Friday, May 24, 2013

And In The End...

Thanks to the wonders of technology, I’m wrapping up this blog on the way to the airport. Hot James is at the wheel and half the van is asleep. Between worship music and coming up with nicknames for each other, we’re trying to find ways to keep ourselves distracted from the reality of what’s going on. We were given the option of going to the condo to rest and kill some time before our late flight, but no one wanted to do that. For us, when the final day comes, we want to spend every last minute at the Mission Centers with the children. When the time comes to go home, we want to get in the car and get on an airplane. It’s really tough heading out this year. It’s always hard, but the team made great friends with our Indian team members this year. We typically have not had the blessing of having guys like Hot James and St. Stephen (now nicknamed “Dartagnan” - you know, the fourth musketeer?) serving with us. I honestly cannot imagine what would have happened had these guys not been a part of this mission. We are richly blessed because they served with us. But we’re even more blessed by their friendship. I wish every single one of you could meet these fellas. The way God is working and moving through these two guys is amazing. And to top it off, they are so much fun to be around. Add that to the heaviness of having to hug and kiss the children “goodbye” one more time, and you begin to see why we appreciate the distraction.

But it goes beyond friendship and relationships with all of these people. As I mentioned a few nights ago, while we aren’t the front lines, they are. Every day they gear up and go to war over the souls in India. Today, when picking up the kids, Hot James and Pastor Nandekumar were confronted by some men in a village where fifteen children were coming from. They made a lot of problems and as a result the kids were pulled out of the van by the village men and each were hit as they exited. Tonight, we went out to Moganapriya’s house again to check out the huge snake pit. On the way, we passed two Hindu temples with their “gods” staring out at the passerbys. I stared at one of the “gods” for awhile. He didn’t do a whole lot. Along the road to and from the snake pit, we saw huge roadside snake pits erected as well.

But revisiting all of these sites is just another reminder of the nature of this battle. It is ongoing. It is dark. It is evil. David told us the other day that the bigger, more sophisticated demons/gods are in the cities where they are revered and worshipped. But in the villages, that’s where the bottom-of-the-barrel demons live. And as David put it, they are “the blood-sucking ones”. And it breaks your heart because, while people were taking turns looking at the snake pit, Saveetha wss playing Jacks on the steps of a Hindu temple. Children were jumping rope right past the roadside snake pits. This is disgusting. This is not how these children should live nor is it how God ever intended for them to live. They are helpless against the evil that is wholly embraced by their parents and the village elders. It’s interesting that when you think about doing missions work in the villages, you picture extreme poverty and providing physical care and relief, if even for a short time. Yet, the greatest need they have is spiritual and they long for a deeper joy in Jesus. This is why we go to India. We come to encourage the believers - to let them know they are not alone. And we come to teach the children, all the time confronting the messages of false gods that they are taught at home. But there is SO much work to be done. It is not uncommon for Rajan, the churches and the mission centers (especially North River) to face persecution and threats. This is their world. This is there waiting for them when they wake up in the morning. This runs throughout the village while they sleep.

So, what do we do?

Very simply, we support them. We don’t turn a blind eye to the fight they are in. We pray that God would move us to action and make it very clear what that looks like for us. Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure exactly what that is. Talking with Rajan this week, it is clear that the ministry he is called to is only able to grow to the point that he is able to lead it. He has worked long. He has fought hard and continues to fight hard. But more and more, God is increasing his support system and the “Front Lines”. That’s why we feel so connected to Hot James, St. Stephen and Joy. We see them as the new additions to the front lines that are gifted and capable of making a huge impact on India. Last year, we were discovering the depths of the need of the ministry here in India. This year, we have a better understanding of what the work involves and what is required. This is a huge fight and we need help. Help at home and help on the ground in India. We sense that God is moving and with the support system continuing to grow, we feel that His timing might be leading us to further support for India even more. Again, we have no idea what this looks like, but the key players are in place and they need our support. If you are a details person - an organizer - someone with a desire to help us put these components in place -a creative person - a visionary - a person who knows that God is calling you to support the work in India but you don’t know how just yet - let’s talk. Please. We need people with a desire for this ministry to join us in it. There’s so much to be done and so much passion and love for these people and God is at work in a big way here. Join us in prayer. Join us in giving. Join us in going. Join us in sending. Join us in supporting a work that is changing the villages of India and raising up a generation who will stand up and tear down the temples. May the name of Jesus continue to go up. Move, Jesus. Move us.

At this point, I’m now sitting on the floor of the van. We just had some sad “goodbyes” and prayers for our Indian family. St. Stephen, Auntie Blossom and Auntie Elizabeth have been dropped off at the condo as we continue on. Pray for them. Pray that God would continue to make them world changers. Pray for new opportunities to see God’s glory as they serve Him. May they be restored every day so that they can take up the armor and go to battle. Don’t forget about them.

We’re almost to the airport so I have to wrap this up. In just a few minutes, we’ll be saying, “See you later” (never “Goodbye”) to The Godfather and Hot James. Frankly, I’m really glad I don’t have to blog after that. Pray for them. Pray that God would give them new work, new vision and new joy as they serve together. They are doing and will continue to do mighty things for the Kingdom of God and God is giving us the opportunity to play a significant part in that. Join us, please.

Impact India 2013 is drawing to a close. Your Team served hard. They served well and honored Christ with the love they showed and the boldness with which they proclaimed the truth about the One True God in a culture of false gods and idols. Team, thank you. It has been my highest honor to see God work in you and to see your obedience to Him every step of the way.

Friends, thank you for your prayers and for your partnership in this journey. You have blessed us in ways that we will never be able to communicate, so we just ask God to bless you in the same measure in which you have blessed our lives.

Families, thank you for your sacrifice and your support. Thank you for giving us up almost every week for preparation and training. We can’t wait to see you.

Oh, and Annette Spain! Thanks for not flipping out that your son didn’t call you the entire 2 weeks that he’s been gone. You are a good woman. He is coming home. He is not married. However, you never mentioned him riding on top of a truck or getting his hair cut into a mini-fro, so I feel like those experiences weren’t against your wishes.

Well, that’s it. Impact India 2013 in the books. Pray for our trip home and our ability to communicate the truth of what we’ve seen and experienced. We love you all so much.

So…Impact India 2014. Who’s in?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Greater Things

Well, here we are. Our last night in North River. Everyone is hunkered down early and I’m the last one up. Oh wait. Pops just came in and sprayed mosquito repellant in his eyes. He’ll probably be fine.

Today was a great day. During our General Assembly, we got to pull out three really fun Grain Game demos: Mentos, Pinheads and Water Balloon Slingshot. All of these require us to be out in the hot, hot sun - but the teachings and the laughs are so great that we just didn’t care. During our classes, the Gospel was going out in a big way. All week long we have been teaching about Paul and in our post-lunch party/game time, we took a few minutes to review Paul’s story. They are really, really getting it. And we keep coming back to how Paul was changed and forgiven - and that can be their story, too.

After VBS, we embarked on what has now become an India Mission tradition: the end of the week beach trip. About 40 of us loaded up in the van and the back of the truck to roll out to the beach. A bunch of the local village kids went with us and that’s always so much fun. We sing in the back of the truck, dance, wave at people who look severely confused at what is taking place, etc. Tonight we even applauded for the bus driver behind us. I still have no idea why we did that.

But the beach trip is amazing - and pretty much super photogenic. Most Indian people don’t swim, so they just go to the edge of the water and wade around. And this means that we get our annual “David Rajan standing in the ocean holding kids’ hands so they don’t fall in” picture. I love this picture and we got another one tonight. If this isn’t the most obvious picture of the work God has called Rajan to, nothing is. But our “tradition” (because to Baptists, doing something twice around the same time of the calendar is a tradition. Sometimes things can be established as “traditions” before they’re ever done the first time) was added to - and for the way, way better. We brought the guitar and Stephen led the kids in some fun Tamil worship songs. This culminated in an on-the-beach dance party. We circled up and danced around Stephen and got generally crazy singing and dancing. This went on for awhile but for not nearly enough time. It was an amazing experience singing songs about “My Jesus” in His moonlight on His beach in a land that hates what we’re doing. And the children have no shame about it. Dear God, may we become more and more like these children every day.

It occurs to me that you guys don’t know Stephen. For that matter, you don’t really know Hot James, even though he’s been referenced throughout this blog. I want to take a few seconds and introduce some of our team that we picked up in India.

So, “Hot James”. This is not his given birth name. His real name, even though he is a full-on Indian is Don Caleb. Literally, the easiest Indian name of all time. He’s one of the most amazing guys our team has ever met. He is David Rajan’s right hand now and it’s very easy to see why. Hot James is committed, hard-working and the funniest person I’ve ever met in my entire life. He’s had us rolling for the past two weeks - and while he is certainly funny, his commitment to the Lord and to serving Him is inspiring. God has given David one of the best guys to join him on the Front Lines and Hot James is his name. Well, technically, no part of his REAL Name is Hot James, but it’s his nickname, determined by a long and tedious naming bracket specifically for this mission. The name makes no sense. But this is how we know and love him.

That brings us to Stephen. Stephen may genuinely hate our whole team, but you’d never know. Suspect it? Absolutely. He had off from his work this week and David brought him in and convinced him to stay all week. Not only does he play acoustic guitar really well and lead worship (especially for kids) really well, he has been our primary translator all week. This has been amazing to have both Stephen and Hot James with us. Last year, we had very little access to a translator at North River, and this year we have at least five. It is such a blessing beyond words.

