Posted by: nemerson | August 16, 2013

Last stop…Lithuania!

Yes, we arrived in Lithuania last Saturday as planned.  Our time in Thailand was truly a joy.  It was such a blessing for us to be with our missionary friends Jeff and Mervil Kowatch and learn first-hand about being on the mission field.  They have been in Thailand just over 2 years and honestly shared with us their struggles, heartaches and joys.  I took a LOT of notes!  Most of all, it was so comforting to be living with people who spoke English and knew what kind of food we liked–and cooked it for us!   Church in Thailand was awesome because their church is an international church.  The words for the songs were on screen in both Thai and English, and the sermon was translated into English for us via headsets–very cool.  🙂

IMG_3959 On Monday, we celebrated Grace’s 12th birthday with ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.  Grace’s choice for birthday fun was ziplining through the rainforest.  It was truly beautiful and amazing!  What a different perspective to see the world from the top of an enormous tree that is like nothing you’ve ever seen before, God’s creativity sprawled out before you…  The zipline park was next door to a zoo which we visited after we were finished zipping.  They allowed and encouraged hand feeding of all the animals–deer, hippos, rhinos, elephants, giraffe.  Grace LOVED it!  It was a perfect birthday celebration!

On Wednesday, we went with another American missionary, Bekah, to an after-school program for kids in Ayutthaya.  They had tables set up for the kids to go to whichever activity they wanted to.  We played some simple games in English (Boggle, Spot It) and just hung out with the kids.  This was Bekah’s first time going to this event, but she hopes to continue volunteering there and building relationships with the children, staff and other volunteers so that she can eventually share the gospel with them.  The Thai people are predominantly Buddhist–in fact, they even have a different calendar than the rest of the world based on the birth of Buddha instead of Christ.  They are very happy with their religion.  Many of them actually know about the good news of Jesus but prefer Buddha’s teachings and lifestyle.  It is a difficult mission field.

IMG_4064On Thursday, Grace and worked on filling up packets of Christian literature (in Thai, of course!  very few people in Ayutthaya speak English).  Each packet had a Gospel of John, some tracts for kids and adults, some candy, and invitations to the church, the movie “The Hope” and a new English game night starting in September.  We stuffed about 200 packets and then delivered them around the neighborhood on Friday morning.  Please pray with us that many will read the information we delivered and choose to follow Christ–or at least be interested enough to come to see the movie or join in the English game nights!

We spent our final afternoon visiting the sights in the center of Ayutthaya–by elephant!  There are many temple ruins there, though much of the area was damaged last year during the flood.  It was completely under water for more than a month.  Yikes!  Grace also needed one more swim in the pool down the street–what a blessing to have that pool so close and open every day for our swimming enjoyment!

IMG_4228We arrived in Lithuania on Satuday evening, Aug. 10, and we are now officially sick and tired of flying!  Our time in Lithuania is simply to show Grace’s paternal birth grandmother, Victoria, how much we love her.  We are relaxing and taking in the sights.   Lithuania is very much like Maine, and the weather has been perfect–sunny and 70s.  What a relief after the steamy, hot summer we’ve had!  Our first day in Lithuania was spent celebrating Grace’s birthday (again) and ziplining (again!).  We had a great time and brought along one of Grace’s distant cousins named Augusta.  She’s Lithuanian but lives in England now, so she speaks very good English.  She and Grace have a lot in common and had a great time talking and zipping together.

 

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On Tuesday, we took a two-hour drive southwest to a resort town called Druskininkai, which is very close to the borders of Belarus and Poland.  Our chauffeur and translator is a special man named Algis, Grammie Victoria’s cousin.  It’s great to have him with us because Grammie Victoria doesn’t speak English.  Algis also enjoys adventures and often comes with us–if not to play, then to take pictures!  We spent three days in Druskininkai and did MORE ziplining (across a river going 35 mph!), went indoor snow skiing and tubing, rode bikes through the pine forest (Grace’s bike broke 4km out!), and enjoyed three hours at a very busy indoor waterpark where people were fighting over tubes!  Yes, we’re exhausted!

