MISSOURI . . . We are excited about being in your State! And sharing the wonders of God and Missions!
We will be in churches in Missouri from March 14 through 28, 2010. If you are close to any of these location, please come and hear all the exciting news happening in India, Bangladesh and Haiti! Or hear how you can become involved in one of these areas! Here is our schedule:
Where will Richard and Debi be in March?
Friday, March 12, 2010
Arrive St. Louis, MO in evening
Sunday, March 14, 2010
10 AM Morning Worship Service
Central Community Church, Rolla, MO.
Pastor Dan & Tricia Phillips
Sunday, March 14, 2010
6 PM Evening Service
Church Of God, St. Robert, MO.
Pastor Jeff & Kimberly Combs
Wed, March 17, 2010
5:30 PM Fellowship Dinner, 6:30 PM Service
First Church Of God, Jefferson City, MO.
Pastor Rob & Christa Kespelher
Sat, March 20, 2010
6 PM Missions Conference Dinner and Introduction
First Church Of God, St. James, MO.
Pastor Don & Lynette Carson
Sunday, March 21, 2010
9:15 AM Sunday School Class
10:30 AM Morning Worship Service: Missions Conference
First Church Of God, St. James, MO.
Pastor Don & Lynette Carson
Sunday, March 21, 2010
6 PM Evening Service
Bennett Springs Church Of God, Lebanon, MO.
Pastor T.J. & Wendy Brown
Tues, March 23, 2010 Drive to Camp Sharon
Wed, March 24, 2010
6 PM Fellowship Dinner; 7 PM Evening Service
Community Chapel, Gravois Mills, MO.
Pastor Michael & Racheal Carter
Thur or Friday, March 25 or 26, 2010 Return to St. James
Sunday, March 28, 2010
9 AM Sunday School, 10 AM Morning Worship Service
Highland Park, Lebanon, MO.
Pastor James Hanks
Sunday, March 28, 2010 PM: OPEN
Monday, March 29, 2010 Leave for home
As you read this you will see that I do not have names of individuals or areas. The ministry could be greatly jeopardized if their names and locations were provided.
When we made it to New Delhi our friend and national Leader Brother R was waiting for us at the airport. We were spending the night in Delhi then heading out for D early Sunday morning. It would take approximately 10 hours to get to our desired location. We had rented a private vehicle with a driver to make the long journey; since it would be just the 5 of us (including our driver) in the vehicle, we would have the opportunity to enjoy the ride, talk some, and enjoy the sights.
We were making pretty good time until we reached the state of Punjab, and wouldn’t you know it, they were having a religious festival and literally thousands of people were traveling! Every so often along the road there were eating stations, where travelers could stop and eat free. If you wanted, you could stop and eat every few miles as you traveled. Many were wearing something with the color orange, signifying their pilgrimage. Our traveling time had been considerably affected by all the people, then we made it to where
everyone was traveling and the traffic came to just about a standstill. We slowly moved forward until we came to the destination where the main road had been blocked and we had to take a detour. We went off the main road and through side roads and dirt roads and paths to make it back to the main road an hour later. Our 10 hour ride turned into a thirteen and half hour ride!
When we reached our destination it was getting late and we were very tired from the long journey. Upon our arrival we were welcomed by our friend, the wife of our national leader, Sister D. It was late, but not too late to go and have a little snack and enjoy some time of fellowship with our friends.
Like I had told you earlier we are now on the Western side of the Himalayan Mountains around 6000 ft elevation, needless to say, this area is very mountainous. Everywhere you walk you are either going up or down, there are not many flat places. For flatlanders like us from Texas and Florida accustomed to very low altitudes, it was challenging at times.
We would be in this area for the next few days, our main purpose for being here was to spend time with our national leaders to encourage them and spend time together in prayer and worship. There are very few Christians in this area, our national leaders ministering here crave fellowship with other believers. The ministry in this area is very difficult, maybe one of the hardest. The people here are very difficult to reach for Christ; the national leaders have lead one person to the Lord in the last several years as they have been ministering here in this location. The streets are crowded with many people, several are here from the West, so we did not stand out so much (being of lighter color). There is a strong spiritual stronghold in this area; we spent time in prayer walks and just praying as we walked through the streets.
