Day 9 Monday April 11th, Zalaszanto Hungary. I left the cold of Bratislava and drove south along narrow roads into Hungary, through towns and villages, somewhat run down and deserted but with a certain charm, in a post-communism sort of way. The weather warmed as I drove and lovely to see the flourish of Spring with blossom everywhere. Reached my destination mid afternoon and went for a walk thru the village of Zalaszanto, where I am staying with the Anglican Chaplain Denis Moss and his Hungarian wife Maria. Here’s a story: I boarded with Denis in Auckland 43yrs ago, b4 I came to faith, and we haven’t seen each other since then (neither of us changed a bit..lol).
Reflection of the Day: Why am I unlikely to see this statue in NZ but more likely in Europe? Because the full range of the arts (and the Christian arts in particular) have been established here over many centuries and infused into the culture. I think this is why I find European audiences and congregations have a deeper appreciation and innate understanding of my particular art form, without me having to explain too much, which is refreshing.
Day 8 Sunday April 10th, Bratislava. A day with many highlights. The Sunday morning English-speaking service at the Bratislava Faith Community went well. A very responsive and warm group, lots of good conversations afterwards. (‘Your story is my story’ is a common comment), and many invitations for future acom or ministry. Spent the afternoon looking around the old walled city with my hosts Frank, Steven & Abi (see pics). The creative arts play a very obvious and visible part of this culture’s rich history.
Another highlight. A conversation with Celine over lunch, who has been thru much grief (as I have). I share her remarkable poem:
When all the world is looming dark
I watch my reflection being mirrored
in the stained glass and
see that my heart is stained but darker.
I am lying here alone, tired, weary all
the while no one hears my
cries of deep heartache.
Alone in the world i am;
With each minute that disappears
into nothingness forever.
My heart aches for my little boy
that once lived within me
where two heartbeats became one.
And time away from him
stretches further and further
into the weary distance.
O Lord don’t you know?
how much it hurts
to walk this road of brokenness
and battle the winds in the storm
and the glaring sun
and the blizzards of desolate
that looms like a dark cloud
over my head.
O Lord don’t you know?
How much i wanted to be
my son’s mommy.
This journey of sadness is to heavy
to carry alone on my back.
O Lord please help me
walk with me as i trod
this lonely path burdened
with deep grief.
Help me O Lord to seek your kingdom
first. Help me to be joyful in spirit
All the while the deep grief gnaws at me.
Sadness unfulfilled multiplies
as i learn once more to trust in you.
O Lord don’t you know?
My little boy was my rainbow
I loved him more than myself
I would have fought all the world
to keep him safe
Don’t you know i would have taught
Sebby all about you Lord.
Why does it have to hurt so much?
The missing. The pain?
The loneliness that never ends
the ache of wanting to hold my child
near my chest.
O Lord i can’t do it no more.
Hear me please! Help me!
I cry out once more.
– Celine Berghmans firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 7 Saturday April 9th Bratislava. Today was a chill day, meaning a day off and also a very cold 10deg. Went to the mall and was amazed how like a kiwi mall it was, many of the same stores. Seems like malls are bland and generic. There was nothing distinctly Slovakian about it, except maybe this chap I photographed outside the mall. Most enjoy the mall experience, but for some reason I don’t. Maybe because I have a limited income and maybe because I don’t like shopping.. I like walking and taking pics.
One final thought: The mall seems like a monument to consumerism and secular humanism to me.. but over the years I’ve learned to keep my opinions to myself, so please ignore that statement. Highlight of the day was the feedback I received from last night’s concert from Celine. It encourages me and gives me hope that I’m here for a purpose.
Day 6 Fri April 8th Bratislava Slovakia. Am staying at the pastor’s apartment somewhere in the middle of all this. The concert last night was in a trendy church in a converted warehouse, which went very well judging by the feedback I got. Had a long conversation with a Taiwanese girl Lily who was not a Christian but I could tell was searching for the truth. Prayed with various others who had been touched by my wilderness message. Looking forward to a day off Saturday.
