Sunday, July 16, 2017

Higher Perspectives



We arrived in Trina, which is about 20 km from Chinnamanur where we will be training. It was a difficult three and a half hours here as the car was small and my back complained the whole way. It is quite beautiful here with steep mountains, the surroundings covered with what looks like scrub oak. This town is about 100,000 and busy. We are staying here because there are no good hotels in Chinnamanur, which I now find out is only 40,000 people. This hotel is a challenge, called a business class hotel but I am not sure what business they are shooting for. We had a good time last night trying to figure out how to turn all the lights off, about 10 different switches. I tried to recharge my computer but the only outlet that works is connected to a light so no charging overnight. Thankfully, the bathroom outlet worked and I charged it there. We have warm water and internet, occasionally. When it is on it is good but lasts only a few minutes and then goes off for a while. This is usually the kind of stuff that gets to me but I am trying hard to have a higher perspective. I am preaching this morning on the inheritance we have in Christ, Ephesians 1:11-14. I will try to keep my eye on that.

As with all new networks, we have a challenge coming talking about finances. That is always interesting. We look forward to meeting the pastors tomorrow and beginning their journey to careful Bible study.

Al

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fruitfulness & Flexibility



We finished four fruitful days with our friends in Sri Lanka. These men are some of the brightest and most influential men we have ever trained. They were a lot of fun to be with, always joking and laughing with each other. They picked up the concepts really well. Even though several of them teach at Bible schools and seminaries, they had not learned the simple tools we were presenting. All said that what they had learned was so significant. I really think that there is the potential with these men to impact a large part of the Sri Lankan church. They represent several different denominations and educational institutions. But they must first learn how to train others who in turn train more pastors. That is the great challenge we put before them and they seemed to receive it well. Time will tell how well they do and the health of the broader church lies in the balance. Please pray that they are faithful, well organized, and can overcome the many barriers to multiplication training.

Edie had a fairly large group of ladies each day and they were enthusiastic learners. She only had them for two hours each day so it made learning harder as they had to learn more material in less time. She covered the book of Jonah with them that we usually do in a week with 6 hours or so each day for four days. But the Lord knows and I am sure they learned something.

We arrived in Trichy last evening and were so warmly greeted by our dear friends here. This is our 12th trip here and the people are like family to us. We will meet with many who know us this morning and then after lunch we will travel 3 or 4 hours to Chinnamanur where we will train next week. I will be preaching at our partner Seth’s father’s church there on Sunday morning. We have not been to this location before so it will be a new adventure for us. It appears to be near mountains, and should be a bit cooler than where we have been (in the mid 80’s). 

This is a small town for India, about 70,000 or so, so much like our hometown in Colorado. But the hotel situation is poor so we will be staying about a half hour away in a large town where there is a more adequate hotel. Not quite sure how we will get there this afternoon, things are always in flux and we have to be flexible. Our friends traveling with us brought a “Gumby” man and we award it to whoever had to be the most flexible during the day. We are promised that there will be a group of women there for the full week. We will see what that is like. Edie usually gets the gumby for the day.

Al

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Traveling Mercies



Monday, July 10: We arrived in Delhi tired but safe. Fourteen hours from Newark to Delhi is a long time on a plane. It’s been a while since we had a flight that long. We are not looking forward to the flight home next week. Our flight to Colombo was delayed by 2 ½ hours so we got in around 6:30 pm and to our hotel around 9 pm. We were fully ready for bed but slept well. So far, our new jet lag diet is working quite well and though we are tired and not exactly on the right sleep schedule, it is much better than usual.

On Sunday, we traveled to southern Colombo to a boy’s home where several churches had gathered for a camp retreat. I was asked to preach, which I expected and was prepared for, but I was not prepared for the request that I preach back-to-back sermons, separated by a tea time. Thankfully, I had planned to preach a sermon I preached two weeks ago on Ephesians 1:11-14. I had been discussing the next two passages with my son, who was scheduled to preach them next. So, that is what I used for my second sermon. It seemed to go well, at least from my perspective. 

It was a great joy to be reunited with our Sri Lankan pastors. I was not sure what to expect since I had not had good communication with them since last February. Most of them had passed on the training and we only need to tweak a few things to help them become more effective. Unfortunately, none of them had received the pre-assignment so they were not prepared well. We gave them time in the afternoon to do the necessary preparations. 

Edie had several ladies to train and that seemed to go well although the timing was a bit off. They waited for us for over an hour and then had to leave early so Edie only had one hour to go over Jonah 1. But the Lord once again helped and progress was made. Hopefully today she will have 2 ½ hours. We would have liked her to have more time, but it is better than nothing. 

