I forgot to mention a funny thing that happened upon my arrival in Guyana, South America last week. Traveling all day on Saturday from the USA, I finally arrived at the home of my host in Linden, Guyana around midnight. Before the next hour was expended, I managed to get into bed, but not before I brushed my teeth. I was wanting to freshen my mouth, though the experience didn’t seem too refreshing. Once more the next morning after breakfast I went about to brush my teeth. Suddenly, I realized that what I had just squeezed from a tube onto my toothbrush was not toothpaste, but instead it was Cortizone cream for expediting the healing of wounds and preventing infection. No wonder brushing my teeth the night before didn’t seem very refreshing. Oh well, I didn’t swallow. No harm, no foul.
Categories: Guyana, Mission Trip
Categories: Guyana, Mission Trip
Saturday, February 6, brother Wilbur Vyphuis, brother Nigel Milo and I moved our venue for out Mobile Guyana Seminar to Cotton Tree, Guyana. For about three hours or so, it was our pleasure to bring this year’s theme and lessons to brethren from several congregations who assembled in the meetinghouse of the Cotton Tree Church of Christ. Some in attendance had already heard the lessons the past two days at 64 Village, but they cherished not only the instructional material but also the fellowship with brethren of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1). Brother Wilbur and I each presented two lessons pertaining to evangelism and transitioning responsibility for evangelizing Guyana from foreign brethren to Guyanese Christians. Later that night, we drove to Georgetown to deposit brother Vyphuis there, before brother Milo and I returned to his home and our base of operations in Linden.
Sunday, I taught Bible class; brother Nigel preached during the worship period. In addition to members, this being “Friends and Family Day,” numerous others from the community came for worship and fellowship. That afternoon and early evening, I accompanied brother Milo to home visitations, the television station and various errands. Back at his home, we readied ourselves for Monday’s early morning departure, which ultimately will take us to Mabaruma on the Venezuelan border to continue our seminar. Later in the week, we will go by boat to Port Kaituma. Thursday, Lord willing, we will return to Linden.
While many of my friends, family and brethren in the USA are “enjoying” their winter season, I, too, am enjoying my winter foray into Guyana, South America. The temperature rises to about 82 degrees daily. Tropical vegetation is everywhere, accented by beautiful and colorful blooming flowers of all kinds. Fruits and vegetables are nearly always in season here. Then, there are the pesky miniature ants everywhere – one just ran across my computer screen! That’s not the first time that has happened, as the same thing occurred just a few months ago in another tropical environment in Asia.
What a pleasure it is to set up my mobile office here and there across the planet while seeking to do the will of the Lord and proclaim the Gospel far and wide. I truly love the brethren who take me into their homes and lives as they and I serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending me, or receiving me, whatever the case may be. Please remember to pray for this wandering saint – just another pilgrim marching toward glory land.
Categories: Biblical Lesson, Guyana, Mission Trip, Overseas
Saturday, January 30, 2016 was a travel day for me from Memphis, TN to Linden, Guyana, South America. I was fortunate to get a direct flight from Memphis to Miami, FL. However, my checked bag was not as fortunate, as it instead flew to Charlotte, NC. So, I waited to no avail for my bag at the luggage carousel. Later, I waited fruitlessly once more when luggage from Charlotte was being offloaded. Cutting close, besides resulting in unnecessary diligence and time on my part, the checked bag finally arrived in Miami in time for me to check in for my next flight to Georgetown, Guyana. Everything worked out – no harm, no foul.
Upon clearing immigration and customs, I emerged from the airport in Guyana into the loving arms of my dear friend and Christian brother, Nigel Milo. Subsequently, the drive to his home in Linden an hour and a half away, we arrived around midnight, and I got to bed within the hour.
Sunday at 8 a.m. the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ and I gathered for Bible class. At that time, I made my PowerPoint presentation “The Church of Prophecy.” Brother Nigel preached for the worship assembly. This was the first time that I had seen the completed, new meetinghouse; it is more than adequate, very commodious and an exceedingly useful tool for the growing local congregation. That night during worship, I gave my PowerPoint presentation “Come Meet Jesus Christ as Creator.” Following worship, the Christian men had their typical Bible class.
Early Monday morning, Nigel and I struck out for a small airport about two hours away on the Atlantic coast of the country. Along the way, we picked up our co-speaker, brother Wilbur Vyphuis; he is the preacher for the North Road Church of Christ in Georgetown. Not long afterward, we were airborne in a small plane, flying about two hours over the jungle to Lethem on the border with Brazil. Monday through Wednesday evenings, we three conducted a Gospel meeting that was well attended with a little over 100 persons present. All day Tuesday and Wednesday, we presented our seminar, themed to impress upon our Guyanese brethren the need to transition responsibility for evangelizing Guyana from American missionaries to themselves. We also provided suggestions on how to proceed in that regard.
