Monday, October 31, 2005

Boom Boom

It's Diwali season here in India. Hindu New Year. Lots and lots of firecrackers and loud firecracker bombs - all night long. Like til 6AM.

However, the houses are all lit up with lights and little oil lamps. Festival of Lights, you know. That's what they say. Anyway, the rows of lit up houses are strangely reminiscent of Christmastime in the US.

I Admit It

Ok, I admit it. I love fiction, yes, I do. Now that that's out in the open - I can get on to my book reviews.

I spent most of the 7 drive last week reading Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson. "Her best book." According to the Denver Post. It’s printed right there on the front of the book. Ummm, OK, I’d say it was good. Definitely a bit more on the dark and dangerous side than her others. It’s not my favorite of the series tho, that place is reserved for Sticks and Scones. Much more my style.

I finished Double Shot and started Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King but I didn’t have much time to read while actually in the village. Lack of light was one problem (I finished Double Shot with a flashlight after the girls were asleep.) We were also pretty busy, not to mention that C. was pretty sick and refused to go or be with anyone but me.

This left the ride home. Since we started late I only had a couple hours of daylight but I started Black Rose (Nora Roberts) anyway. It was a fine read, but I wouldn’t have picked it up had it not been part of a trilogy. Just ehhn.

Yesterday, I read more of the editing book and I plan to jump in again after I finish this post. So far I’ve learned that I need to be careful to stay away from “narrative summary” and focus on “scenes.” Basically let events in the story unfold in “real time.” Like through conversations. All right. Got it.

The second chapter is on Characterization. I’m going through it now. It’s really hard to know if I’m actually following what they say to do in my writing or not. The authors said in the intro to put your manuscript away and come back to it after some time with “fresh eyes.” Maybe after I read this book and pull out my manuscript some things will start to glare. I hope so.

I really just hope that my stories are light years more interesting than this boring post. Sheesh.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Boy, do I have material for this blog after the past 5 days. Ok, maybe just two or three posts. I'll get to them. I also have pictures to put up for your viewing pleasure but I'm having issues with getting them out of my camera and into my computer so we'll just keep on working on that. Eventually I'll probably have one post with a bunch of random pictures. That's OK with me.

God's ATM

We’re back from our trip and I’ll post more on that later, but I can’t NOT add this post.

It’s the end of the month and as usual, we’re low on funds. What else is new? By the time I got home last night from “the drive that never ended” I had remaining in my wallet – 5 rupees. That’s about 10 cents. My driver came to drop off the car today and I asked him to take me to the bank. We hadn’t been home for 5 days and there wasn’t much in my kitchen.

This is what was in my house:
6 onions
3 tomatoes
some green chilies
(those 3 ingredients are the base for most curries)

I had lentils and rice in abundance – so I made that for lunch.

We had about 1/3 lb* of flour for making chapattis. We do have wheat that we send to get ground into flour, but I didn’t even have the 15 rupees or so to grind it.

O. won’t be back until Monday AM and probably with empty pockets as well and I was wondering if the other 7 people I feed in my house daily would mind living on lentils and rice for 2 full days.

Back to my tale. So, Nitin (driver) drops off the car and tells me his older brother is coming over to give back some money. I didn’t pay attention; I was just trying to get past my guilt of asking Nitin to drive me into town on his day off. I really wanted to go to the bank so I could get some vegetables to hold us over.

Long story short – the ATM wasn’t coughing up any money for me today. Oh dear.

Nitin** says, no problem, by brother is coming over today to give you that money we borrowed. I’ll go get him. A few minutes later there was the brother putting 5000 rupees*** in my hot little hands. Praise the Lord! God had provided that money for us before I even knew we needed it. So now we can buy veggies and eggs and grind our wheat and get poor E. a bag of chips that she was desperately desiring this morning.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; ... is not life more than food...? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matt. 6:25-27

*We generally have about 10 lbs of flour in the house
**This story is much more deep than this. Nitin is Hindu and has been witnessed to many times. All of this happened right in front of his eyes. He doesn't deny that it was the Lord who provided.

***This money is not technically ours and will go to its proper place in a few days once the ATM is feeling friendly towards me again.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Village Reading

It's a beautiful thing this blogging. Being able to write whatever I want. I mean, come on, you don't have to read it now do you.

