Posted tagged ‘2015 Mission Trip’

A New Week

February 22, 2016
Nigel Milo

Nigel Milo

Yesterday, Sunday, February 21, I worshipped with the Amelia’s Ward Church of Christ in Linden, Guyana, South America. It was my privilege during morning Bible class to present a biblical lesson about “The Ministry of Angels.” During evening worship, I acquainted the congregation with my recent travels in four Asian countries. No, I was not attempting to raise mission money from the church, but I familiarized Christians with similar evangelistic efforts on the other side of the world to the labors being put forth throughout Guyana in parts of January, February and March this year. When I talk to brethren in Asia about Guyana, they want to come and see for themselves the land and the people about whom I speak so highly. Likewise, I hope to engender a sense of community among Guyanese brethren for a part of the brotherhood far offshore to them.

Brother Nigel Milo is an exemplary evangelist largely without peers anywhere on earth. I am fortunate to sit at his feet and work alongside of him in field work, though he is decades my junior. Sunday morning was an opportunity for me to seek my own edification as he proclaimed the Gospel to the Amelia’s Ward congregation. In addition, I am learning better as he permits me to accompany him on local Bible studies in people’s homes. Today (Monday), brother Nigel conducted two such studies, and I tagged along. Also today, I finally completed the February edition of Gospel Gazette Online, though I may not be able to publish it from here; I may need to wait until I return to the USA on March 8.

Tomorrow, we launch out to a suburb of Georgetown for another seminar. Later in the week and for the next two weeks, we have additional seminars in which brother Milo, brother Wilbur Vyphuis and I will encourage and edify preachers and members of numerous congregations in Guyana. It has been and continues to be a gratifying experience to serve our Lord in this way here in this nation. My frequent prayer daily is that God will be glorified and that souls will be edified.

Christmas Day to New Year’s Day

January 1, 2016
Bonnie, Rebecca & Louis (1975)

Bonnie, Rebecca & Louis (1975)

My son Raymond and my daughter Rebecca made my Christmas Day a much better time than I am sure it otherwise would have been without them. My dear beloved Bonnie who passed away in May would have been 59-years-old this December 25th had she lived till then. Without my children for my benefit and without each of us encouraging each other, the holiday time and birthday time might have bordered on unbearable. We leaned on each other. I didn’t roll out even a single Christmas decoration that for 40 years I had done for my dear wife. Having two of my children with me was all the decoration I needed.

Sunday the 27th, we three drove out to the Old Union Church of Christ meetinghouse earlier than time for Bible class to begin. We purposely afforded ourselves some quiet moments at Bonnie’s gravesite in the cemetery adjoining the quaint, old, white-framed chapel. This was the first time that Raymond had seen the double headstone atop his mother’s grave; someday I presume that my lifeless body will lie once more adjacent to that of my Bonnie.

I was happy to worship with the church family and friends that regularly assemble in the little building and in the clearing amidst the woods and kudzu vines. Not one brother or sister is pretentious but humbly and simply interested only in worshipping God unapologetically in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Following lunch at the local Winona, MS Chinese restaurant, Raymond loaded the rental car in which he had ridden from Ohio to return thereto. With gladness I greeted his arrival and with a tinge of sadness I watched as he drove away. About 11 hours later, he texted that he had arrived safely.

Monday, I spent several thousand dollars with very little effort. I wired program money to Guyana, South America for the upcoming Annual Nationwide Guyanese Seminars, which will be conducted throughout that country within reach of every congregation of the churches of Christ in Guyana. Lord willing, I depart the USA for that venue on January 30 and return to the States on March 8.

In addition, I mailed a check to India for evangelistic work by one of the seasoned and faithful nationals, an outstanding worker for the Lord. Other funds via check were sent to a stateside world evangelist to hand deliver funds later this year to another locality in India, which will provide for the purchase of Bibles in one of the 800 dialects of that vast nation.

Not done spending money yet, I made substantial deposits over the phone via a credit card for the printing of two of my books. Both of them will be ready in January, which will enable me to take a several of each with me to Guyana – an English speaking country. One tome of 304 pages is titled, Christianity: An Explanation. The shorter volume of 232 pages is Preaching the Whole Counsel of God to the Whole World, and it is comprised of well-organized, full-sentence sermon outlines, mostly about Jesus Christ and His parables.

I still found time to work a little on one of the future volumes of The Voice of Truth International. In addition, from time to time I worked on the first 2016 issue of Gospel Gazette Online.

The next three days, Rebecca and I along with Jerry and Paula Bates as well as Betty Choate prepared packets containing the magazine Global Harvest and other pieces of Christian literature for mailing. Wednesday evening, the Bates and Rebecca and I visited a restaurant in Stewart, MS together to which none of us had ever been. After supping, we continued down to the outskirts of French Camp, MS to assemble with the good brethren of the Huntsville Church of Christ for Bible class.

