Posted tagged ‘religious journal’

Until We Pass over the Threshold into Eternity

August 26, 2014

screened porchThursday, August 21 and Friday brother Lester Grimmett, his helper and I applied lumber and fiberglass screen to make a screened-in back porch at our borrowed, Winona home. Mosquitoes and other repulsive creatures just love me – to bite me, that is. This year especially, mosquitoes around our house rival any Bonnie and I have encountered in the tropics of Asia and South America. They are so bothersome that they populate the inside of our house daily, too. I am a virtual mosquito magnet! Maybe now when the heat and humidity retreats a little again, Bonnie and I will be able to enjoy our backyard escape into our miniature garden without the prickly little boogers that leave welts all over me.

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksOne little detour to the satisfactory putting everything back on the little screen patio slab was a minor accident I had Friday afternoon. For many months, particularly in heavy heat or when standing after stooping down, I have been getting lightheaded momentarily. It always passes, except on Friday. Who would believe someone could hurt so much from simply falling from a standing position – as I did on Friday. I have the scrapes and bruises to satisfy that little bit of painful research. Fortunately, I didn’t do any serious damage to myself or to anything else when I passed out and keeled over. The bottom number on my blood pressure was still “47” 40 minutes after the incident. However, Saturday morning, I was able to do some things around outside that were necessary before I resorted to the AC inside for the balance of the day.

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksSunday morning, it was our good pleasure to worship with the Clinton, MS Church of Christ. Since class began at 9 a.m., we had to leave Winona about 7 a.m. – the beginning of a long day in the making. It probably sounds like the proverbial broken record, but I made my PowerPoint presentation for Bible class about our 2014 Guyana Mission Trip; during the worship period, I again preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.”

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksAfterward, Bonnie and I kicked around Jackson, MS for the afternoon, first dining at and sharing a meal at Olive Garden; despite sharing the meal, we still carted away enough for another meal back at the house for another day. Bonnie cannot eat much at a time, and I have reduced my intake, too, as we share meals; I really like the money-savings bonus that comes along with that strategy. We shopped at Hancock Fabrics and then paused for a couple of hours in comfy seating at a nearby air conditioned mall. We bought gas, some other things at Wal-Mart, of course, and an ice cream cone apiece and a cold drink – as we waited for it to be time to head to our evening venue.

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksSunday evening, we worshipped with our sponsoring congregation, the Siwell Road Church of Christ on the south side of Jackson. I slipped up and got us there about an hour ahead of time; worship began at 5:30 p.m. I preached about “Rearing Children.” Services concluded, Bonnie and I headed in the direction of home – two hours north on I-55. However, on the way, we made two detours and brief stops. First, we visited Kroger in Madison, MS to buy groceries. Secondly, we grabbed sandwiches, shared a fry and soda at Arby’s in Canton, MS along the highway. Upon arriving back in Winona, we retired to bed as soon as we got the car emptied and cold items in the refrigerator or in the freezer. We were bushed.

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksMonday, Bonnie spent a lot of time on the phone trying to pin down the delivery of eight pallets of literature to the World Evangelism building in Winona; we have been waiting for over a week for the shipment to make its way from a dock in Los Angeles to us. It already travel all the way from Hong Kong where we had it printed in color throughout – mostly the new Bible class curriculum. There was ample office work to keep us both hopping – accounting, packaging book and tract orders to take to the Post Office, trying to hammer out our itinerary for our upcoming travels abroad, and doing all that is necessary to apply for our visas to Myanmar.

volunteers vs. 25,000 booksTuesday, a tractor trailer finally pulled up out front. Eighteen volunteers representing three congregations (West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS; Liberty Church of Christ in Dennis, MS – three hours away; and Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS) showed up just in time to help me unload and put away 25,000 books – in the blistering hot, highly muggy Mississippi summer day. It’s dark as I compose this, but without all that help, I’d still be working on that job!

Some boxes were damaged in shipment, but we only lost about eight books. Several ladies came along with men, and so they collated several different pieces of literature to ready it for shipping out, beginning on Thursday. Some congregations will be beta testing two different age groups of material this fall.

Otherwise, we shipped book and tract orders. We prepared for doing our mail out of the August edition of the Rushmore Newsletter; it arrived from the printing company the day before. Wednesday, we will attempt to fold, stuff, tab, label and mail nearly 1,000 pieces. Perhaps by Wednesday, Bonnie and I also can send out the numerous “Thank You” cards from those who recently sent monetary gifts to fund our labors stateside and overseas.

