Monday, October 22, 2012

A Visit to Tea Country

Our time in Siliguri ended up going quite well. In spite of all the physical problems I experienced, the Lord saw us through and the students made remarkable progress. They began the week not understanding the most basic aspects of Bible study and ended doing a fairly good job of understanding assigned passages in II Timothy. We were delighted with how all that went. The training with the women went very well also. Edie thought they made amazing process and feels that the relationships she and Linda built will be lasting. We are not at all sure what the group will do in terms of passing on the information or who will continue with the training. That all has to be worked out here by February, the time for our next workshop.

During the course of the training one of the students gave an amazing testimony. He and his wife married without their parents blessing and were cast out to be on their own. They struggled to have enough to eat so he joined the Maoist army (they lived in Nepal). He was caught by the police and beaten so badly he was paralyzed. Somehow he was taken to a hospital and gradually improved. He had to flee to Cyprus to escape with his life. There a friend stole all his money and ran away leaving him destitute. He lived in a bathroom for a week. There a Irish missionary happened on him and started talking to him. When the missionary found he was from Nepal he started talking Nepalese with him. It turns out the missionary had served in Nepal for about 20 years. He was taken to a church, befriended, helped and eventually came to Christ. He returned to Nepal to his wife and they now serve as youth ministers in their church (the wife was one of the women Edie trained). He later told me that he had killed the father of one of the families in the church when he was a Maoist but that they had forgiven him. Is God amazing or what?

We left Saturday afternoon for Darjeeling, far up in the mountains, to visit one of the leader's churches. It was supposed to take 3-4 hours and ended up taking 6. We had 4 straight hours of winding, twisting, narrow mountainside roads. We all took car sick medicine but all still struggled to one extent or another. I, of course, got thoroughly sick and had to survive hours of miserable sickness in the car. For some reason the Lord has chosen to especially test me physically on this trip.  

We awoke this morning to a beautiful, sunny, cool day in some of the most picturesque scenery you can imagine. The place we are staying is on the edge of Darjeeling and the whole area is a tangle of steep mountains and deep valleys. There is almost no flat ground at all. People here must be hardy because the walking is something else. We are at about 8,000 feet and we walked a mile or so up the road to catch a ride to the church. We could tell we were at a higher altitude. The church is over 9,000 feet up and and the view from there was spectacular. I felt my sermon was very flat (I suppose I could use the excuse given for Obama that I had not acclimatized myself long enough). It was good to see the people in the church, many are new believers and four were announced as having been baptized this week. They were each given a new name. The idea is that they are all former Hindus or Buddhists and they needed Christian names.  I thought it was a pointed reminder that we are new creatures when we come to Christ.

Darjeeling is world famous for its tea. There are tea plantations all around. We were to tour a tea factory  today, but when we arrived a regional manager happened to show up and he felt the workers were not wearing the proper safety equipment and would not let us tour. They did give us a package of tea though.

Tomorrow we have to be off at 5 am to head back to Siliguri in order to catch our flight out to Trichy. We fly all day with three stops arriving around 9 pm. It should be a grueling day. I plan to take two of the car sick pills to be prepared and hope that works better. We will see. 

Thanks for your continued prayers,

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