Epiblog -- all done! Reflections
Trip Start Jun 28, 2009
25Trip End Jul 16, 2009
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In the morning Paul Kieffer and Jesmina Allaoua came over for breakfast and we just chatted a few hours. I have learned quite a bit about what is done in the German operations of the United Church of God. This is important since it interfaces with what we do in Eastern Europe.
Time to go. We took some pictures, drove down to the Rhine River (which is about two blocks away). As I look at this river there's a rush of history and image that the Rhine invokes. Then Jesmina drove me over to Bonn-Siegburg where I picked up the 300 km / hr train back to Frankfurt airport. This is SO convenient. You step out of the car, walk up a short flight of steps to the platform
In 39 minutes I’m at the Frankfurt airport. I check my bag and go to the gate and wait. Just that simple. My flight to the United States will be via Toronto, Canada. That’s the only way I could get rerouted. I sit next to a very nice Egyptian young man who started his travels in Cairo today.
The hours go quickly and we land in Toronto. There I went through US Customs which is set up at the airport. But, my bag didn’t make it in time to have them rechecked. So, I had to continue without it on an Air Canada flight to Indy. The bag never made it. (it actually did three days later). It had to travel through three countries and be on two airlines.
It was good to see Bev and just be home.
What did I learn? My thoughts? Going back and forth from my US existence to various international areas gives me an opportunity to reflect on values and priorities in life. In our country – at any level – we don’t have what’s always know and practice all things right and beautiful. When you place people in varying economic and political circumstances, you see other priorities emerge – in relationships with one another and with God. We can be similar as humans, but we are not equal and have to all work within our environment.
The most affluent environment is not always the best environment to live in – even from the point of satisfaction and happiness. In Scandinavia which has the highest standards of living in the world in a beautiful society where there is tranquility and absence from major problems, there is a gnawing emptiness in advanced nihilism. The attitude of the societies project need of nothing or nobody. Trouble is, you DO need people, you do need relationships. Without them you are empty and turn to other sense-filling activity—alcohol, drugs, sex, materialism. And, you’re still empty. When people learn to understand who they are and who put them here and their responsibility to others around them, then real satisfaction comes. Add love, and it doesn’t get any better.
In Ukraine where materialism is often not afforded, people make more of relationships. They pay attention more to one another and more openly value children. Not all, certainly, as we work with dysfunctional people, but certainly more than I see in my country. People don’t have extra for lots of devices that distract—electronics particularly. But, they are headed that way.
I really appreciated our two groupings of friends in Western Ukraine and in the Chernobyl area. The relationships run deep over almost two decades of working with them. Friends really ARE friends as I think of Ivan Yurishko, Vasyl Pasechnyk , Vasyl Mondich among others.
On this trip I see the continuing work of the Church as we services the Nordic countries, the Baltic States and Eastern Europe. We are sending out magazines and literature, now regularly to core adherents. We are receiving questions and requests for visits. We are producing literature in Russian and Estonian. The sky’s the limit for what could be done. We will be looking to harvest some of the fruit of our casting seed. We DID get the booklet about the Holy Days printed and I just received word from our teacher team in Ukraine that they are on their way to us! You can get our Nordic/Baltic/Eastern European eNews by subscribing at http://kubik.org/ucgee/
On this trip I arranged to print 1500 copies of God's Holy Day booklet as well as 1000 lessons each of Lessons 7-12 of the Bible Study Course. And get it delivered to Estonia before October 1st.
On the humanitarian front, LifeNets has reached out in a program to teach English as a Second Language. The peripheral benefits are greater interaction with our people. We have continued our work with feeding, clothing and giving personal attention to street children and orphans. In Chernobyl we have continued work that has been on ongoing since 1996. Hopefully, this blog conveyed information and my feelings about it all. You can receive our regular LifeNets eNews at http://lifenets.org/enews/
As you see, I love all this, particularly when I see good things happen in people’s lives….moving them up from where they’ve been in the spiritual and physical realms.
Thanks for following this ninth Travel Blog in three years.