Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Singing in the Jeep

Things have been going very well in India. The students have been staying with the Indian students and sharing life together. The moments that come out of these relationships have been wonderful to see. From times in class together to singing songs at the top of their lungs in a jeep (this is a wonderful story) it has been amazing to see our students with the Indians and reach across cultural barriers to build friendships.

As for me, I am enjoying the trip. Each day is adventure filled with spicy foods, crowds of friendly people and endless possibilities for the future. For example, to get to this Internet cafe I road a motorcycle with one of the theology students.

The rest of the trip looks great. Please pray for the team and for the people we are serving as well as the future of our relationship with India. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

Blessings & Peace,

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tabor Team 3 Journey Begins

It is unusual to see 14 Tabor students so energetic at 4:30 am but here is proof that India changes people's perspective of what is important in life. You can see the excitement on their faces as they prepare to leave for an Interterm trip to India on this cold January 10, 2008 morning. The warmth they will find in India will be a welcome change.

The trip will take the team to Kansas City by van and then by air to Delhi, via Amsterdam. After a few days in Delhi where they will be hosted by the Mennonite Brethren Mission Service International team (MBMSI), with a side trip to the Taj Mahal, the team will fly to Hyderabad, spend a week at Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College (MBCBC) in Shamshabad, and then a week in Jadcherla and other cities south of Shamshabad where they will serve in rural and urban India MB churches.

Pray for Dr. Del Gray and Matt Cox as they lead the team and for the students as they learn and serve.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

India 2008 Planning Trip - Days 2 through 7

One learns quickly that while India may be a technology world leader, there is not ready access to the Internet in many parts of India, especially in rural areas like Shamshabad. Not only are there fewer computers available, but the monsoon season with its generous rains disrupts Internet service in places like MBCBC. Del and I did not have easy access to the Internet after we left Delhi so I have been able to post fewer posts than I had hoped to do. We are now back at Hillsboro, home of Tabor College, adjusting to the 10 1/2 hour difference between the two places.

The trip was inspiring and successful. We attended chapel at MBCBC on Thursday where Del gave a wonderful devotional on Jonah. In addition, we were given the traditional welcome with garlands.

Del and I sat in on classes where we heard lectures on worship and Hinduism.

In the afternoon we had a planning meeting with MBCBC leaders. The model for the trip in January 2008 we came to settle on includes one week at MBCBC and one week in Jadcherla or Mahabubnagar, two cities about an hour south of Shamshabad.

During the first week, Tabor students will sit in on classes at MBCBC in the morning and then go to villages to visit churches in the afternoon with MBCBC students. They will stay in the dormitories with MBCBC students.

During the second week, students will work with one of several churches in either Jadcherla or Mahabubnagar. They will work with the pastors during the week and stay with church members.

The church at Jadcherla is an impressive church with 500 members and a building under construction that will be one of the most beautiful churches one can imagine.

The church in Mahabubnagar is a growing church with about 2000 people who attend.

More about the rest of the trip in another posting. For now, I will close with this impression: anyone who goes on the trip in January will have a life-changing experience. One cannot help but be moved by the work of the church, the vibrancy of faith among the Mennonite Brethren Christians, the intriguing culture, and the warm friendships that will develop.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

India 2008 Planning Trip - Day 1

Our flight from Wichita, via Chicago, was uneventful. It is amazing to board a plane at 7:00 pm in Chicago and end up in Delhi 14 hours later with no stops. Del and I were fortunate to be given an exit row, which means no seats in front of you for 6 feet on a Boeing 777. As a result, the night travel was better for sleeping than is often the case.

We left in the evening and arrived in the evening of the next day. The 14 hour flight was 25 hours on the clock due to the time zone changes and the rotation of the earth. With only carry on luggage, we moved through customs with no delays and made it to the Duerkson's house in two hours. This was quite an accomplishment considering the amount of traffic on the roads during daytime hours, every type of vehicle imaginable inlcuding motorcycles, auto rickshaws, trucks, cows, bicycles, human pulled carts, and yes even cars.

Traffic was good since it was evening, but it still felt like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (Disney visitors will know about that ride). We had one interesting observation about the rules of the road. Our taxi driver became quite impatient with another taxi that would not move one foot to the left so he could squeeze by on the right. The rule seems to be that traffic on all two lane highways must make room for ar least three cars wide. Three lane highways must allow for four or five vehicles driving side by side.

