I arrived in Sofia on Friday. Biss and I met for a couple of hours to discuss the work there and address what we would focus on during my visit. His life is in turmoil now because of a job change and needing to move, but he is doing a good job of keeping things in perspective. We also spent most if Saturday together.
On Sunday we traveled to Draga’s and conducted our assembly there. She was delighted. On the way, Biss and I bought her all of the groceries we could carry to her place. Before worship she explained that her blood pressure had been so erratic that she had fallen three times in the last few days. Since she doesn’t have a phone, she couldn’t call anyone. Needless to say, that left us troubled.
After worship, Biss, Aaron, and I went back into the city for lunch. After lunch we spent a couple fo hours looking for an affordable pre- paid cell phone to give Draga.
After meeting with just Biss on Monday, the rest of the available group met on Tuesday. Savella had been out fo town, but was back. Aaron had been unexpectedly switched to the night shift, but arranged to be with us. The group had a great visit and discussion. Afterwards, Savella and I decided to walk back to the center. This hour long trek gave us times to work on some of the questions she is facing. All in all, the spirit of the group seems better than it has been in a while. Their resilience is touching and humbling. It seems that Dinyu is still on track for an early release next month.
On Wednesday, I flew back to the Czech republic.
The pictures show Biss shopping, Draga, and variety of street scenes including: ugly face of poverty, a renewed visibility of practicing Jews, and a sign in front of a block of apartments requesting that people not relieve themselves in front of their door. Many things are changing, but many are not.
On Thursday I went back to Prague for the day. Some travel issues stressed my patience to the breaking point and reminded me of the days just after communism. However, they sorted out and it was a good day. I spent most of it with Mike. We discussed a number of Bible topics as well as the logistics of some efforts we are working on together across the country.
On Wednesday I took the train back to Brno. It was a fascinating day. Shortly after arriving I traveled to a small town a few miles from the city for a concert. Jan is the lead singer in a Blue Grass band that had been invited to perform as a part of the town’s Summer Music Festival. In addition to enjoying some great music under the blazing sun, I got to meet Jan’s new wife, Hana. She is a delightful young lady. We visited during the concert and all ate together afterwards.
After the meal, I met with a young man that I have known for several years. He’s an outstanding American Football player. We played together and I also coached him. He hoped to recover from ACL surgery in time for next season. Otherwise, he feels he may miss his last chance to make the national team. He said that he doesn’t really care about anything else, and, based on family medical history, doesn’t expect to live to be very old. It broke my heart. He is extremely well educated and talented. He has a great personality. He seemed surprised by some of the things I shared with him from the scriptures. We are supposed to meet again on Friday.
I spent last Monday and Tuesday in Budapest. Peter was out of the city, so I didn’t get to visit with him. However, I did get to spend a good bit of time with Emese. Her situation is still very difficult. We had some really good discussions of some of the issues she is dealing with. Her faith is holding strong in spite of the challenges. Sadly, there has been no resolution of the issues concerning Janos and Peter.
The heat finally relented. It was actually so cool that many were wearing jackets. The train ride to Brno was pleasant, but crowded. After worship I was able to have a good visit with Jan. It is difficult to imagine how awkward the service would have been for him had I not been there. Two families were traveling, so the group consisted of Jan, me, Kamila, and her new baby (pictures below). None the less, the worship was uplifting. Afterwards we had a good study. I’ll meet with jan again on Wednesday when I come back through Brno.
On Monday I’ll go to Budapest to spend time with Emsese and hopefully Peter.
On Saturday I was able to spend several hours with Mike and Tatana. In addition to some very edifying general discussions, were able to discuss our mutual efforts together throughout this region and talk about the details of the lectures in Kamenice. Time with them is always time well spent.
On Sunday I’ll travel to Brno.
Between meeting with a Czech cabinet member and working on a deal with one of the world’s largest companies Honza met with me for a long lunch filled with spiritual discussion. It reminded me that a lot of good things have happened on these years. I met with Veny after that. After a walk we went for a ride on a paddle boat to try to escape the oppressive heat. ( I don’t think I have stopped sweating since I have been here.) My discussion with him reminded me of how much work there is left to do. It feels even more urgent when you have such a long and close history. I took a few pictures from our paddle boat.
Tomorrow I’m scheduled to meet with the Morrow’s and the Novakovi.
I realized this morning that it was almost exactly twenty years ago when I first came to Prague. I was filled with nostalgia..
I took some pictures of the first hotel we stayed in and a now closed restaurant where the host wanted to look at our shoes before he let us in. As I stood on the street remembering those heady but challenging days, a young lady asked e directions in Czech I pointed her on her way and realized again how much had changed over the years.
In addition to the hotel and the restaurant I mentioned, I’m attaching a couple of pictures from an amazing mall that is on the same block as the hotel.
I arrived safely in Prague. Hopefully my luggage will only be a day behind. Either it needs t0 cool off or I need some clean clothes. Mirka’s children are ill so I may need to travel to Pardubice to meet with her. I’m getting very nostalgic at the very thought of visiting this city again.
I had a discussion with my waitress tonight that both fascinated and saddened me. I asked her about a man who was a former president and ideological leader against communism. She wasn’t familiar with him. Neither apparently was he coworker she went to ask. Forgetting history is a common ailment.
I’m hoping to visit with Honza tomorrow after getting a little needed sleep on the morning
One last but very important note- a special thanks to those of you who helped me put this trip together on such short notice.