One of our prayer walks was on a specific path, many of the ones in this area follow this path chanting and praying. As you walk this path you encounter many statues, rock formations and other religious items signifying their religion. You feel an oppressive dark presence as you walk and pray to the One True God. As Ken, John, myself and our leader walked and prayed we got separated, not far from each other, and it was not planned. But I believe it was good, we were able to pray and come against the spiritual strongholds – separately. We had been reading Acts 16 before we made this prayer walk (if you don’t remember what it is about, read it, I can’t give a short summery). At times, I felt as though someone would turn and be pointing at us, yelling that we serve the Most High God. For me, I found myself aggravated at how the people were being deceived by this deceptive, oppressive spirit and I wanted to yell out against this spirit and rebuke it in the name of Jesus. Which I did do, but not in a yelling voice, I just spoke out against it in a louder prayer voice.
While in D we visited the various ministry opportunities that our Brother R is involved with. Not only are they trying to reach people who are following this religion, they are reaching out to the down and outcast in this area, also. They have a very vital ministry reaching those affected by drugs, alcohol, Aids and other life killers. They have reached out with the love of God to help many receive help and get clean, while others don’t. They have had some leave their Care home, only to fall back into the old life style, some have even died. Both Brother and Sister R would tell these heart breaking stories, with much sadness; I am sure many tears have been shed between these two people. There are several that have come through the Care home and have turned from their ways, received help, been restored, they have experienced the Love and Word of God in many ways, and they will not forget the God who loves, cares and speaks to them.
Our time passed by quickly, too fast for all of us; before we knew it we had to leave and travel back to Delhi for our flight to the USA. When we went through Punjab we took a different route and missed most of the congestion around the religious festival. Our trip back took us just around eleven hours. We spent the night in Delhi visited a few sights; I even climbed a very high tower (maybe a hundred feet or so) overlooking Old Delhi. Then before catching our flight home, the three of us had a facial, they massaged our head and upper body and I had a haircut, all of that for about seven dollars. Last of the big spenders! A little relaxation before our long flight home.
We left with mixed emotions; this trip has had some glorious times of Celebrating and Praying to the Most High God! We were energized, challenged and drained; all at the same time. We left in body but not in spirit! We have a partnership with National Indigenous Leaders to reach some of the most non-Christian areas in the world. We celebrate together our relationship and partnership with the MOST HIGH GOD!
It seems every time we travel in India, there is a strike or a holiday that disrupts our travels or those traveling to be with us. This trip has been no different. During the end of the 50th Celebration in Siliguri a strike prevented several people from attending the momentous Celebration. God made it possible, even in spite of the strike, for us to get done what He wanted done. We just had to adjust, be flexible and adapt to Him!
On Monday, after the Celebration in Siliguri, we traveled around the local area visiting the property for the new Outreach Center where a border wall is being constructed. We also visited a few other ministries before calling it a day and making preparations for the next day’s travels to the Bhutan border.
Tuesday started real early for us as we prepared to leave for Makrapara Child Development Center and the Bhutan border, which is about a four hour drive. We went to the Bhutan border first then went onto the Makrapara Child Development Center; we made it there before the children started to arrive when they get out of school. It is a great sight to watch the 213 children walking into the area; they arrive by age groups,
the youngest arrive first to the oldest arriving last. They then line up, have prayer, get their food, go sit down and wait until everyone in their group has food, they pray once again, then they eat together. This procedure is followed by each age group as they arrive at the CDC. After their meal they have classes to help them with their school work, and then on this day, it was playing and singing praise songs, which we joined in with them, before being released to go home.
After they were released, we went to visit the family where John and Judy Boedeker sponsor their son. John had carried gifts and pictures for the family from him and Judy. It was a wonderful time for everyone!
