Archive for October 2012

Visakhapatnam, India

October 31, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012, Bonnie, Therman Hodge and I traveled by car about three hours from Skinner’s Garden to Visakhapatnam. Our destination was Visakhapatnam. Along the route of travel, we snapped pictures of both the Monkey God and Cobra God idols.

After checking into the Best Western Hotel, we three made the 10-minute journey by car to the Visakha Valley Bible College. Bonnie taught ladies’ classes throughout the day while Therman and I alternated teaching students, alumni and other interested brethren. About 40 ladies attended classes, and men present overflowed the classroom on to the second story balcony.

Over two days, Bonnie taught lessons from her book Living Principles. For three days, I taught Bible Archaeology and Bible Geography. I was even able to show a PowerPoint presentation about Bible Archaeology, though initially thwarted by unreliable electric power. These were lessons from three of my books on the subjects. Therman taught a variety of inspiring lessons from the Bible. I brought a map of Palestine from the USA, and we used a broken piece of plastic conduit for a pointer the first day; subsequent days, we used a broken radio antenna. We have never enjoyed any better attention from our auditors than we had Monday through Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012, classes resumed at 10:00 a.m. for we three at the Visakha Valley Bible College. Tuesday evening, we had a meeting at Sawocram with a congregation newly started about a year and a half ago by a recent graduate of the college. The building in which we assembled was a first for any of us. The meetinghouse was comprised of brick and plaster walls maybe three feet high, on top of which was a thatched roof. Therefore, we had to squat or bow low and waddle through the doorway to enter. Therman preached and I exhorted afterward. One man sat outside and could be seen leaning over to peer at Therman as he presented the Gospel. Mostly denominational people made up the 38 persons present in the small interior of the hut.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012, Therman and I taught once more morning and afternoon at the college; Bonnie had no classes that day. We concluded the day at the school with what seemed like endless pictures. The faculty and students also honored us with shawls and garlands. (Each of the congregational settings to which we had gone so far in India likewise honored us with garland wreathes around our necks.)

Shortly after 7 p.m., we left for an evening meeting at Janata Colony in Visakhapatnam. The rain, wind, thunder and lightning from a cyclone hitting India from the Bay of Bengal finally reached where we were. In the wet, coal black night, we climbed our way for a hundred or so cement steps up a narrow walkway between dwellings to an “upper room” where 60 or more saints had gathered. Two women responded to my preaching and requested baptism; they were baptized at 10 a.m. the following morning owing to the severely inclement weather and lack of opportunity that night to be immersed into Christ.

On the way back down the steep steps, which were dissected by a narrow ramp to accommodate cycles pushed up or carefully eased down it, a sister held an umbrella for me. She was shorter than me and one step down ahead of me – consequently, snagging my head and shoulders with the umbrella and pulling me down the steps faster than I could confidently move my feet behind her without stepping on her. I could just see myself falling headfirst forward and sliding face first down the cycle ramp and until I just crashed and rolled all the way to the bottom. When I suggested that I should hold the umbrella, the sister immediately replied, “No problem” and continued to drag me along by my head. “No problem!” That was easy for her to say!

Brother Samuel Raja Muppidi was so excited about my book Bible Geography that he insisted that he would translate it. Brother Therman Hodge immediately volunteered to fund it through money available to his discretion. Samuel’s son Vijaya Kumar accepted the responsibility of translating, typesetting, layout and seeing it to publication. He is talented in English, Hindi and Telegu languages, as well as in layout and publishing.

Bonnie and I look forward to a long and useful relationship for the Lord between ourselves and Skinner’s Garden and Visakha Valley Bible College – namely through our association with Samuel, his two sons Vijaya Kumar and John Dean as well as their wives and children. The wives are no less talented, and their children are precious jewels that we have come to love dearly.

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Skinner’s Garden, India

October 28, 2012

Skinner's GardenFriday, October 26, 2012, we boarded a jet at the Bangalore airport, en route to Hyderabad. Hours later, we boarded a turboprop airplane bound for Rajamundry. Half an hour late departing and arriving half an hour late, nevertheless, brother Samuel Raja and other brethren greeted us immediately upon our entry into the Rajamundry terminal. From there, an hour’s journey by land, we arrived at Skinner’s Garden, children’s home, widow’s home, church building, Bible school, vocational school, Gospel literature print shop and farm.

MarripudiThat evening we left Skinner’s Garden at 8 p.m. for a Gospel meeting eight kilometers away at the village of Marripudi; we returned to Skinner’s Garden at 10 p.m. Therman Hodge preached and I exhorted (gave the invitation). Ninety-two people showed up with only about four hours’ notice. The little congregation there has its own baptistery, though no one responded this year.

