in nepal

Nepal is mostly a land of hills, but surprisingly, there is a large portion of it that is hot lowland next to the Indian border.  The population is around 26,000,000, and it has been one of the most closed non-Islamic countries to the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They have been the only officially Hindu country in the world.  You can be a Christian, but you cannot proselytize, and of course you cannot have a church or do anything Christian openly.  The Seventh-day Adventist church has had an unofficial presence here for 50 years or so, all thru the auspices of a hospital in the capital.  However, the hospital has been kept from spreading the gospel both by the govt. and by employees who were afraid of ruining the medical work here.  So while not much has been done for the people’s souls, there were around 1,000 SDA members when the current SDA mission president was elected 7 years ago.  Now there are 6,000 SDAs, praise God!  And the most exciting thing, is that just this summer the people of Nepal overthrew their king, and are on the road to make a new country based on secular standards.  That means the Three Angels’ Messages can be spread openly thruout the country!  And this wave has spread to Bhutan, perhaps the most closed country in all the world, where the king has promised democractic reforms by year 2008.  God is working mightily to open up the whole Himalayan region, and now we need to be faithful in fulfilling our duty to bring those in darkness to truth.

While not even being considered until about 40 hours before actually landing in this country, my trip to Nepal turned out to be the most exciting from the standpoint of opportunities and vision to spread the gospel, and is also the country where i was treated more royally than any other in all my travels.

in uae

Everybody raise your hands if you know where Sharjah is? No one? OK, raise your hands if you know WHAT Sharjah is. hmmmmm.

I can’t recall the first time i heard about this city/Emirate, next to Dubai which makes up part of the United Arab Emirates, but can remember the first time it really hit my consciousness – when i was in an airport, and the “Flying Today” or something like that magazine trumpeted Sharjah on its cover, calling it the “up and coming destination”. The first airport where i saw that destination mentioned was either Bangkok or Colombo, and distinctly remember a long queue at the Air Arabia counter at Colombo around 1am when i was checking in for my flight on Air Sahara to Chennai.

in turkey 2006 – ii

After paying 15euro for my visa, i line up with everyone else, waiting for the customs inspection.  It is cold and rainy, but fortunately we are mostly under a tin roof, so by stamping the feet once in a while, and perceiving warmth from the multitude of fires lit on the end of tobacco sticks, the 40 minute wait slowly whiles away.  An old lady tries to walk by the young customs men, and they get ugly with her.  She turns back, unintentionally banging one hard with her umbrella – ha!  When she tires of waiting again in a few minutes, they let her proceed to the other side.  That is one thing i despise – no set rules to follow.  Because of this, the ones who push and shove and scream the loudest know that eventually they will get what they want, so the whole country becomes that way – yucko.  After the head inspector returns from the bus with 2 bottles of found vodka, the young men speed search everybody’s stuff, going thru my suitcase in less than 5 seconds.

That border is the first time in my life when i have physically stepped across 2 time zones.  It was around 6:30 when i finally got past the Georgian border house, but the next clock i saw on the Turkish immigration wall showed 4:30.  It seemed very strange to already be so dark, and only 4:30pm.  The scenes in the towns as we pass in the dark was more back to what i can call “normal” – 5-8 story apt. buildings, with lit up stores selling all manner of goods, with street lights etc.  In the 3 countries i just came from, each capital city is like that, but nothing approaching that kind of lifestyle exists in the countryside.  We roll on.

in the caucasus

Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan – three countries that don’t get much respect.  Two days ago in a grade-school classroom in Malaysia, a map of the world showing each country’s flag had these 3 countries all lumped under the title “Georgia” with only the Georgian flag displayed.  Sure hope that doesn’t cause some war somewhere!

The greatest thing about going to this region was in seeing the willingness of the top leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist church in each country look with favor on this 1858 Great Controversy translation and printing project.  In two of the countries the book will be/has been translated by the head of the mission their, and in one country the mission board officially voted to pursue this project.  So from not seeing much of a need to go there until already in Europe in July, to leaving this area on November 14th after staying over one month, many things happened to show me that yes, God definitely had a hand in directing my feet this direction.