Thursday, New Year’s Eve wasn’t anything special for Rebecca and me. Though we were awake when the New Year arrived, we were immersed in this or that and didn’t even turn the television on to see how people around the world greeted 2016.

Friday (New Year’s Day) began with an oddity– staying in bed much later than is typical for me. I probably also started a trend to be repeated throughout 2016 when I just had to stop later in the day at the local Walmart. The primary reason for going shopping was to purchase some OxiClean stain remover; New Year’s Eve I discovered that an ink pen had spewed blue ink all over in the dryer and on a load of wash. Rebecca and I spent quite a while experimenting with different solvents and elbow grease to clean up the dryer drum as best we could, but we opted for OxiClean powder and spray, too, hoping for the best before washing again the affected garments. Well, we had mixed results, but we were fortunate, for instance, that we were laundering dark clothes, several of which were casualwear instead of whites, towels or my dress shirts.

In addition, I replaced my toaster; the former toaster that I had used for decades was burning my electrical wall outlet because the cord was overheating. I didn’t want the toaster to be lonely, so I bought an electric can opener, too. Actually, the hand crank can opener fastened to the wall was serviceable and old, but at the same time inconvenient.

More importantly, I published today the January edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year on the Internet. Furthermore, I proofed several chapters of an upcoming class book. Some of these things become very tedious, but I enjoy working with text and doing layout, especially since the outcome is intended for spiritual edification of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Rebecca has been helping me with the finances, particularly with respect to the Rushmore Evangelism Fund. She filled in for me during my 2-month absence for my fall mission trip, and she understands some of the details involved in the software better than I do; that is especially important as we prepare to provide the IRS mandated documentation to 2015 donors. The best I could do to repay her was for us to share a meal at the Huddle House, a restaurant (diner) to which she had never been.

As I write this, a new day is approaching rapidly. It will have its own character. Rebecca and I plan to drive to her home so she will be in place for teaching school on Monday and so I will be positioned for a Sunday morning jaunt to a Memphis speaking appointment. Of course, we will have to eat along the way (at one of my favorite restaurants) before arriving at Rebecca’s domicile. We are also making a delivery of Gospel literature on Saturday in the metropolitan Memphis area.

I remain one who intends always to offer our Lord my best as long as I live, but who also repents when life’s struggle (Romans 7:19) gets the better of me and I miss the mark (Romans 7:23). Lord help me to train my eyes only on the heavenly horizon as this weary pilgrim marches ever forward, attempting to keep himself between the ditches of sin on either side of the straight and narrow highway to glory.

Staying Local – Almost

December 22, 2015
Rebecca, Louis, Bonnie (Myanmar 2010)

Rebecca, Louis, Bonnie (Myanmar 2010)

Friday, December 18 I completed most of the January 2016 edition of Gospel Gazette Online, now beginning its 18th year of publication on the Internet. Furthermore, I directed my attention to two new books of mine to be published over the next few weeks, and I also worked on preparation and layout for some articles to be published tentatively in volume 88 of The Voice of Truth International. Volume 86 just arrived a week or so ago, and volume 87 is at the printers now. So, it is time to work on the next edition. Not only so, but due to my absence again from the States January 30 through March 8, as well as Betty Choate’s absence from the Winona office February 8 through May 15, we may have to prepare for publication up to three future editions of VOTI before we respectively leave the country. Sister Betty is headed abroad to Asian countries, New Zealand and Tasmania, while I on the other hand am heading, Lord willing, to Guyana, South America for five weeks of seminars throughout the entire nation.

Friday evening, my daughter Rebecca finished up teaching school until after the holiday break. She left from school and came to my house, where she will be for the duration of her off days. Monday evening, my son Raymond surprised me by driving all the way down to Mississippi from Ohio. Tuesday, we three cleaned up the massive yard debris contributed by around 20 mature pine trees dotting the property – about five wheelbarrow loads of branches and numerous bushels of leaves and pine needles. While my children raked, I pulled a lawn sweeper behind my tractor lawnmower. That’s the most physical activity I have had since my nearly debilitating back pains had curbed all unnecessary physical exertions. Fortunately, after four months of increasingly heightened pain, finally it has subsided to the point I am hardly taking any pain medicine presently, and only over-the-counter meds are needed right now.