And that brings us to the ladies. First, we parted ways with Joy Mathews last Sunday night. She was a part of our team this year AND last year. She was a big help with translations and working with the kids - she also took the time to help us put our selected memory verses in Tamil and taught them to us. She had to take off on Monday, though, because she was going to continue to serve children in Hyderabad. We were also joined by some of David’s family from Sri Lanka: Blossom and Elizabeth. We were all so thankful to have them here to laugh and cry with us, to worship with us, and to translate our words - and even our meanings sometimes. It was so inspiring to be a part of a team in which our gifts were being combined with the heart and calling God has placed on their lives. It’s amazing to see how God is continually bringing Believers from all nations to have their hurts stirred in and towards India. God is moving mightily and He is raising up a new generation to continue this work forward together. And that’s what brings us to our blog tonight.

We just wrapped our final Team meeting and each of us had to turn in our homework. At the beginning of the trip an assignment was made: on the final night, you must answer the question. “How was India?” This is done to give our team practice for our arrival back in America. We know this question is coming and we want to be prepared in a way that would bring our friends into the conversation about India. Your team gave some great answers - very personal. Our purpose is to give people a connection and let you know that this work is not over. Not be any means.

We have work to do. Last night in the blog we talked about our role and the purpose God has called us to. Again, we are NOT the Front Lines - not even during the season here are we the Front Liners. We’re the support crew and in that is great purpose and contentment. When we move outside of that calling and try to take over the bigger, “more significant tasks”, we make a mess of things. This is why it’s so critical that we understand and submit to the leadership of the host missionary who DOES live and breathe this culture. We must always be mindful that, even though we don’t live here and will be heading home late tomorrow, the battle doesn’t stop. The commitment we’ve made to Impact India is not a one-time deal to always do the same thing at the same locations. We have committed to carrying the love and light of Jesus, no matter what.

But we prioritize kids. Here’s why. This culture is SO pagan, SO entirely into idol worship that it becomes ingrained in their mind, making it tough for them to embrace the concept of only one God - the One True God. But the thing is, parents will teach their kids what they believe. So, when a child develops a relationship with God through Jesus, that heritage of faith gets passed down and the cycle continues. That’s how India gets changed by and for God - use the many resources we have at our disposal to invest in the lives of the children here so that they may carry the message of the gospel to the future generations. Right now, we are a part of figuring out how to go about supporting God’s work in India. All we know is that “God will provide”. He has been so faithful to all of us and through you. For those of you who have come alongside of us and prayed, worshipped, gave financial sacrifices, we thank you so much on behalf of these beautiful people. As a Team, we are so grateful for you as well.

There’s work to be done and we need to trust God for the answers and the results. Last year, my heart was burdened by the Hindu temple visible from the roof of North River Mission Center. Every day I would look at that sick thing and I asked a bold prayer - I asked for God to bring this Hindu temple down. I asked for an earthquake or SOMETHING that would specifically ONLY knock down all of the temples here. Very Elijah and the Prophets of Baal-ish. That way, the whole village would acknowledge their sins and turn to the all-powerful God. I prayed this every day we were here. I prayed it after we left. I figured, “Well, we have a 5-year partnership, so that just means it’ll happen during the last year and there will be great rejoicing.” But as I prayed at home, God revealed something. Could He do what I ask? No question about it. Do I have the right motivations? Indeed. But then it struck me: just like the Israelites walking in the wilderness, our tendency is to always give our worship to someone else. If the Hindu temples are brought low, the village will rebuild them and ignore the display and lesson of God’s power. So, what do we need to pray for?

That the villagers would tear down these temples themselves.

When the villagers’ hearts are changed and turned towards Jesus, they will tear down the false gods and they won’t rebuild them.

This must be our mindset. We must make ourselves available to the opportunities God has given to us, to follow Him in obedience and see far greater things than our tiny minds can come up with. I believe with all of my heart that God is doing something major in India and we have a chance to be a partner in these mission endeavors. God has strategically placed the right people at the right time in the right place and lives are being changed all over. Darkness is being pushed back. A generation is rising up and embracing the life-giving message of Jesus - and they are communicating it with boldness and passion. Let’s embrace OUR calling to support them as God directs us to and see the glory of God and the Kingdom of God increase on His earth.

Greater things are still to be done…


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Front Lines

I’m writing this blog (or at least starting it) in Hot James’ car with David Rajan behind the wheel. We’re beginning our trek back from Ippedu to North River after a great day of missions. I’m writing this now because by the time I sit down to write late at night I’m no good anymore. I literally fall asleep typing and it’s frustrating trying to get out what needs to be communicated. So, here we are. I hope you hang with this one. I feel like it’s going to be an important one.

Today was an entirely different day than any other we’ve had here or will have. David wanted to take some of us to see the third mission center in Ippedu so we can better understand and plan for the future. Due to the vehicle size, it came down to me and Pops. This was kind of a big deal because this left the rest of the team back at North River to carry on with VBS. I haven’t heard how things went today, but what I do know is that the rest of the Team absolutely killed it. I know this because these guys are amazing and spew out their love for these kids. That is all that’s required. However, it helps when you’re as strong as this team is. So we give thanks to God for the way He used the whole team, even though we served in totally different locations. The trip to Ippedu took about 3.5 hours, so I’m looking forward to hearing all about this morning. For those of us at Ippedu, it was a great day. We got a chance to meet some new kids and spend the afternoon loving on them. While it was great to hang with the kids and see this new Mission Center in person, there was a greater purpose in our visit. We wanted to take a look at the possibility of sending a team to be a part of the VBS program they’re doing. With some work to make the Center livable, it looks like that’s going to be a part of our mission experience next year.

Initially, I had mixed emotions about this. For one, it’s super hot there. And while it definitely would be a challenge physically, God has always provided the strength and given us exactly what we needed to get through the day. No, the mixed emotions had everything to do with the “sacrifice”. See, after two amazing years at Poonthandalam and North River Mission Centers, you grow really close with the people you are serving and serving with. There is already a very long list of people on our “can’t wait to see again” list - and every year it grows. To do something new, you have to give up something else - or at least a portion of it. And these thoughts fit in perfectly with where this blog was going prior to our visit to Ippedu.

Why have we, as a church, committed to go to India? Did we commit to Poonthandalam and North River Mission Centers or did we just commit to India? Did we commit to a man or a vision God gave a man? The answer to the first question is obvious. We committed to the work God is doing in India. The second question requires a little more examination. As a church, God has given David Rajan to us to support and he is the vessel through which the vision we have bought into has come. So, the answer to the second question is kinda “both”. The question God is asking us is, “Are we committed to the work and calling He has given to us or do we just want to do the stuff we want to do?” For me, this trip has been about evaluation of my commitment, our commitment and the role that we are to play in helping the love and light of Jesus Christ go out into the villages of India. Through conversations with ministry partners and experiences here in India, one thing has become very clear - there is great work to be done everywhere in Southeast India and the more we submit to God and follow His leading, the more we will see Him at work…and that has to be our first priority.

I want to apologize to some of you. Many - if not a majority - of the blog readers come from Faith Baptist Church and I praise God for a church that has embraced this calling. The fact that no one’s arm had to be twisted for us to join this mission is a testament to the love and faithfulness of our church body. However, a good portion of our readers have no affiliation with Faith - and I love this. We thank God for your support in prayer and worship over us these past (almost) two weeks. There’s a good chance we’ll never meet this side of Heaven, but man, when we do meet, that’s going to be a lot of fun. But there’s also a chance that maybe you felt left out because stories about team members you didn’t know showed up a lot and you couldn’t connect. Admittedly, I tailored this blog to our church because they have a guilt-induced obligation to read it and figured they would even if it was terrible. But for you who followed along, thank you - hopefully this blog will speak to everyone a little more today.

If I could take a few moments, I’d like to share a little mission philosophy that I’ve picked up from these past few years with our work in India and through conversations with missionaries far better at this than me. So much has been written on missions and I encourage you to look into it. And if you disagree with what I’m about to say, you’re probably right. But this has been on my heart since the day we arrived in India.

Last year, at the start of the second week, we moved to North River. That Sunday, a woman came to the prayer meeting who was demon-possessed. Pastor Nandekumar prayed for her and cast out the demon. Incredible story of God’s power over the dark forces at work. I may have even blogged about it. It’s a big deal. But that’s not the end of the story. The last day of our 2012 India Mission, we toured the village around North River one last time. We came to the house of the woman who had been possessed and we were so excited to see her. But then she communicated to us through David that, while she was no longer possessed, she felt very alone and empty. She felt the demons and the spiritual attacks continually and struggled with not knowing what to do. This has really been on my mind lately. Had we left a day earlier, our story would’ve been, “We were there when demons were being cast out of people. Hooray!” and the church would rightly cheer. But this woman was still suffering and needed the Church to come alongside her and carry her. Her story was not over. We almost lost sight of this. The work had to continue, but we were leaving in 6 hours. We couldn’t do the work of teaching, discipling and restoring her to where God wanted her to be. And that’s when it hit me.

We are not the “Front Lines”.

We may have a team on the ground for two weeks teaching, playing, building relationships, visiting villages, encouraging the saints and showing Christ’s love, but the hard work - the work of marching into the spiritual battle every day to go to war against the evil that is so prevalent in these villages - will be done by the men and women here who God has appointed to be the Front Lines. After decades of dual citizenship, Rajan made the call to move back to India full time instead of spending half a year in India and half the year in America. He did this because he knew he couldn’t give himself fully to the ministry God has called him to if he was only in India for six months out of the year. To be the Front Lines, you have to be here, in the battle, going to war.

