Saturday, May 31, 2008

Leaping Lizzards, Batman!

I sit at the table with Rebekah eating a sandwich. Nathan and Rachel are attending a youth gathering at a neighbor's house. Along the baseboard I notice a two-inch lizzard scurry over the floor. A shiver shoots down my spine; then I remember--this friendly member of the family eats mosquitoes. So I will leave him to carry out his business. This little gecko is nature's alternative to the Orkin man. Fine by me. As long as we each keep to our corners, things will be okey-dokey.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Rachel, Rekekah, and I walk to the store while Nathan works at the seminary. As we pass by the tent family at the end of the street, a lady squatting in the dirt smiles and yells, "Papua." She is saying "baby" in Tamil. She waves and Rebekah waves back.

Rebekah is very close to Indians she knows, but wary of strange Indians she passes on the street who try to reach out for her, pinch her cheeks, and hold her. Her caution is a good thing. While many friendly faces abound, the world is a dangerous place. In fact, India is the number one country for child slavery and trafficking. Since this is one of the focal points of my third book in the "Born for India" series, I am now engaged in research. Stay tuned for more about Chosen Ones.

In the meantime, get ready for Book Two, Restored Hearts. My editor wants the manuscript by the end of June. With my daughter's wedding the end of July, I may urge her to postpone that request until August. Will see what my schedule looks like when I return from India. I was able to read back through the manuscript while flying over and plan on doing the same on the return trip to the States.

Recap of Restored Hearts

Newly weds, Gavin and Maggie Munsfield, return to life and ministry in Chennai, India which is still reeling from the recent tsunami. Gavin's brother, Tim, joins them for the cleanup and rebuilding of the compound, but Tim's dark secret threatens to destroy his relationship with his brother . . . and a promising new love.

Monday, May 26, 2008

My Favorite Lake Photos Captured by Nathan

Men fishing with a net at the park.

Around the Lake and Over the Trail

After supper, Rachel, Rebekah, and Grandma Eileen take a walk around the lake. Rebekah enjoys stopping to examine a pebble or two along the way. Nathan enjoys snapping shots of the setting sun and Egretts standing in the marsh.

Bless This House

Slosh, swish. Slosh, swish.

I pull the curtain aside and peer out the window. An Indian woman across the street is pouring water from a bucket onto her cement slab in front of her house. She dumps, then sweeps using a short handle broom with long reeds. When her task is complete, another woman steps onto the slab with a small white bowl in her hand. She stoops and begins to apply a substance I can't quite make out onto the cement. Her motions are rthymic, methodical, ritualistic. Satisfied with the Hindu blessing she has given her home, she rises, opens the gate leading to her front door, and walks in.

Later, Rebekah and I play on the floor together inside her house. The box that housed her new car seat has now become her playhouse. Grandma draws block letters spelling out "JESUS" on the cardboard flap that graces the entrance of Rebekah's "house." We have invited the Lord to bless her house.

I am reminded of the Israelites who at God's command applied the blood of an unblemished lamb to the doorposts of their homes so that the death angel might pass over. I pray that the Hindu lady next door might come to know the true blessing that the Lord Jesus Christ brings to a home when the people within apply His blood to their lives. I hope that someday she will understand that with Jesus she can be safe. But with any other substitute, the blessing she thinks she is invoking on the house is really a curse. She is giving Satan an open door of opportunity to invade the premises and reek havoc over the lives within.

I am also reminded of Deuteronomy 6:9 which instructs parents to write the commands, decrees, and laws of the Lord on the doorposts of their homes so that the children can be reminded to obey Him and love Him with all their hearts.

And so, Grandma and Rebekah bless her playhouse.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Subia, a True Saint!

I talk to Subia after church. He is happy to see me again after a year and a half, but disappointed Sir Chuck is not with me. I am, too. It's only been four days, but I miss hubby somethin' ferious! Hopefully, I'll return home with a deeper commitment to our marriage than ever before. As they say, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." I tend to forget the little irritations that annoy me about him. Only the good qualities rise to the surface. If only I could tuck that bit of realization away for future reference, like when we are together again.

Subia's bright eyes shine as he talks to me. He is still the only convert in his Hindu family. We continue to pray for his wife, an architect, and his family that they will see his genuine faith and be moved by the Holy Spirit to receive Jesus as Savior. Subia is probably in his late 50's, but his faith is as fresh and real as a child's. In response to Pastor Nelson's sermon on faithfulness to the Lord, Subia tells me, "My Lord is loving me, even though I am a very naughty boy." He went on to say, "I was sitting this week and wondering how could I best show that I love the Lord; what would help me see that I truly do love Him. Then it came to me: Obedience. I must obey what He tells me."

