Though just a quick trip, going to see Lucy in Bratislava was, as always, worth the effort. It had been some time since I had managed to do that, and it was great to catch up on her life over some salmon lasagna. She is doing well, and her faith is strong.
Sunday brings the added joy of being with brethren in Litomysl who are not able to attend the study session in the village. Some of these connections go back 25+ years. It’s a family reunion on an amazing level. Even with extra chairs brought out, there was almost no space free. We praised and celebrated together our Lord, and I was privileged to speak a couple of times during this. We had several visitors which was not only encouraging, but helped me to preview the lecture I was to do in Brno the following evening. The response was gratifying in that the visitors said they were challenge to think about a message of how those who self-identify as Christians might achieve unity.
After services, we traveled back to the village for a quick but great lunch followed by our final group study. I didn’t bother to try to count the hours spent in the word, but know it was wonderful. When all was done, we said our farewells, scheduled studies with the college kids in Prague for the following week, and went to the train station together. They for Prague, and I for Bratislava.
As busy as the first day always seems, it’s the second day that is more chaotic and challenging. The day began with a study for the younger children. After a very short break, Marek and I met with a Bulgarian couple who live in England via Skype for another study. He is a physicist who always brings interesting thoughts into our time together. After a break for lunch, I had a study with the college aged group. The topic they had requested was not only very relevant, but one they felt passionate about. I am amazed and humbled by their hunger and love for the Lord. Though it was really cold and rainy, as per tradition, we made an afternoon trip to an area tourist site of interest. This time it was to a collection of houses from about 300 years ago. Though the weather was miserable, I was really glad to get out and “stir around” a bit. After a break for super, we had our second study for the whole group. As I was ready to sleep, I worked back through the schedule for the day and realized that I had been in about 9 hours of study and discussion. It was one of those wonderful days that sticks with you for a long time.
The long weekend in Zderaz has come to be an absolute joy. The pastoral setting and impeccable hospitality pale in comparison to the excitement of being with spiritual family hungry for the fellowship and spiritual feeding. The ride with Marek from the train station to the farmhouse was a lively combination of catching up, planning, and spiritual sharing. I made a point to arrive early enough to continue the ongoing study with Kris and Katka before others arrived. Kris wasn’t feeling well, and Katka was constantly working to help with preparations, but even so we had a good time for discussion.
After a delightful evening meal, the entire group gathered for our introductory discussion of eschatological issues focused on death, the judgement, and what if anything is going on in between. The folks there had requested this topic in connection with some studies they were having with friends and family, so I was happy to assist as best I could. In all, we put together about 5 hours of study that day before spending a while together visiting and relaxing in a beautiful and warm setting.
Robert has been working on publishing a text on the gospels and Acts for quite some time, and the results are very impressive. It has been good to spend some hours with him working on this text face to face since I have been back. It looks like we may be able to reach major mile marker during this visit.
It’s hard to beat a comfortable setting, a great home cooked meal, and three hours of serious study with a dear friend and brother. Maybe the icing on the cake could be rejoicing with he and all the family on the birth of the first grandchild.
As I headed out of the city for a study a couple of days ago, I reflected on how despite all the “westernizing,” life here remains different and in some ways more challenging that we experience. This energetic mother had it all organized for efficient mobility.