missionindia Mr. Graham
St. Paul Lutheran School School Missions
3 November 2002 (PM) Hyderabad
Many of you are just now rising and preparing for Sunday morning worship, while here we are wrapping up a full day. This morning, Pastor John Messmann, his son Stephen, and I were invited to Advent Lutheran Church, about a half-hour from here by taxi. Advent is a nice, three-story concrete building, with even nicer people. As is the custom in most places here, we left our shoes at the door (amidst the dozens and dozens of others) and entered an airy sanctuary focused on three stained glass windows of the Holy Family, the shepherds, and the Magi. Below that was a crimson neon cross! (I liked the cross.) Similar to our sister church in Guatemala, the 10:00 am worship service started a few minutes late, and most people arrived a good half-hour late (what we might call late, at least).

Below the sanctuary, Sunday school was going on, so I stepped out to take a few shots of the students and their teachers. Everyone meets in a common room and sits on one of two long rugs. (They did provide me a chair. I guess I looked like I needed one.) The children seem to love singing, action songs, and even dancing with the songs. The Sunday School "hour" began with many songs and dances, followed by the Bible lesson. The students divide up into their age groups and sit in circles around their teachers for the lesson. Afterwards, they join together for more singing...and this morning for learning a new song/dance. The Sunday School Director composes special songs and dances and then teaches them to the children. Everyone looked like they were having a good time.

Pastor Messmann was invited to preach this morning, and I could hear him, so I decided I needed to go back upstairs. By the time I got there, he was seated and the congregational pastor was preaching. (Yes. We had two sermons in one service.) The service was entirely in an India language, but it was a liturgical setting so we could follow along and it definitely felt like a true, worshipful setting. And, the service was over at noon, so the latecomers did have a chance to be a part of the worship.

This afternoon we were back at the Mission India offices with the staff and our Sister District partners. Our time was spent getting to know one another (we began this yesterday), hearing personal witness stories, in prayer and in a lot of singing. Hearing the stories of the personal conversions, the persecutions and (although they did not say it this way) the courageous determination of the church planters to go out into some of the most dangerous situations, is difficult to explain. They are simple people being used to do mighty things.

Tomorrow we conclude our time with our Sister District partners and they return home to Chitoor, a good 18 hours away by bus.

1 November 2002 (AM) Hyderadad
There is not much to report this time. I have no photos nor observations of interest, except what it is like to remain in the hotel room with some stomach discomfort. I was experiencing a slight upper abdominal pain yesterday morning and thought it might be the spicey food. After a short while in our opening devotional session, that pain led to a low grade fever. That, coupled with sitting in a room with people talking at me, convinced me to return to my room and lie down. And I did. What I can tell you is that the room's doorbell, which I considered a I nice touch at first, is not really so. It seems everyone wants to rink the bell...to clean the room, to see if you need something more, to wonder if you are resting well, and more. I stopped answering it. I also can say the staff takes great pride in making beds. They snap the sheets taunt, military style, and snap them again; impressive, unless you are trying to sleep.

Today, we are meeting with our Sister District church planters this morning. This is our first opportunity to meet one another. This weekend includes getting to know one another and about our individual prayer needs. Together this afternoon, we will do some site seeing.

31 October 2002 (PM) Hyderadad
The morning was filled with presentationa about Mission India's three components: church planter training, adult literacy, and Children's Bible Club. The afternoon, we split into three groups and visited ministry sites. Mine went to a small church in a slum where they were holding a Hope Club meeting, a type of children's Bible school which children can join after the Bible Club sessions end. The church was a rough cut stone structure with a woven mat roof (and part of the walls.) Many children singing, dancing (action songs). Some recited Bible verses for us. A couple gave their personal stories of how the Bible Club changed their lives. (Most all these children are from Hindu and Muslim homes.)

Afterwards, I decided to ride with one of the Mission India staff on the back of his motorcyle. (I had to get out of the hotel and bus routine.) We rode through some busy streets. I learned the basic driving rule: don't hit anything. No one stops at red lights or intersections unless there is something in front of you which you might hit. We got to see plenty of real life: vendors from the countryside, street people (families), Hindu shrines along the roadside, cattle, and more. It was a good experience.

(See more fotos at the link below.)

30 October 2002 (PM) Hyderadad
After a morning orientation about Mission India, we flew to the city of Hyberdad, another large city, but only half the size of Mumbai with 8 million inhabitants. It's a couple of degrees cooler and the air is not as thick. Everything else seems very much like Mumbai. The amount of airport security makes the US airports seem simple. To enter AND leave the airport your luggage must be x-rayed. Each person is frisked three times before getting on a flight. Absolutely no cameras are allowed in or around the airports. Our hotel is another plush retreat from the dusty streets. It's the Viceroy. You can find it on the internet. An interesting note about this and the other hotel: the room ligts do not work unless you insert your key in a special slot. If you take it out of the slot, everything turns off after a minute. We didn't know this the first night...it was kind of fun trying to make the light switches work.

30 Ocotber 2002  After the first night in India.  We arrived around midnight in Mumbai. My first impressions: it was still 81 degrees-warm, the air was smokey with a smell of something like a mix of burnt leaves and old newspapers. People were everywhere...the traffic was noon in Fort Worth, people were standing, sitting, and sleeping along all the roadways. Our hotel is first class. After a full day and a half of being on airplanes, anything would have been fine, but this was great. The room was nice and sold. The sheets were clean. The shower was hot. So nice.

Oh yeah, our group! We are fourteen from across the US. Most are Lutherans, but not all. There is a mix of profesional church workers and laity. A couple have been here before. At this point, everyone is friendly and eager to get to know one another and see India...even me. Go figure.

Late in October Mr. Graham departs to the India subcontinent for a ten-day trip with a Christian "church-planting" mission organization.

Mr. Graham will be traveling with Pastor Messmann and a couple dozen other Christian leaders to learn more about Mission India, an organization which partners Christians in the United States and India with the desire of assisting Indian nationals in planting churches in their country.

The group will visit sites where Mission India is agressively training Indians in church planting, developing literacy programs, and establishing children's Bible clubs.

Click on the sites below to learn more about Mission India, the nation of India, and this trip.
Useful links
Last updated  2008/09/28 07:15:28 CDTHits  409