Tuesday, 10/22: It has been a good second day of training. I so enjoy the men here. They have such open hearts and a real passion for passing the training on to many others. Today they were talking about how they are strategizing about how to take the training to many groups in S. India over the course of the next several years. They had such vision and need only a little advice and help in organization to carry our ministry far beyond us in this needy land.
We are studying the Psalms in our current workshop and today spent some time thinking through lament psalms, the most common type of psalm. They begin with a complaint or problem and eventually end up with a statement of hope in God, often in the absence of all earthly evidence but in the face of His word. We talked about how this kind of lament was part of the worship experience of Israel but is often so foreign to our cultures, both the Indian and the American. We often feel that such things as showing doubt, fear, frustration or hurt publicly or in the congregation is taboo. But as I said this is the most common form of the psalms and was meant to be sung and contemplated by the congregation of God's people. Perhaps that is a great loss to us in helping one another know how to take our hurts and troubles to the Lord in authentic ways, but also in ways that lead to real hope.
We looked at Psalm 42/43 today in which the author shares his struggle of being in trouble, we are not sure exactly the nature of his trouble, but how those around him harass him with ridicule saying "where is your God?" The psalm records his progress in understanding as he repeatedly preaches to his own soul about hoping in God, that he will once again praise Him. That is a good model for us. Face trouble honestly, sharing our feelings with God but then preaching to ourselves that in spite of the evidence around us, God is faithful. We can know that because the Word says so.
We also spent considerable time over the past couple of days studying the theology of salvation, but not by studying a systematic theology book but by studying a passage of scripture. We looked at Ephesians 1 where we are told that all of the blessings of salvation, and everything else, are found in Christ. It was a fruitful time to help these dear men begin to build their theology around the Word of God and especially around the concept of "in Christ" which is so prominent in this passage. I was encouraged myself looking once again at these great verses and their wonderful, rich message. We are fully blessed, in Christ.
As good as our day was, our night was not so good. Edie and I are still struggling with jet lag, having a worse adjustment than normal. Sometimes it is just like this, we have no idea why. Last night we had electricity problems. That is nothing new here in one sense. The electricity goes off for awhile everyday. It appears that the city has not kept up with the power supply as city has grown. There simply is not enough to go around for everyone at the same time. At our hotel this is usually not a great problem because within a few seconds a massive generator kicks in a supplies power until the city power returns. Our brothers here are not as fortunate. We ate with another pastor last night, again we ate while they watched, but we did so by candle light because they had no power. They apologized for the sparse meal, fried chicken, chapati and dahl. I am not sure how you spell that, it is a soupy type sauce made from lentils that you pick up with pieces of the chapati, which are much like corn tortillas. We are getting pretty used to eating with no utensils as the Indians nearly always do. We thought the meal was great.
Back in the hotel we had electricity and felt bad for them, for awhile. At 12:30 am Edie awoke to a loud buzzing noise coming from the switch plate where you put the key card to keep the electricity going in the room. I had not heard it because I wear ear plugs. I woke to see her fumbling around in the dark flipping switches and pounding on the switch plate trying to make the noise stop. I had no idea what she was doing until I took out my earplugs and heard the loud buzzing.
We also had no idea how to stop it so we called down to the front desk. They came up, after we quickly put on a few clothes and finally said that the problem was that the city's electric supply was coming in with very low voltage and had ruined the key switch. They suggested we move to another room across the hall, which we ended up doing. One bright note was that the room was larger and better arranged for us to get around our suit cases, etc. Anyway, we had to wait awhile for the voltage to get straight so the air conditioner would work, of course it was hot in the room because the air conditioner had not been running since no one was staying there. We finally got back to bed around 2 and then woke up around 4. I went back to bed around 6:30 and was back up at 7:30 and Edie then took her turn until around 8:30. What fun. Needless to say I dragged a little today but I remembered that the 3rd or 4th day was usually a down one so I am hopeful for tomorrow. I am sure it will be better, but if not, I am thankful for the Lord's provision of strength, and for my caffeine pills.