Monday, August 31, 2009

Back in the saddle again...

I have been home for 6 days now and am getting packed to leave again. I'm not normally away this much but Josh and I are leaving for a special trip that we have been planning for a long time. Josh turns 13 on September 10 (I turn 43 on the same day but this is really Josh's birthday now, I just share it with him :-) ) and we are celebrating this special birthday with a "rite of passage" trip. When Kenny turned 13 we took a train ride from San Juan Capistrano to Seattle where we spent 3 days. The idea of a long train trip wasn't very exciting to Josh so we have planned a trip he would like. We are heading down to my mom's house today (San Juan Capistrano) and we will head to Dana Point tomorrow for a 3/4 day deep sea fishing expedition. On Wednesday we get into the car and head to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park in Santa Cruz where we will camp until Sunday. We are looking forward to doing nature type stuff but I am looking forward to the memory building and a chance to talk to Josh more about the transition from boyhood into young adulthood. A few years ago I read the book Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis, and I was impressed with the importance of creating milestones and rite of passage events in my children's lives (Jen and Sofie are planning on taking a 3 day cruise to Catalina and Mexico when Sofie turns 13). This isn't a "birds and bees" weekend because we have been talking about godly purity with our children for many years now, but I want to use this as a time to help Josh understanding his upcoming role as a man. Lewis has a great definition of what a real man is: A real man accepts responsibility, leads courageously, rejects passivity and expects the greater reward. Jennifer and I are hopeful that this definition along with asking the "Best Question Ever"; "In light of my past experiences, current realities and future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?", and basing all of our decisions on God's Word will help our children live for God now and follow Him for life. This is an important week for me and Josh and I look forward to this one on one time with my beloved son. Please pray that this will be a meaningful time for both of us and will be a cherished memory for both me and Josh.
Thank you for your prayers.
Your fellow servant,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

We're home!!!!

We're home and I am sitting at my home computer typing this after showering and shaving all the travel fuzz off my body. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. God was gracious to us and brought us back safely. I pray that we ministred to those we went to see and glorified God in the highest.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Here's the story so far...

Since I will be traveling through time today (we leave Hong Kong at 4:25pm on the 25th and arrive at LAX at 2:25pm on the 25th); I thought I would share with you what happened on the trip on Sunday. Sunday was our last day in Jaipur. We got up and went to church and then got ready to go. Unfortunately there was some miscommunication so the transport hadn't been arranget to get us from Jaipur to Delhi. Thankfully, our good friend Emerson Scott, helped us book passage and went with us to help us navigate. It's a good thing he did. We got on an Indian Greyhound and started driving. If you have ever been to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland, you can imagine what the ride might have been like, except there are other riders in busses, camel driven carts, three wheeled motorscooters, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians. Now imagine everyone driving at the highest speed possible while honking their horn and weaving in and out of traffic to be first, and finally imagine 3-4 lanes of traffic on a two lane highway (off roading is permissible on this journey) and you can get a feel on what the ride was like for 7 hours. Oh, and one more thing the bus we were riding in did have a/c but there were curtains all over the surrounding windows, an it also covered the front of the passenger area so you couldn't see out the front window (I was fortunate because I could look through the 2 foot gap in the curtain past the driver's head because I was in the first seat) and when it got dark all of the lights were turned off in the passenger area. There was also a door that the driver locked from the passenger area to the driver area. All in all, it was a very exciting journey. Once we got to our stop, a little stand by the side of the roadway where we were dropped off, the 7 of us (6 of the team and Emerson Scott) got into three wheeled motorized rickshaw taxis and raced back to the airport on the freeway. Shelley and I rode together and our driver wanted to be first; we won! We finally boarded the plane at 3:30 in the morning on our way to Hong Kong. After sleeping for 3 hours on the plane I was ready for shopping in Hong Kong. Kevin and I set off to a tailor I used the last time I was here and we both had suits made and we met the rest of the team at Outback for dinner. Right now we are packing to head to the airport and then come home. As much as I love the city of Hong Kong, I'm going to be glad to be back home.
My next post will be from my home computer, Lord Willing.
Thank you for your prayers, this has been a great trip.

