Honza, Monika, and the kids are such wonderful people. I enjoyed a great evening with them which included a lot of visiting plus studies with the children (Ondra and Terezka) as well with Honza and Monika after they put the children down for the evening, and of course. great home-cooked meal. It’s so heartwarming to see these godly parents focused on teaching their children about Jesus. After the class with the kids, Ondra and I wrestled a bit and then he asked if I could sit beside him at supper. It was a special night.
When most people think of Prague, they picture the classic, fairytale- like tourist areas which make it one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Real life for normal folks here look a bit different. Here are a few pictures to provide a taste of that.
Getting back to Prague was a bit of an adventure. Hristo, Vanya, and Biss were scheduled to pick me up Monday morning to take me to the airport for my flight to Prague that connected through Vienna. About an hour before we were supposed to leave I got a notice that the flight had been cancelled and I was rebooked on a flight that was going to create headaches on both ends of the trip. I called Expedia, who once again proved to be of great help. After an hour on the phone, they found a flight that would work much better of I could leave immediately for the airport. It involved a 5-hour layover in Munich and a late arrival in Prague, but it worked. The time on the airport allowed me to get some much-needed work done. Upon arriving in Prague, I went to the counter of a taxi company to inquire about prices. The girl quoted a general price, which knew was high, but assured me the trip was metered. I was tired and had spoken to her in English. When the driver came to the counter, she quietly told him in Czech the price she had quoted me, so with a big smile he greeted me in English. When I responded very comfortably in Czech, he became furious and the girl was embarrassed, but I paid the normal Czech price for the ride to meet the owner of the Airbnb flat who had been waiting on me.
Spending a Sunday in Sofia is always a delight. I met Biss for the 30-minute walk from where I was staying to the meeting pace. It was a beautiful morning, and the walk gave me an opportunity for my traditional Sunday morning mosque picture. The walk gave us time to discuss something while doing something we both really enjoy. Upon arriving at the meeting place the joyous reunions began with folks I have come to hold dear. The meeting that had me fighting back a tear was with Dinyu. He has come from the mountains to live in Sofia again, and promised to become a part of the church. At 91, he seems as spry as ever.
The attendance was good, and that included several families with children. As usual, the two young Egyptian girls taught a class for them. The Arabic-language Bibles were a reminder of their efforts to reach the Muslim refugees in Sofia. Many things about the assembly were very moving, but nothing more so that realizing that the three men “waiting on the table” were from Nigeria, Egypt, and the Ukraine. They represented such different backgrounds and cultures, but united in and by their love for the Lord.
As the meeting concluded, we went with Hristo, Vanya, and a young American girl named Jeanna to a Turkish buffet for lunch. After occupying a table longer than the server would have preferred, we went our separate ways. Biss and I spent a couple of hours walking and talking. Along the way, we met a young family who had recently fallen away. That gave us a good chance to try to reconnect. In the early evening, we went to Savella’s flat for tea and cake. That gave us a better chance to catch up with her on the difficulties she is facing. As we left, I was reminded again of the little things we take for granted. She had had her front door replaced, but the price didn’t included removal of the old door. Consequently, it was standing in the hallway annoying her neighbors. She was understandably unable to carry it down the several flights of stairs to the street. We were able to take care of that on our way out.
Our Saturday tradition has become to spend the day together, often traveling somewhere outside the city. That gives us hours to talk and study while getting a little fresh air. Hristo suggested we go to a small city where the April Uprising to overthrow Turkish oppression began in 1876. It was high enough in the mountains to still be cold, but the sun was shining so it was beautiful. On the way, we stopped to see the lake the church in Sofia typically uses for baptisms. It was 8+ hours of visiting, studying, discussing the work of the church, praying, and laughing together.
Hristo, Biss, and I spent Saturday together touring some areas around Sofia. The main attraction was the site of the beginning of the 1876 uprising to throw of the yoke of Turkish oppression. I was a lovely, but cool day to go up into the mountains. Along the way, we stopped a couple of other places including a village where small church formerly existed as well as the lake where they typically take people to be baptized. The day gave up a great opportunity to discuss the circumstances with the church, efforts to evangelize, challenges we all face as well as laughing, visiting, and praying together.
Biss and I met in the center to catch a the subway for the neighborhood on the fringe of the city where Rafik and his family live. The 40-minute trip gave he and I a chance to visit for a bit. The meal with Rafik’s family was thoroughly enjoyable, and I believe profitable in many ways. We discussed their circumstances, future, and some details from some of the Bible classes he teaches each week. Despite their challenges, the family is doing well and maintaining wonderful dispositions. The kids are adapting well to the Bulgarian culture and thriving spiritually.