Posted tagged ‘Understanding How God Communicates with Man’

As Though It Were Scheduled!

January 15, 2015

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Thursday, January 8, 2015 I published Gospel Gazette Online to the Internet. This issue kicked off our 17th year of continuous publication. The Gazette is published monthly and has been since 1999. Meanwhile, Bonnie and I, along with others, continue to prepare the next quarterly issue of The Voice of Truth International for publication. It is printed primarily in English but also in numerous foreign languages and Braille; VOTI also serves as a feeder magazine for various publications, especially in India.

Saturday, January 10, a group of members from the Collierville, TN Church of Christ drove the two and a half hours to work in our combination warehouse and office. Together, we accomplished a number of things that day (e.g., replace 8’ fluorescent light bulbs or ballasts where necessary, restocked shelves from which we draw books daily to fulfill stateside requests for literature, prepared two separate mailings of The Voice of Truth International, packaged priority mail boxes for overseas shipment, packaged boxes of books for preachers overseas, loaded about 1,200 pounds of literature in our car ultimately bound for Guyana, South America and packed promotional bags to give away at an upcoming lectureship program). With this kind of help, we accomplished more than the Winona Five could have found time to do over a period of months. We are thankful for such interest and help behind the scenes in missionary work.

Later that afternoon, Bonnie, Rebecca and I drove to our daughter’s home in Collierville. That put us in position for me speaking the next day for the East Frayser Church of Christ, in northeast Memphis. Sunday morning during worship, I preached, “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.” Bonnie and I were treated to lunch by an elder and his wife. Later in the day, I made my PowerPoint presentation about our 2014 Guyana Mission Trip. We were well received and encouraged.

Monday was a long day. Bonnie and I carted the 1,200 pounds of The Voice of Truth International, books and tracts to Nashville, TN to leave with a shipper for Guyana. We packed 1,820 loose copies of VOTI in 75 gallon fiber shipping barrels; they and the thousands of tracts and hundreds of books also packaged in shipping barrels will be distributed through the churches of Christ in Guyana, South America. We packed three barrels before returning to Collierville.

Tuesday, Bonnie and I scurried down I-55 back to Winona in time to convene with other associates a meeting of World Evangelism team members. Of course, we ate first (leftovers from feeding our workers on Saturday).

For the past few days I had been experiencing pain after eating a meal, but beginning Tuesday afternoon, the pain became relentless and excruciating. Around 9:30 p.m., I had Bonnie drive me to the local hospital emergency room. A few tests and hours later, I was loaded on to an ambulance and transported to Baptist Health Systems in Jackson, MS. The suspected culprit for my pain was a bad gallbladder. Two morphine shots while being treated in Winona did not lessen the pain any at all. Administering fentanyl in the ambulance along the way finally took the edge off the pain, a good thing in view of the bumpy ride especially on city streets in Jackson. While in the ER in Jackson, pain was eradicated when I was injected with still another pain medication, dilaudid.

96 dpi 8x10 Louis & BonnieThere was no room in the hospital, which initially led to doubts if I could be admitted to any hospital in Jackson, as they were all full up. Consequently, I remained in the ER until there was an opening for surgery. In the meantime, a sonogram confirmed the findings of blood and urine tests and a CT scan – enlarged and enflamed gallbladder. Surgery occurred around 10 a.m. on Wednesday, and after quite a while in recovery, I was wheeled into a room. Ordinarily outpatient surgery, my surgeon kept me overnight in the hospital due to the intensity of the attack and that we live 90 miles away from the hospital.

Brothers Gary Hampton and Derrick Broome caught up with me immediately before surgery, and we had a prayer together. Sister Bonnie Schmitz brought Bonnie down to be with me; my Bonnie cannot drive that far due to her medical conditions. Bonnie stayed with me in the room and overall was sicker than I was.

Thursday morning my doctor discharged me around 7:30 a.m., but we could not leave the hospital until around 11 a.m. as we waited for paperwork and personnel to direct their attention to my discharge. Bonnie was feeling poorly, and so we rode twin wheelchairs to the curb. Brother Adam Fowler retrieved us and drove us back to hour home in Winona, since neither Bonnie nor I can drive right now that distance. He and his wife Melanie visited us in my hospital room the evening before.

After our arrival in Winona, I got brother Adam to load four cases of printing that arrived in our carport today into his car and unload them down the road at our warehouse/office. I can’t lift anything right now, so say my four small incisions. Next, we called sister Betty Choate to get a pain medicine prescription filled for me, again since neither Bonnie nor I can drive momentarily.

