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.
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.
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.
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.
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.