Archive for March 2016

Work Day, Load Day, Boy Song Leaders

March 31, 2016

loaded vanWednesday, March 30 was a multifaceted day. First thing, brother Jerry Bates and I loaded my van from the back bumper to the front seats with literature and Bibles; the seats fold completely under the floor, and I readied them for this purpose before I left the house. Included in the load were about 2,000 copies of volume 86 of The Voice of Truth International, the one with memorial information for Bonnie Rushmore on the back cover. These will be distributed to every congregation in Guyana, South America and used for outreach among non-Christians. Also, thousands of tracts and 40 Bibles are in the mix, and these are being sent on behalf of a congregation in Florida to a missionary they support in Mabaruma. Thousands of additional tracts, hundreds of books (mostly for preachers and church leaders), songbooks, lectureship books, miscellaneous Christian books, communion cups and suchlike are aboard as well. My little freighter will haul all of it to a shipping company in Nashville, TN for shipment to Guyana.

Rushmore Newsletter March 30Around 10 a.m., several Christians from the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS arrived at the World Evangelism Building to help prepare the Rushmore Newsletter for mailing. Counting sister Paul and brother Jerry Bates and myself, there were a total of eight of us. Ages ranged from a precocious 10-year-old to “none of your business.” Together, we made short work of the job, enabling me to get it to the Post Office the same day. We rewarded ourselves with takeout pizza that I fetched from the local Pizza Hut.

In addition, I rewarded myself with a little nap back at the house, though I didn’t actually go to sleep. I was unable to sleep very well the night before, and besides, I wanted to clean up after the day’s activities, especially loading and reloading my van. The tire sidewalls were touching the pavement and the tires were rubbing the car body sometimes. I unloaded some things – not my shipment – and Jerry and I redistributed the weight more evenly. I still drug the bottom of the car in a parking lot later in the day.

West President Boys SongleadingWednesday evening, I assembled with the saints at the West President Church of Christ. The evening was dedicated to young boys practicing being in front of the congregation and “leading” some songs. I snapped a picture of a cutie with my camera phone. A Christian youth also presented the devotional and extended the Lord’s invitation. It’s good being with God’s people, irrespective of the occasion for the coming together. Of course, it is good to groom young people for future service and devotion to the Lord’s church.

Thursday, I start out for a several-day road trip, making a huge circle, to Tupelo, MS; Nashville, TN and Huntsville, AL. Have computer, will travel and set up my office anywhere I please. The workday and the place varies, but I live to serve irrespective of the task at hand or where it may be. Thank you for making that possible.

 

Bored, I Am Not!

March 27, 2016

March.pubI’m not a numbers man; numbers are not my friends. I much prefer alphabet characters – literary things. However, I’m about to drown in that, too. A few days ago, I published to the Internet the March edition of Gospel Gazette Online, and I am working on the April issue now. A day or so ago, the March Rushmore Newsletter arrived from a printing company, and on Tuesday the postcard inserts are scheduled to arrive from another printing company. I plan to prepare the newsletter for mailing and send it out later this week to about 1,100 readers; tonight, I published to the Internet the March issue of the Rushmore Newsletter and apprised over 600 digital recipients of its availability. In addition, I have been working on other literary projects, and it will soon be time to layout another issue of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 87 is on its way from Hong Kong, while Volume 88 is being printed now.

Later this week also, I plan to take thousands of copies of The Voice of Truth International to Nashville to a shipping company. Thousands of tracts and hundreds of books, too, will need to be hauled to Nashville. Three or four shipping barrels will be laden with Bibles and Gospel literature for Guyana, South America. Furthermore, along the way, I will be driving to stateside appointments for speaking on Sundays; first, I will be going to Huntsville, Alabama. Presently, I am populating my calendar with appointments over the next few months.

