Thursday, April 27, 2006

75 Songs Says it All

I have slept, if it can be qualified as such. Sitting up, struggling to keep the short thin blanket over my bent and crumpled limbs. I have an air pillow, a neck pillow, a squashy pillow (travel size) to pad myself in pseudo comfort, and as I dream perhaps I'll shake this economy class crunch of limbs and forms of personal space.

Now I am one hour from US soil. I can't wait. This is a long long way to fly and looking out past the wings of my 777 transport, I see glimpses of how high, how wide, how deep His love is for His children.

What a two weeks we've had. We've laughed, cried, advised, prayed, ministered and saw the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Once again, my emotions are raw, my heart exposed and laid bare, in need of a good cry, a tender hug, and still a 'one' who understands the suffering in the willingness to be separated from self.

The plane approaches the California shoreline. 'Remembrance of Things Past' playlist is serenading me to home ground. Peter Gabriel sings, 'I Grieve... still life carries on'

High up in the altitude, my souls cries out too. 'I Grieve for you.' For those thousand goodbyes I saw. For the 'when will you come back' questions, for the eyes that peer in quizzical darkness 'why, what, when's' to go unanswered until the next time.

Their days will progress, sometimes worried as they watch their country sink into civil war, terrorist attacks, and the threat of military action. There is a terror under the surface of the conversational courtesies.

For our last meal we stopped at the Hilton for half-price pizza. The newspaper sat on our table with the bold headline ˝PEACE OVER as Terrorists Strike'. Our waitress looked down and teared up. The blast occurred two blocks from the Hilton. All she could get out was 'this is very bad'.

I return to a different but equally difficult war on the home front. My youngest son is struggling with demons of his own doing. Hope is being stolen with no respector of nationalities or nations, political allegences or personal histories.

We are in a war – something that keeps me somberly looking to the days ahead with anticipation at the floodgates opening up on ministry for the End Times being magnified. My '75 Songs That Say it All' well, they are a sentimental remembrance of things past –

but also serve as a reflection to forget things past, I press on the upward high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Source for ReSource


'...and deliver us from evil...'

It's over. I'm back at the beachfront hotel enjoying the setting sun, calming my nerves at the end of yet another 'death-defying' drive down the rural roadways of Sri Lanka. Our driver seemed more confident on the straight-a-ways after negotiating the mountain lanes – so passing vehicles against oncoming traffic was not a problem for him. But on more than one occasssion I used a stern back seat directive. 'Slow down, we are not in a hurry', to which he would nod and laugh sheepishly like a child with their hand caught in the cookie jar.

We left the hotel early to make the start of our last program in Chilaw, about 50 miles and more than 50 breath-stealing traffic breaking moments away.

The Pastor greeted us and led us upstairs to his apartment above the church. We received the formal greeting (the sharing of milk tea) prayers and polite conversation.Two gentlemen cam in shortly after and the Pastor explained one had come today for prayer.

His introduction was lengthy, describing how this was a very important man in the community, very rich, who owned one of the largest garment factories. But over the last two months his factory has been under demonic attacks. His original 250 employees have dwindled to under 20. He lost his major contracts to factories in Colombo. He has sold all four of his vehicles, sold his house and is basically on the verge of bankruptcy. The father of one of the remaining workers is a new believer at the church. He brought the man to the Pastor.

'thou shall have no other gods before me'

The Pastor then shared how this particular area has strong demonic activity. There are many temples and places designed for idol worship. He chuckled nervously saying, 'when you live where the devil does – you expect these things!'

A said, 'of course we will pray for you.' The man spoke perfect English, but had let the Pastor plead his case. Almost like a parent explains to the physician the symptoms of their hurting child. Before A began, the man raised his downcast eyes and said 'I am a Buddhist.'

I was reminded of the Kings of old who often sought out the prophets of Israel when all their own resources had come to no end. I also remembered how prayers were answered and the Kings proclaimed, 'there is One God, the true God in Israel, we will serve Him.'

