Friday was a unique day for this trip. It is the first day, including travel days that I haven’t had a meeting scheduled. (I did have a couple of phone calls.). This train trip from Brno to Prague was even better and more productive than before. After arriving in Prague, I had to go shopping for a dress shirt. The one I had planned to wear tomorrow was somehow left in the bathroom of the hotel in Bratislava. (Steam from the shower helps a bit with wrinkles.). I hope Nancy doesn’t find out about the shirt. The more relaxed day gave me needed time to finish preparations for the study tomorrow. My speaking g time will be the equivalent of several sermons. I’ll include a a couple of street pictures for a little flavor.
The train ride to Brno was wonderful. I’ll share a couple of pictures. The scenery was spectacular and I got a lot of work done. Almost immediately upon arrival, a couple of old friends took me out to see their new office building. It’s rewarding to see good people doing well. I had just time to grab my stuff- including some glad communion cups I brought for the church in Brno before Jan picked me up to take me to his home. His wonderful family is thriving. Hana cooked a wonderful meal including village-grown lamb. As great as that was, the study was even better. Jan is a wonderful student who always has demanding, thought provoking questions. We can speak freely and even disagree while maintaining the friendliest atmosphere. As I walked back to the hotel, I was struck by the amazing work done on a nativity scene populated by large, hand-carved characters.
I had a good afternoon and evening in Bratislava. The group study was cancelled, but it did give me one more opportunity to have a good visit and spiritual conversation with Lucy. When I arrived at the hotel, the man at the desk welcomed me back and asked if I wanted a room with a view. I said that it was only for the night, so I didn’t care. He said that I should care and would enjoy one with a view. He was right. An ice rink was also nearby. Watching Slovak kids skate is amazing.
On Tuesday I was able to visit with Biss one last time. Before going, I was able to pick up some fruits he wanted from a specialty shop in the center. We had a good visit, but it was cut short because he wasn’t feeling well. Tomorrow he will find out the status of his hip. Please pray for that. Wednesday was a travel day that began with a good conversation with Christo and his family as we traveled together to the airport. He talked about the situation in the church as well as reflecting on the sermon I had preached on Sunday. I will add a few more pictures from Sofia including Vitosha Mountain and the communist period monstrosity that is the National Palace of Culture.
Some of you may have seen the news headline that one terminal of the Sofia Airport was closed on Tuesday because of a bomb scare. While the authorities did say some of the luggage appeared to have been in contact with explosives, none were found in the suspect van. It appears to have been a case of a good level of caution, but no threat. Both my body and my backpack have been singled out for extra explosive searches twice so far. Should I stop carrying ammo in the backpack while I’m at home?
I spent the afternoon and evening with first Biss and then Savella. Biss didn’t want me to grocery shop for him, but he accompanied me and allowed me to carry his purchases back to his home. As we walked through the mall we sadly reminisced about Draga and her circumstances. We worked to formulate a plan to try to find her in the spring which hopefully won’t result in us being arrested. Savella and I met for a while in the evening and talked about a variety of spiritual issues. Except for a nearly unfortunate incident with a tram it was a good and productive visit.
Sunday was clear and cold. I took advantage of this opportunity to walk to the place of worship and take a few pictures along the way. The assembly was well attended and included several visitors. Two of these were men who date back to the time Joe was here. Another was our dear old friend and brother, Dinyu. Though only a few months from turning 90, he is energetic with a sparkle in his eyes.
Since I was privileged to preach, I addressed our recognition of our relationships within spiritual community. It was well removed and generated discussion afterwards. Following the assembly, a group of about 10 of us went to a nearby restaurant for lunch. It was a fine meal (provided by Joe), and a wonderful visit.
Later in the evening Joe and I were able to visit and discuss the work before going to see Biss again. It was also our opportunity to tell Joe goodbye and thank him for the very profitable work he did over a three week period.