Monday, September 08, 2008

Wrong Again!

Okay

Sometimes you just have to laugh to keep your testimony. Such is the case here in the Hyderabad Airport.

Last year when V and I were connecting through Hyderabad I was confident this being a MAJOR terminal there would be plenty for us to do at the airport - shopping, lounge, etc. When we arrived we discovered an airport smaller than Dallas' Love Field. AND we were not allowed inside until 3 hours before our after midnight flight. This left us in the company of 10,000 flies - certainly as many mosquitoes and a few women covered head to toe in Burkah's that watched curiously while we sat and applied a variety of bug-warding oils to all exposed areas we could modestly reach.

They giggled and wrinkled their noses at the smell wafting from our area of the room.

We were not happy but entertaining to others none-the-less. But...what are you going to do but be patient and wait. Much of the time I tried (vainly) to convince V of all the shopping that awaited us once the doors would allow entrance.

I was wrong (again).

When we finally did go inside (8 hours aromatically later) there was NOTHING! One kiosk selling Pringles and cookies (okay there were a few miscellaneous kitkats too - but it was slim pickins.)

I had to give the background (did I not too mention I have a lot of time on my hands) because NOW there is a state of the art 21st Century airport here in Hyderabad! When we first arrived I had to laugh at the luxury - the shopping - the restaurants - and we were only on the domestic side - my mind boggled at what lay in wait upon our departure through the International section. After all we would have 12hours in between flights.

I was wrong.

There is a down side to this new fangled fancy terminal it is about 1 hour from the city. So... To get to a hotel in between flights is a big hassle (think shopping time cut back). We arrived as scheduled - had a VERY helpful and friendly airline staff person help us collect our luggage and begin to escort us to the International side of the airport.

Wow - we passed a McDonald's and several other things that peeked our interest (come on after 8 days of rice, noodles and curry - even MickeeDee's has its allure).

At the check point we were stopped by the armed guards (typical) who proceeded to speak a battery of language that were bullets to our layover experience! Technically, our international flight leaves tomorrow (1:05am) so they were not about to allow us in TODAY!

I was wrong.

There went our VIP lounge, our shopping, our comfort et al. In spite of the best and valiant efforts of the porter, the Kingfisher manager - we were unable to get into the International side. They did however negotiate entrance back into the domestic baggage claim area where there is fewer flies and air conditioning.

We are sitting quietly now, all alone with only airport staff staring and probably wondering about our dilemma. V is doing EW business and most likely utilizing the power of the Holy Spirit not to slap me silly for convincing her to cancel our city hotel reservations (I said "think about the hassle and the luggage and the time and expense, 12 hours will go by in a flash - and anyway in that new fancy 21st century airport we actually SAW the shopping")!

Two hours down - ten to go - when you (in Central Standard Time Zone) finally awake and read this we might have gained access to the International side -

But I could be wrong.

Sitting sniffing Big Mac's and thinking of shopping...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Belated Beloved

"Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw th light of day, I had holy plans for you: a prophet to the nations - that's what I had in mind." Jer 1

One week ago today I did not celebrate my birthday. Instead I was somewhere 30,000 feet above the world making my way to India. V did alert the flight crew and they did provide a First Class chocolate - but it carried no fanfare or cards or presents in the cramped confines of economy class.

When we were deciding on the choice of dates for departure V asked, "are you sure you don't mind traveling on your special day?" Obviously, I did not - and considered it a privilege to make such a small sacrifice to be in the next place God had an assigned task for me to complete.

Today was our last day of programs. We began the morning at a small village church where I actually delivered the sermon (on Isaiah 53:1-5). We had the afternoon to get our finances for the trip in order and then we made our return to Goodman Orphanage; home to 13 precious children (10 girls and 3 boys). We arrived after dark but could see the shadows of the children awaiting our arrival at the gate.

We slowly got out of the car and were met with the traditional shower of marigold petals. It was only when we were inside the gates that I saw the sign stretched across the orphanage. "Happy Birthday from Goodman Orphans".

I had to hold back the tears as all thirteen children came forward with handmade birthday cards expressing a variety of birthday wishes: "we love you" "thank you for your visit" "God bless you". And of course they sang several choruses of "Happy Birthday to You". Believe me, belated did not minimize the abundance of blessings.

The first day of our arrival, Pastor J told us they recently had taken in a small girl who was begging and picking up food out of the village streets. He sadly said, the dogs and the ravens chased her for the small amounts of sustenance she was able to collect. He said, "sisters even though we do not have the money to take in another child we could not let this happen to the girl. We had no choice but to help her." He went on to explain her mother died and her father disappeared. No one in the village would take her in so night and day she just roamed the muddy pathways in search of scraps - less than a "rag picker" for because of her age and her size she would not survive long enough to make money from what she collected.