Wow! Subia doesn't realize it--he is a humble man--but in two minutes, he has given me a sermon that speaks volumes!

Shell Shock

Rachel stands over a hot stove and dumps shell macaroni into a pot of boiling water. She is appeasing her mother's need for American food. She and Nathan eat very little pasta, but today she prepares one of my favorites--homemade tomato sauce over macaroni.

We peer into the pot and notice tiny black bugs floating on the surface. Rachel grabs a spoon and begins fishing the critters out. Reminds me of something Stephanie's fiance, Matt, shared with me once. He's an MK from Cambodia and knows about these things. :)

During first term, when a missionary finds insects in his food, he throws the food away. During second term, he picks the bugs out and eats the food. Third term, he eats whatever's in there!

"Okay . . . y . . . y," as Rebekah would say. "Whatever!" I'm here for the ride.

Actually, once I got past the shell shock, I thoroughly enjoyed my homemade sauce and pasta lovingly prepared by my daughter.

For God's Sake, REST!

I curl up on my cot and pull out one of the books Nathan ordered for me to bring over. I like the title, For God's Sake, REST! by James Anderson.

India isn't your typical vacation spot, but in some ways, I feel as though I had to come here to get some rest! Life is indeed richly full--classes to teach, books to write, wedding to plan. As fulfilling as all these activities are, sometimes I need to step off the speeding train and take a rest at the junction.

For God's Sake, REST! Discovering the Pleasure of His Rest, is a good reminder that God delights in the rest of His people. Rest is a gift from God and a gift I give back to God as a way to honor Him and show that I trust in Him.

God rested after creation, not because He was tired, but because he wanted to bring closure to His work. Part of that closure included reflection. His response: It is very good! Even at the end of each day of creation, He brought closure to His work by saying, It is good! "He had the power to cease His work. He controlled His work; His work did not control Him," says Anderson.

Anderson goes on to say, If my life is going to clearly reflect the image of God, I am going to have to learn how to rest. In American culture, and in many others as well, many of us live as though work is the only way to please God. We're constantly on the go and feel guilty when we are not. Part of living a holy life before God is learning to rest, for it is rest that actually increases our productivity for God.

I especially like this line by Anderson:

As parents and grandparents take pleasure in their sleeping children, so God takes pleasure in our rest.

I have only read a couple chapters, but this book looks to be one which will provoke new thought and consideration as I pull aside from my normal routine for a few weeks, and REST!

Mango Mama!

It's mango season in India! Since I've been looking forward to the fresh fruit, Nathan is eager for me to taste-test several varieties. Like a kid in a candy shop, his eyes grow wide when we hover over the mango bins at the corner grocery.

He explains that mango raspuri is juicy and sweet. Mango banguinpally has a firmer flesh. Mango alphonso is a popular export to the States. Some are small with greenish-yellow exterior, while others are large and either solid green or yellow. I'm looking for the ones I typically see in Kroger back home--you know, the red ones when ripe--but I do not see them. Nathan says that variety typically comes from Mexico.

Other varieties available include mango kesar, mallika, sindhuri, malgoa, and totapuri. I had no idea God was so creative when He fashioned this one fruit. Reminds me of Revelation 22:2 which says in the new earth the tree of life will bear twelve crops of fruit and yield its fruit every month. The leaves will be for the healing of the nations. I suspect this may be a fruit my eyes have never seen or lips tasted! Can't wait!

Later, after supper, Nathan calls to me from the kitchen. "Come and get your treat!" He has carefully chopped up three different types of mango and placed them in separate bowls. I taste each one. Hmm, tough decision. Which one do I like best? Mango alphonso, I think. The flesh is a deep orange color and pleasantly, but not overly, sweet. We carry the bowls to the table. Rachel has prepared homemade biscuits. We scoop some mango and pile it on top of our bread in shortcake fashion.

"Quite yummy!" I remark.

Rachel and Nathan seem pleased that Mango Mama has finally tasted the fresh fruit she's been waiting a year and a half to enjoy.

Koo, Koo for Coconut!

On the way home from grocery shopping, Nathan pulls the van over to the side of the road.

"Want some coconut water?" he asks, one foot inside the vehicle, the other anchored on the ground.