Thursday a little after noon, we three boarded another little airplane and headed back to the coast from where we had come. Upon landing there were two horses at the runway – one of them on the landing strip, which could have severely impacted the safety of our touchdown. However, the horses were nowhere around at liftoff. Aloft on the way from Lethem to Ogle on the coast, our little aircraft literally flew over a rainbow – an uncommon vantage to view God’s creation (Genesis 9:8-17).
Then, we traveled by car southward along the Atlantic coast to 64 Village, the site of our next seminar venue. We were a few minutes late, but were delighted to find a full house. Several surrounding congregations were present and waiting. Brother Wilbur and I shared three lessons with the brethren over the next couple of hours or so. Later, we sought out a restaurant for supper and lodging.
Friday, we continued our seminar with the Church of Christ in 64 Village. We barely had enough time to make it from there following the conclusion of the night’s program to a local television station. Brethren Michael Hooper (my co-speaker in a former year for the nationwide mobile seminar throughout Guyana), Wilbur Vyphuis (this year’s co-speaker), Nigel Milo (the annual program director) and I hosted an hour-long, call-in TV program. We received more calls than we could answer, but each of us took turns and sometimes collaborated to provide biblical answers to religious questions that were posed by callers. This was the first occasion of an extended television presence by evangelist Michael Hooper.
The days ahead promise to be as active and rewarding as days up to now. We hope to be useful tools in the hands of God, to glorify His name and edify souls. Thank you, those of you have helped make it possible for me to be here in harness for our Lord.
Categories: At the Office, Guyana, Literature, Mission Trip, Overseas
Tags: Gospel Gazette Online, Voice of Truth International
Uncharacteristically of me, it has been weeks since my last blog entry. The absence of pen to paper, so to say, does not reflect a void in daily activity in the intervening days between blog entries. On the contrary, more of the same and then some might better describe the coming and going of those weeks.
Chiefly, I have been up to my proverbial eyeballs in literature – proofing, layout, writing, etc. Several simultaneous projects have been and are ongoing. One of the primary areas to which I have been devoting myself has been preparation of The Voice of Truth International #88. Volume 87 is about to be printed (in Hong Kong) and shipped to the States. Significant lead time is necessary for quarterly publication and distribution of this magazine. Especially has that been true this time owing to the impending overseas trips of both sister Betty Choate and myself, her to Asia and beyond, while I make my way to South America.
The fruit of some of my literary labors was realized recently as two of my newest books arrived by tractor trailer outside the World Evangelism Building in Winona, MS. One books is entitled Preaching the Whole Counsel of God to the Whole World, Volume 1; it is a 232 page book of full-sentence sermon outlines, mostly about Jesus Christ. The second title is Christianity: An Explanation; this 300 page book is intended to be a one-stop resource to take a Christian to spiritual maturity. It also could be used for six months of Bible classes or as a reference book.
Sunday, January 24, I taught Bible class and preached for the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, MS. Brother Mike Schmitz who preaches there was ill, and I was more than happy to fill in for him. Happily, though hospitalized for a couple of days, he is on the mend.
As I write this, I am comfortably nestled in my daughter’s living room, enjoying her new furniture. She even gave me the great seat with its electric reclining features. I’m all packed up and ready to leave out of Memphis International Airport in the morning. The first leg of my flight will take me to Miami International Airport. Once there, I will board another flight, which will take me, Lord willing, to Georgetown, Guyana in South America.
For the next five weeks, I will be flying aboard little Cessna and similar planes over jungles as well as riding fast boats up big rivers through those jungles; sometimes, I will travel by land when in coastal areas. Two Guyanese brethren and I will travel to between 15 and 20 venues throughout the entire nation. We will present Gospel meetings and seminars within reach of every congregation of the Lord’s church in the country. We do this annually. Along the way, we have additional teaching opportunities such as teaching high school students and taping TV programs.
I will have my mobile office with me, and when electricity is available, I’ll fire it up in the mornings before the day begins or in the evenings before I retire for the night. Occasionally, I will also have Internet available, which not only will afford me some contact with family and coworkers, but will facilitate transmission of some of the literary projects on which I will be working. For instance, I haven’t even begun working as of yet on the February edition of Gospel Gazette Online; I have just been too busy with other time-sensitive activities.
