Joan and I got up, made coffee and then I tried to get the water heater to work. I learned how these small water heaters work from our stay in Dubrovnik; but I couldn’t get this one to work so we boiled water and did our best. Made our way to the market area and enjoyed picking out some fresh fruit for the upcoming train rides. We went to the underground section and purchased three meats and two cheeses. About then we met up with the Connors.
Money was very easy all through Europe. My understanding via Rick Steves was to use bank machines at banks and you would avoid hidden fees. Card goes in, English chosen (sometimes automatic) choose amount and money comes out. Using the credit card or debit card for a transaction seemed as normal as could be with everything looking fine when I got home. The extra Kunas I would have from Croatia would be turned into Swiss Francs in Switzerland without missing a beat and then into Euro’s for use everywhere else.
We would spend the day with the Connors. We had some coffee together and then walked back toward the train station where we put our things away. We brought our church clothes with us; an African shirt for me, and a simple dress for Joan. We headed to the West side of the city, I think I have my directions right, by their church and apartment. They took us out into the countryside past the house they had lived in when they first got here out to a village they enjoy visiting.
While in Zambia I took advantage of every minute I could to spend with visiting pastors and evangelists. I encouraged pastors to bring their wives so that my wife could have some fellowship also. Every visitor gave us an opportunity to share our burdens and hopes along with the uniqueness of the culture we were living in. We were happy to get a little bit of that “American” thing on us. Tom carries that quiet confidence that seems essential to being American; and is certainly needed as a pastor.
We had already gotten onto a theme of “desperation” in prayer. We could both relate to the times in our lives and ministry that we were desperate before God and seemingly He would always respond to us during those desperate times. Might there be an issue of complacency that enters our life as things are going well that keep us from having that desperation? Can desperation be turned off and on? These thoughts were not thoughts in a vacuum.
Tom and Christine related their start here in Zagreb. You always arrive with high hopes and even that touch of messianic arrival. My three starts never fulfilled that messianic arrival thing; but you persevere and you manage as you preach and minister to the people God gives you. They started with no people, a month later no people, not even visitors. Three or four months in no people with the standard crazies showing up occasionally. At 8 months with no people they were “desperate”. The level of frustration can never be described fully. It is not like business where you try different advertising or sales approaches. It’s not about money, the best financed pioneer works can experience this also. What is it about? Does God not want us to succeed? What about all the money that people have given so that we can reach souls here in Croatia? On top of that there is the normal male ego and the wife’s desire for her husband to do well. “Desperation” doesn’t even begin to describe what we experience under these circumstances. We see though a “glass darkly”.
Church should have started but they were not willing to sing songs together and have Tom preach to Christine. They continued in prayer. Loud, Pentecostal and desperate. They sensed someone’s presence. Caught! It was a woman. She said she had been Catholic her whole life and she didn’t know if she was going to heaven. They told her how she could know for sure and she prayed with them and started coming to church. That was a couple of years ago. Her son is now the main disciple and interpreter for the services. Her daughter plays the piano for service. They related all of this before we had church with them. In a moment of desperate prayer; one lady changes the dynamics of their ministry in Zagreb.
We took a pleasant drive out into the country. There was some castle remains we could have hiked to but we opted for the easy walk and coffee in the town square. This was the place where Tom wanted me to remember the taste from the night before and compare it to this restaurant’s version of it. It is a custard cake or a cream cake. In the city it had a thin chocolate icing. This one would have a sprinkling of powdered sugar. The pastry on both was perfect, apparently these are made fresh everyday throughout Croatia. It was the taste of the cream or custard that made the difference. Yes, I could taste the difference and yes, I was on Tom’s side, I prefer this one. This is an on-going debate between Tom and his disciples. Delicious!
We spent the afternoon with the Connors, opting to eat at their house with some fresh Croatian bread that Tom bought, rather than making them take two trips into the city center to get us. We walked their dog and enjoyed the time together. Church was at the edge of the Zagreb city limits. Nice looking building from the outside and everything in order on the inside. Prayed, sang some songs and preached. Any fears that Tom has about the job he is doing were put aside for me as I looked out at a congregation that included some men who were disciples.
The command is to go into all the world and make disciples. Find faithful men and teach them as I have taught you so that they can teach others. That is what was happening in the Zagreb church and it is always a wonder to behold. My landlord in Prescott Valley would quiz me as to why I was going to Sparta. He knew my church history and his comment was “How does Mitchell get you guys to do all of this?” Pastor Mitchell is doing what the bible says and so is Tom and we are planning on the men and women in his church to do the same. It was a great evening. I felt some Croatian roots as I was introduced and as I preached.
We took it easy after church, had some ice cream and got a ride back into the city. Blessings from God upon the Connors and their church is Zagreb.