India (Part 2)

It is day 6 of my (Pastor Don's) stay in Vellore (near Chennai) and day 2 of the conference. I preached 3 times yesterday, and I will preach 4 times today, which will include the ordination service for four pastors. I am humbled and exhorted by the humility, servant heart, and passion of the believers here.

We are working our way through John 1:1-18 as we examine the essence and activity of Christ, our Light. Yesterday we began to survey God's work in human history, a Grand Drama in five Acts: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Judgment, Consummation.

Christopher and Mini are warm, hospitable hosts, and the fellowship is sweet with the believers here.

Thank you all for praying! From my perspective, at least, I don't know how it could have gone better. Tonight closed the main sessions, but everyone was still there after 11:00. We had a wonderful time together, and it was a privilege to preach for and participate in the ordination service this afternoon for four Good News Baptist Bible College graduates.

There is one more service tomorrow, then we'll head to Chennai, where I'll catch a 4:00 am flight through Dubai to Johannesburg. Then it's on to Zambia for 4 days before heading for home.

Tired, but blessed,
Don

I've attached a few pictures, although I haven't taken nearly as many as I would like. The bells are a big hit, and definitely worth the extra effort.

India

We (Pastor Don & Teri) had a wonderful time visiting Sally Seefried and Phil and Alan Carmichel in Welkom, working on projects, attending the 70th birthday of a ministry friend, interacting with the children still there over the holidays, and celebrating Christmas at The Pines. It was a very different experience, since we are used to cold and snow for the Christmas season, but it is a great memory, and the real meaning remains unchanged.

We had smooth travel to Knysna, where we enjoyed renewing fellowship and talking ministry and missions philosophy and practice with Dave and Julie Rudolph, reconnecting with Phil and Kristen Golson, meeting new team members, spending time with , and visiting with other friends in Knysna. We also got to see ocean-side areas of the Knysna Heads that we had never seen before.

We had an uneventful trip to Stellenbosch, where we stayed in a clean, cozy room-especially cozy, since it was outfitted with bunk beds. I think the desk clerk found that particularly amusing, but we managed just fine. Teri's flight out of Cape Town was delayed, so she missed her connection in Johannesburg and had to stay overnight (the second time this trip, for her). She just made her connection in D.C. and arrived to around 10 inches of snow in Denver-quite a change from Africa! That did result in cancellation of Wednesday and Thursday classes at BEBS, however, so she did not miss any teaching responsibilities. She is back teaching and trying to get over jet lag.

I just barely made my boarding deadline in Johannesburg, but there was a 45 delay for some reason, so I really didn't need to run halfway across the airport to get my Etihad boarding pass, annoy scores of people by being escorted to the front of the very long, very slow security line, and sprint to the end of the terminal (I don't know about your flights, but my gate always seems to be one of the last ones), spurred on by my "official" escort crying, "Hurry, sir, or you must miss your flight!"

The flight to Abu Dhabi went well, but we arrived in a dense fog (both me and the plane), and with visibility of 25 yards, I couldn't see any of the city. The transition to Air India went smoothly, and I arrived on time in Hyderabad, with luggage showing up soon thereafter. Customs went without a hitch, and Solomon Raju picked me up and whisked me to my lodgings. While in Hyderabad I preached 6 times, visited 8 churches, traveled about 1,200 km, ate a lot of curry (no stomach issues yet, praise the Lord!), and saw lots of animals (like water buffalo, pigs, dogs, cows--most of them on the roads), tens of thousands of motor cycles, only slightly fewer auto rickshaws, etc. It's been an incredible blessing to see church plants thriving, national leaders being trained, and buildings being funded and built largely by their congregations. I am very humbled by the generosity of so many believers, many of whom have so little compared to me. There are so many needs . . .

I have much to share about my first visit in India, but I will save that for another email. It's midnight here in Vellore (about 120 km from Chennai), where I am now staying in the home of Christopher and Mini Jothiratnam. That makes it about 11:30 am in Denver, so the update should make it in time for church tonight.

South Africa

Monday, December 26

Teams visiting The Pines often paint a mural on the hallway of the main building (see another team's "beautiful feet" mural below); I added our church logo to the bell that Brian Goldfain painted when Risonanza! visited in 2012. I also prepped and stained a bookshelf and chest for Sally, repaired some small appliances, ran games, coached some basketball, and did some general cleaning.

Teri has been keeping quite busy tutoring, reading to children, entertaining (the children), doing sewing projects, setting up for assemblies, organizing storage closets, and helping Sally in various other ways throughout the day.

Late morning on December 24 we attended a surprise 70th birthday party for Ron Adams. Ron and his wife, Joan, are long-time friend of Sally's, and Joan runs Morningstar, a care center for at-risk children here in Welkom. That evening we enjoyed playing the piano and bells for the Christmas Eve program. The children were familiar with many of the Christmas carols, and they sang along with nearly every one. I hope to upload a video of one child thoroughly enjoying "Joy to the World."

Yesterday we attended the Christmas service at Welkom Baptist Church, where we played the bells for prelude and the service, participated in hearty congregational singing, and were ministered to by a good, expository message. We then played 9-square (thank you, Pastor Randy, for a great hit), had some throwing competitions, watched the children open presents, and had cake and ice cream.

We plan to leave on the 10-12 hour drive to Knysna around 6:00 tomorrow morning. Around 80% of South Africa's liquor consumption takes place in December; so far there have been over 1,500 traffic fatalities this month. We hope the roads will be fairly clear tomorrow, but we certainly appreciate your prayers for safety in travel!