Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Are You the One?

Faith stories and salvation harvests, don't look like what we expect or often want. We want the Good News to be a simple report broken down in ways concrete evidenced by the "numbers": Gospel proclaimed so many times, "x" number of people saved, "y" number of Bibles given - a natural sentiment.

Even a great man of faith, John the Baptist, looked for it - reassurance from Jesus "are You the One"?

He (john the Baptist) sent two of them to the Master to ask the question, "Are you the One we've been expecting, or are we still waiting" Luke 7:19

It is not easy to be a "sower", not seeing the growth or the harvest from a labor of love and inconvenience. But some of the seeds planted will produce (as His word promises) a great harvest. Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China, was confronted by the questions "What took you so long to come and share the gospel in China?" A convicting statement indeed. Today's workers in the harvest fields of communist countries make a commitment to be available to share the Good News in places closed to traditional methods of evangelism. As Mordecai reminded his niece Esther, "maybe you are here for such a time as this". We should keep up the sowing, planting where we find good soil, and breaking up the fallow ground for the next of the faithful who find themselves in a position to throw the seeds.

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us, that THEIR faith and OUR faith would come together to make one complete whole, THEIR lives of faith not complete apart from OURS. Hebrews 11:39

That includes the Hudson Taylors, the Billy Grahams, and the Jim Elliotts that precede our work. ALL are together complete as one body. Our current President is pushing our Far Eastern neighbors to exhibit more religious freedom. With many people already in place may our prayers open more doors for faith sharing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Beijing Bustle

The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day of air travel in the US. When my escorts and I arrived at the international terminal and walked in - it appeared to be the busiest day in Beijing as well. Every available seat in the foyer was occupied by sleeping and weary travelers. I turned to my companions - whose eyes were wide with surprise at the crowds and said "remember to pray hard - this is what it will be like in the US!" "We will, we will, we are sorry."

What was I thinking when I committed to this day of flying? Just getting through customs required fearless bravado, aggressive maneuvering of 200 lbs of luggage and no "excuse me please" polite passings.

Once cleared through customs CHAOS! Thousands of people stopped - looking around, chattering in multiple languages, somewhere bound - if not home. The Venezuela Olympic team didn't understand the broken English of the Chinese health inspector when she asked about contact with "birds". Frankly, even to me it sounded like "beards". The coach turned to me with a bewildered look "no habla Espanol?" "Pollo" I replied - he laughed and finally answered satisfactorily to the question.

The Koreans couldn't figure out which line to get in, the Chinese just pushed forward, the American's (including me) appeared frustrated, the French bewildered at the cost of a coke, and the German's casually cashing in on duty free cigarettes.

Me, well - I'm just trying to make it through one more airport, one more departure, one more goodbye

Again....

Time After Time

"Lying in my bed - I hear the clock tick and think of you"

Last day in China -
I woke up late, well rested and ready to get the show on the road. I tried finishing my thoughts on the orphanage visit, but was too emotionally overwhelmed by remembrance of the images of smiles and joy on the children's faces. Even now, I fight back the tears.

Star World TV was carrying the AMC Music Awards. One of the featured performances was a duet of Cyndy Lauper's "Time After Time".

"When you're lost and you look you will find me.. time after time. If you fall I will catch you I'll be waiting..."

Sometimes the sadness of the goodbyes makes me feel as though I am falling into a pit of too many farewells - always leaving a piece of me behind and no one waiting to welcome and refill my cup of kindness poured out - now very empty..

"Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done so unto Me"

The smile on the upturned face of a small girl - her desire to "look like me" and have glitter and sparkles on her face - her squeals of delight as her nose shined red and her eyes were covered in golden glitter that twinkled in the sunlight - what have I done? What have I left? What have I more to gain than this?

It was if I was looking into the face of my King - so happy I was there, so happy to touch me, to wrap waiting arms around my legs - to show off His big grin and reassure me of His love - through a tiny orphan girl in a broken body but a big smile!

"If you fall I WILL catch you - I will be waiting"

All the time!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sha-sha and the Little Apple Tree

We left the orphanage full of love, well hugged, kissed repeatedly with smiles and giggles and exclamations of "Come back soon!" Last year the long walk away from the orphanage resulted in the salvation of my interpreter - this year the 5 Chinese girls that were with me pledged to return to the children on a more regular basis. Seeing how they responded, how they longed for recognition and human touch really moved them.

I returned back to the hotel with Hope and a member of her church Shasha. It was her first time to see the children AND CARE EE. Her first question when we got settled in for the long ride through the 5 o'clock traffic was "your are so pretty and so very kind - why aren't you married?"

I had to laugh at her innocence and the enemy's use of the same old well-worn dart. "Well" I replied "a complicated question I often ask myself and God."

I reminded Shasha (and myself) the story I had just shared with the children about the "Little Apple Tree". We all look at things other people have and fall victim to the enemy's tactic of making the focus of our happiness and contentment on things external. "If I only had a husband - a better job - a bigger house - lived in America - had more money... THEN - I would be happy!"

I said "don't you think God hears the children at the orphanage crying out to have parents - someone special to love them? They would surely be happy then."

For now He hasn't given me a husband or answered the simple prayers of these children with more than an unspoken "be patient." But, He gives us each other and joy and delight while we are waiting.

"God sets the lonely in families"

He Makes No Mistakes

"You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit how I was sculpted from nothing into something"

The cab driver had a hard time finding the small side lane the orphanage was located on. Last year, our group was let off on the highway at dark and we walked a mile through the small lanes filled with factory workers and merchants. CARE EE drew quite the stares, then and now, as little children ran out into the street to get a glimpse of a real live "Soo-chow" (clown in Chinese)

The gate to the children's home was locked with a padlock and chain, so we waited in the street and tried to get someone insides attention. The director soon came out with a huge grin to let us inside. As we walked into the courtyard the joy began - the little ones started running toward us - waving, laughing, smiling - their excitement could not be contained!

"You watched me grow from conception"

One of the happiest to see me was a little 5 year old girl who tightly embraced my legs - looked up and laughed out loud. I have seldom seen more joy at my arrival. When she finally let go of my legs long enough for me to move indoors, she held up her hand to act as my personal escort.

I grabbed hold of her deformity without hesitation. Her palm had 2 fingers crumpled together and a stiff nub where her thumb should be. She was quite adapted, as I would later see, to using what God had knit together, the best she could.

After photos and frame decorating the children settled down and sat on the floor in from of me watching the tricks, remembering their amazement and asking for another story. I told them about the "Little Apple Tree" and how it was hard to be different. While they are still too young to grasp the full meaning of the story - they did understand the "praying and waiting" more than most.

I looked across the room at their broad smiles, I saw their tender hearts and a readiness to receive and experience joy and love.

From the world's eyes, they have no reason for any hope. They have been abandoned because of their physical birth defects: cleft palate, club feet, mangled hands, dwarfism, cross eyes, conditions that in the West are easily correctable. Here, in a country that strictly enforces the one child per family policy, it makes these children disposable.

"You formed me in my mother's womb"

Faith: when confronted with the material reality - it is looking in the face of inexplicable tragedy with the belief and the ability to say "God is good all the time." God saw the mother's and father's who would leave these children for death at worse or to a life of abandonment at best. AND GOD - knit them together. I told the children "God doesn't make any mistakes." He never forgets their name or where they live. He is watching - and He delights in them...

...as do I.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Getting Here was Half the Battle

I was shocked when the plane actually took off - but take off we did and 40 minutes later I arrived at the Beijing Airport. I'm not as brave or friendly as B so I was stuck purchasing a phone card to call C's cell phone. She and E were stuck in the notorious Beijing traffic so I waited in the coffee shop and caught up with my China saga.

Just as I was about to make another phone call they came in to greet me full of unnecessary apologies. It was wonderful to see two of the girls who had accompanied me last year to the Beijing Orphanage, and feel comfortable that all would be taken care of. On our way to the city we discussed our plan for the day and tomorrow. They are both currently unemployed so they are available to spend the afternoon shopping for the orphanage and do some personal gift shopping as well.

We drove by taxi to the other side of the city near the Zoo to a shopping mall. The store was more of a "zoo" than the one containing the animals! We spent almost 3 hours finding and completing the purchases. It was arduous and tiring as their negotiations and indecision finally led them to have me sit down so the "price" could be brought down even more without a foreigner present.

