The Catholic Youth Conference “octave” (eight days) in Ussuriysk exceeded all my expectations and nearly drowned my energy resources. At first, they had only asked me to be their keynote speaker with one or two teaching sessions per day. And, of course, to lead the small group discussion session on each day’s topic. And, if I don’t mind, please also teach a Bible Class in the afternoon. And, to fill in for the leader of one of the three Creative Groups, who was responsible for the final overview article on the Conference in their diocese’ newspaper.[Read more…]
The whole trip from Minnesota to Vladivostok went very smoothly, including the most worrisome part of it – the border crossing. My bus was only delayed by an hour-and-a-half which is considered to be “on time” by the Russian standards I am very familiar with. In fact, most of my first week went by “Russian style”: uncertainty, delays, endless “confirmations,” and last-minute cancelations.[Read more…]
Vladivostok is only (!) nine time zones away from Minnesota — if you travel West. Due to the sanctions, however, there are no flights into Russia from that direction at this point. My route, instead, will cross the eastern half of North America, the Atlantic Ocean, all of Europe, and almost all of Asia. A total of eighteen hours in flight plus seven hours on the bus–with multiple layovers–will bring me to my next destination: the Russian Far East.
I will then teach and preach at local parishes and be a keynote speaker for their week-long Regional Youth Conference. Schools will still be out of session, but teachers will already be coming back for conferences. I will catch four of them (conferences, not teachers) before I leave again, making my way back across two thirds of the globe.
WER GOTT VERTRAUT HAT WOHL GEBAUT – said the note above the doors of the mid-fifteen century building at my first destination point, Blankenheim. I cannot agree more – indeed, “the one trusting in the Lord builds well.”
This formerly Russian-speaking evangelical church trusted God in allowing me to come and teach in their midst for two days, and these were exactly the words of their pastor after I was done: “You built and reinforced the walls of our faith, especially among the younger generation of believers.”[Read more…]
There should be a shorter route from Frankfurt to Magdeburg, but the red line shows how I am planning to get there starting this Friday.[Read more…]