There are dozens of additional tasks just begging to be addressed, too. In due time, they all will move to the forefront and receive our attention (e.g., preparation of lessons for the seminars and Gospel lessons we each will present over nine weeks abroad, making appointments for stateside travel before and after our fall overseas mission trip, working on Gospel Gazette Online, working on The Voice of Truth International, etc.). We are making progress on all fronts, but we don’t expect to be done or wholly caught up until we pass over the threshold from our earthly existence to our heavenly reward. Come go with us!

Foray into Arkansas and Back

December 1, 2013

Table Hanging from CeilingSaturday, November 31, Bonnie and I drove from Winona, MS to Batesville, AR. We spent the night in a local motel in preparation for worshipping on the Lord’s Day (on December 1) with the Southside, AR Church of Christ—as the name indicates, just south of Batesville. We opted for supper at Arby’s and dessert at Dairy Queen—about a block apart from each other.

Sunday, I made a PowerPoint presentation of my 2013 foreign mission trips during the Bible class time. We visited vicariously through my trips Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in Asia and Guyana, South America.

Normally, Bonnie and I spend up to two months in Asia in any of four countries and up to one month in Guyana; this year, however, without Bonnie at my side due to her illness, I stayed three weeks in Guyana and three weeks in Myanmar this year. Happily, Bonnie has recovered and will be traveling with me to Guyana for the entire month of February.

During worship, I preached, “Why Do the Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music in Worship?” About 80 were present. Bonnie and I are always graciously received by our brothers and sisters in Christ at the Southside, AR congregation. We feel at home or comfortable there.

After worship, we dined with brother Bob and sister Shirley Harris, preacher and his wife for the church. We ate at a quaint, rustic restaurant across the street from the meetinghouse. The food was good, which is always a plus at an eatery, and the companionship was grand. An interesting oddity was that among the other items tacked on the walls and ceiling was a complete table, chairs, dishes, cups, etc. hanging upside down from the ceiling. Sister Harris said she never sits at the table under the hanging table because she doesn’t trust it not to fall while she is eating.

While we were at the restaurant, two other preachers from neighboring communities greeted me. One brother was from Oil Trough, AR; he highly praised Gospel Gazette Online and my most recent editorial in The Voice of Truth International magazine. Encouraging words are always appreciated and help us keep the momentum going to accomplish those things.

After lunch, Bonnie and I headed for Rebecca’s home in Collierville, TN. We will stay over two nights before returning to Winona, MS. Tomorrow, Bonnie and I will put on our annual demonstration, with a PowerPoint presentation, about foreign culture at the school where Rebecca teaches. Tuesday, Bonnie and I pick up sister Marilyn LaStrape at the Memphis, TN airport before returning to Winona. More about those two events later. Wednesday, I begin a 6-month class on Wednesday evenings at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ in Jackson, MS. More about that later, too. We keep ourselves busy in the service of our Lord, with the help and financial underwriting of our Christian brethren and churches of Christ. Thank you!

Five Pallets of “The Voice of Truth International Magazine”

November 19, 2013

Surprise! The tractor-trailer scheduled for Wednesday came Monday, November 18. Surprise! The lift gate for which we were billed was not on the truck that actually showed up. Surprise! Since the shipment arrived on Monday, Jerry and Paula Bates were still out of town from their Sunday appointments; only Betty Choate, Bonnie and I were in Winona to unload five pallets of The Voice of Truth International magazine. (Betty mused that Jerry and Paula were parked on the overpass, watching and waiting for the truck to drive away.)

Not having a loading dock at the World Evangelism Building and with no lift gate on the tractor-trailer, we had to take boxes from the back of the trailer, put them on hand trucks and wheel them into the warehouse. For almost exactly one year Bonnie has had an exemption from warehouse duty and any other strenuous activity (e.g., mowing grass), but she was cleared medically the previous Friday to do whatever she felt up to doing. Monday, Bonnie got quite a workout. I lifted down the hundreds of boxes to the ground, and Bonnie wheeled them to their destinations in the warehouse. Betty stacked them on pallets in the warehouse.

Whenever we are not involved in routine, daily matters (e.g., fulfilling stateside orders for literature and taking them to the Post Office, preparing mailings, working on future issues of The Voice of Truth International and Gospel Gazette Online, etc.), we divert our attention to such things as unloading or loading tractor-trailers with Christian literature. Volume 78 of The Voice of Truth International just received, Bonnie and Betty are already working on Volume 79.

2013 Polishing the Pulpit

August 30, 2013

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Bonnie and I arrived in the early afternoon at Polishing the Pulpit (PTP) on Saturday, August 24. Sevierville, Tennessee – adjacent to Pigeon Forge and not far from Gatlinburg – is a beautiful part of the country for sure. Whereas in former years we were able to enjoy some of the Smokey Mountain surroundings for a day or so following PTP, this year we crammed the weeklong activities between two of Bonnie’s chemotherapies. We were fully engaged during PTP and had to rush back to Mississippi to afford Bonnie her chemo on Friday morning.

