Posted by: pastorafrank | October 2, 2015

Dutchman’s Woodshop

trunk 1trunk 2

Old steamer trunk makes a one of a kind coffee table mounted on reclaimed barn wood from the Sidlo homestead.

sidlo barn 1

The last barn on the Sidlo homestead, built in the 1940s utilizing lumber reclaimed from other barns in the area.  The Dutchman and his wife took this structure down and are creating numerous items from the lumber, including furniture, picture frames, decorative items, etc.

 

sidlos

 

Josef and Mary Sidlo   ca 1900

They homesteaded north of Red Cloud, Nebraska beginning in 1877.

 

 

 

rail coffee table

Rail Coffee Table from barn roof boards and deck rail leftovers

 

 

 

 

 

 

pub table

Pub Table and Stools

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

plain door ckupboard 1

 

 

plain cupboard 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Shelf Barnwood Cupboard

 

 

 

rec cab

 

red cab 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barnwood Red 3 Shelf Cupboard

 

 

 

 

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Posted by: pastorafrank | August 27, 2014

A Comedy of Errors

I had my day planned.

I was in the middle of a remodeling project for the upstairs bathroom in the church-owned home here in Haxtun.  Putting new drawer fronts on the built-in storage cabinet.  10 drawers and 7 door fronts.  I’d precut and finished all the material for this back home in Harvard.  Now I was taking the drawers apart, cutting down the old 3/8 inset fronts, reattaching them, and installing the new 3/4 surface mounted faces.  Not exactly work for an apprentice, but also not really taxing for a journeyman.

I was enjoying myself until my phone rang.  I’m pouring cement out here, and the truck is coming in a half an hour.  Can you give me a hand?  This from one of the elders.  Apparently the concrete was not available earlier in the day when he’d had help.  Sure, I said with a notable lack of enthusiasm.  I’ll be there.

My plans evaporated.  Rather, as it turned out, they were drowned.

As I drove to the farm I noted the ominous dark clouds to the north.  My friend was talking to the cement plant when I arrived. OK, he said looking at the sky, Send it on out.  To me he said, I thought about canceling it; but, maybe that storm will go on east.  Anyway, they’d already started mixing it.

The threat of rain was more than imminent by the time the truck arrived.  The breeze freshened and morphed into a wind as we worked to pour the east approach to the cattle-guard.  The first raindrops hit before we were half way through there and by the time we began on the west side it was pouring pitchforks and hammer handles.  We barely got the stuff screeded (that’s “leveled” to you that are novices); there was no way we could finish it.  The only floating we might try was our own – down the ditch with the runoff from the storm.  As for troweling…fahgeddaboudit.

We were already ringing wet, wetter than if we’d stood in a shower stall for 15 minutes with the water running full blast, when we began to be pelted by pea-sized hail.  Talk about adding insult to injury!  But this cement debacle was only the beginning of a comedy of errors to follow.

I slipped off my sodden and muddy shoes before climbing behind the wheel of my truck.  It was useless to go forward up the slight grade on the thoroughly soaked country road. No traction. Throwing the transmission into reverse, I glanced in the rearview mirror.  Certainly didn’t want to back into my friend’s rig.

That wasn’t a problem because he’d disappeared.  The cement truck was long gone as well.  Funny, I didn’t think it took that long to lose my footwear.  Everyman for himself,  I thought as I backed the quarter of mile down the hill to the more thoroughly graveled crossroad.  What was that intermittent beeping noise?  I pulled my smartphone out of my sopping wet shorts pocket and peered at the screen.  It winked at me a couple of times and faded into blackness.

It remained black from that moment on.  But as I drove back into town I remembered something about throwing your wet phone in a sack of rice to revive lt.  My saturated socks made strange tracks as I entered the grocery store and completed my purchase.  Upon arriving at the parsonage I tore open the bag, and dumped both the long-grain rice and the phone in a large bowl.

