If any of you have been here, you probably had the chance to go up the funicular and see the spectacular view from above the city, but did you know the funicular used to be in another location? This ruin is hidden in plain sight right off a main street. It has been explored by locals and foreigners alike, some leaving their mark in an artistic fashion. It’s amazing to see how this city is improving it’s tourist attractions and how far it has come from when this old station was up and running.
One of our students has had difficulty finding a regular income to provide for his wife and daughter. We recently sat down with this couple and had an opportunity to pray words of blessing over them and challenge him to be bold and creative. In response to that time we spent together, he recently came up with the idea to make cement candle holders and try to sell them. He recently delivered several candleholders from his first batch and we are encouraged to see him taking an active approach to the problem of unemployment instead of being passive like so many in this context. Pray for him along with his wife and daughter that they would find meaningful employment and understand their unique dignity and value as precious children of the King!
One of the interesting cultural adjustments we’ve made here is how we present food to guests. It is typical here to serve the same item in several smaller dishes instead of putting it all into one large dish. For instance, the cucumber tomato salad that is a staple at many meals is usually split so that guests on each side of the table can access it. There is very little “passing” of the food and instead everyone just reaches to access the plates that are near them. There is often no space left on the table because of this technique!
All throughout this country are old castles and fortresses which are available to the public to explore and enjoy. Every time I get the opportunity to visit one I am reminded of the rich history of protection God has provided for this small country. Ancient towers and walls served as protection and preservation for this people. My prayer is that the people see the real God of protection and understand how He has preserved and protected them for His glory. Every day we pray for them to have a true relationship with the only Strong Tower that matters, the one that brings eternal life.
One of our students taught us how to make the famous local dumplings called khinkali and we had a great learning experience. They didn’t all end up looking beautiful… but they certainly tasted delicious! Sharing in the preparation of a meal is a very special relational connection and we’re grateful for the way God is opening doors into people’s homes.
We live in a busy city of 1.5 million — buildings, cars, apartments, noise, people everywhere. This took some adjustment when we first arrived! On a recent trip out of the city, the sunrise in the mountains was absolutely stunning and refreshing to my “city-weary soul”. We serve an awesome, creative God!
On Thursday evenings at the center we have been conducting a class featuring the quotes of Saint John Chrysostom (literally, John “The Golden Mouth”). He is a revered early church father in this context and it has been fascinating to see the response of our students to this course. Each week we look closely at two of his quotes in English and discuss the meaning. The first week we talked about the power of our words to bring life or death to others (Proverbs 18:21). A priest of one of our students also attended the course one evening and contributed to the dialogue. We are encouraged to see ways that God is helping us make inroads into this community and ask for you to pray that we would continue to be able to proclaim truth in this context!
Today was the final day of the two week intensive. The students, who have learned English in various ways over the three classes — writing, money, and culture — presented a project for each class today in front of their fellow students. Their presentations were done completely in English, which is no small feat. We are so proud of these students and what they have accomplished in just 2 short weeks.
Please pray with us that we can find ways to stay connected with these students and continue to build on these relatively new relationships.