We had an early flight from Denver to Seattle and for the first time in many, many years, I got a little airsick on the flight. No fun. I do not know what caused it, as the flight was fairly smooth. When we got on the plane to Seoul it all went away so that was good. Perhaps it was because it was so cold on the plane. We nearly froze to death. I am glad I had my winter coat along, preparing for China. Edie was especially cold and the attendant brought her a liter bottle of hot water, which she put on her feet. We were glad to get off that flight 13 hours later. The next flight to Bangkok was especially miserable for me, as it had been nearly 23 hours since I had slept and I still could not sleep. Finally, after 4 hours I slept some and felt better.
We had a good hotel in Bangkok and a later flight out the next day, so we were able to get some good rest, going to bed around 1:30am and getting up around 8:30am. We flew out of Bangkok at 1:45pm and got to Colombo 3 hours later. The car ride from the airport to our hotel took an hour and a half and I got mildly carsick again. We are glad finally to settle in. Jet lag has not been bad due to our diet plan but we still have to go to bed around 9pm and wake up around 3am. Hope that tapers off soon. Otherwise, we feel good.
Our first day here I preached in a local church of one of our students. His story of persecution was amazing. A mob of 1200 people surrounded his home one time but the Lord intervened and the crowd got into a fight with the police, who were not there to intervene. Then, on a bright sunny day, it suddenly clouded up and poured, dispersing the crowd. This was just one of many such events. Such courage. These are amazing men we are training. The pastor said that the sermon I gave on Genesis 12-13 about Abram’s blessing and subsequent failures seemed really to speak to many of the people. I am always amazed how God somehow leads me to a passage that He has planned for people I do not even know. Afterward many people, as usual, came up to us for prayer. One lady, not yet a Christian, came and as I was praying for her she began shaking, slumped to the floor and started jerking around. Spiritual warfare is so common here. The pastor was unperturbed and eventually he was able to revive her, to have her renounce her idols and call on Jesus and she revived. Just another day in Sri Lankan ministry.
My first day of training went really well. It was such a joy to be with these men again. The Lord has given me such love and respect for them and great expectations about how He might use them. They were really excited about the intro to the Salvation Story that I presented. The whole day went really well, other than the fact that the Senegalese translation was a different version of the workshop manual than the English one. We are still working on fixing that.
Today was a different story. Several had other engagements they had to go to and did not attend. My partner from India said he didn’t think they were using the tools we had taught them so we tested them and sure enough, they were not. We had to challenge them strongly to start using all the tools all the time. After our first session, we intended to have our presentations but only one of the pastors was prepared. I was shocked. I expected so much more from them. I must say it was quite disappointing to me. We canceled the rest of the day after lunch so they could do their homework for tomorrow. I am praying that they will respond well. I tried to be strong but gracious to them about this, emphasizing how important it was for them to work hard for the sake of passing on the training throughout Sri Lanka, which is our joint vision. I know Satan is hard at work. Pray with me that this is a good wake up call for them and that we go forward well together.
Edie had 22 ladies today, her first day. She had a great time and I think they did as well. I love watching her so lovingly helping these women make small steps in learning to study and apply the Bible to their lives. We are blessed to serve our Lord in this way even when sometimes it includes some disappointment. I can’t imagine how often I have disappointed Him myself and He is always gracious and keeps working with me. We will follow His model.