I might as well have tossed the mobile into a wok full of fried rice, or into a pan of the Spanish variety.  Indian sticky rice couldn’t have been less effective.  No dice with the rice.  The phone was a goner.   Like my plans for the day.

I’d bought the phone from Walmart utilizing StraightTalk.  The day after the concrete debacle I planned to ride my motorcycle to the nearest of old Sam’s facilities, purchase a new phone, and ride back up the road to have lunch with a young fellow-pastor.  The whole trip would be about 130 miles.

Colorado has no helmet law.  I wear an egg protector anyway.  Always have.  Except this day,  This day I reasoned that could wait to put on my helmet until after I’d filled up the local station just 5 blocks away.  I jammed the headgear on the sissy bar and rounded the corner heading downtown.

I’d noted the day before, the day of the ill-fated cement and rain pour, that the city had newly oiled and armor coated the street one block east, parallel to our own.  I’d also noted that at the north intersection of that street something like yellow crime tape had been stretched across to keep traffic from impeding the work.  But, the work was completed.  One would expect that the nearly invisible tape barrier would be removed.

It wasn’t.  Not from the north end of the street, not from across the intersection of that street and the one which I was riding at right angles to the new pavement, and not from the other side of that intersection.

I didn’t see the tape, bright though it was.  It caught me just under the chin and stretched way out, creating an instant rash on my neck at the Adam’s apple level.  Rats!  I brought the bike to a stop and flipped the tape up over my head.

It caught on my glasses and they flew away.  Double rats!  I dismounted, stood there a moment, and then took a step to find my eye-ware.

I found them…with my foot; and the thin piece of nylon filament holding in the left lense popped.  Rats again!  Now I’d have to ride the first thirty miles of the trip navigating with one eye.  Good thing they also had an optical department at the Walmart.  If I could only make it there without incident.  Funny how having one’s vision cut in half changes a man’s outlook on…well, on everything.

I glanced around to see if anyone had been watching this incredibly embarrassing development, remounted the Yamaha, and rode ahead…straight through the opposite yellow barrier tape.  But this time, this time the tape reached its stretching capacity before I could manage to haul the beast under me to a halt.  Somewhere closer to oneend of its securement than to the other it parted company with itself.  The remaining length came whipsawing across that part of my upper anatomy that been negatively affected across the street just moments earlier.

OK, OK, I thought.  It’ll be all right.  But my thoughts ran back a little over a half a day to the beginning of this comedy of errors, to that water-soaked attempt to pour cement in absolutely the worst weather possible for such an endeavor, and they were not exactly happy ones.

However, even a comedy has to end.  I made it to the Walmart.  The kind lady in the eye-ware department fixed my glasses, and I was able to buy a new phone.  Both the ride to my friend’s home 6o miles up the road and our lunch together were wonderful.  And, two weeks later, the rash around my neck is gone.  All I have to remind me of that 18 hour span of my life is a nearly empty contact list on my mobile phone.

Posted by: pastorafrank | August 9, 2014

Where Am I, and What Have I Done With My Keys?

The locksmith approached the house, turned the doorknob, and pushed.  The door swung open and my jaw dropped.

Luana and I have been splitting time between two residences.  For three weeks of a given month we are at home in the parsonage belonging to the Haxtun, Colorado Berean Bible Church.  We’ve been helping these folks for a little more than a year through a transition between pastors.  On the fourth Sunday we drive to our own house in Harvard, Nebraska to spend five days there before returning to Haxtun for the Sunday ministry.  265 miles separate the two domiciles.

As you might expect, this back and forth business often creates a bit of confusion.  For instance, Luana will be thinking she needs a certain food or staple for one place only to find, upon purchasing it, that she already has three of that item in that house.  It was the other place that was in need.

Two weeks ago Luana took me to the Denver International Airport for a flight to Philadelphia.  My sister Mary flew there from Texas and we traveled together by car to north central Pennsylvania to visit our 94 year old Aunt Frances.  After the airport drop in Denver, Luana drove to our Nebraska residence to spend some needed time at home.  Following my visit east, I returned by plane to Omaha and subsequently by auto to Harvard.