But to an American, this isn’t a fun message. We like being the Front Lines. That’s where the action is. That’s where all of the “cool” stories are. That’s where the numbers are. We Americans like quick results and big banners to wave that tout success. I’m not knocking that - we need to be cheerleading over what God is doing. But sometimes that mindset creeps into our definitions of ministry success. If the numbers aren’t up to what we think they should be, we get the sense that something went wrong or we were ineffective. Being the Front Lines makes us feel significant - and that’s a good feeling.

And please do not mistake this as a slight on any mission experience or mission team. Just the opposite. Instead of trying to be something we were never called to be, we should be embracing and celebrating whatever role God has called us to play. We should be celebrating just the fact that we have been called by God in the first place! When we embrace our purpose, our role and our calling, then we will experience the joy of living in faithful obedience and filling our God-given purpose. God doesn’t judge success by our numbers but by our obedience. We have been given a calling - something God specifically wants us to do. It’s the “members of one body” idea. When we do our job the way we’re supposed to, we thrive. But the minute the kidneys decide to try and be the heart, you’re dead.

So what does that mean for us? For all of us - not just Faith Baptist. For anyone with a heart beating for India - or for any other people group or mission - if we are not a Front Liner, we’re the support system. Embrace that beautiful role because it’s exactly what God called you to be. Being a support system is critical for the success of the mission. We provide resources. We make the ministries and the missions possible. When we serve, we serve under the authority of the missionary who IS a Front Liner. We go where the identified need is, trusting that the missionary or whoever the Front Lines are knows far better than we do how to make the most impact for the Kingdom of God. When we move and work in obedience to our calling, we will see God do mighty things.

When we leave here in two days, the work isn’t over. It didn’t start when we showed up. We’re all just trying to play our part the way God has called us to. And I am overjoyed because it is quite clear that God is continually stirring hearts to move towards India. The work here is significant and uphill the entire way. But with every step, God reveals Himself in miraculous ways. This is why everyone who participates in these India mission experiences either returns or promises to return. We are just support players, but in that role we see God move in ways that change our hearts permanently. I pray that you will consider joining us on the ground. But if you can’t physically do that, there are always ways to do your part from home.

And that brings me to the story I couldn’t wait until late tonight to share. Sunday was Pops’ birthday and he guest blogged for us. In it, he communicated a story about two orphan girls, Joys and Anandhi - two very intelligent girls who wanted an opportunity to pursue medical school following the completion of their studies. But that program costs more money than they’re currently receiving. When Pops asked Rajan if and where that money would come from, Rajan’s answer was simple: “God will provide.” On the way to Ippedu this morning, we had the privilege of vision casting and dreaming about what God might be up to with this partnership and the ministry David has started. I was trying to encourage David by sharing how many of you support him and us and this mission. I know your hearts and told David that if we went to church and said, “Two orphan girls need another $25 a month to go to medical classes”, people would be crawling over each other to sign up. Thirty minutes later we were sitting at a little restaurant for a quick breakfast when I received a message from a friend: “Where do I send the money for the girls to go to medical school. It’s taken care of.”

Just like that. Done. I can’t tell you the celebration that took place at our table. God provided from someone we didn’t even know was following our trip/blog. And all of this because a “Support System” guest-blogged and advocated on behalf of two orphan girls whose lives are about to change. This is how the Church works. This is how God works. I am amazed at what God will do when we are obedient to Him. Praise God all day for what He’s doing through His Church. When we join Him in His work, we will see Him do what He does best. I’ll share some more about what you can do and where we might be going tomorrow.

You have joined us in prayer and on mission these past two weeks. But the work doesn’t end and neither does our responsibility to it. Let’s see God move.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


So, Indian kids hate Saltines. Let’s just get that out of the way first. Like, in a big way, they HATE them.

We found out this hard lesson in just about the worst way we could’ve given the circumstances. During the General Assembly, we were performing the skit of Jesus feeding the 5,000. This skit has always been interactive, but today we decided to take it to a whole ‘notha level. Instead of acting out/miming giving away food to the children, we thought we would add a sense of realism by handing out saltines. See, we bought a bulk arena-pack of saltine crackers in anticipation of potential upset stomachs as has been the case every year thus far. But praise God for His provision and favor regarding our health - we’ve had no major issues at all. But this leaves us with about 400 saltines that we have no intention of bringing home. So, we opted to go the route of giving the kids something to eat (as they were the crowd) so that they really felt a part of what we were doing. Great idea on paper.

What that paper doesn’t reveal is that, oh yeah, Indian kids hate saltines. Thinking about it, I guess I can understand that. I mean, they aren’t really tasty and they dry you out and…I don’t know the rest. But I’m sure there are other reasons. So, here we are acting out one of Jesus’ more famous miracles and right at the height of the “big reveal”, kids start getting up and walking out. In droves. All headed directly to the source of their drinking water. At least half the room cleared out before the rest decided to follow suit. It was painful. And hilarious. Hopefully the real message got across instead of “Jesus will take your gifts and turn it into something that will make you throw up.” I’d like to think it did.

However, while that element of the Assembly didn’t go so well - AT ALL - we had the opportunity to break into three classes and your Impact India team taught them all. It went really well. It was great to be able to pull out the ol’ feltboard and give the kids old school VBS. What was amazing is how invested the kids got into the stories. I had the privilege of “felting” (that’s a new verb that no one is using - yet) the story of Paul’s conversion. The kids seemed pretty into it - more than I was anticipating. My team had Hot James translating for us and he killed it. I have to say, one of the biggest answers to prayer this year is that we have an abundance of fully qualified translators. Last year, this wasn’t the case and when ministry responsibilities pulled David away, we had to lead the kids…without an interpreter. But this year, we are blessed so much by them, it’s ridiculous. After our VBS session today, Hot James and I were taking some village kids back to their village. I asked him how he thought this VBS was going and if we were even doing what was needed. His response killed me. He told me that as he translated the story and we were asking questions about the story, the kids gave some very revealing answers. First, these kids had no idea what a missionary is. Not even a guess. I explained the purpose of a missionary and used that to springboard into the story of Paul’s conversion experience.

Yet, the thing that struck me the most was when Hot James said that these kids had also never heard of Paul. PAUL?! It’s, like, really hard to read the Bible and not see Paul in it. This is just another example of the spiritual poverty - the drought - that is taking place in these villages. Even as these children profess a love for Christ, their knowledge of Him and His work are so undeveloped. Yet, they have an intense passion for the word of God. It’s absolutely amazing. When we quote the Bible verses in Tamil, they absorb it and immediately memorize it and start reciting it back to us. They long for the word of God like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It is inspiring.

Two stories and then I’m going to go pass out. First, I forgot to tell you about an experience from Sunday morning that blew my mind.. Leslie has perfected the “Geode” presentation and she was plugging right along giving her demonstration. She shows that inside a filthy rock, a beautiful crystallized middle portion is visible. She teaches that in the same way, when Christ’s body was broken, only then was His true glory revealed. But here’s where our minds - or at least mine - was blown. In talking about suffering, she mentions how she doesn’t wake up every day asking God to make her suffer, but lives in the knowledge that she can trust Him. Yet, when Leslie asked how many kids look forward to suffering, I was so surprised. Dozens of hands, almost all of them, went up. I was scratching my head for a few seconds. Then the needle in my brain’s record player scratched because David indicated that the children raising their hands was not a mistake - they legitimately told us that they “were ready to suffer on account of Jesus”. This breaks my heart because, in this culture, they will. And yet, young children had the mindset that they are ready to give their all to Jesus, no matter what. Fortunately, Leslie was able to regain her momentum after being thrown that GIGANTIC curveball. But the words of those kids are still ringing in my ears.

Secondly, tonight in our group share time Leslie shared an experience from her small group class. All week, we will be teaching about Paul and how Christ changed his life. Looking at different stories in Paul’s ministry, we will be ramming home the theme that in Christ, we don’t have to fear anything. So, to kick off the session, Leslie asked the kids to just list things that scare them. She anticipated more “childlike” answers, but instead was immediately confronted with the spiritual reality here. One child answered, “Satan”. Not death. Not starvation or going without water. The main concern and fear is the spiritual reality that everyone is aware of here. Given the chance to answer the question like, say, a kid, the children answered with what they confront everyday. What’s in front of them and what’s all around them. This is so revealing to me because we, as Americans, don’t walk around with this kind of awareness. But these kids do. Everyday. This just seems so wrong for kids to even answer this way - yet it’s a reminder of why we go and love on the kids we’ve seen. Even the ones that look sharp and seem committed to God often come from Hindu homes and are more confused than anyone. But little by little, the light of Christ is breaking through. We need to be praying for these kids whose whole world is this type of spiritual warfare everyday. Again, we show up to serve and instead we are taught, encouraged and reminded of how God is fighting for this generation.

And we are, too, which is why I wanted to ask for your prayers. We sense God moving in a big way here, but we don’t totally know what that looks like yet. Tomorrow, Pops and I are heading out to Ippedu - Mission Center #3 - to take a small part in their VBS. The trip has dual purposes - one, to encourage and support the work going on there and 2) to see about how/what our partnership with David Rajan could look like in the future. We desperately want to discern God’s leading here and we ask for your help in seeking God together.

