James 4:14

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." James 4:14

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

God is Awesome!

Oh man! As I looked at the date from my last update, I realized that was a couple weeks ago. Sorry I'm behind.

Unlike some of the previous updates, the past couple weeks have been a little slow..kind of. We had a prayer meeting last week in one of the villages. A family from the church there was having a remembrance meeting for one of their sons who passed away tragically a couple years ago. Like I said last time, they have meetings for just about everything. I was given the opportunity to preach there. It's a wonderful encouragement to see the believers searching their Bibles and following along. Of course, there was food afterward. One of the coolest things was meeting an older gentleman there who's about 70. His name was Abraham. I learned that Pastor Curt (who visited India from Pagosa) had noticed Abraham outside the church on the road when he was here eight years ago. Pastor Curt invited him into the church meeting that day. From then on, Abraham kept going to church and got saved and baptized. Since then, Abraham has been a faithful member of the church and continued in his walk with God. It's amazing. We don't always get to see the fruit come from the seeds we plant, but God uses it whether we know it or not. Praise God!

This last week I got the chance to go to Bangalore. It seemed like somewhat typical confusion. We (Pastor Daniel and myself) were going to take a train there to see Stella (his eldest) since she was planning on taking the GRE. The train was full and the bus would be long. So, he said that maybe I should stay behind since I have long legs. Okay. The next day he called from the bus station to see if I really wanted to go or stay. I thought, “how many times do you get the chance to travel 12 hours crammed in a bus and go to Bangalore?” So I decided to go. The bus ride really wasn't all that bad (maybe I'm getting shorter). It was an interesting day though. Stella arrived in the afternoon and it was good to see her again. In the evening we went to the testing center to check on everything. When she checked in though, the guy told her she needed her passport in order to take the test. She didn't have it and didn't know about it. So she was super bummed and I felt bad for her. Anyways, then we ended up getting bus tickets back that night. Two totally different mindsets. Mine was, “Let's stay the night and check out the town and head back tomorrow sometime.” Theirs was, “Well, if we can't take the test, there's no point staying here. We need to leave ASAP.” So we rushed to pack our bags and cancel everything and try to catch the buses. I guess it was more exciting that way (because P.D and I barely made our bus). So the trip seemed unproductive, but at least an adventure and if nothing else it was good to see Stella again before I leave.

One hard thing is that several of the kids have been gone for a while. Their relatives work in the fields and this is the harvest time for the corn so the relatives take the kids to help them during this time. They will bring the kids back at the end of this month for the year end exams. It's hard because I don't know how kids are supposed to do well on their final exams when they've missed the last month and a half of school. I don't think there's much we can do about it though.

The rest of the two weeks has honestly been just all the regular stuff which I've already talked about and isn't all that exciting. I've had some really memorable times with the families here as well as with the kids. I was given the opportunity to preach last Sunday and P.D said I have the messages till I leave, which means one at the pastors meeting on Wednesday and the last one here next Sunday. In one way it's very hard because I know that I have very little time and I want to leave them with the best thing I possibly can. There's also that feeling were people on missions start going home before they start going home (if you know what I mean). The way I see it, some mission trips are only one week long anyway (which it's hard for me to imagine only going one week now), so I'm just getting started!

Way Cool! Last night I had an amazing opportunity with one of the older kids (18) who is almost ready to leave the orphanage. His name is Mexy. God is greatly convicting him of his sin. He also speaks English so we didn’t need a translator. God opened the door for the gospel. He has not accepted Jesus’ forgiveness yet, but it’s obvious God is working on him. Please pray that he would surrender his life and receive God’s wonderful gift.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Philippians 2:5-11

Pray for:
-Tabitha's husband—salvation
-The believers to continue to grow in grace
-Me—wisdom and God's words this week

Praise for:
-The fruit we do get to see
-Good Travels
-His continued grace and faithfulness.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's a privilege!

Well, this was an interesting week to say the least. Some good ups and some tough downs. We'll go with the ups because, after all, I've said that I give the highlights...which are different from the lowlights.

So, Wednesday was one of the coolest days ever. One of the village pastors was celebrating being with New Covenant Ministries for three years. How do you celebrate? How about evangelism all day with a church meeting at night! Sounds good. In the morning, the ladies from the church made all the food that we would have for lunch—lots of food. Anyways, we started out with a solid group—several families from “home church” along with most of the village pastors. We had one van and two auto-rickshaws. One of the auto's was rigged with a speaker on top and a mic inside. The pastors rode in this and sang praise songs and preached as we drove along. Of course all the vehicles were singing. We would stop at all these tiny villages and pass out tracts, sing some more, and finally, one of the pastors would give a short message for the people. We did this all day until we came to the village where Moses (pastor who was celebrating) pastors. Here, we walked through several streets doing the same thing, only we were joined by people from his church for this outreach. It was an awesome time with believers and encouraging to see the church stepping up once again. Everyone from the small kids to some of the very elderly women were reaching out. So cool to see and be a part of.