Jerry Bates has been overseas for weeks, and Paula lately went to visit grandchildren in Arkansas; Betty Choate is still globetrotting around Asian countries, and I have been in and out of the office here in Winona. One thing I refuse to do is to get or be bored!

Might Have Preached Toooooo Longgggg!

March 22, 2016

Well, try as I will, I simply cannot bring myself to adopt the computer regime predominantly of younger generations than me. I bought an IPad to replace my minicomputer that for years I have used primarily for electronic notes from which to teach and preach – stateside and abroad. For a lifelong PC user, “there ain’t nut’in about it that was familiar.” How I could have missed something so drastically different when I was considering the purchase, I don’t know. Though I managed to put files on the IPad through a cloud-based intermediary, what a nuisance that is compared to transferring files from computer to computer. Another formidable disappointment was to find that essentially Apple products spray files indiscriminately into one huge holding cell distinguished only by file type – user-designated categories and organization afforded through folders is gone. I liked the IPad Pro, and it is a healthy workhorse, no doubt, but it simply is not for me.

Saturday, March 19, after my daughter Rebecca headed homeward from my house after Spring Break, I launched out in the opposite direction to the Madison, MS Best Buy. It was easier to exchange the IPad and its accessories than it was to obtain it in the first place from multiple Best Buy locations on either side of the Tennessee-Mississippi state line a week earlier. I settled for the second best tablet according to Consumer Reports – a Samsung. Slowly, it and I are becoming friends, and I will do with it some of the things presently done on my phone and on my computer, in addition to it serving as a repository and a sort of teleprompter for my lessons and sermons.

Parting from the metropolitan Jackson, MS area, I drove east on I-20 to Newton, MS. There, I lodged at the Thrifty Inn. The name sounds like something from an old country song, but the proprietors are originally from Mumbai (formerly Bombay, India). It was modest, somewhat worn, priced right and clean. It was comfortable enough, although, I simply could not get a good night’s rest – no fault of the lodging.

96 dpi 4x6  Louis RushmoreSunday morning, I continued another 17 miles north to Union, MS to meet with the church of Christ in that town for worship. The congregation is one of my moral and financial supporters in my labors for our Lord in this country and overseas. Nowhere I go do I receive a warmer welcome than from the Union Church of Christ. Many of the women give me hugs and most of the men make a point of shaking (my hand) me in.

During Bible class, I used the brethren as test subjects – unleashing on them 30+ PowerPoint slides in a little over 30 minutes. I summarized mostly in pictures the three months I spent at the end 2015 in India, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma) plus the five weeks recently I spent in Guyana, South America. I hadn’t shown those mission trips together before.

For worship, I preached one of the primary lessons from my participation in the recent Annual Nationwide Guyana Mobile Seminars. I taught about “Desiring and Striving for Growth.” The song leader was a prophet, evidently; he inadvertently announced the invitation song for “this afternoon.” I did barely conclude about five minutes prior to noon! In Guyana, we presented up to 16 hours of seminar and Gospel meeting lessons, and I only presented one hour in Union, MS!

Funny how we humans view time. Even in Guyana, brethren most removed from the hustle and bustle of city life are the ones who even insist on longggg sermons, while urban dwellers along the coast are much more time conscience. I guess I’m still in overseas mode! Abroad in some places to which I go, if a preacher stops too soon, somebody else will get up and start preaching a whole different sermon.

Rick Benson & Louis Rushmore

Rick Benson & Louis Rushmore

Well, if I preached too long, I won’t do it again next week – at least at that location. Brother Rick Benson said he couldn’t get away with long sermons, and he is one of the elders! Really, no one complained, and everyone was as hospitable following worship as they were before. Of course, we were all favorably distracted by the monthly fellowship meals after worship – and I got to go first in line!

Sunday evening, I worshipped with my sponsoring congregation, the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the south side of Jackson, MS. I don’t see them often enough, living two hours north of Jackson in Winona and traveling frequently in this country and out of the country. The elders, deacons, preachers and members in general hold up my hands and provide invaluable encouragement to me. I am so fortunate to sustain the relationship that I have with these good brethren.