We prayed and brought forth the weapons that bring down such strongholds. We have not forgotten we are engaged in very real warfare.

As we were returning to Nogumbo (40km north of Colombo) we heard of a terrorist attack at the Military Hospital killing 8 and wounding scores of others. Sri Lanka is once again on the brink of all out civil war. Back at the hotel the nightly news said 'The government is calling for prayer, and has contacted leaders of all faiths to pray.'

As we have seen over the last two weeks, His Gospel is going forth and right on our heels is the enemy. However, we are confident on this...

'we are more than conquerors!'

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Monday, April 24, 2006

His Pleasure


... we were created for His good pleasure...

It's a good thing I've studied the wisdom of Oswald Chambers for years. I needed it yesterday. We were given the approval to come and be with the children and adults living at the Mother Teresa home inKandy - we were also told that there would be strict conditions- no photographs, no videos and enter with an understanding the children are in a severe state.

In his story on Job [Baffled to Fight Better] Mr. Chambers expounds on the complex and profound tragedy that goes unexplaioned in this life.He says most would ask when they are faced with the depth of tragedy, where is God in 'this'? Assuming His absence,when in fact they have come face to face with Him.

And He accepts full responsibility!

Seeing the distorted and disabled , the flies, hearing the whimpers of the severest cases it was hard to accept His responsibility for the state and condition of these most innocent.

God is good?

My encounters across the world with the disabled are quite similar, they are their own culture and spoken language is oftentimes a non-issue. This day in Sri Lanka was no exception. There are typically the reserved, some are frightened (by the overstimulation), and then there are the affectionate enthusiasts. I picture them as my sweet dear Jesus [Matt25]

A grinninig girl jumped up from her seat when I walked through the gates - giggling, smiling, grabbing my hand, grunting her enthusiastic greeting. But here is why I could so easily picture the hand of my Master reaching out to me through her: she walked me around the room and introduced me to her friends, when they were scared or shied away she would reassure them I was okay. She would pat me or hug me and encourage them to do the same. Some were terribly disfigured, diseased hands outreached waiting just to be touched. It was if He was saying :"this one needs you, this one needs to feel accepted, this one needs to be shown my love. Letme you to my friends, those I hold in the hightest esteem!

You might assume they wouldn't (or couldn't) or even shouldn't beentertained by "tricks" and stories - oh but there you would be mistaken. And as for assembling "volunteers" for the stories - theywere eager to come foward and be a part of what was happening up front. They donned the silly hats and props like contestants in a BeautyPagent, and in so many ways they were!

It was His handiwork, that formed them in the mother's womb, that deemed them acceptable, lovely and desirable just as they are. I told the story "The Legend of the Daisy" (about God creating the flowers just for beauty's sake) The "Rose" asks to be important -the "Tulip" wants to be admired but not used - the "Violet" too shy to come out of her "forest of fear". And then there is the "Daisy"enthusiastic with the desire to be scattered abundantly to bring joy and delight to children.

Today, as those perhaps least beautiful by the world's standards, laughed, smiled, took delight in being "chosen" to participate and be "used"...

... my eyes didn't take in the brokeness or the tragedy - in fact before me I saw HIS field of "Daisies".

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lead Me to a Rock that is Higher

'they traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God.' Luke 9 (The Message)

On Day Ten, we find ourselves in Balangoda. American A and I have struggled with the stress on syllables from town to town and BAH-LAN-GO-DUH has been no exception. I had to wonder if Paul struggled when he went to foreign lands with the the city names that are so familiar to us: Corinth, Rome, Thessolanica, Philippi?

And as we go and face 21st century discomforts, I smile while making some comparisons, I have not been beaten – but definately 'bugged' in some of our choices in hotels. I have not been shipwrecked – but car stranded on a hilltop with wild monkeys crossing the road and jumping through the trees. I haven't suffered the 40 lashes, but 40 hours of flight and travel is its own form of punishment.