Quick Post

We had some internet trouble the past few days but we are now here in Hong Kong. Yesterday was a blur with a 7 hour bus ride followed by a 8 hour plane ride (which took off at 3:30 in the morning) followed by a shopping spree in Hong Kong. The good news is I got to sleep 3 hours on the plane and we ate at Outback tonight. That was awesome, but I'm tired.
I'll try to be more specific when I post again tomorrow, Lord willing.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Playing the tourist in Jaipur

We left the hotel early today for a day of sightseeing, shopping and fun. We took a taxi through the streets of Jaipur (another harrowing experience because not only do we have to dodge other cars we have to dodge stray dogs, horses, camels and elephants too). We went up to an ancient fort and looked around, it was truly magnificant. After looking around that fort we went to another fort where the kings of Jaipur would house their wives (one had 8 at a time, that must have been interesting). I will post some pictures of our travels. After resting at the hotel for a few hours, we set off again for a shopping extravaganza. We shopped in the old section of the city and had a great time and found some great things for great prices. Tomorrow we're off to church in the morning then take a 6 hour bus ride back to New Dehli where we will wait around until we fly out at 3:30 am. Then we're off to Hong Kong for one more night and then back home on Tuesday afternoon. We will actually land at LAX 2 hours before we leave; you've gotta love the international date line.
I'll try to post again once we get to Hong Kong, tomorrow will be too crazy, Lord willing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Of scooters, elephants and men...

Today we finished the conference. It went well but today was the hottest day so far so many of the pastors left after lunch and didn't continue on to the afternoon session. We were a bit discouraged, as well as exhausted from teaching and the heat when we returned to the hotel room. We had to go back to the institute at 5pm for a wrap up meeting and our host, Emerson Scott, met us with a suprise. He didn't want us to walk back to the institute because it was so hot so he had hired a three wheeled taxi that seated 3 passengers plus the driver. So after the 5 of us got settled in, we were off. It was an exciting ride back to the institute. Kevin says he likes to think that driving on the street like that isn't real, sort of like a video game. I must admit that helps....a bit.
The meeting at the institute started off rocky but ended well. It seems that there were some conficting opinions on the what a successful conference would look like. The leadership team, who brought us out, thought we would only feel successful with large numbers of participants. After we explained we would much rather work with a small group of committed pastors who were willing to embrace the Purpose Driven model for growth, they became excited about the possiblities of affecting real change in Jaipur.
After that meeting, Emerson Scott, his wife Tankm and his two daughters met us at the hotel with a 8 passenger vehicle to take us to the Rajastan Cultural Center. So after the 10 of us got settled in the van, we were off. The ride to the institute is indescribable, but was a lot of fun and we all laughed a good deal. To be honest, we all feel better knowing we successfully completed the training and look forward to a day off tomorrow. We had a wonderful dinner and walked around the center and saw many examples of Rajastan culture. All of us had a turn riding the elephant. Kevin, Beth, Shawna and Shelley were especially adventurous and rode a camel as well.
Tomorrow we are off for some more sightseeing and shopping, typical tourist type stuff. It should be great fun, especially since we will be riding in more vehicles.
I'll post again tomorrow, Lord willing.
PS-Henry is feeling better since Emerson took us to a chemist shop and we purchased some packaged Gatorade.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another day in Jaipur

