I have done eight events in two cities over the seven days since I landed in Russia. Unfortunately, two additional presentations had to be canceled at the last minute due to such “unforeseen circumstances” as the lack of coordination skills on the facilitators’ part, and – I have to admit it – my own forgetfulness.
Praise the Lord for opening alternative teaching opportunities along the way, but… There are no excuses.
I often joke how Russians like to confirm and to re-confirm their arrangements multiple times. Well, even putting an event onto my schedule and clearly seeing it there didn’t quite register with my mind when it was time to actually hit the road. As a result, the hosts had to find another speaker in my place and I had to cover my head with ashes apologizing to my audience and finding the right words to show how sorry I was indeed. I offered them another date for the class and invited them to my other events in the city, but I still feel awful and ashamed for such a terrible mistake.
Other than that, the trip has been going well and my red-eye train is now heading north, carrying me from Volgograd to Voronezh. I will change trains in the middle of the night in Gryazi (“the muds”) station to arrive at my final destination at 7:43 am – just in time for a quick shower and a coffee before my first training class for local missionaries at 10 am. I am double- and triple-checking my schedule now to make sure I am not missing anything.
Teaching in Volgograd at the same location from 9-to-5 for three days in a row was a routine I truly enjoyed after running around from one end to the other of St. Petersburg before that. My class of missionaries and Baptist church leaders loved the material and peppered me with questions even during our coffee breaks and a lunch hour. What a wonderful group of people – young and not-so-young – on fire with love for God!
I will also always remember my Sunday school class in partnership with the local ministry for deaf and hearing impaired. Their eyes were looking at the screen (and at the sign language interpreter) with such intensity, and their gestures were displaying their emotions with so much expression! It was a long flight from St. Petersburg to Volgograd but it was surely worth it.