The week there went all too fast.  Since Luana was going to remain to complete some unfinished tasks connected to our Dutchman’s Woodshop business, I found myself driving alone back to Haxtun on a Saturday morning.  I made it about 90 miles down the road before I thought about the keys to the Haxtun house, and I was certain that I did not have them.

A quick call to my wife  – she didn’t have them either.  She’d check around when she got back to the house.  I decided I’d proceed to my destination, hoping that a door had been left unlocked, or that a window was not secured…anything.  I was dead sure that the only two keys to the parsonage were on the same ring, and that ring was somewhere in our house in Harvard.

It was – in her briefcase.  So much in flux are we that neither of us thought about the element that was so essential to my successful return to the ministry in Haxtun.

I called one of the elders.  No, he didn’t have a key.  Nor did anyone else, as it turned out.  I thought there were two keys to the house, he said.  There are, I replied, and they’re both on the same ring in Harvard.  I’ll see what I can do, he said.

Time passed.  I’d checked all the doors and windows twice, considered breaking one of the latter, but decided against it.

Elder Bill and his wife Linda showed up with a handful of keys they’d retrieved from the secretary’s office at the church building.  I knew before we tried that none of them would work.  We’ll go back to the church for the phone directory and call the locksmith from Holyoke (17 miles distant).  If we don’t come back by here it will mean he’s on the way.

After what seemed a long time they returned.  My heart sank.  But, yes, they’d been successful and the locksmith was on his way.

I can’t remember how I spent the time until his truck rounded the corner, but I think most of it involved me feeling foolish.  Good grief, I thought, I hardly know where I am any more.  A little more of this and I won’t be able to find my way home, wherever that is these days.

All three doors are keyed alike, I told the affable tradesman.  He strode to the front door, put his hand on the handle, pushed it down, and shoved.

I knew I’d handled that handle at least twice, but I couldn’t be sure that I’d tried to manipulate the lever.  I know I had done so on the other two doors.  And I know both of them resisted my attempts.  But this front door…who knew?

That lockset should be replaced, the smith told me.  It’s sloppy and catches sometimes.  I think he told me this to ameliorate my embarrassment, but it didn’t help much.  Well, I said, be sure and send us a bill anyway.

I will, he replied.  I suspected that he could hardly wait to drive away to give vent to his mirth, and I am certain he will add this to the list of tales he tells his friends and family.  In this country everyone will probably soon know about the interim preacher who couldn’t get into his own unlocked house.

Oh well, as they say. Before it’s all over for me on this planet I will probably have other unanswered questions besides “Where am I, and what have I done with my keys?”

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 28, 2014

Back Home From Two-Thirds Of The Way To The Land Down Under

We left Barcelona at approximately 11:15 a.m. local time.  Feasted on Egg McMuffins in the airport before doing so.  Flew 11 hours to Miami to find that the one hour and 40 minutes between connecting flights there was not enough.  Waited another 3½ hours for the next plane to Denver.  I consumed a double cheese burger from Wendy’s.  Very nearly the best meal I have ever had.

Long flight to Denver through a starlit night.  Alas, I had no window seat.  Nor did she.  Neither of us slept for the 5 hours.  Landed about midnight of the same day we’d departed Spain 13 hours earlier, in spite of the fact that more than 20 hours had elapsed.

Barely managed to find the car (another story for another time – one that Luana made me promise not to write about in this blog), and headed up Interstate 76 for home in Haxtun.  Fell into bed about 4 a.m.

We stepped outside our door nearly two weeks ago, traversed the globe, experienced tremendous joy, some frustration, and a bit of utter exhaustion, returning again to the safety of our home.

God is good.

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 19, 2014

Language Barrier

We only thought we had a language barrier in India, but at least there a good many of the folks understand English.  Very few here in Barcelona seem to.

