Archive for November 2015

Hanging Virtual Paper

November 30, 2015
Wearing Tribal Garb in Myanmar (2015)

Wearing Tribal Garb in Myanmar (2015)

I capped off Monday, November 30, 2015 by hanging virtual paper on the Internet with the publication of two projects: the December issue of Gospel Gazette Online and the December edition of the Rushmore Newsletter. Hopefully, no one has a virtual bird cage and attempts to line it with these virtual papers!

Busy day! Drove two hours or so from Tennessee to my Winona, Mississippi residence. Bought some groceries. Got an oil change for the car. Finished the printed version of the Rushmore Newsletter and sent the digital files to a printing company in Michigan. Did a little bit of office work. Published to the Internet both Gospel Gazette Online and the Rushmore Newsletter, as well as sent notices about both of them to thousands of subscribers. These latter accomplishments were achieved from the comfort of my easy chair in my living room.

It is nearly time to retire for the evening so I can apply myself to a battery tasks for the coming new day, if the Lord wills that both a new day is forthcoming and that I will be alive and able to meet it head on. The hymn, “Work, For the Night Is Coming,” along with the Bible verse, John 9:4, encourages Christians to seize the moment. “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (NKJV). Otherwise, the children of God, of whom I am merely one, must devote ourselves to “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16). After all, “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Hit the Ground Running!

November 23, 2015

Mission EmphasisTuesday evening November 17, my daughter Rebecca retrieved me from the Memphis, TN International Airport and carted me to her Collierville, TN home. For me, it helps to mitigate jetlag somewhat for it to be time to go to bed upon arrival back in the States. Then also, when I awake too soon for the stateside time zone, I force myself to stay in bed and at least rest for the next four hours or so.

Wednesday evening, I happily renewed my Christian friendships with the good brethren of the Collierville Church of Christ, where Rebecca has worshipped for nearly the past two decades, and which is one of my monthly supporters. The auditorium Bible class was taught by a young man who is a student at Memphis School of Preaching, from which I graduated just less than 40 years ago.

Saturday morning, Rebecca and I took the Chrysler Town & Country van on its first outing since I left for my fall Asian mission trip two months ago. However, it got a little warm up as Rebecca used it to pick me up at the airport; with my hurting back, she surmised that the bigger vehicle would be kinder to me than her smaller car.

Eight and a half hours after departing Collierville, we arrived at the home of sister Barbara and brother Robert Wright in Charleston, TN. Annually, they have hosted Bonnie and me before my wife’s passing, and they continue to extend their hospitality to me; this was the second time that Rebecca likewise had enjoyed their gracious kindness, too.

Sunday morning, we all worshipped together with the Central Church of Christ in Cleveland, TN; this congregation also is one of my monthly supporters. After lunch and at the 1:30 p.m. worship period, it was my privilege to speak and present a PowerPoint about my recent 8-week foray into four Asian countries to teach and preach the Gospel of our dear Lord Jesus Christ.

Afterward, Rebecca and I boarded our Gospel chariot and pointed it toward my Winona, MS home, which I had not seen for over two months. Seven and a half hours later, we pulled up into the driveway of my residence. Wearily, we extracted from the car only the necessities and ambled into the house. Shortly thereafter, we were both in bed for some much needed rest and sleep. I could not have made the journey all the way home that night without my daughter driving the last 200 miles. The trip back was a day’s work in itself atop of the aforementioned activities, coupled with lingering fatigue from just recently returning from 12 time zones away on the other side of our planet.

The trek back to Winona in a way resembled travel by plane. We crossed through portions of the states of Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi along our homeward path. Whew! I’d be even more tired just thinking about it if it weren’t that such travel is standard fare for the mission reporting and biblical lessons I present particularly across much of the eastern USA annually. Now, to catch up on a myriad of things that could not be accomplished in my mobile office on planes and in hotel rooms across the globe!

I’m Back!