Bonnie and I tended children of all ages each day. Bonnie assisted with 4- and 5-year-olds from as early as 7:45 a.m. to lunchtime. We, but especially Bonnie, presented a hands-on missions presentation for an hour each of two days; dozens of children pawed our exhibit and tasted the chapatti that Betty Choate had made for the occasion. Perhaps the one item that elicited the most interest from these little ones was The Voice of Truth International produced in Braille. Each morning I roved from class to class teaching Bible Geography to children as young as 4-year-olds up to 11-year-olds.

In the afternoons, Bonnie taught our program of Buckets of Bible Time, where youngsters are called upon to arrange in sequential order three red buckets labeled with “Patriarchy,” “Judaism” and “Christianity.” Then, they are asked to place three dimensional objects (e.g., cars, airplane, dinosaurs) and laminated cards depicting Bible characters in the appropriate buckets. The catch is that some characters belong in more than one time period (e.g., Moses, the apostles) and Jesus Christ does not belong in Christianity. In addition, Bonnie responded to the invitation to help out with children in the evening, too.

Afternoons from 1:30 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. or after, it was my sheer pleasure to assist other preachers who taught 21 budding young men from the ages of 10 to 14 how to prepare and to deliver a devotional. All of them did very well and deserve commendation; some did exceedingly well. One or two could easily serve as an “opening act” (to borrow a phrase from entertainment) preceding a keynote address by a seasoned brother at PTP in the future. I graduated somewhat in 2013 at PTP and was privileged additionally to have an adult class one evening. My assignment concerned the use of printed material in the mission field.

Between working with children, we did attend a few lectures, set up and managed our two display tables, and conversed with numerous people. Some of these brethren we only see at programs such as this, while others are our supporters and encouragers. We sold a few books, gave every budding preacher boy one or more books and distributed some The Voice of Truth International in two languages.

I spied a little tyke who may not have been potty trained yet, but who was an expert already with modern technology. He was mesmerized with a game on a cell phone. His little thumbs were working, and he was sliding his finger across the screen to manipulate the pictures. I was dumbfounded! Is there any hope for me?

The first snafu upon arriving at the Wilderness Hotel and Convention Center was learning that our lodging reservation had been cancelled and that there was no room in the inn. That we would not arrive on Friday was apparently not conveyed by PTP personnel to the hotel, and so staff there cancelled our reservation and gave our room to someone else when we were a “no show” on Friday. We were counting on being in the hotel so Bonnie could resort to the room for rest as needed. The hotel relented and rented us one of the two emergency rooms it had put back in case something went wrong. It seemed that we walked the length of a football field to an elevator that took us two floors below the main floor. Fifteen rooms are nestled in this subbasement adjacent to the loading dock and driveway for vending and laundry. Some bugs knew where our room was located even if housekeeping occasionally did not remember.

Whining aside, the accommodations were very much appreciated, and the hotel room at the convention center afforded Bonnie rest at lunchtime and supper each day, besides restful sleep. We ate two meals daily in our room and ate out once every day, twice as guests of the generosity of other brethren.

Thursday morning, Bonnie tended to small children until the conclusion of the PTP program. I packed our clothes, food and mobile office, and then loaded the car with those things. Next, I sat in on the speeches of seven of our young preacher prodigies as they made public presentations to parents and friends. Finally, Bonnie and I packed our displays and books for our return trip to Winona, MS. About 1 p.m. we pointed the limping Town & Country toward Mississippi. About eight hours later, we pulled into our driveway, positioned for a morning departure on Friday to get Bonnie to her next chemo appointment.

Tired, yes. Gratified, yes. Bonnie and I earnestly desire to serve the Lord to our fullest always in this life and as long as life persists and permits. Triage of looming efforts include contacting and confirming speakers for the April 2014 India Missions Conference, rent a car at the Pittsburgh, PA airport for our northeastern appointments in two weeks, purchase airline tickets for my fall mission trip to Myanmar (Burma) in October, work on Gospel Gazette Online for September and October, work on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and bring it to fruition before departing for Asia, prepare my lessons for three weeks in Myanmar (four to six hours daily), prepare and rehearse sermons and classes for two congregations for which I will speak this weekend, mow the grass (it’s been four weeks), prepare six months of classes for Wednesday nights at the Siwell Rd. Church of Christ that commence upon my return from Asia, and try and deposit our bucking, sputtering van at a dealership for much needed nurture while away in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; yesterday, the car’s odometer exceeded 173,000 miles. Like me, some of its body parts don’t work right anymore!