Most of Monday was consumed first by a bone scan at the hospital in Grenada, MS and secondly by grocery shopping, also in Grenada. The store in Winona burned down a few months ago, and it is scheduled to reopen a completely rebuilt structure on the same site in the middle of January. Not wanting to get tangled up in the retail melee at Walmart this time of year, we opted to forgo that venue for a couple of other grocers; we visited Save-a-Lot between my 9 a.m. injection with a radioactive substance and later returning for an hour bone scan beginning around 1 p.m. We purchased non-perishable items and surveyed whether we were content with its offerings. Following my procedure, we bought perishables and some additional grocery items at the Grocery Basket. We drove by Spain’s grocery earlier, but we decided not to stop there because it was one big, chaotic traffic snafu of cars in the lot, and the walkways were awash with a sea of shoppers. Evidently, many people are enamored with that store, but I was far from impressed on this occasion at least with the crush of fellow humans – which is what I was trying to avoid by distancing myself from the Walmart Supercenter at this time of the year.

Sunday morning, I had an appointment with the Tenth Avenue Church of Christ in Columbus, MS. It was my good pleasure to make my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work during the Bible class session. At the worship hour, I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” through the use of another PowerPoint presentation. I have always been well received by these brethren and I have always felt completely at ease and at home with them. When brethren who love the Lord commune together in worship, the fact that they are black and I am white does not even enter into any equation. Everyone with whom I work overseas is of a different race than me, and on one occasion after having spent a month all day and all night with some of those brethren, I identified with them so thoroughly that when someone leveled unwarranted verbal abuse on their race and nationality, I was offended, too – ever so briefly forgetting that I looked more like the misbehaving man than did I resemble the brethren with I was enjoying such an intimate relationship – in Christ.

Sunday evening, Rebecca who accompanied me on my appointments this weekend and I made our way to Baldwyn, MS. We arrived way early for my appointment at the Hillcrest Church of Christ. Part of the time awaiting time for evening worship, we rode through the town of Baldwyn, which really didn’t take very long at all. Back in the parking lot, I fired up my computer and did some office work. Once more, I made my PowerPoint presentation about my mission work, specifically updating the congregation about my recent 8-week mission trip to four Asian nations. Here, too, we were wonderfully received and encouraged.

Every segment of travel on the Lord’s Day was from two to two and a half hours – Winona to Columbus to Baldwyn and back to Winona. We arrived home around 10 p.m. Rebecca is a sports fan, and so we watched her beloved Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Denver Broncos; she had recorded the game that occurred earlier in the day.

One might observe that we stayed local, comparatively speaking, this past Sunday – at least traveling within a relatively close circuit all inside Mississippi. Often and recently, too, I travel out of state on my weekend speaking appointments.

Weekends

December 13, 2015

If you stop and think about, the so-called weekend – any weekend, is really “weekends,” forasmuch as each “weekend” is comprised of the end of one week and the beginning of the next week. However, occasionally I see a calendar somewhere that portrays Monday as the beginning of the week and Saturday and Sunday as the last two days of the week, as though those two days were in actuality as we commonly speak of them “the weekend.”

Well in any case, let me tell you about my “weekend” or “weekends.” Saturday once more I had a disturbed night’s sleep because of acute pain in my back and awoke in significant, unrelenting pain – the kind that time and time again makes it nearly impossible for me to even get out of bed. However, sometime after taking a prescription pain killer the pain eased enough for me get up and around, and the more I moved about the better I felt. I was almost giddy because I felt so well in contrast to most of the last two months. Later though, the pain returned and I could not bring it under control. Once more pain forced me from my bed to a recliner in the living room. With another dose of pain meds, I was able to function. Otherwise, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to worship God (Sunday, December 13, 2015) with the assembled saints.

Training the little ones right

Training the little ones right

Not only did I manage to get up, I cooked food for a fellowship meal at the Old Union Church of Christ – meatballs, 5-cheese ravioli and Ragu tomato sauce. It was also my good pleasure to speak for the congregation in Bible class and the morning worship. For class, I showed my PowerPoint presentation “2015 Fall Asian Mission Trip,” and for worship I preached about “Redemption, Forgiveness, Justification and Sanctification.” The night before, I made a PowerPoint presentation to go along with that lesson, and my proverbial guinea pigs (figurative reference to test subjects) were the brethren at Old Union. It worked out well, an improvement over previous occasions teaching that lesson – despite trying to keep my wits about me operating two computers simultaneously – one for my sermon notes (a mini computer at the pulpit with me) and a second one at a distance and manageable with a clicker for the PowerPoint.

Eating together is about as riotous as Christians get.

Eating together is about as riotous as Christians get.

Following worship, the full house – inclusive of local members, members from sister churches of Christ and community folks – feasted together. Young and old enjoyed themselves.

