Posted tagged ‘lectureship’

We’ll Sleep When We’re Dead!

August 22, 2012

Displays at Polishing the PulpitSome days, our workdays are traveling all day to an appointment on Wednesday evening. We did just that on August 15. Just before lunch time, we started driving from Winona, MS to Portland, TN – about six hours of driving plus necessary stops. However, before making this leg of our journey, we had to load the car for a two and a half week tour – including loading the van for 16 feet of displays at the Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) program in Sevierville, TN. In addition, following that lectureship, we are traveling to Pennsylvania and Ohio, before going to Jacksonville, FL in a roundabout way back to Winona. Thus, we had a lot of packing to do.

Buckets of Bible TimeWednesday, we were with the Fountain Head Church of Christ outside of Portland. That night, we lodged once more in the “Corn Crib,” a cottage that has been remodeled from an actual corn crib, on a farm near the Kentucky state line.

Bible MapsThursday morning, we drove toward Sevierville, around four hours away. Friday afternoon, we set up our mission work display and the literature display of hundreds of books. Saturday, we drove to Ooltewah, TN – a little over two hours southwest toward Chattanooga, TN. It was our good pleasure once more to lodge with Winston and Kathy Stringfield. Sunday morning August 19, I presented to the Ooltewah Church of Christ the PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011 for the Bible class (as I had done Wednesday at Fountain Head). During the worship period, I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Sunday afternoon, Bonnie and I returned to PTP for the evening lessons.

Bonnie as Queen EstherMonday through Wednesday, between the two of us, Bonnie and I taught three children’s classes daily. Thursday, we taught two children’s classes. Not able to attend day sessions, each night Bonnie and I attended the night programs. We had much good interaction with brethren interested in our efforts for the cause of Christ. Bonnie and I renewed acquaintances and friendships, sometimes with brethren we had not seen for several years.

In some of the in between moments throughout the week, I was able to finalize some upcoming appointments stateside. After speaking at two congregations Sunday, August 26 in Ohio, the following Sunday, we will be with a church in Florida. In addition, we were able to work out some of the details for our soon trip to Asia for about two months.

I must be tired. Often by end of day and by the time Bonnie and I get in bed for the night, we are exhausted. In addition, even in the early morning often brethren tell me, “You look tired!” Well, if we fail to get all the rest one might think we need in this life, we are planning to rest eternally from this world’s labors once we lay down our bodies in the earthly clay. We’ll sleep when we’re dead!

Here We Go Again!

April 18, 2012

Friday, April 13, after a full day at the office, the highlight of which was finalizing our part of publishing the next issue of The Voice of Truth International magazine, Bonnie and I meandered up I-55 and across Mississippi 302 toward Collierville, TN. However, we paused at our favorite eatery for dead cow – Texas Roadhouse in Horn Lake; we picked Rebecca up at school and dined together before proceeding to her home – ever our bed and breakfast.

Some of my brain cells aren’t talking to each other anymore! At our daughter’s, I changed clothes and drug out the hedge trimmer I had brought from home; we were going to trim out a thicket of twisty vines in the backyard. Rebecca had just plugged in one of the extension cords that I had brought along, and I was about to plug the other end into the hedge trimmers. It turned out to be a very short exercise in futility – I had brought a battery operated hedge trimmer – without the battery, rather than an electric device. I think I have an electric hedge trimmer, but I haven’t looked to confirm that.

Saturday morning from Rebecca’s living room, I completed and published to the Internet the April issue of Gospel Gazette Online. After lunch, Bonnie and I pointed the Town & Country toward Batesville, AR – several hours westward. That night in the Best Western motel, I notified the nearly 1,300 subscribers to Gospel Gazette Online of the availability of the April edition.

Old Lock & DamWhile out over the weekend, we walked along a river, especially interested in the former lock and dam on the White River, now converted to production of electrical power. We snapped a picture or two of a NASCAR specimen in front of a Ford dealership on Sunday morning on the way to the meetinghouse. That afternoon, I noticed a strange city sign in Biggers, AR.

