The Christian Church split in 1054 creating the two primary branches of the faith from the same root.  The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church since that time have been celebrating the same God in different fashions.  The split was over when to celebrate Easter and so it should be no surprise that this year the two branches of our faith celebrated the rising of our Lord and Savior one week apart.  If Saint Peters Square in Vatican City is the apex of Catholic opulence, then the Russian Orthodox Christian Church of St. Prince Alexander Nevsky Built from 1937 to 1939 in Bizerte Tunisia is the pinnacle of Orthodox simplicity.  The only service of the day, a 6PM Easter Mass, was attended by 21 people, not counting Father Dmitry.  Father Dmitry is a man of about 5’9″.  He is fit and sturdy with a full, nicely kept beard and a lovely baritone voice; amiable, friendly,commanding, and strong.  When I followed the procession to kiss first the golden cross he held and then his bearded cheeks, he said “Christ is risen,” in English, just for me.  To everyone else he had said “Khristos voskres.”

After the ceremony I had a chance to speak with Urie and Vladiey who are merchant sailors who crew a cargo ship out of Vladivostok; ferrying 30 tons of bulk cargo from South America to Bizerte.  They sail the Voyager for between 22 and 23 days and then have ten days in a city and then they get back on the ocean.  At any rate, I was in the best company with the finest people in God’s family today.

Tomorrow I am thinking of renting a car and driving to Utica.  Utica hosted battles fought by two of the greatest generals in all recorded history.  Both Hannibal and Julius Caesar fought there.  In both cases Rome won the day.  Those of you who know me can imagine my delight that the face of Hannibal is printed on the 5 Dinar note of Tunisia.  My plane from Palermo was also named for him.

I am looking forward to each day with more excitement and interest.  I am also looking forward to having a better handle on the language of the people I am trying to communicate with; even if that means learning French which is something I had always hoped to avoid in life.   Bonne nuit.