Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
A Life Rebuilt
Spring of 2011, the church decided to do something about it. They made a God-sized plan to dismantle the building and reassemble it smaller and warmer. They made a list of materials. They noted that the building frame was loaded with more bricks and lumber than they would need which could be sold. But they still needed 4,000 dollars worth of materials. Thanks to
At the same time, a new assistance program called Food for Work was born at the CAMA services project center. The program targets unemployed men by offering work in exchange for food or other non-cash compensation. The idea being that if they are at work and don’t have cash, they won’t be as likely to dive into a drinking abuse cycle. While they enjoy the fruit of their labor in the form of a meal, they also hear hope for rebuilding their life from God’s word. “Man does not live on bread alone”.
July 6th, a Food for Work team joined a few locals to begin rebuilding the fence around
Under the demolished auditorium floor lived a family of dogs. Down the hall a homeless family squatted without the blessing of the church leaders. Settling down for a sleep would not have been easy had we not been so tired from the work. Drifting off to sleep there were thoughts of what other unwanted inhabitants might be haunting around. A screeching sound woke us from sleep in the middle of the night. What was that? Out into the hall I crept to find out. A howling cowering puppy cried in a corner of the dark hallway. He was more scared than I was, and bit ferociously when touched. It was at least a little less scary that what I might have imagined lived in such a forsaken place.
Soon the fence was finished, and the real work began. Demolishing the church building began by pulling down the exterior bricks and dismantling the roof tiles and frame. Then the floor boards were removed sorted and stored. Windows and doors were removed and stacked up and stored. Soon we were pulling down walls made of massive 2-inch rough sawn planks covered with lath and dried dirt. (Noticeably absent was any kind of insulation.) The ceilings were just as heavy built and covered with tons of dirt and coal ashes. They made terrific plumes of dust when the crashed to the ground. Lastly, the frame itself had to be dismantled. First we tried to pull it down with ropes, then pushing from the corners, then hitting with sledge hammer. Cheers went up when it finally fell.
At meal times, men who had never heard the good news of new life and forgiveness listened to God’s word. We sat in the shade and digested our food and discussed what was read. Among the workers hearing God’s word for the first time was a man named Happy. He had helped on a previous Food for Work project and proved both useful and faithful. He was especially pleasant to work with because he was so thankful to be out of Darhan, where his drunkenness demons seemed to have a stronger hold on him. Church leaders began to ask about him when he was gone. They prayed for and cared for him.
Soon the rubble of the old building was cleared and a new floor was built on the old foundation. Getting the new floor level was a big challenge. The Apostle Paul was right; it’s no fun building on another man’s foundation! But soon it was nailed down and wall erected, this time 6 inches wide stuffed full with wool, foam and fiberglass insulation.
The frame covered less than half of the old foundation footprint. And half of that became a parsonage with a special heating system to keep the church space warm all the time.
Church leaders decided on November 20th for the grand opening. The ladies worked away decorating and preparing. The Saturday before the big day teams spread out all over town inviting people to the party and sharing the good news. An old classmate of a leader had never heard the gospel before and prayed to receive Christ.
The Church building was packed with people the next day, and plenty warm. Songs were sung, speeches given testifying to God’s goodness, gifts of appreciation given and finally a group picture taken to commemorate the beginning of a new chapter for
As the crowd dispersed a mid-aged man holding a new bible nodded at me. Someone took his picture. Curious, I inquired to find it was the guy who received Christ yesterday.
Happy, the man who did so much good work on the building, still has a long road to recovery from alcohol. The last time I saw him at the
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The prisoners especially enjoyed the game “Healthy Heart”. Dr Pham divided the audience into two teams. The players took turns rolling dice to advance. Some squares were labeled, “you quit smoking, advance three spaces” Others were marked “heart surgery”, “eating too much grease”, with a ladder that slides you down a level or two.
My part was to demonstrate the other use of the heart, prayer from the heart. God says that we believe with our hearts in Romans 10:10. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Mongolians have the same idea that belief is a matter of the heart.
So we prayed the Father and Creator of Heaven would give them faith to believe in Jesus and join the family of God. After all, none of them has ever seen Mongolia’s founder Genghis Khan, yet they believe in him fervently, heart and soul.
The visit with the prison workers promising to invite us back soon. Amazingly that’s actually something to rejoice about! I think we were all encouraged, heart and soul.
Friday, October 07, 2011
Life in this country is hard. Scarcity, poverty, and the power of sin can drive a man to drink, even a woman. Lately, a lady collecting bills came to our door with what smelled like paint-thinner on her breath. A man from the heat company showed up on official business. When he talked and all I understood is what he drank for breakfast.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I guess we're about half done with the rebuild. Using old wood and nails from the previous building has been a bit tedious. Sometimes you have to start 5 nails to drive one. In the same way, you go through many workers from week to week. But eventually you end up with a set of folks that can bring about the finished product. But the church is not the building. We, God's people are.
So it says in 1 Peter 2;6 "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
This building was built 20 years ago, and came to us ten years ago. Since then it has deteriorated to be unusable. This area was a part of the sanctuary at one time. Even when it was usable it had a reputation of being reliably a few degrees colder than the winter weather cold outside!
Food for Work project #2 this summer began by rebuilding the broken down fences around the community of faith in Baruun Haraa, a small town about an hour south of Darhan. One of the books of the Bible we studied after mealtimes was Nehemiah. He was a man sent by God to rebuild a people ruined by rebellion. He began by getting them to work rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I began yesterday at a dentist appointment. It's been more than a week since I gave my eye-tooth there - had it pulled. It looked like there was no other option after trying many others to remedy an old root canal I had when I was 16. That procedure was long and involved, and if that's not bad, the doctor said afterward said it might give me some trouble since they didn't drill deep enough. It lasted 23 years.
Remembering that experience, I was braced for a pretty bad morning. The doctor said the only way to check for sure that the tooth next to the pulled one is really dead is to drill without novacaine. That sounded like a blast from the past so we tried it and it worked! No pain as he drillied about and inch or so up into the canal of my very front upper tooth. Then they have these neat rasps that they used to drag stuff out of the hole that goes nearly up to the bone. Am I being too dramatic?
The crecendo was when he got something green about the size of a mosquito out showed it to me and said: "That's your nerve" At one point he dropped an instrument or somehting which I tried to grab for him, and he noticed my hands were kind of clammy. "You don't need to be afraid", he reassured. The one bright spot was I didn't have to get an injection or wait for the numbing to come.
Next to that, haggling over building materials and running all over town to find them, and trying to keep things at Kama going seemed pretty easy.
Only problem now is that they infection that was still in the old tooth socket seems to be leaking out and making me a bit sick. He said this chronic infection can be cleared out by something he injected through the front tooth's newly opened canal. I'm hoping that works.
On top of that I would welcome prayers to get this long episode behind me.
I'd rather have the fun of a root canal anytime versus the systemic sickness that seems to be associated and sticking with me at least 6 months now. But thank God I'm still moving. This truly may have been too dramatic, once and for all there it is....