By Len Friesen, Tour Leader
Quick, what’s this a listing of?
Lesser Kestrel, Ring-necked pheasant, Rock Pigeon and White Wagtail. How about Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Magpie and the Eurasian Jay?
Answer? Well, these are just a few of the birds that John B of our group spotted on his first full day of driving around the former Mennonite Molotschna colony. I only noticed two birds all day, a Wagtail and a Falcon, and I only noticed those after John, standing right beside me, said: “Look, there’s a Wagtail and a Falcon!” He also pointed, to improve my odds of seeing them.
It is that the beauty of a group like this is that we bring together a variety of talents and perspectives. There are many parts to this body, and luckily that includes John, who spotted 17 distinct species that day, and shared his obvious enthusiasm with the rest of us.
There are other spottings yesterday and today: one could comment on the rather dreary roads, the industrial odour of this city, or the haze in the morning over the industrial sector; the “glass half-full stuff”. Or one could focus on the personal encounters that so many experienced today, and then shared with us on the bus: Mary-Anne who visited the church where her mother was baptized, even if that church is now in ruins; or a family unit of 4 siblings who visited the place where their father had been born; or the former Mennonite church that is now an Eastern-Rite Catholic Church.
In short, many people, many perspectives, and one great learning experience for all of us. Our morning reflection was on Jacob’s death in Genesis, and Joseph’s response. It speaks deeply to our experience… and maybe I’ll yet spell that out for the readers of this blog before this trip is over.
We’re back to our hotel for the evening. (Pity you can’t hear the rather robust music coming from the basement to the first floor, where I’m now sitting and typing… but you hear nothing of it from our rooms!)
We head for Chortitza tomorrow, and the first of the Mennonite colonies in this remarkable land.