Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving & Happy Black Friday

Happy Thanksgiving from Kovvur, India!  I didn't get a chance to post last night because it was a long night and I was exhausted.  We ate dinner at 10:30 last night.  Like I said, it was a long day.

We had the chance to visit most of the kids schools yesterday.  It was fun and interesting to see what the schools were like.  Obviously, the kids from the children's home are talking to their friends about the Americans that are visiting them.  We know this because we have shown them some different kinds of handshakes and we were having to do these handshakes with kids that we have never met.  They are like kids everywhere in that they don't know that they are poor.  They just want to be loved and have some fun.  The smiles on these kids melts me everytime.  Anyway, the schools were not that much different than our schools other than the fact that they are open-air classrooms.

After we left the schools, we traveled a long way to meet with a congregation that is supported by Owasso COC.  The singing was again unbelievable.  Keith and I both had the opportunity to speak this time.  We then witnessed 8 more baptisms.  The preachers in this area are brothers and they minister to the 4 congregations in the area that their father started.  It really is a great story.  Both of the men have wives and children.  Their monthly support is 1,000 rupees.  There are ~44 rupees to a dollar.  I will let you do the math on that.  I don't know how that's possible.

We then drove home through Rajahmundy, where I recorded what the driving is like in India.  I can't wait to show everyone the video, because you will be amazed at the complete disregard for the word 'yield.'  Aggressive driving is not only acceptable, but expected.

We finally got back to the children's home, where we got to witness a Bible study that was led by the older boys.  The kids sang praises to God in their own tongue and then asked Keith and I to return the favor.  We sang "Seek Ye First" and I think it made them very happy.  We then got to sit around for a little bit and actually visit with some of the older boys.  They are just great kids.  They're bright and funny.  They so want us to acknowledge them and give them some attention.  They are starved for attention and I am happy to give them some.  It is the least that I can do.

I crawled into bed 'early' at about 11:30p and got a little sleep.  The plan for today was to be a part of the preacher's meeting that Brother V puts on every month.  Some of the preachers traveled 500 km just to be at the meeting.  I hope that it was not just because we were here that they made the special trip, but I suspect that it was.  Keith and I both had the chance to encourage the men.  It really meant a lot to me to be able to do that.  They are doing a great work.  And again, they were disappointed that we did not speak an hour a piece.  Brother V then stood up and did not stop talking for a good 2 hours.  It was unbelievable.  I don't know what he said, but it was a lot.  We then got to witness 3 more baptisms.  That brings the total to 25, for those keeping score.

Now, we are going to go to the children's home while they have their feet measured for shoes.  Not one kid has an actual pair of shoes.  Some have sandals, but most do not.  These kids walk to school with no shoes.  It is just too sad of an opportunity to pass up, so we are going to buy them shoes.  And when I said we, I meant you.

Please don't spend too much money.  Also, please continue to pray for Keith and I.  Keith is not feeling too well and I am having allergy problems.  It will not be fun to travel about 30 hours sick as a dog.       

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It was another long day here in southeast India.  I don't think I can fully describe the way that we are being treated wherever we go.  We are the Beatles and the President (without the entourage) wrapped up in one.  We started the day by visiting the children while they ate breakfast.  The children who live on the street RUN to greet us as we get out of the car.  They mainly just want to shake our hands multiple times and say, "Good morning, sir."  Mind you, we have done absolutely nothing for these children other than be nice to them.  I think it could have something to do with the giant poster with our pictures on it that still hangs prominently outside the children's home, but the more likely scenario is that Keith and I are just that awesome.  We brought them a soccer ball (which they believe is a volleyball) and a football.  We also brought a frisbee and a hand pump to keep air in the balls.  Total costs:  ~$0.40 per kid.  Reward:  pure kid joy.  You know, kind of like when your 4 year old's jaw drops open when they walk in the living room on Christmas morning.  It was amazing.  Just so you know, when I get back home, I am having a serious talk with the elders about moving the children's home out back behind the church in Broken Arrow.  I already have Keith on board.  That's one down, 11 to go.

After the children left for school, we started another long journey to another congregation in a galaxy far, far away.  We stopped in Rajahmundy to exchange some currency and then Brother V MADE us get some new tailored clothing.  They measured us and began to make our clothes right in front of us.  In America, this would be crazy expensive, but here it is actually cheaper than buying name brand clothing.

I also don't think that I can describe the absolute poverty that we see EVERYWHERE.  Every couple miles we will come to another village where the people are crammed in like sardines and breathing air that no person should have to breathe.  There cannot be any kind of enjoyment of life from ~80% of the population in this part of India.