I dare say that a few other more routine matters will cry for attention as well. We will triage one and all as needed. It is time for us to send another newsletter, but I’m not sure we can squeeze one out at this time. Thank you for your continued interest in our efforts to serve our Lord stateside and especially abroad.

Rushmore-ing!

September 12, 2012

Wednesday, September 5, Bonnie and I fellowshipped with the Charleston, MS Church of Christ for evening Bible Study. I presented my PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011. Individual members of this congregation have for years encouraged us and participated financially with us in our mission work. This occasion was no exception to past experiences.

Saturday, September 8, Bonnie and I motored to Huntsville, AL where we lodged the night with Lindell and Sharon Smith. He is one of the elders of the Farley Church of Christ where I spoke twice on Sunday morning. Brother and sister Smith introduced us to a new restaurant experience at Cheeburger. It was a 50’s setting and good cheeseburgers and onion rings. I wish I had gotten the milkshake pictured. For Sunday class, I made the Into All the World in 2011 PowerPoint presentation. For worship, I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear; this is the most important sermon I have ever preached, and everywhere I present it, brethren remark how timely and necessary it is. The small Farley Church of Christ is not a regular contributor, but some of its members are. Each of the elders participated with us financially and publicly encouraged the congregation to do the same. For lunch, Paul and Gladys Clements took us to yet another restaurant to which we had not been, though it, too, is a chain restaurant – Ruby Tuesdays. The food was good and the fellowship was even better. We had quite a protracted interaction with our server and the manager. I gave each of them our Million Dollar Bill tract with the plan of salvation on the reverse. I gave the young lady serving our table a business card with us in Indian dress on one side and the URL for Gospel Gazette Online on the other side. Paul invited her to worship with the Farley Church of Christ.

On the way back to Winona that afternoon, we stopped in Tupelo, MS for some light shopping and a long overdue carwash. Still, bugs aplenty pepper the front bumper, hood and mirrors. Being in the right place at the right time, we worshipped for the first time with the Gloster Street Church of Christ in Tupelo. The lesson was edifying and the congregation was very friendly. I spoke briefly with one of the elders, James Segars, who is brother to an elder (Doug Segars) of the West President Street Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. Bonnie and I left a case of The Voice of Truth International and some Global Harvest magazines with the Gloster Street congregation.

Gospel Gazette OnlineMonday, Bonnie and I finished the production and preparation for mailing of our September Rushmore Newsletter. Tuesday, we were able to mail numerous thank you cards to contributors over the past week. In addition, I was able to complete and publish to the Internet the September issue of Gospel Gazette Online. Between the time we left the office and resumed office work in the living room, Bonnie and I raced against impending darkness to continue painting the exterior of the Mission House in which we live. Just maybe, we will able to complete that undertaking before we leave the country on the 27th of this month.

Wednesday morning, I was able to craft and send out the email notifications for both the September editions of the Rushmore Newsletter and Gospel Gazette Online. Though we mailed 557 copies of our newsletter, we apprise hundreds more via email where they can obtain a PDF version of the newsletter. The notification of the new edition of Gospel Gazette Online provides a handy Table of Contents whereby readers can go directly to articles of interest. In this issue, 26 writers penned 28 articles, plus there is an audio lesson as well.

Bonnie has been working feverishly on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International, which must go to the printers before we head overseas in a couple of weeks. Now, I can devote more of my time to helping her with the layout, etc. Still ahead today is getting the files for the current issue on a DVD for overseas, whereupon brethren abroad will publish copies for distribution in India. Tonight, of course, we will fellowship with a congregation during Bible Study. We are Rushmore-ing!

St. Joseph Church of Christ, Dyersburg, TN

March 30, 2012

Sunday, March 25, Bonnie and I were with the good brethren of the St. Joseph Church of Christ in Dyersburg, TN. We are always enthusiastically received, and my sermon Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear stirred brothers and sisters in Christ to a renewed and recommitted emphasis on worshipping God in His own appointed way. This has been perhaps the most popular sermon I have ever preached – abroad and stateside.

Following Bible class and worship, we enjoyed a potluck fellowship meal together. Bonnie and I didn’t know brethren were gathering to eat together after services, but we also delight in such occasions. That was the first time we had been in the church’s multipurpose hall.

Sunday evening, Bonnie and I imposed once more on our daughter Rebecca and stayed the night at her home. Monday morning, Bonnie and I stopped briefly at Chick-fil-A for breakfast on the way out of Collierville. After some shopping, we made our way back to Winona, MS – our base of operations. That evening, we waded into overgrown brush and bushes to retrieve a couple of azalea bushes for transplanting in our backyard. That was almost too much for me, and the sweat endlessly rolled down my face.