In anger, the our taxi driver honked and honked to no avail. He finally passed the other taxi, cut in front of it, slowed down, and would not let the other taxi pass. The driver behind us tried to pass but our taxi driver swwerved back and forth blocking him. After keeping the taxi at bay for a mile or so, weaving from lane to lane, our taxi driver finally sped away as if to say, next time move over to make room for another vehicle, even if there is no lane.

We spend the evening chatting with Darren and Shanna discussing the work of the Delhi MBMSI church planting team. Tomorrow we are to meet with a short-term TREK group from Canada and will learn more fully of the work of MBMSI in India. We will then go to Old Delhi and talk with Darren about Tabor's vision to place students and lifelong learners in India. At 8:00 pm, we fly to Hyderabad and drive to Shamshabad where we will spend the night at the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College. MBCBC will be the base for our student trip in January 2008.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Return Trip To India Scheduled

The Carson Center for Mission, Service, and Global Education is sponsoring a trip to India in January, 2008. This three week trip will include opportunities to visit inspiring cultural sites in India including the Taj Mahal.

The primary purpose, however, is to give students an opportunity to see the Mennonite Brethren Indian church at work. Using the Mennonite Brethren Centenary Bible College in Shamshabad as a base, students will be involved in short internship opportunities working alongside Indian pastors and church related service workers. The experience can be taken for 3 hours of credit.

Dr. Lawrence Ressler and Dr. Del Gray will travel to India from July 30 to August 6 to prepare for the January 2008 trip. For more information about the January trip, email Dr. Del Gray at

Monday, April 9, 2007

Thoughts About India

I'm surrounded by this crazy beauty and hordes of people with eyes that are penetrating and hungry. As the Director of At Your Service community development organization said, "people are suffering...they need many salvations". I'm wordless, or unfortunately, it seems I'm rather wordy about my wordlessness. I'd just like to cry, but an occasional tear comes at specific sites and then the rest of them sit low on my chest, digesting, but there nonetheless.

We visited Chintachintakunta last Friday. And you will have to imagine the village oxen, huts, dirt paths, thatched shops. The MB church there - one of 890 MB churches in India - seated us in plastic chairs facing about a hundred Mennonites seated on the floor. Men on the right side of the altar, women on the left. One of the MB guides accompanying us looked to the side, and in English halfway apologized, "these are simple people, you see..." After placing garlands of Jasmine and Marigolds around our necks and distributing a boiled egg to each of us, they sang in Telegu. And people kept coming and the church kept filling and the little boy by my feet kept digging the heel of his hand into the drum.

After the singing and preaching and praying and well-wishing, we were off, running away in a Jeep to visit 4 more churches in surrounding villages. After the MB Bible College grad ceremony the following Sunday afternoon, four students met with the Mennonite leaders of their village - Chintachintakunta. The village leaders were ceremoniously placing a shawl/garment/robe (think Elijah - Elisha) around each graduate and blessing them to go back to the village and lead the church. In spite of everything - poverty, factions, power-struggles, confusion - there are 4 men with shawls around their shoulders who grew up in remote, remote villages who are now trained and committed to preaching and teaching for a long time. In Telegu. In the Chintachintakunta.

Remember the words of Mother Theresa:"Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart you will not be able to hear him saying ' I thirst' in the hearts of the poor. Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person - not just the idea. How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say ' I love you' ? Impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. If not, prayer is dead - meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each ot hear him speaking in the silence of your heart. The more we receive in silent prayer the more we can give in our active life. Silence gives us a new outlook on everything. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us. Jesus is waiting for us in the silence."

Your friends are close to you. Keep them that way. Your friends are close to you. Keep them that way.

Susan Kroeker

Friday, April 6, 2007

Village Churches

Friday, March 16, we were privileged to visit four Mennonite Brethren village churches surrounding Shamshabad, as well as the MB Junior College.

Each group welcomed us by placing garlands around our necks. Sitting on white plastic chairs, wearing beautiful garlands, we faced the congregation. Men sat on the floor to the left, women sat on the right and children were in front of them.

When we were asked to speak, it was hard to know what to say. Materially, we have so much while they have so little. Spiritually, they have so much. Words shared by Dr. Lawrence Ressler have been going through my mind since that evening.

He reminded the congregation of what we already know – that although we live in opposite sides of the world, we have a God who can see all of us, all of the time and loves each person equally and that together, we are one body of Christ.

We saw a beautiful body of Christ as we looked into these people’s faces, saw their sparkling eyes and heard their exuberant singing.