Louis & Bonnie RushmoreSaturday, October 27, 2012, Bonnie did laundry in a bucket and hung it to dry outside; the water tank on the roof overflowed and drenched one side of several pieces of otherwise nearly dry laundry on the line. Bonnie also taught a ladies’ class at Skinner’s Garden with 32 women and girls in attendance. That evening, I spoke at Peddada for a street meeting; 92 combined Christians and denominationals attended. Of those attending, 29 came with us on the Skinner’s Garden bus; the bus was supposed to hold 15 people! Two expressed interest in baptism and local brethren are following up with them. The preacher for this congregation died, and his son is training to be a preacher to resume the work of his father in that village.

Therman HodgeSunday, October 28, 2012, we worshipped in the morning at Bikkavolu about 10 kilometers from Skinner’s Garden. Therman preached and I gave a message for the Lord’s Supper. The attendance was down by 30-40 due to people being away for a holiday, but the building was full – possibly around 150 attending. Upon returning to Skinner’s Garden, we were able to participate in the concluding of worship services at Skinner’s Garden; Therman led the closing prayer.


A little after 7 p.m., we left for a meeting at Medapadu. The congregation assembled in a building still under construction. The bottom level where we assembled was to be the residence for the preacher, and the top level would be the assembly hall when completed. Women sat in the main room, and men sat in an adjoining room off to the side. Electrical wires (220 volt) were strung haphazardly overhead. The power went out briefly, but with my mini laptop, it posed no problem for me to see my notes as I preached.

Medapadu baptismOne woman wanted to be baptized, but she wanted to be baptized with her husband who was not present. When another man wanted to be baptized, the assembly adjourned to the communal bathing and washing ramp to the local river – a couple of blocks away through the maze of houses in the dark of night. Upon arrival there, the woman who expressed interest in baptism met us there with her husband and 17-year-old daughter – all of whom were baptized. A total of four were baptized in the ebony cloak of darkness with only a flashlight and the headlights of a car to illuminate the baptismal pool.

Skinner's GardenThat concluded our stay at Skinner’s Garden this year. We were able to encourage brethren and acquaint non-Christians with the Gospel of Christ. Some of those with whom Christians have been working obeyed the Gospel while we were present. Annoyances but really insignificant were the bug bites, irregular electricity, scarcity of water and the pink, ceramic pedestal sink that dumped the basin water at our feet to run along the base of the wall to a hole to the outside of the building. School at Skinner’s Garden for most children was not in session due to a widespread outbreak of chicken pox among the kids; some were hospitalized.

Bangalore, India Base of Operations

October 25, 2012

Saturday, October 20, we three pilgrims made our way from Singapore by air to India. When we ordered a taxi large enough to accommodate international luggage for three people to take us from the hotel to the airport, we had no idea that we were to ride in a Mercedes Limousine; doubtless, we may never ride in such style again in our lives. We flew from Singapore to Chennai, India – where we had a 6-hour layover in an uncomfortable setting. From Chennai, we flew to Bangalore, where brother P.R. Swamy greeted us as soon as we emerged from the terminal. An hour later, we were settled in an evangelical hostel – not pristine, but serviceable and familiar to Bonnie and me because we stayed there also in 2008.

Bangalore Sunday WorshipSunday, October 21, we worshipped with the Church of Christ formerly of Davis Road. The former building of mud brick has been condemned and is unsafe. Presently, the congregation has rented a second story office area for worship and classes. Therman taught a Bible class and I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Following worship, we three and Swamy had a quick lunch at a Chinese restaurant in which we have eaten past times when in Bangalore. Then, we headed for an afternoon appointment in the city of Hosur two hours away in the State of Tamil Nadu. All attendees were denominational with a Pentecostal persuasion; the preacher and his wife have been converted, and brethren are trying to edify that church to lead them to Christ. Therman taught The All-Sufficiency of the Gospel and I exhorted with the plan of salvation. The number present was about 30, though the throng normally numbers 60. We had supper along the way back to our lodging, arriving about 10 p.m.

Denominational GatheringMonday, October 22, we stirred from slumber early for the day’s journey to our appointments. By 6 a.m., we were en route to Chellakere in the State of Karnataka, 206 kilometers or four and a half hours away. Again, we were with a denominational church of the Pentecostal persuasion where the preacher had been converted recently. I preached The One True Church of the Bible and Therman exhorted. Bonnie and I ate flatbread or chapatti and opted out of other items served. Attending were 33 persons. Departing from there, we went to the family farm of one of the attendees where we drank from coconuts and spied strange-looking bird nests. We arrived back at our hostel around 7:30 p.m.

Ooty Children's HomeTuesday, October 23, we three and Swamy left at 7:30 a.m. for Matlampatti in Tamil Nadu to the relocated Ooty Children’s Home, which Vernon Douglas, son of Swamy, operates. There we had breakfast and a devotional with children and staff – and of course, compulsory picture taking. Next, we continued onward to Salem, another two hours away. There, we found a group of 80 charismatically inclined folks in a second story meeting hall of a YMCA; they were awaiting our arrival. Therman preached and I exhorted.