Yesterday we declined the breakfast buffet here at the hotel because its 16 Euro per person cost would have taken almost $45 out of our pockets.  That wasn’t going to happen to this Dutchman, so we wandered down the street to find a coffee shop selling pastries and breakfast sandwiches.  Passed up a McDonalds to do so because she said, We’re not going to eat there!

We communicated well enough with the barista, but when we asked folks at the stoplight which way to go to the Tourist Bus (Hop on Hop off – I almost even demonstrated that maneuver to them), all four of them gave up almost immediately, even though they did so with smiles.

We eventually found what we were looking for, but not without stopping a few more people with little success.  The one exception was the owner or manager of the shop designated as Llibreria Angles.  That looked a lot like “English Book Store” to me, and it proved to be right.  He was able to direct us.

He and the barista at Starbucks.  (Note, I did not write “the” Starbucks because there seems to be one of those businesses on every other street in this city of over 1½ million.)  With the help of these two English speakers we found the tour bus.  The young man that handed us our earphones and literature for the 2-hour ride also spoke our language.

2014-01-18 04.58.07He was the last one we encountered that did.  You’d have laughed at these two senior citizens as they searched for the café that was supposed to be across from the Picasso Museum in the old part of the city, the Gothic part with the narrow cobblestone streets running every which way.  We ran every which way, asking directions again from folks who could only shrug.  Either that or give us erroneous information.  Couldn’t even find the museum.  Eventually stumbled upon what we thought was the eatery that had been recommended by our British seatmate on the plane.

It wasn’t exasperating, however.  Produced mirth in both of us…eventually.

Part of the problem, obviously, is that most folks here haven’t taken the time to learn English.  Another part of the problem is that neither of us has taken the time either to learn or polish Spanish.  But a bigger part of the problem lies in the fact that Barcelona was established as a Roman colony before Jesus was born.  This area of Spain is actually the ancient country of Catalonia, a buffer between the rest of the Iberian Peninsula and France.  The language is Catalan.  To be sure it is related to Spanish.  It is also related to French, Italian, and Portuguese.  All share a Latin foundation.  They are all Romance languages, similar but different from each other.

Therefore, my “habla usted Ingles” probably didn’t even communicate.  The word for “speak” in Catalan is “parlar,” much like the French “parler.”  Not at all like the Spanish “hablar.”  And “English” is “Angles” in Catalan.  So, who knows what the people were hearing when I asked if they spoke my language?

Screenshot 2014-01-18 23.47.30We plan to go today to the Maritime Museum down by the huge statue of Christobal Colon near the Mediterranean seashore.  You probably know him as Christopher Columbus. He’s supposed to be pointing towards the New World (our side of the Atlantic), but somehow he’s got his directions mixed up and is pointing towards Constantine, Algeria.

Columbus was an Italian.  Maybe he asked a Catalan for directions?

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 19, 2014

Is It Losing or Gaining?

Driving from Harvard to Haxtun results in gaining an hour.  That’s the way it is when one crosses time zones from east to west.  Even as I write this it is 6:11 a.m. Sunday morning here in Barcelona, it is 11:11 p.m. Saturday evening in Haxtun.  From Hyderabad to Barcelona we gained 5½ hours.  It is now 11:31 a.m. there on Sunday morning.  The folks we left on Wednesday are already in the middle of their Sunday worship.  You folks back home are probably asleep, whether it’s fast or not.

I, obviously, am not fast asleep.  We may have gained 5½ from India to Spain, but somehow it feels like we didn’t gain anything.  In fact, from the time we awoke in Hyderabad on Thursday until our heads hit the pillows here, a total of about 36 hours had passed, 12 of them sitting in airports.

We may have gained time traveling from east to west, but we lost a whole night’s sleep.  Luana seems to have gained, and indeed is gaining, some of that back.  I, however, still feel somewhat at a loss.

