Here I am at the computer after 10:30pm tonight (Tuesday) once again writing all of you MWAM Supporters. Little did I realize when I wrote you this morning all that the Lord had in store for us today.
Our choir had this morning total to themselves with nothing scheduled to do. That left them to plan a variety of activities ranging from taking the Thermal Baths at the Gellert Hotel to visiting the List Museum, and from taking in the Grand Market in downtown Budapest to relaxing at the hotel. After our busy start of our ministry tour, this was a great way to begin our day.
I should have said that all of had nothing planned except for Dan Bird and Pastor Tom Theriault. The two of the were scheduled to lead a seminar on Music and Worship for the Baptist Union Music Convention - - the same group for whom we sang last night at the Ujpest Baptist Church. It was supposed to last one and a half hours. So, they were driven to the church by Bela and Ildiko. When they got there, they saw one teenager after teenager enter the room. Dan and Tom were expecting the seminar to be for adult church music people. Instead, they found that except for two adults, all of them were teenagers or young people in their early 20's. They looked at the notes they had prepared for the seminar, and just put them aside and presented an entirely different message. Dan began it and then Tom took over and did, according to Dan, a magnificent presentation to these young people. As it turned out, it was not at what they had planned, but it turned out to be a major encouragement for these excellent young musicians. Our plans are not always God's plans. It seemed that he had something entirely different for them to do and to accomplish. And by God's grace, it was accomplished in a marvelous way. Both Dan and Tom came back from that experience praising the Lord.
At 1:00pm, the choir boarded their two buses and headed north to the city of Vac - - a city of some 60,000 people about an hour north of Budapest. It is a very old city, but suffered major destruction by the Turks. The city was rebuilt in the 1800's in the Baroque style and its old town center is absolutely beautiful. The group enjoyed surveying the large square, and also the various shops around the square. One shop in particular attracted quite a number of our people - - especially the women. It was a very special china shop. Ildiko had seen it when the two of us had visited Vac a couple of years ago when I was on our planning trip. This store has a reputation for fine china at reasonable prices. The only drawback for the group was that they do not take credit card or U.S. Currency - - only Hungarian Forents. In spite of the dilemma, it looked like several people were able to overcome that difficulty and came away with treasured purchases. At least that's what it looked like when they re boarded our buses.
Our dinner was at a restaurant located right on the Duna (Danube) River. The tables were set up outside under a permanent awning. We don't want to make any of you jealous of the group, but the dinner was marvelous. The Baptist Church of Vac was only a couple of miles from our restaurant so we made it to the church about a quarter to five. The concert was scheduled to begin at 6:30pm, so we had time to set up the handbells, warmup, and work on a few parts of music that needed cleaning up. This church is pastored by Attila Melath - - a young pastor who has a vibrant ministry there in Vac. One interesting fact about Pastor Melath is that his uncle was pastor of the Baptist Church in the city of Pecs when the Lake Avenue Sanctuary Choir ministered there in 1989 - - when Hungary was still behind the Iron Curtain.
It was quite warm tonight and the church, like most churches in Hungary, does not have air conditioning. The chancel and choir loft, therefore, was not the most pleasant place. However, the choir and bells presented another exciting program, and Pastor Tom shared a very touching message. You could see some tears in some of the people's eyes - - even those in the choir. Tom has been absolutely magnificent and such a great help in sharing the love of Jesus Christ. The fact that God intended him to be here with us been has been confirmed over and over this week.
I believe that I told you that several choir members were supposed to arrive here tomorrow morning after their problems in New York. At first, they were to be here today, then the word was that their flight was overbooked and they were to arrive tomorrow. About halfway through our concert, who should walk in and take seats at the front of the church but those two choir members. Seeing them finally join us on this trip after all of their problems was very emotional . A number of us found ourselves choking up and unable to sing. Fortunately, most of the choir was able to keep going.
Pastor Melath was extremely gracious to us and is a person with a great sense of humor. As usual, Ildiko continues to do a fantastic job interpreting for the local pastors, for Dan and especially for Pastor Tom. We have been totally indebted to her for all of her help. In fact, our choir expresed their appreciation to her by presenting her with a piece of Hugary's finest china; they had evidently found that at the china shop I mentioned earlier. She was so surprised and very moved by that token of our love. After the concert, the church provided a fabulous reception of delicious salads, cold meats, and much fresh fruit. Pastor Melath said that when he is able to visit Los Angeles, he will be sure to come down to San Diego and visit us also. Dan told him that San Diego is much more beautiful than Los Angeles. The Pastor also said that he would want to sing a duet in our church with Mike Rosensteel - - our tenor soloist and guest conductor. In fact, Melath insisted they practice right then. He went over to Mike and the two of them began to sing, "A...men, A...men, A...men, Amen, Amen." We all had such a good time just relaxing and fellowshipping with these marvelous people from this Vac church.
So, there we are. We are back at the hotel, most have gone to bed, and I will be heading there as soon as I finish this message to all of you. Tomorrow, we will spend our entire day out in the village of Toalmas and the Word of Life camp. We cannot wait to see what surprises and blessings the Lord has planned for us tomorrow. Until the, I will say "Good Night to you all."
(For Music With a Mission)