I’m thankful for the Christians and congregations of the churches of Christ who have made it possible for me to engage in all of these activities, including this mission trip to Guyana. The trip out of the country, if our Lord permits, will last from January 30 through March 8. Prayers will be appreciated.
Categories: At the Office, Back at the House, Good Eats, Guyana, Mission Trip, Overseas, Preaching Appointments
Saturday, January 2, Rebecca and I drove our respective cars from Winona, MS to her Collierville, TN home. She needed to get back home so she would be in place to resume teaching school on Monday, and I was headed to her house to use it as a way station, so I would be in place for a Sunday afternoon preaching appointment.
We made a couple of stops along the way: $1.48 for gas at Murphy USA in Batesville, MS (that was with my 5 cents per gallon discount for using the Walmart credit card), Texas Roadhouse in Horn Lake, MS for “lupper” (too late to be lunch and too early to be supper) and a semi-fruitless stop at a retailer.
Sunday morning, Rebecca and I worshipped at her home congregation, the Collierville Church of Christ. Instead of attending that church’s 1:30 p.m. second service, my daughter and I instead headed out to my 3:30 p.m. appointment with the East Frayser Church of Christ on the north side of Memphis, TN. The former brethren support my missionary efforts monthly, whereas the latter brethren participate with me annually when I visit and occasionally at other times throughout the year. Both churches are a delight with whom to worship God in spirit and in truth; both congregations are great encouragers to me.
Monday, I headed back south the two hours to my Winona home, the parsonage-like arrangement afforded me and for which I am thankful. Stops along the way included purchasing some equipment for my impending mission trip at the end of the month, and of course, buying gas once more. Not only did I feed the car, but I fed me a “lupper” meal at Cracker Barrel in Batesville.
Tuesday, much of the day was consumed traveling the two hours south from Winona to the south side of Jackson, MS for a dental appointment, the appointment itself and the return trip. Apparently, I needed a couple more holes in my head!
I felt so good Tuesday, I remarked silently to myself. I didn’t even wear the wrist brace for my left hand to stave off the excruciating pain that often affects my fingers. My back problems were under control; nothing hurt. However, my fingers hurt all night – entirely disrupting my sleep, and neither over the counter nor prescription meds could diminish the acute, sharp nerve pain. All day Wednesday and into the night, the pain persists. I only hope that wearing the brace day and night for a few days will bring order back to my universe. Now is not the time to consider carpal tunnel surgery as I’m about to leave, Lord willing for five weeks in Guyana, South America; I fly out of Memphis on Saturday, January 30 and return March 8.
Despite painfulness, I managed to make a bank deposit, prepare and mail “Thank You” cards to donors and a few other things. Keeping busy is actually a distraction from the pain and is working better than medicine presently. Other sundry things, naturally, drew my attention at the office, too. For Bible class, I communed with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. As I write this blog entry, it is nearly 11 p.m. I’ve answered correspondence, tended to finances (and realized that I left a receipt for gasoline hanging on the gas pump 35 miles away) and done some domestic chores before I entertain slumber.
Especially tonight, my “blog entry” sounds a lot like “Dear Diary” scribbles. Well, at least whether anyone is interested or reads it, I’m persuaded that it is good therapy for me. Otherwise, it’s almost like being here alongside of me for those who may tune in, follow me (maybe pray for me) and from time to time express encouragement to me.
(The picture above is of Rebecca and one of my sons, Raymond, during the Christmas holiday. I took Raymond – and Rebecca – to Grenada (MS) Lake, but somebody moved it! A lot of it was missing!)
Postscript: By the way, my birthday was Sunday, January 3, too. Nothing special; just another day. It was special, though, because it was the Lord’s Day. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m 62-years-old now.
Categories: At the Office, Back at the House, Children, Family, Good Eats, Good Friends, Guyana, India, Mission Trip, Overseas
Tags: 2015 Mission Trip, Gospel Gazette Online
My son Raymond and my daughter Rebecca made my Christmas Day a much better time than I am sure it otherwise would have been without them. My dear beloved Bonnie who passed away in May would have been 59-years-old this December 25th had she lived till then. Without my children for my benefit and without each of us encouraging each other, the holiday time and birthday time might have bordered on unbearable. We leaned on each other. I didn’t roll out even a single Christmas decoration that for 40 years I had done for my dear wife. Having two of my children with me was all the decoration I needed.
