Friday, May 29, 2009

Village Outreach #2 - Diamond

The second village outreach was smaller and more subdued, but still a wonderful time and anointed. I spoke about faith, and doing whatever it takes to get to Jesus. I used the story of Zaccheus and the man who was lowered through the roof to be with Jesus. Such good time of ministry and prayer.

My favorite part though, the ultimate highlight, was having James' mother Diamond there to translate for me. This mighty woman of God has done so much for the Kingdom, and I love to soak in all I can whenever I am around her. She is like the female Billy Graham or equivalent here, and I am so humbled by HER coming to translate for ME. Seems almost backwards. She should be speaking, and I should be serving her. But the Lord uses the weak to show His strength. After the service, she told me that she had gone into a village the night before to share and had used the exact same story of Zaccheus. She said it seemed the Lord was speaking a word to the villages about faith. I was thrilled that I had discerned this as well. I love getting confirmation!

She also gave me quite the compliment at dinner - told me I eat well with my fingers (an important thing in India, with no silverware - plus I here she is the Queen of Manners, so I must have been doing something right.) :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Village Adventure #1 - The Locusts

Ok, so I'm going to do my best to recap each of the village outreach services, as they have all been special and unique in their own way.

The first night was probably the most awkward in many ways, as it was my first real ministry venture without the team under the fearless leadership of Doug (main contact for teams here). Doug flew back to England, and so I was venturing out on my own... Not quite on me own, though. Me and 8 Indians (7 ministry people plus driver) piled into one car and set out for the village. Only 2 of them spoke any English, but it was pretty minimal (humorous considering one of those two is my translator! haha) About 3 hours and many bumpy roads later, we arrived at the village. And if you know me at all, you know my bladder is pretty small, so I did what we did when the teams were here and asked if there was a "sister" who could take me to the bathroom. Next things I know, I'm wisked away to a hut where the WHOLE pastor's family came out (I guess to witness the white girl who needed a bathroom?) and the pastor's wife took me by the hand, put me in the car and we (me, the pastor's wife, a male staff member and driver) all set out on an "adventure" to find me a bathroom. We drove to some "houses" and were walking all through people's homes and property, all the time hand-in-hand with the pastor's wife, until we landed at an actual squatty (better than the side of the road, or a field, which was what I expected)). Then, wisked back to the car and back to the church, where I walk in and notice...

(look at the wall and floor - this was after a ton were swept out)

BUGS! Everywhere! I notice first because they start landing on me the second I walk in! And not little bugs - these were small grasshopper type bugs. I think they were locusts. And I think the plague in Egypt had come upon this church, as they were ALL OVER. Good thing I don't have a fear of bugs. (A few of you would have freaked!) Good thing also we have to wear head scarves. Never quite been so happy to have that hot fabirc covering my head as at that moment.

The service went really well though. Ministered are treated with such honor here in India. There are men who carry all my belonging for me. I am brought sodas everywhere I go (not my fav, but the gesture is sweet), and they typically present guest ministers with a flower garland to wear around their necks. It is made of fragrant fresh flowers, and is beautiful and heavy! This church thought that Doug would be there, so there were two garlands. Because of his absense, they gave me both. I felt like my little body was weighted down with flowers. Haha... It worked well though for my sermon illustration about taking Jesus' yoke rather then our heavy yokes, because his is easy and light (see Jonathan? I do listen when you talk about making things culturally relavent! :0) ).

At the conclusion of the service, probably 15-20 people resonded to the altar call for salvation. Hallelujah! And then I was able to pray for everyone individually (I just love this part!). I even held it together as I felt bugs crawling up my legs under my dress. Talk about practicing your poker face...

(these were the people who stood for the altar call)

And then, they always want to feed you after the service! :) This was probably when my awkwardness came out the most because I didn't have anyone's lead to follow. And since I am the "honored guest", I am served first and expected to eat first, etc. So I was hoping not to make too many large faux pas. I think I did a couple. haha. Oh well, as Sarah always tells me, we get away with a lot since we're white. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

village services

I just got back from another village service. The last 3 nights I have been in different villages preaching and praying for people. I have 4 more nights of village evangelism and then it's off to Hyderabad to help Sarah with more surgeries for her little ones, and I fly to Thailand from there on the 4th of June. Hard to believe that my time here is coming to a close. I feel so at peace and fulfilled here that it makes me sad to think about leaving. I don't know what all the Lord is doing in me, but He is definitely stirring some things. I will share more when I know more and when I feel a release in my spirit to share. I'm gonna put more about the village services, but for now I go to bed. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My morning surprise

I got up this morning, looked outside, and look what was there to greet me!