These days, I can say with all certainty there is nothing I wouldn't do, no lengths I wouldn't go to – to see the message preached, His love shown and shared to those whose only hope is in Him. And as I write this approaching midnight, a train rumbles past my hotel window, and of course has to blast a warning sound – in case I might get in its way.

You have to laugh – because I know Paul did. His letters even allude to his good humored nature about his trials...

'consider it all joy...'

Our return journey to the Kandy region takes us through the mountains, jungles and vast tea estates of the region. The short cut, turned out to be the 'high road' and while my aversion therapy may have needed updating – sitting in a smoking van and watching the driver shift into reverse to let an oncoming vehicle pass on the one lane road 1000 feet above sea level is more like shock treatment!

Watching a TV series on DVD that focuses on people dying before their time, probably hasn't eased the anxiety either. Oh but the view! When I can muster up the courage to look out the window (don't worry it's more often than I let on) the scenery is breathtaking. I have seen fauna and flora that HAD to be created. No 'bang', no matter how 'big' could have produced such beauty.

I'm working on my fright as He leads me to the heights!

What a God, His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God direction is road tested. Everyone who runs towards Him makes it. Psalm 18 (The Message)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Achievement


'unless you come as a child'

The programs have been well received and successful beyond what we hoped for. The craft portion that I thought would be too confusing has really been a great blessing to watch. In spite fo translated instructions, spilling glue, too few scissors, broken crayons and cramped spaces – it works. Even with no electricity! It is one of those supernatural sites to see. There really isn't a good reason for it to work out. The adults even enjoy making their own book and decorating it.

Even in the darkness, creation comes forth. A and I have turned A2 into the 'judge'. He walks through the crowd and picks the winners of our 'cracker/raisin' prizes.

The five children came forward as their names were read from the winning notebooks. Then off to the side I noticed a white-haired old man, with more than a 5 o'clock shadow of whiskers covering his chin. He seemed out of place among the youngsters but totally undeterred. He stood waiting for his prize.

He opened his notebook which showed the page decoration surrounding his polaroid picture. Great care had been taken to make it 'special' and he was obviously very proud. I reached into the prize bag and pulled out two small rope bracelets and slipped them over his wrist. He turned to the crowd, took in their applause, and returned to his seat followed by the five children.

It was an odd site indeed, but one also very touching. As I saw the pride he had, the joy he took in the accolade, I realized, for the first time in his life, this man was recognized for doing something outstanding. He was given the gift of self-worth, pride, dignity and joy through the opportunity to come to a church, and come as a child.

He took home more than a covered school pad. He was one of the adults to come forward and accept the eternal gift offered that day. I was privileged to see his wide big-toothed grin over a decorated notebook. Imagine his face when he hears from the Master...

'well done my good and faithful servant!'

Out of Chaos - Creation


After six days of crayons, cut outs, glue, stickers and not enough scissors, the 2 A's and a C have got the routine down to a messy art project.

Once the process is over, we scan the scene and look at the huge mess of stickers unstuck, glue globbed, paper shreds and crushed crayons littering the floors of the churches our programs have been held at. We make our apologies of course, but are always met with a 'don't worry, the children had a good time!'

Our return to the Agape Children's Home was a giggling reunion for some, but for the 17 new orphans, we were met with strange skeptisism. The pastor had shared some of their stories that were heartbreaking to hear. 'How could this happen?'

It was delightful to see them have fun, expressing joy, surprise, laughter and enthusiasm at – you guessed it those darn crafts! Oh, they had a time alright, and as the darkness settled in outside, the Pastor ran and stole lightbulbs from various other rooms in the orphanage to give illumination to their creation process.

Once the winners collected their prizes and returned to their seats, in the wake of all the children returning to their seats – I looked down at the floor: EEGADS – again! Scraps, globs, gloop, gross!

