We were going to begin Day 6 (Thursday) by hiking up to the top of the town’s mountain with the Czech students, but the snowy and cold weather kept us from doing so. Instead, and delightfully so, we took the opportunity to go to an old communist steel factory in Ostrava. Along with our Czech friends, we were able to take a tour of the amazing factory. Our tour guide spoke only in Czech, which forced those from BMA to serve as our English interpreters. The enormous twists and turns of abandoned factory metal seemed to go on forever. It was industrial, black, and cold. Our tour was outside, which made the few hours very bitter. The interpreters quickly grew weary from trying to explain scientific terms in another language, as the guide explained to us about how to make steel. Fortunately, the team’s science teacher (Jon Bergmann) understood most of what was going on and provided a translation of the translation. Words can hardly express the enormity of his mammoth place, which had a depressing and post apocalyptical feel. It would be a great venue for the next sci-fi block buster. We roamed about along the dirt, gravel, and riveted steel pathways in our yellow hard hats and anachronistic clothing. The climax of the trip was a near 250 foot climb straight into the air on narrow, jagged steps to the top of one of the many towers. From high up, we saw the entire factory, along with the rest of Ostrava, which is the third largest city in the Czech Republic.
After the tour, we walked for about twenty minutes to the only mall in the region. Here we ate an afternoon lunch and continued to get to know our Czech friends. Then we walked to the station and boarded a train back to Beskydy. The purpose of the day’s activities was to give our team the opportunity to interact with Czech students. The lazy train ride back to the penzion accomplished this task. There were many positive conversations happening, simultaneously in multiple rows of seats. A highlight for me was when Chris Palmer shared about the death of his dad when he was 15 years old. He shared his story with a Czech student who recently lost her dad this past August. I believe God led Chris to say all of the right things; his words were very hopeful and healing.
When the train ride was over, we said goodbye to our new Czech friends. Our departure was warmed by a few tears from the Czech students.
That night, we had dinner and debriefing with Jonathan Lobel, one of the Christian English teachers. He had very kind words of gratitude to say to our group, along with some thoughts for when we return home to America. We learned how we as a church can support BMA and the gospel effort in the Czech Republic. We also had a late night meeting with Paul Till, as he described the impact that our team had on the school and town. It was very encouraging. After cleaning up, the guys had a “boys only” meeting; we talked about spiritual leadership before going to bed. Our alarms would have us up at 4:45 am the next morning.
I will post one more time to give some summarizing thoughts.