Archive for the ‘India’ category

Nearly Five Weeks in India

November 24, 2017

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October 23, Martha and I flew from Singapore to Bangalore, India in the state of Karnataka. After enjoying time with and assembling for a couple of days with Christian brethren, we traveled overland by car to the state of Tamil Nadu. There we remained for most of a week; we greeted several Christians who came from various parts of that state to meet us. After traveling back to Bangalore, we flew to Vishakhapatnam in the state of Andhra Pradesh, before being retrieved and taken about 80 miles south to Kakinada on the Bay of Bengal. For approximately one week, we spoke to Christian men and women daily there and also in outlying villages.

Upon returning to Vishakhapatnam, Martha and I flew to New Delhi to connect with dear Christians there for a couple of days. Next, accompanied by two brothers in Christ, we nearly returned to Andhra when we flew to Raipur in Chhattisgarh state. Five hours of road trip later, we arrived at a coffee house in Korba, where we lodged in upstairs rooms. For the next several days and evenings in the neighboring village of Balco, we addressed Christian men and women publicly and from house to house.

Finally, we returned to New Delhi via Raipur and prepared to return to the USA. We had departed our homeland about eight weeks previously for three Asian countries, and we changed planes in a fourth nation. We renewed old friendships and made new friends, too. This was Martha’s first trip to Asia. Twice before in 2017, though, she and I traveled to metropolitan as well as remote villages in Guyana, South America. Our first year as husband and wife is swiftly drawing to a close, and we have vigorously applied ourselves in our travels stateside and overseas for the cause of Christ. In addition, there is an immense amount to activity behind the scenes relating to the publication of Gospel Gazette Online and The Voice of Truth International magazines, publication of books and tracts, plus distribution in the States and overseas of this Christian literature. I especially concentrate on delivery of tons of literature and Bibles to Guyana, South America.

We are growing older, have our aches and pains, and sometimes we are weary. However, we fully intend to rest at some time in the future—when we’re dead! Until then, as long as possible, we intend to be active for the Lord. We are thankful to the many Christian families and congregations of the churches of Christ who make that possible through their financial participation and moral encouragement.

Winding Down and Winding Up

September 26, 2017

Recently, Martha and I dined with some of her children (Jim, Denise and family) at Gator Joe’s on a Florida lake. What a beautiful sunset graced our suppertime delight! Of course, Martha had to get sand between her toes and wade in the water.

This past Sunday morning, September 24, Martha and I assembled with the Wildwood, Florida Church of Christ. This was my second visit to the congregation and my first opportunity to speak for this church. During Bible class, I presented my “World Evangelism Media & Missions” PowerPoint presentation. At the worship hour, I preached “Imitating the Urgency of Jesus Christ.” We felt right at home with Wildwood, and everyone paid rapt attention. It was a pleasure to worship God in spirit and in truth together.

For lunch, Martha and I treated ourselves to some deluxe Angus cheeseburgers and trimmings. Not only were they delicious, but we won’t have any such favorites for several weeks as we are abroad for eight weeks in three Asian countries. We drove a few miles thereafter to what turned out to be a dying, indoor mall. We idled at a franchise bookstore café and enjoyed the air conditioning while doing digital jigsaw puzzles on our electronic tablets.

When it was time, we made our way to the meetinghouse of the Village Church of Christ in Lady Lake, Florida. This was my second visit to this little church, and we worshipped with them.

Tuesday was a mobile office workday. I was able to publish the September edition of Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet and sundry other matters were addressed, too.

Thursday, Martha and I fly from Orlando, Florida to Los Angelos, California. From there we will fly for about 16 hours to Taipei, Taiwan, and then fly on to Yangon, Myanmar (also known as Burma). We will arrive on Saturday after nonstop traveling by jet airplane.

Three weeks later, we will fly to Singapore for about four days, before flying to India. For five weeks, we will travel to sundry places. Finally, November 21, we will return home from New Delhi to New York to Florida—all on the same day, though the same number of hours as traveling to Asia! I am looking forward to sharing some of the beautiful pictures of our travels from time to time during the eight weeks we will be gone. Please remember us in your prayers.

Since I Returned

December 8, 2016
Martha Noland & Bonnie Rushmore

Martha Noland & Bonnie Rushmore

Monday, November 21, I returned to the USA. While only one calendar day from New Delhi, India to Memphis, TN, nevertheless, travel time between three flights and layovers totaled around 30 hours; altogether, I was up for about 48 hours.

