It’s Tuesday morning at 3:00 a.m. as I try to recapture my blogging ability. I haven’t completely adjusted to being back on Eastern Standard Time. Our return flight from India left Mumbai on Friday at 11:40 p.m. (India time) and arrived at Newark at 5:00 a.m. (EST) Saturday morning. My problem was that I fell asleep two hours into the flight and slept for a full eight hours and woke up at 11:00 p.m. (EST). I’ve had a hard time getting back into any kind of routine and my brain seems scrambled by the overwhelming emotional, physical and spiritual experience I’ve just experienced. We had left the devastation of Sandy on Sunday, November 4th at 7:00 p.m. only to arrive in India to the devastation of Nilam. Nilam was a 5 day cyclone that had devastated several sections of India that we visited.
I had hoped to blog on a regular basis about what we were experiencing but for the most part we were without internet services except for maybe 12 hours of time the entire two weeks we were away. When we arrived at the compound where we stayed in Eluru on Saturday evening, November 10th we discovered we had internet access in our room. With joyful delight I connected to the internet and the first email I opened was from my wife telling me that my sister, Mary Ann, had passed away on Friday evening on South Padre Island, TX. So truly our joy at connecting with the internet was overcome by the sadness of my personal loss. At this point our host pastor, Pastor Ebenezer Sastry, suggested we needed to purchase a cell phone so I could call back home to talk to my mom, my wife and my nephew. What an excellent idea this was because the next morning the internet went out again and we didn’t have it again until our next stop in Hyderabad on Thursday afternoon. You can’t imagine how much we rely on this communication tool until you no longer have access to the internet. As some of you recently discovered in your powerless hours following Sandy.
The experience of India is still flooding my brain. I preached 23 prepared messages and 6 devotional messages in villages and church ministries. Frank had told me before we left, “Pastor, the keyword for this trip is flex. We have to be flexible”. He sure was right about that. He was also right when he predicted the days without electricity and phone issues and communication problems from Sandy were all preparation for what we would encounter in India; this was good insight into our journey even before we left.
I like what Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians when he writes in the 1st chapter “now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace. For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand”, (v. 12, 13, NIV). Our entire ministry in India was all about God’s grace. If God saw fit to use us at all to make disciples, to teach His Word and to glorify His name during our trip to India it was all because of His grace. His grace provided the resources, His grace ordered the ministries we could bless, His grace protected us (and this was a huge one) as we traveled the roads of India, His grace sustained us through painful losses and frustrations that we experienced, and finally His grace returned us safely home. I stand amazed at God’s grace even in the face of problems and difficulties. I hope you’ve found what Paul had discovered, that we can trust God’s grace to move and work even when we don’t understand what is happening in our lives. May we find that God has touched us with the presence of His grace as we enter this season of Thanksgiving. For we have so much to be thankful for this day and every day.
For the Glory of God,