spend the night in Toronto and get to Dallas Wednesday morning. I’ll post after I get home with some updates from Sofia.
Our lecture Monday night was not very well attended. I’m not sure what caused this. I suspect it was a combination of things. I was rather encouraged by two of the visitors. Also the fact that it was recorded (video) means they will be able to give copies away at upcoming studies.
After it was over, I finally got to meet with Honza Novak for a good discussion about rearing godly children.
The morning in Bratislava was very pleasant. The lesson was well received. The fact they invited me to speak was encouraging. Immediately afterwards I got on the train to Brno. I was met at the station by a Catholic lay teacher with I studied for a little over an hour. It would be a challenge, but he seemed eager to study more on my next trip. After we finished I had almost two hours before worship. The worship was touching as is almost always the case. As soon as the service ended I hurried to the train station to catch a train to Prague. Leaving Brno is always so hard. However, it was after 10 before I got to my room, so I was thankful to settle in after a long but seemingly fruitful day.
A long but good day is winding down. The Brno study was very well attended. The number of young people was especially encouraging. I taught for 90 minutes before and after lunch. The interaction was great. After the study, I traveled to Bratislava with Lucy. We had a good study during the trip. I’ll have the opportunity to preach for the group she has been visiting tomorrow.
My meeting with Peter and Emese was very warm and honest. I don’t know what the future holds here. They have some choices to make. May God bless them in those decisions.
I can’t seem to shake the cold/sinus infection that developed right after my trip. At least it doesn’t seem to be getting worse. I’m thankful for that. Many here are so frightened of H1N1 that I hate to mention feeling a little “under the weather.”
The trip to Budapest went smoothly. My airport transport got me to the worship flat about 45 minutes before the class was scheduled to start. Emese was already there waiting on Zsuzsa. She had called to say she was coming early and bringing a friend for the study. Peter arrived a few minutes early so we started ahead of schedule. Everyone participated in a good discussion of the first 24 verses of Luke 14.
As the class progressed I was struck with a series of conflicting emotions I am still trying to sort out. After class Zsuzsa asked if I could send her some lessons and promised to come again when I came back. Her friend asked me to please let her know when I would return. Everything seemed great. It was like old times and even a little better. As we began leaving the sad reality came back into focus. There is no Bible study scheduled there again. No worship is scheduled for Sunday. Janos and Emese are still sorting through their very limited options. The unpleasantness of the last year has left them worn out. The situation is grim. I’ll meet with Peter tomorrow to discuss his views and then with Emese and him together. Please continue to pray for the brethren here. I have included a couple of pictures of the group.
I have a couple of creature comfort issues I might be inclined to complain about, but a walk through an underground area connected with a mall, train station, and metro near my lodgings makes me ashamed to. I’ll share a couple of dark grainy pictures with you. It is cold enough here that the homeless have headed for shelter. The first picture is of a guy with his pallet on the floor settling in for the evening. The second is of and old man taking shelter in a booth for taking passport pictures. The third is of police trying to figure out what to do with a new, younger group.
Sofia is getting an early snow. I’m posting a few street scenes as well as the view from my window. I’m about to leave to visit an old friend who is a dentist. We discuss spiritual matters in a broken combination of Bulgarian and English while he has stuff sticking in my mouth. There is never a video camera around when you need it. As soon as I’m finished there, I’ll meet Biss.
This afternoon we have finalized plans for a study tonorrow night in Budapest with Emese, Peter, and Zsuzsa. I’m excited about their willingness to meet. Also, I will be preaching on Sunday morning for the group Lucy has been visiting some in Bratislava. Please pray for these two opportunities to be productive.
I met Biss after work on Monday for a good talk. We very candidly discussed the future here, especially in light of the situations the others are in. He is discouraged, but resolute. He will continue on and we talked about what we can do in the future to spread the word in Sofia.
This Sunday began with a brisk walk of about 25 minutes to meet Biss. It was cold, but beautiful. After a few minutes wait, we caught the public transportation that would take to the area f the city where Draga lives. On the way to here flat, stopped and bought her groceries. We were able to purchase all we could carry the rest of the way. Thankfully Biss is better than a pack mule. It was a joy to study with her, but sad because it was again evident she is failing. Her words of thanks for the study left us awkwardly staring at floor. She repeatedly told me to tell the brethren in America “thank you.”
After that we headed back into the city center. The group here is currently without a regular place to meet, so we met in the flat I am staying in in the center. Savella came while Biss went to meet Aaron. Savella didn’t get to stay through the worship. Midway through, she got a call that a doctor had come to her home to check on her ailing father. We are still waiting to hear from them.
After worship the rest of us went out to eat. That gave Aaron an opportunity to catch me up on his residency status. In short he will have a hearing this week to determine if his refugee status will be revoked. If it is, Biss will essentially be alone here and Aaron will be a man without a country. May God grant me the patience to respond better to what those whose lives are incomparably better imagine to be crises.
I will not be able to see Dinyu in prison this trip. Sadly, at best he should be released in about 8 months.
The pictures are of Biss grocery shopping, Draga, and the group before worship.