We returned to the hotel and I napped and waited for the arrival of S and J who also were stuck in the "jam" of traffic. We finally headed out for a delicious dinner of Peking Duck. A real treat for the two of them and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S for me!

You Get What You Pay For

I was nervous about this morning's early departure. "WongWay" would be my driver to the Jinan airport and last year when he awoke to a fogged in city he didn't show up. This morning however, he was outside the hotel (he probably slept there) ahead of schedule (6:00 am).

With my four pieces of luggage we loaded up the car and headed out through the dense fog for the new and improved Jinan International Airport. Lack of visibility closed the highway and memories of last years ordeal clouded my thoughts. The "back" roads to the airport were filled with bicycles and pedestrians making their way to work and school along the invisible roadway. It became a competition of who ruled the passage as trucks pass, horns blare with the people impervious to it all.

B and I took our minds off the unfolding fright by telling stories of past "adventures in travel." I have the famous "Lost in Sri Lanka" saga; my old stand by "Left Behind in Bosnia" and the "Wrong Town Terminal" of Cuban notoriety. Our laughter probably confused WongWay but it also kept him alert and awake.

We were early enough to be first in line to check in for the 8:10 am flight. "How many bags?" The bad news "3" "You are overweight - and too many bags." Quick thinking and proper planning, I was sure would get me by. I pulled out the "Shandong Pictorial Magazine" showed the counter agent my name on the cover and flipped to the pages with the photos inside. I also used the note A had written years ago regarding my work in the orphanages and items being for children. "International ticket?" the agent inquired. "Yes, of course" I replied as he inspected my continuing flight plans and LET ME PASS! One hurdle down.

Alas, a few minutes later a red bar highlighted my scheduled flight "Delayed". We hurried back up to the counter only to hear the airport was closing AND the agent didn't know when any flights would take off.

The benefits of having B as assistant willing to do an exemplary job: 1) no fear of strangers and asking questions of anyone who is patient enough to look at the Chinese English dictionary with her. 2)She makes all the phone calls that I would be to embarrassed to make, by asking total strangers if she can borrow their cell phone. B called Mr T (the airline vice president and former student of D) and asked about the weather forecast.

I kept watching (the clock and the departure board) and my flight status suddenly flashed NOW BOARDING! WHAT! B ran up to the counter to hear the agent say "Yes, your flight is about to leave - hurry on to the gate!"

For the price of the ticket ($25 US) I suppose you can't expect to hear an announcement of departure times - it was one of those "you get what you pay for moments."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

You Came Back!

The last performance and final day in Jinan, China the day's event was held at the Jinan Home for Disabled Children. J and D's neighbors accompanied us with their visiting daughter and granddaughters. We had lots of gifts to deliver and a colorful crowd awaiting us in the new orphanage building.

A beautiful facility, roomy with lots of light. The children were dutifully seated, but their patience soon broken by squeals, applause and excited waving as we walked into the room. "You came back" they exclaimed with such happiness. The little albino boy jumped up and ran over to give me a hug. It was marvelous.

The older children (who are deaf) had fun participating as actors in the stories - watching their teacher sign out the instructions and then really hamming it up. I asked the children what they remembered from last year and the story I told, they all held up their hands to imitate "stars twinkling in the branches".

After the show - we set up the desks to give them room to decorate their frames with stickers and markers. Only one small girl was afraid to have her picture taken with CARE EE, despite repeated coaxing from the teachers - she would have nothing of it.

We finished just in time for the children to be lead off to dinner - with hugs, waves and exclamations of "see you next year"!

Tell Them the Deaf Hear

Last night's public performance sponsored by the church drew a standing room only crowd! There were approximately 450 in attendance. Mostly adults and teenagers with a few children. On the front row sat Mrs W's deaf students.

It reminded me of the verse spoken by John the Baptist,and Christ's answer. He asked "are you the One...? Jesus answered "tell him the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear - the prisoners are set free!" There are many imprisoned by lack of information and lack of workers willing to Harvest" You have taken time to participate in this "Field Work"!

It was an experience to be translated into TWO languages one heard and one SEEN. The students were so excited. They work regularly with Mrs W, and most are believers. Before going "on" I asked the organizers if I had permission to "share" openly?

"Yes, of course - they know this is a Christian meeting"

The ENTIRE performance was a time of "Good News" ALL the stories and "tricks" were told with the theme of Christ, His mercy, His love, His redemption. Several of the female deaf students on the front row kept nodding and nodding in affirmation. I felt like they were encouraging me and in their own "language" saying "You GO GIRL!!!"

Go, I did - and by the end of the program - many were proclaiming the shed blood of the Lamb as redemption! Each person attending received a "Wordless Book - bracelet or keychain" with instructions for sharing the meaning. We had a little "test" and with enthusiasm they replied what the colors meant (some even in English!) Gold = heaven; Black = sin; Red = Jesus Blood; White = Redemption; Green = growing!!

We all grew last night! Along with the bracelets - they ALL received a BIBLE!! Now that is a true GIFT here. At the end of the meeting D came up to me with tears in her eyes and said "Who would have thought my students would be able to hear the Gospel so openly?"

The things we take for granted in our faith, the freedom we enjoy and too often ignore - HERE is one that is cherished, sought after, hoped and prayed for.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Conversion

The last day of performance at the University brings anticipation and a sense of relief at a job concluded. The students again had good questions with many opportunities to share on faith, the Bible, and God's direction in the life of His children. One of the last questions was "what is the most difficult part of your job?" I answered with the images of the children of Taian Orphanage fresh in my mind. "Goodbyes are the hardest part - too many goodbyes."

The performance was greatly enjoyed and the "morals" at the end of the day received with many sounds and nods of affirmation. One girl came up at the end and said, "I want to join your organization, how can I help?" My prayer for them in leaving is that hearts have been changed and spirits moved toward faith in the only One who can help, the One who can bring the Harvest, the One true God.

Our last evening was spent having dinner in the home of A, at the Communist Party compound. We were greeted by his wife and niece, who at 5 was quite taken back by the strange foreigners. She cowered behind her aunt and when J walked through the door - she started crying. Perhaps it was his height, or who knows maybe the cowboy hat he is seldom without?

She settled down after much coercion and reassurance by her aunt but remained quite shy and unwilling to come anywhere near us. At some point during the dinner (perhaps when she saw we ate food not children) she began to interact a little with the invited guests. She stayed away from J though still thinking he was a bit too tall, too different, just too...

The change in her demeanor came after dinner. We watched a DVD featuring Montana cowboys - she identified the cowboy hat J wore to the ones the fearless bronco riders were wearing in the movie, When it was over, she was jumping up and down on the furniture ready to be the next rodeo star.

She donned J's hat as we were leaving and gave us a big grin awaiting her photo to be taken. Thoroughly converted from frightened Chinese child to new bronco showgirl!

Our time is spent "exposing" the Chinese (young and old) to a new "culture" of believing. We look different, sound different and have our own "language" that is sometimes hard to understand. It didn't' take long before the little girl went from frightened child to adoring friend. In China, it's all about time invested into relationships and "sharing" (Good News or Cowboy Hats)- that will ultimately be what turns hearts to truth and "converts" lives!

Part of the Story

Days and nights of dual language exchanges create a craving for mindless entertainment. China has an English language news station, but it has been removed from the Jinan city cable lineup for "lack of interest".

What IS of interest at the University Hotel however, is America's embarrassing export HBO! I confess, I switch it on when I come into the room just to hear some familiar language, and if I am lucky to see at least a portion of a decent movie.

Fifteen minutes of around fifteen different movies, IS what I have seen so far, and the desire to know how these particular stories end got me thinking about another ending.

Of all the individuals I meet across the globe, I am only privileged to interrupt their "story" for a short time. But there is an "Author" a "Perfecter" of our "faith stories" busy at work composing the roles we play, the scenes and locations where we find ourselves.

Some stories I have seen in the midst of tragedy, some in sorrow, many I have affected with joy and laughter. The opportunity to revisit year after year the same children, allows me to see visible updates to their journey. How tall they have grown, how mature many of the young boys and girls appear.

We are constantly interrupting someones story, and someone is only seeing part of our own.