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 16, 2014

Distributing the Leftovers

We’d brought 70 of those plastic balls that flash when they are bounced. They filled a whole suitcase. Had 18 of them left after we handed them out to our grandkids at the Retreat Center.  But we had a plan for them.

We had time to kill before our flight left for Dubai…a lot of time.  In fact, a whole day.  I spent a couple of hours writing the last two articles.  And then we carried out our plan with the balls.

On this trip we’d already heard testimonies by two people of how God used simple things to bring them to faith in Jesus.  One lady, as a teenager, began to read a New Testament that her brother brought into their Hindu home.  God used the Gospel of John to draw her to Himself. Dr Mohanan Unni, the Boston pastor we’d heard last Sunday at Centenary Baptist Church, remembered a hymn he’d heard in his youth during some dark days of depression following his college graduation.  God used that to stir his interest in Jesus.

We reminded ourselves of these things as we formed our plan.  While I was writing for the blog, Luana was writing “Jesus Loves You” on each of the balls.  We’d asked the reception desk how to put that into the native language here, and he complied by printing it out for us.  But this language uses characters, and when we looked at it we knew that one slip of the pen might convey an entirely different message.  So, she wrote in English.

We reasoned that even though the message was in English, God could use it in the life of a child…or even an adult.

kids with balls wavingArmed with this thought and carrying the bag of gifts, we headed out of the hotel, past the fence, and into the neighborhood where the pottery was located.  Word spread quickly that the two Americans were back.  A crowd of kids gathered, and Luana handed out those 18 balls.  We could have given at least twice that many.  Parents came out.  Grandmothers appeared.  I snapped photos.  We bought three pieces of pottery.

The looks on the faces of those kids were priceless.  It was one of the best experiences we’ve had over here.  And as we made our way back around the wall toward the hotel several heads appeared above, arms waved, and youthful voices shouted “Goodbye, Tata.”

May God bless that message on those flashing Dollar Tree balls.

faces over the wall

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 16, 2014

An Uncommon Commodity

We finished the Conference with lunch on Wednesday, yesterday afternoon at 2:00.  We thought we’d arranged with the hotel to send a taxi to collect us (and, as it turned out, Thambi also) at that time.  No taxi was in sight.  Thambi had to catch a plane for Kerala at 7:30 p.m.  We were at least 2 hours from the airport, way out in the country on the northeast side of the metropolis.

A call to the hotel revealed that no knowledge of an arrangement for a taxi existed on that end of the line.  This in spite of the fact that the man behind the desk had written it down and assured me he’d make the arrangements.  I explained that we had to take someone to the airport before returning to the hotel. Just a moment sir, the female voice said, I’ll transfer you.

The transfer took me to the taxi company and an enquiry about what time I wished to be picked up at the airport.  What with the language barrier and all there was no explaining my predicament or what I perceived to be the fault of either the hotel or the taxi company.

Our hosts at the Center bade us sit in the breeze of the overhead fan, have a coffee, and see if they could help.  More phone calls were made.  They can send a cab, one man said to me, It will be here in an hour.  This would not do.  At this rate Thambi would miss his flight.

Perhaps we can use the company car, said the other man, It is coming and will be here in 15 minutes.  Then we can take you to the city where you can catch a cab for the airport.  Better than nothing, I thought.  Worth a try.

15 minutes passed.  No company car.  More minutes fled by.  A car drove up and deposited three men.  One of them was a partner in the Retreat Center ownership, and older man who’d been keen to make sure everything was ok at the facility so that we Americans would recommend it to others.

You take this car, he said.  Down to the city to catch a cab, I asked.  No, he will take you anywhere you want to go.  Is that a company car, I said to Thambi as the man stacked our luggage in a vehicle no bigger than an old Volkswagen Rabbit.  It was a diesel to boot.  No, he said, it is a taxi.

The driver was a far cry from the polished personnel that manipulated the hotel-hired taxis.  A heavily-lidded wandering eye and a missing front tooth or two gave me pause.  The vehicle itself gave me more reason for concern.