Later, I made my lonely way back to my home in the dark of night. For the blessings afforded me in this life and living in this country I am truly thankful to God and to the brethren who make this possible. My earnest desire is to serve the Lord until such time as I go home, and these days, that is the all of my life (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

Half Weeks

March 14, 2016

96 dpi 8x10 Guyana River 1Back from five weeks in South America Tuesday night, Wednesday I lingered at Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN. That evening, she and I attended class with the Collierville Church of Christ where she regularly worships; the congregation is also one of my supporters. It is one of four congregations that are about like home for me. Happily, I was invited on the spur of the moment to speak to the auditorium class; I presented most of one of my lessons that I had been preaching over and over for the Annual Nationwide Mobile Guyanese Seminars for the past five weeks. It is a lesson that I need and that is needed by most stateside churches of Christ, too: “Desiring and Striving for Congregational Growth.”

Thursday, I didn’t leave Rebecca’s house during the day. I worked in my mobile office. Friday, after having a much cherished custard-filled, chocolate-iced donut and some chocolate milk, I moseyed down to Rebecca’s schoolroom in Horn Lake, MS. As I often do after returning from an overseas mission trip, I made a PowerPoint presentation to her class about world geography and culture. She (on spring break) and I made it back to my Winona home late Friday night following some shopping. Rainy Saturday was a good day to stay indoors, which we did. Much to do inside, including working the mobile office some more.

Sunday, we worshipped with friends and brethren in the morning with the Old Union Church of Christ (Carroll County) and in the evening with the West President Street Church of Christ (Leflore County). Monday, Rebecca and I went to my real office and warehouse in the World Evangelism Building. The day was consumed in tackling mission work and personal finances, wiring funds to Hong Kong for printing tracts, taking mailings and packages (after packing the parcels of books) to the post office, finalizing my next newsletter, contacting various brethren about aspects of the overall mission work and suchlike. Nearly, 11 p.m., it’s time to call it a day; we removed ourselves from the office and reconvened in the living room to continue the same about four and a half hours ago – same work, different venue.

Though I never expect to catch completely up in work that lies ahead of me, I would like to get a little closer to the top of the pile! I wouldn’t know what to do with a day off where there was nothing related to the ongoing efforts to which I have committed myself that needs to be done. It doesn’t get any better than this.

All Day Intercontinental Travel

March 9, 2016

Louis RushmoreTuesday, March 8, 2016 was an occasion for all day intercontinental travel for me from Linden, Guyana, South America to Memphis, Tennessee, USA, North America. Travel that I make between the USA and Asia is more dramatic and takes more days each way than travel between continents in the same hemisphere. However, the investment of time and the wear and tear nevertheless are significant enough.

Brother Nigel Milo, my Guyanese partner and host, and I departed his home in Linden at about 7:30 a.m. (Guyanese time, which is two hours ahead at this time of the year than CST in Mississippi). An hour and a half later, he dropped me off at the international airport. While I lumbered inside with a checked suitcase, a carryon (roll-on) bag and my computer briefcase, brother Milo parked his car to wait and to make sure that no snafu prevented me from flying out. Two and a half hours ahead of the scheduled departure, I had time on my hands, so to speak; yet, that’s much more to be preferred than to be running late.

Finally, my Surinam Airways flight was ready for boarding. I climbed the steps at the back of the plane; frequently overseas in smaller venues and even in similarly small US airports, passengers climb a staircase wheeled to the airplane fuselage. I was directed to the rear entrance because it was nearest my seat selection, on the aisle two rows from the toilet. One other person chose the same half row of three seats in which I was sitting, providing a comfortable empty space between me and her window seat.