Oh, but the promise of heaven, to know, as we have been fully known...

as the famous radio commentator Paul Harvey used to say -

"That my friends, is the rest of the story!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Coincidence of the World

... is the providence of God!

The day begins at 6:00am. Our routine established into breakfast in the lobby buffet that at least is convenient at best is consistent. We set off across campus to the waiting students. J and D have been preparing them for my arrival by explaining certain terms: non-profit, orphanages, disabilities (although here they more readily understand then the term 'crippled' is used).

The questions come and the Spirit provides the "answers". "Why do you go? How do you choose wher to go or hear about where an orphanage is?" The last question posed an opportunity for the 'coincidence of the world is the providence of God' answer.

The story of how I met J and D (through a woman I met in Israel who two years later invited me to her home in Wyoming, where I met a couple from Montana, on their way to China!) of course it is something they cannot understand and frankly I'm not sure anyone of truly can!

"a man may direct his steps, but God guides his path.."

Redeemed
Oh How I love to proclaim it!!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Courtyard Chaos

After the class we were whisked away to the Middle School across town where Mrs W's son attends, We arrived just as the children were filing out into the courtyard. They were the smallest classes which of course evoked the loudest reactions. Children are children no matter what the culture. Strangers are well... strange. Screams, laughs and giggles, let us get close to you but not too close... the unfamiliar being the funniest thing.

The auditorium was filled with 250 of the excited ones and the rest of the 750 students watched on close circuit TV. Oh, they had a time. They were able to practice their English proudly "good morning, how are you, what is your name.." I used their Principle as one of the key characters in the story and they really got a laugh out of that!

Afterwards we headed back out to the courtyard where the children, now fearless, approached and handed us pieces of paper to sign, arms and hands to draw on, something as evidence they had seen a "celebrity" that day.

We left and stopped to pick up invitations for Saturday night's public program. It is a small business card with CHARLYNN printed in English and the words above "God Loves you Forever"

Yes, indeed He does!

The Quest for the Question


"But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I'll probably never fully understand..."

Our faithful cabbie was waiting outside the hotel right on time at 7:55 to take us the quarter mile up the road to the classroom. The students gave B and I a warm greeting to welcome us, as J had given a short introduction on his day's special guests. As with the previous programs over the past 5 years - the performance down to the photographs passed around the classroom, are designed to promoted "leading questions." While it is still dangerous business to "evangelize" in China - one does have the liberty to answer "direct" questions.

Naturally, when the students see photos of such diverse places as Africa, Bosnia, Russia, and this year's addition of Sri Lanka tsunami victims - they immediately question "How can you see such things? Why...? How...? THEN I am free to say "I am a Christian... the Bible teaches... God loves the world..." They generally nod their heads making sounds of affirmation, not necessarily understanding.

Although most of the "students" are well over 20, their enjoyment and enthusiasm is not dampened by their age. The real blessing comes after the program as the students continue to pose "leading" questions to their "teachers". This day J was "lead" to give the REAL answer to the REAL question - and shared the Good News to the group gathered after class. Perhaps soon some of the "searching students" quest will be over?!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Binding


"He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted"

We left early Sunday morning for Taian in the cold and rain. Winter has definitely arrived in China! We all piled in (a veritable clown car) with the supplies purchased for the orphanage stuffed into every space available between and even under the seats. We arrived safely in an hour and a half to the apartment where we were to wait for the rest of the visitors accompanying us to the orphanage. Once all of our group arrived we set out for the Children's Home.

We were greeted outside by the director and the children followed quickly behind him. They were so happy - hugging me one by one and greeting me with open arms. Many of the children had grown so big! We hussled up the stairs in one huge hugged crowd - for a moment tears filled my eyes - happy to see my friends but sad they are still friends living in an orphanage in China.

Our first stop was the room with the wheelchairs. They had five of the disable children sitting in the chairs waiting for their benefactor. They began waving and smiling at the colorful "clown" and we were happy to see the remembrance of former visits register on their faces.

The director and the coordinator allowed time for many pictures and handing out of gifts of cookies and crackers to the children in the chairs. The director gave a speech of thanks and friendship we have established over the last five years. They handed me a plaque and allowed me to address the gathered media. I expressed gratitude for being allowed to come as well as sharing the gift comes not from one person but from individuals in the United States who know and care for the children. Once the ceremony was over, we went down the hallway to the children in the nursery.

They were in the same conditions as last year. Most, severely disabled or down syndrome - abandoned at birth for a life confined to a 2 1/2' x 4' crib. Some were laid two to a bed because they were so very small.

Their response to touch is astounding - one of the significant things that still brings tears to D's eyes. One child of 11 or 12 (her disability confines her to the crib) was crying - I was able to use my little puppet to turn her wailing into laughing, sadness into joy - with just one touch to her face!

The rest of the children were gathered for the program down the hall and our camera crew and officials lead the way through the darkened corridor. They clapped and smiled with great enthusiasm as CARE EE and her entourage entered. I shared a few new tricks and asked what their favorite story was?

"The one with the Baby Bee" they replied as they made hand gestures and buzzing sounds. I called the director up to act as the "King" and fixed a curly wig and Groucho Marx glasses on his face. The children cackled out loud at the transformation, and participated in each phase of the story - even agreeing at the end on the moral - "everyone can make a difference."

For the first time this year we were taken on a tour of the entire facility which is also a home for the elderly. They were so happy to have visitors and their smiles were infectious as the children's.

Next year will be the 90th anniversary of the orphanage. Started in 1916 by two Assembly of God missionaries. I wondered what they would think of the doors being opened to a missionary in disguise of a clown?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Love is Eternal


"We don't see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!"

The city of Jinan sits in the valley between the rolling hills of Shandong Province. In the fall while the weather is trying to make up its mind to be hot or cold - foggy conditions are quite normal. Still unsure of the time zone, my body wakes up around 6:00 am and I peer outside to greet the Chinese sunrise.

The haze is dense and, a mixture of pollution and fog marring the beauty with a smoky smelling smog. The elderly, already below my window in spite of the hour, practice the art of Tai Chi at the University Park.

The Eastern world slowly awakens.

Like the purposeful movements in Tai Chi, questions are posed during "divine appointments" and the answers exercised to bring strength to the asker.

Saturday night we had dinner with a long-time friend of J and D's. A party member, who initially showed great interest in their belief system, but still 5 years later has made no move toward a change of heart.

It is customary here to exchange gifts when meeting again with old acquaintances. A, graciously received the items we brought to him and he presented B and I his expression for this re-meeting.

The first was a collectors folder with Chinese money displayed. But the second is what piqued real interesting conversation.

It was a commemorative folder which had the slogan printed in English "Love is Eternal". Opening the trifold display were 2 envelopes with a graphic logo and again the English words "love is eternal." A. went on to explain this is a campaign to raise money for the underprivileged children, and has gained popularity all across the country. "I give this to you because of your love for many years for the Chinese children". I thanked him, and posed the question " do you believe love is eternal?"

"Oh yes, of course, love never dies."

For all his unresponsiveness to a change of life, his heart is responsive to displays of love.

Too often, our mindset becomes self-righteous and indignant "why don't THEY - get IT?"

But for a man in his position, to make a profession of such nature would have drastic and most likely immediate consequence. He would lose his job, his apartment, and his place in the community of established party members. His wife would also be jeopardized, losing her job, and his 18 year old son's future at the university would probably come to an end. It is a sacrifice we can scarcely imagine.

We DON'T see things clearly now. We ARE looking "through a glass darkly." We need to be careful not to quickly condemn that which we cannot understand.

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do... trust steadily in God,hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

Even a Communist in China sees that -
Love is Eternal!

Friday, November 11, 2005

No Bible No Breakfast

Redemption for the student gathering came at the end of the meeting when one of the believers in the group was asked to close in prayer. M spoke with a quietness of spirit and somewhat shy about praying out loud in English. She began with thanks and humility for our time of fellowship. She thanked the Father for His Word to His children and reminded us how we need so desperately to study it.

Then she said, "It is our food Lord. Let us think 'no Bible no breakfast'. Let this be the first thing we do in the morning to start our day."

How convicting for those of us in the West who own many Bibles, along with various translations of the text that go unopened and unread. Here was a group who literally put their life and future at risk even owning a Bible.

