Wednesday, June 18, 2008
For me, it was a dream come true to serve God in this way among the Kahani people, a remote people group, most of whom had never heard about God’s Son before. The past two years were definitely the hardest two years of my life, but also the best two years of my life. I wouldn’t trade them for anything and I would do it again tomorrow. I look forward to how this experience has prepared me for what God may call me to next.
I have created this blog as a place to store my personal reflections/email updates from a two year period of my life – July 2005-August 2007. However, I also want it to be a resource for people who are interested in finding out more about One-Story.
From January to May 2008, I travelled in the U.S.A. speaking about One-Story at various colleges and universities. From conversations with students, I have developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions and a few other documents that I think might be helpful to those seriously considering a One-Story project. Thank you to those of you who asked those questions and expressed interest in serving God among unreached people groups! I am praying for you and look forward to what languages are represented in Heaven because of YOU!!!
Friday, August 31, 2007
In 2005 I wondered where I would be, and what would have been accomplished 2 years from then.
Seeing how He gave me a heart for these Kahani people, realizing his grace brought me through struggles with my partner, remembering how He provided story-crafters and back-translators even when we thought there weren’t any.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Update- August 26, 2007
· Workshop Update…Dedication and distribution of the stories went very well!
· “They know the Truth now, I’ve done what I came here to do, their salvation is not my responsibility…” ~ Local leader and the apostle Paul also…
· During the month of September, I’ll be traveling to two countries, both of which are currently experiencing some civil unrest.
Picture: Robin and I distributing tapes. This man (his wife is on the left) has attended all of our storying workshops and has been using storying to reach Kahani people.
“They know the Truth now, I’ve done what I came here to do, their salvation is not my responsibility…”
One of the local leaders and his wife shared these thoughts with us when we went to visit them last week. They have been working in a city for several years, and have seen very little response. And yet, they persevere and hold on to the fact that their job is to tell the Truth, and His job is to change their hearts. As I prepared to share the story for our church time this past week, I came upon Paul’s encouragement to the elders in Ephesus. As I ask God to care for my friends who now have the Truth but have not yet decided to follow Him, I was encouraged by what Paul wrote:
“… I have done the Lord's work humbly--yes, and with tears. I have endured the trials that came to me…Yet I never shrank from telling you the truth, either publicly or in your homes. And now I am going to Jerusalem, drawn there irresistibly by the Holy Spirit… not knowing what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit has told me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus--the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love. And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see me again. Let me say plainly that I have been faithful. If any suffers eternal death, it cannot be blamed on me, for I didn't shrink from declaring all that God wants for you….” Acts 20:19-27 (portions)
For the next month, I’ll be traveling – by bus, plane, rickshaw, taxi, train, camel…and who knows what else… I am looking forward to the places and people I’ll be visiting in two different countries. At the moment, both of the countries I’m planning to visit are experiencing some civil unrest. Please ask Him to guide my steps not only while traveling, but for whatever He may lead me to as a result of visiting these places.
I will be returning to the USA October 3rd. My plans are to spend some time with my family, as well as with you! The next best thing to serving the Kahani people is sharing about them!
As I mentioned, after returning to the states, I’ll start training for recruiting for One-Story (www.onestory.org), as well as assisting my supervisor with developing some language learning materials. Both of these opportunities require continued prayer and financial support. Thank you for partnering with me in this journey and considering continuing to partner with me. This work is not possible without you!!
Till All Have Heard,
P.S. Since I’ll be traveling a lot over the next month and am not sure how much email access I’ll have, please be patient with me as I reply to your emails!! However, please don’t hesitate to write! Now is a crucial time for me, as I get ready to “re-enter” my home country!! I need your support!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Here is my newsletter for May to August 2007.
If you don’t have a program to view it, you can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat in order to view the file.http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Back to our city now- no water, no electricity. Fun times.
It’s starting to hit me – we have less than 2 weeks left here – and basically next week is already gone with the workshop…..
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Mommy and Daddy,
I had stomach pain again last night about 4am….I was able to go back to sleep, but it’s so annoying. And then again this morning. Weird. I haven’t gotten sick yet...we'll see what happens.
We have about 5 inches of water in our tanks….
Robin and I are taking a trip abotu 3 hours away to another village we've never been to before. We're going to visit a local leader and his wife mainly for encouragement to them, and also to give them our tapes/cds becuase they may not be able to come to the workshop next week. We have to go to the bazaar to find a taxi/bus. And it’s Independence day – so there might be some parades or who knows what…but we’ve heard that taxis and such still run….we’ll find out. I'll write when we get back!
Thursday, August 9, 2007
So, Sunday Ganga called me and said, “I’m going to my village for the day- can you meet me there?”