Today, sister Paula Bates took her husband Jerry to an airport for an overseas mission trip. Tomorrow on Friday, Paula will take Bonnie back to Baptist Health Systems for a CT scan and chemotherapy; the radiologist, oncologist and we are interested to see whether 28 doses of radiation shrunk the tumor on Bonnie’s pancreas. While Bonnie and Paula are in Jackson, I will remain in Winona with little activity, hoping not to hurt and to heal; sister Choate will be on call to care for me in the absence of Bonnie.

Friday, I will resume my medications and be able to shower. Bonnie and I look like pitiful bookends! By next week I should be much more active, though my lifting restrictions may extend for a while beyond that. Thank you for your interest and prayers. We continue to glean encouragement from friends and brethren through their phone calls and texts. It almost looks like we scheduled the gallbladder attack along with the other scheduled events over the last few days.

New Beginnings

December 20, 2014
Bonnie with boy in his home (Mandalay, Burma 2012)

Bonnie (Mandalay, Burma 2012)

Saturday, December 13, Bonnie and I were to leave from Collierville, TN for Cleveland, TN. First, though, I had the car serviced at the Chrysler dealership in Collierville, which turned out to be an unexpectedly lengthy endeavor taking 3½ hours; it may be high time to resort to quick oil changes along our routes of travel – the kind where one does not even have to get out of the car.

Leaving much later than I had hoped and having a 6-hour journey, we arrived at the home of sister Barbara and brother Robert Wright around 7 p.m. They waited supper for us, and they treated us to a fine meal at Outback. As always, they treated us royally as they hosted us in their home.

The next morning, we worshipped with the Central Church of Christ in Cleveland, TN. Bonnie as feeling well enough and taught a ladies’ class, while I made our mission trip PowerPoint presentation to the auditorium class. I presented a biblical lesson during worship. Afterward, an elder and a deacon, with their wives, and the Wrights treated us to lunch at O’Charley’s. After visiting some more with the Wrights in their home, Bonnie and I departed for our evening appointment with the Ooltewah, TN Church of Christ.

We were guests overnight with sister Cathy and brother Winston Stringfield; he is one of the elders. This family always invites us into their home and makes us part of the family. Again, I made my PowerPoint presentation about our 2014 foreign mission work. Monday, we meandered through Tennessee, a piece of Georgia and across Alabama back to Winona, MS; we arrived after dark.

Wednesday evening, we attended Bible class with the West President Church of Christ in Greenwood, MS. Bonnie was exhausted and in pain. She fared better on our weekend jaunt than she was faring since our return. Of course, each day, we spent part of our time at the office/warehouse, post office, banks, etc. Bonnie is putting in a third to half days before she resorts to the house for rest. Each evening her health weakens.

Friday, Bonnie resumed chemotherapy in Jackson, MS. Her blood counts have returned to near normal. The oncologist made some more adjustments to Bonnie’s medicines in hopes that some of the pain can be alleviated without side effects. In about four weeks, Bonnie will have another CT scan to reevaluate the cancerous tumor on her pancreas.

Resuming some of our stateside appointments during a slow time of the year is one of the new beginnings, and we will be able to evaluate how well Bonnie is going to be able to travel in the states by car. The second new beginning was the resumption of chemotherapy. Time will tell how long these treatments will continue, as presently no decision has been made.

Bonnie has been working on the next issue of The Voice of Truth International, and I have been working on my new book about fundamentals of the faith. Our daily efforts have been ongoing with whatever modifications have been necessary and are not part of new beginnings. A happy note, the insurance company with which we insured our mission trip tickets refunded the purchase price, which permitted us to recover the entire ticket costs and return the funds to the foreign travel account. Between the cancellation of the tickets and the insurance refund, we recovered nearly $10,000; only the visa expenses and, of course, the cost of the insurance was lost.

Thank you for your continued interest in us and our efforts for the cause of Christ. May God richly bless you and us, too.

A Day with the Hanoverton, Ohio Church of Christ

September 14, 2014

96 dpi 5x7 Tractor at Hanoverton CoCSunday, September 14, 2014, Bonnie and I had the good pleasure of worshipping with the Hanoverton, Ohio Church of Christ. During Sunday morning Bible class, I made my PowerPoint presentation about our 2014 Guyana Mission Trip. For the morning worship period, I preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.” Following lunch, I attended a devotional conducted by the Hanoverton congregation at a nursing and personal care home in Lisbon, Ohio. Brother Bob Noland and I left our wives back at the Noland home to rest; Martha Noland was coughing, and Bonnie was tired. That evening, I preached about “Rearing Children”; I went overtime, which I promised I wouldn’t do next week – that is, in Hanoverton! That lesson lays out biblical and practical applications for childrearing; I have presented it overseas and in various venues in the USA, for which someone always expresses enthusiastic appreciation.

