Day 81-85, June 22nd-26th Estonia. Oh my, what a full-on week of events, organised by a friend Kristel Altosaar. Tues was the prison visit then birthday house concert. Weds was the Valga Pentecostal Church. Thurs Village of Hope Rehab Centre in Laitse. Fri Rakvere Karmel Church. Sat Kunda Karmel Church. Sun morn St Marys Lutheran Church Otepää. Sun nite St Johns Lutheran Church Haapsalu. Highlights: There was a strong anointing for the prison visit so I know lives were impacted. The birthday house concert was a wonderful warm fuzzy nite. The Rehab Centre was a total joy (wonderful ministry set in a forest, many lives transformed from life on the street, see feedback on Facebook). And Sunday morn at the Lutheran in Otepää went surprisingly well, set in a large historic wooden building with wonderful acoustics. On the way back home from one of these concerts I noticed the lone sentinel windvane in the evening light (above). I stopped and took the pic, its vanes were motionless. Made me think it’s the wind of the Holy Spirit that empowers us.. And as the tour comes to a close I think I’ve been like a lone sentinel traveling around, empowered by the Holy Spirit.. which gives me the words to say, the boldness to stand up in front of often granite-faced Eastern Europeans, the refreshment to keep going when tired (Isaiah 40.31), protection on the road, and His leading in many different situations. I’m just so thankful He’s brought us this far by His grace.
Day 80 Tues June 21st Tartu Estonia. This was one of the better days on tour. Sang at Tartu Prison in the afternoon (about 30 guys plus two Chaplains) and as always in prison it’s bit of a challenge to know what to say, and how to approach it, as very few are Christians. But as the guys filed in I did not feel intimidated and in fact had a quiet confidence. When I opened my mouth the Lord gave me boldness. Over the hour I shared 6 songs plus my testimony relating to life’s struggles. I had their riveted attention for the most part. At the end many of the guys shook my hand vigorously. I knew that I had impacted many. In the evening I shared at an outdoor birthday party (see FB clip), which moved indoors when it rained. This too was a very warm group, they sang really well and gave such encouraging feedback afterwards. I stayed on in this lovely house (home of Ailar and Hele) and slept like a lamb.
Day 78 Sun June 19th, Ogre Latvia. Yes, there really is a place called Ogre (o-arg-ra) in Latvia, near Riga. Shared at the Baptist Church there before heading for Cesis (tsay-se) for an evening concert. This event was one of the more warm friendly responsive groups on tour. And such encouraging feedback afterwards, people genuinely moved, touched & blessed by the Holy Spirit. There seems to be a stronger anointing at this stage of the tour, maybe as I become more in tune with what I see the Holy Spirit doing in many lives. It is certainly is a privilege to be on the road like this, to stay in so many wonderful places, and meet such lovely people (a great shame I haven’t photographed more of them..)
Day 73-77 June 14th-18th Valdemarpils Latvia. Spent the week at Youth With A Mission, teaching & learning on the School of Worship. Probably the smallest and quietest group of students I’ve worked with, but many blessings in store. The school leader Kaspars Everins organised concerts in local centres on every night in Talsi, Kuldiga, Saldus, Liepaja and Riga the capital. Wow, what a smorgasbord. Some real highlights and special memories. Kaspars would start with worship in Latvian (the whole of Latvia seems to know his songs by heart) then I would do my songs with students as the band. The only low-light of the week was hitting a deer late at night after the Saldus concert. The deer escaped.. but left a lasting impression on my rental car, which will hopefully be covered by insurance. Oh, another highlight was working with one of the students Janis Kulme, a pro camerman and videographer. We shot footage to ‘In Your Presence’ at beach, lake, waterfall, hilltop, church and an archway of trees. I still struggle to watch myself on screen, but Lord willing the result will be an excellent clip. An unexpected blessing from above.