As we gathered at the church in the village, I got to meet the kids. They're always excited to try and practice their English with me. I met one young boy of thirteen, maybe, by the name of William Carey. Haha. Great kid..and a good name. So now I've heard John Wesley speak and met William Carey. If I meet Charles Spurgeon I might need some new clothes. Haha. Anyways, the meeting that night went really well. The place was packed out. We had a great time praising God together, even though there were some electrical problems so we sang for a while in the dark. I also had the message here and they made me sing a song. Moses played the keyboard and they had a drummer on the congas who added to the song. They didn't know the song, but kind of felt for it. You can imagine “Awesome God” Indian style. Haha. Loads of fun..and good times for sure.

I don't think they're any particular denomination, but if they were, I have a feeling it would be Baptist. We can't seem to have any meeting in the villages without food afterward. It's always a joy to eat with them, but it's always more spicy and they always insist on you eating enough rice to stuff a camel (phrase borrowed from old roomy and not necessarily supposed to make sense, but it's still a good description). The curry was good. Sometimes I think I should have paid more attention in tenth grade Biology so I would have a better idea of what part of the goat I'm eating..but then again, it's usually better not to know. Most of the time you can't tell anyways, but I'm pretty sure I got the intestine on this night. It's easy to see. Oddly, it tasted pretty good...kind of like sausage (sorry, hope none of you are eating dinner while you read). Good stuff all around.

Anyways, the next day I had the opportunity to go to a family reunion of Pastor Daniel's family. We all met at the church his older brother founded. It was a lot different. Much bigger and much more fancy. It was cool that it was like a church meeting though. That's one thing I love here. They seem to have a church meeting for everything. It's like, “My dad passed away four years ago from this day” church meeting. “I joined the ministry three years ago from this time” church meeting. Family reunion—church meeting. It's pretty cool. Anyways, it was nice to meet Pastor Daniel's older brother. He's much older, but very cheery and energetic. He was a fun guy to be around. As he saw me helping serve the family for lunch (see? I told you there's always food), he said, “Oh? So you're serving?” “Yes,” I replied. “It's a privilege!” he said smiling. “A wonderful privilege,” I answered. I don't know if he knows how much of a privilege it actually is for me here.

Other good stuff is that we've had some more new people in church and more people showing up for prayer meetings Friday mornings and Saturday evenings. This has all been good.

Okay, so that's all the good stuff. As I said, even with all that good stuff, it's been a pretty difficult week. There's been some smaller things that have come up and some minor conflicts. Nothing major though. It's hard because I can't really talk about them here. I would like to be totally open with all of you, because I'm not a huge fan of those updates that portray everything as butterflies and flowers. However, there's just some things that I can't write about and I'm not sure they're worth writing anyway. In all the difficulties, I am pressed to rely on God's wisdom and grace. It is so wonderful to have such an incredible Rock to lean on. His lovingkindness and guidance are shown all the time. It's great to have such a Savior that I can cast all my cares on and trust Him with. It seems like sometimes I see all these huge problems, but they all get taken care of when I look to Him. It's as if He says, “I've got it, Paul. You just be faithful to the task that I've given you.” Then I feel like an idiot for being so bothered by it. I wish I could say that I always, immediately give all these things to Him, but I don't. Sometimes I do try to carry it and then I wonder why my back is sore and then it's like, “oh yeah, I don't have to carry this. Sorry God, You can have it.” Anyways, God is always faithful. I'm learning a ton and it's great.

Well, the mosquitoes have hatched and come out with a vengeance. I told my family the other day that I decided to stop being nice so then the mosquitoes won't like me so much. They have all sorts of stuff to try to keep the little devils away, but if you've been around them much, you know that they find their way to you no matter what you do. It helps with keeping up my ninja skills at least.

As always, you guys are all great and I really appreciate your prayers and encouragements. I'm so blessed in so many ways.

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matt. 16:13-16.

Pray for:
--Tabitha's husband (Nageswara Rao)--salvation
--My barber—invited him to church, hasn't come.
--God's grace and forgiveness to be shown in all things.
Praise for:
--His work here (churches reaching out)
--The tough times that push us closer to Him
--His wonderful faithfulness and goodness.
--The faithful believers here.