Hey everyone...or who ever reads these blog posts :)
So the new year has come! This holiday season flew by SO FAST! I'm sure it did for some of you as well. I spent Christmas in a different state near the border of Burma. It was really amazing and totally different but also in some ways the same.
The people of Mizoram are 98% Christian! Crazy RIGHT! More like amazing! A hundred years ago or so two m's from America (or England I'm not sure) came to the state and brought the word of Life. As a whole the massive tribe decided this was true and they would from then on leave their animistic beliefs (worship of ancestors and fear of the spirit world) behind them.
Well now it's been a few generations and as a whole the state knows about Christ. Now just like America and many Western countries that doesn't necessarily mean they have a relationship with Christ....the term nominal ism comes to mind. The culture there was not like India at ALL! They are so much more peaceful and generally happy people. They speak a different language too! But India had over 100 or so different spoken languages so that's not too much of a shock. The language spoken in Mizoram is Mizo. Before the M's came to their state they didn't have a script or education. They were hunter gatherer people. They live in quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I have EVER seen. The people look so different from most Indians too. They look Thai or Vietnamese. They also eat BEEF! :) YES that's right they eat cows! Healthy cows that are fed grain and grass! Here in my city they don't eat cows and cows wonder down the street and people leave food out for them but the cows also eat garbage (just like the street dogs). It's pretty gross here to see cows but cows there.....look so healthy! It reminded me of the cattle in Oklahoma and Texas.
Any how back to the trip. I spent Christmas with my friend Mai and her family. It was such a great trip. Getting to know a different side of this country was really great. They're way of life is very western but still South Asian. Christmas was a lot similar to America except everything was said, read and sung in Mizo. It gave me a lot of time to look around and pray for the people I was seeing when I had no idea what exactly they were saying. During Christmas service though it wasn't too hard to imagine what was being said and some of their Christmas songs are just like ares but different words. It was really neat. I was blessed to get to invest in and encourage my dear friend Mai. I was worried about her possibly wavering in her faith once she moved back to a mostly nominal society. Well I guess worried is not the right word but I was praying for her a lot for strength and many great personal encounters with her Savior.
Once we had time to chat and get beyond the surface level of our girl instincts ( to SHOP, SHOP, SHOP and chit-chat) we had some really great times of encouraging each other. From meeting some of her old high school friends it was so clear that our worlds really are not that different in our hometowns. Even though she lives in a big city everyone knows everyone else. Their sense of community reminded me a lot of Half Moon Bay in some ways. Her friends are not really followers of Christ (they have grown up in a Christian culture but that's about as deep as they possibly go) so that leaves her a little alienated when she's not with her family. It was really neat to be able to relate to that and really know a lot of how she possibly feels. The plus side is she's been hanging out with some people that really do love Christ and serve him each day. It reminded me of iron sharpening iron from Proverbs.
Please continue to lift up Mai as she helps her mom who is sick but they dont know with what. He mom's illness was the reason Mai moved back. Please be lifting up her mom she's a really sweet and amazing woman! Also be praying for her sister. Her sister and I became good friends too. I can't wait for them to come visit their aunt in my city so we can hang out and encourage one another. Her dad was a fun dude too. Her dad, sister and I went on a hike with him in the mountains so I could take in the fresh Mizo air and see an actually blue sky. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL! God's creation just puts me in a state of awe some times!
Well there are tons and tons of stories from Mizoram but so much has gone on lately that I need to move to the next topic :)
Once I returned from Mizoram I had a half a day to sleep and then got right back on the work horse. We've had A TON of meetings lately. With the New Year coming and the budget crisis and new goals needing to be set my team has been crazy busy. Oh....I guess crisis isn't the right word....I mean there's a little stress over it but all the people I've talked to heard from are actually pretty peaceful about it and know the Lord's hand with continue to bless the work going on here and a little cash flow issue isn't going to hold our Lord back AT ALL.
So in between meetings I've been traveling a lot this month. I've been to my friend Bhavna's village a few hours away. It was really fun. Her sister just had a baby, I became friends with her family a few days before her sisters wedding. Her sister got married almost a year ago when I was still living in a little village outside the mega city. Well since meeting her family they've been a main aspect of my personal ministry. So when her sister had the baby she was taken MANY hours away to a TRUE village. Where I stayed was more like a urban slum that is slightly rural but not really. A true village is rural as rural gets and India at one of it's bests. So I spent a day with Bhavna's siblings and herself in a different state.
On the 1st my Byaa (brother) from the village got engaged. His name is Aakosh. So with 12 other people we crammed into a 9 seater car and drove 10 hours into who knows where. We were going to Byaa's fiance's family's house for the official engagement. It was so amazing to see a Christian engagement and for it be my Byaa's. He's really just as special to me as my brothers in America, the only difference is he's really kind to me :) He's really been a great friend to have here, you see in this culture girls and guys ARE NOT FRIENDS because it's not appropriate. So since he's been my brother it's acceptable.
His friendship reminds me of how my cousin Andre and I are friends. You see since coming here my cousin has become engaged and will be married this summer and I wont be able to attend because of visa stuff, money stuff and vacation time. So being here for Byaa's is in a way like being at my cousin's. It makes not being there to see Andre marry his Heidi a little easier.
Well you may wonder why an engagement is such a big deal but in South Asia you're just as good as married once the engagement service takes place. Rings are exchanged, prayers of blessings are given, and they couple is officially allowed to talk to one another leading up to the wedding.
(This is only one way engagements happen here there are tons of different ways people go about it here but most of the ways it's done is way different than America). It's a very special moment for both families to be involved in.
So going to meet Sumon (Byaa's fiance was nice) she's a great woman of God that will love Byaa and they'll serve God together. Please be praying for them as there are some less than ideal issues surrounding their engagement. It's an arranged marriage and a complication or two has been around for a few months. Please pray for there two young believers as they seek to be married and bring two families to be one.