NascarSunday morning, I made my PowerPoint presentation Into All the World in 2011 during Bible class at the Southside Church of Christ. I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear during worship. That evening, we had made our way to the Biggers, AR Church of Christ where I updated the congregation about our 2011 foreign mission trips.

Farm Equipment RouteHours later after battling stiff winds and sandstorms from gusts blasting across the surface of newly disked rice fields, Bonnie and I again arrive at our very own bed and breakfast. Whereas Friday night I met by request with a brother and discussed matters important to him, Monday morning, I was invited by still another preacher for a similar interchange.

Midway between breakfast and lunch times, heading toward Winona, Bonnie and I took refuge for brunch at Cracker Barrel. Pecan pancakes, hash brown casserole, crisp bacon and chocolate milk was the order of the day; mmmm!!!!! Having done all the damage we could do there, we headed for Lowe’s where we bought the materials for tiling the kitchen floor and counter. Previously, I had bought a book and read the applicable portions to my upcoming project, and then, I found a contractor – member of the church about two hours from Winona – who will do the work in May.

As soon as we get back to town, Bonnie and I must prepare a mailing to request brethren assist us financially, permitting us to accumulate the approximately $5,000 needed for a national seminar in Guyana the first week of June. We will be traveling to several areas to encourage and edify preachers, their wives and other church leaders. The wall calendar back in the office is heavily punctuated with appointments throughout the balance of the year, stateside and abroad. Even when we do not blog daily, the flurry of activity that drives our lives sometimes makes me dizzy – dizzy for the Lord, in His service, seeking His favor.

A Big, Big, Slow Circle

March 6, 2012

Ray & Charlotte WeddingtonSunday, March 4, 2012, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Pleasant Cove Church of Christ outside of McMinnville, TN. Dear friends and coworkers in the kingdom of Christ, Charlotte and Ray Weddington, introduced us to this fine congregation. Each year, Charlotte and Ray give us the royal treatment as we stay overnight with them, and they get to (or are forced to) see all of our pictures from trips abroad the previous year. For Bible class, I gave my PowerPoint presentation about our work in four countries abroad in 2011. My sermon later in the morning was Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Per usual, after morning worship, we were the excuse this time for brethren to enjoy a fellowship meal together; Christians don’t need much of a reason to gather and eat!

That evening, we searched out with the help of Miss GPS the Claxton (TN) Church of Christ. There, we reunited with our dear friends Audrey and Dave Amos. Once more, Bonnie had to endure my PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011. We made new friends from among brethren as well as rekindled old friendships. We left some books for the church library and introduced the congregation to The Voice of Truth International magazine.

East Tennessee School of Preaching & MissionsLater that evening, we caught up with Evelyn and Jody Apple at the night session of the East Tennessee School of Preaching & Missions Lectureship in Karns, TN (a suburb of Knoxville). Each year, the Apples kindly loan us sleeping accommodations for the duration of the lectures. Bonnie and I set up two tables of books, tracts, magazines and displays to acquaint attendees of the lectures with our stateside and foreign missions ministry. When we were not tending to the exhibits, we enjoyed some outstanding biblical lessons. We always enjoy greeting both old Christian friends and making new acquaintances from among good brethren.

CabinWith no lodging reserved, we somewhat aimlessly pointed the van toward Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Finally, we opted for a one-bedroom cabin perched on a knob amidst pines just west of Pigeon Forge. It’s a good thing that the cabin was no higher up the mountainside, because our Town and Country, laden with literature, displays, equipment and luggage was unable to get enough traction on the gravel to climb further; I had to back down a stretch of ridge, thankfully to where I should have turned to our cabin.

There we unwound and slowed down for two nights between appointments. No Internet, but there was a hot tub. With less interruption or diversion than typical, I devoted several hours toward completing a book that I was writing; I finally finished the book days later (after returning to Winona, MS) around midnight.