Today we had the second day of the conference and we all felt we were received much better. We had a better time communicating and the participants had more interraction with what we were teaching. When I started teaching this morning I felt led to share out of Ephesians 1:3-10, where Paul talks about our adoption into God's family. I shared how wonderful it is for all of us to be in the room together, adopted into God's family. I shared that I am a Christian who lives in America just as they are Christians who live in India. It was wonderful to see all of those people who have been adopted into God's family, just as I have, through the wonderful gift of salvation through Christ Jesus our Lord. It was wonderful to see everyone in that light as we began to teach today.
Even though it was a long, hot day, we did feel that we accomplished a good deal and look forward to tomorrow. Shawna, Shelley and Beth had a conference with the women at the same time we were teaching the men. All of the ladies were elated to receive the special time of teaching and the women on our team were excited about the opportunity to teach others. Please pray for Henry because he isn't feeling well. He left the conference after lunch and went back to the hotel to rest. The humidity is tough on all of us but Henry is suffering; please lift him up in your prayers. Also please pray for the pastors here in India because they have a huge job to share the love and salvation available through Jesus to the people here.
Tomorrow we have the last day of the conference and after that we get to play tourist for a day before heading back to Dehli. We have a wonderful Indian man and his wife who will be our guides and show us their city.
We have also been blessed with wonderful food on this trip and we are all enjoying the local food, some of it is a bit spicy though; I love it!!
Please continue to pray that God will us us to accomplish His will here in Jaipur and that we can be a source of encouragement to the pastors and leaders attending this conference.
I will post again tomorrow, Lord willing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rajastan Bible Institute

Today we began the conference at the Rajastan Bible Institute. We began the day by walking over to the RBI from our hotel. For some of our team this was their first experience with playing a life-sized Frogger game. In some countries, India and China that I know of, pedestrians walk across the street at the same time cars are driving towards you. It is the responsibility of the drivers in the cars to miss the pedestrians and it is the job of the pedestrians to repress any and all natural tendencies of self-preservation and calmly walk across the street. If everyone plays the game correctly then the pedestrians walks across the street ready to play the next round. If you don't play correctly...well, you know. Fortunately for us we still have all 6 members of our team ready to play again tomorrow.
We believe the teaching was well received at the RBI, and we were reassured of that fact by many people, but the attendees are rather hard to read. We have a translator helping to translate everything into Hindi for us but we haven't gotten a lot of crowd participation. It could be the heat and humidity in the room, (it is pretty sticky) or it could be the overload of material; but whatever it is we will be back again tomorrow ready, willing and able to teach more material.
Please continue to pray for us that we will be effective for the Lord here and make an impact for the Kingdom.
I'll post again tomorrow, Lord willing.
PS-I'm also posting some more pictures we took today.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pictures so far

I'm glad your horn works, now try your lights.

I'm convinced I don't know how to properly use the horn in my car. After being in India for about 24 hours, and having been driven around on a lot of roads, there is one thing I am sure of; the Indian drivers use their horns as a vital communication tool as they drive. In the USA, we only blow our horns under the most dire circumstances, and even then might incur a rude gesture from people around us in other cars. Here, the drivers use their horns to signal other drivers, tell people when to change lanes, tell when they are changing lanes and I'm sure there is some sort of Morse Code that gives news, traffic and sports updates (at least that's what I have in my imagination).
We were picked up today at noon by Ramesh and members of his team to take us around and see some of the work they are doing. Our first stop was a building in one of the slums of Delhi where children were being taught. The children were sitting in four separate classrooms and were very interested in their lessons. They were excited to see us and made each of sit in a chair in a classroom while they placed a flower wreath around our necks. It was their way of welcoming us. After that we went to an even poorer area and visited another slum where another group of children were being taught. The people with the Cooperative Outreach of India are very concerned with helping people step out of their poverty and step up through training and education. We went back with Ramesh to their offices and had Domino's Pizza, Indian style, it was very good. After that we were off to the airport for another flight to our final destination, Jaipur. We're all checked into our rooms now and tomorrow we begin to teach at a conference.
I'm posting some pictures.
Pray for a fruitful and productive day tomorrow. Also pray for safety as we get to walk to the conference center and brave the honking masses of transportation.
I'll post again tomorrow, Lord willing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