The first few feet of our ride over the rather rough road at the Center revealed a front end that threatened to fall off at every bounce.  Terrible noises emanated from the area of the shocks.  When we were able to gain enough speed, it became obvious that those front tires were more than a little out of balance.

But that unassuming driver made his way skillfully to the airport, depositing Thambi in plenty of time for his plane.   In addition he provided succinct commentary on the sights along the road as he carried Luana and me directly to the doors of our lodgings.  Unlike his more sophisticated counterparts, he seemed to be familiar with every area in and around The Pearl City.  And his fee was much less than what we would have paid the other place.

I gave him a healthy tip, shook his hand in gratitude, and asked if he could pick us up today for the return to this fabulous new Hyderabad airport.  He needed to be at the hotel at 3:30 p.m.  He agreed.  There was something about him that told me he’d be there. He wrote his name and number on a piece of paper and handed it to me.

When we were ensconced in our room, Luana and I both marveled at how God provided that car and that driver at just the right time when we were in a very tight spot.

Today at 3:08 he was at the hotel.  He is truly an uncommon commodity in this land where many seem to specialize in promises they never intend to fulfill.  Perhaps he is an uncommon commodity the world over?

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 16, 2014

It’s A Matter of Faith (Luana)

Just a few days ago I watched as our three pieces of luggage rolled along the conveyor with nothing but a strip of paper to let the airline personnel know that those items out of thousands had to get from Denver, USA to Hyderabad, India.  What if they were lost and eventually auctioned off on Baggage Wars to somebody who was convinced there was something valuable inside?  What if our clothes, my cosmetics, and the toys for the children just vanished?

Only fleeting musings.  I was confident the luggage would indeed go through…and it did.  No problem

We arrived at our hotel in the early morning after traveling with no sleep for over 35 hours.  Blurry-eyed, we approached the reception desk with every confidence that our reservation, made weeks ago, would result in a room for us.  But what if there were no room at the inn?

Nope.  Didn’t ever cross our minds.  The associate behind the desk even gave us an upgrade on our room with no extra charge.  No problem

The next day, after resting from our journey, we decided we should find the place where the Conference was to be held.  The sketchy information we had received via email was, well…sketchy at best.  The hotel called a cab and we climbed into a car with a complete stranger heading for parts unknown to us and, as it turned out, to him.

The crush of the traffic in this city was not new to us.  The streets have always been more than crowded.  All 8 million residents seem to be out and about, either walking, riding in auto rickshaws, cabs, cars, lorries (trucks), buses, bicycles, motorcycles, or even camels.  The half a dozen stoplights seemed inconsequential.

The daredevil thrill rides I’d seen on television the night before had nothing on this experience.  After all as we find ourselves saying to each other, a miss by an inch is still a miss.  Just honk the horn and keep on truckin’.

In my case, since I didn’t have access to the horn, I decided to focus on the sights out the side windows.  We swerved, bumped, and honked our way to the edge of the city.  After many phone calls and stops to ask directions, we made it to the Retreat Center where we were given a royal welcome.

Of course we had to return to the hotel through “rush hour” traffic and wait until Monday to make the journey again.  Hey, no problem.

Upon arriving at the Center on Monday, we were shown to our accommodations.  To comfy-conscious Americans who tend to be clean freaks the luxury room was…interesting.  Would we be bitten in the night?  Would we manage to sleep without sheets?

The room did have everything we needed, even more than we expected.  Besides, the weather was beautiful, a sunny 75 degrees, and the countryside was full of lovely vistas.  Absolutely no problem.

Nearly every moment of our days, ordinary or extraordinary, requires some measure of faith.  We just don’t think about it.  We have faith that the airlines know how to take care of our luggage, that a hotel will have a room for us, that a cab driver can navigate the mind-boggling traffic to get us to our destination, and that we can somehow survive a couple of nights outside of our comfort zone.

Seems to me we ought to be able to have faith in the mighty God of the universe for all that concerns us.  I should be ready always to say, No problem!