Smokey Mountain StreamBy day, Bonnie and I enjoyed some unrushed time together, enjoying some meals out and doing a little shopping. As always, we did more window-shopping than made purchases. However, we did buy ourselves each a new pair of leather, moccasin slippers, and we were able to find a couple pair of dress shoes for Bonnie that didn’t fall off her feet when she walked. Small narrow feet are difficult to fit, but the strap across the instep trapped her feet and compensated for not being able to find footwear that fit better than that.

Sunday, March 11, Bonnie and I worshipped in the morning with the North Lexington (KY) Church of Christ. I spoke during worship, preaching Into All the World in 2011. The night before, we lodged with Linda and Wick Moore, as we did last year, too. Following Sunday morning worship, two of the elders and their wives treated the two of us to lunch at Cracker Barrel.

The time change for Daylight Savings Time, being in Eastern Time instead of Central Time, our 6:30 a.m. alarm made it seem like we were getting up at 4:30 a.m. All day I was dragging myself through the day; it was all I could do not to take a nap along with Bonnie as I guided the car that afternoon in the direction of home – about seven hours away. Finally, I succumbed; Bonnie took over driving for a few hours and I napped. Refreshed and going on, we arrived at our daughter’s home in Collierville, TN around 8:30 p.m. Central Time; Rebecca’s home is our bed and breakfast, overnight lodging many times as we travel. Monday, we bought groceries and other necessities before arriving back in Winona, MS.

This week, we have a newsletter to publish, an overdue oil change and inspection for the car to have done, thank you cards to send to contributors, bank deposits to make, proofing of the magazine Global Harvest that must be done, boxes for overseas shipment that need packed and unloading a tractor-trailer of books to place in the warehouse. We have appointments to make, a backlog of emails, letters and phone calls to field, yard work calling our names, preparation for attending and speaking for lectures in April in Indiana, plus miscellaneous things, too. In addition, advance preparation needs to be made for a group of 28 coming on Friday to work in the warehouse; then, of course, we will need to participate alongside of them in what they do while here.

In all over the past 10 days, Bonnie and I made a big, big, slow circle through Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. We travel by car about 3,000 miles monthly (I was 800 miles past time to change the car’s oil). These days, we are trying to attend to the car’s complaints: plugs & wires, brakes, shocks, alignment, transmission maintenance. Anytime now, it appears that we will need to change the tires and replace the ailing power steering pump. There is no telling what a car having over 130,000 miles might think that it needs next!

On the road again is routine for us!

February 14, 2012

On the road again is routine for us! Sunday, February 5, Bonnie and I spent the Bible class and worship hours with the Milledgeville, TN Church of Christ. Counting the two of us, the highest attendance was 12. Kindly, brethren treated us to lunch in Lexington, TN and gave us a support check, too. I made my PowerPoint presentation Into All the World during Bible class, preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear in the morning and preached The Three Bears of Galatians 6 in the evening.

Freed Hardeman UniversityMonday through Thursday, we attended the annual Freed Hardeman University lectureship. We, along with coworkers from Winona, MS, set up and manned two tables in the display area – one of literature for sale (we also gave many books away) plus a display table and free literature respecting our worldwide mission work. Graciously, a brother outside of Henderson, TN lodged us in his home for the week.

Jerry and Paula Bates hauled a trailer to Henderson, but since Jerry left the lectureship early for an overseas mission trip, Bonnie and I pulled the trailer back to Winona. We did a little shopping on the way back, not the least of which was buying groceries. Very little foodstuff remained at home; we didn’t buy much before our planned, weeklong absence. Sunday, February 12 found Bonnie and me in the morning with the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS. We enjoyed the fellowship meal following morning worship. Sunday evening, we were with the Union, MS Church of Christ.

Martha NolandBob and Martha Noland came to spend a few days with us following the FHU lectureship. We spent some good time with them in Henderson, and we are enjoying their time with us in our Winona home. Of course, I drug them with me on my Sunday appoints February 12th.

