I have a lot of "thinking time" on my hands as I live here in Třinec, concurrently surrounded by a foreign language and by incredible Christians. One of the things that I have pondered a lot lately and have been amazed by, a thing that has brought me to deeper places of wonder at our big God is described in Revelation 7:9-10:
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'"
It has become dear to my heart to think about the multitude of people representing a multitude of languages and tribes and nations that will be present before the throne of God in heaven, crying and singing and shouting with great, inexpressible joy the glories of our God, the Lamb.
It has also been a fun thing to wonder about communication in heaven. What will speech in heaven be like? Will we all still speak our own languages, but be able to understand each other perfectly anyway? Or will we all be returned to one common speech as mankind was before the incident of the tower of Babel when God confused the speech of man? If so, what will that language be? I know that these questions are completely non-essentials, but they help to maintain a sense of wonder at the glories of heaven and the presence of God in my mind, and so they are good to ponder.
I can't wait to be a part of that great multitude in white robes, crying the mercy of our God through the blood of His Son, the Lamb: Jesus Christ.
Climate note: The weather here is INCREDIBLE! There is a light rain about every third or fourth day on average so far, and it keeps everything so fresh and green and cool. Today there was a pretty good storm lasting most of the afternoon. It was probably about 75 F before it started to rain. After the storm when I went outside, the temperature had dropped to around 60. It is wonderful. I will be able to wear jeans and a light jacket most of the summer (one of my two favorite types of weather).
They don't get "Nebraska style" storms here, as far as I have experienced. There has only been thunder two or three times in all of the rain we've had. The first time I heard it was around 2:00AM about two weeks ago. It woke me up and almost scared me with the sheer loudness of it. I thought that I had never heard thunder so loud. As I lay there and listened to it, almost convinced I'd never fall back asleep, I remembered that I had my windows open. That's right, you can sleep with your windows open when it rains and not worry about getting water inside.
I have to take a moment and explain the windows here. They are great in that they are dual function. If you turn the handle on the window up 90 degrees, you can open the window in just like a door. This is VERY handy for washing the windows. If you turn the handle up the next 90 degrees, the window may be tilted in from the top. This way, the top of the glass is inside, and the window remains connected to the pane from the bottom. This is how one may have the windows open and not worry about it raining in. When I "grow up" I want windows like this in my home. Another thing: there are no screens here on the windows-- just like Mexico! Actually, no. Here there are no screens because there are no big, obnoxious flying insects, and so far no mosquitoes (WOOHOO!). *In Mexico there were no screens on the windows not because of the lack of insects; far from it. Rather, it was because there was no heating or cooling system in the houses, but irrelevant to my blog about the Czech Republic.
To finish the story about the thunder: it turns out that when I got up and closed the windows, the thunder sounded just like middle-of-the-night thunder in Nebraska. So, Nebraska still wins in the forms of extreme weather, not that it was a competition.
In Nebraska after a big rain, the sidewalks and streets become covered with creeping earthworms. That doesn't happen here, at least to such a noticeable extent. I think I've only seen two or three earthworms. That may seem like a lot in a month, but this is the kind of thing that I pay attention to. What comes out after a big rain are these slugs. It's incredible. I went for a walk this evening after the rain was done, and the whole time I was walking, I had my eyes on the ground so that I wouldn't have slug goo all over the bottoms of my shoes when I got home. I have seen a lot of slugs, but today for the first time I saw a snail. This was a SNAIL. It was probably 4 or 5 inches long and its shell was almost the size of ping-pong ball. I stopped walking, crouched down, and just stared at it for about a minute. It was fascinating and beautiful. I wanted to keep it, but thought that was probably a bad idea, for both the snail and for me.
On Saturday morning I have some exciting plans! I will be getting up around 5:00AM to go to the Ostrava airport and fly to the USA. That's right, I'll be back on American soil in 82 hours. I am returning for a two-week training/orientation program with World Mission in St. Paul, MN. I will be learning how to be a fabulous EFL teacher and how to be an informed LCMS volunteer missionary, equipped with all the information I could possibly need to know about... well, I guess I'll find out soon. While I am there, my parents will be coming to St. Paul for the middle weekend of my stay. I can't wait to see them. I am also making plans to meet up with my lovely friend, Elise Probasco. I will then depart from Minneapolis on June 27th to remain in the Czech Republic until sometime in July of 2009.
- the great multitude who will stand before the throne in the robes made white by the blood of the Lamb. May they now, as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling, rely fully on God for their every need, trusting that He will bring them safely to their eternal home.
- that all believers everywhere (including you and I!) would be faithful in proclaiming the Good News of salvation through faith in Christ, that the great multitude might increase daily.
- for safe travel for me and for all of the other LCMS missionaries who will be traveling to St. Paul this weekend. Pray that I will learn everything they have to teach me so that I will be fully equipped to teach!
- for Stephanie Rosburg as she travels home for a month on June 24. Pray for health and for the ability to adjust to life in the States again, but that she doesn't get too attached. Pray against the desire to remain in the US when she has another year of service ahead of her in Poland, and pray that when she comes back to Poland that she won't suffer homesickness. Pray for a quick recovery from jet lag for her (she hates jet lag).