INDIA JOURNAL AND BLOGS
Rev. Dr. Jerry Schmoyer
Main Street Baptist Church
MY INDIA JOURNAL Jan 4-20, 2006
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2006
Nancy, Mark and Grace drove me to Bux-Mont Baptist Church to get on the van and drive to the airport with the others. We stopped at the Rag Shop for some things first. As I expected, saying good-bye to them is the hardest part of this. I don’t have fear about the trip or time there but I know being so far away from them for so long will be the hardest. I hate good-byes! I’ve been away from parts of the family but seldom the whole family. Nancy isn’t with me at Kempton for the whole time, and she spent a week in Dallas with the Sones’ a few years ago. Then I had Grace and Mark with me, however. Even at Promise Keepers or the State Convention it’s not bad because it is just one night and I know I’ll see them the next day. I’m very busy then, too. This is a LOT harder. I need God’s grace to sustain me through this.
We waited several hours at the airport, flying out at 6 PM EST. The flight was 8 hours long. It was a huge Luftansa airplane that sat 400. We were mostly separated, but I got to sit with Elizabeth, a very friendly woman from Bux-Mont. Her husband planned the trip but couldn’t get off work to come. It was nice sitting with someone I knew. I was with her on both flights and I had the isle seat both times as well. I was glad for that. There were 11 of us including the pastor and his wife from Bux-Mont, Steve and Kathy Sheldon. They are the only ones I knew. I had met the others at various meetings we had. A couple others are going to join us in India.
The plane was something like 40,000 feet (8 miles) high. It was traveling at 700 miles per hour ground speed so I can’t imagine what the air speed was like! The temperature outside the airplane is -85 degrees. I can’t imagine what the wind chill factor must be!
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2006
This ended up being a short day – 13 ½ hours. We went through 10 ½ hours of time changes. We arrived at Frankfort, Germany at 8 AM their time (2 AM EST). It was a very short night. I slept about 3 hours. There was a full meal, breakfast, snacks and drinks. It was a very nicely run flight.
We spent 5 hours sitting in Frankfort Airport, which is NOT a smoke-free environment! It was interesting being in Germany for that is where my ancestors came from and I studied much about them in the family tree. I have even studied German and Pennsylvania Deutsch. It was a unique feeling to be in the land of my physical roots. However the thought of WW II and all that went on in Germany during that time certainly was distracting to any pleasure I may have felt.
Seeing people of all nationalities and languages at the airport was interesting as well. I watched and listened to people everywhere. It was like being at the zoo, but no one was in cages. There didn’t have many chairs and the gate seating was closed so we found some chairs. I sat on the floor, which was more comfortable than the chairs (small, no backrest). It was very overcast in Frankfort, although I had seen the sun rise in the airplane when we were above the clouds. We left Frankfort about 12 noon.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 06, 2006
The flight to Hyderabad was almost 10 hours, 1 ½ hours longer than expected. By this time it was hard to tell what time it was, what meal we were eating, etc. The plane size and meals were like the first flight, except this flight was only half full so there was more room for people to spread out. The flight pattern took us a little north of Israel but right over Baghdad and Iraq. I was only to get about 2 hours sleep all together despite falling asleep many times. Across the isle was an Indian woman with 2 young children who were very fussy and demanding. The spent lots of time screaming and crying. That was frustrating, but is the way it was!
We arrived at the airport at 2 AM, went through customs and got our luggage. David Babu and some helpers were there. We have lots of luggage, with what we are taking and what is for the VBS and to leave there. We left the airport at 3 AM and arrived at the house we are renting at 3:30 AM. Then we unpacked and got settled in our rooms. We left the house Wednesday a little after noon and arrived here, half way across the world, at 3:30 AM Friday morning. What a trip. It’s amazing to think I am half way across the world!
The weather was great – mid 60’s. It was balmy and perfect weather. Everything looks so different, even in the dark. Thinking of being in India is mind-blowing! I kept thinking of what Melanie said when she expressed her lack of desire to travel as well – it’s the same sky, stars, moon, trees (except these are palm trees), grass, etc. no matter where you go!
That was the hardest part so far – unpacking in my room alone. I really, really missed Nancy, Grace and Mark. Grace was especially dear tome as I ate one of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she had made for me. My room is small and has a bathroom alongside it. Other rooms have their own bathroom in the room. It is a small single bed with a very hard mattress and one small table. I found another table and chair for the room, though. It is what God has provided and I will thank Him for it. I didn’t fall asleep until 5 AM and then awoke at 9 AM, totally awake. I pray God will make the rest enough for the busy days to come.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME One of the good things about the long travel time is plenty of time to read, pray, meditate and worship. I kept a list of things God was showing me.
1. I don’t like being away from my family. Of course I already knew that. The ONLY reason I would do such a thing, since I have no desire to be away from my family and no real interest in travel or seeing the world, is that I know God wants me to do this. I knew this from the first, walking down the aisle after church to tell David Babu I was willing to go along on the trip to India he has mentioned during his report to the church. That is what keeps me going – God wants me to do this! That’s the only reason – but then that should be the only reason I come, shouldn’t it? Whatever God has in store for me or though me or for the family at home, His will be done.
2. I’ve been reading TOTAL TRUTH by Nancy Pearcey. It’s a great but deep book about world view. I was struck again with something God has been trying to show me: whatever He calls us to is do in life is equal to whatever He calls others to do.
3. The book WAKING THE DEAD by John Eldredge clearly makes the point that God gives us the abundant life now. Satan is defeated, but this life is not all it should be! We must fight the battles to gain the ground God has won for us on the cross. When the Jews went into the land they left some Gentile nations for the next generation to fight so they could learn warfare as well. A lioness will let her cubs kill weakened prey so they will learn to hunt and fight on their own. Japanese soldiers in the Philippines were still fighting even after the strength of Japan was broken. They were a defeated nation but mop-operations had to be won to remove all of them. That’s what we do spiritually, fight defeated demons in order to learn warfare. God is the victory but we must do the fighting.
4. Related to this is the truth we are at war. We shouldn’t expect things to be smooth and fine. We are constantly under attack. A lot of the negative things that we say are “God’s will” (like not seeing my other children all these years) is part of Satan’s attack to get us down on ourselves or God. Our wounds are not accidental. They come from Satan. We are not exempt. The loss of time and money with the recent cello event is another example. Satan tries to get us to become discouraged, to believe his lies that God doesn’t care, to feel sorry for ourselves, to believe that this is just the way life is and forget God has more and better. We have great worth in God’s sight. We do evil but aren’t evil. We have God’s glory in us and Satan wants to diminish that any way he can. We must keep trusting in God no matter what the battles bring us or what we don’t understand.
5. Also related to this is the fact that quick prayers won’t win the battle! I need to pray longer and deeper – better quality and quantity in my prayers!
6. John Eldridge says that when going on a new mission he asks God for ‘advance words’ about it in order to hear Him more clearly before things get busy and to let him know what to watch out for. This is something I want to do before counseling, teaching, trips, etc. I prayed and thought about his while on the plane and these are things God told me about this trip:
-just be ‘me’ – open, vulnerable, not some professional from afar
-identify with them, encourage them
-talk from my heart, not from my head
-don’t compete with others for popularity (my own jealousy, insecurity, etc.)
-listen to God (through HS) speak to my heart within and follow that as I teach
7. Any balanced ministry, church, or individual needs to cover these four areas: 1 Healing (emotional, from past hurts and sins), 2 counseling (teaching, knowledge), 3 deliverance and 4 discipleship. God has graciously introduced us to deliverance. Teaching is my gift. Discipleship I have focused on and is based on teaching. But healing is what I have neglected in my own life and in my ministry. I must pray more for myself in it and I must include it more in my counseling and spiritual warfare ministry.
8. In light of the above, I need to continue to ask Jesus to come heal me emotionally, socially, etc., where I’ve been broken and wounded. There are still lots of areas where I need healing. Satan will use these old wounds and emotional issues to defeat me. I need to ask God about them and listen to Him. Lies I have believed, untruths I have accepted in the past become ‘pacts’ or ‘covenants’ that demons can use against me
I look forward to seeing what else God will be teaching me during the time here. That is a very exciting part about this whole trip.
This morning everyone (except me and one other) slept very late. I organized all my stuff. I definitely feel better when things are unpacked, organized and I’m settled in. I got the electric working for my PP advancer and battery charger as well as my laptop. I felt good that that worked out well for I don’t want to harm this computer nor do I want to have problems using Power Point to teach.
The place we are staying is nice. It’s not Bird-In-Hand but especially for India it is great. David Babu is very, very excited about getting it for us. There are nice open living rooms and 3 floors. It’ll be a nice way to be together, better than hotel rooms with no central meeting place. David and Abigail are staying here as well. They are sharing the bathroom I use with me.
This afternoon we went to the Shilparaman Crafts Exhibit. It was like their version of Rices or Q-Mart, but much cleaner and more colorful. This Hindu culture is really very colorful. There are 2 Muslims for every Christian here, and 10 Muslims for each Christian. The Muslim women wear all black and only allow their eyes to show, sometimes their face if they are young. The Hindu women wear bright colored cresses that wrap around. The colors are beautiful, but the music is eerie and the whole culture is very dark and empty! To think so many millions here have never heard the name of Jesus and know nothing about Him…..
For some reason the young Hindu girls remind me of young Amish girls. The Muslim girls in their severe black closely resemble the Old Order Amish, but the others who wear pastel colors are similar to these Hindu girls. It must have something to do with their subservient role in their society, marriage and religion. Also, there is the fear factor (especially strong in those wearing black). To be born into such a culture and raised as they have been is just sad. Nuns also dress in all black.
Young children hounded us for money when we entered and left the craft fair. Being ‘rich Americans’ just meant we were targets. One cute little girl who was filthy and in rags kept following me, even when in the van, and tapping my arm asking for money. Since I have none its easy to not give them any, which just makes them more insistent on more anyway. How sad. I thought of what would happen if I snatched her up and brought her home – would she adjust and thrive in a culture so different as our culture?? I wonder. For some reason I don’t think so. To be too late by 6 or 7 years old is just awful.
Abby helped me bargain for some gifts for all the girls in my family. Things are so very cheap. Something that would cost dollars at home is pennies here. Earrings for pierced ears sell for 15 cents a pair. They obviously put lots of time into what they make, as into the gifts I got for the girls, but couldn’t even earn pennies per hour.