"... the one who makes a meal of Me lives because of Me. This is the Bread from heaven..."

Illusion Delusion

Greetings Far Westerners

I am here safe and sound on the other side of the Pacific Ocean and settling in nicely. Tomorrow is the big program at the Taian Orphanage with the delivery of the wheelchairs. Our liason (J) has gone to Taian today to make the final arrangements for the delivery at the orphanage. Deb as informed me that the plan is for a big "presentation" event ot occur. All from a lowly clown!

Last night our "Meeting" was very interesting to say the least. We spent the day casually, eating breakfast at the hotel (Chinese food of course) unpacking, organizing and getting situated. We headed out for the "CareeForte" (Chinese version of Walmart) to do a little shopping - took home KFC for lunch and had a good long nap until 4pm. We ignored phone calls and door knocks (even an entrance into our room went unnoticed).

We went and met J after his class and headed to their apartment and then dinner. J and D were still out so the meeting began without them. There were about 15 in attendance with an even mix of male/female. J tried to buy timed before D and J arrived and had the students state their name and where they were from. Easy enough. But as the turn came to S (one of their students from last year) he was reluctant to answer. "What is the purpose of your question?" His attitude seemed argumentative at best - hostile at worst. It was strange and J worked through it diplomatically. I showed the video of Sunshine after Rain Ministries "How Do We Make it Count" and then took questions afterward.

The students started off with simple questions at first "how long have you believed?' etc.. and then S spoke up 'I want to ask you a question that is not polite. Do you think your job is meaningful?" I proceeded to share an answer I had given my son "investing in the lives of others, adding value, instilling worth and meaning - yes, I believe that is meaningful."

He persisted 'you have given a simple answer and I think my question is complex. I think you are in an ILLUSION".

I had an unexplained flash of anger and irritation. I grabbed the photos of children sitting silently in my lap. I flashed them before my accusers face "this is not an illusion, these people are real. These lives are made different, these are tangible witnesses to the meaningfulness of my job."

He smirked - I was irked!!

"Illusion it is" he remarked undeterred.

J was diplomatically working to diffuse the situation about freedom to chose to believe and chose not to believe. With D's frustration equalling mine, she said - "we've spent enough time on this."

I was all for moving on.

Oddly my heart felt "heckled" by this deluded foreigner. I honestly did not know where he was coming from, how could he argue such a point? I had heard his delusion seeing love as an illusion.

Who does that?

"Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities of darkness..."

Strongholds are being brought down! Tomorrow will be a BIG day - a long travel day as well as emotional and physically taxing.

YOU are the ammunition that loads the gun! Stay vigilant in this battle. Stay on alert - the fight is to the finish and eternally significant.

To the King and His Kingdom all the glory!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SH-EEEEE (atsu)

Ah.... 21st century travel! Chairs that will bring relaxation and relief before you ever leave home. You can find these sanctuaries of mechanical massage in various locations around the world's airports. I figure I am definitely worth this bit of splurge. It makes up for the post 9/11 security hassles - derobbing, shoes removed, twenty questions for safety in these traveling times.

SHEEEE - AH...! I was so relaxed from my shiatsu that I casually went to take one last pit stop and then checked out the magazine store , looked over at my gate - EMPTY!!! Everyone had BOARDED. I was the last person on the plane - lumbering down the aisle to the LAST corner window seat on the plane....

Oh well..

Hihohiho it's off to work I go...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Calendar of Events

Nov 9
Depart for the Far East: Travel via San Francisco, Tokyo, Beijing
Nov 10
Arrive Beijing and continue in country flight to Jinan
Nov 11
Evening Speaking to Group "Sharing the Work Global Style"
Nov 12
Unscheduled visits and opportunities
Nov 13
Church
2 pm Orphanage Visit - wheelchair delivery
Return to Jinan
Nov 14
University Program
Middle School Program
Nov 15
University Program
Speaking to Home Group Q & A
Nov 16
University Program
Speaking to Home Group Q & A
Nov 17
Teacher Meeting
Nov 18
University Program
Evening Speaking to Group "Sharing the Work Global Style"
Nov 19
Eveing Public Performance
Nov 20
Church
2:30 Orphanage Program
Evening Open House
Nov 21
Travel to Beijing
Nov 22
Orphanage Program
University Program
Nov 23
Depart Beijing 2:00 pm

Crazed but not Crazy!

YOU MUST THINK I AM CRAZY leaving for China just two weeks after my return from Sri Lanka! For the past ten days, I have been going and going – unsure of my current time zone, trying to arrange schedules, take care of business matters AND rest.

HOW CAN I DO THIS? YOU!! My support network of saints, generously providing the financial means, and faithfully committing to pray through various time zones, dangerous treks, and asking for boldness for the Word to go forth. NOW, is the time for us to be busy about the Father’s business. I gladly hit the road/sky again and take off to the Far East (which oddly enough I have to fly west to arrive at).

I WAS SELECTING A PHOTO to add here, and I though I have thousands to choose from, I settled on one taken last year at the orphanage in Taian. It was my fourth visit in as many years and as you may imagine I have seen the children “grow up”. Four years to you and I seems to pass all to quickly. But in the life of a child – to go from 4 to 8, 10 to 14, from 14 to 18 is a time of growth, independence, and significance. Since my first visit in the year 2001, I have witnessed their changing heights and faces and experienced their joy at my coming. We are friends! There is no doubt in their hearts or minds of our care and concern for them. They know they are treasured – they mean something to someone.

THE VALUE OF SELF-WORTH cannot be calculated monetarily – The value of love will be calculated eternally.

My twenty-one year old son recently posed an interesting and provocative question as I was preparing to leave for Sri Lanka. “What if you’re wrong and when you die that’s it?” he said with a wry grin on his face. “Well, I’m not wrong, but… since you asked, even if I am wrong in my beliefs (which I am not I quickly added) then, I have spent a significant portion of my time in this life investing in the lives of others less fortunate. I have spent hours affirming the significance, value and worth of children in orphanages, the disabled, and people living in the depths of unfathomable poverty and human suffering. If this IS (though it’s not) all there is, I have invested in others and made their lives better, if only for a short while. AND, if I’m not, well – I will meet my Maker and hear His words, ‘Well, done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master’.” He laughed a bit uncomfortable and said “so either way you are in a win-win situation”.

WE are in a win-win situation. By supporting this ministry you are making the investment toward YOUR future. We have the opportunity to change the world! We have been given a mandate to care for orphans. You will see from the calendar, this trip is filled with orphanage programs, divine appointments, and opportunities to share hope to this emerging world. Each year, my in-country friends have called the orphanages to find out their most pressing needs. In the winter, this usually means blankets, socks, and warm coats for the children. This year one of the orphanages requested 15 wheelchairs. After three weeks of trying to locate a source in China, the report came in today they will be shipped and ready for delivery on November 12!!

All during this time, the Good News, the Message of the Kingdom – will be preached ALL over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come. MATT 24:14 – THE MESSAGE

Sunday, November 06, 2005

On Solid Ground...

...but in a terrible "twister of activity to get ready for my next adventure!

November 9th through the 23rd I will return to China for my 5th visit there in as many years. It is exciting to be returning, visiting children in the orphanage, speaking before University students, and bringing joy and laughter to young and old.

Your requests to the One, have never been more important. Now is the time, today the day of redemption and opportunity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Homeward Bound From Hong Kong


Here I am back again in the Hong Kong Terminal making good use of my time in between flights. As I said in my earlier email it has been amazing to be able to keep the communication, the direct and specific needs going back and forth.

I still have 24 hours of travel ahead of me. I slept okay from Colombo to Singapore - cramped from Singapore to Hong Kong - but the longest flight is staring me in the face - 14 hours!

Pray for good rest and decompression from all that I have done and seen over the last 3 weeks. May our Father commend your service on the front lines in ways that will continue to surprise you!

Smiling in transit Always in service

Monday, October 24, 2005

Monday Monday Monday


Well Friends

This is goodbye from the far East fields of Sri Lanka. By the time you read this email most likely I will be making my way to the airport and back to US soil. I am currently 11 hours ahead of CST so I will technically be flying backward!

I arrive in DFW at 8:00 pm on Tuesday night.