But when I looked up I saw something new. The children all held tightly to their decorated masterpieces. Beauty from ashes of trash. I told them to look down too. I asked 'what do you see?' It was hard to miss, and an easy answer 'a BIG MESS!' That's right, but in your hands you hold something beautiful. Now if someone walks in and looks at the floor, they would agree about the mess. They might not see what YOU created from out of the mess. Children, God is doing the same thing with you and me. Our circumstances may look like a mess, spilled tears, hearts torn, and crushed spirits – but God is making a treasure. He promises to hold very close to His heart.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Light in Lunugamvehera

'say to a people living in darkness'

Thursday was going to be a long day. We knew that when we woke we had a 5 to 6 hour drive down through the mountains winding around the cash crop of the former Ceylon – 'tea'.

Again, we took our focus off the danger on the roadways with diversionary DVDs. When we finally arrived at our destination church, we thanked God for getting us there before the approaching storm. It was already 4:00 and the clouds were rolling in, the light inside the sanctuary fading fast. It would be a problem seeing a program that is mostly visual in the dark. I turned to the Pastor and asked about the bare bulbs I could see hanging overhead. ' Well, no energy today'. The storm began just as we were starting our craft segment. It was pitch black.

It was one of those times when what could go wrong, did go wrong.

The glue spilled, the papers flew, the crayons were broken, the Polaroid film had been ruined by the airport x-ray machines. And yet, as candles were lit and set around the floor, everyone sat down, gathered close in to the light and began working on their creations.

A and I sat over in the corner out of the fray and turned simultaneously and said 'amazing – I think they are having a good time'. A laughed and said 'In America – electricity goes out, program cancelled – these people make do, they are survivors'.

The darkness had encircled us, the thunder and lightning of the storm was deafening. I closed my portion with three colored ropes and talk of being united in Christ. A gave a great sermon – and the set up of the sanctuary lent itself to the traditional 'come forward' altar call. Many in the audience came up. Over 20 young and old alike. It was as though the darkness could hold them no longer – today in Lungumvehera there was LIGHT!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monkeys, Brains, and the Peanut Butter Cracker Revelation

We had been driving 4 ½ hours by the time we reached Kandy. Road weary, hungry, and at the 'get me out of this car' stage, when A2 returned from checking out the price of the rooms and said 'Charrrrr-lin' it is high.' Double what we have been paying (in other words $60). I thought about the hillside one-lane road we would be forced to travel down in the now pitch black night and made an executive decision that my sanity, and not having to search anouther hour for a hotel was worth $30!

This is one of the few four (for Sri Lanka) star hotels. As we enjoyed the sumptious buffet, A and I both said 'that was worth the $30'!



In our hotel rooms however, we noticed a curious sign leading out to the balcony, 'Beware of Monkeys'. A shrieked 'you've got to be kidding me!' We laughed and said our good nights. The next morning as the sun was rising over the hilltops, I decided to step out onto the balcony. As I opened the door I heard a strange noise across the tin roof. I looked up to see monkey tails hanging down and monkey hands grabbing the edge of the rooftop. I FREAKED, ran in and shut the glass door behind me. BEWARE indeed!

A few minutes later, after I had caught my breath, A knocked on the door to walk to breakfast. I said 'I saw them!' And what do you think a 22 year old would say? 'Get out' I then went on (safely still in the room) to explain my marsupial encounter. A started giggling, wide-eyed and ready for his own encounter. 'What do we have to feed them?' he asked with a frenzied smile, not wanting to miss the wild life.

Now, anyone will tell you that on a mission trip you find out about yourself. You learn about God, and hopefully will grow closer to Him. Sometimes with organizations, you are asked to fill out a 'post–trip' evaluation. I think this is my continued trip confession.

A, is the same age as my oldest son. We share lots of laughs but there is still the 'mother' that has the tendency to come forth at times like these. 'That's not a good idea', I hastily cautioned about the crackers. But A had already grabbed a package, ripped it open and stood on the balcony calling out 'here monkey monkey monkey.'