Sunday the 27th, we three drove out to the Old Union Church of Christ meetinghouse earlier than time for Bible class to begin. We purposely afforded ourselves some quiet moments at Bonnie’s gravesite in the cemetery adjoining the quaint, old, white-framed chapel. This was the first time that Raymond had seen the double headstone atop his mother’s grave; someday I presume that my lifeless body will lie once more adjacent to that of my Bonnie.
I was happy to worship with the church family and friends that regularly assemble in the little building and in the clearing amidst the woods and kudzu vines. Not one brother or sister is pretentious but humbly and simply interested only in worshipping God unapologetically in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
Following lunch at the local Winona, MS Chinese restaurant, Raymond loaded the rental car in which he had ridden from Ohio to return thereto. With gladness I greeted his arrival and with a tinge of sadness I watched as he drove away. About 11 hours later, he texted that he had arrived safely.
Monday, I spent several thousand dollars with very little effort. I wired program money to Guyana, South America for the upcoming Annual Nationwide Guyanese Seminars, which will be conducted throughout that country within reach of every congregation of the churches of Christ in Guyana. Lord willing, I depart the USA for that venue on January 30 and return to the States on March 8.
In addition, I mailed a check to India for evangelistic work by one of the seasoned and faithful nationals, an outstanding worker for the Lord. Other funds via check were sent to a stateside world evangelist to hand deliver funds later this year to another locality in India, which will provide for the purchase of Bibles in one of the 800 dialects of that vast nation.
Not done spending money yet, I made substantial deposits over the phone via a credit card for the printing of two of my books. Both of them will be ready in January, which will enable me to take a several of each with me to Guyana – an English speaking country. One tome of 304 pages is titled, Christianity: An Explanation. The shorter volume of 232 pages is Preaching the Whole Counsel of God to the Whole World, and it is comprised of well-organized, full-sentence sermon outlines, mostly about Jesus Christ and His parables.
I still found time to work a little on one of the future volumes of The Voice of Truth International. In addition, from time to time I worked on the first 2016 issue of Gospel Gazette Online.
The next three days, Rebecca and I along with Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Betty Choate prepared packets containing the magazine Global Harvest and other pieces of Christian literature for mailing. Wednesday evening, the Bates and Rebecca and I visited a restaurant in Stewart, MS together to which none of us had ever been. After supping, we continued down to the outskirts of French Camp, MS to assemble with the good brethren of the Huntsville Church of Christ for Bible class.
Thursday, New Year’s Eve wasn’t anything special for Rebecca and me. Though we were awake when the New Year arrived, we were immersed in this or that and didn’t even turn the television on to see how people around the world greeted 2016.
Friday (New Year’s Day) began with an oddity– staying in bed much later than is typical for me. I probably also started a trend to be repeated throughout 2016 when I just had to stop later in the day at the local Walmart. The primary reason for going shopping was to purchase some OxiClean stain remover; New Year’s Eve I discovered that an ink pen had spewed blue ink all over in the dryer and on a load of wash. Rebecca and I spent quite a while experimenting with different solvents and elbow grease to clean up the dryer drum as best we could, but we opted for OxiClean powder and spray, too, hoping for the best before washing again the affected garments. Well, we had mixed results, but we were fortunate, for instance, that we were laundering dark clothes, several of which were casualwear instead of whites, towels or my dress shirts.
In addition, I replaced my toaster; the former toaster that I had used for decades was burning my electrical wall outlet because the cord was overheating. I didn’t want the toaster to be lonely, so I bought an electric can opener, too. Actually, the hand crank can opener fastened to the wall was serviceable and old, but at the same time inconvenient.
More importantly, I published today the January edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year on the Internet. Furthermore, I proofed several chapters of an upcoming class book. Some of these things become very tedious, but I enjoy working with text and doing layout, especially since the outcome is intended for spiritual edification of Christians and non-Christians alike.
Rebecca has been helping me with the finances, particularly with respect to the Rushmore Evangelism Fund. She filled in for me during my 2-month absence for my fall mission trip, and she understands some of the details involved in the software better than I do; that is especially important as we prepare to provide the IRS mandated documentation to 2015 donors. The best I could do to repay her was for us to share a meal at the Huddle House, a restaurant (diner) to which she had never been.
As I write this, a new day is approaching rapidly. It will have its own character. Rebecca and I plan to drive to her home so she will be in place for teaching school on Monday and so I will be positioned for a Sunday morning jaunt to a Memphis speaking appointment. Of course, we will have to eat along the way (at one of my favorite restaurants) before arriving at Rebecca’s domicile. We are also making a delivery of Gospel literature on Saturday in the metropolitan Memphis area.
