I'm writing this aboard Royal Nepal Airlines Flight 410, somewhere above China. I'll post it later but wanted to take advantage of the time on the flight. We left the Philippines this morning headed for Kathmandu and stopped over in Hong Kong. What an incredible city! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
My last blog left off last night with the brothers getting trained on the equipment at the hotel. After the training we gathered all the equipment together for a photograph, minus the 2 projectors that will be delivered later, the power generators that will be purchased locally and the bicycles that will be purchased locally. We laid hands on the equipment and prayed for it, that it would be useful for the Lord's work, protected from damage and thievery and would last a long time. In this photo you can see the CSC Philippines team between Patrick and me. Left to right: Jessie, Elmerson and Benie. (You can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.)
There's a detail I had left out of my previous postings because it seemed insignificant, but in hindsight was more providential than we realized. There had been a mix up in the reservations for our hotel and they only had rooms for 2 nights. We had to move to another hotel for the 3rd night. It was only a minor inconvenience that we accepted as part of international travel. However, it proved to be a fulfillment of Romans 8:28, that God causes all things to work together for good for His children.
While the brothers were testing the equipment a pastor from Manila who works for the Filipino version of Lifeway saw them and introduced himself. He is bi-vocational, working with local churches around the Philippines to set up mini-bookstores in their churches. He saw that we were playing Gospel films and introduced himself. We had breakfast with him the following morning and joined us in praying for and commissioning the brothers to the work of CSC. He will be a tremendous resource for the brothers as well as a great contact with other churches to let them know about CSC. We were very pleased to meet him and felt like it was part of God's plan for the trip. His name is Reuel and I won't tell you his last name, for reasons that will be clear in a minute.
I asked Bro. Reuel to share about something I had been reading regarding the Filipino church's take on world missions. Thousands upon thousands of Filipinos work in other countries in service areas and caring for children, especially in areas like Saudi Arabia. The Filipino church is training their members in evangelism before sending them out to work in foreign countries. They are exporting tent-making missionaries. Reuel confirmed that not only is this true, but his father is the leader of an underground church in Saudi Arabia, serving in a trade by day, evangelizing by night!
There have been security problems at times, including many Christian workers being exported for sharing their faith. Reuel's father was almost nabbed in one raid on a secret meeting, but he left just before the religious police arrived. Others have not been so fortunate, some being arrested and deported for their role. However, there is one bright spot ... the world's attention has been diverted to fighting terrorism and that is allowing the believers a little more freedom in these closed countries. So God uses even terrorism to cause His Good News to reach the world! I'm purposefully not including the Reuel's last name to avoid any problems for his father. But we are grateful that the Lord brought him across our path.
This morning we got up early to pack, eat breakfast and head for the airport. Before we left I did a brief recording of the brothers introducing themselves that I thought you might like to see:
We had held off on selecting a country director until the last minute. Yesterday morning Patrick and I both felt a confirmation that Brother Elmerson (Elmer) was the one but we wanted to have some sort of confirmation from the brothers. Last night we gathered in our room and asked them if the Lord had directed them in this matter. Brothers Jessie and Benie told us that they had discussed privately that they felt Bro. Elmer should be the director. They had not told Elmer this so it was a surprise to him. It was a great confirmation to us and we rejoiced in the Lord's direction. We laid hands on Bro. Elmer to commission him as director and then on Benie and Jessie. After sharing some scriptures and final prayer, we departed the hotel for the airport.
In some ways we felt like Paul on his missionary travels who would go to a city, establish a work and then move on, not sure if he would ever see those new believers again. We shared with them that we may not ever see them in person again. It is our desire to do so and we will be in contact via the Internet, but it's possible we'll not see each other until the Lord returns. But we're part of the family of God and part of the CSC family and that connection is strong ... it is a great encouragement to them to know they are not alone.
Our flight to Manila was uneventful except that once again the Lord allowed us to have an exit row. On every leg of the trip we have asked for exit row seating because they have more leg room and we've received it on just about every flight, thanks be to God! On the first flight there were two exit rows, the first having a little more leg room than the second and we were assigned to the second. But even that turned out to be a blessing because the first exit row seats did not recline! (Patrick didn't want me to upload this picture because he didn't want y'all to think we were enjoying ourselves too much!
On the next flight from Manila to Hong Kong we got exit row seats again and got to visit with the stewardesses who sat in front of us facing backwards as we took off. The Lord granted us favor and they took really good care of us, even offering us footrests for our feet! I just had to get a picture of that! Isn't God good?! (These little perks the Lord gives us are greatly appreciated. For example, today we will have been on three different flights, having left our hotel at 9:00AM and getting to our hotel in Kathmandu over 15 hours later! Whew! Thank You, Lord, for watching out for us!)
One funny thing on that flight was they told us the meal offerings would be a choice of roasted chicken or pork belly. I've never been offered pork belly on a flight before and we joked that even if we asked for chicken they would be out by the time they got to us ... and sure enough they were. Then one of the stewardesses “found” two chicken dinners on another tray, but by then we had worked ourselves up to eating the pork belly lunch ... and it was delicious!
Flying into Hong Kong was spectacular ... the view of the city out the window is absolutely majestic! This has got to be one of the most modern cities in the world. There were what appeared to be literally HUNDREDS of skyscrapers, each gleaming in the sun, stunningly beautiful. We were simply awestruck at the appearance of this city and the airport was just as spectacular. In America we often feel we lead the world in technology, architecture, etc, but we felt like “country boys come to the city” in Hong Kong! What a visual impression this city makes! (For one impressive view, check out this page.)
We were concerned that we didn't have much time in our layover in Hong Kong to make our connecting flight but we were directed to some kind transfer agents who helped us get our luggage from one airline to the next and provided exit row seating for us, once again! We split up for a bit, Patrick to pick up some souvenirs and me to connect through the free WiFi to the Internet to send a couple of emails and update the Christian Challenge website. It still had the VBS info on it, so I was able to connect to my computer in Pineville to update the page and put a link to this blog. (Thanks, David, for fixing the VNC connection!)
I'm going to end today's update here. We've just been served a delicious supper by our courteous Nepalese flight attendants followed by tea. Patrick tells me to get used to drinking lots of tea and that I'm about to be in for a culture shock in Nepal and India. He and I have traveled all over Latin America together but he's already been to India and Nepal and knows what to expect. I'm looking forward to experiencing it and sharing it with you. If you survived this far, thanks for reading!
P.S. I've uploaded a few more of my pictures to my Flickr account. You can view them normally at here or as a slideshow. I hope you enjoy!