We left immediately thereafter for a long journey over a mountain through the woods and past monkeys lining the side of the road. About three hours later we arrived at a dead end, one-lane road in a remote, desperately poor village where the Gospel had never been preached before! Attapatti Village (in Tamil Nadu) of 32 children and 45 adults assembled in the meager, one room government school. The room sported one desk and about four plastic chairs. All present were Hindus, and I preached From Creation Until Now, whereupon I taught about the Designer God whose intricate design is evident everywhere, and He gave us instruction in the form of the Bible.

Little hindered by pesky rain, we traveled endlessly to a hotel along the way to our appointment the following day. We paused en route to pray with brethren for a newly acquired meetinghouse and for the prosperity of Gospel efforts in the area. That night, we got to bed at 1 a.m. The lodging was styled as a resort (in Ranipet), and it was perhaps the nicest night respite we have ever enjoyed in India, though I don’t want you to get the wrong idea as though we were basking in luxury – for we were not!

Women's SeminarWednesday, October 24, we drove 45 minutes to Saker for a ladies’ seminar. Bonnie taught morning and afternoon sessions to Christian women from her book Living Principles, while I taught Christian men morning and afternoon about various subjects. By special request, I taught about pragmatic efforts to evangelize various persons with whom local brethren come in contact. They were very attentive and keenly interested in sharing the Christian faith. Therman taught non-Christians in the morning, before parting company with us as he and Swamy went to an appointment in Chennai. About 150 adults plus children were present at Saker. We were meeting there in a marriage hall, and the Hindu priest and owner donated its use our brethren for the day. Remarkable!

There were two baptisms, a man and a woman. Then, we went for lunch at the most unlikely restaurant for an American. Wet banana leaves for plates, we contented ourselves with chapatti while our Indian counterparts feasted on rice to which they added various colors of mushy foods and liquids from five containers carried back and forth between the tables by local servers.

Almost back to Bangalore, our convoy of two cars stopped at a fancy hotel restaurant at 12 midnight for supper. Bonnie and I ate some noodles, and I drank some watermelon juice (I had inquired about watermelon). Therman Hodge arrived back in Bangalore at our lodging about 11:30 p.m., and we arrived back at our temporary home about an hour later. By 1 a.m. we were again on our elevated pallets that pass for beds.

Thursday, October 25, was an unscheduled day. We exchanged currency with respect to the several weeks we have left in various parts of India. We asked our sister assisting us to take us KFC where we ate familiar food with pleasure. I purchased an Internet modem stick to plug into the laptop for connection to the Internet. The work goes on irrespective of where we are on the planet. The same computers we use at the office in Winona, at home, stateside on the road or abroad keep us abreast of our labors respecting publishing, worldwide communication, etc.

That evening, we hosted our hosts to a supper out at the Rice Bowl. Then, we packed for the next leg of our fall mission trip. Onward Christian Soldiers, indeed!

The Singapore Experience

October 19, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012, Bonnie, Therman and I left Yangon for Singapore. Our plane was delayed an hour and a half, which resulted in a change of plans slightly once we arrived in Singapore. Since this year we had a night’s layover in Singapore, for the first time we were to leave the airport. Always in the past, we simply changed airplanes and never left the terminals.

Therefore, I contacted brethren from the Lavender Church of Christ in Singapore and arranged for the three of us to teach special classes on Friday evening. The plan was for a brother to retrieve us from the airport and take us to the hotel we had booked. Later, another brother was to pick us up and take us to the place of meeting for a fellowship meal and two hours of classes.

The lateness of our flight necessitated us being picked up by a Christian brother and to be taken directly to the church’s location. There was not time to check into the hotel, freshen up and change clothes. A quick trip to the restroom enabled me to change my shirt and footwear, and then, it was go as I was.

SingaporeThe Lavender Church of Christ has rented a meeting hall in an office building for Sundays, as well as rented other rooms daily. About 120 brethren meet there, though we had far fewer present for our ad hoc gathering Friday night. Bonnie taught Challenges Facing the Modern Woman, Worker, Wife and Mother. I made my PowerPoint presentation about Bible Archaeology, and Therman taught about Elders. The fellowship was grand, especially the fish and cream puffs were unsurpassed, and we have made new, lasting friends from among brethren not previously known to us personally. Plans are under way for an expanded visit and activities in 2013. Singapore is a beautiful, clean, modern city; its architecture alone is awesome. We are looking forward to our return to Singapore!