E leaves Sri Lanka this Thursday after 4 months here. Her heart has been tenderized in many ways but... A leaves in Dec for furlough to the US - Beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers to this field. Truly the time is now!

Fortunately, my car time today will be limited with roundtrip to Colombo and then to the airport. BUT I will be in the air on 4 different planes for the next 30 hours through many airports.

It has been a very long tough emotional three weeks. I will begin immediately preparing for my departure on November 9th to China (I know back across the Pacific Ocean)

We have ALL entered into enemy territory over the past three weeks - interceeding on behalf of the lost in Sri Lanka. The enemy does not take such warfare lightly.

You are soldiers of the Most High - More than conquerors!

Smiling in His service

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturated Saturday


Co-laborers in the field

The Father has sent the RAIN! Our last day of school programs today put our total of children and adults ministered to over 2500! A great time here in Sri Lanka and God has opened doors and hearts.After our programs we made our way to our last hotel. A beautiful hilltop view and nice rooms - even hot water. HOWEVER, tonight as we came into the room a black line from the ceiling was noticed - which turned out to be 20000 ants!!! We have attacked them with bug spray but the hotel staff said `the light is attracting them` so we sit in the dark and pray against crawling creatures STILL.

The hot shower does count for something. Tomorrow will be the final program at the local church here. Today our school program was also held at the church. It sits at the top of a very HIGH hill with 200 steps leading to the top (read as I am feeling old and out of shape) The pastor explained his church sits between a Buddhist temple on one side and a Hindu temple on the other. It is the ONLY Christian church in the ENTIRE region! There are around 80 believers. As I was catching my breath, I reflected on the words of Christ about being a light on a hill - this place certainly is that.

A has fully recovered from his food poisoning and thanks you for all the prayers on his behalf. However, E is suffering from severe car sickness. I have remained strong (except in the hillclimbing) and oiled up.

My prayer is always to finish strong. After almost 20 days of consecutive programs every day - well - I have to pray hard to maintain my enthusiasm.

You may be tired of this prayer - but believe me it is NOW critical. Since arriving at the hotel there has been MASSIVE flashflooding in the area. What this will do to our travel through the mountains tomorrow to Sri Lanka I hate to imagine. I guess I will have to continue to fix my eyes on something other than the cliffside drop offs.

We head back to Samudra Sri orphanage tomorrow afternoon. It will be my last night here in Sri Lanka. My next sleeping arrangement will be the confines of a 737.

Thank you all for your faithfulness to go on this journey into the Harvest Fields of Sri Lanka. His WORD will not return to Him void - and HE does promise `the effectual fervent prayers of the righteous avail much`!

May you know His love and answers always.

In the Fields

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hillsides - Hurlings - Hallelujahs


Saints of the Most High

It is Friday morning here in Sri Lanka and what a time the last two days have been! Our programs in these small mountain village schools have been wonderful. The children excited and enthusiastic - the laughter contagious.

We have seen and ministered to almost 2500 children and adults! A great time of Harvest field work blanketed in the prayers of willing soldiers.

HILLSIDES:
The driving here is TREACHEROUS! Very small one lane roads up hillsides. The locals have NO FEAR they speed by and do not even slow down when passing - forcing cliffside situations every few minutes. Our van has already broken down on the side of a cliff once due to overheating.

HURLINGS:
Yesterday we arrived at our new hotel. While the view here on the hillside is breathtaking, there are some serious issues. Since it is the off season there are NO workers here at the hotel. Only two groundskeepers. Yesterday they were the ones who prepared our lunch. A, being the growing boy that he is, kept eating the RAW chicken against my advice. Needless to say in the middle of the night he woke up with food poisoning. I gave him some charcoal this morning and he is improving.

HALLELUJAHS
Last night E and I had a VERY serious faith conversation. At the end of our conversation I told her `people around the world are praying for you ` she chuckled and said `that`s sweet thanks`

BESEECH the Lord of the Harvest! That is what He asks us to do - that is what we must continue doing.

Until the Harvest is complete

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Tuesday's Child


Precious Saints of the Most High

What a battle we are in!

What a victory we can claim!

Know that you are MORE than conquerors in Christ whom we serve. Today has been a restful day at the orphanage. Our program for the 60+ children here doesn't start until 4:00 so the team of A, E and myself have spent the day relaxing, making the package of presents for the children and preparing to leave at 5:00 am tomorrow morning to the central region of Kandy.

Again my appreciation can hardly be expressed for your faithfulness to cover this mission in prayer for the Harvest. I was thinking of many things that Jesus charged His disciples with was "beseech the Lord of the Harvest".

THAT command you are obediently following. Remember we are 11 hours ahead of Central Standard Time - 10 hours ahead of Eastern; 12 Mountain; 13 West Coast. SO tomorrow late afternoon we will be hitting the road - PLEASE remember to pray long and hard for our safety. The roads to Kandy are very steep and dangerous. This is where the director of AED had his own car accident to which he had to be airlifted to Colombo for!! It is not just a fearful car rider - it is a very real and present danger.

And remember to keep your own household prayed up - when we are engaging in WARFARE - the enemy takes his aim where he finds targets exposed. My prayers go back across the ocean to each of you and your families. Our Father knows - and is delighted - He has raised up an army of servants to fulfill the great commission. We are ONE - and remember the words of King David that those who waited in the camp received the same portion as those in the battlefield.

Let us reap the reward of the Harvest together!

Going forth

Monday, October 17, 2005

Special Guests


Galle School

Today is the full moon holiday. Each month business and schools close on the full moon. The children were brought into the school for "special guests" - and when the program was over - they all responded they were glad they came even on holiday!

Again, thank you for all your responses. They really generate a "oneness" of Spirit and purpose among us. We are all in this TOGETHER.

And remember the words of our faithful King...

"when the Gospel has been preached in all the nations- then I will come!"

Until He does

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Those Who Go Forth With Tears


Our program at the church was very well attended over 150 children in the morning and around 50 youth in the afternoon. Each day has been filled with its own rewards - the many smiles and much much joy.

We traveled to Galle, through some of the heaviest hit tsunami regions. Even 10 months later - the debris is still lining the streets. Mangled and destroyed boats still overturned everywhere. Hard to believe that this area will ever fully recover and yet, there are signs of recovery and life being lived out one day at a time.

We stayed overnight in a rebuilt hotel right on the ocean front. So far they have been able to reopen 6 rooms. The restaurant had photos of the "before and after". The waiters were telling of how they ran for the hills as the twenty foot wall of water rushed upon them. A2 said "can you imagine the water up to that level" as he pointed to the second story.

No - of course we could not!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The House that Faith Built...

...Field of Dreams Redux

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

We turned off the still very bumpy road that wound its way through the Tissemahara area into the Agape House compound. The children were running around excited to see if the promised visitors had finally arrived. As we opened the door to the van we were immediately surrounded by eager smiling children. “Hello” “How are you?” “What is your name?” which was the extent of English they had learned to say without too much shyness exhibited.

The Pastor and “father” to these thirty-eight children warmly greeted us. “Please, let me show you around.” Our first stop was the main house where we were served the traditional welcome of tea and cookies. The Pastor began to share how he had come to this place at this time:

“When I first began my ministry, I did not even really like children. I had a small church and a faithful congregation. One day a woman came to me and asked me to take in her son. The stepfather was beating him and she felt she could no longer care for him safely. I told her I had three children of my own and was not really set up to care for anyone else’s children. I felt bad about not being able to help her – but after all what could I do? Several days later I was visiting one of our members at the hospital. I saw a woman with a baby and a four-year-old girl. I told her this was not a good place for the girl, as she could get sick. Then the woman told me that her new husband had already molested her twice when he was drunk. I left the hospital and saw someone who knew of the woman who had asked me to take her boy. I was heartbroken to hear that the boy had committed suicide! Later that day, I broke down and just wept for the children. I asked God to give me another chance to help. It wasn’t long before He did. Returning to the hospital I saw the woman again – she asked if I would be willing to take the girl. This time I said “yes” – and I have been saying yes to God ever since.”