Hanoverton, Ohio is a farming community – dairy and beef cattle, with the accompanying necessary crops to feed them. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, that one of the members – a farmer – drove up for evening worship on a farm tractor. I was happy that he was there irrespective of the mode of transportation or farm clothes. As Bonnie and I travel to foreign countries, we see even more diverse cultural manifestations differing from American norms (e.g., longyi on men and women plus bare feet in worship). The tractor was a nice, amusing touch to rural Ohio parking lot amongst other vehicles delivering their worshippers to the meetinghouse.

P.S. I have never had better hamburgers and meatloaf than derived from the family Angus cattle farms among members of the Lord’s church there. Umm, good!

Busy, Busy, Busy

September 7, 2014
Inside the Taj Mahal Compound

India in 2012

Saturday, September 6 I barely survived doing most of the yard work, but not all of it. Cleaning up the minor storm damage took me over four hours! Those dreadful pine trees litter the lawn (and the roof and driveway) with wheelbarrows of needles, cones and branches, which must be picked up before each mowing. However, recently, high winds really made a mess, and those cones populate the entire yard, accented with broken branches of every size from several feet long down the size of pieces comparable to a shattered plate – a lot of fine broken fine china. Finally, I was able to get it cleaned up enough to use the pull along rake behind the tractor lawnmower; then, I had to go over all the yard once more, cutting grass. Sorry, for the second time in a row when mowing, I did not cut the steepest part of the embankment or along the ditch. The summers are too hot, I’m starting to show some age and my blood pressure is starting to yoyo up and down – threatening to send me into an unconscious fall as it did a little over two weeks ago. Who would have thought one could hurt himself in so many places and break so many things just by falling from a standing position? Sorry, no gutters cleaned. Sorry, wasn’t able to beat the hedges back from touching the eaves to catchup to the weedy vine already headed for the roof peak. I was attempting to do whatever was essential before leaving for a week and a half road trip through Tennessee and Kentucky to Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. My last outside duty before resorting to the air conditioned inside was to load the van with literature (e.g., The Voice of Truth International, tracts, books) for our pilgrimage north. After dark I turned my attention to other matters, namely finishing up and publishing to the Internet the September edition of Gospel Gazette Online.

Sunday morning, Bonnie and I headed west two counties removed to worship with the West President Church of Christ. Besides attending Bible class and the a.m. worship, I was the speaker for a midafternoon worship period, whereupon I preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today.”

Upon our return to the house in Winona, Bonnie and I leisurely packed our clothes for our northward trip. We opted to spend the night at our daughter’s home in Collierville, TN before continuing onward. Bonnie has been feeling poorly these last several days, and we will make the final decision Monday morning whether we drive north or turn around and return south to Winona. We, but especially Bonnie is exasperated from the ceaseless nausea and various abdominal and back pains. In any case, we will get an oil change for the van on our way in one direction or the other.

September 23, we are scheduled to leave Winona for Memphis, TN for a September 24 departure to Asia for nine weeks in four countries – besides the countries in which we land for stopovers to change planes. September 22, Bonnie has her next scheduled oncology appointment, blood work and CT scan. We try to squeeze all things into the calendar days, pressing ever forward as long as we can. Bonnie and I are scheduled to return to the USA around Thanksgiving, which holiday complicated getting our flights and almost stranded us. Please remember us in your prayers, Brethren.

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!

Whew! Glad That’s Done

August 20, 2014

The week of August 10, Bonnie and I were still the lone team members in town. Our week was consumed with various office duties, including shipping out orders daily to individual Christians and congregations, preparing our newsletter digitally for sending to the printing company we use, and a BIG mailing. Wednesday and Friday combined, we had prepared and mailed 995 letters to Christians and churches of Christ, encouraging them to participate financially with Bonnie and me in our upcoming nearly nine-week mission trip to four Asian countries. Over the next four weeks, we need to gather sufficient funds to permit us to labor in the Gospel at several venues in Myanmar and India, plus single sites respectively in Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is quite a puzzle trying to schedule all of the activities, flights, land travel, lodging, etc.

Saturday morning, I was able to finalize the digital files for the next issue of The Voice of Truth International and get it mailed to the printing company. Saturday afternoon, Bonnie and I aimed the Gospel chariot toward McMinnville, Tennessee, where I was to speak at two congregations on Sunday; however, we lodged that night in Manchester, TN.

Sunday morning, Bonnie and I assembled with the Pleasant Cove Church of Christ, one of our monthly supporters. I showed the PowerPoint “2014 Guyana Mission Trip” during Bible class, and then for a.m. worship, I preached “Understanding How God Communicates with Mankind, Today?” Afterward, the congregation and we enjoyed a fellowship meal together. Often, we manage to visit a congregation (unwittingly) on potluck Sunday, or as in this case the brethren used our visit as an occasion to get together and eat. Either way, it works for me!