So I went. We were supposed to come back Sunday evening, but ended up coming back Monday morning. Interesting, I had my phone, my wallet, 1 small bottle of water, and the keys to the bike. That was it. But when I was trying to decide if I should stay or not, it never once occurred to me, ‘maybe I don’t have stuff, or maybe I will need something…”
Anyway, we had a good time…probably the last time I'll get to visit her in her village.
Anyway, I can write more later, but just thought I’d pass that on. Robin and I are going to a dukandar’s (shopkeeper) home today….we’ve never been there before. He hasn’t heard any of the Stories, but we plan to give him a tape/cd. We’ll see how it goes.
P.S. Last night I saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life – yeah, bigger than a tarantula (I think)…in our bathroom. I used water to take care of it….but still, I was pretty nervous about it for a few hours after that…….I’ve never seen a bigger spider here or anywhere else….it was like a MONSTER spider…..
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
I asked the shopkeeper next door, “Why was he closed?”
The answer was, “It’s Tuesday, isn’t it?”
Somewhat confused, but accustomed to such answers, we left. Later, Robin and I were visiting another friend and his family and I asked him why the shop would be closed on Tuesday. He said, “Tuesday’s a bad day, right?”
I said, “Um, I don’t know, is it?”
He said, “Yeah, a lot of shops are often closed on Tuesday. Also, you can’t travel on Tuesdays. My father is away right now, and normally he would come back today, but he won’t because it’s Tuesday. He will wait and come back tomorrow. Same thing goes for Saturday- we won’t travel on Saturday.”
I proceeded to ask, “Who decided this?”
He said, “It’s our culture, isn’t it? I don’t know really why or how it was decided, but that’s just what we do.”
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
When you are unsure which course to take, totally submit your own judgment to that of the Spirit of God, asking Him to shut every door except the right one. But meanwhile keep moving ahead and consider the absence of a direct indication from God to be the evidence of His will that you are on His path. And as you continue down the long road, you will find that He has gone before you, locking doors you oherwise would have been inclined to enter. Yet you can be sure that somewhere beyond the locked doors is one He has left unlocked. And when you open it and walk through, you will find yourself face to face with a turn in the river of opportunity – one that is broader and deeper than anything you ever dared to imagine, even in your wildest dreams. So set sail on it, because it flows to the open sea.
God often guides us through our circumstances. One moment, our way may seem totally blocked, but then suddently some seemingly trivial incident occurs, appearing as nothing to others, but speaking volumes to the keen eye of faith…These events are not haphazard results of chance, but are God opening up the way we should walk, but directing our circumstances. And they begin to multiply as we advance towards our goal, just as the lights of a city seem to increase as we speed toward it while traveling at night.
If you go to God for guidance, He will guide you. But do not expect Him to console you by showing you His list of purposes concerning you, when you have displayed distrust of even half-trust in Him. What He will do, if you trust Him and go cheerfully ahead when He shows you the way, is to guide you still farther.
“As moves my fragile boat across the storm-swept sea,
Great waves beat o’er her side, as north wind blows;
Deep in the darkness hid lie threat’ning rocks and reefs;
But all of these, and more, my Pilot knows.
Sometimes when darkness falls, and every light’s gone out,
I wonder to what port my frail ship goes;
Although the night be long, and restless all my hours,
My distant goal, I’m sure, my Pilot knows.”
(Thomas Curtis Clark)
Monday, July 30, 2007
“What shall I do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore any good work, kindness or service I can render to any person or animal, let me do it now. Let me not neglect or delay to do it, for I will not pass this way again.” (Quaker saying)
“Give what you have, for you never know – to someone else it may be better than you can even dare to think.’ (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Saturday, July 28, 2007
"His way is in the whirlwind and the storm.” (Nahum 1:3)
I remember when I was a young person attending school in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant. One day I sat on the side of the mountain and watched a storm as it moved through the valley. The skies were filled with darkness and thunder began to shake the earth. It seemed as though the lush landscape were completely changed, and its beauty gone forever. But the storm passed quickly and soon moved out of the valley.
If I had sat in the same place the following day and said, “Where is that intense storm and all its terrible darkness?” the grass would have said, ‘part of it is in me.” The beautiful daisy would have said, “Part of it is in me.” And all the other flowers, fruits and everything that grows in the ground would have said, “Part of the storm has produced the radiance in me.”
Have you ever asked the Lord to make you like Him? Have you ever desired the fruit of the Spirit and prayed for sweetness, gentleness and love? If so, then never fear the fierce storms that eve now may be blowing through your life. Storms bring blessings, and rich fruit will be harvested later. (Henry Ward Beecher)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Today’s Streams in the Desert made me wonder if I’m not asking for all the grace and mercy you have promised…
“Test me in this…and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” ~ Malachi 3:10
- Here is what God is saying in this verse: ‘My dear child, I still have floodgates in heaven, and they are still in service. The locks open as easily as before, and the hinges have not grown rusty. In fact, I would rather throw them open to pour out the blessings than hold them back….I will open them for you – if you will only let Me.’