Summer of Death

October 29, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011 began this way, Bonnie noted:

At breakfast Vijay informed us that Elizabeth would leave tomorrow by bus to her parent’s home (200 kilometers away) as her grandmother is dying. She is the only family member who has not visited. While eating lunch Elizabeth received a phone call that her grandmother has passed away. Because of our visit and her responsibilities tied to us and the three-day program, she was unable to see her grandmother before she died. I feel so helpless and responsible and know the pain she is feeling. Vijay took Elizabeth by taxi car to her parent’s home this afternoon and plans to return for tomorrow’s preaching schedule.

Bonnie washed clothes in our room after breakfast, while I sketched a Bible Lands map on the blackboard outside our room in the prayer hall; the blackboard is a wall that has been painted black, perhaps with some material to accommodate the use of chalk. I taught two segments of the semi-monthly Bible class meeting here, both times on Bible Geography. It went well with both young boys and men participating. They have no maps and have not had this type of material presented in this way before; many were very appreciative.

Rittu Babu 2 years earlier

Rittu Babu 2 years earlier

For me, the most rewarding aspect of the program was when the new Christian, 13-year-old Rittu Babu preached one of the finest lessons that I have ever heard a preacher of any age or experience level present. Both the content as well as the manner of his presentation was flawless and deserving of exposure through a pulpit anywhere among the churches of Christ, including any pulpit among American congregations. This is no exaggeration! He is a prodigy for sure, and well groomed by his father and mother. Rittu was the master of ceremonies for the entire program except when it was time for him to preach, and he chose to preach in English and selected another Indian brother to interpret into the Telegu language. Rittu gave a riveting and challenging discourse on Matthew 22:15-22, “Rendering unto Caesar and Rendering unto God.”

Bonnie, Louis, Rittu, Vijay, Ricky, Elizabeth

The Rushmores & The Babus

After the Babus left for the family home of Elizabeth due to her grandmother’s death, Bonnie and I sat outside in the compound talking with the young boys who would be returning home on the next available buses. About that time a monkey jumped up on the wall and climbed the side of the building. Bonnie started up the stairs to get our camera when the boys intercepted her to keep her from the unfriendly monkey that might scratch and bite her; they accompanied her to our room to retrieve the camera. She did manage to get one nice picture of the monkey before it scampered away. Other monkeys in the distance were too far away to photograph well.

Later in the evening, Bonnie and I were in our room. She was reading a book and sitting on the bed, leaning on the headboard, when all of a sudden I heard her make a noise and jump off the bed; her being startled also startled me. A gecko had managed to get around the bug screen on the window above our bed, and he jumped or fell onto the bed beside her, before hopping off of the bed and speedily secreting itself behind our luggage at the foot of the far wall. There had been two geckos on the opposite side of the screen, and now we see none. She threatened me that if I don’t stop teasing her, something is going to get me after I fall asleep!

Bonnie and I were in Guyana, South America earlier this year when her mother became seriously ill and was moved from the nursing home in which she resided to a hospital (from which she never returned). We did arrive home before her mother died, but assured that she was in no immediate danger and that she might even recover enough to return to the nursing facility, we honored our previously scheduled weekend preaching appointments and headed afterward to Mary’s bedside. However, she worsened and died early in the morning before we arrived. Steve Hogan’s mother-in-law grew gravely ill and passed away before he arrived back home, and Bonnie began grieving again. Then today, Elizabeth Babu’s grandmother died in her absence while she was attending to us as her guests; Bonnie comforted Elizabeth and they hugged and cried many minutes. Death is real, and we all need to make appropriate preparation for it (Hebrews 9:27; 5:8-9).

The Day that Would Not End!