I, of course, stood in the room with my hand on the balcony door issuing mother-like cautions. 'You shouldn't do that. Come back in. This is going to be bad. The sign says, BEWARE.' A giggled like a child when he saw some approaching on the roof below. What he didn't see, but to my horror I witnessed, was the six monkeys coming down the drain pipe behind him, and were now on the porch with him!

He was having fun (kind of) and I was screaming, 'come in, come in!'. And just when I thought it could not be any worse, the Alpha Male jumped on top of the air conditioning unit and bared his teeth! I (much to my surprise) held the door closed. Watching while A actually offered the cracker by his own hand. The monkey jumped up and all 6'3 of A jumped back and toward the door.

He got in – I yelled in my mother tone 'what were you thinking – trying to had feed wild animals. See that sign!' A, nervously laughed and said, 'you were holding the door. You were going to let that monkey eat my brain!'

So there it is my confession, and what I learned about myself on my mission trip.

While I'm about the 'Father's business' I can feel pretty spiritual and righteous. But on a balcony in Kandy, I was reminded just how much flesh I am actually wearing.

'the Lord remembers we are but dust...'

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Let All Creation Praise Him

Around me, the unusual melodious Sinhalese language was praising Him. On occasion, I would recognize certain universal words of faith " Jesus" "Shaddai" "Hallelujah". The faithful gathered at the village church for resurrection Sunday. I confess the heat was a distraction for this light-skinned middle-aged American. The tin roof invited the sun to increase its energy.

The windows were cut outs of the cinderblock building, free of glass, but protected with ornamental iron work, artistically depicting crosses and other Christian symbols.

From my honored front row seat, I had a view of magnificence. Outside the confines of the church, lay the jungle. As I focused on the foliage, I would catch glimpses of lizards making their way across branches, butterflies fluttering from flora and fauna, and multi-colored hummingbirds enjoying the nectar of His provision.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Matthew 6:30

With the occasional blessed breeze the limbs of the palm trees would wave a natural greeting. As I sat in my own world midst a language I could not comprehend - there is a language I am very familiar with.

His language and His words that proclaim -

"All nations will call upon the name of the Lord.."

His truth -

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12


Risen!

In Russia, on Easter and the week preceding the celebration, believers exchange greetings by saying "Christ is Risen" to which the greeted party responds by saying "He is Risen Indeed".

Thanks to the changes in latitude and longitude and 14 time zones, waking before sunrise was no problem. I decided to brave the shower situation and make my preparations to leave for church. It was interesting. Solving the mystery of which of the three faucets would produce water from the shower head was the first challenge. It was cold water and my hair required washing.

Fortunately, the two buckets provided were helpful and made the frigid rinse quicker than the trickling water of the shower head. I felt comical soaping up, shampooing, filling buckets and bracing for the cold dousing. My mind wandered to humorous thoughts on this modern day missionary's "suffering for Jesus."

I thought of my friends who expressed interest in accompanying me and smiled wondering what their reaction to the primitive conditions would be. To warm myself from the frigid water, I began thanking God for running water, for soap, for my wonderful shower at home that I would be enjoying in a few weeks. I thanked Him for western style commodes and many things that I normally take for granted. I praised Him in my naked state that He found me worthy to worship alongside my brothers and sisters in various parts of the world - a privilege too few have enjoyed or experienced.

And as the sun rose across the Eastern sky, here in a predominately Buddhist area, a praise song sounded on a distant radio over the tin rooftops. Only one word familiar in the refrain - only one word needing to be understood this Easter: "Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah."

Risen Indeed.

WMD's

I gathered my composure, knowing the Father has the situation well in control. Once we were back at the hotel and there was a period of free time, I took the opportunitz to 'log-in' and compose an answer to my oldest son and a petition for the saints.

I cried still – having a foreboding sense so far from home. But while I was writing, trying to comfort an older brother seeking solution for a struggling sibling, my familar 'North and South' refrain echoed in my mind 'this is WAAA-RR-H'!!