The Myanmar Chapter, 2012

October 18, 2012

8-Mile Church of ChristSunday, September 30, we worshipped with two of the congregations in Yangon. Therman and I shared preaching duties. Local brethren graciously afford us those opportunities when we come their way. Brethren meet in homes in Myanmar, which they have done illegally for the past 30 years (Acts 5:29).

Mandalay ClassTuesday, October 1, we three wanderers with sister Winsome flew from Yangon to Mandalay. We lodged in the Nadi Myanmar Hotel as we had the previous year, too. Mornings, afternoons and evenings October 3-5 we taught in Peter’s home – where also the church meets. Attendees included Christians, denominational people and Buddhists. Bonnie taught ladies, while Therman and I alternated in teaching men, or teaching combined classes of men and women.

Palace in MandalayOn one day, we accompanied Therman to the royal palace of the last dynasty prior to British conquest; Bonnie and I had been there before. Unfortunately, the museum was closed that day, but the massive complex surrounded by fortifications and moat was impressive nevertheless. Saturday, October 6, we three from America returned to Yangon by air; Winsome returned the day before to accommodate Betty Choate for a ladies’ class.

Sunday, October 7, Bonnie and I rented a taxi for the 45-minute trip to Hmawbi, whereupon I preached for a group meeting in the home of Kyaw Sein. We were dismayed that our communication failed to reach our brother prior to our arrival, asking that the assembly be move to another building on his property since one of Kyaw Sein’s sons has TB. Not willing to disrupt the worship, Bonnie and I attended the worship and a meal following in that home, just a curtain and a doorway from the ill one. (One of our students at Mandalay in conversation as we stood together informed Therman and me that he has TB and aids!) Later, we traveled beyond Hmawbi to the home a Catholic lady in whose humble preschool Bonnie and I had taught English and Bible to primarily Buddhists one past summer; she showed us hospitality, as she has done annually since our first meeting.

Hmawbi Bible SchoolMonday through Friday, October 8—12, we three pilgrims taught daily at the Hmawbi Bible School. Therman Hodge taught the Book of Hebrews. Bonnie taught ladies The Role of Women, a lesson on the use of our words,  and the Bible character Lydia from her book, Living Principles. I taught classes on The Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues.

Scotts Market CafeSaturday, October 13, Winsome escorted us to Scott’s Market, where each year we delight in the sights of wares inexpensive to costing small fortunes. Bonnie and I purchase souvenirs, which we give away as tokens of appreciation to brethren stateside when they lodge us overnight in their homes or feed us along the way as we travel to acquaint congregations about our mission work. We picked up some jade bracelets, carved wood hand stands and wood fans this year; we did not, for the first time ever, buy any little jade elephants. We ate at a market café, which many in America would not believe. We braved unfamiliar foods for a pittance of kyats, about $1 each person plus soft drinks – familiar brands, howbeit, with unfamiliar tastes.

Delta CongregationSunday, October 14, Bonnie, Therman and I worshipped at the 8-mile church in the home of Winsome and her mother Sheila. After, we three traveled to the delta area outside of Yangon for worship with Hnin Maung.

Monday through Thursday, October 15-18, Bonnie, Therman and I taught daily at the residence of Kyaw Sein. Our attendees were Buddhists and denominational people mostly. One Buddhist in particular was especially difficult to say the least. Finally, his friend Kyaw Sein told him that he was Satan. After our protester identified himself as an unreasonable man, I refused to spend any more time with him providing biblical answers to what I had hoped were honest answers for a truth-seeker (1 Peter 3:15; Matthew 7:6; Luke 9:5). Due to the TB illness in the dwelling, we moved the classes to a second building on the property, which was comprised of various building materials (i.e., wood, bamboo, metal sheeting and brick). Therman and I taught in a small room with a dirt floor. Bonnie taught ladies in another room with an elevated concrete floor. Young people from around the country lodge there while attending university classes in the Yangon area. The building was not sealed from the outside, had no doors and there were no window panes.

RestaurantOn one of the days for lunch, we were taken to the neighborhood, one outdoor table, small, bamboo hut restaurant. I’m always excited in a less than stellar way about eating in Asia, and some places more than others. The menu was fried chicken rice, a mysterious soup, curry chicken and a green leafy vegetable in oyster sauce. I abstained from the last menu item and was chided for that; however, Bonnie, Therman and Kyaw Sein all became ill – possibly from the oyster sauce. There is no refrigeration, and neither is there much opportunity for sanitary conditions in food preparation where we were. Bonnie was ill for a week, but trudged on all but the first day of her illness. The husband and wife proprietors were so proud that we were eating in their restaurant and took a picture of us seated there; I expected to see a banner of the photo hanging as advertising the next time we passed by.

The three of us overlapped one day with Wayne Barrier as he arrived. Then, Friday, October 19, Wayne left for Kalay, Myanmar while we three musketeers flew to Singapore.