- The need is not on MY side, but on YOURS. I am waiting for you to ‘test me in this’ – but you must fist meet the condition I have set to ‘bring the whole tithe into the storehouse’ (Mal.3:10) and thereby give Me the opportunity to act.”
- God’s ability to perform is far beyond our prayers – even our greatest prayers! I have recently been thinking of some of the requests I have made of Him innumerable times in my prayers. And what have I requested? I have asked for a cupful, while He owns the entire ocean! I have asked for one simple ray of light, while He holds the sun! My best asking falls immeasurable short of my Father’s ability to give, which is far beyond what we could ever ask.
- “All the rivers of your grace I claim, over every promise write my name (See Eph. 1:8-19)
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Fill this day, O Lord.
I am weak, And I need, your grace
You are the only light, You are the way of life
Fill my heart, Fill this house, Fill this day, O Lord.
I am yours, I will give, You praise,
You are the only truth, And I will follow you.
Fill my heart, Fill this house, Fill this day, O Lord.
Fill my spirit with your spirit
Until I cannot contain it
Fill my heart with love that cannot be explained
….til grace is overflowing, and this barran earth is covered by your rain
Speak your word, and I will obey
So open eyes can see, all you are in me.
Fill my heart, Fill this house, Fill this day, O Lord.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
“All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end.” ~John 9:4 NLT
“Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 LB
“…For you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and take care of you.” Jeremiah 1:7-8
“Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it. Never tell your neighbor to wait until tomorrow if you can help them now.” Proverbs 3:27 TEV
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t try to act important, but enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” ~ Romans 12:16 NLT
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” ~ Romans 12:2 (Message)
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
I feel like I just drove here, or something.
Okay, maybe flew, but that somehow this place, these people, isn’t so unfamiliar that it feels like a whole other world.
Everything feels actually more familiar to me than home did.
Not that I wasn’t comfortable at home. I was. I really was!
But somehow, I feel like I just got back from a trip, and I am home.
I actually am not sure that I really like that feeling. How is it, I feel more comfortable here. More comfortable in the heat, the people staring, the welcoming faces of others, the different language, different clothes, different modes of transportation.
I can’t explain it.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I surprised my family and came home for our family reunion!!
2 months left in the project…
Then a month of traveling…
Each year my mom’s family (now over 100 people!) all come together for a family reunion. Last year, there were only a few who weren’t able to make it, and I was one of them. It was one of the hardest times to be away from family. This year, I decided to surprise my family and come home! It was a wonderful time of reuniting with some of my cousins, aunts and uncles, many of whom live in other states and I only get to see once a year at the reunion. I also thoroughly enjoyed being with my family the week after the reunion, and getting to visit my brother who is working at camp in New Jersey.
2 months left in Kahan…
In the next two months Robin and I hope to make final recordings onto CD and cassette. Pray for Heather and Precious as they work hard to remember the stories to record them! Later this month, two girls (from our company) are visiting us who are interested in working in Kahan in the future. In August, we hope to have one last workshop with the leaders of the groups who have attended the previous workshops. We will present them with the cd’s and cassettes and also train them more in how to use the stories in chch planting work. Over the two months we’ll also be saying a lot of goodbyes to our ‘family’ and friends of the past two years.
Robin and I have train tickets to leave “Kahan” the last week in August. During the month of September, I hope to travel to two other countries and see if He opens any doors for future work in those places. I’ll be in touch as those plans become more certain. And after September, I’ll be coming home
P & P
* Praise Him for being able to ‘be all there’ and fully enjoy the time home with my family.
* Praise Him for safe travels back to “Kahan.”
* Pray for Robin and me in the last two months in the project- most of all, for our relationships with the people and with each other.
* Pray for preparations for the last workshop in August.
* Pray for all the goodbyes we’ll be saying in the next two months.
* Pray for travel plan in September, that He will guide me where He wants me.
Till All Have Heard,
- Natalie and me fighting for the frisbee.
- My Grandparents and me (my dad's parents)
- Eating out with my brother Mark at the camp where he is working this summer.
- My Grandfather and me, my mom's father.
- My Indian friends at home.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Guess what….I’m home! Yup!
I came home on Wednesday night- as a surprise for my family. They’ve known for maybe a month, or so? But I’ve been planning the trip for maybe 5 months!! :) It’s a surprise for the rest of my family- only a few people know so far!!
I’m home for about 2 weeks. Next week, it’s my big family reunion in NC- there are now more than 100 people on my mom’s side of the family! There were less than 100 when I left!!! The week after that, I’ll probably go visit my brother in New Jersey- he is working at a summer camp there. I go back to South Asia on June 29th, or 30th I think. Things there are going really well. I’m so encouraged by all that’s happening there. I still have 2 months left on my project in South Asia and then hope to travel a bit for about a month after that, so I’ll be home again in about 3 months - October.