We spent the night in the area at one of the guest houses out in the forest. The next day was also to start very early in order to ride elephants through the protected forest area. We try to do some tourist things on each trip for the Team Members who have never been to India before; this trip will not have as many opportunities as we do normally, so we thought with this being Ken Merrifield’s first trip, this would be something fun to do
We had to get up early to start the 6AM excursion; early morning is the best time to see the wild animals. This trip was no exception; we saw a rhinoceros, deer, water buffalo, monkeys, peacocks, parakeets and some other birds. It was an exciting time for all of us!
After our ride we were all quite ready for breakfast! Afterward we traveled to the Riverside Church to dedicate their new building. Cyclone Aila had come through the area last May and destroyed their church building; we had given them funds provided by your donations to rebuild their building. They wanted us to dedicate the building since we were in India. There were not many people able to attend the Dedication Service, for it was mid-day and most people were out working in the fields. After a short greeting we started the service, John shared a few words of encouragement and then prayed before we entered, Ken gave a challenge from the Word, then I shared and offered a prayer of dedication. It was a wonderful service for an exciting ministry! This is the only witness for Christ for miles around this church; it is in India, but is on the Bangladesh border. We traveled back to Siliguri to eat, get clean clothes and prepare to
head out Thursday morning for Hope CDC and Sikkim.
Thursday morning started early in order to travel up to Sikkim and arrive before dark, but there were some ministry concerns that Sanjay had to address before we left, which caused us to leave later than we wanted. We made it to Hope CDC around lunch time, spent some time there so Ken could see this ministry before heading to Sikkim. At this project they are training some of the younger mothers in sewing and craft making as a skill to provide an income for their families. Before we left, they presented each of us with a small table place mat; we were very blessed by their gift.
We then headed to Sikkim, which is about a four hour drive up the mountains on a very curvy, windy road that leads you into the foothills of the Himalayans. It is a beautiful ride, but for some who have gone with us before felt a little different about it . . . they actually have called it a very frightful ride! They were not able to relax and enjoy the beauty. We made it up to Gagtok, Sikkim about 5:30 PM and church service was at 6PM., so there was not much time before we walked down to the church for the evening
service. The Worship Service is always upbeat and spirit filled, young people lead the Worship with much of the congregation being young people. John shared from the Word of God and then we had a time of fellowship before our evening meal. Afterward we headed back to the hotel for the night.
Another early start the next morning to drive up to the top of the mountain to the look out point to see the Himalayan mountain peaks, but it was so cloudy we were not able to see them. I always enjoy going up to this point and looking at the Himalayan peaks, thinking of the awesomeness of the Lord and singing “Majesty” (to myself, of course, no one else would want to hear my off beat singing). I felt bad for Ken; he would miss the beauty of this sight on this trip. “On your next trip you will see it”, I told him.
All too quick, (well maybe not all too quick, for it was cold there on top of the mountain!) we headed back down to the church for breakfast and to talk with Brother Marshal before making the five hour trip back to Siliguri. We spent the last evening with
Sanjay and his family, Sanjukta, his wife, prepared a great evening meal. With our stomachs very full, we headed back to the hotel to prepare to leave this area on Saturday afternoon. When we were in Gangtok, Sikkim we were around 6000 ft elevation on the Eastern side of the Himalayans and by Sunday evening we were around 6000 ft elevation, still be in India, but on the Western side of the Himalayans.
You will never believe what is happened on Sunday and Monday! India is had another holiday, it is called Holi Day. Many businesses were closed. On this holiday many people throw “colors” at other people. Colors is a dried powdered paint, in various colors, and is put into balloons or bags and then thrown. People everywhere have this colored powder all over them; they look for willing, and unwilling, targets to throw their own colors at. Like I said earlier, there is always some type of holiday here in India! This time we had to watch so we were not someone’s target with colors all over us!
Until next time . . . be blessed and keep praying!