"Why not?" I reply. I remember our family trip to Madras in 1996 when it seemed like everytime we turned around someone was handing us a coconut. Just when we were growing weary of the drink, one Indian mentioned that the water helps form healthy bacteria in the intestines. From then on, I said, "Give me more!"

Nathan pulls out some rupees at the roadside stand (not exactly Sonic) and hands them to the Indian who stands behind the makeshift table piled with green coconuts. Another man behind him grabs a coconut. With a machete he lops off the top, punches a hole, and inserts a straw. He repeats the performance a second time. For 50 cents, Nathan and I have a refreshing drink. Yes, I actually like it, and so does Rebekah it appears. She sits in her car seat in the back begging for a taste.

Nathan tells me that the perfect blend of electrolytes in coconut water replenishes the body better than any sports drink. He routinely enjoys some after playing football (soccer) in the mornings with his youth group. However, he warns me not to drink more than two at a time. More than that can produce a laxative effect. Okay, I'll pass on that. Oops! No pun intended.

He also shares that coconut water is as close in composition to blood plasma as you can get. Apparently, doctors used it in IV's during WWII.

Well, all I can say is "Koo, koo for coconut!"

Mo-ped Mania

Va-room, va-room! I hear the downstairs neighbors rev up their motorcycles. I pull the curtain aside in my bedroom and watch them zoom down the road. I can't help but think of my CMA friends in Roanoke with their big, shiny machines. Monstrous in proportion to the scooters I see in Bangalore. Yet, this is a common mode of transportation for many. Often, in the midst of a busy street filled with buses, oxen, auto rikshaws, wagons, and cars, I see a saree-clad woman riding side sandal on the back of a mo-ped. How she hangs on is a wonder to me!

What a ministry my CMA brothers and sisters would have among these thousands of Indians who ride cycles every day!

Bangalore Baby

I walk down the street holding Rebekah's hand. We are on our way to the tiny park to swing. We pass garbage rotting in the sun, lazy dogs lounging in the street, and cattle grazing on tree leaves. Nineteen-month-old Rebekah simply says, "cow," and continues on her merry way. These are normal sights for my Bangalore grandbaby.

Once on the playground, I notice a small Hindu temple. The door is open and Indians line up for worship. In the foyer, three large bells dangle from ropes suspended from the ceiling. A worshipper rings the bell before entering the next room. Sometimes, he rings the bell on the way out, too.

On the way back home, an old man squatting in the dirt looks up, smiles and waves at Rebekah. She returns the gesture. Another neighbor dressed in a red saree comes out to greet her. She lives in a tattered, old tent at the end of the street, but you'd never know how destitute she is by the expression on her face. She is all smiles and hellos when she sees my red-headed, beaming chutki ("little one" in Hindi).

My Bangalore baby is a hit with the Indians who light up when they see her. And they are a hit with Rebekah, who feels perfectly comfortable with her Indian friends.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Up, Up and Away!

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. -Psalm 139:9-10

I kissed Chuck and Stephanie goodbye at Roanoke Municipal Airport on Wednesday evening. As I waved, I called, "Dubai" instead of "goodbye," since my flight plan included a layover in Saudi Arabia. Once in the Emirates, I stood in the middle of the airport feeling somewhat akin to Tom Hanks (Victor) in the movie, "Terminal." People of mostly Middle Eastern nationality with a few folks of Asian persuasion passed by on either side of me. For a brief moment, my head began to swim as it seemed I was the only American around. I felt like a kindergardner on her first day sent off to school with a name tag hanging around her neck. Only my tag was a passport pouch. At that moment, I was extremely relieved to know that Jesus had this little chutki by the hand and was walking her (in this case, flying her) all the way to Bangalore.

The Lord has special gifts in store for those who love Him. And sure enough, I located my gate and sat across from another lady who was alone. I struck up a conversation. Turned out she was a Christ-follower whose daughter was on a summer mission trip to South Africa to work in an AIDS clinic. How encouraged I felt when we parted!

God added another perk to my trip by giving me three seats instead of one to stretch out during the last leg of the trip.

This trip over has been the best I've ever taken, except that my sweetie is not with me. No problem getting Rebekah's new car seat through customs. All baggage arrived with me. Nathan's smiling face on the other side of the airport door was a welcome sight, indeed. Rachel and Rebekah were waiting for me at the top of their apartment steps when I arrived, even at 3:30 in the morning! Lots of hugs and kisses while the stray dogs which grace their door barked throughout the night. Guess they were glad to see me, too.

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...