Well, here I sit in total darkness, “warm” and joined in my writing by thousands of Poonthandalam’s finest critters. Today has been a perfect example of a day in India. Nothing has gone according to plan or on time, but God is working. We’ve had a full day today and there’s no way we can do anything but give God praise for what is taking place here. So, here’s what our official Day One of serving has looked like.
As I mentioned last night, the ladies shipped off to Poonthandalam Mission Center yesterday evening and the “plan” was for the men to roll out at 6 a.m. from David’s condo to make the long trek out to join them. However, God saw fit to answer a bigger prayer and work out His bigger plan overnight. In the middle of the night, around 1 a.m., a MASSIVE storm blew through the entire area. Lightning, thunder….and RAIN. Beautiful, beautiful, much needed rain. So, this was a huge blessing to Chennai, but it certainly posed a problem for the mission team. How do you haul an entire open-top truck full of luggage in rain without getting it wet? Answer: you buy a tarp. From a store that opens at 7:00 a.m. Fortunately, God has blessed us with a huge support team of villagers/servants who have helped meet every need we’ve had. They even found a way to haul David’s refrigerator to the Mission Center so that we could have some cool drinks throughout the day. We are so blessed by the sacrificial spirit of our Indian family. They are the most giving and generous people we have ever met. For instance, as I wrote that last sentence, one of the pastor’s daughters, Sweetie Angel, was walking around in our upstairs living space. Betty Jo called her over to give her a treat - a sticker - and as soon as it was placed on her hand, she immediately turned and give it away to Matt. We couldn’t outgive these people if we wanted to. And we’re trying.
So, onto today. Due to the change in schedule, the men arrived late to VBS. But when we arrived, the children had already been worshipping for almost an hour. Our arrival was amazing. It was so great to see the familiar faces of some of the children and friends we made in our previous trips, as well as make immediate friends with those new to the VBS. It honestly felt like a reunion and the continual connection is a great source of encouragement for them AND us. Once we were settled, David turned the program over to us. The extent of what your Impact India team pulled off cannot be understated. Your team, on cue, jumped into action and broke into a raucous (as if there’s any other kind) of rendition of “God O”. If you don’t know “God O”, it has become our go-to VBS anthem because it is such a crazy song with lots of dancing. The kids love it. But looking at the team after the first time through, we looked like we had all jumped into a pool. We were soaked, head to toe. And it was the first song of the day. And, as totally expected, David Rajan - the “Godfather” - looked at us and said, “That was good. Do it again.” When Godfather tells you to do something, you do it. Without question. Fortunately, we added some new tunes to our lineup this year as well. And Godfather had us do them multiple times. What’s crazy about this is that, due to jetlag, most of our team didn’t get very good sleep last night and so we walked into this environment physically drained before we started. However, God provided, through your prayers, I have no doubt, the energy to do everything we needed to do. God is so faithful.
Following the opening portion of our General Assembly, we introduced some new skits: Jesus feeding the 5,000 and Paul and Silas in prison. We have chosen stories this year that explicitly point to the power of Christ and His sovereignty. We also Matt lead the group in the “Pillow Fights” Grain Game and Little Debbie rocked the “Bubbles” Grain Game. And this was a huge deal because today, Chip, Clifton and Luke (The Grain Game Gurus) were in the audience. These guys are the pros and they came up with this stuff, and now, after their training, we sent in a rookie and a team member who REALLY doesn’t like public speaking and made them lead their demonstrations. Imagine taking piano lessons for a few years and then playing Mozart with Mozart in the audience. Aside from how weird that be since Mozart is no longer with us, you might be pretty nervous. And Matt and Little Debbie did great. Sadly, because of their other commitments, the Grain Game Gurus had to take off tonight. Aside from Chip, we didn’t know these guys until less than 48 hours ago and it was really un-fun to have to say “Goodbye” to them. It is such a treat to get to work with guys who are on the cutting edge of missions and ministry. Please pray for them tonight. Pray for safe travels for their team as they look forward to some much needed and well-earned downtime. Pray for their ministry as well. We can’t speak highly enough of the Grain Game - it is one of the best missions/ministry resources I’ve ever seen and these guys are all over the globe teaching the truth of Jesus Christ. Pray that their ministry would expand. It needs to expand because it is so effective and life-changing. Check out www.thegraingame.org and get a feel of what this brilliant team is doing.
Because we were so late today, we didn’t have the opportunity to hold a full VBS - but tomorrow we are planning on breaking up the classes and the Team will be in charge of teaching two classes. We found out tonight that the way we planned on doing this at home has changed today. However, God is gracious and it actually ends up better for all of us. Instead of splitting our team of eight into three groups, we will only be breaking up into 2 groups. Our preparation, even aimed in a different direction, will still be totally effective without having to change much of anything! And this also gives us a chance to work with smaller groups and develop better relationships with them. This is God at work Our plan would’ve been ok. His is great.
So, now we’re at the end of the first full day of missions. God is moving already and we can feel your prayers. There is no way we could have survived today if His strength had not been with us in full. Thank you for your faithfulness in praying. You are effective.
But we still need your prayers for rest tonight. David has been so gracious in setting up new living arrangements for us and he even installed new beautiful bathrooms. This also has been made possible due to your more than generous support. Thank you. For the guys, it means we are sleeping, basically, outside - we’re on the top level of an open air facility and the bugs are HUGE fans of us tonight. Also, due to the stormy weather overnight, today was incredibly humid. Hot, definitely. We knew that was coming. But the humidity has been the “not able to breathe well” kind of humidity. It’s heavy and unforgiving. We would ask that you would pray that God would send some relief - or strength. Again - we’re finding out how much better it is when He works out His plan, so we would really love some relief, but want to see Him working more.
Tonight, as most of the team is out like a light already (pardon the irony - the power keeps going off and on, so we lose lights and fans!), they have requested that you lift up these specific requests tonight:
1) For good rest tonight
2) For relief from the humidity and the bugs
3) For wisdom, especially in how we can best communicate to the Indian children
4) For the Grain Game: the Gurus, their travel and to God increase their ministry all over the world.
5) For increased strength
6) To not miss any opportunities to minister
Also, please be in prayer for Donny Caleb as he will be taking a two day ESL test tomorrow and Wednesday. I told him we’d pray for him. I didn’t tell him we’d have an army pray for him J
One other praise that I want to lift up before we bring this day to a close. Often, as we prepare for India, David will become aware of some ministry needs he has. This year, he asked us if we would be able to bring a projector with us so that he could show some Tamil movies to the children/church during VBS and that we could transport it back home after the trip. Because of your generosity, I was able to tell him that Faith wanted to bless and equip his ministry. So, instead of loaning him a projector, we were able to give him the necessary funds to buy a nice, brand new projector for the ministry here. The projector arrived last night and it was up and running tonight. It looks and sounds great and the friends here love it. Again, God has used you all. Pray that He continues to move and that lives would be changed tomorrow.
We love you all.