Privacy, Solitude, and Retirement Are Highly Overrated
The history in this nation is facinating and bloody. Here in the picture I am standing in a park in Moscow right near a catherdral built in the 600’s where this canon was used to defend the people who built their village and then city around the church. This canon if gigantic and was a powerful deterant to any attacks. Today we finish our ministry here in the city of Tikhoretsk and drive back to the airport in the city of Mineralny Vody and fly back to Moscow. There we will skip sightseeing this time and immediately drive 250 Km to our next ministry location – the City of Ivanovo north-east of Moscow.
The ministry here in the city of Tikhoretsk is drawing to a close. This is our third day and we have been going from early morning until late at night. Then, of course, Miroslav and I go for a walk to unwind and chat no matter how late it is – the conversation is almost always a debriefing of the day’s events and ministry and a forward look into the next day and the teachings and ministry needed. We come prepared to teach many things and go in many directions – but each night we focus on what we have done and where we should be heading next. It helps to be seriously flexible in this type of apostolic ministry. There is an old proverb (not a Bible one): “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be broken.” That fits this ministry to a “t”.
Personal time together is only found around the breakfast table and the first several cups of decent coffee (if we are lucky) or the first few cups of many cups of tea that happen during the day. And, when we are travelling by train or plane we often say a time out and forbid ministry talk – so that we have time to actually build a friendship along with the working relationship we have been developing for two years this November.
We have been working together daily for almost two years. Miroslav is my administrator for all our work in Eastern Europe and my prize apostle-in-training. He is also my office manager and oversees the work of both our part-time staffer who translates working on emails and manuals and the Russian side of our Web site and ministry. However, we have purposedly made time to develop an in-depth relationship with a tremendous trust factor already in place. We bounce ideas off each other, bring correction, speak directionally, make joint decisions whenever possible… and I never travel or minister without him there with me. We have developed a good depth of friendship and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each other – accepting always and forgiving when needed. A great team member.
Whenever we are not out walking with just the two of us – and when eating and sharing fellowship with others (all meals except breakfast) – he is so busy interpreting for me so I can be involved in the conversations and build relationships with the Russin speaking leaders and pastors that we never have time to be ‘personal’ as it is really a labor intensive ministry when we are both working in two languages. So, we value the little time we have together to allow us to be real people and simply share.
Of course, privacy is at a total minimum and so finding time (and space) to be alone is almost impossible. Sometimes we are blessed to have two separate bedrooms and then we are able to seek the Lord in privacy and actually have a few minutes of silence and solitude. Othrwise we are always together and most often with others (even during an occasional breakfast). This, for me, is the hardest part of these trips – the total lack of privacy and space. But, God’s grace is sufficient – has to be.
We appreciate your continued prayers … four more days and we will be heading home to our respective countries. Plans have been discussed re. our November trip to Kazakhstan during some of our business meeting and we still have some airport time today (Thursday) and Monday to finalize some details for that next apostolic trip. Always something more to do. Glad I don’t believe in retirement.