However, I actually do pick and choose blog topics. Many an interesting or funny or whatever topic has gotten the ax while still in my brain. This usually occurs when the topic refers to something somewhat disgusting, although interesting or hysterical at the same time. I've considered starting another blog just for those topics that get nixed before making it to the computer. Well, you know, it's just a thought floating around in my head.

Anyway, here is my village reading list. The 5 books I am taking with me on my trip tomorrow. I CAN read in a car and so I generally take fiction for that, and then I'm sure to have many daylight hours of sitting around doing nothing to fill my head with knowledge.

(In no particular order)
1. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King
2. How To Teach English by Jeremy Harmer
3. Double Shot by Diane Mott Davidson
4. Black Rose by Nora Roberts
5. Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper

OK, the explainations:
1. The Self-Editing one. Well, I wrote a fiction manuscript, sent it to agents and was rejected. But in one of my "how to get published" books it said to take any advice that agents do give in their rejection letter. This book was recomended by one of the agents highest on my list, so I'm gonna read it. And that's that.
2. The Teaching English one. I found that on Amazon, hopefully it will help with my Conversational English class for the Bible Students. We'll see.
3. Double Shot. I really like Mott Davidson's main character, Goldie Schulz and I've read all the previous novels. I've been waiting for this one to finally come out in paperback* before I bought it. I just got it in the mail and I think I'll start it in the car tomorrow.
4. Black Rose. I like Nora Roberts and this is the 2nd in a trilogy. I read the first so I ordered the second. Likable characters, a little racey ( as my mother would say).
5. The John Piper book. I've heard A LOT about John Piper but I've never read even a single book of his. I'm looking forward to this one. It was sent to me from ladies at my home church and it came over with the team a few weeks ago.

I'll give you an update when I get back.

*I pretty much refuse to read books in hardcover. I love paperbacks and I actually prefer used books to new ones.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The One I Wanted

Remember last week when I wrote the post "My Sweet C." This is the picture I wanted to post.

She's just crazy about Peter Pan.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Village Life

From Monday to Friday of next week we’ll be away. We haven’t been to O’s family’s village in months because we were in the US. Next week, in Rajasthan, there is a program put on by the organization where O. and many of our co-workers grew up and so O. and many of our co-workers are going. I do not want to go.

However, everyone must drive through O.’s city to get where they are going and once we reach there they’ll leave our driver and vehicle with me and take a bus (probably) to the other city where they’re going.

Are you confused yet? Onward. Here were my choices.

Stay home with six kids and no vehicle for 5 days and while school is out for a holiday.

Go to O.’s village and stay there from Monday to Friday while O. and everyone else go to the other city.

Go with everyone to the other city but stay at one of our co-worker’s parent’s houses for one day while everyone else is at the conference.

#3 tempted me, but I’ve made the 8 hour drive from O.’s city to the other city before and it’s a nightmare. Roads, not good.

#1 also tempting. Everything is neat and clean here. Normal schedule. Computer access (BIG plus).

Yet, when I was put on the spot tonight and told I must make a decision I chose #2. I actually really like going to the village. I don’t like the 7 hour drive with 2 small children. I don’t like having to stay in the village without O. for 3 days. I don’t like the fact I’ll be there for 5 whole days.

This is what it’s like there. (the negatives)
No electricity.
Green skuzzy water pulled up from a well whenever you need water for anything
Rock climb to pee or poop, your behind is generally exposed to somebody since you’re outside. (We did build a bathroom but it’s across the dry riverbed from where we stay. When you gotta go…)
Bathing – well, we did finally build a room for that. Cold water.
No computer – (I’m hyperventilating.) no just kidding.
We’re ALWAYS dirty. You can’t help it. You live on dirt, sit in dirt…
Food is cooked over a clay stove with wood collected from here and there burning under it. So, you generally are always stuck with a “village” smell.
There’s this black greasy soot on the bottom of all the pots from the open fires, that once it gets on your hands, clothes, or anywhere else, well, just forget about getting it off

OK, good things.
I get to spend time with my in-laws who I really do like.
E. & C. get to spend time with their aunt and grandfather
I’ll have Phoebe and Markus with me, both of whom will help and I like
Lots and LOTS of time to read
Our sleeping arrangements will improve – I’m bringing a queen size air mattress with me
The city near to the village is Gorgeous and I just love it there
I’ll take the kids to the zoo one day
We will have a car and driver
O. will be back on Thursday and we’ll have an evangelistic meeting

Alrighty then, so, after Sunday, Oct 23, don’t expect any entries for a while.

