Walking around in Brno on Monday made me think I should do a post on “abnormal life in Brno.” Thankfully, I survived the zombie apocalypse in the main square and even slipped away almost unnoticed as the other frightening creatures moved in to confront them. Actually, as the drama department from the Masaryk University did their presentation, it wasn’t one I liked, but that’s a different story for someone with a different purpose. I do love this city of almost 500,000 people with a student population of around 50,000. It hurts me that I don’t have more time here. At least having some relaxing time in a local mini-mall with some nice tea helped calm my nerves from the scary folks outside.
The Prague-Brno Sunday is always fulfilling but hectic. It begins with the ageless Karel teaching a class in Prague, and continues with almost every man there participating in some leading way. Actually, it begins even before that, as the kids have the job of setting up the chairs. That task completed, they go to their Bible class. Sadly, for me, I needed to preface the sermon by saying I would be rushing away as soon as we finish to catch my train to Brno.
The train schedule was running smoothly, so by the time the taxi got to the meeting place, I had a couple of minutes to visit with Jan and the kids before we began our service. We had two visitors who had driven almost an hour to be with us. They responded in a very positive way to what they saw and heard. After the assembly, Jan and I had some time for a study before he took me back to the station. As the train sped through the night on it’s a 2 ½ trek back to Prague, I was tired but joy- filled by the day. Even with popping into a place to grab a sandwich for my meal for the day, I was home by a little after 10.
The “Brno Study” hasn’t been held in Brno for quite some time, but many of us still call it that. People from across the country gathered to spend Saturday in study and being together. A few people were sick, but the turnout was quite good. We spent the day looking at the different resurrection accounts to try to determine why they are different, if it should concern us, and what that day might have looked like. It was great for me, and I think for the others as well. After the study, I had a chance to visit with the Lustyk’s and a few others for a while before we parted ways at the end of a great day.
“What is a normal day like over there?” I’m asked this often enough that I thought I would share a few pictures and descriptions. “Normal life” is walking to the supermarket, because even the street performer has to eat. They closed my supermarket for renovations, so the nearest is about ¼ mile away. It’s walking through a gentle rain, but stopping to listen to some musicians picking up a few extra bucks before they go to wherever they are playing that night. It means using the Czech version of a clothes line. For me, it means sneaking away for a few minutes to a gym that gave me a great deal, but where the cleaning lady doesn’t mind cleaning while you change. It’s cooking up a healthy Czech-American meal and studying as you eat. It’s having the last study for the day and the then hanging out with friends until time to sleep before you do it all again.
Settled in life is good. My schedule called for a train trip on Wednesday. I’m almost always thankful for that. While the trains and stations have evolved dramatically over the last 30 years, the joy of the travel has not. Westernization is catching up as the trains post signs with warnings like, “children, don’t run on the train.” Back I the day, they seemed to know this or learned quickly. The small, but historic spa town I visited is absolutely beautiful. The weather feels more like late spring than early fall.
The 5 studies amazing variety of topics and depths, over the last couple of day included being with the Vkcek family. Watching their kids grow is a joy I don’t know how to describe. In addition to our time looking at the scriptures, we had a great meal, serious discussion about the Czech work, and wonderful visit. The kids, 5 and 8, who call me uncle, are delightful. Ondrej took over the IPad for a bit and took my picture. I’m posting that as proof of presence and as a basis for having taken their pictures. The trip to their flat of a little more than an hour, (despite its quaintness, Prague is a city about 1.5 million people.) provided glimpses into the normal commute of typical people going from the center back into the modern suburbs. Life is so much easier now, but the non-ADA ramp is a reminder of the differences that we would notice.
I wonder how many times through the years I have been blessed to post that title for a blog entry. After the inauspicious beginning of a very, very thorough hand-search by TSA, my trip was pleasantly uneventful. My bag even arrived with my flight this time. Honza was waiting for mw at the airport, and we went to our traditional Italian pizza place to eat, catch up, pray and study together. After that, I hurried to do a little shopping before meeting two of my favorite people here for a spiritual discussion and planning session. Later that night I had an unexpected opportunity to talk to another person I have known for a while about some family issues. While this person is not a believer, it will hopefully open a new door. This was a reminder of the value of the time I have spent here cultivating relationships in what we would call “the community.”
After sleeping in on Tuesday, I spent the rest of the study preparing for other studies this week and settling in. That includes things going to cellular provider of my Czech phone to buy credits, doing a little shopping, and buying a cable to connect my camera to the computer. Yes, that has become a traditional part of settling in. For some reason, I keep forgetting to pack the cable. When I went to the shop where I always buy it, the conversation began as it usually does. I told the man what I needed, and he said he wasn’t sure if they had it in stock. I assured him they did- elaborating on how many times I had purchased the same cable there. He was amused and seemed to appreciate my sense of humor in Czech. Maybe after another time of two, he will want to discuss the Bible.
Though it was a dreary looking day, the temperature was quite nice, so it made walking through the old city very pleasant. That positive feeling was enhanced by the scaffolding finally being off of Muzeum. Walking past an outdoor market that has been there for almost 900 years on the way to an electronic store amazes me. Getting to the grocery late means the bread is little picked over, but still good. I was reminded of the fascinating diversity of the city as I encountered an old Chevy being used to advertise a store that stocks all the needs a practicing witch needs, and a demonstration being be held by a group opposed to the extinction of various things. I do love this city.
Sunday in the Czech Republic is always hectic for me. The day began with meeting with the church in Prague. The group continues to do very well. Seeing the young people study and help with the setup for the worship is so encouraging. The great group of college student bodes well for the future. A man who attended our lecture visited the service. He had been well impressed with the lecture, and seemed very comfortable during the assembly.
After rushing off far too quickly, I just managed to catch the train to Brno. The main station is closed for renovations, so that makes the trip a little more complicated. I got to their suburban meeting place with about 10 minutes to spare. The attendance was good, and Jan’s mother was visiting. Watching the kids grow up is a joy, and having one rush to me when she saw me shouting, “Hi, Uncle Bill!” touched me deeply. After the meeting ended, I had to rush away again. There’s never enough time.