He continued by telling us how the houses were built by faith alone. After he and his wife had taken in three children - they were sleeping on the floor and the orphans and their three children were sleeping in the beds. A variety of people offered to help, which gave him hope to begin a more suitable living arrangement. One woman promised money if he had plans drawn up - which he did - only to disappear and never be heard from again. One Colombo businessman made a similar offer of cash - only to again fall through.

The Pastor explained that each one of these situations taught him his faith needed to be firmly rooted in God, not in man. Each scenario had taken him further along in the process of building God's vision for helping these children. If he hadn't thought one of these individuals was going to come through with the money - he would not have gone through with developing the plans and setting up a budget for the cost.

We looked out over the land, watched the children playing, toured the houses built and saw the ones under construction to take in more children from the tsunami.

And yet, each day of operation is still lived out in faith - a modern day "Field of Dreams . if you build it they will come."

"If you have the faith of a grain of mustard seed you can say to this mountains move.."

Or build an orphanage!

Saturday Seeds


Greetings and Howdys Fellow Farmers!

Today is almost over here in Sri Lanka and Saturday's planting has been great. The Gospel has been shared (both schools this morning were in churches) AND the orphanage is run by a Christian organization so we will have the freedom to tell openly of Christ's love for the children.

The other big event for today was between E and I. She asked "how did you get started in all this" so I gave her the "revelation" and the supernatural workings of the Most High. Another seed planted. She was paying particular attention to the "pure religion undefiled is to serve widows and orphans".

I am not sure about internet - it is always a hit or miss. We will then be traveling back to Colombo on Monday night - there is a storm predicted to affect our travels.

PRAY for yourselves. You are entering into enemy territory EVEN though you are there and I am on the ground - we KNOW our battle is in the unseen realm. Pray for protection.

PRAISE the Lord of the Harvest - for HE IS watching over His Word to see it performed. HE IS faithful with ways that are not our ways.

HE IS (as they say in Africa) good ALL the time!

Faithfully connected

Friday, October 14, 2005

TGIF in Sri Lanka


Thank God it's Friday!

And for that matter I have been thanking Him each and every day for each one of you. As I sit here in an INTERNET CAFE of all things - on the other side of the world - A and I both are amazed at your willing hearts to stand in the gap while the battle is raging. We even got a sigh from E on the plans to pray at the JAF meeting on Saturday night.

Little by little - seeds are being sown - and HE is faithful to watch over His word to perform all that He desires. Today we traveled through Hambantota where the tsunami damage was very severe (14,000 people died in this area). The destruction is still very much evident, bricks and concrete, dead trees piled high, debris fields even approaching 10 months after the disaster. We can now picture the same will be said of our own recent disaster - evident for a long time to come.

Our first stop was the property purchased outside of town for the new orphanage AED has plans to build. It will eventually house 400 orphans. They will also build an orphanage on the Eastern coast for another 400. The goal is to serve 1000 orphans in the future. Unfortunately, the tsunami alone created over 9,000 orphans - all of whom are still residing in refugee camps scattered across the area.

Our program was at a government school for over 300 children. Since it is Friday and this area is predominately Muslim, school lets out at 12:30. Our program was shorter than usual - but we were able to distribute the books on suicide and child abuse. Afterwards, A saw some of the Muslim teachers in what looked like a heated discussion over the books. The suicide book is TOTALLY about Christ's answer for the despair in our lives. He asked the driver to interpret what was in the book - then just as the panic was rising to a head - the principle of the school walked up and asked for MORE BOOKS! For many children this will be the first information they have EVER received about Christ! This may be the ONLY information they ever receive about Christ.

In the past 6 days we have seen over 1500+ children and adults! A steady week of work for this "farmer in the fields". Praise Him for YOUR PART- as Paul writes "I'm not asking for my own sake - but what can be CREDITED TO YOUR ACCOUNT.

"When the roll is called up yonder" the thousands of Sri Lankan children and adults will be waving at YOU - thanking YOU for sending this farmer - and participating in the fertilizing through your faithful prayers and petitions. I know it seems like you are receiving updates a DAY late and some of you are. My access allows only so many emails to go out each hour. However, I AM 11 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.

Pray hard pray often and praise the King of Kings - HE IS COMING BACK

Charlynn in Sri

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thursday's Child Has Far To Go


Servants in the battlefield of the Most High!

Greetings from far away and safe at the internet cafe. Our travel today was very safe and but for the first hour free of hills and rain - the other three passed quickly with our eyes focused on the DVD player.

We arrived in plenty of time for our afternoon programs and were able to have a leisurely lunch at a "jungle"campground. The veranda was built out over the river and in the trees across from us - a band of monkeys kept us entertained are in the southern region of the island - near where some of the worst tsunami disaster occurred(Hambantota) Even before the disaster - this area has the highest suicide rate on the island. Many girls marry young to get out of bad homelife situations and then commit suicide when they are abused. The lack of social education in these matters of basic human rights is staggering.

Our program was well received and we passed out books afterward to address child rights issues as well as suicide - we will have program at the government school in Hambantota (tsunami region) many children in this area died in the disaster. Pray that their hearts will be open to receive joy and love.

But most importantly thank you for committing to be the ammunition in this raging battle. The fight for the eternal life of these people is fierce.

Keep it up.

Far away still

But close in Spirit

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Warfare on Wednesday


Battlefield Companions!

Greetings in the Name of the Leader of the Heavenly Hosts.

It is still raining here in the rain forest - which comes as no suprise.

TUESDAY:
We had two programs for around 400 people. Our first stop was a small concrete schoolhouse with a tin roof (only half walls) and the rain was so loud you could not even hear yourself talk! Good thing I had some tricks that needed no interpretation. Our second school stop was a return visit to Muduwwa. And let me tell you in the rain it is MUDDY in MUDUWWA!

At the end of the program one of the older girls got up and gave a speech in English thanking us for the program last July and the inflatable globe we left behind. She said - "it has helped us with our studies here" You never know what will make an impression.

WEDNESDAY:
Today we will go to the village and have an evangelistic program. Many in this community are Christians. There are about 14000 people living in the area and it will be an open invitation to all.

We have another school program to a new place about one hour away. SAFETY is still a HUGE issue on the roads.

The enemy is busy with dissention - BUT we are victorious.

Keep up the battle - we are more than conquerors TOGETHER as one body!

Shielded

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Tense Tea Time


Warriors

WOW - what a day your service was CRITICAL.

Today we traveled through the mountains and had the closest I ever want to come to a head on collision!! We prayed continuously and exclaimed "dear Jesus help us" too many times to count. Thank you for joining in this battlefield and for keeping us safe for now. I felt like I may have to become the modern day "Paul" relating instead of "shipwrecked" "car wrecked"!

The scenery was exquisite through the green tea covered hills (although it WAS tense)and we arrived at our destination nervous but ready. I have been to many "ends of the earth" locales and today qualified at the end of a mud road at the top of a hill a school house where over 100 children and 50 adults were gathered to hear our program.

They thoroughly enjoyed it - and we ended the show by passing out balloons and books. The village was another hour up the mountain nestled in the midst of a vast tea plantation. The workers earn $1 a day to climb up the steep slopes and pick the ready leaves from the tree. It was pouring down rain - and still the women stood among the trees diligently picking the leaves.

The school house also serves as a church on the weekend and many of the 100+ attendants were believers. We shared the gospel and after the program was finished many came forward (children and adult) for prayer. Closing - a girl came and presented us with gifts of drawings with scripture on them. Each one given by her randomly - by God specifically! Mine said "I have commanded you go and bear fruit"

God is watching! He is also listening!

Tense but having tea now

Monday Monday Can't Touch That Day


Here on the other side of the world

Today began with a terrible rainstorm, (we are in the jungle region in central Sri Lanka) and as I made my way through the darkness I saw something strange in the bathroom blocking my way to the facilities. Was it alive, was it my imagination, was it...? As I stared (and danced) at the object it did move - ahha ALIVE - so I grabbed the towel hanging on the rack only to discover there was an equally large cockroach in the folds of my supposed weapon. I am still dancing and praying and trying to figure out an answer to my dilmena.

The hotel staff came and extracated the insects, sprayed heavily and all is okay for now. The program at the Anglican Church went very well - I told the story of the Three Trees to a congregation of around 200. The Harvest is white here and Christian evangelicals are asking the body of Christ across the globe for an increase.