Driving is one of the outstanding features of life in this city. First, they drive on the left side of the road, as all ex-British colonies do. However there are virtually no laws and everyone does what he wants. Cars, busses, bikes, mini-cars (one wheel in front and 2 in back), motorcycles, horse riders and even cows all use the street. Everyone drives within inches of each other, constantly cutting in and out of lanes – even on the opposite side of the street when they can get away with it. Horns are constantly barking and it is very nerve-wracking. U-turns, driving on the sidewalk (except there are none, just sides for people to walk, unpaved roads and constant cutting others off are a way of life. Our driver (David has hired 2 vans to transport us) is especially fearless and pushy. He cuts off busses and bikes alike. Between the constant starts and quick stops and the sound of horns it is really uncomfortable getting anywhere. We’ve spent lots of time in the car as David takes us different places to see in town.
Tonight after the craft fair we drove around the local lake which is really large and quite beautiful. It is dominated by a giant, light statue of Buddha. Special activities to the Elephant god occur here as well. Idols are everywhere. Hearing the sound calling the faithful to prayer and the broadcast prayers is especially eerie (that is just for Muslims).
We stopped by Pizza Hut for supper. We have to be very careful of where and what we eat for drinking the water or anything with ice cubes in it, eating salad washed in water, even glasses and silverware that hasn’t been sterilized can lead to a bad case of stomach cramps. Indian food is a bit strange anyway. Many are vegetarians because of their feeling animals are reincarnated souls on their way to nirvana.
After Pizza Hut we went next door to the only grocery store around. Everyone buys fresh vegetables from fruit vendors pushing carts around. Everything else they do without or make their own! There just aren’t any food stores anywhere. This one was like a 7-Eleven and that’s about the only one for millions of people.
I wasn’t able to get to the Internet Café today nor make a phone call. I really must done that tomorrow if at all possible. I know Nancy and others at home are waiting to hear.
Enough for now. To bed and reading! Hopefully I can fall asleep. Despite the driving, I took about an ½ hour nap in the front seat of the van driving around town tonight!
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2006
What a night! I read from Jan Karon’s latest book until I feel asleep. I really enjoy the Mitford series about Father Tim. I slept from 10 to 3, then woke up. I may have dozed about 4:30 or so but for the most part was awake. The bed is very hard and its hard to stay in one position long. Wild dog roam the streets and seem to fight in packs for there is much loud barking during the night. Ever since going through deliverance with Josh Wood I’ve not slept right and I always, always could go right to sleep and sleep all night. Josh only got 1 hours of sleep a night but that has improved through deliverance and prayer. Now he gets about 4 – which is what I have averaged the last 3 nights.
On the positive side, though, the time awake has been an excellent time of prayer, meditation, thanksgiving and worship. It certainly is sweet fellowship and so good to pray in detail about so many things I skip quickly over during the day. Perhaps that is one reason God has me awake, to pray about all that is coming here.
Finally at 5:30 I got up to read the Bible and found 4 people already awake and in the living room, not able to sleep either. One girl had demonic dreams, the others just couldn’t sleep. As I type this the eerie sounds of the Muslim chants/prayers are broadcast over the city and I can hear them in my room. They go on for about 15 minutes. There’s no forgetting where I am!
I read the Bible (John 17, I been drawn to John 13-17 day after day lately). I’m waiting for it to get light for I don’t want to run in the dark in a strange place with me so out of place (running, white skin, don’t know the language, etc.). I’ll have to leave soon, though, for we are to be ready to go to the school at 8 AM.
I really do miss Nancy a lot. I saw a girl at the airport when we were picking up our luggage that, from a distance, had a mild resemblance to her from the back. It’s like all of a sudden the room light up with the possibility of her presence there. It only lasted a second for I was immediately aware it wasn’t her and the emptiness and loneliness came back. I spent awhile praying last night that God would be my companion while here. The people from Bux-Mont are friendly, but everyone has someone: David & Abigail, Steve and Kathy, 2 elderly ladies, 1 set of college girls and 1 set of girls in their 30’s. They room together and enjoy their own company, which sort of leaves me on my own. I don’t mind the privacy to run, read, type this, prepare messages, etc., but it is a bit lonely at times.
Back from my run: It felt good to run although I didn’t go fast but ran an hour. I wasn’t sweating or breathing hard so it wasn’t a great workout but physically and mentally it was good. I stayed very local, exploring the roads around here. There are many large, gated home with doctor, etc., signs outside and built up against the wall surrounding them are hovels of sticks propping up scraps of blue tarp. Inside a whole family will live. Some have animals outside. I saw several before sunup start little first to cook breakfast. One woman sat in front of her hut in the dirt and was brushing their teeth. They go to the corner where there is a spigot and bring back water for their family. Who knows where they go to the bathroom! Its really sad – and they’ve never heard the name of Jesus (except the Muslims who see him as a lesser prophet than Mohammed). They say when the monsoons come those people really suffer. In the summer it’s 120 and they melt, then comes draught. In the wet season they are flooded out with no place to go.
I ate Grace’s last peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast. If I’d have waited any longer I may have had to throw it out and I certainly didn’t want to do that. Boy do I miss everyone!!!!!!!!!
I took a shower this morning. They turned on the hot water. It consists of a hose in the corner of the bathroom and you hold it over your head or wherever. There is no nozzle to get a spray but the water is hot and it works much better than anything the people in their huts have!
We went to the school today. What a joy that was! The children were lined up and cheered us, gave us flowers to hold, then later garlands around out necks, did special songs and a program for us, etc. They are very, very glad to see us since Bux-Mont is so instrumental in their school. They were surprised and especially happy to see Abbie, who had tears in her eyes. She really loves the children and misses them. It’s not right she lives in the USA with the daughters and David there by himself with her sister. They don’t even have a home because most of their support goes right to the school. Steve and I talked with each other and with David about changing that soon.
The school is more primitive than I thought it would be – a hold in the floor is the toilet but the children prefer running into the field to go, as they do at home. They are very obedient and well disciplined. The school (150+) is registered with the government so they are limited in what they can do spiritually, but the 17 who live there in the home all the time really know the Bible well.
We had a snack and later lunch there. It was very refreshing and rewarding to see them. I fine more and more that I really do feel attracted t children and comfortable around them – not just my own but all children. The little girl begging from me still haunts me. I look for ways to smile at them, give them a pat, or some way connect with them. They see us as so special and are more curious about us than we are about them (that happens wherever we go while here). Some attention and encouragement can go a long way. One old woman who just started working there seemed especially taken with us, watching from a distance and shyly hiding when we got close. I went out of my way to find her before leaving, say “Thank You” (most know a little English, but not all). They don’t shake hands, they put their hands together under their chin and not a bit, so I did that to her (first time I did it), she was most grateful. I keep thinking that the light of Jesus will somehow shine through, maybe somehow they’ll associate us with Christianity and maybe we’ll give them some hope.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME
9. God has really convinced me that by little things like being open, friendly, nice to the Indian people of any age we can in some way make a positive impression on them. Perhaps they will sometime, somehow associate us with Jesus and Christianity. That’s God’s part to bring that about, but my part to be a light in the darkness here. I see that as my primary role here so far.
We’ll be back at the school more the second week here and that will be nice. I’d like to connect with the children somehow. It’s important for them to have a man love them, not just the women.
David took us on a long drive through the countryside and through some small villages nearby, where the children come from. The school is about 45 minutes west of Hyderabad. It’s totally rural, but still highly populated. No wonder India has such a high population – people are everywhere! It looks like I thought it would in the country. Poor women in ponds pounding clothes on rocks, oxen pulling one-wheel wagons, poverty everywhere. The city has surprised me in that it is messier and less modern and neat than I expected. They just don’t try to keep things nice!
David has done a wonderful joy taking us to many places to see India. I didn’t think we’d see nearly so much but he is doing a great job of keeping us entertained and interested!
From there we went to Fort Golkonda. It was started on a hill about 850 years ago as the palace of the line of kings who ruled this area when it was its own kingdom. It is west of Hyderabad and the city grew because of the palace. When it came time to modernize Hyderabad, instead of destroying the old city and improving it, they wisely started a new city to the south of the old. Thus there are two Hyderabads – although I don’t see much difference between them any more!
Golkonda was started 850 years ago by Hindu kings who built a temple along with their palace. They have temples and shrines all over the place. Moslems took over for awhile and built a mosque, then it reverted to Hindu again. About 500 years ago the current king brought in thousands and thousands of black Africans as slaves and totally rebuilt it all in a massive undertaking. It is on the highest site in this whole part of India (we climbed the steps to the top, then went up on the roof of the building – what a view). It took 63 years to build it and make it totally impregnable with 3 huge walls and moats, a water system inside, etc. three years after it was completed the Mongols came and bribed the gatekeeper to let them in so everyone was killed and the whole place torn down and destroyed. What a lesson that is in watching out for the little sin that will destroy us no matter how well defended we are against other sins.
The place was well know for its excellent diamonds. In fact, Marco Polo visited there to see the diamonds. Imagine being at a place Marco Polo was at! We stopped by the graves of kings who lived in the palace on our way back. What huge buildings they are! Then we came home to rest a bit.
I’ve REALLY enjoyed using my camera. It’s good I have my laptop because every day I’ve filled up the card with 300 pictures and have had to down load them. I go through and get rid of all I can as well. I’ve taken several great videos of driving, children singing, etc. Others take pictures, too – especially David who takes videos and lots of group pictures to send out to others about our visit. He isn’t always with us, though. They’ve made me the unofficial official group photographer and want a copy of all my pictures afterwards so I’ll put them on a disk when done. Without my laptop I wouldn’t have been able to download them off my camera onto the sticks I have. Being the photographer gets me the front seat in the van, the best seat for seeing what is happening and photographing it. The side windows are darkly tinted to keep out the heat and very hard to see out of. Some might not think that sittingin the pront is a privilege, though, when they see how people drive here!
One of the things that helps me taking pictures is that I sit in front of the van David has hired to drive us around. For a second vehicle he hires another van or car and sits in front with the driver. Abigail comes with us so one is in each vehicle who can speak the language of the driver. The man I’ve sat alongside for almost 5 hours so far doesn’t know a word of English except ‘up’ and ‘down’ to tell us to open or close the windows. I’ve tried to do some minor talking but have been unable. He is a Hindu and from the way he yells when driving (plus he is the most aggressive and heartless driver I’ve seen on the road) he isn’t godly in any way. He wants nothing to do with communicating in any way and totally ignores us. At lest I get good pictures sitting in front. I don’t get everything but do get some things. Going so fast and bouncing/turning so much makes it difficult but I do have some nice pictures to share with the others.
