Monday, January 26, 2009
To the WPCC Youth Group
First and foremost: I am so happy to write this to you in love as your brother!
I want to thank you so much for all you have been doing this past 2008 year and now beginning 2009 year. I am so excited to be with you and hear all what the Master is doing and how this year has been. I know it has been successful. Some things were on my heart recently that i want to share with you. Thank you so much for settling down for a sec to listen.
THE HEART AND AUTHENTICITY
In Matthew 9:13 Our Creator says, "I want you to show mercy not offer sacrifices..." And the Pharisee's were the ones who always appeared to have it right and looked good and glamorous and had it together. Their fruit was there. They went to church and followed the rules. They had scripture memorized. Their devotion and zeal for the Father is not bad, but what was is their hearts. "You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things..." (23:23). In Matthew, His Son goes on to say how they are like white-washed tombs, "white on the outside and filthy on the inside..." So when you leave and you are on your own- you will come face to face with our Father.
I love you guys and i hope and pray that all of this running out crazy from my brain and heart has helped you. This is to every single person -- no matter the grade level. Because We all need to get serious -- it is true. This is not a list of things to do, or telling you that you are doomed. I am just bringing up this issue ahead of time, so we can all be prepared for these challenges that are ahead.
"So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong." Hebrews 12:12-13
Making sacrifices is easy- giving your heart to our Creator and letting Him change it isn't easy. If we don't really have our Creator and his saving, changing love in us -- what reason do we have to pursue him when everyone else around us isn't doing the same?
With much love, passion and fire,
2 Thessalonians 3:3
Saturday, January 24, 2009
We brought 8 long pieces of wood, and 8 shorter pieces of bamboo along with 4 big banners on the metal frame. The banners were about the hope of our Creator. We spent Friday the 16th driving around the country-side hanging up the banners for the conference coming up. We would drive out to remote parts into the middle of a town and dig two holes- put together the frame of the billboard with the two long poles, and the two shorter bamboo sticks horizontal to create a big frame for the banner to go on- then set it up. We traveled from place to place, and by the second banner, we we're loosened up and were laughing with the crew. I think the only people i saw laugh the whole day were the guys on our crew. And considering how dark and hopeless the land felt, i can see why.
Hanging up these banners was an invitation to all to come to this huge tent meeting to hear about hope for every day and eternity. It was our Creator's invitation. Probably because there were three white guys working, but people came from all over to see what we were doing. And even if that is their reason, i am okay with it, because they get to hear and see what we're about.
As we drove in this big van with a group of 6 or so IREF guys, listening to Indian music about the Almighty, it became apparent to me; we were making a statement. In a place where it is hot or cold, it was making a statement to put up these banners and play this music. It meant something to them, because the message we live wasn't twisted or tainted or jaded in anyway. Of course it may be upsetting that the poor and needy are lifted up and cared for in the caste system, but it is powerful.
As we pulled over on the side of the road, the three of us were confused as normal. As Christian put it, "there is something always going on that we aren't aware of -- something that we're missing." They motioned that they were getting something to drink. They crossed the road to a well, and met a group of people drawing water from it. We couldn't help but think of when the Son meets the Samaritan woman at the well. The people that were already there were getting water needed for their survival. They have to go back everyday, but it never really quenches their thirst. In contrast, the IREF guys went to get water, but they had living water. And we have this living water to offer everyone, whether we are at the well or not.
We travel on and this battle, not of flesh and blood but of the rulers and authorities of the unseen world becomes more and more real. The beautiful message and truth about how much our Maker actually loves us, and isn't transcendent but real, alive and here ready for a relationship with us. That this message and basis is a relationship of love, like a marriage. These other practices may require strong discipline, have structure that comforts people, and idols we can see with our eyes. But, just riding in this van putting up these signs was a mark of freedom. It felt like there was light coming out! It was this open ticket, asking people to just come and be. To listen. Hope. To see if there really is a relationship we can have with Him -- that we can encounter Him. And sure it seems pretty outlandish, but we could be right...