November 19, 2015
Open Air Bulk Foods with Scale (New Delhi)

Open Air Bulk Foods with Scale (New Delhi)

Whew! Eight weeks behind me, my foray into Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India concluded with my return to the USA on November 17 – one very long day! On the calendar and according to time zones, I left Bangalore, India on Tuesday (2:45 a.m. India time) and arrived back in America on Tuesday (7:07 p.m. CST), though there were 28 hours of air travel and layover crammed into the day. I had been up for additional hours the day before without a night’s rest and didn’t get into bed after arriving in Memphis, TN immediately upon touchdown. Altogether, I was up, except for snoozing on the planes, for nearly 50 hours! Being tired and getting back to the United States in time for going to bed has helped me greatly to readjust to the stateside time zones. There is an 11½ hour difference in time zones, a complete switching of night and day between here and there. India gets its days half a day before we do here in the States; for instance, when it’s Saturday night in America, it is already Sunday morning in Asia.

There was concern that the terrorist attacks in Paris, France and the subsequent closure of the country’s borders would derail my return to the USA since I was to fly through Paris. However, not only did my scheduled flight fly on time, there was no difficulty changing planes in Paris either. The ride from Bangalore to Paris, though, was an extremely rough 10½-hour flight as we skirted the war zones of Syria and Afghanistan while aloft over Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, etc. and above some of the world’s tallest mountains. The 9-hour journey from Paris to Atlanta, GA was smooth flying, but the landing of a commuter jet in Memphis, TN was shaky at best as severe winds tossed the craft violently about even as we approached the tarmac. The only snags in the trek home were my sharp back spasms and my checked back didn’t fly with me from Atlanta to Memphis.

On part of the flights homeward, I was able to work on the December issue of Gospel Gazette Online. Sometimes I seem to get more office work accomplished while overseas than I do in a comparable amount of time in the USA. Any down time abroad I have few options with which to occupy myself in my lodging in the mornings before the day officially begins or at night before I sleep. Therefore, I turn to writing and proofing literature (e.g., The Voice of Truth International, Gospel Gazette Online, books, tracts, etc.). In addition, there are fewer distractions competing for my attention.

I am recuperating at my daughter Rebecca’s home for a few days before my stateside travels resume on Sunday with a trip to Cleveland, TN. There are plenty of things on which to catch up here on which I will be working my mobile office from her living room until I return to Winona, MS.

I’m back! Over the next few days I will be making appointments to speak at churches of Christ from state to state, finalizing my newsletter for publication, preparing books for printing, publishing to the Internet the December edition of Gospel Gazette Online and attending to a myriad of ordinary and routine things.

Homeward Bound

November 15, 2015
Church of Christ (Bangalore, India)

Church of Christ (Bangalore, India)

September 23rd, I left my homeland for Asia, stopping first for parts of three days in Singapore. Upon leaving there, to Myanmar (Burma) I went, whereupon I stayed for three weeks. From there, I traveled to Sri Lanka and was there parts of three days. Lastly, I flew to India, whereupon I traveled by car, train and plane to various locations. Now on November 15th, I am on the verge of returning to the USA; I am homeward bound. Strangely, it took parts of three days to arrive in Asia, but it will only take one calendar day to return to the States – with no less hours involved than when I came to this side of the planet.

My homeward route of travel will have me circumnavigate the world – travel all the way around the earth. In addition, upon leaving Bangalore, India the plane on which I’m to be a passenger is scheduled to fly to Paris, France – the site of a recent terrorist attack and the subsequent closure of France’s borders. If everything works according to my itinerary, I will fly from Paris to Atlanta, GA, before continuing onward to Memphis, TN. That one long, long day is supposed to be November 17th. I’m ready to return home, though shortly, I must prepare for my next overseas foray, this time to South America for five or six weeks.

Brother P.R. Swamy

Brother P.R. Swamy

Today (the Lord’s Day, November 15, 2015), I met with the Lord’s church in Bangalore for Bible class, followed by worship just as Christians observed in accordance with divine instruction nearly 2,000 years ago. I was afforded the opportunity to preach (“Worshipping Almighty God with Reverence and Godly Fear”). Afterward, brother P.R. Swamy and I dined at his favorite Chinese restaurant (and one of the few eateries in India that does not necessitate setting my taste buds and stomach on fire with Indian spices). Don’t tell anyone, but we each (both of us diabetics) treated ourselves to one scoop of Baskin Robbins ice cream before returning to his home.