Monkeys! How crazy is that! For all of you that asked me to bring you back a pet monkey, I think I got pretty close to making it happen this morning! haha. Wait a minute.... do monkey's eat lizards? If so, I think I may have found my lizard repellant I've been looking for! :)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ministry Update

So, I asked if I could do some more ministering in the villages while I'm here, and my prayer has been answered! Starting tomorrow (Sunday), I will be speaking in a different village EVERY NIGHT for the next SEVEN nights! I am so excited, but I also realize this is a lot! I am asking that you will pray for the Lord to fill and prepare me for what I need to share, and also that miracles, signs, and wonders will happen, as well as many people coming to the Lord as a result of this. I will be praying for the people at the close of each service, and will be giving altar calls each night. Let's believe together that the Lord will do many mighty things in this next week!

Leave me your comments and encouraging words (you don't have to have a blogspot account to leave a comment) as you are thinking of me in the next few days.

I'll report back good things! :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life is in the Details

So I've discovered one of my personality traits that works well on missions. My tendency to get really excited over really small details...haha

- Having clean clothes (which I now have! such a good day!)
- The Beach (which we went to when the team was here...ahhh, my favorite thing in life)

- Eating a piece of chocolate (which I got to do last night)
- The Indian Fair. Yes, Lorianna, I went to the fair in India. Jealous? Well, don't picture the FL State Fair or anything, but a cultural experience none the less. And I even rode a couple rides, and live to tell about it. :)

- Coffee and tea (which is always readily available, and I take advantage of often)
Sidenote: Are there any countries that really don't like coffee/tea? Because everywhere I've gone, it has been a big thing. It's always been a little different each place, but always good. This has become my number one comfort item while traveling. :)
Random tidbit: So when people here Chai tea, they think India, right? But if you go to India and order Chai, you will just get normal tea, because the word "chai" means tea. If you want what we as Americans think of as Chai, you have to order "masala chai" which is more of the spiced tea we are familiar with. (This might only apply to the part of India I'm in, but is still interesting!)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Isaiah 54: 4-6

"Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
For your Maker is your husband-
the Lord Almighty is his name-
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
The Lord will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and
distressed in Spirit-
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected," says your God.

The 7th time through the fire

I was actually lonely here today. Oh well, it was inevitable that it would happen. Life here is just so different from my everyday life. More than anything I think it's the unpredictability and complete and continuous discomfort that comes with having everything be "new."

New places, new people, new food, new smells, new place to stay, new tasks, new dreams, new adventures, new fears, new hopes, new passions, new love, new questions, new let-downs, new trust, new relationships, new, new, new...

It's bringing up new reactions in me as well. Some good, and some not so good. The emotional discomfort stretches and squeezes and some type of reaction invariably comes out. Reminds me of the Scripture in Psalms or Proverbs that talks about being purified in the fire 7 times. That always kinda bothered me. Wasn't enduring once through the fire plenty? Why another 6 times. Because stuff continues to come out. That's how I feel here. Missions is not a "new" thing to me at this point (I figured out this is my 10th overseas trip), but every environment and situation plus my life phase are always different enough to continue purifying. The fire isn't fun, but the result is purity. That's my prayer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ministry, Sweet ministry

I love doing ministry. Today I got to preach at an Indian church, and I absolutely loved it. Then I laid hands on and prayed for about 50 people after the service (not added into the info below). That has to be my favorite thing. I've been adding up some of the ministry "stats" from when the team was here. Pretty impressive.

Together we did:

2 Conference Meetings (one for pastors - between 500-1000 people, and one for district pastors - abuot 25 people)
4 Church Children's Homes Services/VBS
2 door-to-door village prayer times
2 village outreach services
3 Church services
1 youth service
3 times at Sarah's Covenant Homes
5 Hope Child Development Center VBS Services
1 open-air "Jesus meeting"

30 testimonies were given
5 sermons were preached
2 evangelistic alter calls were given
15 alter calls for general prayer and healing


That last one absolutely gets me. Try and tell me this trip wasn't worth every penny to get all these team members out here to India. We will never fully know the fruit that comes from this trip.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oh India...

Today I took my first shower out of bucket.

I also drank a mocha.

I love cities.

