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 www.drugstore.com 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.