I went to the Internet Café tonight and bloged on the family web site for all. I emailed Nancy, Grace and Mark and went through my emails – 102 of them. A lot I could just throw away. I was concerned about some needy ones from the spiritual warfare web site, ones that would take long to write. There were none, though. I thank God for that. If He can hold the difficult ones until I can give them proper time and attention I’d appreciate that. Anyway, emailing everyone made me miss them all the more, as I knew it would. Still, I feel better knowing they were waiting to hear we made it OK. Joe from Bux-Mont emailed their church and the trip list, but no one in our family but me is on that list so that was no help.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow in one of those love-hate relationships God seems to put me in. Preaching twice on subjects I like is great. First, for the worship focus, I’ll talk about the prostitute who anointed Jesus’ feet and worshipped because she was forgiven. That should be an hour with translation. The second one, before the Lord’s Supper, will be about John 1:1-14 and Jesus. Great subject – Jesus! The large group I don’t know, working with a translator, etc., all those things stretch me. But that’s what this is all about, isn’t it?
SUNDAY, JANUARY 8, 2006
Last night was a much better night’s sleep than I’ve had in awhile. I got almost 7 hours sleep. Although I seem to need to average 8, that felt good. I didn’t hear the dogs barking as much, either. I woke up a little before 5, tried to doze and prayed, then got up a little after 5 and started reworking my spiritual warfare session. I wasn’t at all satisfied with my approach to that subject. I feel what God is directing me to do is much, much better.
What a great Sunday this turned out to be! David Babu, Ruth, Lisa and myself went to the central church for the Hyderabad region. There are about 60 that network, all started by the same may (or started by ones started by him). The others went to one closer to town and about the same size. We drove 1 ½ hours to get there because of traffic. We went out the highway to Bombay – what a road! Today is a special day to some Hindu god. I got a picture of a local man dressing up his ox for the celebration. We went by a jam-packed Hindu temple as well, one of the largest in the area.
Anyway, church usually goes from about 10 to 1:30. They start off singing for ½ hour, then there is the short message focusing on the upcoming time of worship. That is 45 minutes. Mine was on the prostitute who knelt at Jesus feet to wash them because she was forgiven. It was less than 45 minutes for they got started late. Preaching with an interpreter helps you have time to think about how to word what you want to say next, but it’s hard to get a good flow and easy to forget your next thought as well.
The worship time consists of them praying for 45 minutes. First a man prays, then a woman, back and forth. Men and women sit on opposite sides of the church, women on the right. We all sit on pads on the floor (the rheumatism in my left hip made it hard for me to bend it as I needed to). The women all use the top of their sari and wrap it over their head as a head covering to show respect. Men and women leave their shoes at the door and are barefoot the whole time as well. The prayer time was quite moving. Even though I couldn’t understand a word of it it was easy to sense the emotion and often tears in it.
Everything is in Talabu, although many also use Hindi. Most know at least a little English. They are impossible to read and extremely difficult to pronounce, so I’m not even trying to learn any of it. If it were Spanish or German, something I have a framework for, maybe – but not this.
Anyway, the main sermon came next. It’s about an hour or a little more and is to exhort the believers and lead into the Lord’s supper. I spoke on John 1:1-14, much the same as the sermon I used at church recently on Christmas day. Then was the Lord’s Supper for ½ hour. They passed a plate with soft, sweet pasta and each one took a pinch. Then they passed a cup with a sweet-tasting juice in it. Actually they have about a dozen of each going for there were about 250 people in the room and another 50 or more outside by the open windows. It reminded me somewhat of the church we went to in Antigua.
It was a joy for me to see these people. After seeing thousands of Indians as we’ve traveled everywhere, and seeing no joy or laughter in them, seeing these people with their peace and joy was marvelous. They dress the same as all Indians so it was nice to see women dressed that (which is a very nice, feminine but practical way to dress) who are believers and will spend eternity with us in heaven.
During the Lord’s Supper prayers were said for those requesting them. That whole thing took almost 45 minutes. Then were announcements and we closed. At the end they had baskets of paper strips they said were promise cards for 2006 and those who wanted took one when they filed past the offering plate to put in their offering. Then they read it and that was their promise for the year – no changing or exchanging it, that was it. Really felt I should take one so I went to the men’s basket and one immediately caught my eye as if God said take it. They offered me one in English but I refused it, wanting to keep the one in Telgo for that is what the service was in. They told me it was Deuteronomy 20:4. I looked it up and was absolutely, totally thrilled! It was obviously straight form God. “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you the victory.” I’m not too keen about having enemies, but that was no surprise. I take that especially in light of the spiritual warfare that has been and will be going on.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME
10. “For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you the victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4) – God’s verse for me for 2006 (and I hope forever after that as well)
However the day wasn’t over – the best was still coming. People came up to me in the front of the church and David Babu was there because they couldn’t talk to me. I thought it was to welcome me but it turned out it was for prayer. They wanted me to pray for them, one by one. What a privilege and joy that was! I felt like Jesus praying for the people who came, for I felt His power in the prayers I prayed and His touch going into the people as I laid hands on them and prayed for them one by one. The first two were old men needing healing in their feet or legs. Several had fevers that needed healing, mainly young children. One little girl screamed at night and wouldn’t sleep. I rebuked anything demonic working against her. A young girl who couldn’t have been more than 14 asked me to pray for her husband who was sick. Many just wanted to be prayed for in general, blessed and committed to God’s service. What a privilege to lay my hands on these, especially the young ones, and with 100% confidence I was praying what God was leading me to pray, dedicate them to God to be special servants of His the rest of their lives! I enjoyed that more than any other part of the service for God was obviously in it. It’s one of those rare times when one feels swept aside and the Lord totally takes over and works through him without him doing anything but going along, sort of like a puppet for God! It was great!
We stayed for a special lunch they had prepared for us. The women here and at the school are so giving of themselves, taking such joy in doing the simplest tasks to serve others. They made all kinds of Indian food. Unfortunately I don’t like Indian food at all. The white rice they have with everything is edible and the tortilla-like bread (pieta bread) is not bad, but everything else is very, very spicy. They make it mild for us but it’s still way, way too hot to enjoy. The meat is always chunks in a sauce that is spicy, and the meat chunks have bone in them (like backbone or something). On top of that they all eat with their fingers, grabbing meat from the gravy, rolling it in the rice with their fingers and then eating it. Even worse, we can’t eat any fresh vegetables because they’ve been rinsed in water and we definitely stay from all water: drinking water, ice cubes, brushing teeth, even not using utensils washed in their water if possible. No one has gotten sick to their stomach yet and we should be OK, but eating is not the highlight of the day here. We did get some ice cream to eat with out malaria pills tonight – a malaria party!
We stayed and I taught the youth class in the afternoon at church. I talked about Mary and Joseph, how they were faithful in little things which is why God used them. They God first and were willing to lose each other plus their own reputations for God. I talked about discipleship and how God ha a plan for our lives. I felt very good about the whole thing and they (60 or 70) really responded quite well.
Afterwards some came for prayer again and that was nice. At the end they brought an old woman who had come to the youth program for some reason. I noticed she was barking, especially when I prayed with them to commit their lives to God. They told me she got an evil spirit in her about 5 years ago and it was making life miserable for her. I laid hands on her and really went after it, feeling great boldness and power from God. She growled and growled when I commanded them to be gone but didn’t seem to go. Then I looked right in here eyes where they were clearly visible but, totally filled and controlled by God, I had a holy boldness to aggressively go after them. David Babu was in a hurry to leave and felt we had prayed for her so we should go. Unfortunately I didn’t see any change. They growled the second time as well. I’ll keep praying for her and possibly see her next Sunday when the whole group comes here for a children’s rally during the worship service. I pray God will continue to work in her. One thing that hit me really hard is this session on spiritual warfare I’ll be doing tomorrow. I was wondering how applicable it would be for them and how believing they would be in demons. This episode clearly removed any doubt about that!
All in all it was a great day. Preaching with an interpretation to people who I don’t know makes it very hard to pinpoint needs and then meet them (impossible, actually), but everything went really well. It is a good feeling knowing God has chosen to work through me in those ways.
MONDAY, JANUARY 9, 2006
Well, today was the day I’ve been waiting for since last January when I heard about and committed to this trip. I slept well – 8:45 to 4:45. It’s the first 8 hour night I’ve had in quite some time! It felt good. I had devotions and ran from 5:20 to 6:20 then got washed and ready to go. It’s safe running here in the dark – certainly much safer than in Philadelphia where I know the language! I sort of keep my distance and run on the other side of the road from where they walk. They keep their distance, too. Very few will say hell. One mother with her daughter stopped and paused for a picture but most ignore me, although after 3 mornings of this I’m sure they are very well of who I am and what I am doing. I guess we both view other the same: with curiosity and suspicion. I did take the walkman and listen to Promise Keeper songs, that helps me worship while running. The mornings start with the eerie and haunting chanting coming from the loudspeakers everywhere of the Muslim morning prayers. 5:45 to 6 AM every morning it sounds and reminds me of where I am.
It is interesting to see how many of them wear jackets when the temperature is in the 80’s during the day and 60’s at night. They aren’t used to this and consider it cold weather!
The conference site is a conference hotel, but it’s quite old fashioned and run by the Catholic church. They keep it clean and do a nice job for everyone. Almost 50 pastors attended. The mosquitoes numbered in the thousands, though. They were everywhere. Some in the group have been getting bit in their rooms but I don’t think I’ve had one bite yet. I’ve killed enough of them in my room and bathroom, though! I guess it’s the bug lotion Nancy got for me. They say the perfume odor for this trip is bug spray because everyone uses it.
I went first and that was a real guinea pig experience! We started an hour late, as is typical for here. I wanted to be able to connect with them and have them identify with me through shared difficulties. I didn’t want to be the expert from America. God blessed that effort and it was that way. Both our talks went well. I talked about the calling, privilege and stretching of a pastor. The rest of the group arrived to hear the last part and I got several fine comments about how that helped them for God indeed stretches us all!
One of the most difficult parts was not being able to pick one or two people to focus on and make sure I personalized my teaching. Without knowing anyone it was hard. I did get to meet some in the break and from some of the questions I know I can really identify with some of them and they with me. That helps give me a face to personalize things for.
Steve’s time went well also. He talked about God’s grace to us in equipping us for the call (His presence, His Spirit and His spiritual gifts. He used the notes I had brainstormed and outlines. I did the power point for him as well. It worked very well! If I’d have know he was going to use it as it was I’d have polished it up more. It was very rough but Steve liked it and it worked.
After lunch I was Nehemiah and taught about characteristics of leaders. They seemed to really enjoy that and it went quite well! I enjoyed that session a lot. The first was opening up and sharing a common groups of ministry, and the second was imparting information and application about being a pastor/leader. Steve then talked about John and the importance of love. I put together some PowerPoint pictures for him to use.