For the balance of the day, I expect to open my mobile office – working on the December edition of Gospel Gazette Online, working on my December newsletter and making a PowerPoint presentation to highlight my work and the recent 8-week endeavor in four Asian nations. My first appointment upon my return is the very first Lord’s Day after I get back to the United States. Of course, I will have to at least think about packing for the flight home. Hopefully, a package of Chin language Bibles will arrive Monday so I can take them back with me, as a precursor to taking them with me next year to Myanmar for distribution; my second checked bag will, then, be a box of Bibles.

Thank you friends, brethren and churches who not only have sent me abroad, but who also have made it possible for me to return home, too. In another sense, I am homeward bound, not to the USA, but the residence of our Heavenly Father. Let none of us become so attached to God’s green earth that we could better be characterized as homesteaders instead of as pilgrims on the march, looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. Let’s go to our Father’s home together!

Tamil Nadu Trip

November 14, 2015
assembly of blind people

assembly of blind people

Tuesday, November 10th, brother P.R. Swamy and I traveled by car several hours from Bangalore, India in the state of Karnataka to Namakkal in the state of Tamil Nadu. On Wednesday in Namakkal, we assembled with several dozen HIV positive women in the morning and with dozens of Christians later in the day at the 5th floor (no elevator or lift) rented hall of the Lord’s church in that city. In each case, hours were devoted to the presentation of messages from God’s Word. Several persons in the afternoon session expressed a desire to be baptized into Christ.

96 dpi 4x6 Triuttani 1

seminar assembly

Thursday morning, we met with a very large contingent of blind people in the same location as the day before. Once more, hours were devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel. That afternoon, we drove to Paramathi-Velur to meet another congregation of the church, whereupon again we imparted Bible messages for hours. Here, too, some opted to be immersed into Jesus Christ. That evening we drove a considerable distance in dangerous rain (that resulted in the deaths of scores of people) to another city on our way to the site for Friday’s efforts with the Gospel.

96 dpi 4x6 children 1

pretty precious little one

Friday morning after continuing our journey, we met with the Tiruttani Church of Christ. Once again, several hours were allotted to us for teaching the Gospel of Christ. There also several volunteered to be baptized.

In the middle of the afternoon, we pointed the car toward Bangalore, arriving back at brother Swmay’s home around 8:30 p.m. local time. Lessons presented by me over those days included “Male Leadership,” “Male Leadership in the Home,” “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind Today,” “Pain and Suffering” and three lessons on the “Parables of Christ.”

Approximately 20 precious souls put our Lord on in baptism, and we contributed to the edification of Christians, too. I fulfilled my undertaking as a mailman for God, and some of you provided me with the opportunity to do so by your moral support and financial participation. Thank you.


Travel Days

November 9, 2015

96 dpi 5x6 India landscape 1Monday, November 9, 2015 was a travel day to be followed by another travel day, too. A little after noon, I traveled by car about an hour from Kakinada, India to the airport at Rajamundry. From there I flew aboard a turboprop plane to Hyderabad to catch another flight to Bangalore. Each segment of my journey was an hour long: to the first airport, first flight, second flight and ride from the destination airport. Add to that a couple hours of layover between flights and that was my day.

The dinky Rajamundry airport was trying extra hard today. First, my checked bag had to be searched. Then at another security checkpoint my carryon bag had to be searched as well. I had a hard time getting everything in those respective bags without jumbling the contents about and trying to shove them back in and zipper them shut. Uuugghh! I really started talking to myself, telling me to exercise patience and remain calm.

At my lodging in the home of the Swamy family, cleaned up for bed, from my room I finished the November issue of Gospel Gazette Online and sent out reminders to nearly 1,800 subscribers.

Past midnight now, I’m about to turn in for the night. Tomorrow (later today), brother P.R. Swamy and I will travel nearly five hours to Namakkal in the state of Tamil Nadu. Wednesday through Friday, I will speak to three congregations of the Lord’s church, a group of blind people and to a group of women with HIV. Saturday, we will return to Bangalore; Sunday, I will worship with the church there.

It won’t be long that my eight-week foray into four Asian countries will come to a close, and I will return to the USA. I love what I am doing and earnestly hope that thereby I am glorifying the name of God and edifying all those with whom I come in contact. Many of you make my efforts possible; thank you.