I can’t tell you how good, sad, strange, weird, and comfortable it feels to be back home after 2 years. My bed must be the softest bed ever made…really! I asked my mom, “was this a different bed than I had before?” She was like, “um, no.” I’m shocked- wow, the softness is unbelievable.
I asked Natalie, “why don’t you go check the tanks…” meaning- go up to the roof and see how much water came today, since where we are, that’s a daily routine- and recently, the water’s been really low. I asked my mom, “Do you guys just drink this water, right from the tap?”
Yesterday my mom and Natalie had planned to go to WalMart and out to lunch- I told them I was scared to go out…all those white people!! Honestly, I’ve not been around more than about 20 white people the whole time I’ve been away from home- and certainly not more than 20 white people who ALL SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE, ENGLISH!! Ahh!
Needless to say, I went with them. In the WalMart, Natalie and I needed to ask the price on something, and the first words that came to my mind were, “yuh katuk duble chu?” (or yek kitna kya hai- for those hindi speakers, "how much is this" for English speakers!). I haven’t dealt with an English speaking shopkeeper for a really long time. I told my dad, “slow down!” on the way home from Philadelphia airport- that must be to the fastest I’ve ever gone. For the first time in two years, I wore a seat belt. It isn't that I don't feel like I need one in South Asia, but it's because generally the people are so close together, it holds you in tighter than any seat belt!! Oh yeah, and while I feel like I’m way out of place here, NO ONE LOOKS AT ME! But I feel like I know everyone! All the Americans look alike!
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I’m back in town!!!!! However…..I must also say that my family has demanded my full attention during these two short week!!! Thus, I’m not sure how much roaming around I’ll be able to do in Newark…I’m not sure how if I’ll get to see any of you, it could be that our reunion might have to wait til I really get home in October….
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Short Version – see quotes below: (See also pictures at the bottom!)
I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe a few quotes from the workshop will help…
“I learned that we shouldn’t go into villages and say, ‘I’m here to preach to you in the name of Jesus,’ we should say, ‘I have a story to tell you, do you want to hear it?’” (comment by a village woman who hasn’t ever been to the city before, or attended any kind of ‘religious/formal’ meeting)
“When she leaves, what will we do? How will we keep this going?” (comment made by a local leader, in reference to continuing the storying workshops, in spite of the fact that Robin and I are leaving). The discussion led into them deciding to have more storying workshops among themselves in the four main areas where they live.
“I don’t want to, but I feel like I can leave Kahan now. You are here to carry on the work.” (me- sharing with the participants the joy and encouragement that they are to me- to see them excited to carry on the work even after we leave…wow).
Overall, the workshop was a huge success. Even saying that, I feel like I’m containing all that God did in just a few words that don’t really do it justice. He really blew me away with how well everything went- from logistics, to communicating with the participants, to their overall energetic attitude about stories.
I walked home from the workshop on the second day watching the beautiful sunset behind the mountains, and tears came to my eyes. I realized that while there is still a ton of work to be done among the Kahani people, perhaps the work I came here to do over the past two years is really starting to pay off. That is, getting the tool of storying into the hands of those who will use it, not just this month- but for the rest of their lives. I realized how strangely wonderful it felt to realize I might not be needed anymore, or perhaps not in the same capacity.
I kept wondering how it was that things went so smoothly and even better than planned. Another quote can help me out here:
“Right now there are probably about 100 people praying for you, and this workshop!” (me- sharing with the participants that people all the way in America are praying for them specifically!)
I can’t tell you how much I felt your prayers. The past few weeks have been physically, emotionally and sometimes spiritually draining and I knew that even though I had a lot of excitement for the workshop, I was going to need some extra strength to get through it. I have to say that at the end of both days I felt energized just by watching Him do His stuff. And the power behind that was YOUR PRAYERS. Wow. How can I thank you enough?
To Him be the Glory,
I'm about about 45 minutes from re-entering the states, after 2 years. I can see the Atlantic beneath the clouds, the white caps sparkling.
What to think, how to feel- I’m still not sure. In the past three days of travel, I didn’t figure it out yet. I spent 5 hours in Frankfort airport- realizing that it cost me $10.00 to eat at McDonalds. Whoa. I might starve if it costs me that much…my goodness!
I slept a lot on the first plane, and slept probably half on this plane. Part of me feels like I’ll have a good handle on jet lag. But we’ll see. I can’t wait to see Natalie, Mommy and Daddy- I assume they will all be at the airport.
I don’t even know what awaits me, what changes the house and my room have undergone. At least we have the same house. Mark won’t be there…since he is at camp. I can’t believe that potentially I might not have to think about work at all for 2 weeks. I also won’t speak Kahani at all...