Entering Georgia by bus was the worst experience i’ve ever had in crossing a country border.  First, everyone got out about 1km from the gate, and a truck came which unloaded all the cloth bot in Turkey, being imported into Georgia.  Then they put us back on, and we got out at passport control.  Being a bus full of Georgians, there was very little in the way of lining up nicely, with most of the people pushing and shoving to cram their passports to the seemingly mindless agents accepting any one within an easy reach.  I get a bit worried as the young man who was friendly to me on the bus is told he cannot get an exit stamp from Turkey.  He tells me that there is only around 5 months left on his passport, explaining the disappointment.  After getting stamped, i walk in the general direction of where most people seem to be going (noticeable by the arising cloud of smoke – ha!), and after waiting a few minutes at a little slat of a window, i see someone puffing away in a dingy office lit by one dim lightbulb, and a computer screen.  Well, at least they have computers here 🙂  Soon i am on the other side, in Georgia.

would’ve been 80

Dad would have been 80 years old this December 2nd. 

In November i was thinking a lot about this, and especially about the circumstances leading up to me being at the right place at the right time.

When i left for Japan in 1989, dad was quite sad, and not entirely in favor of it.  He said that i would probably marry a Japanese, and never come back.  No need to worry dad! (- 0)  He always had a hard time with goodbyes, and being so happy to finally get all his children back in Tennessee just a short while before, he was not so pleased with losing one, especially to some far-off country.

He and mom and a niece came to visit me in Japan around the time of the Osaka Flower Exhibition in 1990, and i remember mostly that he didn’t appreciate bicyclists on the sidewalks, and the wonder and amazement that he was standing in the exact spot where an atomic bomb had obliterated a city 45 years earlier.

in greece

Having called my Kenyan-born friend’s friend a few days before arrival, and having his home and cell number, i don’t expect much problem reaching him.  His work ends at 11pm, and my plane lands at 11:30, so the timing should be just right – wrong.  I call several times, even cautiously ringing the house once, hoping i’m not waking up the family, but get no answer. 

A 50-something year old tout latches onto me after the bus lets us out at Syntagma square, the main square in Athens.  He asks “ladies?”  I tell him “No, hotel or internet cafe”.  He points down the street, tells me a name, and then points up the street to a internet cafe, then, while walking with me, asks me to buy him a pack of cigarretes.  “They only cost 4 or 5 euros”.  What a joke, i respond by giving him a one euro coin for his 20 seconds of trouble, and when he spits out “Stingy” after me, i almost turn back to ask him to return it if he doesn’t want it, but just ignore him, and walk up to the internet cafe.  The lady in Malaysia is pleading for the cover artwork for the book to be printed soon, but no one here has a usb port, so i am out of luck.

in switzerland

The afternoon of September 6 finds my train pulling into a nice old station near a lake.  There was no passport check or anything, but now you’re in Switzerland.  There are people biking and walking and sailing all over, and the general feeling is very relaxing.  One train change places me on a packed express bound for Zurich.  The beautiful green countryside in the late afternoon sun with the cows grazing peacefully pleases the eyes and provides a pleasant contrast, if it can be called that, with the high-tech life that makes up city life in Zurich.

The friend who is to meet me is someone who posted a few times on my earlysda forum.  It was not even in my mind to come to Switzerland when first planning this trip to Europe, and only the last week or so in India did it occur to me that if i was in Germany already, that perhaps it would be worthwhile to meet this man who said he has Greek friends who may be able to help get this gc book into that language.  I don’t have any clue to what he looks like, or his spiritual condition, except that he is Kenyan-born.

in italy

This is the absolutest shortest stay ever in any country.  From the time i am picked up at the train station in Como, to the time i am let out at the Malpenza airport (Milan), only around 22 hours elapse.

Italian weather is very pleasant, and the atmosphere of the people etc. is basically like i remember it – friendly, boisterous, unmindful of rules etc.  The family greets me at the train station and we go to their apt. in a small town.  But the towns here all seem to run together, and it is cool to go down streets obviously made for a different era, and make our way thru the organized chaos.  There is someone selling fruit by the case from the back of his pickup truck, and we get 16 pears for 3euros, 5kg grapes for 4euros, 16 huge sweet yellow peppers for 4euros etc. etc.  Nice!

one year on

October 24th, 2006, marked the one year anniversary of becoming homeless to spread the book titled “The Great Controversy Between Christ and His Angels, and Satan and His Angels”, originally printed in 1858.  It is a time to reflect on what has/hasn’t been accomplished in the last year, and hopefully by looking on the past, renewed confidence and hope will encourage myself and perhaps others to work energetically in spreading this most important book in the world after the Bible.

