Our last days up north went well. The men presented really good sermons and we were very pleased. We passed out certificates and celebrated their achievements. It was a special time as this was the first group that has fully completed our training. I have been going there for almost 5 years so it will be difficult not to return on a regular basis. They are making plans to start a new training effort using their own trainers this time, just what we had hoped for and worked hard to achieve.
Our trip to the south should have been rather routine except that the airline chose to cancel our last flight without telling us. We spent so much time at the check in counter trying to find out how to get on to our destination that we almost were late for our first flight and still had no resolution. In Mumbai, our transfer airport, we again spent about an hour on the issue and it was finally decided that we could not get all the way until the next day. The airline chose to pay half our hotel costs for our overnight in Chennai. So we arrived to our destination town a day late. (I deliberately am not giving the names of the places that we train because opposition in the government is growing and we do not want to cause anyone unnecessary trouble.)
We have now trained for 4 days here and it has been awesome. The sermons the first day were a bit shaky but since then it has been wonderful. We are really seeing the fruit of our training program with the men preaching the text very well. We have worked hard to keep improving our training over the past 4 years but what we have had has worked well. We are still learning even on this trip how to train and teach the material better. I am certain that the future result for new groups will be even better.
One story may help you see the joy we have in these men. Peter, an older man with poor English skills, is so dedicated. He rides a bus to and from the training for hours each day. He has been hard to understand in earlier workshops. He did a great job this time and I could actually understand almost everything he said. I really praised him for both his sermon and his English. Later we found out that he had written his whole sermon out twice in English and had practiced it over and over, staying up most of the night before he preached. He continued going over it in his mind on the bus until he fell asleep. I do not know how he made his stops. Mike later told me that what I said to him had not only made his day but also his whole month. He was so happy he nearly glowed. He showed us a large beautiful brochure he had made showing the various training he had done and how some of his students are passing on the training to several new groups of pastors. He is an amazing man.
One unpleasant issue came up today. My back for some reason has chosen to seize up, so much so that I could not go back to the training this afternoon. I think it is the bed. It is not uncomfortable, but is evidently not the best for my back. Pray with me that this will clear up as we travel on to Thailand tomorrow night. I do most of the training there on my own so I need to be able to stand most of the day.
Edie has had a great time with the Ladies and she will write a blog on that later. Thanks for praying for us.