I am back in MN… one day early than expected. It did not occur to me until I landed in Chicago that I would actually gain a whole extra day of my life if I keep going east from the Far East of Russia all the way back home. Well, I needed that day to recover from a very busy travelling and teaching schedule of the last three weeks.
Two classes in the city of Bryansk – one in the Orthodox Diocese Center and one in a Baptist church – presented an opportunity to try my new material on friendly audiences. Most recent archeological findings (first publication in August of 2017) of the rare chalkstone vessel workshop discovered in Israel’s north provided a tantalizing link to the New Testament story of the Wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle – transforming water held in six stone containers into wine. I loved to see the faces in my audience enthusiastically responding to this new evidence of historicity of the Gospel.
The next three nights were very short as I was switching late night and early morning trains in Moscow to travel to Rostov Velikiy and Kashira (around 150 km north and south of Moscow respectively) to teach a class of 9-graders and to train a group of 9th grade teachers. I didn’t even have to change much of my presentation as both of these audiences needed have the same historic reference points and same age and cultural framework.
And then I had a long and very needed nap on the flight to Kamchatka – 8 hours straight! With my head still spinning, I was getting ready for my first presentation on the next morning (still daytime on my inner clock) to a Russian army unit when it was suddenly called for duty and the event had to be canceled. Their chaplain, Fr. Konstantin, took me instead to a thermal water pool that turned out to be the one and only time I had to relax in the next three days. After my evening presentation in the Orthodox Diocese the word quickly got out about this “Russian American Theology and Pedagogy Professor” teaching this absolutely unique material on the historicity of our faith. I had two full presentations on Saturday and four on Sunday, including a sermon at the Liturgy in the city Cathedral in the morning and a three hour event at the drug rehab center in the evening with a Sunday school class and an open audience presentation in the middle. I guess, my dreams to see the natural beauties of Kamchatka will have to wait until some other time…
Three quick stops in Vladivostok, Tokyo and Chicago and I am home! Making my first round the globe trip was not easy but it was definitely worth it – the further you go from big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, the more people are open to and hungry for the truth of God. I will definitely try to come back to the Far East again. My next travel in late November, however, will take me in some other direction – it is time to visit Ukraine again after almost four years and teach a new generation of seminary and Bible college students in Poltava, Kremenchug and Odessa.