Accomplishments related to everything with this work of spreading the 1858GC, including coming and meeting personally with people to push forward this book will be listed by country travelled to during this year.  Many of the things listed were done by other people, such as selling the books, but all work done in the last year by everyone is listed.  17 countries were personally entered in the last year, with sometimes multiple languages worked on.

Philippines: Tagalog translated and 5,000 printed; Ilocano translated and 5,000 printed; English 2,000 printed.  Receipts of sales of books over 2,000usd; Tausug translation 1/4 completed, no current information.

mistakes in the bible?

This experience happened at a campmeeting held in Germany August 6-13 2006.  Because it involves leader-type figures in Seventh-day Adventism, real names have been used so readers of this can be responsibly informed.

David Kang of Light to Live Ministries, and John Davis of Orion Publishing both believe that there are mistakes in the Bible.

While having supper with Brother Kang one evening, i introduced the 1858 Great Controversy book, and showed him a few things after he had asked why i was promoting it.  I told him i believed all the words in it are from God, and showed him one place in chapter 30 where it says what the apostles wrote in the Bible was: “dictated by the Holy Ghost”.  He smiled and said something like: “of course we don’t believe the Bible was dictated do we?”, and when i answered that some, including myself, DO believe that way, he got very serious and said that i was going against the Spirit of Prophecy, and that he would bring me a quote showing that belief was false. 

He said: “Do you believe Paul was inspired when he asked someone to bring his coat?”  I replied in the affirmative.  He continued: “We know that there are some minor mistakes in the Bible.  For example, one writer says Mary Magdalene ran first to the tomb, while others don’t.  Some of the numbers given don’t match up.  And one writer even attributes a quote to Jeremiah when we know it was actually in Isaiah!  Do you believe the Holy Spirit dictated a mistake?”  I replied that “the Holy Spirit doesn’t contradict himself, and that we, being 2,000 years removed, may not know exactly the details of why that was given that way.  Just as with Paul’s coat, that exact phrase that the Holy Spirit had Paul write may have been just the thing to convince some doubter living at that time of the authenticity of that letter that it was indeed from Paul.”

in germany

The autobahn in Germany isn’t what i had imagined all those years when that Kraftwerk song filled my mind with an inane rhythm.  It just looks like an interstate in America, except that interstates have a pretty, grassy median separating traffic.  Most everybody seemed to be going around 120 – 140km/hour with the fastest being just when we entered from Holland with two Holland-plate cars seemingly chasing each other at around 200km.  That is fast.  The flatness of Holland gives way to gently rolling hills, and then more undulating countryside.  It was surprising to see so much greenery in Germany, with lots of cornfields providing a gentle covering, pleasing the eyes.

After being shocked at knowing that the toilets along the autobahn are the same as the ones in Cambodia (grass and trees and fences), ((later told that this is not common in Germany)), we make it to the campmeeting held at a youth hostel in Rohn.  After helping my ride friends set up their huge orange tent in the rain, i head for the main building where a room has been graciously provided – nice!  There are 3 bunk beds, with an elderly man in one, a young man in another, and then me.  This arrangement lasted from Sunday to Friday, when there were several South Americans who joined us.  The two roommates are nice, but i can only communicate with the older one by gestures.

in holland

The ferry taking me to Holland is said to be the largest hydrofoil-style ship in the world.  It was comfortable, and i learned one important thing while on it.  In the section of seats where i was, there was a TV screen placed up and in front for all 40 or so people who could sit there.  I was reading the Japanese 1858 Great Controversy, but my eyes kept wandering upwards to the screen.  Amazing how much power the moving picture has over the mind.  It reminded me that sometimes even when you can see the live thing happening in front of you, the screen sometimes holds more attraction.  Probably it is because the pictures change frequently and quickly, always making one look forward to what will be displayed next. 

Why was this of interest to me? – Because it made me more determined than ever to put the Great Controversy book to an animated movie.  If even i want to look up at moving pictures of worthless things rather than keep my eyes focused on the printed page (and right now while i type this the scenery is moving by quickly while on a train in Germany, so i’m not concentrating wholly on the typing!), then i know for sure that other people who don’t even realize the value of these words from God would rather have some moving picture to keep their attention.  Lord, please give me wisdom in how to move forward in this project.  It is really too big for me, but then all of life is.  But with your Holy Spirit working on my heart, if i humble myself to be directed, i can become omnipotent!  Wow!

in england

I’ve never flown over Iran and some of those other countries before, so looking down from the airplane window was quite moving.  I was led to pray several times for the Christians that may be down there now, or that will be in the end times.  A few weeks earlier i had read about some noble woman in Pakistan who had accepted Christ in the 1960s, and her hardships and trials.  No doubt it would be even more difficult today.  How are we going to get the 3 Angels’ Messages to them?  Don’t they have a right to have a chance too?  If i was born and raised on the ground directly under this airplane, how would i ever even get the chance to hear the truth?  Many thots to crowd the mind…..

