For the first week we stayed at a locally owned hotel. We had breakfast served by the staff each morning before departing for the school. The owner/operator of the hotel came out to see our group off as we moved closer to the school for the second week. He was smiling and shaking hands with many team members. His English was pretty good although he did not think so. Standing out in front of the hotel on the curb with all of our luggage waiting on the bus, our incredible leaders Mark and Shelly asked the team to thank the owner for his hospitality. We all erupted in clapping and many asked him to bring out his wait staff so we could thank them too. He assured us he would pass along the gratefulness, in Slovak, to them all.
When the clapping died off he exclaimed that we were a wonderful group, easy to work with, always smiling, and everyone was so nice to him and his staff. He seemed proud as he invited us all to come back and stay there anytime. He told us how he hosts a large sausage festival which sees as many as 5,000 attendees, but we stood out as one of the best groups he had ever had stay with him. I believe he saw the Light of Christ in us, something that stood out in contrast to other groups he has had at the hotel.
The bus was loaded with luggage and people, but there was not enough room for everyone. Three of us were left behind to await the second trip. The owner asked why we were not going. When we explained he urged us to come back in for some coffee while we waited- his treat! He took us to the back patio and assured us the staff would watch for the bus to return.
As we sat and learned more about the owner who had grown up in Martin, lived there all his life, and was in partnership with his family on the hotel and other properties he continued to share. We shared about our church and serving mission to the bible school in town. He knew of Bohdan, the local church, and the bible school. He spoke very highly of the school and Bohdan who he knew through local politics rather than through the church or school directly. He made the distinction. He shared his admiration for all that Bohdan’s father, and now Bohdan, had done for local community, the City of Martin, and all of Slovakia.
The owner told us that 10-15 years ago Martin wasn’t really anything good. He told us the bible school and all that Bohdan was accomplishing through the school had made Martin not only a much better community to live in, but had made Martin one of the top communities in all of Slovakia. He went on to say that the people in Martin were less depressed, they smiled more, and had hope. What a testament to the work the Lord has done through the vision of Bohdan and his predecessors!
Before leaving, he had his staff put together three bags, one for each of us. They were gifts to us. He appreciated us and wanted to show it. We told him what a pleasure it had been to stay at his hotel and thanked him for the extra hospitality as we waited to depart.
All three of us later remarked on what he had told us. When in Martin, we often spend the majority of our time in the circles connected to the church and the bible school. The hotel owner’s perspective was from outside of that, and affirmed the work that is happening in the minds and hearts of the people impacted by the Center for Christian Education.
We were all humbled at the idea that we get to be a part of a sliver of the work that is continuing to happen and grow and spread across Martin and Slovakia. Thank you for your continued prayers……and, if you would, please say an extra prayer for the owner of the inn who shared his outside perspective. God truly blessed us with confirmation and affirmation of the work He is doing here!