Also, please pray for these things:
1) Strength and rest. I know I ask for this first everyday. It’s because we desperately need it.
2) For the children in these villages to not be overwhelmed by the dark and evil spirits around them.
3) For discernment, wisdom and creativity in trying to know how God is leading and what we could do to continue to impact this great country.
4) For an extra dose of grace, patience and love so that these kids know how special to us.

I apologize for the brevity of this blog - I can’t see straight. I’ve literally had to fix every third sentence because the sentences aren’t making sense anymore. We love you guys and can’t wait to finish strong! Pray for us!

Oh, and Annette Spain. Tonight, Matt tried to talk Hot James into letting him ride on the top of the van on some mattresses. I put that down and told him “No”. I will return him to you alive and unmarried, but just very barely.

Goodnight everybody.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Hey there everybody - thanks for taking the time to read this little thing and be a part of the work God is doing in India. We are coming off our first day at North River Mission Center and I have to say, it feels like we’re in a totally different country. Ok, hang on. Yes, we ARE in a totally different country - but what I mean is, it feels like we’re in a totally different country from where we were last week. Two days ago, really. Aside from the word “Mission Center” and the guy who started it all (David Rajan), the two have absolutely nothing in common. And yet, we love them both so much.

Poondanthalam was established over a decade ago and it runs like a very well-oiled machine. The people there have a system and it feels like a safe little compound where people come to worship, study God’s Word and pray. The weather is hot, but pretty nice in the shade. The children are well educated and sharp. The village is accepting of Poonthandalam.

And then there’s North River. North River is brand new and still getting its legs underneath it in terms of VBS. Last year, it was all brand new, but David and his team have made some amazing changes to the program and this year’s VBS is incredibly already. People certainly come from all over to pray, worship and study God’s Word - but does it feel safe? Not terribly. The physical threats aren’t in-your-face, but the spiritual ones? You can’t avoid them. The children are amazing as well, but they don’t all have the luxury of the instruction program at Poonthandalam. And the villages? Well, they’re getting used to the Mission Center, but it’s still not embraced. David shared that, awhile back, one of the villagers became a Christian through the Mission Center. She was rejected by the town and had to live at the Mission Center for about six months. However - and this is how God does His stuff - the town finally agreed to let her come back…and there’s now a Bible Study at her home. He is on the move here.

Today was a fairly standard VBS day, with some increased responsibilities. We led songs, skits, Grain Games, recited Bible verses in Tamil and then, following lunch, we took the kids upstairs for some energetic running around playtime. I suppose I could go into more detail, but at this point in the blog, you’re aware of what our programs look like and we’ve gone over the details of the activities. Now, since you are familiar with that, I’d like to spend more time telling stories and sharing some insights that the team is picking up.

*After re-reading the first sentence of that last paragraph, I realize it might make VBS sound trite to call it “fairly standard”. That should not be taken that way at all. The things taking place, the messages being taught and the relationships being developed are critical to the work God is doing here. I just meant that the VBS program here is going great. I suppose I could just rewrite that sentence, but that would just negate THIS paragraph that I’ve worked so hard to compose. But hey, at least I’m proofreading things. Following that terrible display of writersmanship on Saturday night, some standards for this blog are in order.*

Following VBS, a few of us went to tour one of the new villages that children are coming from. So many observations were made that were encouraging to us as a team. First, stepping outside of the Mission Centers (and here you don’t have to step out too far), you are confronted with the reality of the poverty these children live in. Even if you’ve seen it before, stepping back into it is a reminder that, while we may be “roughing” it based on American standards, we go home at the end of this week. These kids? This is their life. Their only hope for a better life is a life in Christ - and the front line of that fight is at the North River Mission Center. But when you look at these children, because of the love, peace and joy that they have found in Christ, you never see them complaining. They always seem so happy. Not one of them seemed to mind the fact that 30 of them were crammed into an 8 passenger van for a 20 minute ride home. They don’t complain about the heat. Or the lack of water. Or the lack of…everything. They have so much enthusiasm and life in them.

Which makes this next part that much harder. As we drove past fields, Hot James (Donny Caleb) pointed out that the fields were really dried-up ponds and riverbeds. The drought is so severe that the river that ran behind the Mission Center last year isn’t even there anymore. When asked what the cattle and animals are drinking, his response was, “Mud water”. Everything is dry. As we viewed this, the next thing we saw was super revealing. In the span of less than 100 yards, I counted four Hindu temples or altars right next to each other. The She-Demon from last year - the one that was enticing men away - she’s still hanging around. David showed us the church property he purchased for super cheap from the village because they said it was haunted by ghosts. Rajan just sees the provision of God making things cheaper. Today, during our freetime, Matt was a part of a group of children who all started getting very worked up as they began claiming that they were seeing ghosts. They need water, definitely. But more than that, they need spiritual rescue and repentance. This drought is spiritual.

As I reflect on all of these things, I can’t help but think about the prophet Elijah in I Kings. Read it for yourself because this quick glance is not enough for one of the greatest stories in the Bible. Basically, Elijah takes on King Ahab and, through a series of incredible miracles, communicates the power of God. I don’t want to spoil it. Go read it. But at the start of this whole experience, Elijah goes to Ahab and says, “Because of your worship of other idols, because you have embraced these false gods, there will be no rain on this land until I say so.” That kicks off a series of confrontations, but the first part of that story really struck me today. By no means am I claiming that we are Elijah. But I am suggesting that God SO hates false gods and idolatry that He will not stand by and be mocked in such a way. We see the hand of God here withholding a much needed blessing because the hearts of the people here are not for God. But right in the middle of this are a bunch of children. It almost doesn’t seem fair. I mean, here are these amazing children stuck in life situations they can’t escape, whose parents are often hurting their children through their wicked beliefs. My heart breaks for these kids. And yet, God is still faithful. He is meeting their needs and He’s doing it through and at North River. Many of the parents are Hindus. This kind of blows our mind because, if you were following a god in conflict with another message about God, why would you let your kids go to a Christian VBS?

Food. Water. Something to do.

These mission centers are offering what the parents cannot - a way to provide for their children. David Rajan’s vision is to provide for both the physical and spiritual needs of those God has given him to shepherd. And he does so well. Which leads me to my last observation from our tour. David Rajan earns my respect more and more each day. He is the driver behind all of the ministries taking place here. He is the guy who keeps the plates spinning. When something goes wrong in any of the churches or mission centers, he’s the number-one guy on speed dial. He IS the Godfather. And when he speaks, everyone listens. But the thing is this. At the end of an extremely stressful day, after a long night of worshipping and fellowshipping, and after a full week in Poonthandalam Mission Center which came immediately after a week-long mission in Sri Lanka…David was driving these kids back to their village. He’s the Godfather! Isn’t that, like, beneath him or something?

Not to David.

See, David’s heart is for these villages - for these children. Their parents will let the kids go, but they’re not going to do ANYTHING to assist with that. If these kids are going to learn about Christ, if they will hear the message that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and that there are no other gods, it’s because David Rajan took a 45 minute trip to pick them up and bring them to North River, only to take them back home again himself. I don’t say this to puff David up. He wouldn’t receive even if I was. I’m saying this to ask all of us: Do you, do we, love ___________ (Fill in the blank) enough to do this? Would we make excuses for why we weren’t able to do a task God has called us to? I’m so overwhelmed when I look at what’s going on here because, I see kids living in utter poverty filled with joy because someone thought highly enough of Jesus to obey His command and help them understand that they are worth something to God. If Rajan wanted to, he could snap his fingers or get someone on the phone to handle the task. Yet, out of love and a desire to see these kids around the throne in Heaven, David pays whatever price is necessary to do his part.

My encouragement and challenge to us today/night is to seek God and ask Him to give us this kind of desire to love others more than ourselves. To see them as He sees them and withhold nothing, knowing that whatever energy and resource we empty out God will be faithful to fill again. Pray this for us as we pray this over you as well.

And while you’re praying, please lift these things up as well:
1) Rest and renewed strength
2) The ability to remember the kid’s names. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge.
3) Praise for the end to the Water Strike
4) Praise for the translators and Indian team members who have been beyond vital to this work
5) For protection from the spiritual forces at work.

We love each and every one of you. And for those of you who made a commitment on the SignUp page to either pray or sing over us, we can’t think you enough. To all of you praying peeps, we know what you’re doing and we love it. May God bless you for your commitment to this mission as well.

This evening, we had an amazing time of singing and worship on the porch of the NR Mission Center. All last week there was a massive Hindu festival that kept most people away from church. Not that the Christians were attending the festival, but that it just wasn’t safe for Christians to go out that day. But tonight, some of David’s good musician friends (both good musicians and good friends who also happen to be musicians - and good ones at that) came and brown people and white people had some Church. It was incredible. Again, just another taste of what Heaven is going to be like. I will say this: the Indian believers will be representing the bluegrass in Heaven in a massive way. It’s crazy awesome.

Time for bed (4 hours ago). Love you all.

Oh, and Annette Spain! Matt said he was thinking about calling you, but then decided to be a “man of character whose ‘Yes’ is ‘Yes’ and whose ‘No’ is ‘No’”. Apparently, the lack of calling will STILL make the reunion that much sweeter. You have my permission to punish him mercilessly - though, I doubt you needed my permission for that.