The scenery is just brown desert stretching in all directions, with a few low mountains here and there.   Seeing Mt. Ararat just like it was shown in the National Geographic magazine was cool.  It is beautiful, with a crown of snow even in the middle of July.  After crossing the Black Sea, the scenery changed from the rocky brown seen earlier (after the sandy brown of western Pakistan and then most of Iran), to a green that got darker and darker as we travelled over Europe.  It was interesting that anywhere you could see a little dab of lighter brown, or of green before, there would for sure be a village or town.  But now there was just greenery everywhere, and it looked like the people don’t live so recognizably solely in a village or town with others.

This was my first time flying in the daytime into England, and the lovely green and the very carefully deliniated boundary lines, usually with green bushes or trees, was interesting.  The streets and towns all looked to be carefully laid out and well-ordered.

in india 2006 – iii

My computer that i burned up in Burma, then got fixed in Bangkok, is on the fritz again.  Once in a while it will boot up when pressing down hard on the area between the touch pad and space bar.  It seems to be directly over the hard drive, so i’m thinking it’s some kind of problem with the connection to it.  On the internet i see where there is a Toshiba repair shop here in Pune so happily take it there.  The man runs the disk check program and looks at a few things, then says that this is an Asian-made computer, so he can’t fix it.  Hey man, tell me that at the first alright?  I do appreciate your trying to fix it for me tho 🙂

I go to the Marathi church on Spicer campus, and am allowed to give about an 8 minute testimony about the work i’m doing in spreading the 1858 Great Controversy.  The people seem genuinely interested.  There was a special appreciation ceremony for a student from Kenya who sold more Marathi SDA literature last year than anyone.  The main sermon was by the Literature Evangelism Director calling for more people to enter the LE work!  I was amazed how God worked it all out, for me to be there on just that day when everyone’s minds were directed to the LE work already, and that i could play a small part in it.  Thank you Lord.

I spend a few days with a family near the Union headquarters.  It is lots of fun to play with the kids, and i get quite lonely for Japan at nite when everyone has gone to bed.  The father’s belief on just about everything is the same as mine, and we have deep, interesting talks about the 3 Angels’ Messages etc.  He has had quite a hard time from his SDA brethren, but he still goes to church and works with and for them.  At the Salisbury Memorial Church i have the opportunity to give a 15 minute talk during the mission report time on Sabbath morning.  I give my talk, ending with the train story from chapter 30 of the 1858GC.  The people seem quite interested. 

in india 2006 – ii

After nearly two months in this country, you think i’d have put up a detailed account of my experiences on this blog by now, right?  Accha (OK).

Landing at Chennai airport at 5:30am on April 25, it was a slightly pink sky that greeted me back to India after an 8 year absence.  I couldn’t believe the customs people didn’t want to go thru all my stuff, even thinking the guy waving me on must be looking for a bribe, but of course i don’t offer, and he still waves me thru anyway.  Whoa!  Maybe India HAS really changed in the last 8 years.  The airport is dumpier than probably any city’s with over 100,000 people in advanced countries, but we are in the 4th largest city in this country, with over 6,000,000 inhabitants.  The Thomas Cook exchange counter has bad rates, so i exchange the smallest thing i can find – a 1,000thb (baht) note.  I’ve been carrying 70Rs with me in Japan these last 8 years, and now i can finally put them to use!  Interesting how each country has its own dead leaders or poets or buildings that they like to call money….

Stepping out of the airport brought it all back to me – this is India!  Honking horns, nasty smells, people calling out to you to take you somewhere etc. etc.  I’ve been told that the train station is around 400m away, so head out in a likely direction.  After asking directions a few times, i see across the road on the other side of the thatch shanties, a station.  The man refuses my 10Rs (45Rupee=$1) note that i’ve been carefully saving for the last 8 years.  It is torn and is taped back together.  unnnnnn  I think i remember that’s why i took it back to Japan, because no one here would take it last time – ha!