It was like a surprise party, except it was hours away and not a party but a meeting. Maybe it was more like a surprise party for your fortieth birthday. I wasn't very excited or happy about it.
I found out about the week long pastor's conference two days before we went. Now, as an American, I have an unhealthy addiction to planning my life out in advance. Ukraine keeps trying to break my habit and sober me up from this disease. On the 14 hour train ride, I had serious thoughts about jumping ship and returning to Lviv, but my pastor had bought the ticket with his own money and wouldn't get reimbursed if I didn't show up.
It was like a surprise party in other ways, though. I was surprised at how much I genuinely enjoyed it. Many of the pastors from our conference were there, and they were joined by many seminary students and their teachers and co-workers from Russia. There were many new faces - and some updates from old friends and places that I love.
The teacher for the week was Dan Johnson who serves Trinity UMC in Gainesville, FL. He spoke about how Pastor's can take care of themselves and care for their own hearts and ministries. It was really encouraging and uplifting.
I had a really meaningfull conversation with our new Bishop. He is younger than almost all of the pastors in Ukraine. Some of the students started a snowball fight and he joined in. It wasn't in some attempted throwback to youth, but out of a genuine desire to win a snowball fight - and he did!
I'll be heading back to the pastors conference today for the last day and to spend a few days after that with the seminary students in classes. It should be good fun.