Lord, you know what changes my mind, heart and soul will go through over the next few weeks. Please guide me. Help me to seek you. Help me to really ‘be all here’ in America. It might be one of the easiest times in my life for me to really be all in one place- since I know in the back of my mind I’m returning to India shortly…I have nothing to lose by giving myself fully to where I am. Help me to do that. Help me to continue to shine for you wherever I go.
I love you Jesus.
I am on my way home for a two week break, mainly for my mom's family reunion....
I'm sitting in the Frankfort Airport right now on a lay-over...Here are some of the things I'm seeing....
- African Americans…like 5 or 6 of them…first black people I think I’ve seen in 2 years.
- More white people, less Indians.
- Sleeveless shirts
- A double stroller – why doesn’t she carry those kids? Better yet, why don’t they walk- and carry their bags on their heads, they’re old enough.
- Everyone’s a little fatter…
I could go on, but need to get on the plane...
Saturday, June 9, 2007
I'm going to the place where love and feeling good don’t ever cost a thing
And the pain you feel is a different kind of pain
I’m going home, back to the place where I belong.
Where your love has always been enough for me.
I’m running from, No,I think you’ve got me all wrong.
I don’t regret this life you’ve chose for me.
But these faces and these places are getting old.
So I’m going home. I’m going home.
Friday, June 8, 2007
“Hey Mark. Welcome to New Jersey! I guess you’ve just arrived to Harvey Cedars? How is it so far? Exciting? Scary? Lonely? Crowded? Hot, dirty? I hope you are adjusting well. One thing to remember – it’s only 2 (or 3?) months! You might as well make the most of it! What I mean is – there will be times I’m sure that you’ll wish you were home. Or maybe even just wish to be anywhere else but where you are. But – you are supposed to be there right now – so be there! Don’t wish to be anywhere else! When you find yourself wishing to get away, look for opportunities to serve him. Yes, even if that means washing the pots and pans!
Now, wanting to be away from somewhere is not the same as wanting to be home. Many times (most times) I wanted to be home really bad, but I also wanted to be here. And I think that is ok. Of course you’ll miss home and family. You’re allowed to miss them. It’s natural. If you don’t miss them, it’s not because you’re just tough and macho and can handle it. That’s what I first thought. I thought if I can withstand getting homesick, then that means I’m strong and such. But no – what it means is that you’re prideful and trying to fight a losing battle. Missing home is good and fine. As long as it doesn’t then lead you too far – so that you end up disliking the place where you are. That’s when you have to be careful. Be content where you are, but don’t dismiss your longing for home. And remember that Mommy (And Daddy!) want to know that you miss them!!
Alright, I’ll stop now. Perhaps you’re like, ‘uh, I just got here, I’m loving it and I don’t miss home at all! If that’s the case, just save this card for later! :)
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
After figuring out with Anju and Panna how many kilos of flour to get, how many tomatoes, potatoes, etc…
After trying to fill up a big bucket to store water in- just in case….
After receiving a phone call from theie leader saying that only 6 people were coming (3 men, 3 women)…then, spending several other phone calls trying to see if they might all be able to stay in leprosy mission….
After deciding that ‘no they would still stay with me,’ going to leprosy mission, meeting the women- who were all agreeing to come stay with me…
After they saw the accommodations in leprosy mission, and after one hurt her foot (not badly or anything), they asked if they might stay there…
After the women asked, “Will you be angry” and me saying, “no, it is really up to you- whatever you want to stay, is fine with me…” them saying they wanted to stay there.
After going back to the office and asking if they could stay there, it was settled- The women are staying there…for now….after all that!!
I could see myself in America several years ago being very frustrated about the whole thing- all the indecisiveness, and going back and forth- and the numbers growing, then shrinking…talk about up to the last minute. But, really, all in all- I wasn’t too disturbed by any of the events of the day….if I was upset, then I probably haven’t lived in this country long enough to know to just expect all that!!!! Of course if I was truly Indian, I probably wouldn’t have spent most of the day preparing for them since I should have expected it to change five times before they got here anyhow!!! All well, I still have time to learn! :)
Anyway, just thought I’d update you! I'm excited about the workshop tomorrow!!
Thanks for praying…..
Friday, June 1, 2007
Update- Short Version
· Two weeks ago: Our training in Thailand went well- learning how to make professional recordings of our stories, and how to possibly put the stories on the radio. It was also encouraging to reconnect with other teams and hear what He is doing in different countries.
· This week: Testing the whole set (29 stories) – with people who haven’t heard them.
· Next week: Conducting our Second Storying workshop- June 6-7th.
THIS WEEK (Testing the whole story set!)
I have already tested the whole set (our 29 stories combined are 2 hours and 3 minutes long!) with some friends from the highest caste and today, I finished testing the set with a friend of our house helper’s who is part of the lowest caste. This 45 year old woman has a third grade education and can’t read or write.
After hearing all the stories, the following conversations took place:
Me- “Do you think Moses, David, and Peter have a special relationship with God?