'We are not given ordinary weapons, but the kind that bring down stongholds'

I expressed myself to my seeking son as oftentimes feeling powerless to offer anything – but now perhaps I do have the most important thing to offer – the power of prayer.

The Bible tells us modern-day followers, that Elijah was a man just like us and he 'prayed' and it did not rain in Israel for forty days. If I am his contemporary equal and have understanding this is no ordinary war – I also must internally acknowledge that I am in possession of a 'weapon of mass destruction'.

Pre-emptive strikes are made against nations perhaps in possession of such a threat. Perhaps the enemies 'pre-emptive' strike agains the battlefield of Sri Lanka was delivered against an innocent.

A terrorist seeks to injure by attacking their enemies weak point - its women and children and so called non-combatants. But if God is for us

who can stand against us!

Only Prayer

2 A's and a C sat on the front row of the church. While the majority of the congregation stood we sat most of the time unable to follow any of the service. A young boy who seemed as distracted as we were, walked around, approaching Aaron and Amila, he would climb up in their lap and then be off again chasing an unseen adversary.

Aaron leaned over and told me the boys father had beaten him when he was a baby and caused a serious brain injury. When the parents realized the damage – they abandoned him. His aunt, a victim of abuse herself, does the best she can to look after her three children, this disturbed young boy and his two older siblings.

About halfway through the service, the boy still wandering about fell on the ground and began shaking violently. The aunt knelt beside him holding him, and began praying.

I watched in stunned silence, witness to an epileptic seizure, in the middle of a jungle, with no access to medical help or enough television trauma shows under my belt to do anything. There was no 'doctor' in this house. There was no shout from those gathered 'Someone call 911'. Here there is only one option in any emergency – PRAYER!

The church didn't look around at each other blankly wondering what to do. The Pastor didn't even hesitate when his sermon was interupted and say with authoratative tones 'Let us pray'. When the aunt knelt, the sermon stopped and everyone automatically knew what to do. They began praying. Hands were raised with the petitions of the saints and soon the seizure ended.

I live in a world where the first thought that comes to my mind is 'he should get some help'. This is a medical emergency not some 1st centurz demon casting issue. I have the luxury of technology and treatment and dismiss the really practical one for the 'modern' one. I have heard the skeptics of Biblical healing and demonic exorcisms use similar arguments – schizophrenia, epilepsy and pick from the list of what we have diagnosed a problem to be.

Here, under the tin roof of a jungle village church they are still counting on the Great Physician. They are throwing themselves and every problem they have down before the throne and crying out 'God help us, help this child – there is nothing we can do – but we have You.'

It was Easter Sunday. I was about to see the 'rest' of the story.

The service ending, the seizure over – communion was celebrated and the Father praised. Communion, the tradition shared among the faithful, looks different everywhere I go. Back home, we are passed cute cut-out wafers piled in a silver serving tray. The 'wine' is diluted grape juice in handy little plastic cups all fit together in a specialized holding tray so no one spills anything while it is going down the aisle. This day communion looked like this: the congregants came forward and knelt on the craggy concrete where the epileptic boy had just been. There were no 'kneeling pads' for our comfort or convenience. This was no smooth surface or carpeted cushion. And as I was trying to ease myself down on the rough surface 'suffering' through very temporary discomfort, I was convicted by the thought of truly entering into the suffering of Christ. Really giving myself over to His will and trusting His ways. I consider myself blessed to see things like that. I wanted the faith like these followers.

God granted me the opportunity.

After the service, we made our way down to the children's home to have a ceremonial blessing and share lunch together. A rainstorm interupted the activities and we waited inside for the storm to pass. But a new storm was on the horizon.

Seeing Amila's computer nearby, I asked to log on and check my email. Not too many, but there was one from my oldest son with the subject: MOTHER.

I opened the correspondence and read only the first paragraph before the tears came. He went on to explain how my youngest son was strggling with suicidal thoughts, depression and heavy drug use. He didn't know what to do. They are working on getting him into a treatment program but... He closed by saying 'As you Christians would say 'Pray for Greyson' By this time I was weeping. The Pastor's wife embraced me and said 'God has said it will be okay.' She prayed, in words I could not understand – but didn't need to.