Posted by: pastorafrank | January 16, 2014

Satan Alive and Well Here, and Everywhere

Wouldn’t you know it!  The Old Serpent struck again before we were finished yesterday.  He doesn’t want to relinquish his stranglehold on this dark land, and he continues to do whatever it takes to extinguish the Light.  And, though this place is a half a world away from us and two thirds of the way to Down Under, the tactics here are the same as in the good old US of A.

All was going terrifically well.  This year we’d encouraged our brothers and sisters to engage speakers who could address them in their own language – no translator needed.  They obliged, and Luana and I sat through session after session listening to a tongue unintelligible to us.  Didn’t make for much of a blessing to us, except that we knew our friends were being challenged and blessed.

Meal times were a delight.  We ate delicious and spicy hot dishes of rice, chicken, sambar, buryani , idly, dal, and so forth.  Everything with a considerable bite to it.  Usually a slow afterburn.  But delicious.  And we enjoyed the fellowship over food.  Everyone did.

Even the exhausting 3-hour session with the cluster leaders (USA – district leaders) turned out well.

All was going smoothly until the last couple of hours of the last morning together.  I found Thambi, our Crusade liaison and Frank Jr. talking with one of the pastors.  That man’s face and body language broadcast that he was not pleased with something, and he was voicing his displeasure to them.

I was glad for the fact that he chose to address men who could understand him rather than Great White Tata Frank; but when I learned what his complaint was, I was saddened.

It seemed that he thought that the vice-president of the Fellowship was taking too much on himself by being the MC for each session up to that point.  He’d apparently voiced his displeasure to his fellow pastor, and his ire had produced a decided emotional response in the vice-president’s wife.  She was in tears, in fact.

Of course, given my demure and retiring personality, I was disinclined to do anything about it.  (You realize that my tongue is firmly thrust into my cheek here, don’t you?)  On the contrary, I was perturbed.  Wanted to step in.  Wanted to fix this.

I determined to address this thing, even in a round about way, when I rose to speak.  This would be only the second time I addressed the whole group.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the Devil has no new tactics.  Not for nothing did the writers of the epistles continually challenge God’s people to love and forgive each other, to get along together, to realize that it’s not all about me.

Before it was my turn to speak there had been a decision to have Communion together.  So we did.  Can you imagine – Communion with the aforementioned drama hanging in the atmosphere?  I couldn’t understand the words that introduced the bread and the cup, but it was a special time anyway.

Thambi then spoke to the men for about forty minutes while Luana and Gloria, the translator, spent time with the ladies.

When we gathered in the meeting place for the last session, I whispered to Thambi, Did you say anything about what happened between those brothers?  No, he said, I did not.  I am going to, I said.  I can do this, I continued, because I am leaving after.  We laughed together.

It was a golden opportunity to address the situation.  I began by telling the group how happy we were to be with them again, how wonderfully the Conference had been planned (a direct connection to the vice-president who’d been largely responsible for the planning), and what a wonderful thing it was to celebrate Communion with them.  Then I took the opportunity to emphasize what Communion means, how it represents our continuing relationship to Jesus and to each other, and that if we partake of the elements when we have something in our hearts against a brother or sister, we are acting as hypocrites.  I stressed how important confession is prior to partaking.

No names mentioned.  Just a good opportunity to remind us all of basic issues.  And then I proceeded to make my final remarks based on the Conference theme of Joshua 3:5, Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

God will indeed do wonders here if…if his people dwell and walk together in unity and love.  No different here than anywhere.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love each other.

The thing that motivated this unlovely action here is the same thing that motivates similar actions in our country.  It’s plain old selfishness.  And the Devil is very good at fanning that fire.  If he can’t negate church planting here by persecution from the outside, he’ll have a go at it with selfish contention from within.

I pray that neither folks in the BFC here in this land as well as the one of which I am a part in my own country will not play into the Snake’s hands.

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