Friend- “Yes, because they listened to God, and did what he said…”
Me- “Do you think Kahani people would want this relationship with God?”
Me- How could they have that?
Friend- following God, trusting in Yishu, listening to what he says…
Me- But this God says to not worship other gods, so if you follow Him, what would that mean?
Friend- it means you can’t follow other gods.
Me- When I go to Kahani people’s homes, I see many pictures of gods and staues (idols), so I think for Kahani people this would be hard, or make them angry- what do you think?
Friend- yes, maybe…
Me- What is the benefit of following Yishu?
Friend- he can help you, he can do good things, you can also become good, etc.
In whom, or what is your confidence?
On a positive note, it seems that the idea that one can’t follow Yishu in addition to other gods seems to be getting across. But, it would also be nice if the answer to “what is the benefit of following Yishu” was, “to forgive my sins and help me have a right relationship with God!”
We realized several months ago that Kahani people don’t practice forgiveness, so because of that, we added phrases in our stories and additional stories that illustrated forgiveness to try and emphasize that point. However, I’m starting to wonder if most of the Kahani people do not see themselves as sinners- or at least not really bad sinners. So, even though now they might understand the concept of forgiveness from the stories, they don’t see a need for it themselves, and so they don’t mention this in their answers.
Realizing that the part of the message of the stories is perhaps still not getting through, I became discouraged. Thinking back over the two years that we’ve been here, I started to wonder what could have been done differently, or what other stories could have been told to make the message clearer. I felt hopeless, feeling like the stories are only that- just stories, and nothing more. Then, this morning I read:
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by heat or worried by long months of doubt. Their leaves stay green and they go right on producing delicious fruit.”
~ Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLT
God showed me that I had made the stories my confidence and hope. I started realizing that the stories are actually just stories. Yes, they are God’s Word, but without God’s holy spirit working through them, ‘ke ni hoon’ (‘nothing will happen’- a popular phrase among Kahani people). I thanked God for the reminder that my hope should be in Him. I also realized that I need to earnestly ask Him to fill in the gaps in the stories and for Him to reveal the truth to people.
NEXT WEEK- (STORYING WORKSHOP- June 6-7!!!)
I am so excited about what He will do at this workshop. There are more people planning to come to this one, and hopefully more women this time too! I can’t wait to share with them some of what we’ve done, but more importantly, model how they can craft stories and use them to reach the Kahani people.
While my main focus during the past years has been these stories, being able to pass on the tool of storying to nationals seems to make our work more worthwhile. It also feels like such a high privilege! I can’t wait to take it on!
Since Robin is away, I will be conducting the workshop, by myself. Pray for perseverance!
Praise for a refreshing time in Thailand.
Praise for reconnecting with neighbors, and them saying they missed me, and also missed the stories!!
Pray for Robin, as she has been in another country visiting a good friend for two weeks. Pray for a refreshing time for her.
Pray for Robin, as she travels to help with some consultant checks.
Pray for the storying workshop- Pray that I would be able to effectively and practically communicate the idea of storying. And pray that the participants catch the vision of how to use stories to reach their own Kahani people!
Pray also for adjustment to the idea of leaving my “home” here in less than 3 months.
Til All Have Heard,
“It is in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for.”
~ Ephesians 11a
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
After listening to a bunch of the stories, what did you expect? For Anju to say, “Oh, your God is the real God. Our God is not. These stories make it all clear. I want to follow Yishu (Jesus) now, I don’t want to follow Golu, or Shivjee anymore…”
Somehow, I knew that wouldn’t be the response, I wasn’t expecting it. I wasn’t even upset when I didn’t get it. But I guess what upset me is that she, and Gaitree, and the rest of our friends don’t see much difference in this God and their other gods.
Anju even said yes, she has a relationship with God. When I asked her about when God gives the command: “only pray to me, no other gods…” – Her response was, "Right…God is one, just the name is different…if you pray- pray one god. If you pray to Shivjee, pray to Shivjee, not Golu too."
I asked, "So if you wanted to follow this God...…"
And she completed my sentence, "then you would have to get rid of/stop following/praying to the other gods."
She understands, the stories are clear.
But are they life-changing?
Is there anything that could be done differently? I have not yet had any ideas come to my mind…except that it’s not the stories alone that will make a difference. True, God’s Word can speak for itself…but, in many, if not most situations- it will be more than just one encounter with the real God.
“You do all things well…” – the song playing right now.
Oh Lord…what are you doing? I know you do things well- but what has been the benefit of these stories in our Kahani friend's lives til now...actually, I shouldn't say that, there has been a lot of benefit for Precious, Maya, Ganga...
I nearly started crying in front of Vimal as I shared with him Anju’s answers and how they were good answers to some extent, meaning, it seems in general the point of the stories is getting across…
He said, “Just like she has given you answers, I think the rest of Kahani people will give you the same answers. No one is going to say, our gods are less, and this god is better…no one would say like that.”
