Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Lessons learn’ing’.. because it’s a process, you know

Howdy everyone-

So I’ve been back in Arkansas since last Thursday; back in the states since last Tuesday, and I’m so happy to be in America.  The first dinner I had in a restaraunt in Atlanta involved a bacon burger (because it’s illegal to eat beef in India) and the first meal I had in Mena was ribeye steak, for pretty much the same reason.  So, I’ve morphed in to somewhat of a carnivore over the last 10 days or so.  A couple of months of oatmeal, fruit, PB&J, rice, and veggies will do that to you.  To my surprise, I haven’t enjoyed one RedBull since being home.  I guess that’s more fun when you are playing Risk.

Anyway, my “re-entry” time has been so different from the last trip.  I came back from Kenya full and in many ways I came back from India empty.  Now there are a lot of reasons for this, one being my role as a leader on the last trip instead of just a participant as in Kenya.  Another being that, before 2009 I’ve never spent a full day out side of the U.S. of A., and now I’ve spend 5 months of this year overseas, without air conditioning, stoplights that are obeyed, or a constant flow of burgers.  So, I’m GLAD to be back here.  Because the traffic laws are actually enforced in our country, I can cross the street without having to look both ways the entire time, something I couldn’t do in India or Kenya; which brings to mind the time in India I stiff-armed a Honda. 

I think one of the biggest reasons I’m so fatigued is that God really used this trip to teach me a few lessons… lessons that I AM currently learning.  It’s not just bookwork, but it’s real life.  We serve a sovereign God, who is in control, but so often I go through each day believing that I’m in control.  Or I’ve even found myself acting like I believe I can control things better than God can.  And what is the fruit of such behavior?  Worry, fret, anxiety, etc.  I read a verse in Psalms that said “do not fret, it only leads to evil.”  God kinda slapped me on the face with that one.  Then on the last day of the India trip I got a note of encouragement from one of the students on the trip and it really spoke to me.  But there was one part that came as a harsh, but gentle?, slap on the face.  It said “control is the absence of humility.”  Guilty.  I’ve caught myself being prideful enough to thing that I have a better handle on things in my everyday life than the God who created the days in which I’m living. 

The truth is that God is Great, so we don’t have to be in control.  He is, and I can rest in that.  He uses the good and the bad.  He works all things together for our good.  And He knows what is good for us and the ways in which he is using our life events to shape us.  God is not as much concerned with our comfort as he is concerned with our character.  Who we are becoming is more important that how we feel during the process.  (Embrace the process– you’d think I would know this stuff.)

So that’s where I am.  I’m ended a great, but very stressful few months, and God is refilling me.  So I’m learning that lesson, along with a few others, that hopefully I’ll get a chance to share soon.  Anyway, that’s what’s going on. 

I’m in Arkansas for a few more weeks with a few events on my calendar before heading back to SD.  Speaking at Siloam Springs this Wednesday, my cousin’s birthday this weekend, then maybe some opportunities to play my songs for peeps up in NWA.  Mainly just seeking the Lord for what’s next… he’s Great… he’s in control.  And one thing I know I’ve learned is that I’ve never been happier than when I’m doing exactly what he wants me to!

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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

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

T-Minus 3…

Is it weird that I’m starting entries now with “t-minus?”  I just think countdowns are fun… because usually something big happens when you get to the end.

Well, the last few days here have been busy.  Errands everywhere.  Notary, USPS, Banks, Wal-Mart, Laundry, Pharmacies– I’ve been to all of ’em.  Things are ramping up quickly, and Tuesday morning I’ll be leaving on a jet plane towards Gainesville (G-Ville) Georgia.  I’ll have a few days of Leadership Training with the other leaders from this summer’s AIM trips.  Then, there will be a 5-day training camp with my India team.  So that’s the schedule for now.

Just wanting to let you all know that, as often as possible, I will be leaving updates here on my blog from India.  So instead of getting an e-mail, I’ll just be updating this blog and letting you know how things are going in New Delhi and what the Lord is doing.

Hope this Memorial Day weekend finds you well. You’ll hear more from me soon. Peace on earth

T-Minus 5…

Well, here goes again. In 5 days I’ll be headed back to Gainesville, Georgia for some intense training camp… and from there to New Delhi, India for nearly two months.  Although it seems like I returned to the states just yesterday, it’s already been a month that I’ve been back from Kenya.  That’s hard to believe.

What’s happened over the last month?  A lot.  A whole lot.  God is so good.  I have been able to see so many of my friends, to see all of my family, to be with several congregations that have meant so much to me. . . I have been so blessed.  Every day has been packed with life, it seems.  There is something about being with the ones I love, and being able to share with them the things God has done and the mission he has me on, that just makes life burst at the seams.  From Mena to Fayetteville to Little Rock, Memphis, Fort Worth, Sierra Vista, Seattle, and San Diego– God has been good.

When I decided to go on the India trip, feeling that it was God’s will, I told AIM (Adventures in Missions) that I would go as long as God would provide the funds.  The truth is, I didn’t have the funds.  And I was worried if God could provide them for me.  Imagine that… me worrying that the same God who provided a lamb for Abraham, provided a way out of Egypt for the Israelites, provided a perfect sacrifice all… worrying that that same God couldn’t help me raise enough money to go on a two month trip.  I was concerned that 5 weeks in the states raising money wouldn’t be enough time for him.  But the truth is that the funds were raised within two weeks!  Thank God for that.

So now I’m just getting ready.  I’m trying to fully process Kenya, Soma School (which I’m sure I’ll write a little about soon), and get emotionally ready for India.  Besides that, I’m sure there will be a lot of packing and several trips to Wal-Mart over the next few days.  Anyway, just dropping you guys (if anyone follows this anymore) a line to know where I am and how great God is… and that in 5 days I’ll be gone.

My hope is to keep everyone posted about the India trip through this blog.  So you can check back here as often as you wish and I’ll try to let you know what God is doing half-way across the world.  Peace on earth!

Out for lunch…

Well not exactly lunch, more like 90 lunches (and hopefully other meals along the way).

This is the night before the big trip, and I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you for all the encouragement, love and support… not to mention money!  This mission trip to Kenya would not be at all possible without all of my family and friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Also, I want to ask for your prayers.  Pray that I’ll be safe.  Pray that I’ll be effective in sharing the Gospel, sharing God’s love.  Pray for my team.  Pray that God would make a way for us to minister to as many people as possible, to love as many orphans, to look after as many widows, to pray for as many sick as possible. 

Thanks guys so much… and I’ll be sure to fill you in on everything I can when I get back in a few months!  See you in 3 months!