Sunday afternoon, Bonnie and I enjoyed the hospitality of brother Ray and sister Charlotte Weddington in their living room. They have been long time encouragers and supporters of Bonnie and me in our efforts for the Lord. Brother Ray especially likes Gospel Gazette Online (Website: www.gospelgazette.com) and has been a faithful reader for many years of its 16-year history.

Sunday evening, the West Riverside Church of Christ was gracious enough to permit me to make the PowerPoint presentation about our 2014 mission trip to Guyana, South America. We are always cordially received there, too.

After grabbing a sandwich apiece in Manchester, TN, we continued a little further to Tullahoma, TN where we lodged for the evening. Heavy rain fell overnight and continued throughout the following day as we journeyed onward. We stopped for a few hours in Florence, AL where we met up with brother Wayne and sister Janet Barrier. We all conversed over a tasty meal at Red Lobster. Next, we stopped by Heritage Christian University in Florence, whereupon we unloaded two boxes of books for Joey Barrier to use in a new mission studies over which he is the director at HCU. It was good to see his sister Jenny, too, who came by. Finally, we continued toward Winona, MS, arriving back after dark on Monday.

Ditch DiggingOver the last three weeks, I have been digging a ditch to lead rainwater away from our carport and woodshop, which have been flooding. Actually, I think the ditch has been working on me as well; I’ve about come to the conclusion that at my age I have dug my last ditch! Of course, much of the time found me swinging an ax to displace pine tree roots the size of my upper thigh. If that were not daunting enough, the ground was so hard that I had to use a pickax to break up the ground. Wednesday morning, I was able to put the last of the pea gravel atop the perforated pipe that I buried and connected to other underground pipe installed last year. Lastly, I applied silicone caulk to seams in downspout connections to buried pipe, which had been leaking severely and contributing greatly to flooding in the woodshop. Whew! Glad that’s done.

Bonnie continues to face medical challenges on a daily basis. The extensive surgery under which she went to combat pancreatic cancer has left her with the inability to eat and digest her food properly. Day and night she experiences pains over which she cannot gain control. Nevertheless, she and I persist in the work for the Lord that lies ahead of us. We hope to remain tools in the hands of God as long as we live. Please pray for us.

First Weekend in August

August 4, 2014

To my surprise, I was able to publish to the Internet on Friday evening, August 1 the August Edition of Gospel Gazette Online. It is not uncommon for the publication to be late, available well into a new month, and it has been several months behind sometimes in the past. Then, we notified the nearly 1,500 subscribers that it was ready. Immediately, hundreds begin poring over the pages, followed by the arrival of new subscription requests as well as subscription cancellations. This is a labor of love to which Bonnie and I have devoted ourselves for 16 years so far.

Saturday, one phone call that I received commended Gospel Gazette Online and requested a digital copy of my book The Spirit Summarized. It has long been out of print, but it is available in PDF format. I walked him through the procedure of going to the website (www.gospelgazette.com) and following the link for the Digital Library. There, one can find 80 issues of The Voice of Truth International and about three dozen books (i.e., study books, commentaries and sermon outline books) at no charge to the user. Simply call up any title in which one is interested, and then save it to one’s hard drive or other storage device. That’s all there is to it!

Once more this Sunday, and I traveled to assemble with the Indianola, Mississippi Church of Christ. For Bible class, I taught about the topic of “Pain & Suffering.” For both worship periods, I preached about “The Ministry of Angels.” During the evening, we took a look at the biblical references to “the angel of the Lord.”

Monday, Bonnie and I both dined with preachers and their wives in Clinton, Mississippi. Afterward, we all retreated to the meetinghouse, and I spoke to the brothers while Bonnie addressed the sisters who were present. I have more personal delight teaching and preaching (and writing and foreign missions) than anything else I could imagine – certainly more enjoyment than I could derive from such things as amusement parks and traditional recreational activities.

Tuesday, we will be back at the office. Bonnie and I are the only ones of the Winona World Evangelism Team in Winona for the month of August. The Bates are oversea, traveling to countries on two continents. Betty Choate is in California. A tractor-trailer with seven pallets of books is coming in the middle of August, but Bonnie cannot help me, and the rest have scattered. We will be calling upon interested brethren to help – or it will just take me a little while. Wednesday, we will be in Jackson, MS again for a follow up appointment with Bonnie’s surgeon. We keep keeping on with an eye on the heavenly horizon while busying ourselves as best we know how in the service of our Lord.