I explained that I knew that result would not come- maybe one in a year…But I said, it would be nice if people saw a difference between their god and the God of these stoires. To not even see a difference…what benefit is there? Just more stories about another random God? Even if that’s not what our goal was, is that what we’ve achieved? In some ways, ‘yes, we have created stories about some other God…” but the stories are supposed to tell that this is not just some other God…Do they do that? I'm not sure.
“Blessed be your name…” – the song playing right now.
You want me to bless your name in spite of Anju’s response. You want me to focus on you. You want me to listen to Vimal when he says, “Immediately it won’t happen. Someone trusting in Yishu, someone leaving their gods for God…it takes time.” – I know that, but still…I just wonder if there is any chance that Maya, Kiran, Pushpa, Ganga, Pinki, Pyranka, Hema, Geetu, Pooja, Ulka, Chandra, Neetu, Geeta, and so many others who have heard the stoires, will meet me again in Heaven. I know, only God knows…and perhaps those whom I don’t even know right now I will meet due to the stories in some fashion. And that is wonderful. But still, I can’t help crying for my friends. Crying, knowing if they died right now, I’d never see them again. Knowing, if they live their life as it is, it will be void of peace, and the joy of the Lord- when they could have those things.
Am I doing enough?
Right now, God is saying… “no…you haven’t done enough. No, you haven’t confronted them enough, no you haven’t been a good enough friend…because YOU can’t BE enough of anything for these people…YOU can’t do it…YOU can’t really even make a difference. Actually, you can cause people to fall away from me- yes, you can do that by yourself. Any good that you might do is from me. Any positive influence you might have is from me. Any mark you might leave on people is only by my grace…And if I choose not to draw this one or that one, what is it to you? Or if I choose to draw someone else you didn’t have in mind, why should you become jealous that your friends aren’t among the chosen?
I want to ask the question, ‘what can I do’ – but I know the response is, ‘nothing’ – that is, NOTHING without YOU, without prayer…
So what am I doing most of the day? I should be praying, huh? On my knees…Lord- I will spent 5, or maybe even 10 minutes every day from now on in prayer for the Kahani people…at least as long as I am here. It may not sound like a long time- but it’s longer than I’ve given til now…
Father, thank you for the change in Precous' life. And thank you also for the work you are doing in Heather and Gina- whether they know it or not.
Father, thank you for your goodness, and faithfulness to me. And for the workshop plans coming together…you are gracious and good.
Help me to praise you and bless your name in spite of feeling a little like a failure at the moment…
Friday, May 25, 2007
If everything is in God’s plan, then that is from God.
I heard about another story when there was man who treated his wife very badly, and was with another woman also. He was very mean to his wife and just did bad things to her. Sometime later, he killed his wife.
Later, there was another husband and wife. They had a daughter, and when she was 8 years old, one day they were in that same place where the first man killed his wife. The girl started saying things like, “he beat me, and mistreated me” etc, etc- telling all about the situation of that man beating his wife- as if she was the wife. She was telling things that she couldn’t have known- except that the soul of that woman had entered into her."
Precious said, "I don’t believe the soul dies."
I said, "I also don’t believe the soul dies, but I don’t believe it stays here on earth when a person dies. It goes with God, or it goes with the enemy, Satan."
Precious said, "then that means that God has made a lot of souls. One for every single person, not only a few souls that keep going here and there, in and out of different people/animals. In reincarnation, there are 38,000- different kinds of animals/specials to come back as. Each time you could come back as something different...but the last thing, asusming you've done enough good things in your life, is a human. So, really, you only get one chance to be a human."
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Anyway, coming back to Kahan this time was really different than any other time I’ve arrived back. Why? I can’t put my finger on it. I really can’t.
It’s like a dream. The capitol city was like a dream too. Not a good dream, but not a nightmare. It was like I was passing through- time was happening, and other people were living their life, but my actions and motions were more or less just occurring- I wasn’t really the agent or controller of what I was doing- it was like I was floating through it. I still feel like that.
I feel unattached to what’s around me. I feel like the language coming out of my mouth is just coming out- I’m not really even thinking about what I’m saying. I feel like I’m getting changed and washing my hair just because it’s what you do- not because I want to or need to. I edited a bunch of stories and printed out all of Heather's stories and made notes on what to change, but don’t really feel like I did it- it just happened, it just got done somehow. I called one of the storying workshop people, but feel like I never really made the phone call- but I did, just 5 minutes ago!
What do you call this feeling? What is this feeling? Is it right, wrong? How did I end up with it, how do you get rid of it? What is the deal?
Let me quote Streams in the Desert May 18th.
“We were under great pressure…so that we despaired even of life. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)
Pressed beyond measure; yes, pressed to great length;
Pressed so intensely, beyond my own strength.
Pressed in my body, and pressed in my soul.
Pressed in my mind til the dark surges roll.
