Thursday arrived a little early for me. This is the day when most Forum participants return home. Jerry, my room-mate, was catching an early flight so he was up before two taking a shower. When he eventually left, and I settled back to try to sleep there was a knock on the door. He though he had left some money somewhere, so at 2.30 in the morning I was on my knees looking under the beds, and in the cupboards, all to no avail! He left and I managed to catch another two hours sleep before waking again. As sleep was gone for the night I got up, showered and did some reading, going for breakfast at 6.30. Eight of us had a meeting at 7.00 to try to organise ongoing mentoring through the coming year. Then it was time to pack and head for the bus.
Many were saying farewell in the foyer, and I arranged to visit Serbia and Albania next April. Others came and made me promise to send them an email so that I could visit to serve them during the next two years. Eventually I got on the bus to the airport.
I haven’t mentioned the Americans much this year. The Forum has a steering committee which is made up of representatives from a number of European countries, and one American, Greg P itchard. The Forum is his baby in one sense but he is determined that it be owned by the Europeans. There are a number of Americans present, but they come to serve. About 70 come as volunteers, each one paying his own way. During the week they run the Forum in the sense of making the arrangements, recording, videoing, and generally stewarding the conference. Although this year there were a few European volunteers for the first time, the Forum wouldn’t work without these humble peole serving tirelessly through the week. There are a number of speakers who come from America also, but they come with a spirit of servanthood. Much of the sponsorship which enables Eastern Europeans to come is sent from the USA. Here is one example of the US having a truly positive effect. More and more European speakers are appearing, many of them previous participants in the Forum itself. This has been a real blessing.
One other noteworthy person that I met on the bus to the airport was Yasmina. She is a Serb from Novi Sad, married to a man from the Ukraine. They are both serving as missionaries in Nice in France. This is a turnaround – Eastern Europe sending missionaries to Western Europe!
So I boarded the flight from Katowiče, on the way home via dusseldorf and Manchester airports. Maybe I can catch up on some sleep!