"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now' rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
(2 Cor. 4:16-18)
Friday, January 23, 2009
One last experience. Holy Tolito!!!! One last experience i got to have was with Jacob and Philip when we went to do an AIDS outreach. This one last time of ministry together was very good. It was upbeat and blissful. On this last outreach that lasted 24 hours I got to know Philip and Jacob more as we endured the windy, bumpy and dangerous roads- trying to concentrate on talking and not the instability of the vehicle. The Almighty does something amazing when we're just together. You know- we just hang out. We will be waiting outside of a store for the other leaders to come retrieve us, and we begin joking with Philip. Then we all laugh and talk and people wonder what gives us joy. People want to know why muzugu's can kick back on the ground with the African's and laugh. But the next day was departure day. So as we kept it in mind we spent the night eating "samosa's" which is a really great African dish. It is basically fried bread with minced beef inside. We spent that last night staying up and telling stories. The good-bye was tough yesterday but wholesome. We know that It was His plan for us three to leave for India on Sunday.
January 11th, 2009 at 4:20 p.m. As we left we definitely felt that deep sadness. Our longing to continue being together. When you have those people in your life that just make you laugh and you laugh with them, you don't ever want to leave them! The way Philip lived his life - his fire and living in the moment attitude was something we have taken from him. A real quick story that impacted my life about Philip was one night we went to Philip's house. Out of no where he invited us over to his house to meet his family. There we were treated like his real family. We sat down as he served us an Indian ice cream with frosted flakes over it. We watched the second half of Johnny English enduring the scratches and skips. Philip was so content to be able to serve us in this way- to bring us into his home and love us. I loved this about Philip. Countless times Philip did things like this to serve us and try to make us feel comfortable. We became great friends with our room mates. We became good friends with Hanifa and Betty our hostesses. But we knew that fateful day had to come when we would fly to India. After a good bye and a long sit in the Entebbe air port, we realized we really were "pamoja-pamoja." This means "one" or "unity." This was our thing since it was us four and jacob now. We we're all pamoja-pamoja working for our Father, helping each other to become those people He wanted us to be. "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17. This was a great time of accountability; and opening up our lives and hearts and problems and struggles and what we felt He was doing around us. Real close relationships were being built. But time came. At 4:20 p.m. we departed Entebbe, Uganda for Dubai (our connecting flight to Chennai, India). We met a guy from Boulder in that air port which was bizzarre.
As we checked our luggage Christian remembered one of our room mates saying, "Ya'll haven't lost a bag yet? man ya'll are lucky!" And as i kissed my bag goodbye i started thinking if this one would be it. What would by my reaction if all of my backpack and goods in it were gone? And i realized how possible that was. I prayed the prayer, "If it is your will God... then may it be..." Keep that in mind. We take a few long flights- a first pit-stop in Ethiopia, then our connecting flight in Dubai. We arrived sometime (what they called morning-yes the a.m. but in the middle of the night).
Both flights were amazing, because the seats had tvs in them! And they had multi-player games so Andrew and I played battleship, pong, checkers, chess and WARZONE! A WHOLE LOT! I even called Andrew and Christian from my seat right next to them from the phone in the seat in front of me. One of my favorite games is to push the steward button when Andrew or Christian are not looking. We got into India this morning exhausted. We pulled the all-nighter, because there was NO sleeping on these flights due to multiple infants that were not so happy to be traveling at that hour. So we go through customs as usual and come to the luggage carousel. All four pieces of luggage show up (Christian and Andrews back packs and guitars = 4/5) And right as the belt stopped and all the luggage was present -- except my back pack. I began to laugh because i called to mind those thoughts of surrender of my luggage. So after filling out forms and such (the lost luggage is expected to arrive at our residence here in India within a week or so but i don't know how that will work just because of the communication factor) in a whirlwind we leave the airport to the next gauntlet. We travel through the tunnel of staring faces and shouts of "Taxi!" And our thoughts are- "Alright! here we go!" Having no idea who is picking us up but assured someone is going to be there with a sign. After meeting Michael from IREF we hop on a taxi and travel to a YWCA for a bit. We are going to get some lunch then catch a train to Repalle. Who knows what this adventure is going to hold? We are thrilled to see whatever the One who sent us has! And whether or not i will see my "house" again? I DON'T KNOW- BUT ITS SUCH AN ADVENTURE AND WE KNOW WE ARE WALKING RIGHT IN OUR FATHER'S PATH FOR US. HOW CAN WE FAIL? So we move forward into the cafeteria to eat our first real meal, then Repalle.
So yes, we are safe, alive, tired, well- and 4/5 luggage is alive and well too. This experience was great for us. Traveling went well- we were given good health and strength. The strength was provided for every moment.
Thank you for support. And take comfort in the fact that our Father has His hand over us, and we are resting right in this midst of His love like little blind and helpless sheep in India today.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Yesterday, I talked to Andrew at length on the phone. The Team is now settled in Repalle and learning about their new home and the ways of its people. The compound is an organized and secure place and the guys were welcomed warmly. His most profound 'first impression' of India was simply the sheer numbers of people. Here are some randomly arranged details of V-Team's current experience in India.