Late in the afternoon I did my session on spiritual warfare. I guess, to be honest, I was expecting more – although I’m sure more what. As was to be expected, there were lots of distractions. The pastors evidently have experienced demonic opposition in their ministries. They seemed to really appreciate the session. I guess the ‘more’ I was expecting was more that I would learn from them. They asked questions, but the interpreter answered all of them. When I finally asked what was going on he said he was just repeating things I already said. I really don’t like him as an interpretation. He’s fine as a person, but adds to what I say, throws in jokes, changes the wording so when I expect to get a no answer from them, they all say yes. He is very loud with exaggerated gestures and says almost twice as many words as I do. It gets distracting and difficult. I know he’s just trying to help, but he certainly seems to enjoy being in front. He stands right along side me and bends his down over my notes as I talk looking for what I am saying! Oh, well – he’s the one God has provided.
For supper we went to a Mexican food place. They got my order wrong so my food didn’t come until everyone was done then I needed to rush. Mexican tastes too much like Indian food, which most of us are tired of because of how spicy it is.
I did find one item of Indian food I like. With most meals they have yogurt to cut the spiciness. It seems to help. It tastes just like the home-made yogurt we used to make, especially when it got runny. I’m almost the only one who eats it so I get extra. I asked Abigail what animal the milk for it comes from and she said ‘ox’!
There is an American group of 14 people two houses away that David has gotten to know and do things with. They are SBC from Arkansas and are here for a year teaching English as a way of meeting and witnessing to students. Some of them came over tonight. It was nice hearing them, but the evening got too late for me. We didn’t get home from supper until 9:30 and I was asleep at 8:45 last night!
As I heard, there is a real bonding that takes place among people on a mission trip – all the shared experiences and the culture difference push everyone closer together. I don’t know much at all about the other people in our group, but I feel I really know them. Walls are down traveling and living together all day every day. It’s nice – I am enjoying the experience.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2006
So here I am again – awake. I was so tired last night I kept dozing off in the van and listening to the people from Arkansas. I feel asleep immediately at 10:30 PM, but at 3:30 AM I was awake. My thoughts pull me out of sleep. It’s not worry or fear, it’s just so many thoughts at once, so many things to process, to think through, to plan, to mull over. Like eating a meal slowly, I like to think over things that have happened or will happen. I like to enjoy them, learn from them and make them part of me. There is so very much going on every minute, so many new things, that it’s hard to keep processing it all.
Being in India still seems like a dream – it hardly seems real. Living all day every day with 12 people I didn’t know before is a social adjustment for me: am I too withdrawn? am I interfering with their group too much (they are 2 groups who knew each other well before coming)? When am I entitled to privacy and my own time so they can have theirs and when am I being anti-social and rude? They seem to really enjoy my company: ask me lots of questions, laugh at what I say a lot (I seem to be able to put into a few words what they are thinking but don’t feel right saying). I hear them quoting me a lot in a complementary way when I’m not in the room, so that is going well. But it’s part of the 24-hour-a-day stretching. I have plenty of people to keep me company and to talk to, but I miss talking on a deeper level with someone who knows me and someone I’m real comfortable with. I really miss Nancy! I guess typing this is my make of trying to fill that void. Putting this all in words helps me process my thoughts as well.
Of course the sermons on Sunday and Pastor’s Conference are very, very stretching. It takes me way beyond my own ability and limits. I find I’m able to function and minister well, but I am so far out of my comfort zone I can’t even see it. I think I left it back in the United States!
Now my mind is busy thinking about what I will be doing Thursday-Saturday during the children’s rally. I’ll be doing a 40 minute dramatization each morning for the 8 through 14 year olds, about 100 of them. It will be on Moses, Elijah and Jesus. I’ve never done Jesus and never felt I should, but here and now that is the best way to bring Him alive to them so I’ll do it. Then I’ll have 10-15 minutes at the very end of the closing assembly when all 300+ children are together to use a magic trick to present the gospel. What do I have that that many children can see? These will be great things to do, I look forward to doing them and really enjoy doing things with the children here, but they are one more thing to think about and plan.
I’m certainly now worried or preoccupied, and I know it will all come together in time. It’s just a lot of new things to think about and adjust to. That’s one reason running each morning is so important – it’s my best time for uninterrupted thinking, to just let my mind go wherever. Running over the same few streets in the dark can be very boring (until a dog startles me – but all the wild dogs are so afraid of people they are no threat). But its good mentally. I guess I like to keep my mind neat and tidied up like I like to keep my work area neat and tidied up. The extra time this morning gave me time to organize my stacks of things and keep on top of my papers and what I am using here. A uncluttered mind and work space are important for me.
What I seem to be craving is some real down time. Time to sit in my room and rest, read, relax, and even get a bit bored. I need that 1 day in 6 rest. I know that won’t possibly happen until next Monday, and then it won’t happen physically because we’ll be going to the school.
The Pastor’s Conference went very, very well today. The translator wasn’t there when it was time to start so another man was going to translate, and I was VERY pleased with that! However the man came just before we started. I had been praying about my attitude to him and was actually glad to have his help. God helped me see that he is there to be an asset and help, not to make it harder on me. I’ve been too controlling to notice that the first day, not realizing God was taking things in a bit different direction than I was going. The is very choleric, so naturally things would be a bit difficult, but he turned out to b e the perfect man for the job and a great complement to me!
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME
11. God knows what I need better than I know what I need (will I ever really learn that?).
I spoke on priorities: self, God, mate, children, then church. It was very well received. Steve talked about characteristics of a pastor: faithfulness, fruitfulness, contentment, etc. After lunch we did a question and answer time which I always find challenging and interesting. Then I was John and they really clapped for the times I dressed up. Knowing I am shy and this helps makes them respond better, too. I focused on fear and discouragement and closed with then sharing testimonies about how they overcame fear. Five shared and it was very, very moving. I next said we’d pray for those who were still struggling with fear or discouragement, thinking 2 or 3 would raise their hands and we could gather around them in groups, but every single one of them raised their hands! So I had them break up into groups of 3, 4 or 5, join hands and pray in a circle. That was tremendous! It was one of the most moving experiences I’ve had in leading men, perhaps the most. Hearing them pray out loud for each other was thrilling. It was like God said, “Let me give you a glimpse of how this makes me feel!” And what power was present – 50 struggling but committed pastors praying together instead of struggling alone in their own dark corners. It’s like putting 50 glowing embers together and having a roaring fire! It was just phenomenal – way beyond anything that would even bring tears! They loved it as well and continually told me so. They said God is really speaking to their hearts – and that’s what I wanted: from my heart to their heart, not from my head to their head.
I started with opening myself to them, showing them it was safe to be open. Then we laughed at some things and that helps people relax as well. With heads down I asked those who wanted to be prayed for to raise their hands and I asked the translator to pray for them. This was doing the priorities session. Then some of the more bold ones were given an opportunity to share a testimony about overcoming fear. Tomorrow I’ll have each one give his name, church and a prayer request for the others. All will write that down. In the afternoon we’ll have a testimony time. But you can’t just start with testimonies. You need to work up to it, showing it is a safe environment and modeling what you want mirrored back to you. It’s not manipulation, just starting with people where they are and help them open the doors that take them to a new level.
It’s humbling that God used us to be part of this, for truly great fellowship and encouragement is taking place. This place has never had anything like this, and these pastors have no outside contact or even fellowship with each other. David Babu had been wondering how it would go and was thrilled as how it’s been turning out. He and Steve are very close since Steve is his pastor and close friend as well as the sponsor of their mission program. Besides, they live close to each other in the US. So with the 3 of us being together these days, those two naturally gravitated together. I was busy with PowerPoint, etc., anyway.
Traffic was terrible getting. It was 7:30 until we ate. I turned down a trip to the Internet Café because it’ll be too late until they get back. I’m REALLY tired!
I’m very glad I have this laptop to journal. I download pictures and recharge my camera battery every night. I used the Bible program a couple times today. I won’t be so far behind when I get home this way!
These Indian people are impressing me more and more as time goes on. They are very gentle and go way out of their way to help in any way they can. They carry my bags in and out of everywhere I go. They enjoy serving and that’s nice to see. In some ways they are quite a bit like the Hispanics. Their color skin color, food, and music are similar to Hispanics. They look very much like Americans, but with different skin coloring. One looks just like Fred Gasigrib and another like Chris Unger. One reminds me of Ted Clemmer. They women are much more modest than the Hispanics. They always wear long dresses and sarees, even when on motorcycles or hauling wood. They sure are colorful. Another difference is that more Indians know English than Chinese.
Best of all are the ones who are believers! There’s nothing like God’s people! As I stood there watching and listening to them pray I was amazed at how different we are yet in Christ how alike we are. My family genealogy (like all of us here from America) hasn’t touched theirs since Noah! That’s how different our races are. Their history, culture, language, customs, food, dress and virtually everything are different. And yet, in some strange way, they aren’t any different than us at all! We have the same needs and dreams, same fears and problems, same marriage issues, same problems with the people we pastor. We are totally different, yet we are completely alike. That clearly is a God thing!
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2005
I fell asleep at 10 PM after reading 2 lines in my book and awoke at 3:30 AM. I just lay there praying, thinking, enjoying God’s presence and all that is happening, and thinking about the children’s lessons I will be presenting. I’m ready for the final day of the pastor’s conference but need to plan ahead for tomorrow. With us leaving at 7 AM and not returning until 8 PM, and then having supper and prep for the next day, things are very hectic. The days are very emotionally draining, extremely intense – enjoyable but exhausting. It’s hard to relax and stay asleep. I trust God will give me enough energy to keep going.
The other truth that has been foremost in my mind all day is the awesome privilege of being used by God to be part of us. Nothing like this has ever happened for the pastors in this area and it puts them on a new level for now they are encouraged, better trained, know they are not alone in what they face, and have contacts with other local pastors. They are very excited and committed to keep this going and build on this from here. What’s so great is that God put this issue on David Babu’s heart a long time ago. It has nothing to do with David’s ministry here but is a call God gave him. He has been wanting it and praying for it for some time. I remember various trips to our church asking if I’d come and teach pastors. This was God’s timing for He prompted me to say yes and to have Box-Mont come at the same time. That God would choose and use me to be part of this is more than I can imagine. It is very humbling and encouraging. God chose to share this great blessing with me! And it isn’t even over. Thursday through Saturday I get to present the gospel and lead the children in prayer at the end of their Children’s Rally (like VBS). What a great, great honor and what a way to bring light into darkness! It most definitely is worth coming half way around the world for! Yet I think of early missionaries like William Carey and Adrian Judson who came to this part of the world on a 6-month boat ride and stayed their whole lives with very little to show numerically for their work. We are definitely reaping where others have sowed!