For I knew earlier, the loving Father had given me a picture of His faithfulness. One of a helpless child, surrounded by a circumstance where nothing was available. Nothing but the name of the Lord.

I don't know how He will answer, but I do know He heard as the people cried out while this child was having a seizure, and He heard as they cried out for my son too.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Hotel Rating System

"... and no luxury inns - get a modest place and be content..." Luke 9:4 The Message

The flight from Singapore to Colombo was bearable. I had spent the precious 8 hours at the transit hotel stretched out on the bed and luxuriating in being completely prone and alone! I had the last seat on the 777 and silently hoped the seat next to me would remain vacant. Alas, not to be - but it wasn't all that bad. I had plenty of time to situate my pillows and peripherals, crank up the iTunes and even check out the plethora of free movies. I settled on "Syriana". What were they thinking in its award nominations? Convoluted screeplay, I never quite knew if it was the jet lag or I just didn't get it. Oh well...

A was waiting diligently at the airport (I don't think he will ever forget anyone again) and was suprised at the 200 pounds of luggage that I was toting along. His enthusiasm for the project and all that is in store in the days ahead is infectious. to the King and His Kingdom we press on. We saved the headaches facing us (transport, lodging, etc.) for tomorrow. The hotel was just up the road and A assured me he had "checked it out."

Getting the gate men to open up at the late hour was another story. Our cab driver assured them we had a reservation and after rousing the hotel staff the gate opened. In some parts of the world the rating system for hotels is ranked in "stars". I've created my own for the third world occupied zones. High ranking "no roach" motel - then "one roach, two progressing down to unacceptable bugs".

This turned out to be a "one roacher". Not bad, no bugs in the bathroom, AND air conditioning. And the best bonus - it didn't receive its ranking until the light of day. Alas, the roach chose to hide in plain sight.

Off to Anamadura.



Friday, April 14, 2006

Into the Long Dark Night

I knew the flight would be a full load just by looking around the waiting area. First to Hong Kong, then to Singapore, then to all parts East - although, we technically are flying West. Not a seat was open and I was thankful somewhat to have staked my claim with a window seat.

But...

with the narrow negotiating room, plus the young man in front of me was set on his seat to incline as far back as possible for as long as possible! It was going to be a long long flight.

Loaded on the plane and awaiting our 1:30 am (PST) take off soon took on new calls for patience. The captain announced a technical malfunction and we would leave as soon as...

2 1/2 hours late (5:30 am CST) we left. I felt like I had someone laying in my lap the whole time with my strange incliner restlessly negotiating his chair, his pillow, his blanket - every time he did the motion would bang against my legs, rouse me from my drug-induced semi-rest and result in a general disagreeableness on my part.

My heart was humbled and reminded of my grumbling discomfort over a 24 hour inconvenience. When the people and children I am on the way to see are in a constant state of survival, discomfort, hunger, inconvenience, but above all that - very little "hope".

I know I will get off this plane, eventually. I'll stretch my legs, take a shower, have a hot meal and be on about the Father's business - the same can not be said for those I am serve.

"... pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience" Colossians 1:10-11

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

FAVORED

The day started with a phone call which I did not answer. "I hope I am not waking you up from your last good night's sleep." It didn't exactly. I had been laying in the soft comfort of my bed and self-constructed hibernation haven.

My friend announced a prior commitment that would prevent her from taking me to the airport - not to worry there had been volunteers willing to act as missionary chauffeur to the familiar destination of DFW.

I finished up the last minute packing , coming to the realization that my one extra bag filled with gifts for the children could result in $250 in fees. It would be worth it - but...

I sent out requests for favor at the airports and looked for it eagerly as my friend pulled up to the curbside check-in. Slow day, the two baggage handlers were sitting waiting to help. I got out with a friendly greeting and humble expression of need, "I have an issue and I need a favor."