By day, Bonnie continued to work on the upcoming issue of The Voice of Truth International throughout the week. I worked on the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online – running late as usual. Numerous other activities interrupted our respective efforts on those magazines – which is pretty much the way every day goes.

Tuesday afternoon visitors began arriving: Ruth Orr and Jane George from Tennessee; by suppertime, Prissy Sellers, her daughter Hope Stringham and granddaughter Amelia from Missouri also arrived. Bonnie fixed supper at our house for them, Betty Choate, Jerry and Paula Bates and us. We used the good dishes, on which we put our roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, miniature homemade loaves of bread and pumpkin cake for dessert.

Tuesday through Friday, our visitors constructed boxes and packed them for future overseas shipments to the Philippines, Malawi, Ghana and Nigeria. This group was self-starting and self-perpetuating – meaning that unlike most groups that come in to work from time to time, we did not have to leave other functions to work with them. Before they left, they had packed 15,000 books for destinations abroad. We will ship the boxes to various locations stateside for placement in containers or introduction into the US Postal system foreign mailbags.

Amelia either played by herself or watched children’s videos to amuse herself most of the time. The evening before, following supper, she asked me to teach her to play checkers; she spied the old, homemade checkerboard handed down through Bonnie’s family. She did well for a 4-year-old. At the office/warehouse, I acquainted her with the Bible maps (as I often do with small children in congregational settings) and taught her how to work the chairlift – a make do tame substitute for an amusement park.

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Finally, Friday evening I finished the March issue of Gospel Gazette Online and sent out the email notifications to over 1,200 subscribers. Saturday, unlike most Saturdays when we are traveling for a Sunday appointment, we slowed down a bit at home. That is, if one doesn’t count the planting of dozens of flower bulbs and digging up and replanting numerous hostas. We have also planted four rose bushes. All of that was a lot like work! The work we ordinarily do doesn’t make my back hurt and I don’t have to perspire as much! I may need to go back to work just to get some rest!

Two Tuckered Out Pilgrims

January 23, 2012

Sunday, January 15, Bonnie and I worshipped with the Lake Forest Church of Christ in Walls, MS, where David Fisher is the preacher. During worship, I presented Into All the World in 2011 PowerPoint presentation about our mission trips abroad. Imitating some black Gospel preachers that I have heard do this occasionally over the years, I finally uttered aloud before the assembly, “Amen, walls!” What made it amusing to me was that I was standing in Walls, Mississippi when I said it; I had secretly wanted to do that ever since I first spoke at the Lake Forest congregation. Of course, I explained myself and the unlikely dialogue to the congregation present that morning. David Fisher, Gary Wilburn and a couple from the congregation shared lunch with Bonnie and me at a country buffet in Horn Lake, MS.

After a little shopping, Bonnie and I headed for Batesville, MS where I was to speak for the Sunday evening worship of the Lord’s church there. Since we were early, we did a little more shopping and followed that up by resorting to Cracker Barrel for dueling hot fudge sundaes. Still early, we waited in the car at the meetinghouse for the Batesville Church of Christ for the key holder to let us in. I was getting a little antsy while we paused before evening services were to begin, anticipating the arrival of the audio/visual person to facilitate lining up my PowerPoint, Into All the World. Honestly, Bonnie and I do not – I repeat, do not – plan our annual visit to the Batesville congregation based on what time of the month it hosts an evening fellowship meal. However, every year we come, the church is having a fellowship meal, to which we are invited to stay and enjoy. Some of the members are joking about and suspecting that our visits purposely coincide with their potluck feasts. In our defense, this was not the church’s regularly scheduled evening for the fellowship meal, and so we had no way of knowing about it.

New Face on an Old KitchenMonday morning, Bonnie and I began deconstructing the kitchen at the house. We have undertaken painting the wood paneling and cupboards; our aim is to lighten the walls so that what little light makes it through the roof-shaded, single window reflects better. Doubtless, the overhead light will be more effective, too, with lighter walls. In addition, we plan to lay porcelain tile on the kitchen floor and sink countertop. We are doing everything ourselves, which in some instances makes for some new experiences.

To be frugal, we used leftover paint from painting bedrooms, the hall, living room and dining room for the base coat. Consequently, the kitchen walls and cabinets were indiscriminately pink, blue and peach at the same time! (The kitchen has been in total disarray for a week during the painting and repainting process, but it is beginning to come together.)

We put progress on hold temporarily to meet and greet guests at the warehouse/office for World Evangelism. Arthur and Shirley Burnett from Hamilton, MS called me that they were on their way to Winona to pick up some books for their ministry. Pleasant interaction concluded after a while, they left and Bonnie and I resumed putting a fresh face on an old kitchen back at the house.