We have a few more days of sightseeing here in Lithuania and will FINALLY be heading home on Tuesday, Aug. 20th.  We aren’t looking forward to three more flights (stopovers in Helsinki and New York), but we are definitely looking forward to being home.   It’s true…there’s no place like home!  Thanks for all of your prayers–Grace’s allergies are much better now.

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Posted by: nemerson | August 4, 2013

In Thailand!

IMG_3824 IMG_3857 IMG_3867We finished our ministry in India last Tuesday night and headed out early to Thailand.  Our last week in India was definitely our busiest–and best!  We did several children’s programs almost every day, and I had to preach 4 times over the weekend!  With no air conditioning to relax (or sleep) in, it was quite exhausting, but it was worth it to reach all of those children with the gospel.  Princy, our translator, was awesome with the kids, and the three of us (Princy, me and Grace) rocked the Kings and Queens program we created together.  We did a total of 10 programs in different villages/slums with 10-50 kids attending each time.  We held most of the programs outside, and tons of the parents came and listened, too.  It was AMAZING!  We played the game Simon Says, but we called it ‘The King Says.’  The kids loved it–and they did great knowing their body parts in English.  After that we talked about what a king is like.  Grace led that section of program and did a great job.  From there, I explained to the kids that Jesus is the King of kings, greater than all kings that ever lived, and we discussed how different Jesus was from all other kings–He even gave His life for His people!  I also explained how Jesus rose from the dead and 40 days later went up to heaven where He reigns at the right hand of God.  Finally, I told them that those who love and follow Jesus become his children and will reign with Him as kings and queens.  We gave them a chance to repeat after us and ask Jesus to forgive their sins and come into their hearts.  Then we taught them the song “He is the King of kings” in Tamil and gave them their crowns–and some cake and candy!  Again, it was AMAZING!

Thank you for all of your prayers for guidance.  God made it abundantly clear that we should move up our flight to Thailand.  We were scheduled to leave on Saturday but left on Wednesday instead.  The airline didn’t charge us any fees and even provided a hotel room for our overnight layover in Columbo, Sri Lanka.  It was a hotel on the beach with a pool and air conditioning and a buffet dinner–we thought we’d died and gone to heaven!  Our flights went well, and we found our friends pretty quickly at the Bangkok Airport.  It was so wonderful to see our American friends!   They have beautiful 4-story home–church on the first floor, business office on the second floor, their home on the third floor and guest rooms on the 4th floor–complete with air conditioning and hot showers!  They’ve even made American food for us every day, and there’s a huge mall just down the street with all kinds of American restaurants.  There’s also a pool down the street that we’ve been to several times already.  On Friday night, we attended an “English Game Night” at a church nearby and had a great time talking with the kids that were there, sharing Jesus’ love and hope.  Tomorrow and Tuesday will be fun days as we celebrate Grace’s birthday with ziplining through the rainforest.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we hope to do hang out with some children and also pass out some invitations in the neighborhood for people to come see the movie “The Hope.” which is shown here at the church every night.

I’ll try to update again before we leave for Lithuania on Saturday, August 10.  Continue to pray for Grace’s allergies…she’s still sniffling, sneezing and now coughing.  😦

Posted by: nemerson | August 4, 2013

Post from July 25th

(Sorry for the delay–I had no internet access for 2 weeks and tried to post this on from an internet cafe.  It didn’t work!)

Since my very first trip to India, there is one thing that always remained the same–”flexible” must be your middle name! Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, things are going to change. In fact, I think it was that first trip to India when I started the process of giving up my “control-freak” nature and trusting God to take care of the details. No, I certainly haven’t arrived, but I’ve learned a lot this week!