The flight was uneventful, which is always a good thing. I flew Suriname Airways because it is the only airline offering a direct flight between Guyana and the United States. Four and a half hours later, we landed in Miami, six hours prior to the scheduled departure of my next flight to Memphis, TN. I opted to fly American Airlines since it is the only airline offering a direct flight between Miami and Memphis. Surinam Airways, though only flies their route between Guyana and the USA twice weekly.

Unfortunately, the two airlines are not partners, which means that going to and coming from Guyana, I must retrieve my luggage and drag it to the next ticket counter. It felt as though I walked from Guyana to the USA by the time I ambled what surely must have been a mile-long maze from emerging from the jet way to immigration. Using the U.S.’ Global Reentry program when I eventually arrived at immigration, a kiosk afforded to me permitted me to avoid the queue and exit to recover my checked bag. That’s when the fun began, not receiving my bag for well over an hour from the time the plane landed. The good news, though, was that the suitcase did make the trip with me, unlike sometimes before on stateside as well as overseas trips.

Despite being TSA Prechecked (i.e., vetted by the US as a trusted traveler), Miami does not offer that service. Yes, I had to get in the snaky line like everyone else and jump through all the same hoops as unvalidated travelers, except I didn’t have to take my shoes and belt off. I was startled and concerned momentarily when my laptop computer did not emerge from the x-ray belt with the rest of my belongings; I was fearful that my mobile office had found some mobility that wish that it had not. Somehow things on the conveyer got out of order by a few items; all was well.

On side note, wearing my back brace, which has no metal in it, caused me no difficulty in security checks in either Guyana or the USA. I didn’t try to wear my wrist brace on the way back, which does have metal in it, since wearing it on the way down to Guyana cause some brief issues during security checks. Wearing those braces during long, tiring days, especially when traveling and lugging baggage around is preventative; at other times, after I am already hurting, they and some pain medicine are part of the solution.

There was no Burger King in the terminal in which I found myself in preparation for the final leg of my flights home. Still, I was able to find an airport-pricey burger joint and devour some beef. I hadn’t eaten much, and I was hungry. The rest of the world to which I travel largely eats chicken as well as things less familiar to me; I have given up trying to find a cheeseburger in Guyana because the meat is either as tough (literally) as shoe leather or has an unfamiliar taste, like it didn’t used to go, “Moo.”

Most of the remaining time was idly spent waiting at Gate D60, Door 2 for my 9:34 p.m. departure for Memphis. Finally, we boarded a bus, which took us to a parked regional jet, and once more I scaled steps pushed up alongside of the fuselage of our plane. Back in Guyana, for no more than the dozen of us flying, we would have been crammed into a single engine turboprop. As it was, everyone has a seat to himself except for a couple who chose to remain seated together anyway. Per usual, I had my aisle seat two rows from the restroom.

On the taxiway headed for the runway, we stopped. Anticipated bad weather in Memphis and a backlog of aircraft landing and taking off there, forced us to hold in place for about 20 minutes before flying away from Miami. Amazingly, despite being delayed from leaving Miami, we still arrived in Memphis nearly half an hour ahead of schedule; we made up time in the air – what a tailwind we must have had. Yes, we did experience some very turbulent weather; the last two times returning from an overseas trip to Memphis netted the same weather welcome.

My daughter Rebecca faithfully received me at the luggage carrousel. She is always a wonderful sight for a lonely, wandering hearth. Besides that, she carries of the heavier bag for this old man! By midnight we were at her home, and after reuniting a bit, she turned in for the night by 1 a.m. In my case, after showering, I went to bed for the night at a little before 2 a.m. CST (or about 4 a.m. Guyanese time). I was tired, and I wonder if I will ever feel refreshed again.