I've been enjoying working with Sarah so much. She is the wife of our main contact here in India and she runs Sarah's Covenant Homes, which are homes for special needs children who were institutionalized because of their disabilities and no one wanting them. She quite possibly has the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. She also blogs way more than me, so you should check out her blog for more details about what I've been doing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Whirlwind

On the 13th (day after my birthday) we headed back to take the team to fly out for the states. Somewhere on the drive, we got a call that Sarah wanted me to fly up and meet her further north to help with some of the special needs kids who were up there getting surgeries. We got the team a good meal, did some sightseeing and got them to the airport for their flight late that night. I have to say I enjoyed my night in the hotel and a chance to relax briefly. The next morning, I went back to the airport for my own flight to meet Sarah. I'm up here now and spent pretty much all day yesterday at Indian hospitals. There are still 3 kids in the hospital getting stable enough to leave. Medical stuff is a stretch for me, but I am happy to be here to help Sarah and give her some company. The challenge was I had only packed for an overnight that is now turning into a several day trip though. That's ok though, cause it's a bit of an adventure.

When I got here, there was a woman with Sarah. As we could get a few moments of privacy, Sarah filled me in that she met this woman randomly at a coffee shop and she is homeless and depressed after just having lost her mother, who was her only family member. Sarah offered her a position as the woman spoke English and had some other skills, so she was traveling around with us. Only, as time went on, the woman seemed to get stranger and more unstable (for my psych friends, I'm thinking mood disorder plus schizophrenia...Is that schizo-affective?). I think there is definitely mental illness present. After several strange encounters and dreams, we felt it best to part ways with the woman who was getting more and more demanding and was unwilling to do the job Sarah was offering her. We somewhat had to escape from her at a time when she was not paying attention to us. I am hopeful that she will get all the help she needs. It is such a struggle to balance the desire to help others while also maintaining personal safety. She was given many chances and opportunities by Sarah (probably more than I would have had the heart to give, unfortunately) but she did not accept them, and at that point it's hard to do anything else for someone. I just pray she will receive the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical help and healing she needs.

For now we go on to more hospitals....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Random Bits from India

So for those of you that aren't quite sure what to picture in your minds when I tell you I'm in India, here's some random bits about it.

1. There are monkeys here. Real wild monkeys with long tails walking around on the streets and tops of buildings. And they are in the city - not just some remote villages!

2. Men commonly relieve themselves on the side of the road. No matter how busy of a street or how many people are around.

3. The food is SPICY! They love flavor and so all 3 meals every day are full of flavor and spices.

4. People eat with their hands. No silverware. When you are done eating, they bring you a bowl of hot water to rinse your hands in. We like to call them "finger spas"

5. Everybody everywhere wants you to pray for them. This is completely awesome and (although I'm bad at estimating numbers) I would imagine we have laid hands on about 1,000 or more people so far.

6. People are not touchy here. Not even the kids. They don't even usually hug you. There are rare exceptions but you are more often to get a bow or handshake rather than a hug.

7. Women have to wear skirts or sarees and keep their legs, and shoulders covered, and their heads must be covered when in church services or while praying. This makes for some intense heat, considering it's about 110-115 degrees here and extremely humid.

8. The people are absolutely beautiful, especially the women. They love lots of color, so the sarees and churches are covered in bright colors and lively patterns.

9. There is an interesting mix of smells. Gross smells of urine and trash are intermingled with smells of fresh jasmine that the women commonly wear in their hair, and spicy food smells from local food vendors to create an ever changing assortment of aromatics.

10. Jesus is here. I feel more like the church that God created in the book of Acts than I ever have in my life. People are receptive to prayer and the Word of God, and He does miraculous things because of it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Week one of India

So tomorrow will be a full week down from the start of my adventure. The long plane ride was...long. I was happy to see some familiar faces once the team landed a couple hours after me. They have been keeping us extremely busy here with ministry stuff, which I am thrilled about. We have done village outreaches, where we have gone door to door praying for people with the pastor of the village and then have held church services afterwards. We have been to 2 homes for special needs children that have been so touching. We have done a few children's outreaches as well for kids programs the ministry site here does for kids who are severely impoverished or at-risk. It has all been wonderful.... and so so hot. By far the hottest place I have ever been on earth. But I'm loving it! And the team I'm working with from Sterling has been more than I could ever have hoped for! I will be sad to see them go next week. But until then, we will cram a ton more into one more week while they are still here! Thanks for all the prayers! Keep them up.