Archive for September 2016

Gospel Meeting

September 30, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-polk-farm-1Saturday, September 24, I made my way from my daughter’s home in Collierville, TN to the residence of sister Melissa and brother Garry Polk outside of Center Ridge, AR. Friday evening, I had traveled to Rebecca’s house in Collierville from my abode in Winona, MS.

Complications with my rental car delayed my trip so Rebecca and I missed the opportunity to dine together. Seldom have I encountered such intense smoke as thoroughly saturated the rental, and no amount of off the shelf air fresheners was going to change that. Besides, the couple of days I had the car started to make me sick – sinuses, throat and chest, which would hamper me speaking in the upcoming Gospel meeting for the Center Ridge Church of Christ. Finally, late in the day I was able to contact the dealer 30 miles west of Winona and exchange the car for another one.

96-dpi-4x6-crane-in-a-treeBrother and sister Polk have been and continue to be a great encouragement to me. Aside from that, they lodged and fed me Saturday through Friday. I joked that they fattened me up with all of that good cooking, and I had to escape back home before these beef cattle farmers carted me off to the sale barn, too.

96-dpi-4x6-gospel-meeting-1I was privileged to preach in a Gospel meeting for the Center Ridge congregation Sunday through Thursday. Members from several area churches of Christ attended, and the Jerusalem Church of Christ let out their Wednesday classes to join with Center Ridge in the Gospel meeting. The theme for the week was “Come Meet Jesus as…” Lessons presented via PowerPoint and narration were “…an Historical Person,” …Pre-Incarnate,” “…Lawgiver and Prophet,” “…High Priest,” “…Mediator, Intercessor and Advocate,” “…Head of the Church, Head of His Body and Head of His House or Spiritual Family” and “…Messiah and King.”

I expect to teach these same lessons in October and November for fellow Christians in Myanmar (Burma) and India. In addition, when teaching for two weeks in the Hmawbi Bible School in Myanmar, Lord willing, I will be presenting lessons on “Sermon Preparation and Presentation” and “Bible Geography, Bible Archaeology and Sacred History.”

It is my earnest hope that God was glorified and that all auditors during the Gospel meeting at Center Ridge were edified. Any praise forthcoming for the same belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ. I’m thankful to be just a lowly servant in that regard.

After another home cooked breakfast at the hands of sister Melissa, I headed homeward. I paused long enough in Horn Lake, MS to meet my daughter on her way home from work for supper at Texas Roadhouse. We each selected our preferred menu item – “Road Kill” – a specially prepared chopped steak, which we complemented with a house salad adorned with honey-French dressing and a baked potato. Happy that our homebound paths crossed – she going east and me going south, we each proceeded to our respective homes – our temporary abodes as we make our pilgrimage toward our permanent home with God above.

P.S. – Sister Polk “threatened me twice.” On a prior visit in a previous year, I photographed the Polk bootjack outside their home. She warned me of items not to photograph and include in my blog. “You better not put __________ in your blog, and I don’t want to see __________ in your blog either!” 😉

Thought Better of It

September 22, 2016

I had planned to attend to lawn care at my residence today – overdue, and if it were for the hot, dry weather lately, I’d be looking at a hayfield instead of attempting to bring order to an unruly yard. I thought better of it – or convinced myself otherwise. My back was already hurting, and yard work certainly would only aggravate it some more.

I persuaded myself that it was more important to tend to some duties at the office. Most of my work is done sitting at a desk or behind a steering wheel or standing in an assembly or a classroom to preach or to teach. Wednesday, September 21, 2016, I completed amendments to the four teenage class books on which I have been working in collaboration with others for many months. Then, I sent the files electronically to the FTP server of a printing company in Hong Kong. I followed the directions of my associates in this project to let out the printing for 1,500 copies of each of the quarterly booklets. The cost for such a venture will hover around $10,000, but the price for the full-color, glossy paper production is enough less than having them printed stateside to go overseas with that bid. Literally, this literature will ride a slow boat from China to the USA before traveling by rail and truck halfway across this country to us.

Still, such an undertaking is not as simple as depressing a key on a computer keyboard to tell a desktop printer to print. Especially overseas printing and shipping is more nearly like a dance until all of the details are accomplished to the satisfaction of all parties – us as the publisher and the printing company.