He told us her name, but said, "you can pick a new name for her". I of course spoke up and said "you can call her C..." to which V replied "but you could also call her V...". Pastor J laughed at our contest. I then explained my name means "encourager of women" but V piped up and said "well MY name means victorious". Pastor J said "then we will call her Vicki Charlynn" and she will be a victorious encourager!" We laughed at the thought and honestly thought he was just going along with our back and forth "name calling".

But tonight after the choruses were sung and the cards presented - the other children said "and here is V... C...". A beloved child rescued from starvation, abandonment and death, shyly offering only an occasional grin. A great birthday present indeed!

In the six days of programs - we have ministered to over 1700 village men, women and children. Many heard the Gospel for the first time. The Harvest here is daunting, but the faithfulness of the workers is inspiring. We will be back (before my next birthday) to sow, to plant, and to reap along with our brothers and sisters here in the fields of India.

May God bring the increase in your lives as you participate in the great commission -to the ends of the earth.

He is on His way
And so are we

Friday, September 05, 2008

Watch

... with Me". Matt 26:40

In the mission field it is easy to develop a watchful attitude: watching for God's hand; watching for God to "show up" in the midst of certain circumstances; and I confess watching for His favor.

In an environment as contrasting to God's goodness as India's - it is difficult to "watch" FOR Him. So many other sights and sounds and smells would tell your heart there is not much "good" in so much of "this". The evidence of a fallen and broken world is everywhere: extreme poverty, children naked and uncared for, roads congested with garbage and a variety of animals foraging through the rubble.

Here, there are people considered lower than those same animals that roam freely in the streets, as I said earlier we were with them yesterday, the "rag pickers". And as Pastor Johnson explained, "no one wants anything to do with them we must have a separate church for them, for even the children understand who they are and do not want to be ridiculed by the others."

Oswald Chambers always serves and trains me well both in the field and at home. This morning's devotion was Jesus charge to His disciples "watch WITH me". Our morning program was at the newly constructed "God's Presence Prayer Temple". Each Friday Pastor J and his team assemble in the village, fast and pray all day with the people who show up with a variety of ailments and predicaments.

As I looked out at the crowd of over 300 adults gathered, I learned the difference between watching FOR Him and watching WITH Him. The sick always sought out Jesus, loved ones brought their infirm relatives, parents brought in their demon possessed children, friends brought neighbors and lowered them through rooftops - all to get to the man they heard was healing.

I watched with my Master, the faithful, the faithless, and the faith seekers hear the Gospel proclaimed. I recalled the verse where Jesus said to the sick man "your sins are forgiven" and the Pharisees balked at His boldness. He replied, what is easier to say, 'your sins are forgiven or be healed?" After which He healed Him as well.

I live in a culture far removed from miracle "healings". I live in a culture that no longer chases after the Master's presence to get just a touch of His garment. I live in a culture where the "good" things are seen on every tree-lined street corner swept free of trash. I live in a culture where our constitution says "all men are created equal" - though some could argue various discriminatory claims - I have never heard of a race or class of people in America being consider lower than animals. I live in a culture where children are not running naked in the streets.

I watched WITH Jesus today, and saw the "Truth" that has set me free BUT - the "world" that binds me to disbelief. That IS the GOODNESS of our God. He redeems it all, He uses it all, He shapes it all, He controls it all, and He was and is and is to come!

We have boldly proclaimed the Good News to close to 1500 men, women and children. We have experienced the joy of the Lord and gained strength. We hold fast to this promise, "...be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much you know that your labor is not in vain."

Watching, waiting and still smiling (but itching less)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Den and the Din

It is loud in India!

Although Machilipatnam is not a big city by any standard, even late into the night the noise of the outside traffic can be heard - various levels of horns, blaring a variety of honks and beeps and blasts.

The constant drone of the air conditioner (praise God) drowns out some decibels but it is still there. It did not silence the sound of the thunder that echoed through the city at 4:00 am.

In many ways when we return to the confines of our hotel room in between programs and then at the end of the day - I feel as though I have entered a "den" of false safety. Here there are no lions, but mosquitoes, roaches, and something (as yet to be determined) that loves the taste of my blood lurk in wait for our return.

BUT, we praise God for ALL things - the toilets we no longer manually have to flush, the air conditioning cools our overheated bodies down and dries our sweat drenched clothes equally as well (no dangerous fan incidents).

We praise God for the HUGE (I am talking bigger than a toddler) monkey that scared us to death as we left our room yesterday because it brought the blessed joy of laughter (two chicks with hands full trying hard to get the door shut while screaming and trying not to drop our inflatable "world").

We praise God we brought lots of granola bars and nuts and M&Ms for treats so the curry doesn't overwhelm our delicate digestion. We praise God for the electricity that works 90% of the time - and of course there is the satellite we can't see allowing "notes" from the field to go forth and multiply into prayers that are availing much.