Day 71-72 Sun/Mon June 12th-13th Vlinius Lithuania. My guitar threw a hissy fit in Lith so had to seek out a guitar repairman Mon in Vilnius (vil-nus). My Ovation has been a faithful friend for 38yrs and has served me with an impeccable attitude all this time, so I can’t complain really. The repair to the electronics was made and we sailed off into the sunset.. well not quite, but you know the drift. Sunday morning was a small Anglican congregation meeting in an Orthodox Church in the old city. I enjoyed the ringing acoustics of this church and felt the anointing as I sang. In the afternoon I shared in an evangelistic outreach in Širvintos just north of Vilnius, with the Kaunas Choir and US evangelist Kent York. ps. Days 69-70 were days off in Kaunas (cow-nes). I hear YWAM Latvia calling as I look into the coming week..
Day 68 Thurs June 9th Kaunas Lithuania. Prison visits are always difficult. You never know how much of what you share gets through, you just have to treat it as a seed-sowing ministry. There were about 25 guys and maybe 8 staff (male & female) who sat there with the usual Eastern European granite faces. However, the Lord gave me considerable boldness as I shared, was not nervous or intimidated at all, and by looking at the eyes I know that some were touched and softened by the message of the Cross. In the evening shared in concert at the Baptist Church where I am staying in the upstairs lounge.
Day 67 Weds June 8th, Warsaw Poland. Drove on a grey day from Krakow and stayed in the old-style Arkadia Hotel on the outskirts of town. Spent the afternoon and evening in the old city (pics to come) on a lovely summers evening. Will make an early start in the morning for (yet another) long drive to Kaunas Lithuania, and a 2pm prison concert.
Day 65-66 June 6/7 Krakow Poland. Begin the long trek north now, from Rájec-Jestřebí in the Czech Republic to Lithuania, via Krakow and Warsaw. Stayed in the Smok Campground Krakow which is probably the closest I will get to a kiwi campground on this tour. Spent most of Monday driving and on Tuesday I make a conscious decision not to visit the concentration camp/s but opt to see the world famous salt mines over 100 metres below ground instead. Quite spectacular (see pic) including the largest underground chapel in the world, over 250kms of mines & tunnels, over 700yrs of history (as salt was used in food preservation before refrigeration) and a sense of another place, another time. That being said, I was relieved to see daylight and breathe fresh air after 3hrs below ground.
Day 61-64 June 2nd-5th Rájec-Jestřebí, Czech Republic. A late cancellation of my two engagements in Poland forced a rethink. Google maps provided the answer, the town of Blansko north of Bratislava. Went looking for a cheap hotel and wound up at Hotel Probe (read Stalag 10), so kept looking. Discovered a delightful boutique hotel in the village of Rájec-Jestřebí (rayek-yestribi). Originally thought this would be a songwriting time but the creative juices did not flow, so found myself walking and praying in the nearby parks & forests. What a delight. Began praying not so much about the remainder of the tour (which is incredibly busy) but into the future of the ministry, inspired by the Aussie missionaries I met in Bulgaria who have a lifelong commitment to their call. So, the Lord is preparing my heart to stay in itinerant ministry long-term. A challenging thought, when the flesh continually seeks pleasure and comfort, and the old familiar nagging self-doubt says I’m too old. But Psalm 92.14 says: The righteous will still bear fruit in old age.
Day 58-60 May 30/31 June 1, Bratislava Slovakia. Drove over 1000kms from Bucharest to Bratislava over Mon/Tues with an overnight in Timisoara Romania at a boutique hotel on the outskirts of town. Looked around the old city of Bratislava Weds afternoon before a house concert in the evening. Have had a cancellation for two events in Poland, so will re-think my itinerary and head north to the smallish town of Blansko in the Czech Republic tomorrow to seek the Lord. June is a crazy busy month for me ministry-wise, travelling thru Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and back to Munich via Chemnitz and Herrnhut in Germany, so I welcome the extra time off.