Philip & Parete & Me at Hmawbi Bible School
I left on Thursday, October 3, 2013 for Myanmar, formerly called Burma, and I returned to the USA on Wednesday, October 23. It sounds odd, but it took me parts of three calendar days to get there and only one calendar day to make the trip back to the States. Even stranger, it took between 24 and 28 hours of travel each way. The trick is that on the way home, I crossed the International Date Line flying eastwardly—back in time! My first of three planes left Yangon (formerly Rangoon) about 11 a.m. Myanmar time, and I arrived in Memphis, TN at midnight the same calendar day.
Over the three weeks in Myanmar, I taught a total of about 50 hours. For two weeks of classes Monday through Friday, I taught four hours daily at the Hmawbi Bible School in a jungle setting 45 minutes from Yangon. I was assigned to teach three courses: Basic Principles of English, Church Planting Principles and Elementary Greek. In addition, I taught several lessons on Christian Evidences, Response to Calvinism and Salvation Summary.
Fall 2013 Hmawbi Bible School
Students and preachers totaled a little less than 30. About half attending this year were not members of the Lord’s church, but were denominational persons plus one retired military man who was a Buddhist. Everyone voluntarily participated, including the Buddhist (except for singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, whereupon he sat silently with his eyes closed).
This year I preached for two congregations each Sunday for two weeks, and on the third week I preached for another congregation outside of Yangon in the Delta. The two days prior to me returning home, I taught about four hours daily at a house church in the Delta. Attendees were Christians, denominational people and Buddhists. My taxi driver for the three days spent in the Delta was a Baptist; I gave him one of my recently translated and printed tracts on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, he stayed all day for the classes.
At both venues, several denominational people showed keen interest in biblical truth. Especially one Methodist woman exclaimed that her church didn’t “teach the biblical facts” (her words) that we studied in the seminar. The Hmawbi Bible School conducts classes for five weeks in the spring and five weeks in the fall over three years to cover a curriculum. Over the next few weeks as other American brethren as well as Burmese brethren interact with the ones at school, I sincerely hope some denominational friends will obey the Gospel. Likewise, the preacher in the Delta with whom I worked will follow up with prospects in attendance for that seminar.
Bible Reading during break
For two reasons, I only brought a pair of rubber-like sandals with me on this mission trip. Anticipating the need to remove my footwear going through airport security screenings was one purpose for this choice—howbeit, I wasn’t required to remove footwear this year. Secondly, one needs to remove his shoes before entering either a home or a place of worship in Myanmar; we also removed our sandals before entering the second floor classroom at the Hmawbi Bible School. Hence, I preached and taught barefoot for three weeks! By the way, at least half of the time in Myanmar, I wore the traditional longi that both men and women wear—instead of trousers on men that is traditional in western society.
Fish & Chicken Market
The mission trip to Myanmar was a useful endeavor, both to strengthen brethren and to acquaint non-Christians with Bible truths. It was, however, lonely without Bonnie at my side, and she was sorely missed especially by the women who would have benefited from her classes. Due to her ongoing recovery and chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, Bonnie was unable to travel abroad with me this year, and I shortened my fall missionary trip from the usual seven weeks to three weeks so I could return to her side more quickly.
Bless her heart for not only allowing me to be gone from her during this critical time, but also for her encouragement for me to go on this foreign trip (as well as the three-week trip in February of this year, too). We look forward to resuming our foreign travel together in February of 2014 when we return for three or four weeks to Guyana, South America. Thank you for making it possible for us to serve the Lord in world evangelism and teaching particularly brethren stateside and abroad.