Day 5 Thurs Apr 7th Windischgarsten Austria. Last time I drove in Europe it took me 3 weeks to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road. Fortunately this time it has only taken 3 days, so can relax a little behind the wheel. Visited this quaint village (win-dish-gar-sten) in 2013, with its manicured lawns and immaculate toy-town buildings. Staying with friends Helward & Vera Laurien who have home-schooled their children Mats, Jana & Peggy here in Austria because it is illegal in Germany.
Highlights. The concert at church last night went well with over 60 people, including about a dozen refugees and their children. I geared what I said for them, but have no idea how much they understood or received. I made a point of shaking as many of their hands as possible afterwards. I asked one man where he was from. Afghanistan he said. It seems I am here for such a time as this, sharing the Cross with those at the Crossroads.
Day 4 April 6th Munich. Spent the day on foot around the inner precincts of Munich. Throngs of people, historic buildings, churches built centuries ago, tour groups, a mix of races, McDonalds, beggars, street artists, hundreds of bicycles (no one wears a helmet), crows, postcards, vapour trails, peoplepeople, cheaper food than NZ, everyone’s heard of NZ but no one knows where it is (including myself), still feel buoyed by the enthusiastic first house concert last night, still wondering what lies ahead, still a bit jetlagged.
Highlight (or lowlight) of the Day: In the subway I see a man bend down and pick up something from the ground. He shows it to me, it is a gold ring! He says it is no use to him and gives it to me. He asks for money for food. I give him money but he asks for more, so I give him more. I take the ring to the first Jewellery Shop I see, and the jeweller laughs. You’ve been conned he said, it is worthless. Many of the beggars use this ploy to open your wallet. Lesson: Jesus said: Watch out that no one deceives you. Matthew 24.4
Pic: Asam Church Munich, one of the many ornate churches in the city.
Day 3 Munich Tues Apr 5th. Overnight flite from Singapore to Munich via Zurich on SwisseAir. I left 35deg in Singapore, the plane was about 10deg, the coldest flight I have ever been on. Fortunately, I had gloves/scarf/woolly hat for such a time as this. The Cabin Crew delighted in saying: If you think this is cold wait til you get to Switzerland! Picked up my Peugeot 208, steeled myself for driving on the wrong side of the road, and drove the 30mins to my host. Fortunately, my gps knows German and had no trouble with the street names like Bennigsenstrasse. Then took train into Munich and found a wifi cafe. Full on House Concert in the evening.
Highlight of the Day: the House Concert went really well. Over 20 people mostly with moderate to good English, and they sang along as if there is no tomorrow. Wonderful, you don’t hear singing like that in NZ. Felt the anointing of the Holy Spirit, even tho I was jetlagged & tired, a great encouragement as the tour begins. Prayed for one woman who broke down crying, as she had been moved so greatly by the testimony of emotional restoration I shared.
Photo: Surfing Munich style. Who needs the beach?
Mon Apr 4th. Chill day in Singapore, though chill is a misnomer. It has been so hot stayed in the hotel room in the morning, and by afternoon it was a muggy 35deg so went to the movies to stay cool. Then caught a cab to the airport.
Highlights of the day: I spoke to a middle-aged Malay woman at the hotel and about 2mins into the conversation she suddenly looked shocked & surprised. She said her hair was standing on end, and that she had seen the face of Jesus. I asked her was she a Christian and her name. She said no she was not a Christian and her name was Beth. But she was so visibly shaken she took off like a rocket.
The Prayer Team have been praying for ‘divine appointments’ and I’m sure this is the first of many. I pray that the Lord will continue to speak to her, and that He will bring other Christians across her path at this time in her life. ps. The pic above was dinner: ‘Mixed Organ Soup’..er, yum, let the cultural education continue.
Singapore harbour early this morning. Have got 36hrs here before flying on to Zurich/Munich 2moro.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2WA9YnwD7A Highlight of the trip so far was watching the Ed Sheeran Liive At Wembley Concert on the plane last night.. amazing. In the 60’s I was inspired by Bob Dylan: one man, one guitar. And at last, someone who can hold a huge audience with just a strong clear voice, great singable songs, and one acoustic guitar. Inspirational. He would make a great worship leader.