The couple traveling with us who are considering joining our team are doing wonderfully. They are a delight to be with and we expect that they will be good additions to our team if that is how the Lord leads.

Al

Friday, November 11, 2016

Life is an Adventure



Thursday, Nov 10: Thankfully, we had an uneventful flight to Budapest. We arrived around 12:30 pm and got to our hotel around 1:30 am. We had a short nap to catch up on sleep. All our team of 11 people arrived that day or night. We went to bed around 8:30 pm and woke around 2:30 am, so did not get much rest. Edie and I, and two others, left for Romania around 9:30 am with me driving the van. The roads in Hungary are not bad, mostly two lanes with a lot of traffic. It was hectic driving with many slow trucks requiring a lot of passing. In Romania, the roads were a bit narrower and bumpier but still not too bad. Hungary is flat farm country. It reminded me of Iowa in some ways with areas of black soil. The part of Romania we passed through was hillier, almost mountains in places making the roads more twisty. It was a long intense day with jet lag to boot. We arrived just as the church service was starting, around 6 pm, with one-time zone change. Overall, it was about 7 ½ hours of travel. I had been told for sure we would not be asked to preach, but I was doubtful. I spent some time in the car thinking about a passage.

When we got there, the pastor asked who was speaking. He said we had about 40 minutes to preach. So, I spent the worship time preparing in my seat. I spoke on Philippians 2:1-14. The Lord was good and it went well. Life is an adventure! I had prayed that I would be able to stay awake in the service, as I was very tired. Preaching sort of helps that. The people were very responsive, about a hundred or so Roma were gathered. We were surprised that there seemed to be more men than women, this is unusual almost anywhere in the world. Perhaps the women were home with children, there were not many there.

I slept well last night, not waking up until 2 am and then back to sleep until 5 am. Edie had a miserable night but also got a few hours of sleep in the car. We meet with pastors this morning and then have six more hours of driving to Bucharest. We will be arriving just in time again for a church service. I wonder if I will be preaching again.



Al

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Quick Trip to Hungary




Sunday, Sept 25: I am sorry we have not been able to blog on this trip until now. Our schedule has been unbelievable and we have struggled with jet lag more on this trip than usual. We arrived in Budapest in the afternoon but our baggage did not. It did not transfer in Amsterdam but thankfully, we had put essentials in a small carryon. The other luggage arrived the next morning so it was no problem really. We met out niece and her husband, who had just arrived in Budapest, for dinner. It was a great surprise since we had not seen them for about 10 years. The next morning, we met a couple from ReachGlobal that we had been hearing about for some time and had a wonderful time getting to know them. We went to the airport around 11 am and waited until 1 pm for our shuttle to Bekes, Hungary where our conference was. It took us about three hours to get there and it was fun to see the countryside as we went. It is very flat and agricultural much like much of the Midwest. We even saw a lot of black dirt like we had in Iowa.

The conference was about ministry to the Roma, and about half the group were Roma. The first night we had dinner and then opening message and worship. The worship for this conference was amazing. The people were obviously rejoicing in what God had done in their lives. The music was lively and in a Roma style. It was a lot of fun. We ended around 10:30, caught our bus and went to another town to our hotel arriving to our room around 11:30. We were told we had to catch the bus back at 7:45 so the turnaround was short. We were so tired from jet lag we drug ourselves to bed and crashed. Then up at 6:30 rushing to get ready, eat breakfast and catch the bus. This was the routine for the week. It was exhausting. We both really struggled to stay awake during all the sessions and it really didn’t get much better as the week went on. 

We learned a lot about the Roma and what God is doing among them. It really is amazing but difficult work. Many Roma are coming to Christ, but the conditions they live in are often terrible, and the work to reach them is hard. We had people from about 30 countries at the conference, so it was a bit chaotic with so many languages. About half knew English so most of the messages were presented in English with a lot of translation for others. It became very evident why God has called us here, as none of the messages were connected to scripture very well at all. We hope that our training over the next several years will change that dramatically.

We made a few connections, but mainly this was a learning experience for us. We did connect pretty well with the six leaders who are coordinating things, so that sets a good beginning for our trip back here in November to begin to strategize about how and where to begin our training. We have a day off today in Budapest to prepare for our trip home tomorrow. Then on Tuesday, I fly to Minneapolis for more meetings, with the other side of jet lag to deal with. I can’t say I am excited about that.

Thanks for your prayers and partnership with us!

Al