David asked for suggestions about what to do next and I suggested they meet again in 3 months at a larger church were there is room to focus on prayer together. They can sing, as they love to do, pray in small groups or as a large group. I suggested he announce the time and place tomorrow (today) and he will. It’s curious for me to see someone with the exact same burden I have – to reach out to the needy without charge (as we with home schoolers) and especially those in ministry. I can totally understand what he feels and how it is to him.
As David and the others share their ministry problems here it is very obvious that they are the exact opposite of ours at home. We have plenty of resources but, try as we might, lack response. Here there is plenty of response but they lack resources. David is paying for this conference with his own money. He pays for the room, the places for the men to stay overnight, their meals, etc., all himself because they couldn’t come if he didn’t. He uses his own money. He doesn’t even have a home for his family. Abigail stays in the states with the girls and he rents a room from her sister. He’s had to turn men away from this conference. In fact, he didn’t even invite anyone from the larger churches in the area. He’s tried to keep the word quiet for he can only have 50 but the word has spread and every day new pastors who have heard show up. It’s like that for most of the church programs and events here. When is the last time I had to keep things quiet because of not having enough room? When is the last time I had to turn anyone away because of lack of space????? Our frustration is the opposite of David’s frustration, but they affect us the same – we aren’t able to do the ministry we feel burdened to do.
I continue to really enjoy my new camera. I take pictures everywhere, download them at night and recharge the battery. Every place we go, every street we drive on, everything is so new and different. I know I’ll be glad to go home, and the half way point will be tonight or tomorrow, depending on how you figure it with time change, etc, but I already realize I will miss the life and excitement, the intensity and color, the feeling of being fully alive as we engage in so many ministry opportunities. It’s impossible to forget where we are with goats for sale by the side of the road for today’s Moslem holiday meal and Hindu temples virtually everywhere. It’s sort of eerie running on their festival days. People are up earlier and don’t seem as relaxed. I stay closer to home when I run. It seems they have one every 3 or 4 days since they have thousands of Hindu gods. How sad…..
At the end of the street is a Hindu temple and I pass it running and driving 8 to 10 times a day. The ox carts going by modern computer tech buildings sum it all up. The very, very rich live right alongside the very, very poor who build their huts against the security walls of the rich. The very modern is evident in the new buildings and the very old push cards loaded with onions or oranges, the women carrying water on their heads back from the well, all mix together.
While the new and the old are together everywhere here, and things are messy and unkempt many places, every morning the wife uses bamboo sticks tied together to sweep around their house. I see the rich houses doing this as well as women in their hovels sweeping the dirt in front of their doorway. There is no litter. In fact, there are no trash cans. I only can find one small box in the corner of the kitchen here to put trash in. To throw something away at the convention center you need to go to the back corner of the kitchen where the food scraps are put into a small bucket. In America we have paper everywhere, everything is wrapped in something. That isn’t the case here. There are no trash cans and there is no little. They have newspapers but you don’t even see many of them around. There is no toilet paper, either. Toilets are a hole in the floor one stands or squats over. There is a spigot and small bucket alongside for pouring water over one’s bottom to clean it and pouring water down the hole to flush. Still, you can’t go anywhere without seeing men or children standing by the side of the road, backs to the road, going to the bathroom.
There are some things I am getting tired of. I’m tired of spicy food – white rice with different kinds of spicy sauces on it, eating with the fingers. I’m tired of mosquitoes everywhere, even as I type. I’m tired of avoiding the water and doing all my drinking, teeth brushing, etc. with bottled water. Every glass, every utensil, every dish food item – we must constantly be aware of how it was prepared and washed. I’m tired of constantly wishing Nancy were here so I could connect with her and share all this with her and then wondering how I’m ever going to explain it all to her. I’m tired of being so constantly on the go. I love the results but the product itself is draining. I crave a day off to do nothing but regroup. That probably won’t be until a week after we get back home! I have a crash scheduled for the middle of the week after I return!
I am really enjoying Indian tea, though. It’s served in very, very small cups. It’s very hot, which I like, and has sugar and cream (buffalo or ox milk) in it..
The conference today went great! I had them stand and introduce themselves one by one and all the others wrote down a prayer request so they can pray for each other. If I’d have thought it would have turned out like this ahead of time I would have ecstatic. Half this good would have been good. The very positive response by the 50 pastors, the enthusiasm for the teaching, the bonding between them, the good singing and worship – and this for the first time ever in this city of 6 ½ million! They want a lot more of it and that will be enjoyable. I got a plaque of a gateway into the city. We’ll go see the real thing tomorrow. They honored David for putting this together and the tears just rolled down his face in joy! It truly has been an honor and a privilege to be involved with this!
I made 20 CD’s of sermons and conference materials and they went the first day. I have orders for another 40 or 50. And these men don’t have computers, they’ll have to go to an internet café or some place to look at them.
There’s one young man I got especially close to from the first session on. He gave me a picture of himself and his wife. He is always trying to talk to me but knows very little English. What is does know is so heavily accented it’s hard to understand. My poorer hearing certainly doesn’t help, either. I want to write him after I’m home a bit and stay in touch. I definitely feel a Paul-Timothy thing with him. All the Indian people are very pleasant and peaceful. They aren’t overly friendly in greeting strangers, but there is no danger of being around them. Because English is so common and because they are so gentle it’s a place many English-speaking people want to visit.
David surveyed the men and the responses were excellent. As to what they learned by an overwhelming landslide they said the session I did on responsibilities where I showed their wife and children come before the church, but they need to take care of themselves first of all. They especially learned from the wife part. They want to have a conference just for pastors and wives.
I was thinking of all the tremendous opportunities God has given me to minister and serve. They are numerous. I remember each of these as being a real life-time highlight, and I’ve had so many of them. What a privilege! There is Sankanac and Sandy Cove, CHAP and World View, the marriage retreats I’ve done and now being involved in the spiritual warfare ministry online. There are many others not quite in that category: SEARCH, Wellness Center, Virginia trip, etc. This, though, has to be the most intense and fruitful 8 days of ministry I’ll ever spend. It continues tomorrow with the children’s classes.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME
12. Extreme stretching results in extreme ministry and fruitfulness. There seems to be some direct proportion of the blessing to the cost. The higher the cost, the greater the blessing.
I’m looking forward to working with children after being with men all day for these 3 days. With the men and women in the group being so separated it’s been nice being back together. It’s like both groups noticed something is missing when a group is just one sex.
These people here certainly have given me a new definition of ‘servant.’ They don’t let us do any work: move a chair, carry my bag into the car or conference center, etc. We can’t even get our own tea or refills. They insist we sit and they do it for us. What is so impressive is that they all, from the car drivers (hired with the rented vans) to the Christians at the churches, really enjoy serving and see it as a privilege. To not let them do so would hurt them and disappoint them greatly. They find great joy in serving. One young man, about 14, who was constantly around me helping at the conference was very helpful with a great attitude. I told him I’d like to take him home with me!
The biggest disappoint, though, is not being able to email home more. We leave at 7 in the morning and don’t get home until 8 or later. Then there’s supper and preparing/reviewing for the next day. I’ve only slept past 4 AM once so I’m getting quite tired. Tonight we got back at 7 but went to the mall for pizza (twice in one week) and then had food shopping, stopping for Xerox copies, etc. It was 10 until we got back. To go out to find an Internet place, stay an hour, come home, etc., would be impossible with me being as tired as I am. I pray Nancy isn’t concerned about me. I’ll get there soon!
Pizza was a good break from rice and whatever spicy sauce they had for that meal (which is what we had for lunch). I do miss a fresh salad but we can’t have fresh vegetables since they rinse them in water and that kind of contact with local water can really cause stomach problems.
David Babu has high blood pressure and is always on the go. His cell phone rings 20 times before the conference starts. He is always on it, always interrupted by its ring. I told him when the conference was over I was going to take it, so at the mall I did. Abby was very glad to not have him on the phone for awhile.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2006
I slept from 11 to 5 last night – 6 hours. That felt good. I also realized something out of the clear blue. My continual headache and my sleeping problems (although I fall asleep in the van and immediately when in bed) could be from those tiny cups of Indian tea I have once or twice a day. My jaw is still very, very sore when I open my mouth all the way and the headache is on that side so that could be the problem as well. I’ll stop all tea and see. To not drink tea with them at tea time is not good, but the times I have had to do that are over so no more tea! I ran with my walkman this morning, that helps the boredom of running in the same ½ mile area. I haven’t missed a morning running yet.
The children’s rally went great today! 530 children came, and that’s without publicity. They expect 800 tomorrow by word of mouth. I was quite nervous but really enjoyed doing Moses. It went quite well. I really, really do enjoy teaching children. I feel very comfortable with them and I think that comes across well for they respond very nicely. At the very end I gave the gospel presentation telling a story about Suni and Mary. That’s better than just straight theology to children. I used the color changing bag to illustrate it. As I was doing the part about Jesus red blood I noticed out the back of the church a hard of goats going down the street. Everything is open, like in Antigua, for the temperature here is the same as there. Tomorrow I’ll do Daniel and the gospel at the end. Saturday will be Jesus and they want me to do a ½ hour presentation at the end. I’ll pull out all my magic tricks and string them together to keep their attention.
I really enjoy this ministry but the pace is getting to me. It’s been leaving at 7 in the morning and not back until late – 10 PM tonight! After the children’s rally we got things together for tomorrow, when to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken (which was no different than all the other ricey, spicey Indian food here), confirmed our flights at the airline, then I went to the internet café with 2 of the women while the rest went back to change. They picked us up on the way to the Industrial Exhibition, something like the fairgrounds but with large booths/stands for selling things. It is enormous! The women aren’t as affected for they didn’t have much to do the first 3 days. Steve is a bit like me, but without the drama and closing presentation he has a little pressure off. He does teach and lead the high school class as well, though. He’s quite tired, too, but is one of the people who only need 5 hours of sleep a night so it isn’t as hard on him.
I think I will look back on this in the future as the most productive and fruitful 8 days of ministry I have ever had. I’ll speak about 20 times till it’s all over: 3 adult sermons, 2 youth sermons, 7 pastor conferences sessions, 8 times speaking to children in the children’s rally, and 6 of these will be done in costume. Those costumes are going over very well here – I should have brought more than 2. I can mix and match to make a lot more, though, as I am doing with my clothing.
I’m learning more about the dress here. The women’s costume with a separate top and skirt, bare midriff, and long piece of material that goes across the front is more traditional and is a saree. Of more modern origin is the salwar. It is a long dress over long pants with a long scarf wrapped around the neck.