We're in Dehli

We made it into Dehli and through customs pretty quickly but then had a 40 minute car ride to our hotel. By the time we got here, all of us were exhausted. Personally, I'm not sure I've ever been this tired. We don't have to be anywhere until noon tomorrow and we fly to Jaipur tomorrow night; by then we will have an established base of operations. It's just after midnight here; we are all well but tired.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sitting in Hong Kong enjoying a Starbucks

While the plane ride to Hong Kong was long, it was a very pleasant trip. If you ever get a chance to fly Cathay Pacific, I highly recommend it. I slept about 6 hours on the plan, thanks to a sleeping aid, and am enjoying a Grande Mocha and updating my blog at the airport. It's wonderful how the small things can be so exciting; thanks God!! I also got a chance to take a nice, hot shower at the airport; feeling human after all. Everyone is doing well, Henry and Beth Davis, Shawna Koon, Kevin Johnson, Shelley Smith and I are very grateful for your prayers. We take off at 2:25 pm Hong Kong time, it is now 8:22 am Hong Kong time on Monday, August 17th. We are 15 hours ahead of you here in Hong Kong. I don't have anything especially meaningful to write except how amazing it is to be 1/2 way around the world and see God at work all around me. Even though I won't get a chance to meet them, I am sure there are many brothers and sisters in this airport and we all have the same thing in common; we are all sinners saved by grace!!!! I am so glad that God is an awesome, loving and forgiving God.
I will update again when we arrive in New Dehli, Lord willing.
Your fellow servant,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Illusion of Control

I'll be perfectly honest; I don't like to be away from my family. I am a much better person when I am around my wonderful wife. There is a great line in the movie "As Good as it Gets" when Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt, "You make me want to be a better person."; I truly feel that way about Jennifer. However, even more than that, I want to feel that way about God. Because God is Holy and He has paid my sin debt, I should want to be a better person because of what He has done. I know there is nothing I can do to earn His love or merit salvation, but I should want to be a better person; to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29) because of what He has done for me. I truly want this, and I want my life to exemplify this lifestyle but I am a bit like the father in Mark 9:24, "I believe, but help my unbelief." I trust you God, but help me trust you more. I want to be a better person for you, help me be a better get the idea.
So, what does this have with control? Everything...because it is only when I realize I cannot control anything, and I need to give everything to God anyway, that I truly realize that it is only through and by His power I can do anything anyway.
I still don't like to be away from my family and I will miss them while I am away; but I know that whether I am in the next room or 1/2 way around the world I still can't control what happens to them or me. God is in control anyway and the more I realize that, the easier it is to truly trust Him. I teach the children in my ministry, "I can trust God no matter what." These next 10 days will be about putting my words, and faith, into practice.
Hopefully I will be able to post from Hong Kong, if it's the Lord's will.
Your fellow servant,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

As I am trying to get everything ready to go to India I am reminded of James 4:13-17. In my desire to get everything accomplished before I go, and my desire to serve God while I am there, I don't want to forget that fact that I should preface whatever I do with the phrase, "If it is the Lord's will...". I don't just want this to be something catchy I say, or something I put on a bumpersticker on my car, but actually the way I live. So in light of this, as I get ready to leave in a couple of days, I will do all of my preparation and my planning with the attitude of "If it is the Lord's will...". Please pray that I don't get in the way of my desire to do God's will. Talk to you later...if it is the Lord's will.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First official post

I've thought about starting a blog for a while and I've finally taken the plunge. I plan on posting photos from my upcoming mission trip to India as well as share what God is teaching me there. I am also planning on using this blog to communicate to the volunteers and parents in our ministry, as well as anyone else who is interested, about the vision of the Children's Ministry of Southwest Community Church and the direction God is leading us in. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride; hopefully we will all grow closer to Jesus Christ along the way.