Besides the dreaded travel and probable jetlag, I had developed bronchitis; I introduced my international version to the domestic edition plaguing family, friends and brethren upon my arrival in the United States. Being sick compounded the discomfort of long hours and lengthy flights. As it turned out, I was in the beginning stages of illness as I returned to the USA, and I was sufficiently sick for two weeks as to impede catching up on work back at the office. I even missed one all-day preaching appointment as well as worship, too, as I stayed inside for a few days.

My daughter Rebecca, off from teaching school, not only retrieved me from the Memphis airport, but she returned me to my Winona home. There, we enjoyed one another’s company over an otherwise less than noteworthy Thanksgiving holiday. She and I were able to prepare the next edition of the Rushmore Newsletter, and I sent it electronically to a printing company for production.

Toward the end of my illness, I received a visitor; Rebecca and I picked up sister Martha Noland at the Memphis airport and brought her to Winona. She was Bonnie’s best girlfriend, and of course, a Christian friend of mine as well. She just had to “get out of Dodge,” as the proverbial expression goes. December is an especially bad month for her as the one-year anniversary of the passing of her husband Bob occurs on the 16th, and their anniversary is the 29th. The national holiday of Christmas falls on the 25th, too, which was my wife Bonnie’s birthday also. Some other Christian widow ladies and I have been helping each other limp through our emotional minefields, and Martha needed some extra crutches in December. We have developed a special long-distance friendship as sounding boards and sources of encouragement during difficult times of reoccurring grief over the loss of our spouses.

By day, Martha helps out at the office, and by night she resides in the warehouse/office apartment down the road from my residence. This past weekend, she traveled with me to my speaking appointment in Ooltewah, TN, and as it turned out, while I slept in Chattanooga, TN, she slept nightly in Ringgold, GA. We each lodged with a different elder and his wife of the local Church of Christ.

Martha and I visited Bonnie’s gravesite twice at the meetinghouse of the Old Union Church of Christ in rural, tree covered and Kudzu slung Carroll County, MS. On one of those occasions, we changed out the flowers on Bonnie’s grave with fresh, new plastic flowers to reflect the winter season. We both shed tears respecting our sorrow over losing our best friend on earth.

To my dismay, my wrecked automobile was not yet repaired upon my return, though the body shop had it for nearly two months. After getting my car back, I still had to return it – two counties beyond the county in which I live – to have some adjustments made; there remains two unrectified issues with the Town and Country van. Since my medical bills related to my accident – the hit and run – ran around $10,000 dollars, besides an equal amount to fix my car, I amended my auto insurance coverage upward.

Try as I might, I am far from catching up on work back at the office. I did manage, however, to ready the December issue of Gospel Gazette Online for publication. As soon as my daughter completes the proofing – later this week, I will publish and advertise it to subscribers and readers of my blog and Facebook postings. Tomorrow, a tractor-trailer is scheduled to deliver several pallets of literature to the World Evangelism Building in Winona, MS. Incoming are copies of volume 90 of The Voice of Truth International, the next issue of Global Harvest and tracts; these items were printed in India this time. Brethren from three area congregations have been enlisted to help unload and place in the warehouse these tens of thousands of literature. We are thankful for all of the help and the encouragement. Our prayer is that everything that we do will lead to glorifying God and edifying our fellow man.

Weekend in New Delhi

November 20, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-5Saturday, November 19, the congregation with which I worship in New Delhi, India hosted a seminar from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its meetinghouse. Approximately 200 invitations were mailed. Though not as many people attended as was hoped, nevertheless, all who attended were edified and enjoyed fellowship with one another.

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-4Speakers included brethren Thomas Dohling and Sunny David, as well as myself; brother Vinay David graciously translated for me into Hindi, as he did throughout the several days of seminar elsewhere in India last week. I presented two lessons in the series “Come Meet Jesus.”

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-6Of course, brethren and friends ate together. Christians are pretty good at that. After eating some rice and chapatti, I slipped away for a few minutes to a market area next door. There the first thing on my agenda was the acquisition of a Coke Zero. Then, I wandered about a little before returning to the seminar.

96-dpi-4x6-new-delhi-3Sunday, the auditorium was full for worship. Preceding that, several brethren also availed themselves of the Bible class, more than ably and excellently taught by brother Dohling. I was afforded the opportunity to speak another lesson in the series “Come Meet Jesus.”

A second congregation of a different language group has worship in the “upper room” while worship transpires on the ground level in Hindi and English. Brethren from several countries are represented in that worship period.

Following worship and much time spent in pleasant interaction among members of both congregations assembling on the site, my host family and I resorted to McDonalds for lunch. Our littlest one, Aaron, chose the meal venue – to get his Happy Meal, no doubt.