*My posts have been coming up late recently because my internet service has been wacky.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Silver And Gold

I sent out one of my general emails yesterday and in it I said I’d write an entry for my blog about a woman who came by yesterday and who I got a chance to talk to about Jesus.

Yesterday was the second time she came to my house. The first time she was found near the train station by a woman whose son works in our ministry and she brought her to our house. The woman was obviously very poor, destitute and someone had given her the name of our ministry. That day I directed her to our offices down the road where the people (she had some names) she was looking for could be found. No one was there that day.

She had walked then and yesterday from the other side of the city in the hot son with her two year old son. When she came yesterday I knew everyone was at a large program at our school so I invited her in and called the pastor to my house. He was also involved in the program yesterday and could barely stay and talk with her. I had already put on some lunch for her and her son, so after the pastor left I sat down and got her story.

Her husband left her with four children ages 8 to 2. Three girls and then the 2 year old son. A man she called “Bhiyah” (brother), told her about Jesus and about our ministry. *

After our pastor left I was thinking about Peter and John at the gate in Jerusalem in Acts 3. (I like the KJV for this) “Silver and gold have I none but what I have give I thee.”** Peter said. I can’t give money (or even clothes and food items like I gave to the woman yesterday) to every destitute person who comes along. I can and will give them Jesus.

So I spoke to her about Jesus and she said Bhiyah told her about Him that that she had faith on Jesus and she’d never forget Him. I then explained about Jesus being a God who does not tolerate worship of other gods alongside of Him. She answered, “No I only have faith on Jesus, I’ll never forget Him.”

I left it for a while, went and brought her lunch, came back. Tried again ( Since Hindi is not my first language I generally repeat myself a few different ways to make sure I am clear, this is good for sharing the gospel.) This time I told her that, yes, we must have faith on Jesus but we must also confess our sins and leave our sinful ways. She said she had done that and that she “only has faith on Jesus, I’ll never forget Him.” Sound familiar, yeah, me too.

She promised to come to church today. She didn’t. She does live far and has 4 small children, but I had the impression even as she left that she had rehearsed her part. She sat for a while, not leaving, waiting for me to give her money, I didn’t, then she left.

* Have a look at the next entry called Poverty And Religion
* *Acts 3:6

Poverty And Religion

Here is where I take a moment aside to talk about the huge social issues in India. They are so great that they can actually distract from the ministry of reaching people for Christ. The abandoned and widowed women, the orphans or street children, the lepers, beggars… the list goes on and on. Poverty is the common denominator and you’d think that these people would be the easiest to reach for Jesus, think again.

Most of these people have been downtrodden so long that they are left with no – what’s a good word – shame? Here’s an example that I am taking from O. He worked in a leper colony for two years so he would know. Many lepers (not all) who profess Christ only profess when they are receiving something from Christians. They transform into Muslims or Hindus or whatever, according to the next wave of charity that comes through and who is sponsoring it.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Safely Home

I just finished reading a book that, frankly, exhausted me. As I write this entry to post, I can barely keep my eyes open my lids are so heavy. I feel a little dizzy, too. Yet, even as I started reading the book, I think I knew then that I would write an entry about it. The book is, Safely Home by Randy Alcorn. It’s a novel about the persecuted church, mainly in China but the scope of the book is much bigger than that.

One of the members of the team who came to visit last week gave this book to me as a gift. He was reading it at that time and it had been highly recommended to him. He considers himself “not a reader” but he devoured this book as no other in his life (to my knowledge - that was the impression I got from him). I, however, am a reader and I was interested to see what my thoughts on the book would be. Devouring books is what I do, it’s what I’m best at, always has been ever since 2nd grade.

This book is devour-able, although I would not consider it among the most devourable books I have ever read. I would consider this a MUST READ for every Christian AND non-Christian – especially us Americans.

More than anything else, this book draws you near to God’s own heart. His love for His children, especially those suffering for His name. Do you pray for them? The persecuted? Do you memorize scripture and hide it in your heart with the idea that one day, maybe it will no longer be available to you in written form?