We have finished the third full day of programs and have seen close to 1000 village children and adults! The "den" also reminds me of the verse in Daniel: "But the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits." (Daniel 11:32)

Each day V records the name of the village, population, Pastor's name as well as anything else Pastor J shares (number of believers, miracle healings, etc). This afternoon, he said "this is the "Rag Pickers" village." We didn't quite understand the name or even come close to guessing the meaning, and asked for an explanation. "Rag Pickers", he said, "they are the people that dig through the trash dumps and find small items to sell that have been thrown away. Plastic or glass items, you understand "rags".

Unfortunately, we did.

The village was only a short distance from the city center and we arrived sooner than we thought. We were broken in spirit considering their circumstance but when we got out of the car the children ran to us smiling and laughing shaking our hands, saying "hello" and renewing our strength with their joy. They smiled more, laughed harder and listened with greater focus than anywhere we have been.

But whatever their lack, their hunger and thirst for the Word will be blessed!

"(they) defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. IS THAT NOT WHAT IT MEANS TO KNOW ME? declares the Lord?" Jeremiah 22:16

It IS going well, we know our Lord, we are proud to do "exploits" for the Kingdom is at hand, we can see it in the smiles of the people He sent us to proclaim the Good News to in India.

"...preach good tidings to the meek;...bind up the broken hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives...comfort all that mourn...give them beauty for ashes..." Isaiah 61:1-3

Tomorrow, we have a program at the Prayer Hall with V giving a message to the women, then on to another village in the afternoon. Keep the fervency of your prayers going forth to bring down strongholds and open the flood gates of His Spirit on this nation.

Listening and knowing He is smiling at our service

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fighting the Good Fight

"If your enemy is the King's enemy, then your battle is the King's battle"
Pastor Tommy Tenney

We have not finished the race, but we are fighting the good fight! Today was the first day of our programs. We visited two villages and saw over 200 children and close to 100 adults who came to see what the visitors had to say and give.

The Good News was shared boldly, Gospel bracelets were made by both the young and old, and prayers that "avail" much were spoken over those who came forward for blessing and healing.

Pastor J has shared amazing stories of healings in the villages and has said "sisters, I didn't think my faith was big enough for praying and expecting healing - but what kind of God do I serve if I do not believe He is able to do the things these people are praying to their clay idols for?"

I immediately thought of the father who came before Jesus asking for healing for his son. The Message translates the passage "if you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!" Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen." ...the father cried, "then I believe. Help me with my doubts!" (Mark 9:22-24)

Tomorrow begins the Hindu festival for the god Ganeesh (the elephant god). All through the streets people are selling floral garlands, party favors, incense, food items, leaves and other things that will be offered to clay images of the idol. This is the god that favors businesses so the worship is big business!

Thousands of people fill the streets in anticipation of the celebration. They are looking for "something". We traveled over ten thousand miles to share the real "something". With such obvious devotion it seems a battle too big to be conquered by a small army of two American women. But...

The battle is not ours - the battle is the Lord's. "Be not afraid or dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God's." 2 Chron 20:15

Keep the intercession flowing and filling our souls with spiritual ammunition. We are feeling a bit more acclimated but the heat is debilitating, the bugs are buzzing and the food is hotter than the weather!

We praise the Living God who asks only for our hearts not garlands or offerings. We praise Him for being the God who listens and answers - and in the smallness of our faith shows Himself BIG!

Winning with a smile!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Seasons

We have arrived at our final destination Machilipatnam, all baggage (and bags under our eyes) normal and at no extra charge! We have had an afternoon nap and are preparing for dinner at the only "safe" restaurant in town.

Because of the recent cyclone season all of the fields we drove through on our two hour drive here were lush shades of green. Vicki commented on their beauty. Pastor J replied, "yes, now is the time of planting".

The farmers are back, ready to sow the seeds - for the harvest is plenty the workers are few - but we are ready!

Last night as we were driving through the dark streets of Hyderbad, with an unknown taxi driver, to a place that seemed much farther than we remembered, I made conversation to keep our minds calmed. I commented about people not equipped for the task (nothing spiritual just conversational) and Vicki rolled her eyes indicating her own feelings about not being ready for her job (Director of Orphan Ministry). I said, "look around- not many people are willing to do "this" Abraham stuff. Face it this takes faith!"

"When he was called to go out into a place... he obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went." Heb 11:8

We laughed, eventually arrived safe at the hotel and slept as fast as we could before having to wake up for our morning flight.

We begin our village programs first thing in the morning, and will have two programs each day. Our projection is to minister to around 50 or 60 kids per village.

Keep us prayed up EPESCIALLY for health. We had to stop at the pharmacy on the way to the hotel for allergy medicine for both of us, and V for stomach acids. The enemy does not want us at 100% - but even at 10% we are stronger than he is.

We come in the name - and we are here to "hoe some rows!" Praise God for the "bringing in of the sheaves".

Satellites working - Spirit of the Living God moving in mighty ways.