Archive for July, 2009

24… the age, not the tv show

Hello all.  This will be my last update from India.

It’s my last night in Delhi, which also happens to be my birthday.  I don’t pretend to have some deep musing about turning 24 today.  After all, I did just drink 3 RedBulls, lose horribly at a game of Risk, and it’s after midnight here.  So I’m a little too tired and pissed off to do good writing!  Anyway, the last week has been great and I thought I’d share a little of it with you.

Most of this week our team spent debriefing our experience here over the last two months.  We were able to take a train 350 km north to Shimla.  Shimla is a Hill-Station at the foothills of the Himalayas.  Until 1947 it was the  British summer capital of India.  It is a city built onto the sides of mountains with people living very literally in the clouds.  Our team was so excited to get out of the 115-degree weather in Delhi to breathe some fresh, cool air surrounded by mountains and lush forest.

Our time in Shimla was great.  We tried to find the perfect balance between doing activities to have some good memories together as a team before we all split up, and providing enough time and counseling to fully process the events we’ve participated in over the last two months.  One of the highlights of the week for me was when we spent a few hours, probably 3 or 4, “calling out Jesus” in each other.  We went around the room, picking one person at a time, and would speak words of affirmation about that person and about the way God has worked in and through their life over the summer.  It was a great time to reassure people that the changes God has made in their lives are real and visible to others.

Another thing I loved about debrief was the sheer amount of adventure.  The scenery was breathtaking, beginning with the train ride.  After a 4 hour stint to Kalka, we jumped on the train to Shimla from Kalka.  Our engine was red and the cars were all green and yellow– it felt like a toy train.  We climbed 96 km for over 5 hours, upward into the clouds…. the best train ride I’ve ever been on; not that I’ve been on many.

Anyway, we were able to do a bit of hiking in Shimla.  Our tour guide the first day led us on a 10 km trek to Chadwick Falls, stopping several times on the way to ask locals for directions, which by the way was very unnerving.  On the hike back up the from falls, it began to rain, and at first I freaked out a little big.  I had no waterproof clothing, and was wearing a backpack with expensive electronics and other important documents.  After a while though, I realized the what a great experience it was to be hiking through the rain in the Himilayas, and I took my glasses off and just enjoyed the walk.

The bus ride up the mountain was noteworthy as well.  I supposed I’m fading too quickly to write about that now, but maybe later.

As for being 24, I don’t really feel older… isn’t that what everyone asks at birthdays?  It’s mid-twenties.  I graduated high school 6 years ago.  Crazy thought.  Anyway, I’m trying not to make a bigger deal of the day than it is.  I think after some sleep the team all going to KFC to celebrate my b-day on our last day in Delhi.  Then tomorrow night we’re headed to the airport to head back to the states.  My time here in India is up for now.  It’s definitely been eye-opening, and I thank God for the opportunity to have come here and to have been stretched.  See you on the stateside.

peace

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ADU: Another Delhi Update

Hello All from Delhi.  Hope this week finds you well.  I am tired, to be honest.  The last week has kept me busy, but I wanted to give you a quick update.

  • My hair and beard were shorn today.  So you may not recognize me come August.  I kind of have the Rob Bell look going, except not balding yet.
  • God is still teaching me a lot about leaning into Him when I find myself in need of help… And just living in my need for him, resting in my need for him.  Because whether we acknowledge it or not, we all need him.  
  • Saturday we visited a few markets, Connaught Place and Pahar Ganj.  PG is where all the Euro Hippies hang out.  haha… It’s funny to go there and actually see other foreigners.  (there are almost no foreigners in the area where we stay)
  • I preached at the slums Sunday that there is One God over all and that he most often identifies himself with love.  That the greatest commandment is to Love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.. and then to love our neighbors as ourselves.  I preached that idols only have ears and eyes because people build them, but that we have ears and eyes because God made us.  Preaching at the slums has been one of my favorite parts of ministry here.
  • Thursday I was not able to go to ministry at the slums, and my ministry team said as they were leaving that one boy named Maneesh (who doesn’t speak english) came up to them and asked for me by name.  It was a real encouragement to hear that story from them because we don’t really get to talk with these students one on one (language barrier).  So praise God for that.
  • It’s Tuesday.  This is the last ministry week.  Debrief starts Monday.  Shortly after we’ll be headed home.  
  • Oh yeah, I turn 24 on July 27th!  I’ll be a quarter of 96.  