See you all tomorrow.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Guest Blog: Happy Birthday

Ok, before we get going on this thing, I first want to apologize for yesterday's blog. Each day gets longer and our bodies start shutting down earlier. So, by the time I get to the blog, I'm spent. And so, if you look at yesterday's blog, you will be able to pinpoint the exact spot where I fell asleep mid-typing. It's a sentence that doesn't even make the tiniest bit of sense and just has a bunch of words thrown in. I was even too tired to proofread it, even though I knew I was passing out. My apologies.

So, to make it up to you, I have a very special treat. Instead of a daily recap (today we hung out with the North River kids - that's about it), I would like to pass the mic to Pops. Today he is celebrating his 67th birthday. In India. Absolutely amazing. I've asked him to do a special guest blog, and so I know you're in for a treat. At least the sentences will make grammatical sense. Without any further adieu...
Greetings from sunny India! Since it's my birthday, Jeff asked me to post the blog for today. I don't know if he is really that tired or if he forgot to buy me a present. Either way, I am proud to accept the honor. My apologies are extended to those of you who were looking forward to another report from Jeff's passionate and creative perspective. He promises to return tomorrow.

Some might ask why Faith Baptist Church has made a five year commitment to financially support and to send mission teams to India. Why not Poland, Vermont or even Ocean City, Maryland. Others might want to know why we are not committing more resources to local missions. While every part of the world is in need of the gospel, and while we should certainly be strongly involved in meeting the needs right at our doorstep, my answer to the question, "Why India?" Is simply two words - "David Rajan." To me it is no more complicated than this. While all missionaries and missionary endeavors need support, if God is powerfully blessing the sacrifice and faith of a missionary from your congregation, than why not start there as a priority? I firmly believe that if God had called David Rajan to minister in Columbia, I'd be writing you from somewhere in a jungle.

I'm not going to send David's praises. Each time we do that, he deflects all the praise to Christ. Instead, I'd like to give you an example of what sparks the vision and purpose of David Rajan's life.

Jeff reported in a previous blog about the 24 orphan children who traveled six hours each way by bus to join us for just two days. Financial support for each child ($20 per month) is paid by members of North River Church where we began serving today. After VBS on Tuesday, David and I were seated in the worship center enjoying some casual conversation when two of the girls - Joys (pronounced "Joyce") and Anandi - politely approached David and asked if they could talk with him for a few minutes. He knew why they had come, and he asked me to stay. Since they were to leave early the next morning, they had an important request to make. They both wanted to become medical doctors, but that requires attending "higher learning" next year at an additional cost of $20 per month. Considering the importance of this discussion, I thought the meeting was surprisingly calm! Joys and Anandi presented their cases well. Both of them have achieved high grades in school and are gifted in singing and dance. They excel at scripture memory and other kinds of memory skills. I know, because one of them beat me the day before in a word association game. ("body slammed" might be a better description.) Throughout the brief interviews, David's questioning and demeanor never gave me any concern that the decisions were in doubt. These young women had earned the right to continue to pursue the call that God had placed on their lives. After they had been dismissed, I asked David if he had money set aside for these and other scholarships. He smiled and said, "No, but God will provide."

God WILL provide, because others have begun to partner with David in the strategy that if you win this generation of children to Christ, then you will change India for the next generation. It is clearly happening here, one life at a time and one church at a time. The same is occurring this month in another nine churches where a total of over 1,000 children will attend a Vacation Bible School. Many of these children come from homes where the parents are Hindus (who, obviously, don`t understand the power of the gospel to change the hearts and minds of their children). These are just a few of the evidences all around southeast India that a ministry which began thirteen years ago by a member of our church is beginning to bear great fruit for God`s Kingdom! We have the privilege at Faith Baptist to continue playing an important role in that ministry. Simply put, that`s why we`re still here India!

In closing, please allow me to make a personal comment. After all, it is my birthday(at least still in MD)! I feel very blessed to be serving with this team sent by Faith Baptist to represent Jesus Christ. It`s an honor to see my son lead with wisdom, passion and humor. My daughter, Kristin, is the head cheerleader for the team in encouraging people to pray. I echo the fourth verse of III John which says, "I have no greater joy than knowing that my children are walking in the truth." My wife, Sandi, is encouraging me and taking care of my mom. On this birthday, I`m reminded that I am a blessed man! But this birthday also reminds me that life goes by too quickly and age takes its toll. When I was younger, I didn`t think it would happen to me, but now I`m fighting not to make it so. That`s why yesterday when playing volleyball with some youth, I received an early birthday gift. One of the boys, after I had made a rare but somewhat impressive shot at the net, said, "Uncle! You good!" I thanked God that I could still get a limited distance off the ground and placed that treasured remark in my heart for safe keeping. I also thank God that since life really does go by quickly, I have opportunities such as this to help make an eternal difference in the lives of these precious children. Simply put, that`s why I`m in India!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Beautiful People

I've been staring at a blank screen for a good 20 minutes because I'm not really sure where to start or how to sum up this past week at Poonthandalam Mission Center. I haven't had the time to process and come up with a really super profound statement, so forgive me if I sort of process this through the blog. A Writing 101 class will tell you that's a really bad idea, but I never took Writing 101, so admittedly, I don't know what they will tell you in that class. I can only assume that's what they would say because it makes sense. Who cares what Writing 101 would say. Let's process.

Let's start with last night, actually, to give you an idea of the mindset of the team. As I mentioned last night, due to the travel arrangements and needs in preparation for next week, we had to take all of the luggage to David's condo last night. David gave the offer that, because a trip was being made to the condo, if any team member wanted, they could go back to the condo to sleep in the air conditioning. After 5 nights in no air conditioning, you can imagine how many of the members jumped at that awesome offer.


Not one of us.

When given the choice between going back to a nice, cool condo or sleeping in the open-air, A/C'less facility surrounded by bugs, every single team member opted to stay at the Mission Center. Even the ones who went back to the condo to haul the luggage preferred to return around midnight instead of leaving the condo the next morning. This is the best picture I can give as to where our heart is right now. We feel such a connection to the people, such presence of the Holy Spirit and such a deep love for what God is doing there that we just don't want to be away...even when greater comfort is offered. That's because the greatest comfort we have is knowing that we are in the presence of God and His Holy Spirit is moving. Make no mistake, our bodies are screaming for rest and we soak up any A/C that we can get. However, compared to the greatness of being with God's people and being a part of His work...all of the comfort stuff takes a backseat. So, that was where our heart and minds were last night.

And that made today even tougher. I think we all knew, as we looked into each other's eyes and shared our desire to stay, that we were thinking the same thing: this is possibly the last time we'll see these beautiful people this side of Heaven. The fact that we WILL see them on THAT side of Heaven is such a blessing – and if that's the first time you meet the people of Poonthandalam, that'll be such a cool meeting.

I want to take a second and clarify something that is pretty critical. In these blogs or anytime I speak about Indian people, I tend to refer to them as “beautiful”. I want to be clear: while these people are physically striking and beautiful, their beauty goes so much deeper. They are gentle in spirit. The are humble. They are the greatest servants I have ever seen. A 15 year old boy, Bubalan, would LITERALLY fight us over our suitcases. Almost half of the bags that the team brought were overweight – yet once we reached India, we never carried them again. And that's not because we're lazy and don't want to. We weren't allowed. When we tried to pour water into our water bottles, Bubalan or Moses or Desilva or David would run over to us, shake their head furiously and insist that they take care of us. They would not even allow us to do the simplest of tasks because they found such joy and pleasure in serving others. The list of ways in which we were served by these beautiful people would fill up weeks of blogs and I have so much more to brag on them about. They love Jesus with an uncommon love. They devote themselves to prayer and worship. They are genuine and kind. One time, one of our young ladies saw a group of girls pointing and smiling – even giggling – at her. Back home, this isn't a compliment. We found out that the group of girls were commenting on how pretty the American women were.

But more than anything, they are content. Listen, if we know each other personally, please don't be offended by this because I clearly am one of the “culprits” as well – but I don't know very many content people in the way the Indian people are content. We have so much and can always find something we don't have. Here, they have very little and they never complain about anything. They have a peace and a quality of life that is not dependent upon stuff or things or status or pleasure of fulfillment. Their fulfillment is Christ and they pour out their worship to Him passionately. We told David that we wanted to do something special – a gift or something – for Bubalan and Sam and all of the other people who diligently served us. I asked David what we should do and he suggested that the best thing that would help them and be most appreciated is a small sum of money: the equivalent of $10. I asked David to give it to them for us because we don't want them to look at the “white men” as throwing money at them or perpetuating an attitude of dependency on it. After the gift was given, the young men (and one of their fathers) came up to me on the volleyball field, interrupted the game to shake my hand, give me a hug and thank me. This killed me and it still kills me right now. Here we spend the entire week being served by people in every single way – EVERY way – and the cost of a medium pizza in America prompts them to pour out their profuse thanks. It felt so wrong because there's so much you want to do to express your appreciation and respect for who they are and who Christ is to them, and yet, they act indebted to us. So often I think, “I just want to pack you up and bring you to America” - but when I think about it, I really, really don't want that. God forbid their purity and humility, their joy and fervent contentment in Christ be challenged by our everyday lives. Instead, we just want to bring you all here and see what life is like when you have Christ and nothing else. Again, the comforts you “need” start to look very small next to the comfort of walking in close relationship with Christ.

So when I say, “beautiful people”, this is what I mean. They are some of the best people I've ever met. I know the group agrees.