In thinking of our senses here it comes down to these as the winners:
Sound – horns honking
Smell – bug spray
Taste – rice and spice (curry)
Sight – traffic jams, saree and salwar
Touch – mosquito bites
FRIDAY, JANUARY 13, 2006
I went to sleep at 11 and woke up at 4 and couldn’t get back to sleep. My body was tired and my mind relaxed. I lay in bed and prayed, worshipped and thought of all the good things going on. Then I got up and organized today’s materials. Sometimes I think I’m going to really crash one day and be out of it, other times I think this is God’s mercy to give me the time I need to organize and do a good job. I do believe it’s the later.
We had devotions and a group talk at 7 so I ran early. One nice thing, the only street in the area with street lights is this one because they are malfunctioning and staying on all night and day. That does give me some light to run under, however. I run on some other streets, too, but mostly on this one.
Things went very well at the children’s rally today. There were 1000 children present. One little girl in front, about 12 years old, had the Hindu mark on her forehead. There were many Hindu children here and many who weren’t believers.
I dressed as Daniel. I was in the front before dismissal so all could see me. Evidently these costumes are a much bigger hit here than I expected, with the pastors and with the children. The magic tricks fascinates the children, too. Anyway, Daniel went very well. Moses was about God being faithful to us, Daniel about us being faithful to God. The fit together nicely.
At the end of the program I presented the gospel to all 1,000 students using Suni and Kumar. I used the black heart to white. Yesterday when I prayed to accept Jesus I didn’t ask for a show of hands, but today when I was done and it was time to pray the prayer I asked David Babu to lead in it. He had them raise hands and about 40 children raised their hands! One teenage girl who was a Hindu talked with us afterwards. Her friend invited her to come. I have her name to pray for her and she said she’ll pray for me. She said, “I have so much joy now!” That’s what it’s all about!!!!
Before it all started, as the children were arriving, I stayed at the back to greet them as Daniel. Everyone greets everyone with “Praise the Lord” and putting their palms together under their chin. I’m sure I did it hundreds of times today to the children and teachers, but never get tired of it. Afterwards I was dressed regular for the last part of the program but greeted them as they left. Many asked for autographs and phone number – that’s the way they do it. It makes them feel privy to special information and that I am accessible so I do it. It would be hard to talk to them on the phone. While all the children know English, they talk very quietly and have a strong accent so I have a hard time understanding them. Still, we can communicate. Smiles and “Praise the Lord” say it all. One teenage girl said, as she was leaving, “I like the way you teach.” That was a nice complement.
When we were done we got things set up for tomorrow, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we had brought along, and took the long way home to see old town Hyderabad. It’s not a tourist place but the real thing. When building started if began south of the city so the growth is all to the south and the old past hasn’t changed much. We also went to the famous arch there, Charminar, build by the first Moslem king, the one whose tomb we saw. He met a Hindu girl at that place and, when she died, built a huge arch there. It was in the 1500’s, about the time of Martin Luther! What a site!
Then we came back to rest a bit before going to Abby’s sister’s home for supper. I worked on my talks for tomorrow. The puppet team that has been part of the closing program yesterday and today can’t come tomorrow so they asked me to do a longer gospel presentation. I’ll use several magic tricks.
We were to leave at 5:30 and it took me that long to prepare so I didn’t have any down time, but when we didn’t leave on time I lay down and feel dead asleep. I slept very soundly, without moving on my back, for 2 hours until we left. I had taken a ½ hour nap in the van driving to the gate. That’ isn’t easy with sitting in front of the van, no seat belts, and it stopping and starting so fast so often. I guess I really needed that extra rest! I’m glad I got it. Maybe I can get back to more normal in my rest.
We went to Abigail’s older sister’s home for supper. It is their anniversary tomorrow and Jackie’s 40th birthday today so we celebrated both. Jackie can’t talk from a sinus cold that settled in her throat but was very moved by it all. Ruth is 20, Jackie 40, me 60 (soon) and Lillian is 80. What a variety!
Where we ate is where David lives. He rents a room upstairs. There is no house they have here for Abigail and the girls to come stay with him. He uses all his money for the ministry and sees the family when he gets to the states. That isn’t right and Steve and I have been trying to see what we can do to help. The girls want to stay in America until done with high school, then they can go to a college dorm or somewhere. They are in 9th and 10th grades now. I repeated our offer of a few years ago that they can stay with us and go to school or be home schooled. David and Abby need to be together! Abby is so happy here! It’s like she comes alive. She smiles bigger and everything. I told her I noticed it and she agreed. David is more Americanized and a bit more comfortable there. So where is Abby – in America. And where is David – in India.
The meal was nice – spicy meat and lentil soup (with curry, very spicy) on rice. They have white rice every meal. They think they make it not spicy for us but it certainly is very spicy. They always have home made yogurt with the meals for that cuts the spicy taste in your stomach. I like the yogurt a lot, it’s runny like we used to make but is from goat or oxen milk. I always have lots of that for it is protein and I don’t have problems with eating spices. It’s not like Mexican spicy that bothers you later. Everyone eats with their fingers, balling up the rice and whatever else is there and putting the ball into their mouth. Abby eats that way in the states as well. Most in the group have done that. I don’t mind going barefoot in my suit, sitting on the floor, etc., but I find it more comfortable to eat with a fork.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2006
I went to sleep as soon as I got home last night – 10:30. I woke up at 5 this morning and rested until 5:30 when I ran. I hope I’m on the way back to getting caught up on my rest. I don’t want that interfering with my work or enjoyment of this experience.
I had my typical morning run around here. I’m anxious for next week when I can run later and go through different neighborhoods in this part of town. We won’t be leaving as soon.
This, the final day of children’s rally, went really, really great. I was John talking about Jesus and there is so much you can explain about the gospel, etc., through that. The children really enjoyed it as well. Then I did the closing talk, using 5 or 6 magic tricks to talk about salvation and living the Christian life. Many hands went up at the invitation again. I know lots of the younger ones in the front just automatically put up their hands. It’s the hands of the older ones in the back that really matter and there were many of them as well. It is challenging. The water with chemicals I had in the front had gotten spilled and I quickly needed to redo that, plus everything was wet! God used it though. They children really enjoyed the costumes and magic. They added something very special and really kept the children’s attention. I’m glad I can do those things for they make it much easier for children to listen.
There were about as many as yesterday, 1000. About 100 from the church come to help with classes when we break into small classes, etc. They seem to really like the costumes and magic as well. There is a real joy and peace in the eyes of these people that just isn’t present in the Hindu’s and Moslems elsewhere. Jesus is the difference!
As was the case yesterday, we spent almost an hour afterwards signing papers and autograph books for children, praying for them, talking with them, etc. They keep calling me ‘uncle’ Jerry which is a privileged term of respect. The whole experience has been great! The women from Bux-Mont started planning this 2 years ago and have been collecting supplies, etc. Many children grew spiritually and more than just a few are new believers. Many of them got my email, address, etc., so I hope some can stay in touch, maybe even visit if they come to this country. I’d love to have them come for an extended visit. That would be terrific!
There was a very nice meal for us afterwards – rice with sauces and meat chunks to put on it. They get such a joy from serving us! Young girls really want to carry my heavy backpack to help me out. They get a real joy from serving – an attitude we should all have.
I spent a lot of time getting to know the two men who translated for me. I think we’ll see the one this summer when he visits his children who live in Kansas and Florida. The other is a banker. Both are retired. Evidently from what they are saying Oct to March is the nicest time of the year. April and May the temperature is in the 120’s and then June through September is the rainy season.
After eating most went shopping but I came back with a couple others to get ready for tomorrow. I have the opening sermon, then will be John talking to the 7th through high school ones (100 of them) for up to an hour. I’ll have the closing remarks for the children’s program which will include all ages of children, young through high school. Then in the afternoon Steve and I will share teaching the youth class. That’ll make about 20 messages in these 8 days. Next week should be much lighter.
Perhaps I should list who is on the trip. Abigail Babu came alone to see David. Elizabeth Handoe is the wife of Joe who organized this but couldn’t come. I sat with her on the plane. She is in her 40’s, childless, from Bermuda and moving back there soon. Ghodsi Mobasher was an Arab who found Jesus and came to the US with her daughters many years ago. She is in her 60’s or 70’s. Jackie Gammon heads up the social work program at Bethanna. She just turned 40, has no children but a husband, and does all the behind-the-scenes organization work. Very helpful to the team! Lillian Kellogg is 80 and likes traveling. She and Ghodsi are saying a week longer to visit India, even take an elephant ride. All these are members of Bux-Mont Baptist Church. Steve and Kathy Sheldon, the pastor and wife, are here also.
Leela Neti is a new believer from Temple who graduated with a degree in education. Her family is originally from Hyderabad which is why she was interested in coming. She has a very good heart for God – reminds me of Glory lots of time. Jackie Whittaker finished beautician school in Philadelphia and is a friend of Leela and Ruth Elliott, who attends Temple university majoring in chemistry. It’s a nice group of people and we get along well.
Interestingly enough the one I know the best is Ruth Elliott. She is the youngest in the group, but we’ve been together for numerous hours because we are the smallest two people in the group so we ride in the front of the van with the driver. He’s Hindu and knows very little English, mostly grunts that mean ‘close the window.’ With everything so loud we can’t have much conversation in the van and it takes an hour to get almost anywhere, sometimes a lot longer. The ones in the smaller car have it quieter and can talk but it’s very hard in the van. Sitting together, though, gives us an opportunity to talk. Ruth is just 20 but has a wonderful commitment to the Lord and deeply wants to follow Him. She has a lot of maturity for her age – very secure family life with lots of love and attention from her father which she attributes it all to. I wish I had an available son to check her out for she has lots of good stuff going on. She has a lot of melancholy so we approach things from the same slant. It’s very nice for me to be able to go deeper in conversation with someone and be able to share thoughts, impressions and observations about this whole experience.
The experience really is almost overwhelming. Our senses are constantly being bombarded and there isn’t enough time to take in all in and process all of it. I take almost a full camera load of pictures and videos each day, come back here and down load them and recharge the battery. I’ve done that for Ghodsi’s camera or she wouldn’t be able to take any pictures from now on, and she’s staying an extra week. I really enjoy keeping this journal going and keeping up with processing my slides. I hope to have time next week to outline the sermon for when I get home, maybe even do a few things ahead so I’m not so pressured when I get home. I know there will be a lot to do and I’ll be tired! One week from now I’ll be home. I’ve very anxious to see everyone again, but this has been such a magnificent experience I hate to see it end.
SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2006
Finally an 8 hour sleep night! I went to sleep at 8:45 and woke up at 5:15! Actually I work up before that for some Rolaids. My stomach wasn’t doing well from something I ate last night. To make sure we got something safe we went to a fancy restaurant that claims to sell American food. It specializes in burgers but no red meat burgers! Vegetable, chicken, etc. – but no meat. I got fish ‘n chips to be extra safe and something definitely didn’t agree.
Instead of running for an hour I walked fast for an hour. Partly because of my stomach, partly because I’m tired from standing so much every day to teach. My legs are just weary! It felt good to walk fast and listen to the walkman (PK songs) and praise God.
We went to the church I was at last week – New Jerusalem House of Worship. The pastor, who was gone last week, was there. I really felt very close to him and comfortable with him. Preaching with him translating was like team preaching. We same to share the same passion and fire in wanting the same things for our people.
My sermon at the start of their service was about the widow’s 2 mites and how it’s our motive God looks at, not the outer appearance of what we do. He wants us to serve Him out of a heart of love. I used some illustrations to make the point and he started crying while translating one. He led in prayer as well as adding some things to make the sermon better apply to them. He told me later he was going through a tough time personally and God used this to touch his heart. He really is quite a man – Brother Andrew. He is responsible for 70 churches and is seen as a spiritual giant in this area. Pastors here don’t get paid, they are expected to live by faith and to be poor – that shows their spirituality. Sermons have to have 7 points. They are long enough to do that. Seven is the perfect number and that’s what they expect to hear.
I then went up with the children and got changed into my John costume. I taught the junior and senior high classes – about 100+ teens. I went over Jesus wanting to be our friend and what that meant. I talked about Him being God and man in one. I used lots of Christian magic as I did yesterday and that really, really caught their attention. The pastor’s wife translated for me. She had been a medical doctor but gave it up to minister with her husband. Anyway, she gave the invitation when we were done. They kneel with eyes closed when praying. She asked for a show of hands for those wanting to accept Jesus and 6 went up! They always give cards to those who raise their hands so they can get info on them, record the decision, and follow up in an appropriate way. I was thrilled beyond words to have 6 of those teens give their hearts to Jesus in response to my session! Nothing could be greater!
Ruth videotaped a good portion of my talk today and yesterday, so I can see it. Obviously God was helping me with the working, flow, etc., for it went very, very well. All the tricks worked and really got their attention as well.
They then broke up into their small groups with their teachers helping them. Mainly they did the questions in Talebu. When the younger group came to join us the room was full. I had a closing talk about us being from America and being different but the same. I used magic tricks to show our heart changing from black to white. I also used the rope tying up the loop.
The girls in the group have been teaching the children songs. Ruth leads and Jackie and Leela join in. The children already know songs like “Father Abraham” “This is the Day,” “I have the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy,” “This little light of mine,” etc. At the youth meeting we sane “Blessed Assurance” and “Heaven Came Down,” songs I haven’t sung in quite a while and really enjoyed.
Then I joined the others downstairs for the close of the service and prayed for some people afterwards. The lady who was barking came and asked me to pray for her. I did, thinking I knew better how to approach it this time – go for the ruler (death, then darkness and suffering). I did but they barked and growled anyway. The pastor said she has been this way a long time but always comes faithfully every service. She is very, very poor and lives in one of the ‘slums’ we see. I gave the pastor 100 rupes to give her. It’s only $2 to me but a week’s wages for her. They had lunch for us – rice with the same toppings. My stomach was feeling better although for a while I thought it was going to get really sick.
Since the morning service lasted from 10 until 2:30 (4 ½ hours) the youth meeting started late. Steve spoke first, then me. We were each going to talk 10 minutes about our lives and 10 minutes about a favorite passage but after Steve was done David said we couldn’t be done that soon so I should at 15 minutes at least to mine. I used Philippians 2:7-11 about knowing Christ and talked about discipleship and having to pay the price to get the produce. The pastor liked that, too, and gave an invitation for discipleship at the end. Four or five raised their hands to fill in cards indicating their commitment. That was thrilling, too.
It was another grueling and exhausting day, but a very spiritually rewarding day. This was day 8 of 8 where I spoke 20 times (10 to adults, 3 to teens and 7 to children). Every one of these days had moments of extreme exhilaration, times when God’s presence and power was evident in a special way, times when my heart thrilled beyond words and what was happening spiritually in the lives of those we were ministering to. Any one of these days by itself would have been the spiritual highlight of a normal 6 months of ministry or more. Putting them all together one after another is beyond description!
MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2006
I slept 7 hours last night, woke up with time to do an extended time of devotions, then ran when the sun was up so I could see well enough to go through strange neighborhoods. That was very interesting.
We went to the Good Shepherd school this morning. That was a very enjoyable experience. We met the children who stay there in the home and some of their parents. Most are new believers and can’t have the children home with them because it isn’t safe or they aren’t healthy. One single mother said she had to sleep outside with her girls for they had no home and she had to hold them and stay awake as much as she could to protect them from men. With tears in her eyes she said how she gets up at 4 every morning to pray for the school and how grateful she is to David and Abigail. She realizes there is nothing she can do to repay them but is overwhelmed with God’s love through them. Several of the families were saved out of Hinduism and are the only Christians in their family. They give up having the children with them so they can learn the Bible and have a better life. One mother said she wanted her children to have a better life than she had. It was very moving.
We spent time doing things with the children. The women brought lots of games and puzzles for them so I spent awhile doing some puzzles and alphabet games with 5 little boys kindergarten age. They knew a few words of English and we had a good time together.
I met Deena, a 3rd grade girl who lives at the school with her younger sister. June Mauer supports her. Her father tries to raise them alone so he has them live at the school. He is a very kind, giving man who does any little thing he can to help at the school. If he gets 2 fish he brings them to the school. He is deeply appreciative of the school providing for his daughters. The school needs more sponsors – $25 a month changes a child’s life!
We made ourselves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the school for lunch – my stomach was in heaven! Then we went to the Salar Jung Museum in town. It is a huge place, mainly with items and collections from the last ruler (king) of that area who lived about 100 years ago. It was interesting, especially seeing Buddhas and other idols from 100 and 200 AD up to the present. All the idol worship that went to them is appalling.
On the way home we stopped at a gift store, Indian style, and got some thing for our families and friends at home. It was refreshing for the prices on it were fixed. Everywhere else (except the malls) you have to barter. Abbie does it for us for she is good. She turns into another person and is strong, shrewd, persistent, and half the time grabs the merchandise, throws down the money she is willing to pay and walks away while the owner screams at her for more. That is the way a good housewife learns to shop here!
Tonight we all took David and Abigail out to eat as a treat for them. We went to a place they like, Mainland China. We got there at 8 and didn’t leave until almost 11! The food was good but the service so slow. First there were ‘starters’ to order, wait for, and eat, then they got around to taking our orders and another ½ hour wait, same for desert. It is a fancy place with nice decorations. David’s sister and nephew have been down to spend the day with us and ate, too. We were all to split the price but for the 14 of us it take to less than $100 so Steve Sheldon just paid it all himself. That makes it about $7 a person!
That, though, is the biggest difficulty I have here – getting to bed late. I just don’t sleep late in the morning and late nights REALLY wear me out. If I can get to sleep by 10 I’m OK – 9 is better. But late nights just drain me. Oh, well, only 2 more nights after tonight.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17, 2006
I got 6 ½ hours last night – 11 to 5:30 AM. I went for a later run again, not leaving until 6:30. I can go through more of this part of the town that way. I really see all kinds of great stuff! I went through a Hindu cemetery, a very large one and obviously for those who are quite rich. The bodies of the poor are cremated.
We went to the Good Shepherd Home again this morning. We did some painting (white-washing, etc.). I worked with the workman of the home moving dirt from 2 piles to spread out along the wall so they can grow things. For tools we had a large spade and two metal bowls, like pizza pans and made out of thick metal. They are larger and are bent, though, so the dirt can be pushed into them with the hoe and then carried and dumped where they want it. I’ve seen people, especially women, doing that throughout the area. The women carry construction materials up the wooden poles that serve for scaffolding and they carry the trash items down that way. They do it on their heads but I wasn’t able to do that. I did balance many of the loads on my shoulder. Often dirt dumped down my shirt. I drank about 5 liters of water in the morning alone. We did one side in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I’ve really been looking forward to doing this and asked to do this. The women in the group couldn’t and Steve has heart problems. Plus I’ve been looking forward to some good, hard physical labor and it felt great afterwards. My arms, back and legs are exhausted. Each load must be about 40 pounds and sometimes the walk was quite far from the pile to the wall. It really feels good to be tired out physically, though. What made it difficult was the hot sun with no breeze. It’s fine when just walking or sitting, but with that physical exertion it was very hard.
I washed up when done (the whole thing took 4 hours of work). We spent the rest of the afternoon with the children. I spent several hours overall with Deena, June Mauer’s girl. She doesn’t know June Mauer pays for her, though. They let the sponsors know but not the children because then its hard and confusing if a sponsor drops the child. Deena’s little sister, who is about 4, named Ester, was with us all the time, too. She’s more outgoing than Deena and has really taken an attraction to me. It’s easy to play with children even if you can’t communicate with them, but with adults if you can’t communicate (like with the workman I was working with) then nothing happens at all. I wish we had sponsored a child so I could meet him/her, but I didn’t even know about the program. $25 a month to change a life is worth it! I told David we’d sponsor one when he had room for another child. Either us, our family, or some person or group at the church can come up with less than a dollar a day! They have 11 girls which fills the room they are in. It isn’t a large room. They have a cubby hole for their clothes and lay mats on the floor to sleep at night. The boys room has a little space for there are only 6 boys in it. They need funds to pay and support the house parents as well. Its very each to get attached to the children!
Tonight we ordered out for supper. David likes to eat like they do in India – at 8 or 9 in the evening. Then till we get back home, etc., it is so late getting to sleep. I’m sure I’d have done better had I been able to set my own bed time. People here then sleep late in the morning. I’m up 4 or 5 hours before we go anywhere because I just always wake up and don’t sleep late.
After we eat we’re going to walk down to the Internet Café. I’ve been running by it and throughout the area but none of the others have been out in the town on their own. Ruth and Jackie want to come, maybe Elizabeth as well. We’ll see when done eating. I’m sure that will make it late again tonight!
Before going to bed I went to Ruth, Leela and Jackie’s room to talk and pray with them. They are long-time friends but having some difficulties here, especially Jackie. She comes from a difficult background and struggles with fear. We talked awhile and prayed several times, spiritual warfare, and her fear and anxiety were gone. Praise God for that! She can’t sleep at night – hopefully now she can. I also prayed for Leela, who will be staying here for 4 months to help at the school. Her father is a Hindu from here so I prayed for her protection. She gets hit with strange things. She is a new believer but very sincere and committed. She reminds me so much of Glory I really feel fatherly to her and protective of her. I had 3 Spiritual Warfare handbooks that I brought along for the pastor’s conference but a need for them never arose so I thought I’d take them home. Three handbooks, three girls – that’s no coincidence! I brought 10 blank CD’s and will use every one of them – none left over, none short. That’s a God thing, too!
