It’s a very long day when you’re flying east to west! Everything went like clockwork, though. I don’t think I’ve ever gone through customs so fast. Our baggage was already coming down when we got to baggage claims, and customs was a cake walk 🙂 We pulled into the church parking lot at five minutes to six, by which time we’d already been up for over 18 hours. Terry and Dan came to pick me up, and of course we had to do some chatting. Add another four hours before I finally tumbled into bed, and you get 22 hours of being awake.
I do not believe in going 22 hours without sleeping.
Every time I’ve flown to Europe, I’ve loved the experience of being there, of meeting new people, of seeing historic places I’d read about. I enjoy knowing the customs of other countries, and learning new and sometimes better ways of doing things. We were warmly received everywhere we went. They really rolled out the red carpet for us, and I’m so thankful for this opportunity. Whether or not I’ll be able to do it again remains to be seen. This creaky old body sure was thankful to stretch out in my own familiar bed last night.
And I need to say a little bit about home. You know, the one that there’s no place like it? Every time I’ve flown back onto American soil, I’ve felt a profound sense of gratitude for my country. I love America. I love the foundations of our freedoms, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, although they’re being sadly shredded by today’s leadership. I pray that Mr. Obama does indeed step down when this term is over, although I have deep concerns that he has no intention of doing so.
I talked a lot with my host and hostess about what it was like to live in Communist Slovakia. Some things, they said, were not too bad. Everyone worked. Today, young people are leaving because of a lack of jobs. However, no one could really rise above their designated level. Everyone was the same. And there remained deep poverty, in spite of Communist insistence that “sharing the wealth” would solve the problems of poverty. The only people who were wealthy were the ones in power. My host told me that the first time he went out of Slovakia into west Germany, he was amazed at all the color he saw. All buildings in Slovakia were grey. No color. No individuality. He pointed out some of the older apartment buildings that are still grey, but some people are painting their sections in vivid colors these days.
They no longer worry about government listening to their phone calls or reading their emails. If a family member leaves Slovakia, they no longer fear the government watching all that person’s relatives to make sure no one else follows suit. They no longer stand in food lines, hoping to be able to purchase bread before it runs out. They can find a great variety of foods in their grocery stores that was not available under Communism. The women were required to send their children to day care at the age of three. That is no longer mandated, although the women who choose to stay home with their children do feel pressure that they should be working. It isn’t easy to make ends meet.
I do not want my country to go through all that. Socialism has failed everywhere it’s been tried. When people have no opportunity to improve their lot in life, then life is very bleak. There is no hope. And there is no hope because there is no God.
The people we ministered to are so joyful in their faith. That have a deep interest in the things of the Lord, and they want to study and learn what the Bible has to say. These are freedoms we take for granted here, because we’ve had them for so long. We need to remember that freedom isn’t free; that all it takes is one generation of laziness to lose all that we have. There are those who like to blame Christianity for lack of freedom, who want to edit out “offensive” things from the Word of God. They are noisy, they are powerfully supported by wealthy and influential people. And they are wrong. When you edit God out of your life, when you change His Word to support your own opinions, you are destroying the very freedoms you claim to gain by doing so.
I love my country. I fear for my country. We need to pray, not “God Blesss America,” but “God, forgive America; God, heal America; God, revive your Word and Your Spirit in America. Amen.”