Tuesday, Bonnie and I finished tweaking Volume 71 of The Voice of Truth International magazine. Wednesday, we turned the digital material over to Betty Choate for her final adjustments before being sent to the printing company. I find myself behind again respecting Gospel Gazette Online; I am working on the January 2012 issue – the commencement of year 14 of publication on the Internet. Thursday, we loaded a trailer full of literature to be taken by Jerry and Paula Bates to a container in Texas, which will eventually make its way to Tanzania.

Friday afternoon, Bonnie and I drove nearly four hours to Killen, AL to be in place for the School of Missions on Saturday, hosted by the Killen Church of Christ. We chanced to make a last minute arrangement with Wayne and Janet Barrier to enjoy supper together as they were out and about in Tuscumbia. We retired for the night to a little Indian-run motel on the threshold to Killen. Saturday morning, we were at the School of Missions by 8 a.m. Perhaps 50 or so missionaries and would be missionaries were crammed in a little room where we edified each other respecting missionary preparation. Several men presented interesting and uplifting lessons over the course of the morning and through 12:30 p.m.

Bonnie and I lunched at a fabulous and affordable restaurant (Demos) in Florence, AL. The food is terrific, reasonably priced and the service is courteous as well as efficient. We did a little shopping (as we customarily do when out of the anti-metropolis of Winona, MS) and defended ourselves from the cool midafternoon with hot chocolate drinks and Crispy Crème doughnuts. Shopping and eating establishments plus more spoils me when I am in Florence; I feel like a little boy in a candy shop!

Antioch Church of ChristSunday, January 22, Bonnie and I spent the day with the Antioch Church of Christ, which assembles in the countryside outside Killen. For Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation of Into All the World in 2011 about our mission trips abroad. For morning worship, I preached What Is Jesus’ Plan for My Life? Sunday evening, I preached Worshipping Almighty God Acceptably and with Godly Fear. Between services, we were hosted to a tasty country plate dinner on the outskirts of Rogersville, AL. Thereafter until time for evening worship, I worked on the January issue of Gospel Gazette Online.

About four hours after worship services of the Antioch Church of Christ concluded, Bonnie and I rolled up into the carport of 705 Devine Street, Winona, MS. It was nearly 11:00 p.m. Just when we thought that we would transition for an hour before going to bed by watching a little television, an explosion outside our home simultaneously signaled the loss of electricity – so we went to bed! What else was there to do on a dark, stormy night for two tuckered out pilgrims?

No Rice for 10 Days!

January 5, 2012

Holidays slow our traveling schedule a little. However, that gives time to pause and commemorate Bonnie’s birthday as well as the national holiday of Christmas – both on December 25. Our daughter Rebecca spent her time away from teaching school with us. We got the Christmas ornaments and imitation pine out of the attic and set up before she arrived, but she delayed her return home long enough to help us take everything down and stow it back in the attic. Of course, New Years is another close national holiday, but we all retired to bed early – though the neighborhood fireworks ensured that we did not fall off asleep before 2012 arrived. January 3 is my birthday, though we celebrated it early so Rebecca could be with us before school resumed for her. If we were hearty partiers, we could revel nearly non-stop from Christmas through the New Year to my birthday!

Friday afternoon we had a welcome visitor, Winsome – all the way from Myanmar (Burma). She is such a dear one to us, a sister in Christ and instrumental in so much that we and others do throughout each year in her country. Recently, we spent all day daily for many days together traveling throughout her nation. We were privileged to have her as guest for a couple of days.

Paula, Winsome, Rebecca, Betty, BonnieShe had been horribly mistreated by American brethren for the nearly two weeks before her arrival in our home. She exclaimed that she had not had rice for 10 days! Paula and Jerry Bates, coworkers of ours, as well as Betty Choate plus Bonnie and I fed Winsome breakfasts, lunches and suppers – some of which included rice. However, she also was introduced to French toast for breakfast and Bonnie’s homemade pizza for lunch; Winsome opted for a modest second helping of pizza.

Sunday, January 1, 2012, Bonnie, Rebecca and I with Winsome in tow left our home at 5:30 a.m. departed Winona, MS for Dennis, MS – about a three-hour car ride. I spoke at the Bible class of the Liberty Church of Christ, the longtime sponsor of the late J.C. Choate and still the sponsor of Betty Choate. It was my good pleasure to present a PowerPoint of pictures of Bonnie and my 2011 foreign mission trips, and I introduced Winsome to the congregation.

Bonnie, Winsome, RebeccaAfter seeking out lunch at a local eatery, we returned to the parking lot of the Liberty church. Before that, though we drove through Tishomingo State Park and got out for Winsome to inspect a frontier cabin along the roadway. Back at the church property, Jamie and Katie Barrier retrieved Winsome for the next leg of her US journey; surely, she must feel somewhat like a baton – passed from one to another. Winsome has traveled by car throughout middle to north Alabama and into Mississippi – shopping or visiting brethren. Her whirlwind tour – her first visit to America – will end shortly. She will return to Yangon (Rangoon) where with her mother they have hosted the Lord’s church in their home for the past 30 years.

