Monthly Archives: April 2018

Leaving Prague

The days in Prague on the first leg of the trip past very quickly.  My flat was well located with a great view, but the bed was a little less accessible than I had hoped.  I was proud of the way I was managing that until I saw part of the frame separating.  I guess it was good I was moving on.  It is a city filled with such beauty but also such tragedy.  It isn’t too often that a street beggar brings a tear to my eye, but the one I photographed subtly before offering some help did.  If you have a weak stomach, don’t look to closely.

The pictured opera house was the scene of the earliest performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in December of 1786.  Of course, by this time the Tyn Church was almost 400 years old, and this market was 500 years old.  Other pictures are just a reminder that one should always look up when walking through the streets of Prague.

The Kind of Day that Keeps Me Coming Back

I always approach lectures in Brno with a pleasant expectation.  They seem to have found a pattern that works precisely.  Much of it is predicted on re being a regular core group of visitors with whom we have built a relationship.  This time was a little different, mainly beyond the topic.  It was to be the first time in awhile a church had been bold enough to request a topic openly critical of Islam.  We wondered if pay would come, and if they did, who would it be?  The tension was obvious as time to begin approached.  It was complicated by the fact that our normal, personal advertising wasn’t done early enough.  Also, some visitors we expected had experienced a last-minute scheduling issue that precluded them from coming.

When we began we had only 5 visitors.  I shared the disappointment, but still thought about how many groups would be grateful to have that many visitor any night of a gospel meeting.  As we began, a few more began to trickle in, and by the end we had 11 visitors.  Given the other factors, it was a very good turnout.  That was only the beginning of the positive things.  The teenage son of one of the members who hasn’t shown much interest in some time came and was very excited about the material.  An older lady who has been visiting the lectures for a couple of years said she would like to visit the assembly on Sunday, and another lady we had never seen before asked if she could email some follow up questions.  Before we parted company that night, we were already excitedly planning our next effort.

After the lecture, I had the opportunity to spend another hour in discus with one of the dear brothers.  I was stunned to see how quickly had passed.  Follow that, I met with another old friend of many years.  He is a fine man and a dear friend.  At different points in his life I’ve felt that he was close to giving faith a chance.  A new circumstance in his life opened the door for the best conversation we have ever had.  It was a good day.

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I love Brno. It is a fascinating city of about a half a million.  It is a booming center of industry and technology.  While Prague is glamorous and exciting, Brno is more of a blue-collar town that suffers from a bit of “second city” syndrome.  The people tend to be animated in expression and “colorful” in their speech.  They are outspoken, but potentially some of the warmest and friendliest people you will ever meet.  I say “potentially” because if you act like a fool they will treat you accordingly, but if you give them a chance they are great.

A couple of experiences yesterday reminded me of this.  On the way to my hotel I stopped at Subway to grab a sandwich.  At one point during a longer than normal ordering process, the young lady asked me a question that I so completely failed to understand I reluctantly asked her to repeat it in English.  With a big smile she did, but then switched quickly back into Czech.  As I was paying she asked if she could give me a free cookie.

Bolstered by her kindness and a cookie, I continued on to what I feared would be a much more challenging task.  During the trip, I realized I had left my passport in the flat in Prague.  The only reason that concerned me was the law stating foreigners had to present a passport to check into a hotel.  At the desk, I stood behind an older couple from the US as they checked in.  When asked for his ID, the man tried to use his driver’s license.  This was refused with a firm, “It is impossible for an American to check in without showing his passport” from the young man at the desk.  Though I had stayed in this hotel several times in the past, my hopes faded quickly.

I waited until the couple was out of earshot before approaching the desk.  When I did, the young man began the conversation by asking me why I was wearing a jacket on such a warm day.  After I answered him he said, “Welcome back.  Has your personal information changed since your last visit?”  When I told him it had not, he said he had already filled out the necessary paperwork on my behalf and then handed me my key.  Yep, I love Brno.

I’ll describe the lecture in the next post, but in the meantime, here are a few sites from this wonderful city.  Students were out in force dressed in various costumes to raise money for their post final exam parties.  As usual, there were gifted street musicians near Ceska.  The two young girls comfortably sharing the seating area with the drunk shows another aspect of local culture.

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.