October 24, 2011

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Early Monday morning, October 24, Steve Hogan received information that his mother-in-law was at death’s door. The day’s schedule was delayed for a while so Steve could make contact with his wife and other family members and to begin the procedure of changing his flight dates to accommodate a sooner return to the States. The nearly 12-hour difference in time zones from India to Alabama stalled changes that could be made through his travel agent in Alabama.

So, with a belated start to morning classes, now beginning at 11:30 a.m., Steve assumed his station at the church building to teach about 50 men, mostly denominational preachers. Bonnie taught about 50 ladies under a canopy in the courtyard of the Anil and Florence Kumar home, and I taught 25 adult Bible School students on the roof of the home (where the school is located in two tiny rooms, which spills out on to the roof). Because Bonnie’s location was the “dining hall” as well, she had to conclude first – at 1 p.m.; I concluded at 2:30 p.m., and Steve finished his class at about 3 p.m. A combined class of men from both venues resumed from 4 p.m. through 5:30 p.m. I taught Bible Geography first to the Bible School students and then continued with the subject to the larger group.

At 6:30 p.m., Anil, Steve, Bonnie and I rode in a hired car 2 ½ hours to the village of Maddulur – the last 40 kilometers across dirt paths and through potholes the size of small craters. Arriving at 9 p.m. – an hour late – a crowd of denominational people had been sitting atop empty feed sacks on the ground for more than an hour awaiting our arrival. I preached The One True Church of the Bible to an attentive audience, many with Bible pages turning and notepads being annotated with the biblical information presented. Next, Steve preached about Naaman. We concluded the open air services at 11 p.m. Numerous persons approached we three men and requested prayers for various reasons, which we obliged them. About to depart the meeting area, four precious souls requested to be baptized. However, there is no standing water in the area or container large enough to immerse. Finally, it was decided to take the candidates for baptism and ourselves to a creek about three kilometers away and hope we could find enough water for Christian baptism.

One woman, though, declined to be baptized, noting an open sore on her leg; she said she would be baptized later. The rest of us made our way to a concrete slab over a creek, and with headlights of the car and prodding by brethren in the water, a suitable spot was located. One new brother in Christ (who happened to be a dwarf) and two new sisters in Christ arose from the muddy water joyous to be Christians.

Next, it was back to the village for “supper” in the home (outside of) a Christian family. It was now 1 a.m. on Tuesday, October 25! Thereafter, we made our long, difficult journey back to Chilakaluripet – arriving back in our hotel room around 3:30 a.m.! Now, Steve Hogan checked emails and made phone calls to determine the status of his mother-in-law and discover the travel arrangements for his premature return to the States. At long last, we were able to turn our attention to the much needed rest and sleep from which we were deprived for too long – at 4:15 a.m.! But alas, sleep did not come easily as demolition workers were using a sledge hammer and smaller hammers in an adjoining room to dislodge and remove cement blocks; I could hardly believe that a hotel would schedule demolition work alongside of paying guests trying to sleep!

At 8 a.m., Bonnie and I awoke and showered; next, Bonnie washed clothes in the bathtub. Steve stopped by at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the balance of our trip on behalf of the Florence Blvd. Church of Christ, before leaving by taxi (with Anil) for his 11:30 a.m. departure from Vijayawada, India. He was to have overnight layovers in Hyderabad, India and London, England. (Later, we discovered that Steve did not arrive home before the passing of his mother-in-law.)

The previously planned Gospel meetings for the daytime in another village were cancelled due to the circumstances, mainly of not getting back to our hotel rooms until the next day from our previous venture, but also respecting the arrangement of Steve’s departure and Anil taking him to the airport – a day’s journey for roundtrip travel. After tea and cookies (Indians call them “biscuits”) in our room courtesy of Florence and Anil Kumar and breakfast in their home, we returned to the hotel and Steve accompanied by Anil went to the airport.

Another Gospel meeting was scheduled for the evening in a distant village, but due to heavy rains, that meeting was cancelled as well. Instead, I showed my Bible Archaeology PowerPoint to the Bible School students atop the residence/Bible school – amid a severe thunder and lightning storm. Saddened that still another opportunity had eluded us, nevertheless we were pleased that we could easily get back to our hotel at a reasonable hour for a night’s rest.