YOU are a part of that BODY - YOUR prayers are being heard and answered. Today we return to two schools I visited in July. The weather is abdomindable which makes the driving even scarier if that`s possible.

Praise be to the God who hears and ANSWERS the prayers and petitions of the saints!

Soaked in Sri Lanka
But smiling in His service

Monday, October 10, 2005

Far Ahead and Far Away


Harvest Helpers

I am preparing myself to crawl under the netted protection that will keep all creeping and crawling things out of my bed - and thought more importantly I need the unseen protection of the warriors battling in the spiritual realm for what is going on here in Sri Lanka.

In fact, this is my second attempt to compose these requests so I will keep them to the minimum words & maximum need! We are staying at the same hotel as in July. It is Pleasant, 16 rooms only and good food for a cheap rate($12 including 2 meals) However, yesterday A2 discovered this hotel is used for child prostitution!

Shocked he immediately wanted to contact the authorities only to discover the hotel is owned by a government official so the police do not dare to stop the activity.

You are keeping the battleground full of soldiers and with the victory in sight.

Secure in His arms - but in Sri Lanka .... not so

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Speaking in Tongues


Ratnapura Church Program

The meeting yesterday, with the pastor created a sense of anticipation about our time at his church. A delightful man that looked a bit like a Sinhalese version of Freddy Mercury. Full of laughter, a good sense of humor and lots of excitement about what God is doing in Ratnapura. He gave us a little background on his church (Anglican) and his congregation asking him to stay long past his denominational traditional 4-year tenure. When he came to the area 9 years ago the church had 16 families - it has now grown to 4 churches and 568 families. He spoke of his background as a speaker of Sinhalese, then he went to seminary and learned Tamil - he laughed "now God is using my tongue to preach in new tongues!"

The service/program was spoken in English then translated to Tamil and Sinhalese - it made for a lengthy and interesting expository. A suggested that the congregation split into adults and children - but the pastor laughed and said "Oh, but we are all children - we need to have a childlike heart as little ones of God."

The Anglican service was comparitavely short to what we have been to before at the "Free Churches" our time was restriced as a normal service is only one hour (compared to 3 or 4) Since it was being double translated I shared only the Three Trees story to give Aaron plenty of time.

After, several children said "what - no magic" that is what we came to see

I think Jesus had the same proble with people wanting to see what "tricks" he had.

No magic -

only miracles!

If It's Saturday I Must be in Sri Lanka


Greetings from miles across oceans and eleven hours ahead of where I usually reside!

Harvest work is being done and you are a KEY part in the plowing of fallow ground.

I finally arrived late Friday night in Colombo,weary from all the flying (30 hours) but not too worse for the wear. I was greeted at the airport by Aaron and Elizabeth (who originally intended to hide just to scare me - but thought better of it)right on time. We headed out to the orphanage (it is closer to the airport) and spent a short night there.

Left early (6:30 am) to head to Ratnapura for the program. It stormed most of the night which brought some relief from the heat - but it is still HOT HOT here and very humid.Paul may have had his shipwrecks - but ... the driving here is EXTRAORDINARILY dangerous (and I have seen my fair share of scary driving and roads)

I thank God for the modern technology of DVD players because it keeps those of us foreigners focused on something other than screeming every two minutes when the driver passing on a blind hill curve at 50 miles per hour!

The program today was an educational event designed to bring awareness to parents and children about their rights. In recent months the government has even tried to pass a law to reduce the statuatory rape age from 16 down to 13 because too many men were being prosecuted!! Children need to know they have rights and can protect themselves and make good choices. Over three hundred children and adults were gathered to hear many different speakers - but in the end - you know they just wanted to have some fun and laugh.

I used their teachers to do a skit and they were rolling out of their chairs. Some of you may remember my story about the communist government gentleman from July - he was there again and just as gracious this time to see me and welcome me back to Sri Lanka and their region. We are settled into our hotel (the same one as last time) and will be in this area traveling out from our base camp until Wednesday.

Until all have heard

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Resting in Ratnapura


Safe arrival in Colombo AND - no worries about being "Lost" or "left behind". My associates were waiting dutifully at the airport having had second thoughts about hiding. I exchanged money and braced for the heat and humidity.

We stayed overnight at the orphanage (Samudra Sri) for convenience. Caught up on personal happenings, and had good ole American Kraft Mac and Cheese. Our goal was to leave for Ratnapura by 7:00 am.

Thankfully the DVD was working and watching the series "24" caused the hours pass quickly and distracted us through the dangerous hills and near miss accidents.

We arrived a little late in Ratnapura and the youth program was already in progress. We took our seats on the front row and - 2 hours later made our exit to find a hotel. Seems the one we were going to stay at was quite expensive - two stops and a hilltop lunch later we arrived back for the program.

I did some tricks to wake up the sleepy audience and they had fun.

Off to our former hotel (the Kalvati Resort) to rest before the Pastor of the church we will be at tomorrow arrives. Supper, hot shower, and a few geckos to kill the mosquitoes - what more could one ask?

Singapore Sling Slang Slung

Next stop Singapore

My body feels like one big sweaty swollen toad. My clothes - well what was I thinking wearing a white shirt! I have the aisle seat for the next portion of the flight - I'm sad not to have the wall to prop up my narcotic slumber. But there is the drooling and circulation cessation that will be avoided. I feel every hour of 46 years old. Travel is hard on this old body.

Last leg of the journey - with much to anticipate ahead of me. The days and nights, drives, laughs, smiles collected and recounted for those who support the silliness of this unlikely adventure.

As I tried to post my interesting international intersections - I froze the computer (stupid mac or stupid me) but hitting an "F" key - well "F" this . With my info (interesting as it was) frozen to the screen I had no other choice but to pull the plug!

Alas, no reboot, refresh, restart - the screen remained blank.

And so I left Hong Kong my last look back was to a screen gone dark - "No Muse" is not amusing.

Noodle House Notes

HONG KONG CHINA

Arrived on time after 14 hours over a large expanse of ocean far below what the darkness would allow me to see. Slept not too well, not too poorly in a cramped space - narcotics ease the discomfort.

The modern airport is a bit confusing - where to go - depart - transfer - limbo

My next flight departs 5 hours from now and so .. no gate assignment yet. I follow the signs in three languages pointing the way to the two most needed "R's" - RESTROOMS - RESTAURANTS

On my way - "Ahha" Internet access. I check the mail and set to send out a new request. This will be a hit the ground running event-filled 20 days so my communiques may be limited.

With the "I" interruption concluded on to my first "R" stop (restroom).

The hand luggage carts are convenient - but for security purposes I pulled mine into the stall with me as I took a "rest" only to discover that I was TRAPPED -

What a predicament! I felt like one of those idiot movers who get a large piece of furniture halfway in halfway out! After a few seconds of panic and resolved manipulations - I was free at last!

Second "R" from where I pen these notes from the Noodle Shop. Fried, boiled, cold, beef, pork, undetermined "mixed" parts. The noodle dish I selected (beef) was more fat that meat so I discreetly had to use my napkin to hide my disappointment.

The pollution outside is heavy, masking the beauty of the boats on Hong Kong bay through a dirty haze. In the hallways pass many international travelers - I wonder what the heck they are doing on the other side of the world? CNN at every stop shows clouds over Sri Lanka - hope the weather holds out for travel..

If not there is always the guaranteed "Sunshine After Rain"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Live and Awake in Hong Kong

Greetings from the future.

I arrived in Hong Kong on FRIDAY at 7:00 am. It was not too bad as far as airplanes go - I was in a three seater window with a seat between myself and the other passenger. I took advantage took my medicine and stretched my legs out.

Tomorrow we will leave early for a 4-5 hour drive to Ratnapura which is in the central region. I still have 9 flight hours to go (4 to Singapore and then 5 to Colombo) I will arrive (and I am assured met at the airport) at 8:45 PM.
Our team:
A - AED administrator, preacher, man on fire for evangelism sums him up best A2 - AED administrator - my translator - heart after God
E - AED intern (one of the young girls who was with me the first part of my trip last July) seeker being tenderized
ME - International clown of mystery! And well it would be rude and vain to get into the rest.

This is WAR - we are in

There are wounded

But we are assured of the our victory!