Bonnie's headstone amidst a sea of fallen leaves

Bonnie’s headstone amidst a sea of fallen leaves

Before departing the Old Union premises, briefly I visited my wife’s grave. This time of year, fallen fall leaves blanket the graveyard except for the tombstones that protrude up from the sea of brownish and reddish leaves.

This evening I stayed home, owing to bad weather and severe back pain that made any movement nearly impossible. Apparently, I can keep the pain at bay when reluctantly I resort to some prescription pain killer, and repeat the process about every five hours. My brother four years my junior is confined to a wheelchair, and I am going to do my best to keep moving by whatever means necessary until I lie down and die. There is work to be done on every front (e.g., The Voice of Truth International, Gospel Gazette Online and other literature and books to format for publishing, lessons to write, etc.) prior to my departure on January 30, Lord willing for five weeks in Guyana, South America. The e-tickets have been purchased, and all systems are go, as long as I succeed at pain management.

My blog is essentially “my dear diary” and self-inflicted therapy, I suppose. Yet, it does help me keep my friends, family, Christian brethren, encouragers and supports abreast of happenings related to me and efforts put forth respecting the cause of Christ. In any case, the price is right for a personal outlet and may serve some other purpose as well.

X-Rays, CT Scan, Plus Secular and Religious Appointments

December 6, 2015
Mobile Office Aboard an Express Train in India (2015)

Louis Rushmore’s Mobile Office Aboard an Express Train in India (2015)

Thursday, December 3, I rendezvoused with my doctor once more this year – again regarding pain in my back and side. At the start of the year, intense pain led to emergency surgery for a severe gallbladder attack. Three times now later in the year I sought relief for a different malady – nagging, reoccurring, sometimes acute back pain. Once in the spring and again while aboard a flight between India and France I could barely move at all due to intense pain. This summer I also fell in the bathtub and severely bruised my ribs on the tub side. So Thursday, the doctor sent me for x-rays to determine the source of my ongoing pain.

Friday, began with a fast, except for the two bottles of contrast liquid I drank in preparation for a CT scan. Leaving the local hospital where both the x-rays and the CT scan were obtained, I headed up the Interstate toward Horn Lake, MS. Arriving at the school where my daughter teaches at about 1:30 p.m., I happily acquainted a couple of classes and staff with foreign culture through a PowerPoint presentation and a display of foreign clothes, money and other items. I had just returned from eight weeks abroad in the Asian countries of Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India.

Following the close of the school day, I followed up on missed phone calls that came in during the PowerPoint presentation at school. The results are in! My medical tests confirm that I have degenerative arthritis in my lower back and pelvis. For the next 30 days at least, I will continue to pursue the least powerful over-the-counter pain medicine that can address most of my pain. In one month, my doctor and I will reassess my circumstances and decide how we will move forward. In any case, I do not intend to voluntarily stop moving and working for the Lord as long as I can push through. Yet, I realize that I am going to have to stop helping to load and unload tractor-trailers of literature at our World Evangelism warehouse, and a truck is due any time! I am going to have to find some serious help with yard maintenance, especially the embankments. It will all work out.

Sunday, it was my pleasure to assemble with the Collierville Church of Christ, one of my supporting congregations and where my daughter Rebecca has worshipped for nearly two decades. I made my PowerPoint presentation about my 2015 fall mission trip to four Asian nations. During morning worship, I preached my PowerPoint sermon, “The Church in Prophecy.” After lunch and prefacing afternoon worship, I worked with young people through my novel approach to learning Bible maps and my Buckets of Bible Time. Then, during afternoon worship, I preached, “Did Dinosaurs Really Exist?” We considered biblical and extra-biblical historical evidence respecting the coexistence of mankind and dinosaurs. The conclusion was that one’s confidence is correctly and well placed in the Bible – God’s Word, which does, in fact, speak about dinosaur-like creatures.

Sunday night, I slogged through some sluggish websites to purchase airline tickets for my next overseas trip – this time to Guyana, South America. Lord willing, I leave January 30 and return to the USA on March 8. Over those five weeks, typically I speak in 15 seminars distributed throughout that country, preach two Gospel meetings, teach in a high school boarding house, tape television programs, teach Bible classes and preach on the Lord’s days.

Monday, I will make my way back to Winona. On the way though, I look forward to visiting brethren and enjoying their company over a meal out together. However, it will be a working lunch as we collaborate on ways to be of better service in the cause of Christ.

Next Sunday, I will be with the Old Union Church of Christ in rural Carroll County, MS, whereupon I will make my mission presentation and preach during worship. The following Sunday, I long for the renewed opportunity to do the same with dear brethren of the 10th Avenue Church of Christ in Columbus, MS. I covet your prayers as I travel stateside as well as overseas, endeavoring to glorify God and edify all with whom I have contact, especially brethren.

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.