In addition, I started the dance with a nearby printing company half an hour north of Winona for printing some reminder postcards pertaining to subscriptions to The Voice of Truth International. We have not used this printer before and are happy to find it and explore the possibilities for various kinds of printing and the costs. Presently, depending what it is and what the current price quotations are, we print various things in Minnesota, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Hong Kong, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Ghana. Betty added Mississippi by printing her 2-page newsletter in Grenada, MS. (Who can believe a mere two pages from an infamous tome writer?)

Speaking of dancing (figuratively), I drove my moving wreck back to Greenwood, the city, the scene of the carnage, and dropped it off at a dealership. Tomorrow finally, an insurance adjuster is supposed to pass judgment on the jalopy so maybe I can move forward on either having it repaired or to trade it in for a working model.

To my chagrin, the car dealership employee who made arrangements with me yesterday to meet him and exchange my auto for a rental wasn’t there. It was his day off! An hour and a half later, though, I drove off the car lot in rented car that smelled very much like a dirty ashtray. Even when I put groceries in the trunk following Bible class, the truck smelled strongly like a smoke-filled bar. A heavy application of spray air freshener plus three air freshener clips attached to the air vents and I was able to tolerate the odor.

Tomorrow, we will have guest workers – volunteers – to help Betty process her newsletter for mailing. I will probably help carry some of the supplies and completed work about the office and warehouse. In addition, I need to move some stock (boxes of books) around to make ready for the arrival of Volume 89 of The Voice of Truth International, maybe as early as next week. I also need to move the things pulled from my wrecked vehicle so the space where they are lying now can be used for incoming The Voice of Truth International.

I’m getting older and uglier by the day; my arthritis has been agitated by the fender bender (i.e., reshaping of the back of my van, courtesy of the front end of a pickup truck and its driver who vanished into the dark of night in the hit and run). Betty Choate fell and injured her shoulder to the extent she is anticipating surgery. Jerry with his aching back is traipsing about India at the moment. What a motley crew we are, nevertheless, fully engaged in serving our Lord stateside and abroad through various avenues of communication. Please remember us in your prayers.

Oh, by the way, late tonight I finished another PowerPoint presentation in preparation for the Gospel meeting next week in which I will be speaking. The material should also prove useful overseas in October and November as I leave my footprints in various Asian countries.

As Long as I Draw Breath

September 19, 2016

Today (Monday, September 19, 2016), I prepared 125 letters with enclosures and mailed them. They were sent to congregations of the Lord’s church in several states to apprise them of my impending trip to Myanmar and India. In the letter, I requested prayers, encouragement and financial participation. I am looking forward to being with Christian friends in Asia once more.

I also packaged and shipped several parcels of tracts and books. In addition, I copied receipts and filled out medical paperwork relating to my car accident to send back to the insurance company.

Twelve days have passed since my car and I were rear-ended at a traffic light, and my insurance company by its unresponsiveness and lack of any progress has heightened my frustration level all the way up to my eyeballs. (Please, no more opportunities to acquire additional patience.)

I really may have to rethink my decades-old relationship with this company since it appears to be a whole lot more willing to take premiums from me for renter’s and auto insurances and car loan premiums than it is to awaken from its zombie-like, deadened posture to perform due diligence in its contractual responsibilities. It appears that I need to act like the oppressed widow of Luke 18 on a near daily basis just to rouse those rascals from their slumber. The only problem with that is that for nearly two weeks now, each time I call (they never call me), I get a different claim’s person with a completely different and contradictory batch of instructions and information. It’s even more incredulous when in a single phone call with the same person that the specialist on the other end of the phone line contradicts himself or herself. How do they stay in business?

Tonight, I prepared “Thank You” cards to acknowledge and show appreciation to donors who sent funds last week for my efforts to serve our Lord Jesus Christ stateside and abroad. A little this morning and mostly this evening, there’s the ever present household duties – “I’m my own maid, chief cook and bottle washer.” One day this week – maybe – if I feel up to it and my back doesn’t bother me too much, I just might get to the yard work that’s been calling my name for a couple of weeks or so now.

Life goes on until it doesn’t. In the meantime, there are things to do, not the least of which is to seek opportunities to serve our Lord. This includes making preparation for an upcoming Gospel meeting as well as for my trek overseas in about a month. If the world still turns on the morrow – and I do too, I hope to apply myself in an honorable way before my God and each day as long as I draw breath.

Batesville, Mississippi

September 12, 2016

The Batesville, MS Church of Christ and I become more familiar with each other the more often I visit it to acquaint these brethren with my foreign missionary labors. Once a year, it is my good pleasure to make such a visit, and last night (9/11/16) was my appointment for this year. A few days ago while I was having a bite to eat in Grenada, MS, a Christian brother from Batesville happened upon me and bought my supper.

