15 August 2007

From Heidi Maas

Hello from the USA!
This is my final entry for the 2007 India blog , but India is far from being far from my mind, even if it is in miles. Please feel free to write back and ask questions; I can more easily respond now that I’m in the States.

When I left India, I was still trying to process everything I experienced there. Fortunately, I had the blessed opportunity to attend the CLC Youth Conference in Como, Colorado shortly after my return. Spending time with fellow believers in the Word helped me find perspective and sort through the new information in my head and heart. The theme for the conference sessions was Jer. 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'"

We don’t always know why the Lord calls us down a particular path. I did not understand why God would want me to go all the way to India and teach children when I had no previous Sunday school, VBS, or any other teaching experience. So I did not go to India thinking, "I should go do VBS in overseas because teaching is something I really know how to do." Nope. It was more like, "Heidi, this is God. Pack your bags. I have work for you in India." God proved that He does not need His instruments of service to always come as pre-packaged, ready-to-go tools. Most often He starts off with just clay. We think we are not qualified, but we forget that the Potter shapes the clay into something useful on His wheel. Yes, as a lump of clay I was useless, so God called me to that wheel while in India. I was nervous to teach, but God equipped me for "every good work," moment by moment. He gave me courage to publicly pray for and teach the children, strength to settle tensions among the orphans, and confidence to speak with a Hindu for hours on the plane. He made provisions for me to be able to enjoy the food, the heat, and the wild traffic. The Lord also gave me tolerance for the smells and protection from the pollution in the cities. These were all gifts He provided out of His grace!

And now that I'm back, I'm finding out that the plans He had in sending me on this trip are not limited to India nor the 26 days I spent there. This trip to India is proving to be only the beginning of a bigger plan for the Lord’s Kingdom....

May the Lord bless you all and keep you all. I thank you for all your prayers and praise the Lord for keeping everyone safe on this trip so that the workers were enabled to scatter seed in His kingdom! Glory, glory and praise to our almighty God!!!

Your sister and fellow servant in the Word,
Heidi Spring Maas

"So is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

14 August 2007

From Kate Friedrichs

Hello all!
I've been home from India for about ten days now, and it's been nice to be able to reflect on the journey...the amazing people we met, the interesting sights (and smells), and the blessed memories that will not soon leave my mind.
I've also been able to upload some photos to ShutterFly.com. I'm new to online photo sharing, so I hope it works OK. Below are the site and password if you're interested.
Password: Emma (my middle name).
One of the first things my roommate asked when she saw me was, "What is one thing you learned while you were in India?" My response: "That the rest of the world is not like the US!" Having travelled internationally herself, she smiled, nodded, and agreed. And how true it is. There are so many things that were different in India (no toilet paper, the crazy driving, the dust and animals everywhere, etc.), but yet the opportunity to spread the gospel abounded and God blessed this work. Although there were differences, the people with whom we interacted, particularly those in the church, were so wonderful! They welcomed us into their lives, and we were able to share in the blessing of Christian fellowship with them.
One thing that stood out to me as we stopped in London and have now returned home is the mindset of people in India. Wherever we went, people wanted to help -- they weren't focused on possessions or themselves. It was so refreshing to see compared to the materialism and self-centered attitude of Americans. This was quite evident in the church. They didn't have much -- maybe no roof on the church building, probably not a fancy sound system, and certainly not an organ! -- but they have our Savior God and His holy Word. And they join in praising Him together and share that good news of Christ with others!
For the video that Rick is putting together for the trip, I answered the question, "Why is the Mission Helper Trip (MHT) important?" I think most people (including myself originally) mostly think of the evangelism to non-Christians when they think of the MHT. And that is important, of course. As Pastor O. said, it's the main purpose of our trip. But there is much more than that. I hadn't realized it before being there, but our time spent in India was extremely encouraging to the Christians who are there. More than once we were thanked for giving of our time, money, and safety to go to India. They were incredibly appreciative! And as much of an encouragement as we were to them, in some ways I felt like we were getting more more encouragement being with them...seeing their simple and "childlike" faith, but also great and strong faith. It was such a blessing!
So what have I learned from my trip to India? I've learned that God, people, and relationships are much more important than material goods; that it's nice to be part of a community and to share things. I've learned that God's love and salvation truly is for all people of all nations, regardless of race, color, class, or situation. I know without a doubt that God is always with us and keeps us in His loving care, no matter where we are in the world.
As my life returns to "normal" I continue to pray for my Christian brothers and sisters in India, who are now more than just random names to me and who, I hope, are people whose stories you feel you know a little better now, too. Please continue to remember them in your prayers, that God would bless their lives and the work they do -- that more people would come to Christ and receive the blessed gift of salvation which we have!
Blessings in Christ,