I remain one who intends always to offer our Lord my best as long as I live, but who also repents when life’s struggle (Romans 7:19) gets the better of me and I miss the mark (Romans 7:23). Lord help me to train my eyes only on the heavenly horizon as this weary pilgrim marches ever forward, attempting to keep himself between the ditches of sin on either side of the straight and narrow highway to glory.
Categories: Preaching Appointments, Travel, Worship
Tags: 2015 Mission Trip, Gospel Gazette Online, Literature, The Church in Prophecy, Voice of Truth International
Friday, December 18 I completed most of the January 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year of publication on the Internet. Furthermore, I directed my attention to two new books of mine to be published over the next few weeks, and I also worked on preparation and layout for some articles to be published tentatively in volume 88 of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 86 just arrived a week or so ago, and volume 87 is at the printers now. So, it is time to work on the next edition. Not only so, but due to my absence again from the States January 30 through March 8, as well as Betty Choate’s absence from the Winona office February 8 through May 15, we may have to prepare for publication up to three future editions of VOTI before we respectively leave the country. Sister Betty is headed abroad to Asian countries, New Zealand and Tasmania, while I on the other hand am heading, Lord willing, to Guyana, South America for five weeks of seminars throughout the entire nation.
Friday evening, my daughter Rebecca finished up teaching school until after the holiday break. She left from school and came to my house, where she will be for the duration of her off days. Monday evening, my son Raymond surprised me by driving all the way down to Mississippi from Ohio. Tuesday, we three cleaned up the massive yard debris contributed by around 20 mature pine trees dotting the property – about five wheelbarrow loads of branches and numerous bushels of leaves and pine needles. While my children raked, I pulled a lawn sweeper behind my tractor lawnmower. That’s the most physical activity I have had since my nearly debilitating back pains had curbed all unnecessary physical exertions. Fortunately, after four months of increasingly heightened pain, finally it has subsided to the point I am hardly taking any pain medicine presently, and only over-the-counter meds are needed right now.
Most of Monday was consumed first by a bone scan at the hospital in Grenada, MS and secondly by grocery shopping, also in Grenada. The store in Winona burned down a few months ago, and it is scheduled to reopen a completely rebuilt structure on the same site in the middle of January. Not wanting to get tangled up in the retail melee at Walmart this time of year, we opted to forgo that venue for a couple of other grocers; we visited Save-a-Lot between my 9 a.m. injection with a radioactive substance and later returning for an hour bone scan beginning around 1 p.m. We purchased non-perishable items and surveyed whether we were content with its offerings. Following my procedure, we bought perishables and some additional grocery items at the Grocery Basket. We drove by Spain’s grocery earlier, but we decided not to stop there because it was one big, chaotic traffic snafu of cars in the lot, and the walkways were awash with a sea of shoppers. Evidently, many people are enamored with that store, but I was far from impressed on this occasion at least with the crush of fellow humans – which is what I was trying to avoid by distancing myself from the Walmart Supercenter at this time of the year.
Sunday morning, I had an appointment with the Tenth Avenue Church of Christ in Columbus, MS. It was my good pleasure to make my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work during the Bible class session. At the worship hour, I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” through the use of another PowerPoint presentation. I have always been well received by these brethren and I have always felt completely at ease and at home with them. When brethren who love the Lord commune together in worship, the fact that they are black and I am white does not even enter into any equation. Everyone with whom I work overseas is of a different race than me, and on one occasion after having spent a month all day and all night with some of those brethren, I identified with them so thoroughly that when someone leveled unwarranted verbal abuse on their race and nationality, I was offended, too – ever so briefly forgetting that I looked more like the misbehaving man than did I resemble the brethren with I was enjoying such an intimate relationship – in Christ.
Sunday evening, Rebecca who accompanied me on my appointments this weekend and I made our way to Baldwyn, MS. We arrived way early for my appointment at the Hillcrest Church of Christ. Part of the time awaiting time for evening worship, we rode through the town of Baldwyn, which really didn’t take very long at all. Back in the parking lot, I fired up my computer and did some office work. Once more, I made my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work, specifically updating the congregation about my recent 8-week mission trip to four Asian nations. Here, too, we were wonderfully received and encouraged.
Every segment of travel on the Lord’s Day was from two to two and a half hours – Winona to Columbus to Baldwyn and back to Winona. We arrived home around 10 p.m. Rebecca is a sports fan, and so we watched her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Denver Broncos; she had recorded the game that occurred earlier in the day.
One might observe that we stayed local, comparatively speaking, this past Sunday – at least traveling within a relatively close circuit all inside Mississippi. Often and recently, too, I travel out of state on my weekend speaking appointments.