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2006
I had a short night sleep last night, but I’m getting used to that. I fell asleep a little before 12 after praying with the girls. I woke up at 3:30 but lay, dozed and prayed until 5:30. Then I got up and worked on my pictures, getting them ready for a power point presentation Sunday. That’s quite an ambitious project since I’ve had virtually no time here to do anything but download pictures each day.
I went for a nice run through town again. It really is different than any other place I’ve been! Yet it isn’t scary or threatening at all – just foreign and different.
We went to the school again today. I went for a long walk down the dirt lane by it to the local village. I saw a lizard, bird, chipmunk with a really long tail, lots of oxen (some even passed me on the ‘road’ driven by 2 girls) and lots of Egrets in the rice paddies. It was exciting and thrilling, being in the ‘real’ India after so much time in the city! Just imagine – India!!!
I painted the green trim around the windows and doors after the others got done whitewashing the walls. That took several hours but was the only real work we did today. We spent lots of time with the children again and that’s fun. I like playing games, doing puzzles and doing art work with them. It’s easy to get to know them, they are all so different. I end up mainly with Denna and Esther, although Esther is one of the most extroverted ones there despite being one of the smallest. They call her Rania which means ‘queen’ – Queen Esther. She looks like she’s 4 but she’s 7. She’s been so malnourished from only eating white rice that she hasn’t grown like she should. Her mother is too sick to take care of the girls and the father brings them here for their benefit. You can tell he misses them but wants what is best for them – getting them grounded in the faith and ready for a better life than he had!
Tonight we went to Subway for supper. Without lettuce or tomatoes the submarines just aren’t all that great – but at lease they weren’t hot!
I talked a bit and prayed with Leela, Jackie and Ruth tonight. I do lots of talking with Ruth when she sits in front with me, and was in the small car with all 3 girls as well. We talked about books for Christian girls to read. They gave me some good suggestions. Jackie and Leela both considered last night’s praying a real breakthrough and major improvement in their lives. They need to stay on top of things spiritually, though. Hopefully they’ll stay in touch.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2006
I slept very well last night, especially for the night before a big event like traveling home. I slept a solid 6+ hours: 9:45 to 4 AM. Then I prayed and got up to work on my pictures and sermon for Sunday. I won’t get to bed until tomorrow night, which will be 50+ hours from now. The sun will go down and up once, but since we’ll be traveling with it through all those time changes it will be much longer. That say that’s a harder adjustment than coming – we’ll see.
I really do thank God for the privilege of coming on this – for putting it on David Babu’s heard to invite me to speak to pastors. He said he liked my teaching and organization of content and also the way I connected/related personally when teaching and talking so he wanted me to come. I thank God for the many experiences and blessings of being here – so many stand out: Sunday’s at New Jerusalem, the pastor’s conference, speaking to the children in the Children’s Rally’s and many more. Contacts with the people: pastors, adults and children, will stand out most of all. It’s something I will never forget and that will always be with me. While so far from home and in such a strange place, still there is a peace and power of being in the center of God’s will, of being prayed for by many people at home, and of being loved and accepted by those in the body of Christ in India. It’s still very hard to believe I’m actually in India! On the other side of the world! I know they want me to come back. Moses and David both mentioned that. At this point in a missions trip people always say they want to come back but I do feel God wants me to come back both for their sake (teach and encourage them) and my sake (stretch and grow me while greatly blessing me). I know it’ll be with Nancy, Grace and Mark that I’ll come back – but that’s $10,000. Something to start praying about. I do think I’ll be in touch with some of the pastors and perhaps even children through email. I certainly hope so.
I really look forward to seeing Nancy, Grace and Mark. I hope things are going well with them. I wonder about them since I didn’t hear anything from any of them, or any of the other children – no emails and nothing about the trip on the family web site. Oh, well – we’ll soon see.
I also look forward to regular sleep and the kinds of food I like. I wonder what will seem the most different to me being back. I know putting up with minor problems that seem so major in America will take some getting used to again. I pray my ‘reentry’ into the church and family goes smoothly with nothing major to be handled. I have my dissertation to redo, that’s my current major project. We are going to Bird-In-Hand in a week and that will be VERY nice! I do thank God from the bottom of my heart for the privilege of serving Him, or coming here and of being used in this way.
We went to the children’s home to do some things with the children and say good-bye. Jackie, Ruth and I went for a walk way down the road to the local village. Rural people seem much more open and friendly than city Indians, but the ones in the city know English much better.
We had a short conversation with one polite and curious woman. We had a nice talk among ourselves walking and talking as well – based on the shared experiences we’ve had.
They had a farewell program for us, flowers, etc. It’s very easy to have those children really slip into your heart – and the staff as well. It was very, very hard leaving them. Many tears were shed. We prayed for the new building that David wants to build and that was a very moving time as well. It was really hard to say good-bye. It’s be great to see them weekly. The 17 that are staying there in the home are Christians and most come from Christian families. They are the ones we spent almost all of our time with. It’s easy to get to know their names, personalities, etc. They are certainly fun to be with, very outgoing and loving as well. Deena is a bit shy so she appreciates me searching her out. Her younger sister, ‘Queen’ Esther, is the smallest but in many ways the most popular and extroverted. When we were going to leave I gave Deena my flower wreath from around my neck. She was really surprised and pleased. The others gave their flowers to children or staff as well. They would just die for us and we certainly can’t take them on the plane!
They made lunch for us – rice and the trimmings. It is our last Indian meal and, while I don’t like the spicy taste, I must admit it sort of grows on you. It’s not the kind of spice taste that affects your stomach or that you taste afterwards. It just burns your mouth. It certainly isn’t my favorite food but it is strongly associated with all the good memories of this place.
From there we went to the zoo. It’s a nice, spread-out zoo. They water the grass so it’s the only place we’ve seen with green grass. They had a white tiger, white peacock and many nice animals. We touched the tusks of the animal that roams around (with a man riding him). That was something that wouldn’t happen in Philadelphia.
We went back to the house and packed. We ordered pizza delivered and had some Baskin Robbins ice cream. Leela left this afternoon to go to her relative’s home in Hyderabad. She has really had some good growing experiences while here and the 4 months her will stretch her further. I’ll be in touch with her to pray, etc. That’s good! Lillian and Choatz will go to New Deli to sight see for a week, then fly home. So our numbers are dwindling already. It’s surprising how 12 people from different cultures and parts of the country, different sexes and ages, different spiritual maturity levels and different personalities and gifts can be together for 17 days, 24 hours a day – driving, eating, serving, resting, etc., – and bond in such a special way because of the shared experiences. Everyone gets along well with everyone else. They aren’t people I’ve have connected with for our paths wouldn’t have crossed – and if they had our connection would have been very surface and not deep. It’s been a rich and rewarding experience and I’m better off for getting to know these fine people. I’m glad to have contributed to them by taking pictures. I put them on discs (8 of them – almost 3,000 pictures I estimate) for Jackie to take home and her husband will synthesize them and make copies for the others on the trip. I certainly took the most and best pictures. My running and exploring, sitting in the front of the van, and the very good camera which I could download and recharge each night all helped with that.
We’re going to the airport about 10 or 10:30 PM. We’ll be up all night and tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep and the time will go quickly!
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20. 2006
We made it home today – but what a trip! We got up Thursday morning in India and went to bed Friday night in Pennsylvania. But that time in between was 52 hours, mostly in airports, planes and cars. What made the 2 8 to 10 hour flights worse were crying (screaming is a better word) children sitting right by us on each flight and mothers who didn’t do anything to make them stop. It was very draining. We only got a few hours sleep despite missing 2 nights sleep in our India-time-zone acclimated bodies.
I sat with Elizabeth again for the first leg – three times in a row with her. Then I sat by Ruth for the second part, across the ocean. Both are fine women and nice to be with. The meals on the plane are good: regular hot meal with smaller breakfast or snack, one right after getting on and the other before getting off. They also come by several times with offers of things to drink. I usually get orange juice, sometimes tomato juice.
We wanted to go into Frankfurt since we had a 5 hour layover but it was cold, rainy and very foggy. It seemed planes weren’t flying out but that wasn’t the case and we left on time. You really do bond with people when you share so many ‘out of comfort zone’ experiences with them, though! It was very nice to have each other and we did lots and lots of talking, feeling very comfortable with each other. That was an added benefit of the trip. Most I won’t see again, others just in passing, but a few I’ll be more in touch with. That will be Steve and Kathy as well as the college girls. We’ll see what God has with all of it.
We got to Bux-Mont about 7 PM. It was just Abby and myself, the others had other rides or were dropped off. It was GREAT seeing them again! We talked and I did some unpacking. I gave them the things I got them. We went to sleep about 9:30 – it’s nice being back home!
God blessed us and used us in ways far beyond anything we could have imagined. The pastor’s conference was attended by 50 pastors. Others were turned away because of lack of space and funding. Many children and teens accepted the Lord as Savior in the Children’s Rally’s we held. That was most rewarding. Seeing a Hindu teenage girl raise her hand to accept the Lord and then come and tell me afterwards, in very broken English, about the great joy she now has is a memory I will never forget. That kind of blessing was repeated over and over. Almost a thousand children came to some of the rallies – and the church didn’t even publicize it for lack of space and resources. We spend lots of time at the Good Shepherd school and home. What a great difference that is making in reaching Hindus and other Indians for Jesus. It is great to see children growing at Christians – what a light they will be for future generations! The sad part is that so many are turned away because of lack of space and resources. Here we have resources but the response is low. There the response is high but many must be turned away because of lack of resources. Pray for David and Abigail Babu as they lead these important ministries. David will soon be in the USA to raise much needed funding for the ministries there. If you can contribute or if he could come speak to your church about his work and ministry in India please let me know. We have so much in this country, more than we realize. Our brothers and sisters in Christ elsewhere have so little and are so appreciative of anything we can give them.
Pray God would continue to use the work that was started there. They would like to have another pastor’s conference as well as something to minister to pastors and their wives. The need and interest are there but, again, there are no resources. Pray God would provide and ask Him if you wants you to help with that. I’d definitely take Nancy, Grace and Mark along next time. When that is depends on lots of things, especially finances for us to go and for the conferences and rallies there. Pray for this, please. If God leads you to contribute you can do so through Main Street Baptist Church. Mark it for the Schmoyer’s India ministry.