St. Cuthbert’s Sand Trap

March 7, 2016

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Monday, March 7, 2016 was the day of the last 2016 Annual Mobile Guyana Workshop. This was my first visit to St. Cuthbert’s (pronounced “cutberts”) Mission. Only ten miles or so off of the nearest paved road, but what a trek in those 10 miles. Much of Guyana is one giant sandbox, and the path to St. Culthbert’s is a road of loose, white sand. A myriad of improvised side routes through the brush abound in attempts to circumvent horrible road conditions and straightaways of treacherous, bottomless sand pits. On the way out this morning on one of those wild side trails of sand and a little grass, we got stuck in the church van. After digging ourselves out, a little way ahead we found a car buried in the sand on the road! We helped free up that automobile and its stranded passengers.

96 dpi 4x6 st cuthberts mission 5Eventually, we arrived at a remote Amerindian village, St. Cuthbert’s Mission. I was surprised and pleased to find a sizeable, relatively new block meetinghouse for the local church of the Lord. The day before, 70 to 80 assembled there for Lord’s Day worship. Only a handful were on hand for today’s program, but we were happy for their presence. Each of them listened intently, and several thanked us for the lessons and the encouragement that we brought to them. Per usual, brother Wilbur Vyphuis and I present seminar lessons by which we hope to inspire Guyanese Christians to take a greater local role in church affairs and reaching the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On our return trip, we got stuck again in the sand, once more on one of those “better” spurs. We remained stuck for hours. Brother Nigel Milo, our driver, brother and sister Vyphuis and I moved the van about 20’ at a time throughout the late afternoon as the sun was preparing to set. Finally, we managed to get back on the “main road,” and eventually, we succeeded in making our way back to the paved road.

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

I’m getting older, and my back and especially my left hand (not to mention my knees) argue with me. Pushing a reluctant van through axel depth sand can’t be a good thing. Well, evidently we survived, since here I am writing this blog entry.

96 dpi 4x6 st cuthberts mission 4One of the highlights of my day was finally persuading a little tyke to let me pick him up. He maintained serious reservations about me, but he was a sweet darling.

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

Next year, if St. Cuthbert’s is one of our destination sites for the annual workshops, I intended to ensure that we opt for transportation suitable for the challenging terrain. I wonder if I can arrange for a hovercraft or maybe a helicopter. There’s also a river there, some 80 miles from Georgetown. Hmm?

North Road and Amelia’s Ward Seminars

March 6, 2016

96 dpi 4x6 North RoadWednesday, March 2 in the morning, several from the Amelia’s Ward congregation and I did “field work” in Linden, as is the custom of that church three days a week each week. Later that evening the North Road Church of Christ in Georgetown, Guyana hosted our seminar. Approximately 90 brethren from several surrounding congregations assembled for presentations by brother Wilbur Vyphuis and me; brother Wilbur is the preacher for that congregation. He, brother Nigel Milo and I have been traveling for five weeks throughout Guyana to every region (comparable to states). In each location we have encouraged brethren, contributed to their heightened Bible knowledge and prompted them to shoulder some of the responsibility for evangelizing their own country. Everywhere we have gone, we have been well received, and brethren have been thankful for the messages. The North Road site was no exception to that.

96 dpi 4x6 Seminar 1Thursday, the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ conducted the funeral for an elderly sister in Christ who had passed away; she was somewhere around 100-years-old, but no one is exactly sure since she like many other Amerindians then and after her birth were not afforded birth certificates. No surviving family member able or willing to step forward, the sister in Christ’s Christian brethren personally paid for and otherwise brought about all needed for a proper funeral and burial. Individual families contributed money or goods, and several Christian men even built her a coffin to the specifications of the departed one’s small stature. Christians showed themselves to be the family of God. At a previous time, these brethren financed and literally built the same sister a small house in which to live so as to alleviate the dire circumstances in which she was living.

