I arrived back in the US Wednesday afternoon after traveling almost 20 hours from India – literally half way around the world. It was a marvelous, fascinating, exhausting trip. A host of wonderful memories of sights and sounds.
Last Sunday as we drove to the tent (a temporary, bamboo structure covered with cloths of many colors) where the convention was held we saw people beginning to gather. The tent was set up in dry rice paddy fields – very flat except for the dried mud berms that separate the paddies – like high speed bumps. It had a real festival atmosphere. There was excitement in the air.
The ladies dress in such beautiful colors! But they were gathering from every corner – East, West, North and South – they told me 40,000. A beautiful sight. It reminded me of the verse in Luke, “And He will send His angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.” They were gathering. With that many people you would expect it to be noisy and raucous. It wasn’t – it was quiet, orderly and peaceful. They sat on the ground quietly, patiently, packed in tightly – maybe sardines would give you a clearer picture!
The convention is their annual event – each church builds its own tent for sleeping and eating and fellowship times. It was a city of tents – I would loved to have seen it from the air. I was amazed.
In brief, I came away from India with a profound sense of gratitude for all Jesus has done for me. I do not have to appease my God. He loves me and sacrificed His only Son so that I might be free from the bondage of sin and have a personal, intimate relationship with Him. He loved me. I need not live in fear.
What a profound message for the dear people of India.
As it would happen as I got on the plane in DC to go to India my iPhone gave me this message, “your phone has been disabled”. Great. No camera! But my assistant had hers so when she is ready she’ll forward them on to me and I will post them for you all.
Great joy to see the Himalayas from the Bhutan border. Magnificent. And what I saw were just the foothills!
We serve a magnificent God Who loves us and has provided the way for salvation. No sacrificing to Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva, Durga, Mahadeva…etc. Over 6000 gods. We serve the one true God who paid it all for us. Hallelujah!
Tomorrow, I leave for 10 days in India. I have never been to that part of the world so am looking forward to it greatly. We are going up near the Bhutan border…way north in the tea growing capital – but the weather will be very pleasant – in the 50s and 70s. I am hoping to get a glimpse of the Himalayas while there.
I hope I have packed the right clothes, medicines and gifts! I am allowed two suitcases – neither can weigh over 50 lbs. They don’t.
India has always seemed so exotic – because it is! It is so far away and has such delicious foods – I happen to love curry. However, rice does not like me. And I cannot drink the tea if it has caffeine. I hope they will not be offended.
I am to speak at least 4 – 5 times to a very large crowd – they tell me 30,000 or so. I cannot imagine. I have never spoken to that many people at one time but I know for me, I have to prepare as much for 30 as I do for 30,000. The culture is very different. I have had an Indian friend “vet” my messages so nothing will be misinterrpreted. I will have a translator. Hopefully, he or she will improve the messages.
We plan to visit Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity and hope to have the privilege of speaking at The Carey Memorial Church in Calcutta. William Carey, called the “father of modern missions” took the Gospel to India in 1893 and had a hand in the modernization of India. He served India until his death.
Because of my mother’s parents, I have missionary blood! So I am always thrilled to see what God is doing elsewhere in the world and want to be used in a small way. I always come home with a renewed burden to do more.
Please pray for us – I am taking a friend with me. The trip has been organized by Advancing Native Missions of Charlottesville. A marvelous organization dedicated to finding and supporting indigenous missionaries around the world. As of March, I will serve on their Board. I have never been involved with a group that prays, loves, serves in such a humble, Christ-like way. It is a joy just to be around them. The leadership is incredible – special folks who live out the idea of “servant leadership”.
This trip is taking me way outside my comfort zone! Far away from home and friends and family. But it is also an exciting new adventure and I will be depending on God in every way!
I am not sure I’ll have Internet connection…if I do I shall post news and photos – otherwise I will do it when I get back!
When confronted with something unpleasant or difficult how do you react? Do you try to eliminate it? Control it? Distract yourself? Talk to others about it? Get angry? Have a pity party? If you are normal you probably do a little of it all. And the longer it goes on the more intense the reaction gets.
For instance if my plane is delayed. If it is for a few minutes that isn’t a big deal. But if it causes me to miss my connection then it becomes an issue. I cannot eliminate the problem but I can try to control the situation by calling my travel agent to get me on another flight. I may buy a magazine to distract myself for a while. I may grumble about it with other passengers waiting in the area – commiserate. And if the airline isn’t forthcoming with new information I may get angry and may let the airline representative know it! The delay is messing up my whole day and my plans so I will begin to feel sorry for myself.
Ever have one of those days? We all have.
It’s the little things that can undo you. The sand in the gears. Frustrating. Maddening.
And yet I am convinced that it is at times like that, that we come to see what we are made of. We can turn on others or we can turn to Jesus for help. He can, you know.
I think I have mentioned before that I do not make resolutions. I rarely am able to keep them – often I don’t remember them by month’s end. My intentions are good but resolutions become a source of defeat for me reminding me of my weaknesses. So I decided to give them up!
That does not mean I let the New Year come in without notice! We all like new beginnings and fresh starts. But are they really new and fresh? No. We are the same person on January 1st as we were December 31st. We’d like the intervening night to transform us magically somehow. But it doesn’t and we wake up January 1st with the same body, same habits, same issues…same ol’ same ol’!
I hope that is not a “downer” for you! Expectations get us in trouble. Be forewarned. Have them at your own risk!
However, let me suggest different kinds of resolution…ones that will free you and cause you to grow.
I heard someone say this year that “the most important person in your life is the one you have not forgiven.” That is profound – and true! So make the decision to forgive the one person. Forgiveness is a decision and once we make it God will inhabit that decision and enable us to do it. It isn’t immediate. It takes time. You see, forgiveness is a decision then a battle! Usually battles take time – they are not won quickly. And forgiveness does not depend on the other person – you can forgive them if they are dead or if they never come to ask for it. So make the choice to forgive.
Or make the choice to change your thinking. Is there someone or some situation that bugs the stew out of it. Maybe you were wronged and you go over it again and again in your mind. You replay the conversation in your head. This is the stuff you think about in the shower almost every day. It just bugs you. It will age you and make you a bitter person. Well, decide to change your thinking. I have a little sign posted on my computer monitor: “Blessing Not Bitterness”. There are things and people in my life that just bug me – a lot. So I have decided to pray blessing into their life rather than poison mine with bitterness. That’s a good tradeoff!
Or make the decision to become more grateful. Keep a “gratitude journal”. Each day write one thing in it for which you are grateful. It will change your outlook!
These are internal decisions – no one will know – except you and God. But they will impact your life and consequently, those around you. There will be setbacks but they are not permanent. You haven’t “blown it” – you are a work in progress. Give yourself grace – God does!
Think about it and pray to ask God to show you what decision you need to make for the New Year.
God bless you in 2015!