Sunday, July 15, 2007

From Pakistan to India

Hello all!

I'm writing this Saturday morning, July 14, from the boarding gate in the Lahore, Pakistan airport as we are waiting for our plane. The last couple of days have been a blur! My last blog entry was three days ago on July 11 in the evening so I'll take up from there.

Thursday morning, July 12 was time for goodbyes in Nepal. We met with several of the brothers at the hotel, took pictures, videoed three of the Nepalese film team, prayed together and headed out. Patrick and I headed to the American Embassy to accompany Gajendra Tamang, the Awana missionary who was applying for his visa. We would meet back up with the traveling team at the airport.

The American embassy in Kathmandu occupies one wing of a large hotel. They've just completed construction on an 80 million dollar embassy but haven't moved into it yet. We tried to go in with Gajendra but were told unless we had official business (like an emergency) we would not be allowed in. Since we had not had breakfast yet, Patrick and I headed into the hotel restaurant to await Gajendra.

It seemed to take forever and we started to become anxious when finally Gajendra came out with a huge smile on his face. He had encountered a Christian worker who asked him some questions about the Bible and when he answered satisfactorily he granted him the visa! We all rejoiced together, thanking God for an answer to prayer – and then it was off to the airport.

There was a huge cluster of people trying to get in and finally we made our way through the crush of people. The other brothers made it as well after a little difficulty – there were some protests in the streets over the murder of a professor by the Maoists. But we hadn't seen any of that ourselves. (On the way to the airport it appeared Gajendra had gotten lost and at one point he stopped to ask for directions from a taxi driver. We drove though some back roads and ended up on the main road near the airport .... another demonstration of the providential hand of God!)

Once we got checked in and at the boarding gate we were informed that the plane was half an hour late. We would only have about an hour in Delhi to catch our flight to Pakistan. A couple of times I started to worry about whether we would make the flight or not, but each time I was reassured that we were in the Lord's hands. If we didn't make the flight, it would not be His will. I was in peace.

Arriving in Delhi we exited the plane onto the tarmac to board buses to the terminal. The heat rolled over us in waves – we had been told it was hot in July but this was brutal! Thankfully the second bus came quickly and we made our way to the terminal where we found a transfer desk and inquired about our flight to Pakistan. There were several others on our flight from Kathmandu going to Pakistan and we were all well taken care of, easily making it to the flight.

The aircraft was about 2/3 full ... the first one we had been on that wasn't just chock-a-block full. But the flight attendants were extremely nice and we arrived in Lahore 50 minutes later. We could definitely tell that all eyes were on us as the only westerners on the flight. We rode in the hotel van to the hotel and marveled at the modern streets and buildings, mixed with common rural sights of the Middle East ... donkey carts, motorcycles, three-wheeled taxis, etc.

The Pakistani brothers flew into another airport directly from Nepal and then caught a flight up to Lahore. The next morning we met for breakfast and it was off to the races. In most countries buying the equipment is a two or three day experience because you have to go to different shops for everything. In my dream we had purchased everything in one day – this would be a challenge.

We rented a taxi for a day and headed out. The first place we went was an electronics bazaar. It's difficult to explain what it's like, but it definitely is the fulfillment of the word “bazaar”. There were tiny shops everywhere, many below street level that you could only reach through tiny, steep staircases. The second place we went to had a combined speaker/amplifier and microphone that would work very well. We then went to another tiny shop and purchased 2 video projectors and 2 DVD players. Next on the list was to purchase digital cameras so the brothers could send reports back. We completed all these purchases by mid-afternoon and headed back to the hotel where we met with one of the brother's family. We went for a late lunch (4:00ish) and then headed out to check on the prices of generators. We had already decided to let them purchase the generators in their towns but we wanted an idea of the price. We also had decided to have the screens made in their town.