Aaron is a remarkable 5-year-old, fluent in Hindi and in English. Saturday night back at his apartment living room, he conducted an hour-long worship service all by himself with me as the audience. He really preached for at least 30 minutes and did the song leading. Though he preached in Hindi – with emotion, inflection of voice and appropriate gestures, he quoted flawlessly Scripture in English. India has a bright future for the church through the likes of him and others just a little older than him of whom I am personally aware. God bless India!

As I write this, I am packed for my return trip to the USA of around 30 hours or so. I have checked in online. All that’s left is the going, which I will do around 9:30 p.m. local time to catch a 1:25 a.m. flight to Paris. From Paris, I will fly to Atlanta, and from Atlanta to Memphis – arriving the same day that I left India! I didn’t waste any time publicly or privately these weeks away in Asian countries, but my present tasks are complete, and I’m homeward bound. Your continued prayers and encouragement are much appreciated.

Off the Grid & Back Again

November 18, 2016

Friday, November 11, brother Ricky Gootam and I left Kakinada, India by car, bound for Vishakhapatnam, India. We headed out late afternoon, and it was long past dark by the time we arrived at our hotel destination for the night. The driving was fierce and wild as we dodged and overtook or were ourselves passed along a national highway over about two to three hours. Everything was on the thoroughfare from pedestrians, animals, bicycles, motorcycles, 3-wheeled autos, cars, push carts, buses and heavy trucks.  Driving in India is a lot of bluster and playing chicken with slalom-like darting around and between vehicles. Otherwise, it resembles taking a handful of sand and dropping it into a funnel. There is a reason that India maintains the highest highway fatalities of any nation on earth; the USA is third.

My Good Buddy in New Delhi

My Good Buddy in New Delhi

Friday night wasn’t as restful as I had hoped. Ricky and I had to share a bed, which was satisfactory as it was a very large bed – big enough for an entire family. The problem was the proverbial freight train in the room! Even trying to sleep with noise cancelling headphones on – which can nullify jet engines, and as excellent as the technology is, Ricky’s snoring bested them. I pondered trying to retreat to the bathroom or to the elevator lobby, but stuck it out – with little slumber.

Early Saturday, we both went to the Vishakhapatnam airport for our respective destinations. Brother Ricky was heading to Dubai, and I was flying to New Delhi. That night, I lodged with brother Vinay David and his wife Reshma and their 5-year-old son Aaron. That little boy is one of my biggest fans, and we played together.

Express Train Sleeper Car

Express Train Sleeper Car

Sunday morning, I worshipped with the local congregation, at which time I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” – with translation into Hindi, taking longer than anticipated. By 5 p.m. Sunday, Vinay David, his father Francis and I were aboard an express train for an 18+ hour excursion to Chhattisgarh State. We debarked on Monday in Bilaspur, India, and continued another three hours or so by car to Korba, India. Tuesday through Thursday we were principle speakers in a seminar for the Lord’s church in Balco, India.

Express Train Sleeper Car

Express Train Sleeper Car

I was essentially off the grid, deep inside India. Internet was not available at my hotel. I wasn’t able to find any international news this deeply inside India. Like last year, I didn’t see another white person the whole time I was there. I always know that when I arrive somewhere where English wording is absent from signs, no one expects me to be there. Such was the case for the most part here.

Seminar

Seminar

The seminar and hospitality extended to me was delightful. At times, attendance reached between 150 and 200. I was afforded the opportunity to speak from God’s Word 12 times in three days. There were some baptisms, attended to with discretion aside from public observation in view of India’s non-conversion law and the Hindu sentiments in this part of the country.

Tea Time

Tea Time

Our return to Delhi on Friday involved a 5½ hour jaunt along Indian roadways to Raipur, whereupon we boarded a plane for the nation’s capital. We were early at Raipur, and so we had to wait two hours before waddling up ground ramps to the plane door. Only two hours flight, we spent more time than that creeping through Delhi traffic.

As a sidebar, Prime Minister Modi made a late evening speech a few nights back whereupon he demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. The nation has been thrown into chaos. Long angry lines of folks are trying to exchange their now worthless money at banks and ATMs. People cannot buy or sell much of anything; shops are closed; farmers cannot sell their harvest; travel is impeded without fare money; rents cannot be paid; there is no change available for any purchases that can be made. This has impacted the seminar somewhat and threatens church work generally.