On her way to the lost in Sri Lanka

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Superman and Songs Sensed Solo

"it's not easy being me.." Five for Fighting

I think perhaps since Sri - I have become too attached to "Smallville" and the emerging Clark Kent sensibilities.

I tried to make myself comfortable on the shortest leg of my very long long journey back to Sri Lanka. I put my noise reduction headphones on and let the "Five and John" file on my MP3 player begin to echo the familiar lyrics...

"I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive. I'm just out to find the better part of me.."

The words make me smile - the familiarity of the sound...

...and for the first time since my Smallville obsession began - as I look back over the disappearing city lights of Dallas, I understand I AM out to find "the better part of me". The me who finds herself in strange and diverse places at differing times and changing seasons - bringing good news and joy and the fragrance of life!

The Smallville season opener for 2004 found a Clark who took off flying saying "I am ready to embrace my destiny." As it turned out he was inhabited by his alien father - but he got the experience of shooting through the sky at a supernatural speed. As I took off on this flight I smile - I too, inhabited by my Father's Spirit starting with surety of faith "I'm ready to embrace my destiny."

And though I am aided by the modern machinery of a 747 - it is still a mode of transport Paul could not begin to imagine or embrace!

"Right Far..."


I thought about the movie "Spencer's Mountain" as the plane approached the sprawling city of Los Angeles. I checked the seat pocket in front of me, and handed the half-eaten pretzels, smashed plastic cup and used napkin to the stewardess making her way down the aisle.

I put my seat back "into an upright position" and checked my pocket for my passport and the next flight's boarding pass. As I flipped through the worn over-stamped pages, the passenger who had crowded me all flight infringing frequently and liberally asked "are you going on farther?"

It was then, with the lights twinkling in the distance I thought of Spencer's Mountain. The eldest son of an eldest son in a mountain mining family was boarding a bus bound for his future. The first one to go off to college.

He made his way to the last seat, the bench at the back, under the expansive window. He sat down and looked back at - his mother and father and his 9 brothers and sisters, standing in the road waving a tearful goodbye. As the bus drove away leaving his family in the dusty country road, his co-passenger turned to him and asked a similar question as mine just did...

"going far son?"

To which he replied "right far"

Each time I leave for one of these destinations missions for the King - I see the journey and I think "I am going "right far""!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Women I Never Knew

The sanctuary of my Dallas domain (my bedroom),is a place of quiet, peace, aroma therapy and lots and lots of pillows. Each night I find myself stateside I take the pillows and surround my weariness with a cave of comfort. I even hide my head under the down deliciousness and disappear.

Childhood issues, aloneness struggles, international habitation have all driven this desire for nesting. I explain my idiosyncrasy by the adage "wherever you are - there you are." If I remove peripheral vision, familiar sites and sounds, then whenever I wake as a stranger in a strange land - I do not suffer from disorientation, as I have been known on occasion to wake up and take a few moments to grasp which time zone and continent I am in.

But before I make my retreat into this feathery anonymous security - I look into the eyes of my ancestors - the women I never knew.

There on my wall, guarding my safe haven, are the almost century-old photographs of my grandmothers, my great grandmothers and even one of my great great grandmothers. Their eyes are fixed steadily ahead at a future they cannot fathom - airplanes and Internet and a country in moral decline.

They are not smiling. The technology of the day did not permit "candid" snapshots of their life. They had to remain quite still for long periods of time for the invention to capture their likeness.

I wish I had known them. Or asked even more of their descendants, memories of who they were, what they wished, what made them laugh?

But I do have the sternness of their eyes fixed ahead to remind me each night of another whose eyes were fixed ahead "set like flint, straight toward Jerusalem".

Could they have imagined into the future, someone in their lineage would "go forth to the ends of the earth"? I wonder if I will have a chance to meet them in heaven? I assume they were believers. At that time, in the south - on territory still under the threat of Indian raids - life was hard, and hard not to believe in God.

I wonder if they know I know their faces, their dates of birth and dates of death? The names of their children and their children's children? I wonder if they know me?

I think they do -

and for now - on this side of eternity, before I retire into my cave and sleep - I'll continue to see them as part of my great cloud of witnesses!

The One Woman in the Lineup..

...I did know

Not surprising, considering the work I find myself in now - was an orphan.

She is young in this photo. It was a professional portrait. Her hair is coiffed in a trendy style and the only discernible makeup in the black and white photo is her lipstick - obviously red.

Her face turned to the side and she too has the fixed gaze of her ancestors, whose portraits are above her. She was young, just graduating from the orphanage into college. A life of abandonment behind her, a future of abuse ahead.

I like looking at her before I sleep. I think in me - she has hope. The suffering she endured her whole life - did impact someone...

...me.

I'll be glad to be one of HER great cloud of witnesses!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

So Long Farewell


Leaving Sri Lanka today! Well, as you may recall from the first email sent from this side of the world it is today BUT technically I leave on Wednesday (1:35am) I am 11 hours behind Central Standard Time. Which means at 2:35pm in the afternoon on TUESDAY stateside I will be boarding a plane (the first of four) and making my way back to the USA.

What a HARVEST! In the last ten days I have seen over 800 children and 400+ adults. Prayed with three women last Sunday to receive the precious gift of salvation, eyewitness to miracles and then some! Thank you for being a BIG part of the work here in Sri Lanka.

Oswald Chambers (who taught foreign missionaries during the first years of the 20th century) said - don't pray over the work you are doing for God - PRAYER IS THE WORK! Thanks for keeping me covered, encouraged, strong, healthy, and safe down DANGEROUS roads.

The work here in Sri Lanka is AMAZING! Pray for workers to come - and help!! So many organizations arrived for the humanitarian outreach - now the doors to allow spiritual outreach are open. This may not last long.

God is faithful and as they say in Africa "good all the time!" It is hard to look upon devastation and destruction and say those words - but we must rely on the truth of His promise to work all things together for the good. This tragedy has brought the world's attention to Sri Lanka. May the people feel His Spirit and experience His true joy.

Smiling in His service!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Words Cannot Describe


Greetings again from the other side of the world! It has been such a great encouragement to hear from many of you all across the globe. It makes me very aware of how important prayer is to the ministry and harvest fields as well as the fact truly we are ONE body in Christ.

Today, our group (the family that arrived yesterday) A, myself and A2 (the two directors at the organization) traveled to the southern part of the island. This is where much devastation occurred. Our first stop was at a village totally rebuilt by them The villagers gathered and I gave a performance. It was the FIRST TIME the Good News had been shared with these people. It was an awesome and exciting opportunity to be the first person to break ground there!

We traveled further south where the tsunami hit a train and claimed the lives of over 1500 people. You cannot believe the devastation! Nothing can describe it - so I won't try in this format.

Traveling farther south around the edge of the island to Hamanaboto, 14,000 people lost their lives here. There, we drove past an inland. Once they had removed 2000 bodies - they had to stop because of too much debris.

We are staying at one of the few undamaged hotels in the region - and it has internet! I thought I would take advantage of the access and bring you the latest news from the field. Sitting here at the computer amidst the destruction surrounding me, I feel like a foreign war correspondent sending messages back home.
It has been great to be able to stay connected!

Tomorrow - I will perform at a the local church. T(the family man) will be giving the sermon. Monday we will be hitting the long road home and stopping at a school and bringing a performance there. Since here - I have given the message to over 600 children so far! Each day has it's own joy.

Thanks for being a part of what is happening in Sri Lanka. YOU will see the rewards in the Kingdom. YOU will know the difference your prayers made in bringing down strongholds of darkness.

To Him be the Glory!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Missed Interpretation


Warriors in the Service of the Most High,

It is morning here in Sri Lanka and our program for the neighborhood children is about to begin - we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of approximately 50 (more) children. The program director was to bring another interpreter from the office in Colombo - however, he has yet to arrive. This is one of the most important aspects of the day. For if the children do not understand what is being said - it is unlikely they will remember much about what they heard. This will be the first time many of the neighborhood children have heard the good news. The family arrived last night at 2:30am. Their daughters are to help with the program in playing games with the children but everyone is still sleeping! I will close for now and try to send an update at the close of the day. It will most likely be the last email as we leave early tomorrow morning for the southern region (tsunami devastated areas)

Thank you for your partnership in the Harvest!