Monthly Archives: July 2013

Post 106. From my diary

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A week in April 1993.

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Men’s meeting

Sunday :

About 50 adults again.  Great day.  Tony shared his story. 9 responded. Baptisms in the little river down the road.  Diane and Ashleigh stayed for the afternoon.  So did Aman.  Watched a video.  Nice time.  Di and I talked about our stomach issues and decided to de-worm ourselves.  Laughed a lot about what a hypochondriac she is.

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Some of the kids.. Sapna, Shankar, Suraj

Monday:

Slept in. Got fruit and went to the Sardar’s place.  Took Rebekah and girls for a picnic.  Nice relaxing day.  Feeling really sicky and tired. Bad headache.

Tuesday:

Tony drove bike to Dehra Dun.  Terrible trip.  Kept breaking down.  Had dinner with Vijay and Susy and their boys Dhiraj and Himmat. Lovely time.  Agreed to help Himmat with reading.

Wednesday:

Passed a round worm and others.  No wonder I haven’t had any energy.  Awful.

Thursday:

Anna Sardar born today!  SO gorgeous.  I nicknamed her “Wiglet.”  So much hair.  Kept Bekah for the day.  Visited Pam in hospital in evening.

Mango feast

Mango feast

Friday:

Louise Jones arrived totally shaken up.  Passport, camera, everything stolen from her on the train to Mussoorie.  God is doing something in her life.  She’ll stay for a while.

Saturday:

Tony fetched Pam from hospital.  Took mutton to their house and their cook made us a delicious lunch.   Had a good prayer time.  Looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday:

Arun Phiip shared powerfully.  So lovely to have them all with us.  Planning a few days away in Kanatal.  Need a break.

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More men

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Post 105. Contentment

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The Bartons told us about an amazing house available for rent.  We loved our house, but thought we would look anyway.

A well known actor who lived in Mussoorie had the key.  We knew he wasn’t crazy about Christians so we were a bit nervous to meet him.  His daughter was a student at Woodstock School.  She was at the Friday Morning Bible Study at the Barton’s house when Tony shared his story.  At the end of the talk, she said, “I believe, but what about my father?”

It was raining and the girls were with us.  We knocked on the door.  Tony mentioned the Bartons and asked about the house.  There was no, “Come in out of the rain.” It was all very awkward.  He took one look at us and said, “Yeah, I know who you are and I know what you are doing here.  The house isn’t available and even if it was, I wouldn’t give it to you.”  Tony replied with, “Oh so does that mean you don’t like us?  You don’t even know us.”   He closed the door with, “That’s right, I don’t like you.”

We stood there shocked and shaking.   The girls didn’t know what was going on.  We got into the car and couldn’t talk for a while.  On the way home we prayed for him.  Asha prayed that God would change him and Zoë prayed,  “God please give us the house because it is so nice.”

We didn’t get the house and we were glad.  Our time in Barlowganj wasn’t over.  For some reason, just looking elsewhere made us appreciate what we had.  Before that incident we were doing our shopping in the main bazaar.  We talked about how important it was for us to also shop where we were living and to build relationships with the shopkeepers and people there.

It was a very steep walk down to the little shops.  There was a lot to see and the girls loved walking along the low walls all the way down.  We made friends and stopped at people’s houses for chai.  Right below St George’s School was the only children’s park in Mussoorie.  The slide was rusty and the swings were wobbly, but they loved it.  Our treat after the long walk was hot loaves of bread from Barlowganj Bakery.  There wasn’t much left by the time we got home.  We picked on them the whole way back.  It was a slow, steep meander with lots of stops.  We had discovered Prakash’s homemade peanut butter and jam which was the perfect way to finish off the big chunks that were left.

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The road to Barlowganj

Mr Varghese, our landlord, agreed to build a flat under our house for us to rent.  We knew it was going to be used well.  There were friends from South Africa asking if they could come and join us.  We also knew in the not too distant future,  we would need a place to do some training.

The community was growing and so were we.   At times we were stretched beyond our human capacity but there was always plenty of grace.  Amazing grace.

Post 104. Promise Keeper

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Promise Keeper

Lord you’ve given me your promise,

Here I am to give you mine

Where you lead me, I will follow

Take my hand and lead me onward

 

Through the darkness of the water,

You have said I will not drown

Through the heat of tempting fire

You will never let me down

 

You have said you’ll love me always,

Even to the end of time

You will walk the path before me

In your will I will abide

 

You have set your love upon me

In your shadow I will hide

Near your heart I’ll live forever

In your loving arms I’ll lie

Jesus, keeper of your promises

Jesus, every word is true

Jesus, keeper of your promises

I pledge my life to you

Post 103. Priorities

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Things started to heat up.  A couple who had been meeting with us were being threatened.  They were told they would lose their jobs.  Some labourers were told the same thing.  There were lots of prayers going up.