I cried from page 359 onward. Sorrow. Joy. Pain. Compassion. It was all mixed together. If you lack a heavenly perspective - read this book. Even if you don’t, Read This Book.

I think my favorite part of Safely Home was the spiritual aspect that is clearly depicted in the novel. The world beyond our own that we so often ignore, forget about, pretend isn’t there. It is. And I’m sure glad about that.

Buy a copy for yourself and someone else – all proceeds go to the persecuted church. You can’t lose!

I highly highly recommend this book – even for non-readers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Update On Phoebe

She talks to me now.

Highlights Of The Past Week

I sent out a general email yesterday and then realized I forgot to mention some of the most important info from the past week. I just hate clogging up people’s mailboxes with continuous emails so I’ll write it here.

Last Monday five of our Bible Students were baptized. Praise the Lord. This came to mind last night (after I had already sent the email) when one of our church believers came by and said that he and 4 others wanted to be baptized. Again I say– Praise the Lord. His family and the others are coming out of a Hindu background and live as squatters in slum areas. God has been doing an amazing work in the lives of the first family that came to the Lord a few years ago and in the last year four more families have come to faith in Jesus Christ. And now they are asking to be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It just doesn’t get much better than that!

OK, back to last week: We had classes from 9AM to 1PM daily and occasionally in the evenings too. We were taught on “The Heart of a True Christian.” A book put together by the elders of my home church. There were also teachings on Servant Leadership, Paul, and the Sovereignty of God. All in all great teaching and the Lord moved in many hearts. Mine included.

Having teams here has gotten easier for me over the years. It was definitely more stressful five years ago. I enjoyed myself thoroughly this time and really was not at all stressed. It helped too, that I farmed out most of the cooking so that we were at a different person’s house for dinner and breakfast most days.

Now that the team is gone and the conference over, life should return to some kind of normalcy. Since we’ve returned from the US we’ve been in preparation for the conference and knowing we’d have guests here so there was always that – there – before us. Now that it’s over I hope to focus more deeply on the things that are important to me: ladies ministry, my writing, the Bible College. I’ll let you know how that goes.

What Do I Do Now?

I just found myself wandering around wondering what to do. This happens, I guess, after a time of intense busy-ness. I spent most of the morning washing mountains of dirty clothes and after four loads I’ve been forced to take a break because someone else asked to use the washing machine.

My house is a small disaster, I could spend quite a bit of time just cleaning everywhere but – oh so boring. I was supposed to teach English at the Bible College at 3PM today after a week’s hiatus but the students missed their music class at 2PM for some reason so they just moved that up and squished out English. O. made the decision, mainly because he wanted to spend some time with me, which is nice, but it did throw off the flow of my day.

So, now it is 4:20 and I’m not at all sure what to do – so I blog.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Where Am I?

I'm back. We dropped off the team a couple hours ago at the airport and now life will return to normal. Maybe. I guess. Lots of great stuff happening over here, but as I wrote before, I'm just too dang tired to write about it. So, I should be back in blogging full force in the next day or so, updating you on the weird, wacky and mundane soon enough.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

One Person's Trash...

There is a girl who collects garbage for a living. She used to come by where we used to live because all the garbage was thrown behind the house. She and another girl would walk the line with their collection bags and pick up whatever was useful to them.

I’ve seen her recently at my new house. Here we have a woman who comes everyday to collect the garbage as do all the other house owners/renters in our neighborhood. I often wonder what this girl finds around here. She knows me so sometimes she asks for food or sometimes a drink of water, sometimes money, today she asked for my garbage.

There was a medium-sized piece of cardboard on top of our garbage can today because we had installed some fans yesterday. She saw it and asked for it. I called her inside and told her take whatever she wanted from our trashcan. Here there are no trash bags to pack everything in, it’s all loose and mixed together in the can, but she just stuck her hand in there. She pulled out the cardboard, and some other boxes, old cans, plastic water bottles, every single plastic bag and chip’s packets, old razors, toothbrushes and other things too disgusting to write here. She’ll take them and sell them getting paid by weight for the plastic, cardboard and everything else.

What a way to make a living. I wonder if it feels like a treasure hunt to her. Probably not.