Dateline: Kakinada, India

November 8, 2015

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Kakinada on the Bay of Bengal became my home for a week of teaching in the annual lectureship there. Abreast of Telegu and Tamil speaking preachers, along with brother Roger Wright from the USA, I was privileged to present seven biblical lessons. Several hundred attended each session right to the very last speech, and over the course of the week, over 4,000 brethren sauntered in and out according to their opportunities to be there.

Several denominational preachers in attendance decided to be baptized. In addition, of particular tender interest to me was the baptism of a blind man. He had to trust someone to lead him to ascend masonry steps on the outside of the outdoor baptistery and descend similar steps on the inside. Then, he had to rely on the one baptizing him to submerge him and resurrect him from the watery grave. That kind of faith, not only in Jesus Christ but in the genuineness of ones leading him into and out of the water, is very humbling. We all so confidently respond to the Gospel call.

Saturday, I accompanied brother Wright to a village where an Indian preacher lives that he and his wife have been supporting for several years. On the Lord’s Day, I taught the adult Bible class in the second-story auditorium – an “upper room” (Mark 14:15).

Tomorrow, it is on to the next venue. It will be a travel day, some by land on either end of the trip and aboard two small planes as well in the middle of the trek. Nine more days to go before returning to the USA, and still there remains much ahead in the Indian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nada.

New Delhi, India

November 2, 2015

AaronDateline: New Delhi, India. Friday and Saturday, October 30-31, the New Delhi Church of Christ hosted a seminar with respondents to the Hindi TV program in mind; about eight attended of the hundreds of souls who have requested literature previously following the airing of various programs. Another approximately 18 members of the church also took advantage of the offering. Lessons that I presented included “The One True Church of the Bible,” “Which Covenant,” “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind Today” and “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification & Sanctification.” Indian brothers presented messages, too.

Sunday, of course, Christian brethren assembled for the Lord’s Day worship, as well as for a Bible class study. Two congregations representing different language groups assemble weekly at the same time in different parts of the meetinghouse. This week, though, they combined to literally fill the downstairs chapel with about 70 persons.

It was my pleasure to dwell for several days with Vinay and Reshma, and their four-year-old boy – a sure enough loveable bundle bursting with unbridled energy. The little one became my new best friend, or I became his, as a result of me playing with him and giving him some attention. Aaron bemoaned my pending departure and cried himself to sleep the night before my early morning exit for an airport once more.

I didn’t get to bed until 1 a.m., and I rose at 4 a.m. to ready myself for the trip toward Kakinada, India on the Bay of Bengal. Forty minutes later, unimpeded by traffic at that hour, I checked in with the airline on which I was to travel. There was some kind of unknown error that prevented me from either checking in online or at a kiosk. However, that led to me being escorted to the front of the line at a premier counter to sort things out – and speed me on my way. Security was fast enough, only slowed by the queue of people snaking through the artificial maze leading up to the checkpoint.

As I had prayed and earnestly hoped, no hindrances presented themselves. First, I flew from New Delhi to Hyderabad, and after a reasonable layover, secondly, I flew aboard a turboprop this time to Rajamundry. There upon my emergence from the terminal brother Ricky Gootam snagged my luggage and me for an hour’s ride to his home. Before the journey, though, we hugged as good friends and brethren do.

As I pen this, I have been made royally welcome and I am enjoying comfortable accommodations in the family home. For a week I will commune with hundreds of brethren day and night in an annual lectureship. My lonely and briefly sad moments will be chased away again by activity and fellowship. Stay tuned for an update some days from now; next Monday, I move once more to another part of India.

Onward Christian Soldiers!

November 2, 2015

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My travel to New Delhi from Sri Lanka by plane on October 19 was uneventful. I happened upon a Burger King before my flight, and I was perfectly pleased to sample a cheeseburger, fries and soft drink prior to my airship voyage, even though I had not eaten breakfast very long before; opportunity encouraged me to push the two meals closer together than what was necessary.

The New Delhi airport is a big place crammed full of travelers flitting here and there in every direction. Similar to the circumstance Singapore, at first I had trouble meeting up with my brother charged with my retrieval, in this case Vinay David. The aeronautical journey between the two countries took three and a half hours, but the taxi ride from the airport to Vinay’s New Delhi residence took three additional hours because of the oozing along, bumper to bumper traffic jam.