Ali’s time with us was up.  We dropped her in Dehra Dun and I sobbed all the way back to Mussoorie.  I cried for days.  I really missed her company.

There were times when Asha and Zoë took strain with our busy lives, especially when we had overseas visitors.  There was always so much to talk about.  They loved the company but we weren’t taking time to be with them.  They were so good with all the moving around and they loved being surrounded by lots of people.  They had learnt to sleep everywhere and anywhere; which made things easy for us but we were constantly reminding ourselves to slow down to just be with them.  It was also difficult to be consistent with their discipline.  Our lack of attention made them more demanding which made us more irritated which led to more tension.  It was a real battle.

We were also constantly aware of the battle for our marriage.  One night when I fell into bed after a long day, God whispered in my ear, “Don’t withhold affection from your husband.” Another time, I woke up in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t sleep so I started praying.  For some reason, Tony also woke up and started getting amorous.  I felt irritated and in my mind I said to God, “Now what?”  He said, “Love your husband.”  He kept reminding me of the importance of prioritising my family.

It was so easy to be nice and kind to everyone else.  We loved spending time with new people and could spend hours chatting and praying with them.  Tony and I needed to do the same with each other.  Our lives were so focused on building the community that we sometimes lost touch with each other.

God knew our dreams better than we did.  He put them there.  He knew our passion for the lost.  It came from Him.  We knew we were living our dream but needed to be careful how we lived it.

During a particularly difficult time for us,  God once again came to our rescue and gave us something to think about.  His words to us were, “Don’t let your dream become a nightmare.”  We knew that the biggest nightmare for us would be to lose each other.  Even if we won the whole world we would have lost everything.

Post 102. Meanwhile in a remote village..

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Nandilal

We kept Mike and Rob busy for the week.  There were lots of people wanting to know all kinds of things.   The Woodstock students would get around Rob and throw lots of questions at him.  Mike encouraged us with his words of wisdom.  It was an amazing time.

Chandra was also busy.  The most important thing for him was to share his new life with his friends.  He loved his labouring job because he loved the men he was working with.  A young man, Nandilal,  was one of them.  He was Nepalese but had never lived in Nepal.  He was born in a small village in Himachal Pradesh, near the town of Solan.

Nandilal was the first of six children.  Scattered in between the surviving siblings were 5 miscarriages.  Their house was small and the walk to anywhere was kilometres away.  There was no electricity and the toilet was as far as the eye could see; anywhere you couldn’t be seen.  Even if you were, it was part of life.  No big deal.  A landlord owned the house they lived in.  They worked his land and paid for their rent that way.  They mainly grew tomatoes.  The amount of cash they were given was minimal but they were grateful for the roof above their heads.

It wasn’t long before Nandilal came with Chandra to meet us.  He had already put his faith in Jesus and wanted to meet Chandra’s new family.  He was a simple, lovely man with a big smile.  He had been talking with Chandra about his family in the village.  They had never heard about Jesus.  Chandra didn’t hesitate.  Within a few weeks they were making their way to Himachal.

Chandra was introduced to Nandilal’s younger siblings, Ravinder, Amar, Bhagat, Raju and his beautiful sister, Champa.  They all sat for hours talking about Jesus and what he had done in their lives.  There were lots of questions and plenty of debate about this new “God” they had never heard of.

By the time Chandra got back to Mussoorie, he was in love.  He couldn’t stop talking about Nandilal’s beautiful sister, Champa.  The only problem was that she was the one who argued the most about Jesus.  She didn’t believe what she was hearing.  We encouraged him to write to her and to see what happened.

A few months later they went on another trip.  Chandra let her know how he felt, but told her it wouldn’t work if she weren’t a believer.  She didn’t find him at all attractive and made fun of him with her family.   There was a lot more discussion and some family members put their faith in Jesus.

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Chandra and Champa

Soon after that trip, Chandra got the letter he had been waiting for.   It was from Champa.  “Now that I know the love of Jesus, I know I can also love you.”  With that was an invitation to talk to her parents.  Chandra didn’t waste any time.  Before we knew it they were engaged and we were planning their wedding in Mussoorie.

Post 101. Rob Rufus

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It was 1993 and the end of winter.  We drove to Delhi to pick up Mike Hanchett and Rob Rufus.  We were excited to see them again.  Rob wanted to visit a Hindu pilgrimage place so we went via Haridwar on our way home.  It was my first visit too.