07 August 2007

from Laura Hulke

Now that I am back in the United States, I thought I would send out one last email of thanksgiving and thoughts to all of you.

I am so thankful that all of us made it home safely, and that we were kept in God's care the entire time we were in India. True, we missed the conveniences of life back home, but our situation was never so trying that we could not do the work God had set for us to do.

Something that I will never forget was how uplifting and encouraging it was for us to spend time with the pastors and Christian communities in India. They were excited to see us, and we were delighted to see the work that they are doing in a country that so desperately needs to hear the Gospel. We are grateful to them for their hospitality and kindness, and we look forward to hearing from them in the future. It is wonderful to see first-hand how the Gospel has spread around the world and continues to be spread by these amazing people.

It was a delight to teach not only children, but also adults that accompanied the children to our classes. I pray that the seeds that we planted through God's Word will grow and flourish by the Holy Spirit. I will continue to pray for all of those in the mission field, especially David and Mary Koenig and all of the pastors that we met abroad.

Thank you to all of you for your support and prayers before, during, and after the trip. Please continue praying for the people over there and the work that they do.

In Christ,
Laura Hulke

04 August 2007

From Pastor David and Sandy Baker

Now that we are back home in Chicago, Illionis, it is time for reflection upon our trip to India. It was a real blessing to see the joy in Christ among our brethren in both the CLCI and the BELC. Their dedication and committment to our LORD and Savior is wonderful. We came home blessed and encouraged by the members of the CLCI and the BELC!

Poverty abounds but the riches of Christ Jesus our LORD were proclaimed in India. Many seek wealth and fortune there but our brethren have the Pearl of Great Price. in India, we saw the Gospel at work and saw the way it changes lives. In a nation which still holds on to vestiges of the caste system, among our brethren it has practically disappeared. Our congregatons and leaders reach out with the Gospel to the poorest in India . . . something unthinkable among the Hindu's, the Buddhist's, and other religions. Our people show kindness and compassion on those of lower estate . . . something unheard of among non-Christians.

We also had the opportunity to spend a day of sightseeing in Chennai. It was awe inspiring to visit the supposed place where St. Thomas was murdered and also the place where he is supposed to be buried. Both are in Chennai.

The 2007 Misison Helper Trip was a wonderful experience and I would recommend all to participate, if possible.

David & Sandy Baker
Ascension, Batavia, Illinois

From Alison Hansen

I am home on the farm right now reflecting on my experience in India. So many thoughts and not so distant memories come to mind as part of the trip--the late night talks with fellow Christians, adventurous rides on rickshaws, dodging cattle while driving through cities and countryside, and especially all the children at the VBS sessions. I would be deceiving you if I said it was all fun and games. There were a lot of tough times as well. A person can look at the tough times and let oneself get down about the various situations or realize that the Lord is making one stronger through every situation. I was very humbled by the whole experience and realize that I need to prioritize missions in my prayer life and do all I can to support the work we are doing over there. I am very glad to be home here in the states, but will be even happier to see all of the people in India in our heavenly home someday.
Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers and I would ask you to continue to pray for the children, pastors, and lay people that they would be willing and able to reach as many other unbelievers as possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.
In His Service,
Alison Hansen