Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hello from Leipzig

It's 11:00 PM in our hotel in Leipzig, Germany.  We've had a very busy day that started in Prague, Czech Republic and ended a few minutes ago after the first evening at the Conference.  The accommodations in Prague were tops and after breakfast we went to the city center for a tour of the old Jewish District - led by a tour guide.  After that we had another couple hours to shop and eat lunch before hopping back on the bus for 4 more hours - and straight to the Conference.

Yesterday was a long day (9 hours) on the bus from Ruzomberok to Prague.  We stopped at a McDonalds for lunch and twice more for pit stops.  There is no bathroom on the bus and our driver speaks little English - so no one passes up a restroom break.  After checking into the hotel, we were dropped off at the Prague (Praha if you are Czech) City Center for dinner and site-seeing. 

The Conference starts in full tomorrow and a typical day will start with a Bible study with everyone together in the morning followed by family group time.  Family groups are not relatives, but small groups - most likely strangers who will get to know each other and discuss the lesson just heard.  From my experience in Hong Kong 4 years ago, this can be the best part of the experience because you'll get to meet people from all over the world.  My group of 8 in HK had someone from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Canada, and the US.

The afternoon is less structured but after eating lunch with your family group, there are workshops and activities geared for the youth to learn about other cultures and interact.  Lynn Turner encourages the youth to step out of their comfort zone and interact with others.  It's a hard thing to do, but can be very rewarding.

Because the convention center is 30 minutes from our hotel and we'll be gone from 8 AM till 10 PM each night, these posts will likely be done once per day.  The time is pretty well scripted and Lynn is doing an incredible job of keeping things organized despite constant change and delays with the traffic.  We just go with the flow and watch out for each other.  It seems to work.

In case a few of you got word about Charlie Major's eye infection, it seems to be MUCH better now.  He participated fully today.  It was apparently a virus and not an injury as it spread to both his eyes.  It was quite painful and required two trips to the hospital in Ruzomberok.  It was good to have our local Slovak friends and Dr. Szucs to guide them through the process of treatment.  Anyway, he was the subject of many prayers and is doing very well now.

I'll continue to forward the messages or let each person read them at breakfast.  Most everyone's schedule is so full that there is little time or access to write notes so I'll keep you up-to-date in the evening when things are quiet and everyone is back in their rooms.  

We have heard that Lufthansa is striking and our flights on Monday may be a problem.  The travel agent will be working for us and as with all other things, we'll go with the flow.  That's the stream of consciousness for tonight after 2 days' travel.  I'll load a few photos next.

Mark Larson