Dear brothers and sisters,
It’s now two months to the day since we arrived to our new home of Bratislava, and we are more than ever thanking God for your continual prayers, ongoing financial and moral support. Know that you remain on our lips while on our knees. Thank God for you! And he is not unjust so as to overlook your good works and love of the saints. Here are some highlights from the past month.
Immigration – Establishing long-term residency in Slovakia was the first of several hurdles for us to clear. Only with the gracious assistance of our brother Andrej, a corporate lawyer, and the assistance of other church members have we finally gotten all the paperwork, interviews and legalities behind us. Suffice it to say, the triumph of Soviet bureaucracy left an enduring monument to itself in the form of the foreign police service procedures. This has taken the largest chunk of our time over the past weeks and dominated the horizon of our anxiety. But the waiting for hours in lines, travelling to and from various public offices, banks, notaries, lawyers, etc. has become the sunlight of ripening our spiritual virtue of patience, thanks be to God.
Transportation – At the end of the day “our dogs are tired.” We’ve finally mastered the public transportation system (no mean feat), and from our flat we can be anywhere in the city proper within about 45 minutes. We’ll see what kinks the coming winter weather will throw our way. Relying on the metro system is having the benefit not only of requiring physical exercise but also of us meeting new folk.
Language – Natalie and I are taking intensive and immersive Slovak language classes 5-days/week with a personal tutor, 3-hours/day. And then we have homework. Lots of homework! But we have a marvelous teacher, Zuska, who loves the Lord Jesus and is merciful to us, despite our daily merciless slaughtering of her native tongue. Also, beginning this week we will start meeting twice/week with a PhD who wants to improve his colloquial English, who will, in turn, become our “language parent,” helping us to polish our Slovak with phrases and sayings we couldn’t get with fancy book learning all by itself. Though our Slovak skills are far from fluency, we are already beginning to see the benefits of our labor in terms of building rapport with nationals, trust that is essential to any and all of our evangelistic efforts.
Over the next month, God enabling, as we move beyond our transitional period we will begin to have more and more contact with outsiders in intentional evangelistic contexts. Crawling, we are not yet walking, and may God give us the grace to run; as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring news of good things!”