Today was a totally weird day, so doing a recap of the events would be really tough. Be here are the highlights. Today was the final day and the Mission Center throws on a huge program complete with many dances, skits, Bible verse recitations (in Tamil AND in English) and gifts to recognize their commitment to the weeklong VBS. We had very few responsibilities today (I'll close with one of them), and yes, we did end up on stage having to “freestyle” again. This was awful because, up to that point, the kid's dances were wonderful. And then David made us go up and we had to try and do something for four minutes. But when that happens, your mindset becomes, “Ok, I can't actually do anything they were doing...but can we get them to laugh.” They we walked back to our seats, apologizing the whole way. The programs are amazing because on the last day, all of the girls wear their absolute bests. Beautiful outfits, hairstyles, flowers, jewelry, makeup – like they're going to Indian Prom...but really they're going to church. At the end of the celebration, David brought up the whole team for us to be honored. Again, this feels so bizarre – we literally feel like we've done nothing but play with the children and do some demos. Yet, they honor us. It hurts, it really does. But I'll come back to this.

One of the two highlights of my day (both occurring at the program) was the final song some of the kids/teens danced to. The song was a beautiful anthem – sort of like a “We Are the World” pop song – but David explained its significance. He said the song was a Christian song encouraging the kids to not forget that their country is India and they have a responsibility to be missionaries to their own country. The song culminated in the call to “take the Gospel to India”. When the song was over, our team was cheering and clapping. Rajan just sat there, quietly applauding, with tears in his eyes. I say that because David looked at me and said, “This song moved me. Look at my eyes.” And that's when it hit me. This song was basically the anthem of David Rajan. Here is a man who God called to go to America, he built a life there, and then upon God's call, brought him back to his own country to share the Gospel. I was sitting next to the man, in the first of three Mission Centers he established in 13 years, who has committed his life to serving God faithfully and with faith and he has seen things that I honestly probably won't ever see. God doesn't play favorites, but sometimes I think He makes exceptions for David Rajan. As anyone who has served here on mission in India will tell you, if you only know David Rajan from a church or Americanized setting, you don't know David Rajan. And you need to know him. You need to come here and see how one man, who committed his life to God, has been used by God to establish churches and Mission Centers all over southeast India. As one former mission team member told another team member this year in preparation for their trip: “Your appreciation and respect for David Rajan is about to go through the roof.” He was right. That's totally right. And David gives every bit of that glory to God. But for me today, it was such a humbling experience to catch that moment with him and know that the room we were in with the 200+children who were singing, dancing, learning and loving all possible because one man was faithful and obedient to God's calling on his life. Praise God for this.

Today just kept getting harder. After saying “I'll see you later” (because for Christians that's true), we gave huge hugs, sang with the most energy we've had all week and just worshiped loudly and with the dance. So great. Then, after lunch and a volleyball game that has no business being played in that oppressive heat), it was our turn to say, “I'll see you later” and give an encouraging word to all of the families involved in serving us that way. We gave hugs and prayers, looked them in the face and expressed our love and Christ's love for them. We waved good-bye after stalling to talk because we just didn't want to leave that much. We hate leaving these people here because they are so amazing and we consider them our family.

But to close, I want to go back to my most favorite moment of the day. David asked the team to all come to the front where we were honored and given an amazingly intricate, HUGE floral necklace. As he presented this, he had the kids say our name (Uncle Jeff, Auntie Betty, Auntie Leslie...) and say the phrase, “Please come back next year (and then they'd say our names)”. I was third in line; first for our team. It was such a blessing to look at these children and honestly say, “Yes, we're coming back next year – maybe even sooner”. This is only possible because Faith Baptist Church unanimously decided to partner with David and his mission for 5 years. In an upcoming blog, I'll touch on missions philosophy and why this relationship is so important, but for tonight, let me just express my thanks to all of you who support this mission work through your physical partnership, your financial support, your fervent prayer help and your encouragement to the team during this team. This partnership is just beginning and it is only going to become more meaningful as we see develop our relationships in this area.

Before I list the prayer needs, there is one that came up today that I want to make you especially aware of. We received word this morning that the bottled water/water jug company where we get our drinking water from has gone on strike. We're praying for a quick resolution, but at this point, all of the water we were anticipated is looking less good at this point...which means that it's time to pray. Please come alongside us and pray for these things:

1)A quick and fair resolution to this strike
2)The return of lots of bottled water!
3)That God would meet the needs of the Poonthandalam children and villages.
4)That God would strengthen and restore us tonight for the hard road ahead.
5)For our families back home who are pulling their weight. And ours. We love them and miss them terribly.

Again, thank you for your partnership and ministry to us and to all of those in India who are benefiting greatly from your support. You are amazing.

And finally, Annette Spain. I mean, where to begin. Matt That was fast. Still in shock.

Love all of you guys.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Silly String: Happiness Destroyer

Hey family and friends. We had an exciting, experience-filled day - one with a lot of laughter and some tears. Unfortunately, those tears were not from the team, but from the children. Our fault. Super.

Quick side note: “Supah” (Super) is the exclamation made after just about everything to indicate appreciation, congratulations, or just a general agreement. Dear everyone we know, please start using this. It feels so good to say.

Today, we had what I consider to be our most important day in terms of message and the message was so clearly communicated. After our opening dance-party session, we moved into the Grain Game demonstrations. The first was a great new game that we played with the kids called, “Super Doorway” (told you that word is everywhere). In it, we let the kids pick numbered envelopes with a message inside that either says “Super Doorway” or “No”. If you get the “Super Doorway” sign, you get to walk through the curtain and get a lollipop. If you’re one of the last two kids standing, you get sprayed with silly string. And here’s where the crying comes in. We’ve played games this week where kids get doused with water. Laughs all around. Today, we played a game where just about every participant gets covered with shaving cream. Hysterical responses. But shoot a little silly string at a kid and the waterworks start. We can’t explain it, but we’re hoping that in the next VBS we can get the most fun out of it as possible, because Silly String is way too much fun not to cover the kids with. To make matters worse, at the village church, the boy who got the silly string (and cried) was invited back up to play the second game: where he got a face full of shaving cream. That guy wasn’t having the best day. However, our second attempt to cheer him up, where he got to be the final “Plate holder” and cover Matt with shaving cream, seemed to do the trick just fine.

Once the game was played, Pops brought the message home in a big way. God called Noah to build an ark that was as long as a football field and he was to bring two of every animal in with him. While many doors would be a good idea for that amount of work, God was clear that the ark was to only have one door. Anyone who walked through that door onto the ark would be saved. Anyone else who didn’t go through that doorway faced the punishment. The scripture we used to teach this is John 14:6 which says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man goes to the Father but through Him. Jesus is the doorway. This seems pretty basic to us Americans…but here in India, where false gods are worshipped at every corner and Jesus is just considered another god, this is a big deal. This is a major slap in the spiritual face of this culture. And the kids ate that message up.

Following this, Cassie got up and shared the Evangecube. This is a great Gospel presentation that works great for kids. The Cube folds up/down/open and tells the story of man’s fall, Christ sacrifice and victory and what it means for us to commit our lives to Christ. It tied in perfectly with the Super Doorway demo and the kids were the most attentive at this time than they’ve been during ANYTHING else this week. Thank You, Jesus - and thank you to all of you who prayed during that time. God moved.

We finished our Assembly with one of the most loved Grain Games: The Hidden Bouncy Ball. You may remember this from last year, but in it, kids are brought up to the front, have their eyes covered, and a bouncy ball is placed on the table underneath one of two cups. The kids have to choose a cup and if they guess correctly they receive candy. If they guess incorrectly? A face full of shaving cream. Everyone loves this game because there is something genuinely awesome about someone getting decked with a plate full of shaving cream. The kids played and then the adults had their turn. It’s wild. And messy. And perfect. The teaching here is that God gave Adam and Eve (and us) clear instructions on how to obey Him. If they/we obey, we receive blessing and eternal life with Him. If we reject Him, then He has told us we will be separated from Him. God does not trick us and He is not unfair. Satan, however, loves to hide or mask the true consequences of our sin. So we show them how “not cool” it is to not know the consequences prior to making a decision. Between these three demos, we communicated that Jesus is the only way to the Father, that man has fallen and in His love God sent Jesus to die and rise again so that we can live, and that we have a very clear choice to make. What a perfect message and the kids were so attentive during all of it. I love it when God works like that.
Tonight, due to our change of venue starting tomorrow afternoon/evening, Matt and I had to accompany Hot James (Donny, Sweet Baby D, Baby K, whatever you want to call him) to David’s condo with all of our luggage. Because of this, I can’t really speak to what took place at the Mission Center and I don’t want to speak of what took place on that adventure to the condo. We may or may not have had a Lion King singalong and there is the possibility that one of us on the adventure to the condo (who is American and has bad hair) drove a portion of the way (like, 2 miles on a dirt road and 30 feet on the real road). But wow. It was a life-changing experience for that guy that he is super excited not to have again.

So, I will wrap up today’s blog with just a brief story. The village church that we have attended since Tuesday had their final session today. We’ve spent some time there this week, but not really a whole lot. Maybe 3 hours total…but I doubt even that. So, you wouldn’t think that that’s even enough time to get close to these kids, but let me tell you, they are such a blessing to us. They were the most responsive group we’ve ever had and they made everything we did more fun. They were so attentive during all of our sessions and so appreciative and loving for every little thing. Going to the village church was one of the highlights of our day. But as I said earlier, today was their final day and the last time we will see them on this trip. I mentioned in a previous blog how the first day and the last day of mission are the toughest. I forgot to add the day we have to say “see ya later” to the first week kids. Looking at their beautiful faces and the joy God has blessed them with, you also realize that these little children are walking back into a community, a country and a world that hates the very God that are committing themselves to. You hate leaving because you want so badly to assure them and encourage them. So, we held on as long as we could. Hugging vs. shaking hands. Saying “See ya later” vs. “Goodbye”. Reminding them over and over again that Jesus loves them. I hated pulling out of the driveway today. I hate knowing that tomorrow, we do it all over again. Please pray for us that we will say the right things to encourage these amazing kids tomorrow.