Sunday night, I made my PowerPoint presentation about my 2015 Asia and 2016 South American mission trips. Very few in the audience suffered jetlag and fell asleep! Several brethren were not only very welcoming but also encouraging.

Monday, I was moving slowly due to a restless night with a backache from my Wednesday night auto accident. At the office, I packaged three book orders, and subsequently I mailed them. I prepared and made a bank deposit from funds received Sunday. I drove to Grenada, MS to get price quotes from and to inquire about a printing company that we have not previously used. I prepared for mailing “Thank You” cards for money received Sunday and for the scans of checks received at my sponsoring congregation, the Siwell Road Church of Christ in Jackson, MS.

Regarding my wrecked car, I find myself in a quandary. I am hamstrung between my insurance company insisting that I use its designated estimator at a local collision repair shop and an automobile dealer. There’s around $5,000 difference between the two regarding the cost of repairs, owing to two things. The local shop will use “recycled” (i.e., junkyard salvage) parts and the dealership will use new parts. In addition, the local shop did not disclose the cost of labor in its estimate. Theoretically, I can opt to have my car repaired at a place of my choosing, but the insurance company with its checkbook is trying to force me to go the cheap route. On top of that, the local shop wants a month to repair the car! All of that considered, I want to trade the automobile, but the insurance company is complicating any consideration of that. Even if I repair the car, it will be depreciated by $2,500 just because it was in an accident. All of this, the result of being the last car in a line of cars at a red light when someone drove a pickup truck into the back of my van, and then fled first in the vehicle before abandoning it and fleeing on foot. Ah, such is life, plenty of opportunities to refine one’s patience and perseverance.

Hit & Run

September 9, 2016

wreck1On Tuesday, September 6, I was crowned – twice! No, I wasn’t made king, not even once. Rather, Tuesday was the day that two of my teeth received their permanent crowns. For a little while longer perhaps, I won’t need someone to tag along with me and chew my food for me.

Wednesday evening I assembled with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. On the way back home and while stopped at a traffic light, a pickup truck plowed into the back of my van. The driver then sped off before abandoning his vehicle and limping away on foot. He eluded police, and so it cannot be proved who was driving the truck.

In excruciating pain from the impact shaking me around, still I steered away from the cars in front of me to avoid a chain-reaction pile up. My car ended up straddling two eastbound lanes at an angle with traffic driving around me on both highway shoulders; other drivers were indifferent. Finally, a woman stopped by and called for an ambulance and the police.

Several brethren with whom I had been just a few moments prior to the accident were at the scene and subsequently at the hospital. Hours and a few tests later, I was discharged from the hospital emergency room at 2 a.m. By 3:30 a.m. I gingerly crawled into bed in the home of a brother and a sister in Christ there in Greenwood.

Thursday commenced the process of contacting insurance companies, damage estimators, car dealerships, my primary care doctor, a pharmacy, etc. along with trying to maintain ordinary responsibilities. It appears that I will heal alright, though in the meantime, I have especially back pains and bruising of my sternum. My van sustained about $5,000 in damages with an estimated repair time of 28 days.

Amidst all of this, there were some funnies. I told the elder in whose home I lodged overnight, “I’ve never been invited to your house before. Now I see what it takes to get an invitation!” To another elder nearby I remarked, “I don’t know what it will take to get invited to your home.” Of course, I was jesting with both of them.

In the emergency room, I found myself signing admissions forms on clipboards held up over my face while I was on my back; paperwork is important! In the course of things, a nurse came into my room with a portable urinal and wanted me to provide a urine specimen. The odd part of that request was that that my whole body was securely strapped to a backboard on which I had been since the accident scene and for several hours afterward. I commented, “That is an interesting proposition, but I think gravity may be against me here.” All I had seen for quite a while was the North Star when I was outside and ceiling tile for my stint in the hospital. There’s the slight possibility that there was a little sarcasm mixed with my dry sense of humor. Every once in a while that nurse or another nurse would come by to check on that specimen. Hmmm!

Closer than It Sounds

September 5, 2016

The first Sunday in September, I spoke for Bible class and two worship services at the Huntsville Church of Christ. Now, that was a lot closer to Winona, MS than one might think. This Huntsville Church of Christ is not in Alabama, but rather its meetinghouse is outside of French Camp, MS – only about 35 minutes east of Winona.

