I awoke a little before 5:00 AM. I tried to sleep a little longer but eventually gave up and got up. I reviewed my sermon notes and updated my travel blog. I hope to get something posted before I return! Due to the lack of an internet connection at the hotel and the full schedule for the conference, I haven’t found time to go to the internet café (haha) down the street. I’m not sure they have been open the last two days. They were definitely closed on Wednesday for Diwali (the Hindu New year celebration). I’ve learned that many places close from two to five days for the holiday (They know how to observe holidays!)
Rhette and I ordered the cheese omelet once again with coffee. Today’s order was a little heavy on the green onions. In the present state of my digestive system I purposed to order the omelet without onion after this! O yes, today the toast was not buttered but they brought salt and pepper with our tray. I guess there are trade-offs! Every day holds surprises! We enjoyed our simple breakfast and got ready for an early start today.
We met Pastor JP in the lobby at 8:30 and made our way to the conference grounds. They were already singing when we arrived. We entered into the worship service for a few minutes when Pastor JP asked if we wanted tea. It has become somewhat of a ritual already. We have to have tea before each service! They serve us their traditional masala (or spice) tea. It is very tasty and hot. It is served in a small cup (about 3-4 ounces).
In the first session Pastor Anil (local pastor in Anand) preached in Gujarati. I have no idea what he preached, but it sounded good! I used the time to review my notes and the scriptures. We had a break between sessions and had more tea.
The next session began at 11:00 AM and after a time of worship I was called on to teach. I continued the doctrinal study from Ephesians 4:5-6. Today I emphasized the oneness of God and preached the message, “What is Jesus to you?” There was a decent response and people seem to be warming up to my ministry and adjusting to the conference environment.
After the session, they again brought food to us prepared on the grounds. It was a good variation from our previous dishes. They had grilled chicken, very tasty, and white rice, roti (the wheat tortillas), masala (very spicy), and a raw cabbage salad for us to try. While it was easily my favorite dish of the week, I have been battling indigestion and stomach problems from the spices of our new food. So, I ate cautiously and tried to avoid the masala (which means spices).
When we had finished with lunch and visited awhile with some of the leadership, we returned to the hotel to rest for the evening service. I laid down for a nap, but about the time I dozed off, the power went off and the A/C quit. The room was cool enough but without the noise of the fan I could more easily hear the honking of traffic, the occasional explosion of firecrackers and celebratory bombs, and the noise of people on the streets below. After a few minutes I decided to get up and work on my notes for the evening service. Rhette was reading a book he brought with him. He decided to stay awake this afternoon and try to get more accustomed to the time so he could sleep better tonight.
We met Pastor JP in the lobby about 5:45 and returned to the conference center. Again, we had tea as the service began. Each service has begun to build in excitement and participation. Tonight Pastor JP sang one of their traditional songs (I believe he wrote it) adapting a Gujarati dance beat. The people responded and they danced around the front of the stage area. They seem to really enjoy these times!
Tonight I preached on a series I’m using in the evening sessions, The Ministry of Jesus, from Luke 4:18-19. I emphasized the themes of being “led of the Spirit” and the preaching of the Gospel. There was a wonderful response to the Word and many came forward for prayer.
As I prayed for a few people, especially some children, I began to feel stomach cramps and a little sick. I walked outside the tent for a few minutes and reached the conclusion that I had to get back to the hotel. Pastor JP was singing with the praise singers and I was worried that it might go on awhile. As soon as they concluded, I asked if we might come back to the hotel and explained my problem. He graciously consented to bring us back and he returned to the grounds to visit with everyone. I took some Tums and the indigestion seemed to pass. We considered ordering some food from room service (another omelet?), but then decided to wait until morning to eat. Maybe giving my stomach a rest from any food will help! I called home and talked to my wife. It was good to talk without worrying about the money. By using the local SIM card (from Blessing) in Rhette’s phone it is very inexpensive to call the States. Gayla was getting around to go into the office. She got home from Bakersfield last night and was planning to be back to work today. She had a couple of voice lessons scheduled with students.
I considered looking over my notes for tomorrow, but being tired after a long day, I gave into the temptation to go to bed early. Rhette beat me to sleep. I think he must be exhausted from the jet lag and was asleep before I got off the phone. I went to bed before 10:00 PM.