Today, one more all-day seminar in Delhi. Christians and non-Christian contacts as a result of the Hindi TV program will convene for lectures. Tomorrow, of course, is the Lord’s Day. That night, I will be deposited at the international airport for a 1:25 a.m. Monday departure to America (via Paris, Atlanta and Memphis). I am scheduled to leave on Monday and to arrive on Monday, with more hours crammed into a day than ordinary, owing to crossing nearly 12 time zones. Here and there, across the planet, I intend to be a servant of our Lord, and thank you for making that possible.

The Party’s Over!

November 10, 2016

96-dpi-4x6-lectures-1Three days of lectureship hosted by the Satyavani Church of Christ in Kakinada, India have come to a close. Each day, sessions were offered mornings, afternoons and evenings. One hour yesterday, about 900 people crowded into the second floor upper room of the church’s meetinghouse. I presented part of my series of lessons on “Come Meet Jesus,” speaking a total of eight times across the days. Brother Therman Hodge spoke the same number of times, plus he preached on the Lord’s Day.

96-dpi-4x6-lectures-2The congregation hosts a children’s home, and the youngsters were ever present and a joy with whom to interact daily. Between the two of us, brother Therman and I saw to the acquisition of 65 plastic, woven sleeping mats on which the children will sleep as they slumber nightly on the floors of the respective rooms for boys and girls. All ages are represented among the children except for infants. They are truly happy and blessed despite not afforded all that every child deserves.

Tomorrow, brother Therman and I will part ways. I will travel by car to Vishakhapatnam and lodge overnight in a hotel. Saturday morning, I will fly to New Delhi. Brother Hodge will stay behind for Sunday worship in Kakinada and speak for the local congregation with which we have been for several days. Sunday evening, he, too, will make his way to Vishakhapatnam for the first of a series of flights back home to the USA.

It has been a true joy for me to travel with brother Therman and to share the venues in two countries. On November 21, I, too, will wing my way, Lord willing, back to the USA.

A Good Day in Kakinada, India

November 7, 2016

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Monday, November 7, 2016 local time zone for Kakinada, India was the last interlude prior to the commencement of the annual lectureship put on by the Satya Vani Church of Christ. Tomorrow through Friday, brother Therman Hodge and I along with several Indian Christian men will speak day and night to several hundred attendees and overall throughout the week to about 4,000 persons – if this year’s attendance mirrors that of last year.

Today had its unplanned opportunities. Around 10 a.m. brother Therman and I tagged along to an engagement party. Dozens of family members of the prospective bride and groom gathered for the ceremony; at the actual wedding months from now, about 5,000 people will be expected to witness the nuptials and participate in the celebration. The ceremony involved the two families exchanging gifts of food, clothes and gold.

Brother Hodge and I each were allotted opportunities to speak for several minutes and offer a prayer on behalf of the affair. Most people present were Hindus, which afforded us the opportunity to offer some divinely inspired advice as well as to speak from experience and observation respecting matrimony.

Going to the church office from the engagement reception, I was pleased to observe the delivery of my wife’s and my book in Telegu, Noble Ladies: Ruth and Esther. This title is dedicated in memory of my dear late wife, and it was made possible by the generous memorial gifts provided by so many children of God.

Later in the day, Therman and I gathered around a brand new crib along with the extended Gootam family back at the Joshua Gootam home. Indians have a ceremony also for introducing a baby to its crib for the first time. I think that Indians must have a ceremony for nearly everything! The patriarch of the family led a prayer in Telegu. Baby Roselyn is the second child of brother Ricky and sister Sudeepa Gootam. Presently, father Joshua and mother Kabita share their dwelling with two of their sons and their wives. Ricky and Sudeepa have a fine young son, Justin, also; he is 8-years-old, and his sister Roselyn is 40-days-old. Robin Gootam and his wife Rachel also reside there; she is eight months pregnant.

In the afternoon, I shopped for a couple of baby gifts – one for the baby recently born and one for the baby about to be born. Of course, we didn’t forget Justin; I got him some animated movie themed flip-flops.

Our day concluded with the acquisition and distribution of plastic, woven sleeping mats for the children at the home in the church compound. Children sleep on the tile floor, and most of them do not have a mat on which to sleep. Brother Therman Hodge, representing the Union, MS Church of Christ and I, representing several congregations and Christian families, used some of the Lord’s money entrusted to us to buy these modest sleeping accommodations.

Hours of the day exhausted as well as somewhat exhausted ourselves, we returned to our respective borrowed bedrooms for the night. Tomorrow, if the world still turns by the grace of God and we do too, Therman and I look forward to days filled to the fullest for the balance of the week preceding the weekend to participate in the lectures. We only desire to glorify God and edify Christians and non-Christians with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.