Tonight, we ask for your prayers again. Would you join alongside us tonight for these things:

1) That our time with the children tomorrow will be meaningful and encouraging to them.
2) That God would continue to watch over these children who are risking their lives to learn about and follow Jesus.
3) That God would once again give us His strength - because we don’t have any anymore.
4) Praise that He is working and using your support and this team to change lives in India.
5) That God would bless with some cool, fresh breeze.

Also, I want to apologize for last night’s blog. I went back and read it and I swear I’m not on drugs. There were whole sentences in that thing that were nonsensical. I apologize. It’s late and comes after a long day…I don’t feel I should be held responsible for any errors or paragraphs that are clearly ridiculous. Thank you for your assistance in this!

Oh, and Annette Spain, I promised I would bring Matt home. I absolutely will do this. However, once he’s home and back in your possession, all bets are off. He’s coming back.

Love you all,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gypsies Don't Lie

Greetings fellow missionaries! We’ve had a great day and I can’t wait to tell you some of the stories of what we’ve experienced today.

First…Annette Spain. I just wanted to tell you…you know what? I’ll get to that later. It’s best for my focus and writing if I keep it chronological.

So, today started out like the previous days and we had a great time in our General Assembly. We ran our songs and now we are having a blast with all of them. Not only are we locked in and comfortable with them, the kids have picked all of them up and we’re having a party. June 5th is our India Report Night. Make plans to be there if only to dance to “God O” and “Great Big God”. Once again, we hopped over to the first village church that David planted to spend a few minutes with the VBS going on there. It’s a much smaller group numerically, but we love these kids so much. They are so amazing, so responsive and attentive and really get into our time together. Today, when we arrived, one of the girls was performing one of her dances for us. Naturally, once her beautiful and well-rehearsed dance was completed, David told us to get up in the front and do the same dance. I thank God that there is no video footage of this. I should mention, one of the great aspects of the Indian culture is that music and dancing is a part of their everyday life and performances are a part of just about every group meeting. You can tell when you see their dances that this is a meaningful part of their lives. It’s beautiful and expressive. You can tell when you see our dances that this is NOT something that is a part of our lives. Watching us today you might gather that Americans are out of shape, arrhythmic blobs. It was embarrassing. But the kids laughed. I think it was the good kind of laughter, though.

On the way back to the Mission Center, David gave us a (mostly) driving tour of the village the church is located in. Our one stop was at a recently rebuilt church facility. Six years ago, the church was burned down and the pastor was stabbed. Today, we were able to walk into the new church building and seeing a beautiful - absolutely gorgeous in its simplicity -- room where David told us that many church members meet for an hour before worship services just to pray and seek God’s face. And sure enough, as we were there, we were visited by some of the church members, the pastor and his family. They serenaded us with a beautiful praise song. It was lovely. And of course, once they were done, we decided to “bless” them in return by singing a Tamil song. They were better. Way better. We’re just feeling stupid at this point because these people are so much better at…everything. David then asked me to share the Bible verse I had learned in Tamil (I Corinthians 10:31). Before I had finished, some of the kids were already laughing. Yeah. Totally stupid.

After VBS was over, David took us to see ancient ruins over 2,000 years old. Just before leaving, though, the dancers were practicing their dances for the closing celebration of VBS. So, naturally, Matt and I, having learned nothing from our village church experience, decided that it would be a good idea to join in. We weren’t half bad! Nope. We were 100% irredeemably bad. And again, following our attempts to follow the dance steps accurately, David instructed us to do our own song/dance. That we were to “freestyle”. Never, ever tell us to freestyle. I can neither confirm nor deny that the Electric Slide and “The Sprinkler” made an appearance. We were then told that we would also be performing a dance on Saturday at the closing celebration when all of the families show up. Pray for us. We may push us towards World War III. Hopefully Auntie Betty and Auntie Leslie will be able to class it up for us. Thankfully, no one on the team was able to grab any video of it. Some of the Indian kids did, but it’s not making it out of the country. If you would like to see us, please join us on mission in the coming years.

So, after our horrid display, we hopped in the van and headed out to the ruins. We discussed tonight in our group that there is a fine line between history and paganism and that we need to be discerning about what we are experiencing. For instance, the ruins were fascinating. They were intricately carved on the side of a mountain and the carvings were really detailed and well-preserved for being thousands of years old. However, the carvings, when you examine them closely, are pagan/Hindu designs still worshiped and revered today. It is just another reminder of what is going on in this part of the world. While some would enjoy the detail and design, it’s difficult to look past the evil that is behind it. What was an interesting tourist stop ended up being the catalyst for our discussions tonight where we looked ahead to the week to come and the spiritual warfare that will be taking place. We need your prayers. Not just for physical protection, but also for our spiritual protection. We are praying and we need you to as well. The attacks are only going to get way bigger as our time in India continues. We’ll share more of our reflections and thoughts on the spiritual war going on in India in future blogs.

Following our ruins stop (complete with a reenactment of “The Lion King”’s opening “Circle of Life” moment and the phrase, “Your American is showing”), David took us to the local beach for some ice cream and an incredible view - not just of the water, but the people and the experiences they have at the beach. Indian people aren’t big swimmers, so you will LITERALLY see “Cowboy experience/horseback photoshoots”, a hand-powered ferris wheel (exactly what it sounds like) and monkeys dressed up and on leashes. And we did. We left the beach and headed to our van only to discover that it had been double parked and there was no way to get out. We tried to literally lift a taxi out of the way. We tried a lot of things. About 45 minutes passed while we were waiting at the van until finally Matt goes, “Why don’t we pray about it?” It’s embarrassing that it took us that long to think about that, but we were distracted pretty severely (I’ll get to that in a minute). Matt said, “Amen” and 15 seconds later, the keyless entry clicks on and the owner of the vehicle walks up. No lie. That fast. God is far too gracious to us than we deserve and we give Him praise tonight for His protection and provision.

But what was the “severe distraction” you ask? Well, it was both painfully tough while also being hilarious and an adventure no one will ever forget. On the way to the beach, we kinda stuck out a little bit and so we’re fairly easily identifiable as tourists. This makes us a target for panhandlers. And gypsies.


As soon as we got out of the car, David says, “These people coming are gypsies. Don’t stop. Don’t engage.” This is a great lesson if you ever travel to…anywhere. Stay away from gypsies. If only we had listened. To kill time as we walked, a few team members responded to the questions and promptings from the gypsies. Fortunately, I look horribly unfriendly and poor so they got clear of me pretty fast. On the way back to the van, our gypsy friends picked us back up and harassed us all the way to the van. However, to live the adventure and experience being offered, Pops could not help himself. He found a necklace he liked and agreed to pay 100 rupees for it. Now, that may sound high, but at the exchange rate he got, it was equivalent to about $3. The problem is, when you pay money, especially THAT MUCH money, you become the new favorite person of the gypsy community. To put it in perspective, Joy Mathews who is serving with us here talked the gypsies down to 10 necklaces for 100 rupees. Pops is everyone’s favorite person, obviously. But now, he is a legend in the gypsy community and they have his face plastered on their post offices.

But as tragic as all of this sounds, it made for some good comedy that I feel like is worth sharing. If you don’t like a funny story, you can skip this part. But I do feel like it’s genuinely pretty good, so I would recommend staying with.

Pops spent the entire time bartering with the gypsies for a more than reasonable price. But Mr. Gypsy was a salesman and he drove a really hard bargain for someone selling something cheap that nobody wanted. Ask Pops for all of the details - it’s too many to list here. But the funny part(s) happened next. I was standing next to Pops trying to help him out. The gypsy wouldn’t budge on the price. It also probably didn’t help that from 30 feet away I yelled out, “Pops, don’t. They are ripping you off.” Knowing that the gypsy and his Mrs. spoke English well was preferable to my calling them out and they understanding it. So when I rushed to Pops aid, Mr. Gypsy pulled out a lighter to try and destroy the necklace to prove that he wasn’t selling something cheap. And when Pops seemed genuinely unimpressed and not taken by the act, Mr. Gypsy dropped this line, which I also will never forget as long as I live: “I am a gypsy. I do not lie.”

Let that sink in for a moment.

After that, I walked off and Pops opted to pay more than he was willing, but he did it for the experience and walked away with something to show for it. But the cherry on top of this whole delicious gypsy sundae is that we had two kids from the Mission Center accompanying us. The two boys (Moses and Bubalan) have been so wonderful and helpful to us. We are so blessed by them. Bubalan comes over to me whilst I was sitting on the curb. He turns to me and says, “You……father…..your….”. Now, already this is more than Bubalan has ever spoken to me in my entire life. He’s not as proficient in English as some of his peers, but he’s the kid you want with you. A young man of character, who is (now I know) really funny and sincerely generous. So, Bubalan finally gets out (after my initial shock at him speaking to me):





Classic Bubalan. And I don’t even know what Classic Bubalan is. I was in stitches until…well, I pretty much still am. On the bright side, Pops spent about $5 all in all. But the hassle and the tension was a lot of fun to watch.