Winsome at Liberty Church of ChristBonnie and I headed back toward Winona, stopping for some necessary shopping in Tupelo, MS along the way. Given the time of our arrival back in the part of Mississippi in which we live, and given the service times of various congregations, we happily worshipped Sunday evening with the Huntsville Church of Christ outside of French Camp, MS; few churches welcome us more graciously than this country church.

Wednesday, we assembled with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS as we often do for midweek class. During the days, we are feverishly working on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International (volume 71) and various end-of-year matters; today I wrote my article for the next issue of Global Harvest, too. Correspondence has spanned the globe; oh, what a blessing email can be. Plans are being made for stateside and foreign travel even now. Gospel Gazette Online for January must wait its turn. Sticky notes on my computer screen (electronic ones!) each cry for their attention, and it seems that never will all of them be exhausted before more tasks appear alongside of items not yet completed. That’s a good thing in a way, because it means that there is always plenty of work for the Lord to do. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

13-Year Anniversary!

December 18, 2011

Sunday, December 18, Bonnie and I plus our daughter Rebecca worshipped in the morning with the Old Union Church of Christ in Carroll County, MS. I remember back when I first visited the congregation years ago. I tried repeatedly to find its location on different occasions, only to return to the house after a fruitless search. Only when I found someone who had visited it before and knew where it was well enough to give me directions did we finally locate it. The meetinghouse for the Old Union Church of Christ is nestled in the woods, only visible after traversing ribbons of clay cutting through the pine forests and seas of kudzu; the building itself sits at the terminus of its own quarter mile long little dirt road. The clearing in which the church building sits is populated as well with a church family and community cemetery, grave markers ancient and modern. The Old Union Church of Christ is one of the oldest congregations in the State of Mississippi.

As always, this time too, we were greeted warmly, and I was permitted to update the brethren during the 9:30 a.m. Bible class about our 2011 mission trips with a PowerPoint presentation. During the worship hour, I exhorted the congregation respecting the necessity of having awe and reverential fear for God especially while worshipping. Members commended the lesson and noted that biblical material of this sort needs to be presented in every congregation throughout the land (really, throughout the world).The church was generous toward us financially regarding our mission work, for which we are sincerely thankful.

Sunday evening, the three of us assembled with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. We usually convene with this congregation on Wednesday nights for Bible class. It was my pleasure to present again the PowerPoint Into All the World in 2011 about our mission work. Highlights of our recent 8-week mission trip to Myanmar (Burma), India and Sri Lanka included that combined Bonnie and I taught for nearly 200 hours to about 6,500 people; we taught Christians, Baptists, Christian Church, Methodists, Assembly of God, Buddhists, Hindus and Animists. Financial support from brethren in the States enabled us to leave funds in various nations for tens of thousands of tracts to be printed in eight foreign languages.

Any Church of Christ wishing to become better acquainted with our ministry of publishing Gospel literature and foreign missions may invite us to visit. We travel about 3,000 miles monthly by car in the United States and travel up to 50,000 miles annually by air abroad. I can be contacted at 662.739.3035 or rushmore@gospelgazette.com.

Gospel Gazette OnlineAfter returning home Sunday evening, from the comfort of our loveseat in the living room, I put the finishing touches on the December issue of Gospel Gazette Online (www.gospelgazette.com) and published it to the Internet. With this issue, we have completed 13 years of publication. Sometimes we wonder if it is making as much of an impact and is read as widely as necessary to warrant the time and expense. Then, someone corresponds with us to boost our morale and encourage us not to falter in its continued production. This resource remains free to users and in addition to each monthly edition, thousands of articles are archived, searchable with the site search engine. Give someone for whom you care a gift that will brighten their days and point them toward the heavenly horizon.

Hmawbi Bible School

October 13, 2011

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Thursday, October 13, Winsome, Bonnie and I returned by turboprop airplane to Yangon. Our plane was about 40 minutes late departing for Yangon, but around one hour after takeoff we landed in the old Rangoon and former capital of Burma.

A short drive from the airport back to Yangon Hotel, and we were ready to unpack both the suitcases we had taken with us on the most recent jaunt to northern Myanmar as well as the four pieces of baggage we had left in storage at the hotel. The hotel had moved us to a different room than we had occupied before our flights to Mandalay, etc.; we found ourselves on the eighth floor. Besides skipping out to a restaurant for a bite of supper, it was wash night – Bonnie washing clothes in the bathroom sink and me rinsing them in the shower. With the overcast skies, our room looked and smelled like a laundry for days as we hung our clothes to dry on the window rod.