So that’s a quick update.  If you’re reading, hope I’ll see you in person in the next month or so!  Keep praying for me and our team.  Thank you mucho!

Why I licked the Taj Mahal: Another Delhi Update

Howdy once again from sunny/smoggy Delhi, India!  I hope this week finds you well wherever you find yourself.

A lot has happened in the last week, and it’s always difficult to know what to blog about.  But I’m trying!  So here goes.

Ministry has changed a little big in a good way over the last few weeks.  The more experienced translators that were not in Delhi earlier in our trip have returned and have really been helpful.  They have been really good about finding ministry opportunities for us at the leper colonies and helping keep the kids in line at the slums.  One day at the slums last week, we used yarn to make friendship bracelets with the children and then read John 15 and told them about how Jesus calls us his friends.  

That day in the slums, we were asked to pray for several sick people.  Then on the drive out of the slums we pulled off the road into a field and through a few fresh mud puddles from the rain the night before.  We walked to a tent that I suppose was a home for the family that was there.  A water buffalo was tied to a stake in the ground next to the tent and goat were strewn around the scene.  The entire Hindu family was sick and all their animals as well.  Their animals are their livelihood as well, and we were asked to pray for their situation.  We petitioned God with authority and asked that he receive glory even in that situation.  

Sunday during the church meeting (about 10 minutes before the preaching) I was asked to preach.  That’s how they do it here… I never know if I’m going to preach until I get to the middle of the service.  So I just try to have a thought prepared every week.  Sunday, I read Mark 1:40-42 about Jesus healing the leper and actually touching the leper.  When Jesus is filled with compassion, he reaches out to touch the leper.  This was huge because Jesus would be considered ceremonially unclean for touching a leper… and it communicates how much Jesus wanted this leper to know that he was loved.  I talked about how that leper’s story is our story as humanity.  We find ourselves in a condition isolated from God and no way of touching him but by his grace.  And in his grace, “Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.”  When we couldn’t do anything about our own situation, he did everything that was needed.  It was such a blessing to be able to proclaim the gospel to children who live in Hindu households.  

Saturday, our team visited the Taj Mahal.  We rented a private bus, which was like heaven compared to the infamous Kenya bus trip!  On this bus we actually had AC!  It was beautiful… haha!  But yes, the Taj Mahal was surreal.  I was there a few minutes snapping a million pictures before I realized how neat it was that I was literally experiencing one of the Wonders of the World that I’ve always seen in pictures and read about… and now I was seeing in real life and taking those pictures.  One of guys from the team joked about licking the Taj Mahal… then as we thought about it, it because apparent how neat of a story we would have if we actually did lick the Taj Mahal.  I mean, a lot of people can say they’ve visited the Taj, but how many do you know who can say that they’ve licked it?  So, we licked it.  We licked the Taj… and there are pictures to prove it!

I’ve still been learning a lot in India… and I’m not sure what all I’ve learned, but I’m sure that will play out in time as I process my experience here.  God is definitely speaking me to me a lot through his Word. 

My weekly off day started last night, and I took the occasion to visit with some friends from Arkansas that recently moved to Delhi for a 2-year period of work.  It was really nice to enjoy their company and hospitality.  We went to the Hard Rock Cafe in New Delhi that just opened 4 weeks ago.  I was surprised that a Hard Rock Cafe made it all the way over here.  The food was great… but instead of hard rock, they were playing folk music.  Oh well!  

So there’s an update.  Our team has less than two weeks of ministry left, then we’ll have a period of debrief before beginning our return to the states on my 24th birthday.  Please pray for me and for the team.  That we would have focus and truly be able to give all of our energy to what God is doing here in the next few weeks.  Thanks once again for caring enough to keep up with me!   