As we traveled around town it was evident that all eyes were on us, as they had been on the plane headed this way. However, whenever we would smile or give a “thumbs up” we would receive a very friendly response. For the most part they seemed very happy to see us. The shopkeepers offered us tea or refreshments in just about every place. On the streets there was a high level of security. All major intersections had quite a few police officers milling about. On one corner one of the senior police officers walked by and greeted us, shaking our hand and smiling broadly.

We headed back to the hotel for some training and meetings with the Babar and Suheem, the Pakistani team. We set up all the equipment, tested it and walked them through a typical night of film evangelism. Then we spent some time sharing our heart and praying for them and for the equipment. The time had gone by so quickly – it was nearly 11:00 when we finally released them. How the time flies, but we had completed everything we had set out to do in one day, just as in the dream. However, we also knew it was very important that we be here in person. Spending time with the brothers allowed us to know them better, understand their heart and make sure our heart of service and ministering came through clearly. It would be easier to just send money and not go, but it's important to have the Lord's fingerprint on who should be a part of the ministry, who should be the director, etc. It's amazing how the Lord brings affirmation to each part of the journey.

After a good night's sleep we met with them all again for breakfast along with some Pakistani pastors from various areas. We received many invitations to come do crusades, etc, but we explained that our ministry was film evangelism and that was our focus. However, it was encouraging to meet so many Pakistani pastors who are serving the Lord is this Muslim country. The official name of this country is “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and this is CSC's first venture into a majority Muslim country.

It was time to load up in the airport shuttle and head for India. Interestingly we have had perfect peace throughout this time, in the streets, in the bazaars, etc. But for some reason this morning it seemed the peace began to lift ... we were happy to be in the airport, through security and waiting on our plane. The Lord provided His perfect peace for us during the time we were to do our work but now it's time to move on! :) We have accomplished the work He sent us to do here. To God be the praise and glory.

We will spend the night in Delhi and head down to the southern state of Kerala tomorrow. Once we arrive in Kochi it will be a 3 hour drive from the airport to Bro. Abraham's home town. We will be in conference with the 18 Indian film teams Monday-Wednesday and Thursday we head back to the Kochi airport to catch our flight to Delhi, then our connecting flights to Chicago, Dallas and finally Alexandria. We're on the final leg of our wonderful journey. Our visit to the Philippines seems almost a distant memory but it was only two weeks ago. We thank God for the 9 film teams He has allowed us to establish in three different countries and the 18 film teams that we will get to bless in India. Thank you for your prayers and for reading the blog. Your participation and support are appreciated more than you know.

Blessings,
Nathan <><

P.S. I was told that some folks using the AFA filter cannot read this blog because the AFA filter blocks the blogspot.com address. I contacted the Bsafe Online folks, makers of the AFA filter, and they said they will unblock the http://NathanMartin.Blogspot.com address for any customer who requests it, but it must be at the customer's request. So pass the word along!

P.P.S. We arrived safely in Delhi around 5:00PM local time. We had to transfer to the Domestic airport to purchase tickets to Kochi, where we will be picked up and will drive 3-4 hours to Thirumvalla, the location of the conference. After getting our tickets for Sunday morning at 7:20AM we headed to a hotel. There was an Internet cafe nearby but they didn't have provisions for me to connect my laptop. I sent a quick email to let folks know we are OK. It is now 5:30 AM and we are in the airport, having checked in and are waiting for our flight. I'm not sure when I'll have Internet connection yet, but as soon as I do, I'll post this next blog. Sorry for the delay. (Also, I'd appreciate some extra prayers as I've picked up a stomach bug. Thanks!)

P.P.P.S. It's now 9:30PM. We are in our hotel in Thiruvalla in the southern Indian state of Kerala. It took a 3+ hour flight to Kochi (about 1200 miles south of Delhi) and then a 3+ drive through beautiful tropical southern India. I was finally able to get online in the hotel lobby after the appropriate person was found who could help me. I don't have any pictures for this update but I'll try to get some up later. Thanks for reading and for your prayers!
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