Matej & Marketa Ceplovi
We were going to the conference of European branch of Living Waters in Wiesbaden with more questions than with high expectations. We wanted to know what is going on in Europe and whether and how Living Waters program looks and feels different in the European context. Moreover, we still dream about living and serving in Europe when we finish here, so we hoped at least to take a look whether there are some opportunities for us if/when we return.
In the beginning the trip was very much different from what we expected. Before the conference in Wiesbaden begun, we had gone to Prague to see our parents. Unfortunately, due to Matej's parents' sicknesses a friendly family visit was more like a fast practical training in caring for sick, so that when we left for the Living Waters conference we were feeling like going for the holidays part of the trip and to rest [...].
The conference itself was organized in a new industrial-looking part of Wiesbaden in an old warehouse which was changed into a permanent church (somehow made us feel like back in the Morse school again :-). The very first moment we entered the church we felt one difference which then stayed with us for the rest of the time--the whole conference was a happy mix of representatives of different nations and it was conducted in three languages at once (German and English, with a simultaneous translation into French). One of the most important parts of our dreams for Europe is friendship among the nations and forgiveness for (many) past injustices and wounds caused by almost every nation in Europe to (at least) its own neighbors. Therefore, we were very excited about this spirit of internationality (it seems to us that the issues about international reconciliation in Europe somehow resemble interracial reconciliation in the United States).
We both somehow expected that the conference will be mostly about us looking around and getting information for our benefit. Obviously, we have severely underestimated the strength of the Holy Spirit's wish to speak to us. The first pleasant surprise was a talk by Andy Comiskey (we did not know that he would be at the conference before) about Christians following Jesus Christ in ``being resurrected, yet with wounds clearly visible'' and how much Christians in order to be faithful to Christ should be willing to show their wounds to others as a proof of the reality of their resurrection in the same manner as Jesus showed his wounds to Thomas. Somehow this talk lead us to a greater freedom and out of the shame over our wounds and weaknesses. How much it is all right to be needy and weak!
However, this was not the only encounter with surprises which God prepared for us. In the midst of unexpected and very friendly encounters with other members of (how somebody called it) ``European Living Waters family'' the Holy Spirit poured on us so much freedom that we were able to see many small (and not so small) strange things in our lives.
It was wonderful to see that the same Holy Spirit which we experienced speaking to us through Christopher, Andy, or other people here in Boston, speaks as well through for example Markus, a leader of Living Waters in Germany and Austria, or Sonja, a leader of the European Living Waters chapter (OK, this may sound a little sceptical from us to start with; not that we would think that God is sovereign only in Boston or that He never did anything for us back in Europe, but having this experience was still a really important thing on the trip, helping us expand our expectations of Him in Europe). Needless to say that we very much enjoyed almost three days of worship lead by Christopher (and wonderful band of German? ladies). Only to hear Christopher worship in German would be a sufficient reason to visit Germany!
Getting back to a more external look on the European Living Waters. At least for Matej (who was not a member of the Living Waters team before) it was a wonderful contrast to be allowed to see other much smaller or only just beginning programs, which felt much less perfect than the sometimes too well-working program in Boston, where Matej felt sometimes like a very small and unimportant part of a big smoothly working machine to which he has nothing to contribute (do you remember Charlie Chaplin's Modern Age?). Marketa adds, that as a member of the LW team in Boston it does not really feel quite perfect, but still, seeing something that is starting and trying to figure out a path did look different than a program that has been going on for quite a while. However, still it is very encouraging to hear a testimony of the leader of Living Waters in Spain, where the program is just beginning and working on a pilot program of CrossCurrents (much shorter and less demanding variant of the full size Living Waters program), or about yet to be started programs in Lithuania or Turkey. At the same time we have learned that yes, we probably are the only Czechs who ever heard about Living Waters program (one other girl who is a native Czech we met there has been living in Germany since being a child). On the other hand we were able to freely conclude that we are not ready (yet!) to create a Czech branch of Living Waters in Czechia. Maybe sometime later. (Which doesn't mean we wouldn't like to be part of the European LW team, which was a fairly strong feeling for Marketa.)
There was another feeling which covered everything else which happened
for us in Europe. Again, as always when returning to Europe, we felt
very much at home. We have concluded many years ago, that the biggest
emotional difference between ``home'' and ``non-home'' is
for us when we cross the borders of Europe even more than when we
are back in Prague. It is strange, but we have found this time and
time again that we feel that ``finally home'' feeling whenever
we leave an airplane in Frankfurt (or London or another european city).
And this homely feeling did not leave us all the time we were in Europe
(OK, Iceland is theoretically part of Europe too, but it does not
work so well there). Probably somehow related to this we both felt
very much assured by God that we should not be worried about our future
or what the next year may bring because he cares for us and will lead
us step by step as He has done so far and will take care of getting
us to a good place (somehow, in the end). I am sure that we will return