We walked along the ghats and while the guys prayed, I cried my eyes out.   My heart broke for the people trying to wash their sins away in the Ganga.  Crippled people were being carried into the water to get healed.   Old people were waiting on the water’s edge, believing that if they died near the river they would arrive in heaven with all their sins washed away.  In another area, bodies were being cremated and the ashes thrown into the water.  The bodies of those who were too poor to afford enough wood were thrown into the river, partially cremated.

A few months earlier we had a community picnic on the banks of the “holy” Yamuna River.     We found a lovely picnic spot with a shallow area for swimming and baptisms.  After tea the cups were taken to the river to wash.  The kids were paddling a few feet away.   One of the boys saw a hand floating by.  He grabbed hold of it and pulled it out.  It was half a torso.  Someone had not been able to afford enough wood for a complete cremation.  It was all so disturbing.  Fortunately the kids didn’t see it.

Rob’s interest in Hinduism went back to his early twenties in South Africa.  His mother was an agnostic and his dad an atheist.  Rob wondered why they insisted that he went to Sunday School.  He went anyway, believing that going to church was something children did.  When the time came for him to be confirmed, Rob asked his dad to be there with him.  He refused and told Rob God didn’t exist.  He went to bed that night and prayed, “God, I am mad with you because you don’t exist anymore.”   From that day, he made it his mission to ridicule every Christian he met.

After his stint in the army, Rob went to University and became a committed hedonist.  For three years he did everything that gave him pleasure.  By the end of that season, he was at the end of himself and almost suicidal.  He met Glenda, they got married and had a little boy.  Rob started to question the reason for his existence.   That started him on his search for meaning in T.M,  Zen Buddhism and then the Hare Krishna movement.

He found Hare Krishnas interesting and bizarre, with their shaved heads, clay (from the Ganga) on their foreheads and their orange dhotis.  “These guys have got it!  They are vegetarians, they don’t’ wear shoes- they are so spiritual!”  He was attracted to their mysticism.  Glenda joined him in his new found religion, getting up at 3 am, practising yoga for two hours a day, abstaining from tea, coffee, meat and sex.  Even as a young married couple, they had to live lives of celibacy.

Christians were Rob’s biggest nightmare.  He started to run away from God and them.   There was no peace.  He wanted a way to God that would make him look good; one that wouldn’t require humility or having to admit to being a sinner.

They joined a Hare Krishna farm where Rob was given the job of planting tomatoes.  When they weren’t meditating or doing manual labour, they were on the streets of Durban handing out literature; Glenda wearing her sari and Rob with his shaved head, curly little ponytail and dhoti.  Rob could tell who the Christians were and tried to hide when he saw them coming.

One day a little old lady walked straight up to him.  She looked into his eyes with lots of compassion and love and said, “What are you trying to do, young man?”  She told him it was only through Jesus that he could be saved.  He grabbed Glenda’s hand and started to run.  They ducked into an alleyway and ran past a Christian bookshop.  A man came running out of the bookshop and started jogging next to Rob, saying, “God bless you, God bless you.”  He pressed a Bible under his arm.  Rob had a feeling God was pursuing him.  He was right.

A young Indian man, dressed in Western clothes came up and introduced himself to Rob.  “Hi my name is Krishna.  I was brought up as a Hindu and the reason I’m a Christian is because Jesus Christ is unique- he is unlike any other spiritual leader who has ever walked on the face of the earth.  It is also the only faith that doesn’t require that you work to be accepted by God.”

That was the last straw for Rob.  It was the straw that broke the back of his spiritual pride, the straw that caused his knees to buckle and his heart to break; the final straw that stopped him running away from love.

As we walked around Haridwar, I imagined Jesus being there.  I could see Him touching cripples and giving sight to the blind; raising the dead and preaching the Kingdom of God.

I knew I had the power to do the same, but all I could do was cry.

Who are you?

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Today I feel like celebrating, so I’m taking the day off from writing.  It has been 5 months since I decided to start my blog, “The Long and Winding Road.”  I have just written my hundredth post.  I had no idea what it would look like or who would read it.  It has been surprising and encouraging that over 19,500 people have read my whole story or bits and pieces of it.  It is also amazing to see that I have quite regular readers from 57 countries.

So the question is: Who are YOU?  What’s your story? I am loving sharing my stories with you, how about sharing yours with me? If you don’t have energy for that, then how about a hi?  Just today.  Oh and then maybe on my two hundredth post.  Deal?  You have the whole weekend :).

Thanks for reading.  Thank you to those who comment and spur me on.  It has really helped me to keep writing.

Looking forward to meeting you.