We ended the night with one of my favorite Indian experiences: a worship concert with The Godfather. He sang his mission trip standards and they’re still perfect. We had a great time of impromptu worship together and it was a great way to close out a great day. We have one more day of serving at Poonthandalam and the village church and the demos are going to be a ton of fun. Can’t wait to see what God is going to do.

Tonight, we ask you to join us in prayer for these things:
1) For continued physical strength and good rest tonight.
2) For protection over our minds and hearts, knowing the spiritual battles are just getting started
3) For our families back home - lift them up for their faithfulness and support
4) For the rebuilt church in the village of Poonthandalam - that the name of Jesus would go forth boldly, even though they understand what that might cost in their community.
5) For the Spirit of God to move in America the way it’s moving in India

Thank you all again for your support. And I apologize for any misspellings or mistakes in these blogs. I hate grammatical errors. However, I’m too tired to fix them - nor can we see straight! Thank you for your grace.

Oh, and Annette Spain. Haven’t forgotten. No marriage proposals today, but the team has selected someone for him. Godfather has totally signed off. We’ve chosen well. Congrats!

Love you all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013



Well, friends, we’ve reached the end…

…of Mission Day Three.

Today was weird. Really weird. It felt like the last day of our mission experience, but we’ve only been on site for less than three full days. The team was physically exhausted - so much so that this afternoon, every team member went down for a long nap. Like, all eight of us. For awhile. In our group time tonight, we had an extensive time of testimonies where the team all talked about the things God has been showing them and how He is wildly at work. The things being shared, though, seemed like experiences, lessons and commitments you would expect at the end of a long mission. Tears were shed and lives have already been changed by what we’re seeing here. And it’s Day Three…of Twelve. Nine more days for God to teach us here and blow our minds - I’m kinda scared because I don’t think we packed nearly enough tissue.

This morning we woke up (like you do) after a great night of rest. The breeze…oh man…the only way to accurately communicate our feelings about it is to use a common Indian phrase: “SUPAH!” (That’s “super” for all of our readers in Dundalk, MD (I don’t know why I targeted Dundalk. I guess I don’t know anyone who actually lives there and it’s a whole lot safer than making fun of Baltimore). Speaking of “readers from…”, we saw on our blog site that we have readers from well outside of the U.S. We have some Afghanistan, South Korea, India and Germany folks in the house. That’s crazy. We really appreciate every one of you who reads this thing and prays for us.

So, we woke up, had our morning routine and got ready for a day of singing, jumping, dancing and Grain Gaming. Funny story - every day of our Indian mission (this year’s and last year’s), we sang “God O”. “God O” is a crazy, insane, sweat-your-face-off dance song that the kids love. We decided last night, “Hey…we’ve got a couple of other really good songs, too. Let’s do those instead and leave out ‘God O’. No one will notice.” So we started off our day with “Great Big God” and it has fast become the Team favorite. As soon as we finished that song, the Mission Center pastor, Pastor Gnanam, looked at me and said, “God O”. He then pointed at David Rajan - the Godfather - who was rising from his chair in the back (that means he’s serious), puts his hands in a circle over his head and says, “Do ‘God O’”. When Godfather says do something, you do it. So, the song we thought we could sneak out of the lineup was put back in 2.5 minutes after we started. They didn’t even have a chance to miss it! The Godfather knows. So we did a number of songs and totally overexerted ourselves before moving onto the Grain Game demos. I was so excited for the demos today because they were 1) all brand new to us and 2) all brand new to David and Poonthandalam. We had to break out of the main fellowship hall and move everyone outside. We praise God for the shade He’s provided there. It was the hottest day here so far, but the shade offered a great relief. We all discussed today how we’ve actually felt warmer INSIDE than outside.

Anyway. Outdoor demos. We had to go outside because they are messy demos. Good and messy. We started with the demo, “Mentos”. In this demo, I shared about the fruits of the Spirit and how, as Christians, we are to turn from sin and follow the Holy Spirit, living like Jesus. To illustrate this, I had 4 bottles of soda and a ton of Mentos “candy” (The “Freshmaker”. Please.). Let me just say that in our practices in Maryland, this demo was tough. We went through a lot of soda to figure out how to make the explosion (hint: full bottles of fresh soda). So, here we are outside with the kids and I drop the Mentos (or is it “Mento” - singular?) into a bottle of soda. Doesn’t work. Nothing happens. Not starting out so well. That’s why we had back-up. So, I take bottle #2 and drop another Mento(s) in. Nothing happens for ten seconds. It’s supposed to be immediate. Finally, it starts to bubble up and slowly overflow out of the bottle. Cool. Kids thought it was ok, but obviously unimpressed. I should mention that, because we were low on soda, we risked it by using soda not totally fresh - you do what you have to. However, I was super pumped for bottles #3 and #4 because they WERE fresh and unopened. AND prior to the trip, we purchased “Geyser Tubes”. Let me make a little plug for “GeyserTubes”. Go to and pay the $4 for one of these things. Amazing. So, one Mento in an older bottle of soda didn’t do a whole lot. But, we talk about how we are called to all NINE of the fruits of the Spirit, not just one, and when the Spirit is living inside us and all of the Fruits are present, we overflow with Jesus. Here’s where the Geyser Tube comes in handy. The Tube holds nine Mentos and it screws onto the top of a soda bottle lid. There’s a stopper at the bottom that prevents the Mentos from falling in until you’re ready. So, we open the bottle, put the Tube on tight, count to three….pull the stopper and run! This explosion was huge. 25-30 feet in the air. Everyone loved it. But we weren’t done. We talked about how, when we overflow with the Fruits of the Spirit, we are a blessing to others. So I chose our buddy from last year, Ajitpreseeth, and had him come to the front. The plan was for Matt and I to hold him over the bottle whilst pulling the stopper. I think you see where this is going. The kid gets the “Wet Head”. However, this blew up in my face. No, literally, the soda blew up in my face. Ajit comes forward and Matt is on his way up. I set the ottle down and SOMEHOW the stopper releases. Still don’t know how that happened. What followed was a hearty, “Oh man!” and an eruption of Coke. But the kids need the show, so I grabbed Ajit who, upon realizing he was being showered with Coke rightly took off. The kids need a show. So I sacrificed myself and took the shower. It was amazing.

Leslie followed that up with “Pinheads”. In this game, 4 children make up two teams and the goal is for one child to toss a water balloon to their teammate who has to pop it using a headband with a thumbtack taped to it. We teach that, just as the pin is always pointing up to be effective, so our minds should be set on things above always. The kids really enjoyed this demo. They REALLY enjoyed it when we made Pastor Suresh and P. Gnanam wear the headbands. They were great sports. Soaking wet great sports.

Our last demo was “Slingshot”. Matt held a contest (3 boys, 3 girls) to see who could throw a water balloon the farthest. Once they finished their turns, he had a turn. That’s when we broke out the 3-man water balloon slingshot that launches water balloons hundreds of feet away. The teaching, while simple, is so profound. When we do things on our own power, we can only achieve so much. But when we use the power of God, all things are possible. Again, a great demo that the kids loved.

After this, we headed back out to the village church where we did Little Debbie’s “Bubbles” Grain Game and did the Joshua and the Wall of Jericho skit. Why we chose to repeat a skit in which kids scream in our ears, we have no idea - except to say that they love it and that’s all that matters. Upon our return to Poonthandalam, following lunch the team crashed hard. Between the heat, jet lag and the amount of energy this Team is putting in, we had to shut down for a bit. But we woke up in just enough time to make it out to the Poonthandalam Volleyball Invitational. To be honest, I really didn’t want to play volleyball. I was beat and running around outside didn’t seem like it was something I wanted to hurry up and do. However, we had so much fun. We played with the teenagers who have been volunteering this week and they are really good. We played a bunch of games and then wrapped with a U.S. vs. India volleyball match. I’m proud to say we stomped those kids…that we were there to minister to. Even Betty Jo and Leslie played. But our secret weapon: The Godfather. He served us into victory. Basically, I just don’t think anyone wanted to beat him. Nor should they.

So, we wrap today beat. Exhausted. Hot. And totally, totally blessed. Please pray for us. God is moving and we’re all trying to make sense of what this means for us personally and corporately. We are overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God and the movement of His Spirit in this place. As we talked tonight, we are convinced that our tiny words cannot communicate the significance and magnitude of what is taking place here in Poonthandalam and in India. His Church is on the move here and we are so blessed to be supporting one of God’s servants - and his team of pastors and evangelists - who are on the front lines of carrying the Gospel of Jesus into a dark place. We cannot begin to encourage you enough to consider coming here and seeing it for yourself. You will be changed, I promise you.

Thank you for your support. We are seeing God do great things in the villages of India. Tonight, we ask you to help us by lifting these things up in prayer:
1) For rest and restored strength tomorrow - we were dragging today
2) For healing from some minor volleyball injuries - mainly soreness.
3) A praise that no one was hurt in a big way during volleyball
4) For even more energy and love for these beautiful children
5) For our families back home who are trying to keep things normal
6) For all of the pastors, evangelists and David Rajan - that God would increase their reach for His glory and His kingdom.

Thank you all again. We couldn’t do this without you.

Oh, and Annette Spain…zero marriage proposals today. Also, Matt is working on a science experiment here that could ultimately, in his words, make him a millionaire for discovering something (don’t get excited. It’s ice.)

See you all tomorrow.