Once we got to our destination, they again treated us like rock stars as we entered this building that should be condemned that they use for a home/church.  And yes, that does mean more flower 'necklaces.'  It really is humbling and completely unneccessary, but we are powerless to stop it.  They must honor us beyond any reasonable expectation.  I then gave a short message, which was met with disappointment because I did not speak for at least an hour.  I can promise it doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the message.  Keith will back me up on this.  We then witnessed 2 more baptisms that we had absolutely no hand in.  It is great to see the response, though.  For those keeping score:  Keith 12, Nick 2.

We then visited one of many leper colonies here in this part of the world.  It is really just the saddest thing I have ever seen.  I won't get into it, because I don't want you to feel as bad as I do.  They are the worst 1% of the 80% I mentioned above.  I'm moving on.

After we completed our long journey back, we again visited the children's home while they ate dinner.  Keith and I had the opportunity to serve the children dinner.  It was a blast (and hard work).  We watched last night and it was a well-oiled machine.  Let's just say that Keith and I move at about 15% of the speed that the normal ~13 year old servers move.  They beared with us, somehow.  Visiting these kids is my absolute favorite part of the day.

The plan for tomorrow is to take another trip to another galaxy far, far away and visit another congregation.  I didn't mention before, but the two previous churches that we have been to are supported by members at our church.  They are doing an incredible work for the kingdom.  This is the same story for the trip tomorrow.  I wish you all could see it.

Please continue to pray for us.  I miss most of you and I definitely miss ballin' up Plowman twice a week.  It will be back to normal soon enough.  I will talk to you tomorrow.


This is April. Nick gave me the login password to update the blog before he left. I got these pictures off of Keith's facebook page. I thought I would share them with you. They were taken in front of the children's home. The children are wearing their school uniforms.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm exhausted

I wrote out a long description of what we had done so far and then jetted it on accident.  So, here is the quick version.  Keith and I arrived in Kovvur this morning after a very long train ride.  We were treated like royalty by the Christians here.  We went to the children's home and they are absolutely the sweetest things ever.  They are incredibly well-behaved and happy and always wanting to please.  You know, a lot like my kids.  We then took a very long (and bumpy) car ride to another congregation.  We were again treated like royalty and Keith delivered a great message about heaven.  12 people were baptized.  Isn't that incredible?  We then went back to the children's home and had dinner with them.  They ate on the floor with their hands and in silence and with incredibly happy faces.  Again, just like my kids.  Keith then delivered the same message for a special occassion at the church there.  It has been an incredible journey so far.  I can't wait to share more with you when I have time.

Keith and I are doing great and appreciate all of the thoughts and prayers.  I will write you again tomorrow with a more detailed account.  It is going to be an early morning, so I must go.

Here we are.  Stop laughing.

April, tell the kids I love them.  And, I love you too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 1

(only 2 bags)
Well, it is here.  This trip has been a long time in the making.  We were planning on going last winter, and the plans fell through.  We then tried to get another trip together in the spring, and again, the plans fell through.  I know that a lot of people have been praying about this work for a long time.  I know that a lot of people have given money for this work for a long time.  This work in India was being supported long before I was here at this church.  I talk to Brother V often and he always is very grateful for the support he receives from the BACOC.  I can not completely describe in words how excited he is for our church to be coming over to see the work.  You guys are the ones who are making that possible.

For those who aren't aware, Brother V lives in India and we support him on a monthly basis, both for himself and for the many works that he does over there.  He preaches at 2 congregations, both in Arikerevula and Kovvur.  He watches over a children's home that houses 80-ish kids from about 6-16 years old.  He also converts, teaches and leads many preachers in the area.  He is constantly sending pictures of these preacher's meetings.  He also ministers to a leper colony, and the list goes on.  In other words, he is fighting on the front-lines of the missionary field.

The purpose of our trip is to finally lay our eyes on the work there.  We want to get some questions answered as well as answering any questions that they may have.  We want to see what their needs are with our own eyes.  Even though Brother V speaks more English than I do his language, there is still quite a bit that is missed in the translation.  Most importantly though, we hope to be an encouragement to the Christians in India, especially the kids in the children's home.  I hope that you will pray that God will provide encouragement to the Christians and others in India.

This morning, Keith and I are going to start quite a long journey over to a place we have never been.  I have never been any further than Mexico, so this is definitely a new experience for me.  We leave at 11:15 to head to Chicago.  We then fly to Brussels and then to Chennai.  Once in Chennai, we will find a place to sleep for the night and then take a long train ride to Kovvur/Arikerevula.  We will be back Tuesday, the 30th, at about 7:30p.  Please pray for our safe travel.

I hope to update this blog with pictures and posts on at least a daily basis while I am in India.  I doubt that I will be able to update you until at least Monday your time.  Please leave comments, because the people in India are not the only ones who need encouragement.  I am going to miss my family and friends very much.  I want to say a special thanks to my wife for being very supportive of me going on this trip.  I don't know which of us will have the harder job the next 10 days.  Thanks.