As has been the case several times this year during my stateside travels, the congregation’s minister was absent, and I was filling in for him. During class, I made my PowerPoint presentation, “2015 Asia & 2016 South America Mission Trips.” For a.m. worship, I spoke about “The Church in Prophecy”; that evening, once more I preached about “The Deity of Christ.”

The Huntsville congregation is a vibrant and friendly country church of down to earth brothers and sisters in Christ. One brother gave me a proverbial, left-handed compliment. He praised my presentation, and then said something to the effect that it was a whole lot better than the last time he heard me preach. Thanks, I think! I asked him if he had been drinking, because according to one country song on the radio, all of the women get prettier closer to closing time – after one is drunken from much drinking.

This French Camp fellowship participates with me financially in my foreign endeavors, for which I am heartily thankful. In addition, several times over the year, various members help us in one endeavor or another at the World Evangelism Building in Winona.

Sometimes I get to sleep in my own bed the night before preaching. The Huntsville, MS assembly is close enough to my residence to permit that, and that is a good thing.

1-Ton Gospel Cube

September 1, 2016

Monday (August 29), I slept in my own bed in Winona, Mississippi. Tuesday, I slept in a borrowed bed in Alabama, whereas Wednesday I commandeered another bed for the night in Tennessee.

Tuesday morning, my coworker Jerry Bates and I loaded my van and his trailer that we attached to my vehicle. We encumbered available space therein with 110 boxes of The Voice of Truth International magazines (35 magazines per box, 55 each of volumes 87 and 88), miscellaneous issues of VOTI also, 14 cases of songbooks, 10 boxes of tracts, a carton of communion ware and several cases of miscellaneous religious books and other Christian literature. Almost to the pound, we manhandled one ton or about 2,000 pounds of Gospel resources. We even loaded two wooden pallets just in case the destination warehouse in Nashville, TN didn’t have any available, since most shipping from that site is in barrels.

After showering the sweat from myself and otherwise getting cleaned up, I departed Winona after lunch for Florence, AL as a way station on my way ultimately to an agent for Caribbean Shipping in Nashville. That night in Florence, I attended a mission forum hosted by Heritage Christian University.

Nigel Milo

Nigel Milo

Wednesday morning, I continued toward Nashville, arriving at 3:30 p.m. Doubtlessly on Guyanese time, the Guyanese proprietors of the little warehouse arrived an hour later, and we proceeded to offload my cargo. They operate out of the warehouse in the back of a strip plaza defunct store, and the husband and wife team have day jobs elsewhere. Once more in two days, I got my exercise by personally handling a ton of freight. Soaking wet from sweat in the near 100 degree temperature and high humidity, as well as the even more oven-like conditions inside the metal trailer, it didn’t take us too long to amass a giant, 1-ton, Gospel cube on a single sturdy pallet. This shipment represents my largest single consignment of Gospel literature to brethren in Guyana, South America. Brother Nigel Milo remarked that the last load that I sent earlier this year was “awesome”; I wonder what he’ll think of this load.

Next week, my Gospel cube will make its way to Miami, FL, whereupon it will be loaded onto a container ship. About 30 days later if the Lord wills, it will arrive in Georgetown, Guyana, from which it will be distributed to all of the churches of Christ in that country. Guyana is small enough that I can wrap my mind around it, and with available resources, I have made it my pet project to supply as much Gospel literature to our brethren as I can for their edification and to equip them to evangelize their country. In addition, I travel to all regions of Guyana for five weeks annually to encourage and edify Christians and congregations, as well as to prepare them to take the Gospel to their families and neighbors. There is a special place in my heart for Guyana.

Besides hauling Christian literature to Nashville and attending a mission forum, some other activities were successfully accomplished also. Monday, I was able to finish and prepare for the printing companies (in India, Ghana and Nigeria) Volume 90 of The Voice of Truth International; brother Bates will get those to each of the printing locations, carrying one of the DVDs personally to its destination in India. Today (September 1), I also published to the Internet the September 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online. A few other things, too, are ongoing (purchase of my visa to Myanmar, buying airline tickets for my fall excursion to Myanmar and India, preparing for the publication of four quarters of teen Bible study booklets, etc.).

Someone once advised me that once I was dead, then, I would have ample time to rest. Toward that rest I look with joyful anticipation, and it cannot come too soon. “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:9-11 NKJV). “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).