Immediately the next day, brethren Vinay, his father, brother Francis, and I embarked on a train ride that rivaled the nearly 12-timezone jaunt on three airliners from the USA to Singapore weeks earlier; since we took the express train, it only took 17 hours to reach our terminus in central India. Then, we traveled another three hours to Korba where we would lodge for several nights. I had intended to make good use of the downtime aboard the train by setting up my mobile office, but the rocking motion of the carriage threatened me with nausea when I tried to read, and so I had to give that up shortly after commencing. However, at nights and before breakfast in my hotel accommodations I not only reviewed my lessons to teach, but I also faithfully worked on preparation of literature for publication.

It so happened that we snagged an older sleeper coach, which was severely infested with roaches, to the dismay of all three of us. Finally after killing off as many trespassers as we could, we resigned ourselves to sleep despite the uninvited guests and bedfellows.

Our final destination was near Korba at Balco, India. There, a congregation of about 70 members and additional family members and visitors totaling around a 150 assemble regularly in a modest, well-kept masonry meetinghouse. The church and we allotted about 27 hours over four days for a seminar and the Lord’s Day worship. I turned heads and sparked conversations in both towns as I was the only white person to be seen in this part of India to which westerners apparently do not often come. Many in attendance slept on the stone floor of the auditorium for several nights to afford themselves of the opportunity to be a part of the 4-day seminar; we provided up to two meals daily for the wayfarers. We also provided an abundance of literature to satiate the spiritual appetite, too.

Lodging for us was satisfactory in a coffeehouse/hotel in Korba. It was the first time, though, that I stayed in a room that was secured with a bolt and a padlock on the hallway side of the door. A slightly sadistic sort of a fellow could have roamed the halls sliding the bolts closed on the doors and flipping the whole-room electrical power switches off outside the rooms; I quickly dismissed the fleeting thought from my mind.

Not infrequently, Indians misspell my name or break it up; here I turned into “Lousi” and brother Vinay nearly turned into a devil with the spelling, “Devid.” Nevertheless, no place that I have ever been anywhere on the planet did I make so many instant and earnest friends. I found so many aspects of my visit truly remarkable. Attendances typically amounted to around 200 people, some of whom came from distances. Attendees included church members, Hindus and denominational people. Eight precious souls, men and women, obeyed the Gospel while I was there, though their decisions were not based on my presence; they were quietly immersed in an isolated stream away from any of we three travelers, owing to sensitivity of the political state of affairs.

Members of the local congregation were formerly Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Hindus; two members were Hindu priests. They both destroyed their residential idolatrous shrines, and one of them went so far as to destroy Hindu temples that he had constructed in the surrounding communities. In addition, this dear brother gave property to the church to enable it to construct the meetinghouse abutting his home, and he provided to the church elsewhere property for a cemetery for Christians. Another former Hindu surrendered his past occupation of making Hindu idols.

One family in particular and their Christian neighbors took possession of us daily to uphold us, make us feel welcome and to feed us. Mealtime, though, sometimes was as late as 10:30 p.m., a little later than my norm. Brethren took endless pictures with me, and if even half of them make it to Facebook, surely we will break it!

Our program theme was “Male Leadership in the Church and in the Home.” This involved the organization of the Lord’s church as well as God’s plan for the home. On the Lord’s Day, lessons that I presented concerned not forsaking the assembly and what follows becoming a Christian.

With some apprehension I departed America for this two month foray into four Asian countries. With some misgivings I boarded the never-ending train ride. Along the way at times I quizzed myself as to what I was doing over here, particularly so soon after the passing away of my beloved Bonnie; even yet, tears and sorrow visit me briefly from time to time. Overall, though, it has been good for me to be abroad in harness for our Lord Jesus Christ. Three weeks and two days remain before my scheduled return trip to the USA. Tomorrow, I board a train once more for the return trip to New Delhi.

I lost phone connectivity as soon as the train left Delhi, and I have not had any Internet available. Therefore, I have been running dark – out of communication – for these several days, except for when I borrowed a phone to call my daughter Rebecca to assure her that I am fine. Brethren in Balco are reluctant to let me go and anxious for my return; Lord willing, I will return to my friends and brethren in the future. Thank you if you had a part in sending me overseas for Christ.