Jim and I flew to beautiful Vilnius, Lithuania on January 1 to take part in a week of prayer among medical professionals from 15 different European countries. Though the conference was not beginning until Monday, we took a Saturday flight that actually saved us several hundred dollars.
Our flight was delayed leaving Kyiv causing our arrival time in Lithuania’s capital city to be later and later. We were excited to be staying in a flat near a medical friend of ours (Jovita, the coordinator of this year’s prayer event), but we were beginning to feel a little sorry for them. By the time we would land, go through customs and grab a cab, we would not arrive at the flat much before 1 a.m. We wondered whether our hosts had agreed to all that when they offered to open their home to us!
The cab could not pull all the way up to the entrance we needed due to heavy snow covering the street. And the snow was continuing to fall. We loved seeing Jovita standing outside her doorway as we tried to determine exactly which entrance was hers. We paid the driver and hustled in to her neighbors’ flat.
We figured we would quietly say hello and go straight to bed. But our hosts had another plan. We all drank tea and ate biscuits, cake and candy while we muddled along in our Russian and Ukrainian. Cheese and caviar joined the spread and we knew we were up for awhile! What gracious hosts — welcoming strangers (and FOREIGN strangers at that!) to their home in the middle of the night and making us feel like we were part of the family. We dragged ourselves away from each other and after being shown extra towels and blankets, Jim and I hit the sack. (Our hosts would not let us help with the clean-up though we did sneak some of the dishes into the kitchen.)
The next morning featured a delightful breakfast and then Jovita collected us to go to her church. What a worshipful morning! The musicians led us into worship and the pastor preached a solid message. We learned that a member of the church had recently died…a father of six…and his funeral service would be following the worship service. A celebration of his life on earth…though there was sadness among the congregation, there was joy in knowing the truth about where this brother was.
We spent the afternoon with an incredible French missionary who is serving throughout French-speaking African countries as well as in the Middle East. What a saint! We shared pictures, our ministries, our families. A warm-up for the week to come.
Jovita collected a few more participants at the airport, and then we all met together at the monastery. I loved arriving early so that we met the other early birds, and then met each participant as they arrived. We felt an integral part of the group…
More to share about this wonderful week in later posts…