Peace

Update Numero 3

Hello from Delhi-

It’s July and the trip is already half-way through.  It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in India for almost a month.  The last week had it’s own set of learning opportunities and experiences.  

The last week was the hottest it’s been and the coolest it’s been.  I think it was 47.7 C (I think that’s around 115 F) last weekend, but then it rained for a few days in a row, so it’s been cooler.  Ministries are going well.  Some new doors have opened up with our new translators who are more experienced.  So God has been working through that.  

Last week at the leper colony we visit, there was a death of someone from the colony.  We found out about it as we showed up, and some people with leprosy from other colonies had gathered as well.  Our team was asked to pray– we weren’t sure how to pray or what to pray for.  We gathered around the body of the elderly lady, her eyes open, figure covered with flowers.  Incense was burning to a Hindu god.  The situation was so solemn for us, because it reminded us of how lost this area of the world is.  Around 99% of the people here are not Christian… that’s 99% of over 1 billion people.  A girl from our ministry team volunteered to pray and she prayed with such a beautiful heart.  It was such a memorable moment.

I have enjoyed the opportunity to preach to the kids from the slums on Sundays.  I’ve preached twice so far.  Once about how Jesus is the Bread of Life, and once about how Jesus is the light of the world.  I’ve been told how important it is in preaching here to emphasize Jesus because the word “God” understandably doesn’t have the same connotation here as is does in our culture (because there is a god for everything here).  It’s been really refreshing to preach straight gospel to these children who are going back to Hindu households at the end of each meeting.  Praise the Lord for that.

Sunday night some of our team was together discussing the sermon on the mount.  I think it’s so important to discuss and wrestle with the meaning of scripture in the context of community.  We talked for a while and didn’t even make it through half of the beatitudes.  But something that came up in the discussion has really helped me through most of this week. 

We talked about what it means to be “poor in spirit,” and why Jesus says the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are “poor in spirit.”  One aspect of being poor in spirit is to be aware of my glaring, ever-present need for God… and to live in that need for God.  Not to just pick it up when things get tough.. let me share an entry from my journal this week.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Lord I need you.  I am aware of my need for you.  My need for you is ever before me… except not really in practice.  I usually find that I try my best to be self-sufficient.  Like the Copeland lyric, “you’d break your neck to keep your chin up.”  I try to make all the decisions and have most if not all the answers on my own.  But it always comes around to this… my need for You.  Thank you for the patience you have in dealing with me.   Thank you for taking the time to teach me that I need You… for everything. Not just for the things that are too difficult for me, but I need you in all things.  My life is one of utter dependence on your grace- whether I acknowledge that or not.  But God, how sweet it is to acknowledge my need for you.  And not simply acknowledge it, but live in the reality of it.  To stand in the reality of my need.. to live with the knowledge that I am insufficient and that you are the only Independent One.  To lean into you for the things I need, and to recognize the grace you give me just to make it through a “normal day.” My God I need you… and I say thank you for being enough, for being more than enough to meet that need.  You are a good Father who knows how to give good gifts, and you meet my need with more than I could ask for.  Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 

As my responsibilities, the challenges in ministry, ministering to the team, and other things have grabbed for my attention, it’s just brought to light the truth that I need God.  And I’ve found this week that it’s so beautiful to rest in my need for Him, and to know that he meets my needs for Him.  So that’s where I’ve been with all that. 

I leave you with this.  The Scooty has continued to be a joy… but the other day, I was on a grocery run with a guy from the team when it began to rain.  We got drenched, and all the Indians were laughing at the sopping wet foreigners on the Scooty and in the market… but hey, it was like God-given air conditioning… and there’s no way I would pass that up.  

Once again, thank you for your prayers and encouragement.  May God bless you this week and may you rest in the reality that you need Him… even for the next breath you breath while reading this, you need him… and he’s providing for your need.  Until the next update- Peace!