96 dpi 4x6 Seminar 2Friday once more, Amelia’s Ward brethren and I did field work (i.e., Bible studies in the community in people’s homes, visiting the bereaved, visiting the homebound, etc.). Afterward, sister Jasmine and brother Nigel Milo, along with their son Zab and I, made a trek back into Georgetown. (I snapped a picture of recess in the schoolyard where children were having the time of their lives rolling used tires around the playground.) The purpose was to retrieve some shirts that I had ordered weeks earlier. On some T-shirts was screen printed “Monkey Mountain Church of Christ – Romans 16:16,” and on others was printed “Paramakatoi Church of Christ – Romans 16:16.” Those two congregations assemble in remote areas in the jungle interior of Guyana, and I wanted to encourage them; they can wear the shirts as members share tracts with the community.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 2In addition, I had Jerseys embroidered with “World Evangelism, Churches of Christ, Romans 16:16.” These were intended for presenters in the annual nationwide seminar throughout Guyana. Not only we three presenters this year, but each Guyanese brother who presented lessons in previous years also will receive one of the shirts.

96 dpi 4x6 schoolyardNext, the Milos and I went to a new, world-class mall in Georgetown. The first order of business there was go to the food court. Collectively, we ate food from three restaurants. For dessert, I treated at the Dairy Queen. I was in high-hog heaven (whatever that means) with my Peanut Buster Parfait (only I substituted salted pecans in place of the peanuts). Uuumm-good! Soft-serve ice cream, genuine hot fudge and pecans. I introduced Jasmine and Zab to Blizzards; Jasmine was won over, but Zab’s eyes were too big for his belly. Nigel doesn’t care for sweets (the more for the rest of us!).

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 1Sometimes mission work includes redistributing the wealth rightfully belonging to the Lord. In that vein, before leaving the mall, we purchased a 120” retractable screen for the Amelia’s Ward meetinghouse and a large slow cooker to more efficiently feed campaigners from America who go to Linden each summer. We tested the screen, mounted center stage, on Saturday and Sunday; we tested the slow cooker for Sunday’s lunch. Both were validated a wonderful success.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 3Friday evening, the monthly Marriage Fellowship forum gathered and continued until nearly midnight. I was exhausted almost to the point of illness before climbing into bed. The in between times of noteworthy activity, I feverishly work in my mobile office, often atop my bed and comforted by the room AC or at the dining room table in direct line with a floor standing fan aimed right at me. Nearly worn out in mind as well as in body, I accomplished a lot of preparation (i.e., editing, proofing and layout) for future printing of literature.

96 dpi 4x6 Worship 4Saturday was the occasion of the seminar at the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden. Again, several local congregations converged on the grounds as brethren Wilbur Vyphuis and Nigel Milo and I made our presentations. Perhaps the weariness I have been feeling lately can be attributed to the cumulative effects of five weeks of traveling (via small plane, boats and land transportation) sometimes non-stop (while at other times more recently a day or two intervening). Of course, there is the weather to consider, too. Hopefully by the time I return to the USA I will have escaped most of the winter coldness that I left behind in January. The heat and humidity, though, sometimes presents an opposite challenge. It’s all good!

Sunday was “Friends and Family Day” at the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ. I taught in Bible class “Let Us Go into the House of the Lord” from Psalm 122:1. Bible class, worship and fellowship meal ran from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.! Often when worshipping with foreign brethren, I feel a little closer to God than at other times in other places as they invest time and emotion in worshipping God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Saturday and Sunday I tried in vain to snap some photos of some of the cutest little ones, but they were too fast for me, evidently with all boosters engaged! A couple beautiful babies did allow me to hold them, and they were in no hurry to return to familiar arms. I did snap one picture of a fast little one running about after church when she paused momentarily to shift gears.

One more day of seminar remains for Monday. Tuesday, Lord willing, I spend the day aboard two jetliners hoping from Georgetown to Miami to Memphis. I should arrive in my daughter’s suburban Memphis home (Collierville, TN) in time to turn in for the night. Ah! This is the life, and I hope that I am doing my little part as a tool in the hands of God. Thank you for helping to make it possible.