Monday in Mandalay

October 8, 2011

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Bonnie jotted down in her notes for Saturday, October 8:

We awoke to a severe thunderstorm – heavy rains and very windy. Fortunately, it cleared in time for our flight to Mandalay. After breakfast we walked to the market – Winsome requested we bring back grapefruit. It was lightly raining and the streets were flooded. Some streets were closed with excessive water, and we walked well out of our way trying to get around them. I got my feet wet and sandy.

She also noted that security in Myitkyina did not allow me to have my power cords for my computers in the cabin of the plane. Fortunately, our checked baggage was at our feet, and I could cram them into one of those bags. Bonnie has the exact same computer bag, computer and power cords, but security had no problem with her cords; maybe I look a little shadier than she does!

Arriving in the Mandalay airport, actually an hour’s drive from Mandalay, we hired a taxi to take us to the hotel in which we would lodge. Rains were torrential and unrelenting; the minivan windows were fogged on the inside and like a waterfall on the outside, but we were dry and comfortable.

Winsome, who had flown that same day from Yangon, greeted us at the hotel. The assistant manager, like Winsome, is a Burmese born daughter to an Armenian father; so, there has developed over the years a friendship between them springing from that commonality. This hotel was very hospitable and provided a pleasant stay. Peter, the evangelist in Mandalay, came to the hotel to welcome us, and later we took a taxi to his home for supper. Also worshipping with Peter is a young brother in Christ (Jeff) from the States who has been teaching there in an international school for about two years.

Sunday morning, Bonnie and I, Winsome and Amos, Peter with his family, Jeff and others worshipped together; Jeff taught a Bible class and I spoke during worship. Sunday evening, I taught a class of men while Bonnie taught a class of ladies. Monday morning and evening, Bonnie taught ladies and I taught men. On all occasions those two days, most of those in attendance were not true Christians. A Methodist preacher and an Assembly of God preacher were among those present.

To our surprise and delight, Peter is a fan of Gospel Gazette Online, and through the articles therein he was familiar with Bonnie, our daughter Rebecca and me. He prints the articles and translates them for use in his ministry. We receive correspondence from around the world regularly and meet people often who tell us similar stories of making good use of the thousands of articles archived and each new monthly issue of Gospel Gazette Online.

Sunday and Monday, Winsome took us sightseeing to the so-called largest book in the world with four-foot high stone pages, each housed in its own little building; we also saw a very long, rickety wooden bridge (still much in use) that connects two villages across a lake from each other. We toured an old palace fortress on an island in the middle of Mandalay. Winsome took us to a factory of looms where ladies and men operate by hand (and foot) simple wooden machines to accomplish complex operations to make silk cloth with intricate designs; in our travels we have seen thread coaxed from plants and spun on to spools, the weaving process and the finished products. Bonnie noted, “Across the street was the ‘factory store’ where one could purchase premade clothes and scarfs. I saw some beautiful garments, which I could not afford.”

I had given Amos a monetary “love offering,” as they call it in Myanmar, in appreciation for him being our traveling guide and translator. While in Mandalay, he took that money and bought a hydroelectric motor to take back to the mountain country where he preaches; it will provide electricity for the village and enable the use of videos, etc. to teach the Gospel. Then, Amos and a girl from Mandalay left by bus for Yangon so they could attend the classes at the Hmawbi Bible School (where Bonnie and I were to teach for a week a little later).

Mandalay was a rewarding experience for our efforts to be useful tools in the hands of God. Peter averred that he was much encouraged, and he was a great encouragement to us as well. We left funds with him for the production of literature for use in his ministry.

Early Tuesday morning we arose and boarded a taxi for the hour drive back to the airport serving Mandalay. From there, it was a short trip by airplane, up over and into the mountains toward Inle Lake.