Hello all and greetings in Christ!
Today is the 13th day that we have been in India, and we will be leaving the country again in less than 10 days! It's hard to believe that our trip is more than half over already!
Before my update, I have a quick question for everyone. Do any of you have an orphan that you are sponsoring through the CLC Kinship Program? If so, I can take a picture of him/her if you would like. Just send me the child's name. We did that for someone in the Vernon, British Columbia congregation, and would be happy to do it for anyone else. Thanks!
We've had an incredible variety of experiences at the churches and congregations at which we hold VBS...we never know what to expect! (Last night, a salamander scurried through the children and across Pastor Baker's feet!) I just wanted to share a couple of these and some other fun experiences with you.
"Let it Rain"
Wednesday night was pouring rain at our VBS site! When we arrived, the rain had just begun to fall, but soon it was gushing from above like from a faucet! The church was just a small hut made of sticks and thatch, and 76 children (wow!) plus adults were packed inside! Because of the weather and limited space, only Pastor Baker and his wife Sandy were allowed to leave our vehicle to teach. The rain was coming through the holes in the roof, as well, so Pastor preached a quick message on the Gospel, they handed out gifts of balloons and pens to the children, and then returned to the vehicle...all while it was still pouring rain! Sandy said the faces on the children were just precious -- so excited to see their brother and sister from the US and to hear about Jesus! I wish I could have seen them, too! The whole thing reminded me of the Michael W. Smith song, "Let it Rain," so Heidi and I listened to it on the way home, while the rain continued to fall outside.
Yes, they do have pizza in India, but like most things, it's not quite the same as in the US -- it's got a little bit of spice to it. We discovered on Wednesday night that we can get it delivered to our hotel! In actuality, one of the hotel workers picked it up and brought it back for us, since we didn't want to go out in the rain again! We made sure to tip him! In the end, we ended up getting a medium cheese pizza delivered to our room at 10:30 pm for 118 rupees -- less than $3! It's amazing how inexpensive things are over here!
On Thursday, Pastor Baker and Pastor Benjamin said we could sit in on the seminary classes to see how they teach. Pastor Baker is going through the book of Matthew, and when he teaches, he says a sentence in English and Pastor Benjamin translates it into Telugu. The classroom is no bigger than 16' x 30' with 5 sets of tables and benches. There were 17 students, and whenever Pastor asks for a volunteer to read from Scripture, someone starts right away. Sometimes more than one person starts reading, and it seems that whoever is loudest or most persistent gets to finish the reading! It's so fun to see how excited the students are to learn more about God's Word so they can share it with their congregations. As Sandy said, it truly is the Spirit's work to change their hearts from Hinduism, Islam, or whatever other religion they may have been to a true understanding of the Bible!
A Blessed Evening!
VBS on Saturday night was incredible! The music, children, pastor, prayer opportunities...everything was just wonderful! The church seemed somewhat large compared to others, and when we arrived, there were only about 20 children. By the time we finished the craft, however, we estimated that more than 65 children had heard about their Savior! In addition to that, Brother Jyothi told us later that there was a group of Hindus standing outside, and that they were "impressed" by the news of Christ that Pastor Baker had shared in his sermon! I pray that God will work faith in their hearts through His Spirit. I know He will accomplish His work! One of the best parts of the evening was the opportunity to pray with some of the congregation members as we were leaving. It took some time, but it was so worthwhile because of the encouragement I received from knowing that we really are making an impact, and because of the encouragement I was able to give to them as a result! May God bless our brothers and sisters in Christ and strengthen their faith!
Thank you the email responses that I've been receiving. They really are encouraging...more than you know! Please keep them coming! Thank you also for all your prayers. God really hears them and is blessing us in so many ways!