“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
Throughout the year we have various outreach opportunities including evangelism training and other gospel sharing outreaches.
I suppose that if there is a time for every purpose under heaven that there is a time to start ministry trips and a time to finish ministry trips. As I write this final blog from my hotel room in Prague, we have reached the time to finish.
Tonight we finished the final stage of our mission trip: English Club. This was an informal time to meet with students, play games, and enjoy fellowship and conversation. It is a wonderful way to wrap up the trip, but also hard because we know the end is near.
Interacting with Christians from other countries brings with it some unique challenges for us as Americans. We are proud of our country and our way of life, and it is easy for us to think that others around the globe would benefit from duplicating it as well. The apostle Paul, who had every reason to be proud of his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen, saw neither of these as his primary identity. Instead, he says that “… our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” As I write this, my American passport sits beside the computer as a reminder of my earthy place of residence, but the Bible reminds me that it is not my home.
My day started off with the blare of my alarm at 6:15am. I groped for my phone to shut it off before waking the room of sleeping students around me. I dressed quickly in the chilly air, noticing the first light of morning was struggling to shake off the last remnants of night. Somewhere over the mountain in Poland, dawn had already begun, but in our little cabin in the woods, I was the only one awake.
Winter English Camp has been much different than what we experienced in summer in so many ways. The days are shorter, and the weather is cold. The students and camp team needed to navigate through snowy roads to reach our cabin. And the setting is smaller – a single cabin that sleeps twenty-nine people total. This combination of differences creates a much different vibe than the bustling camp of the future.
Reunions are always amazing. When you first see ones that you care about, your heart leaps, and joy overwhelms you. This has been my experience over the past several days – first with Josh and Anežka, then with Viet and Ondra, and yesterday, with many others that we met over the summer at English camp.
Today was a wonderful day of visiting with fellow believers in Prague. After a nice breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we donned our winter gear and headed to the new flat of Josh and Anežka Dietz to bring some Christmas cheer and deliver a care package from home. Carrying our load of three large grocery bags, we set out through the icy air toward the nearest metro station. The excitement of the crunching snow underfoot helped to fend off the traces of jetlag still clinging to us.
Proverbs 16:9 says that “the mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” International travel is one of these times this proverb becomes very clear. Our plan was to reach Prague in three hops. The first, from Phoenix to Salt Lake City, the second from Salt Lake City to Paris, and the third on to Prague. If all went as expected, we would reach our destination just before noon – in time for lunch, settling into the hotel, and some minor sightseeing in the city. In my earlier blog, we had safely made the first leg of the journey, and all was going according to our plan. But things didn’t go the way I saw it in my mind.
I have always thought that air travel is moments of excitement followed by hours of monotony. International travel, doubly so. I have developed my own routine from years of business trips. I find a place in to sit away from most of the bustling crowds and try to occupy myself through the hours of waiting. Usually this meant reading the Bible, praying, working on whatever presentations I was going to deliver, and trying not to think too much about the being far from the people I loved. I sat alone, safely enfolded in my bubble of solitude while the rest of the world hurried by.
Our check lists are getting shorter and at this time tomorrow we will be boarding an aircraft. Later today will be filled with a sendoff from church, a flurry of final packing, and (hopefully) getting to bed early. We leave tomorrow at 4:00am. Months of preparation have led to this moment, and all of us are feeling the excitement in our own ways. For now, though, the house is quiet. In the hall, the gentle ticking of the wall clock is the only reminder that the frantic energy of our last day is approaching.