The gentleman looked at me with a suspicious questioning glance and then at the bags. Something criminal? Hardly! I explained where I was headed and the purpose of my adventure. He grinned and said "now I didn't actually do this - but here you go." No surprise to having found favor - but there is still the San Francisco situation.

Late night arrivals lead to late night attitudes. Try though I may to get "Skycap" assistance with my 200 pounds of luggage - there was none to be found. Alas, a luggage cart and a 1/2 mile trek to the International terminal just about did me in! Then to find someone to ask - another late night story indeed.

Finally locating the Singapore counter with a growing line of awaiting passengers, I was thankful for the time to pray for favor again with the agent. I got my chance, met with a grin from the young Asian gate agent who questioned who would have told me that I could rely on the gate agent. "Not since 9/11 can we allow extra bags without charge." So unfortunately, it cost $125 for the overage. Not bad for the amount of joy it will bring.

"No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God ... offerings that cost me nothing." 2 Samuel 24:24

Sunday, April 09, 2006

On the Road Again...

Somewhere in the back of my mind the Willie Nelson song echoes, "On the road again, I can't wait to get on the road again. The life I love... "

For Willie and his friends, the life they love is making music, but for me it is making friends for Eternity; introducing children and adults to the Name above all names. Here
21st century, I am astounded at the number of people in Sri Lanka who have NEVER heard the name of Jesus.

Much has happened in Sri Lanka since my last visit in October. Easter Sunday, I will be celebrating the resurrection of our King and the opening of a Children’s Home Sunshine After Rain Ministries has helped to build in the village of Anamadura! Through the generosity of supporters like YOU – these projects are funded and made possible. God has no limit to His resources. He is looking for those willing to give of the resources He has given them, willing to give sacrificially. NOW, is the time to ask Him YOUR part in the ongoing work of the Kingdom. For such a time as this – you have been given to, and as Mordecai told his questioning cousin – “if YOU remain silent, relief and deliverance will come from another place…” Take this opportunity to join in saving lives of homeless, orphaned and abandoned children with a financial donation.

Donations by credit card can be made online at

www.sunshineafterrain.org

Please make time to pray for the ministry, take time to listen, take the time to care. We cannot begin to complete the task set before us without YOUR participation and faithfulness! This Easter, honor His gift to you with a gift back to Him.

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For He says, "In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

SRI LANKA - Calendar of Events

April 11

PACKING, PREPARING - HELP!! I am leaving so fast

April 12-14

Depart 7:55pm - Fly to Colombo, Sri Lanka via San Francisco, Singapore, Colombo

April 15

FINALLY Arrive 12:20am. Overnight in Colombo, then wake up and travel to Anamadura to visit new site of Children's Home. Overnight in Chilaw

April 16

EASTER SUNDAY: Program at Church; Children's Home Opening Ceremony; Travel to Kurunegala

April 17

PROGRAM: Mawathagama; Overnight in Kurunegala

April 18

PROGRAM: Narammamala; Travel & overnight Kandy

April 19

PROGRAM: Pussewella; Travel & overnight Nuwareliya

April 20

Travel to Lungamvehera; PROGRAM PM: Lunugamvehera; Travel and overnight Tissemaharama

April 21

PROGRAM AM: Thanamalwila; PROGRAM PM: Kataragama; Overnight Kataragama

April 22

PROGRAM: Tissemaharama; Travel and overnight Blanagodo

April 23

CHURCH PROGRAM: Blanagoda; Travel and overnight Ginigathena

April 24

PROGRAM: Ginigathena; Travel and overnight in Kandy

April 25

PROGRAM: Dayaniwasa Disabled Children's Home; Overnight in Kandy

April 26

Travel Anamadura: PROGRAM: Anamadura Children's Home; TRAVEL COLOMBO - Airport


April 27

DEPARTURE 1:45AM!!

ARRIVE 11:48PM