Pressure from foes, and pressure from dear friends.
Pressure on pressure, til life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God.
Pressed into loving His staff and His rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into living my life for the Lord.
Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.
The pressure of difficult times makes us value life. Every time our life is spared and given back to us after a trial, it is like a new beginning. We better understand its value and thereby apply ourselves more effectively for God and for humankind. And the pressure we endure helps us to understand the trials of others, equipping us to help them and to sympathize with them.
Trials and difficult times are needed to press us forwards. They work in the way the fire in the hold of a mighty steamship provides the energy that moves the pistons, turns the engine, and propels the great vessel across the sea, even when facing the wind and the waves.
1 Corinthians 1:8- “Jesus will keep you strong until the end so that there will be no wrong in you on the day our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5- “May the Lord lead your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s patience.”
1 Chronicles 29:15- “Our days on earth are like a shadow.”
Jeremiah 32:27- “I am the Lord, the God of every person on the earth. Nothing is impossible for me.”
Lord, you know the things on my mind. You know what things should be on my mind and what things shouldn’t. You know where my heart is- even if I don’t!
You know I want to write out a list here of all that passes through my mind in a day…but I know you want me to forget all that right now. As the wind blows, you also are blowing around me…how can I catch you?
“You’re everything I cannot see.
You’re everything I cannot say.
I know it all seems so illogical, but that’s okay.
You’re the love you give to me.
You’re the love I give away.
You’re everything impossible, but that’s okay.”
(Lyrics from ‘Everything Impossible’ by MercyMe)
“The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations” – Psalm 33:11.
Lord- help me to ‘snap out of it’ if I need to do that. This phase, this mode, this feeling is so odd, and so ‘not real’- I feel like things are happening, and even I’m a part of what’s happening, but not really experiencing it, not really living it- or something wacky like that.
I love you Lord…give me wisdom to know how to follow you…and lead others.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I know this: You will be here in 3 weeks and 2 days.
Natalie just declared, "Lizzie will be here in 3 weeks and 2 days!"
Now Mark and Natalie are discussing exactly how many days that is!
You ARE living out your dream - that's why it is somewhat surreal.
Hang tight to Jesus - He's the REAL THING!
Love and Miss you LOTS,
I love you too……
I did cry- most of the flight- sitting in seat “B” between two Punjabi men, and also cried some today in the rickshaw…and on the phone last night-
It seems like a dream- not necessarily a dream come true, but not a nightmare, but a dream still- like it will pass and reality will come at some point….but somehow it never does. Even here in the capitol city- with two co-workers. It’s like I’m having another dream with them in it, but this time it’s not in their hometown, it’s in the capitol.
It seems like Thailand was a dream too…Jim, Sean, Kristin, Alison- they are characters fading in and out….like when you wake up in the morning and can’t quite remember it all, but bits and pieces….it seems like my entire life has been those bits and pieces you remember of the dream when you wake up. I think even Kahan has been that….or something else completely. Like I said, still can’t really put my finger on it. And perhaps I shouldn’t try to put my finger on it. Like you said, I should just live it…how do you live a dream? When reality is a dream, or when a dream is reality- how do you know what is real, what will last, what will still be there when you wake up?
I guess you don’t know…
Well….I'm heading out soon to go back to Kahan…talk to you tomorrow.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thanks for sharing what you can - it helps. We want to understand - as much as we have the capacity to understand. And God can give us more of a capacity than we might think as we ask him.
I'm so glad you are feeling better, though still cloudy.
Certainly changes have taken place all over in the past two years. In some way, I feel like we have been carried through it - I have survived things that should have sent me over the edge. I think part of the reason is that I trust the Lord, but a big part is also that I trust YOU and your relationship with the Lord. You have your head on straight and your heart in the right place. That makes it much easier to support "outrageous" decisions and ideas. I know you will not be impulsive or rash in your decision-making - just the opposite!!
It's good you are processing, but avoid over-analyzing, if it's possible to know the difference. Sometimes life is better just lived and not processed!
I can't begin to imagine your feelings about leaving training for the last time. No matter what you KNOW about how God holds the future, etc. the EMOTIONS must have been overwhelming - especially for someone like you who believes in BEING ALL THERE - wherever you are.
Perhaps that is a question - does "being all there" mean letting go of every where else?! In that regard, I'm sure we can not be totally all there, but only TRY to be all there - and that's good enough. CRY it out, Elizabeth. Go ahead and cry. I DO KNOW that when you feel like crying, it's a healthy thing to do. It doesn't mean life is falling apart or you are not handling things. It is a moment - and we need to be "all there" in that moment too. "Embrace the pain" and let God comfort you. It's precious to have a real need and know that God is wrapping His arms around you. Those intimate moments are a crucial part of our relationship with Him. I love you so much. You are an amazing young woman. How could God bless me with such a wonderful daughter. I am truly blessed. Love and Miss You LOTS!