Friday, we headed to the Hmawbi Bible School three quarters of an hour by taxi from Yangon. That day as well as Monday through Friday of the following week, Bonnie would teach ladies’ classes, and I would teach men’s classes or sometimes a combined class of men and women. Bonnie taught morning and afternoon of that first Friday back at Hmawbi, as did I. The following week, Bonnie taught ladies in the morning and I taught men in the morning about sermon preparation and presentation, while I taught men and women in the afternoons about Bible Geography and Archaeology. Bonnie taught character studies from her book Living Principles.

Saturday, October 15 was an unencumbered day. We stayed in the hotel room all day with two laptops a blazing, working on various literary items, including Gospel Gazette Online for October; I was able to publish Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet with some difficulty. At one point in the day, we had just gotten into the elevator when the electricity failed, temporarily trapping us (about 10 minutes) between floors. Eventually, it slowly descended, dumping us out on the ground floor where we had begun minutes ago. Shortly, the generator kicked in and we were able to take an elevator to the eighth floor where we were lodging.

(On another occasion, we had an interesting event in the elevator when someone riding with others and us didn’t know how to operate the elevator but was determined to be the one to make it work; he kept pushing the button to open the door every time he wanted the door to close, and he kept pressing the button for the ground floor twice, which turned it on and back off. Heads were shaking; it’s a wonder we’re not still in the elevator! On still another occasion, a passenger in the elevator with us leaned on one of the control panels; I saw the lights on the panel closest to me blinking repeatedly like Christmas tree lights. Our poor elevator didn’t know whether to start, stop, go down or go up; Bonnie said that the gentleman was a little embarrassed when he realized what he had done. On yet another day, some mature gentlemen from a far away, mountain village came to our room for a scheduled Bible study; they had never been in a tall building before, and one of them clutched with both hands the upright frame of our glass-walled elevator as it climbed the exterior face of the hotel to the eighth floor.)

Saturday, we also were visited by Jay Ahti, who we had helped purchase a laptop computer and printer to aid him in his continued translation of materials into Lisu and Rawang languages. He came by with the computer to show us what he had gotten. Later that night after supper at Winsome’s, a tailor stopped by to measure Bonnie to finish off some longis that she had purchased at Inle Lake.

Upon return to the hotel, I stopped by the front desk and requested additional lighting in the bathroom so that I could see to shave. Asia has already adopted some of the new lighting that America will experience very soon – which is about as bright as a nightlight! In response to my request, the hotel sent up to our room a battery operated light with two small fluorescent bulbs, only one of which worked.

The next morning (Sunday), Bonnie held the flashlight so I could attempt to shave! You can only imagine the ridiculous sight of trying to shave by flashlight! A little later while I was brushing my teeth, the doorbell rang, and the building’s engineer requested entry. Bonnie opened the door, wearing traditional Burmese dress, long hair and a slightly darker complexion than mine, whereupon the engineer started rattling off words in Burmese to her. I can only imagine that she stood there dumbfounded, at which time I emerged from the bathroom with a toothbrush in my hand. Looking at me, obviously a white guy, the engineer quickly surmised that Bonnie was not Burmese. He told her, “I’m sorry, I thought that you were Burmese!” Bonnie gets that a lot, only in India she is mistaken for Indian; sometimes in America, fellow citizens have puzzled over Bonnie’s ethnicity, too. As Bonnie says, “They’ll only think I’m Burmese until I open my mouth” and speak. Later in the day upon returning to the hotel after worship, we discovered that the engineer installed a new fluorescent light above the mirror in the bathroom; I felt obligated now to shave daily since the hotel made a capital improvement just so I could shave. Sunday, I spoke at worship in the home of Sheila and Winsome as well as in the afternoon at the home of Esther.

Tuesday afternoon, brother Kyaw Sein brought two gentlemen by our hotel for a Bible study. I thought they were Baptists, but soon I discovered that instead they were animists. Of course, that completely changed the nature of our study, which we had over the next hour and a half. They were extremely attentive and interested. I suspect that after further study within the year one or both of them will obey the Gospel. (We are not looking for people we can merely dip in the water, but we and the brethren with whom we labor are more interested in converting souls, a part of which conversion involves immersion for the remission of sins.)

Wednesday evening, we treated several of the brethren from Yangon and Hmawbi to a supper meal at the Airport Million Coin restaurant. We appreciate these brethren and their families so much, and they are great encouragers of us as well. Monday through Friday, both Bonnie and I continued to teach daily at the Hmawbi Bible School. Friday evening, we fly to India.