Travel from Uganda to India meant 3 total days of travel with only 5 total hours of sleep.
Arrival. When the team arrived at IREF, they walked through the front gates of the compound to find a professionally made banner stretched over the street which had words in Telugu (indian) and english to welcome the Team. "Evan Stookey, Andrew Leigh, and Christian Outlaw" were spelled out on the huge welcome sign.
Also, as a welcome, all of the IREF children were lining both sides of road. Hundreds upon hundreds of children were waving as the 3 guys walked down the length of about a city block.
Youth. Upon arrival, they moved into a Youth Conference with another throng of 5,000. Evan spoke, Christian and Andrew led so music/worship. Then... they slept.
Girls. The IREF compound houses over 2,500 students from early grade-school up through Nursing School. A majority of the students are girls. The guys are surrounded and feel, a little awkwardly, like 'rock stars.' Evan has fore sworn his physical appearance since Africa and wasn't worried about being surrounded by girls. Apparently, he has grown his bushy hair out, parted it down the middle, and combs it down straight and nerdy. This new look is combined with a ridiculously long beard, and the fact that he has started buttoning his shirts all the way up to his chin. For all intents and purposes, he should be quite 'safe' from female attention. But, Andrew laughs as he explains that this has had quite the opposite affect on the school girls of India. Instead, they have taken to standing right in front of Evan to say, "You are so beautiful!" He is mystified by this.
Food. Andrew observed that IREF is a highly organized ministry that is a well-oiled machine at feeding thousands of people in a day. And they are adept and gifted at hosting Americans. Their hostess, Dee Reba, has given them the option of eating either American or Indian food. And the Team has made it clear that they don't want any special provision. They are eating what everybody else is eating.
Serving. And, they are watching and praying about where God wants to uniquely use them in this new place. They are looking for ways to serve the children and leaders of this School/Church/Orphanage over the next 3-4 weeks.
Upcoming for the Team @ IREF: Another Conference. This one will be for adults. And is expected to draw an estimated 15,000 people from all around the region, to experience worship, and hear the message of Jesus.
There is only limited internet connection in Repalle, so the guys will not be able to post many pictures or video until they get to Thailand, in February. But, keep checking back for written updates!
More later ...
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
After two straight days of travel, by plane and train, V-Team has arrived in Repalle, India. Evan's backpack is trailing them by a day from Dubai, but should arrive tomorrow.
The guys did not have time to rest. Upon their arrival, a large Youth Conference was already under way. So, they set down their stuff, had breakfast and were immediately involved in the event. They were quickly given the opportunity to get on stage, speak their testimonies of faith, and do worship ... for over 5,000 people.
Today, they have had dinner with their hosts (Dee and Emanuel Reba) and are taking an opportunity to rest in their new home -- a dorm at the IREF Compound.
All is well in India. Watch for more updates.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
"india is dangerous and we want to share our faith but be smart in our ministry. please pray God will show us how to do this exactly. please pray for our travels as well- this one may be very intense! and last, good health -- it would be a blessing if we could be energized and ready, with eyes and ears to hear what all God has done and shown us in Jinja, and what He has for us in india!"
Destination -- The new V-Team homebase @ IREF in Repalle, India.
Check out the details of this important ministry:
Thursday, January 8, 2009
In Jinja. First and foremost: we went bungee jumping. This was a growing and spiritual experience for us three and our host philip. There is something inside all of us that is a deep yearning to jump off a cliffhead first. And we found the freedom that comes with it. Andrew wrotea compelling piece of literature that accurately described what all took place. But i don't think that anything could do it justice- you are just going to have to do it yourself!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
V-Team with Young Life friends in Uganda.
Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile River.
Young Life Friends
(Andrew and Christian far right).
New Year's Celebrations ...
Andrew with Melissa and Joe, regional directors of
"Light Gives Heat"
Evan. No really. Honest.
Boda Boda driver-- Ibrahim
- An Epistle to the Youth
- The Story of Canaan Farm
- Banners of Hope
- Off the Train, Into the Crowd
- Welcomed to India
- Out of Africa
- Its About TIME!!!
- Second-Hand News
- Sheer Numbers
- Arrived Safe in India
- On the Road Again
- Last Dispatch from Africa
- Postcards from the Edge
- On the Edge
- V-team took a Leap!
- Happy New Year!
- ▼ January (17)