After our very uneventful week in Coonoor, we hit the road last Thursday (18th) and traveled for 9 hours through curvy, bumpy roads. We brought Pastor Jamie’s brother-in-law, James Matthew (pastor of the church in Gudalur), and James Matthew’s 5-yr-old daughter with us so that we could drop them off at another hill station (village at the top of a mountain) where James Matthew’s wife had recently had a baby. She delivered the baby (their third girl!) on June 17th (the day we arrived in India!) at her parents’ home. It was my privilege to name the baby Joanna Hope. James Matthew had to wait a whole month to see his wife, middle daughter and new baby! The whole family traveled back home to Gudalur by bus on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Pastor Jamie and Grace and I continued our journey another 5 hours down the mountain and toward the west coast of India into the state of Kerala. We visited a pastor (Wilson Daniel) and his family that I had done ministry with 3 years ago. It was great to see them! We also got to stay at a brand new hotel with all the modern conveniences (except internet!!!)–even an outdoor swimming pool! We invited Pastor Wilson’s kids to come and go swimming with us on Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful! The water was actually cool because it had been raining there for several weeks, but the sun was almost out for the 2 hours we had in the pool. It started pouring as soon as we left.

That afternoon, we visited two children’s homes and did our Kings and Queens program with them. It was great to be with the kids and share the love of Jesus with them. These children were all being cared for by Christians, so they knew about the gospel, but they were surprised that they were Kings and Queens in the eyes of God. They were so excited to have the crowns!

On Sunday morning, we went to a small house church with Pastor Wilson and his family, and then set off on another 5-hour journey to Madurai, Tamil Nadu, which is in the plains (hot and dry). Although Pastor Jamie had made plans for our visit with the pastor in Madurai over a month ago, the pastor was not there when we arrived, and he was not expected back for several more days. After a nice rest in an air-conditioned hotel (with wi-fi!), we got back in the car for another 4 hours, heading to the east coast of India to a town called Tanjore, Tamil Nadu. Thankfully, the roads were flat and straight, which made for a much nicer ride. And we got to stop at Domino’s Pizza on the way! Yippeeee! It had been 3 weeks since our last bite of American food!

Though we arrived two days early, Pastor Solidos here in Tanjore was happy to have us. One of the believers in his church has a new house that no one is living in yet, and we are able to stay here free of charge. There’s no AC (it’s hot and dry here, too, with temps in the 90s and 100s) and no internet, but it is a very comfortable home with a nice bed and a western (not Indian!) toilet and a shower. The pastor’s wife brings us food at mealtimes and is trying so hard to cook things that are not too spicy that we’ll like. Pastor Solidos has also arranged Children’s Programs for us in local villages every nightthis week (Wed, Thurs, Fri) and gospel meetings on Saturday and Sunday nights. Thursday morning, I was able to speak at a small prayer meeting, and Friday morning, I was able to speak at another prayer meeting that was held at the house we’re staying in. What a joy to finally have so many opportunities to share God’s message with people!

Unfortunately, Pastor Jamie had a lot of work to do that could only be finished back in Coonoor. On Tuesday afternoon, before he left, Pastor Jamie brought us to the beach to go swimming! The wind was blowing, and the waves were crashing—Grace loved it! We swam and played until it was almost dark, and then headed back to our Tanjore home. Before leaving, Jamie arranged for us to have a 21-yr-old girl, Princy, come and stay with us. Since she speaks English, she can take care of us and translate for us. She had 3 years of Bible College (all in English), but she had never done any translating before. She was so nervous! But she loves Jesus and wants to serve Him, so she decided to come and help us out. She’s doing a great job and is wonderful with children. She feels called to work with children in Delhi just like me! Princy is also crazy enough to get into huge tickle fights with Grace, which makes Grace ever so happy. (I can’t even stand to watch!) Pastor Solidos also has a daughter who is 14, Jemmy, and she has been hanging out with us in the evenings after the children’s programs.

I’m not sure what we will do next week…we could stay here, but I know that it is difficult for the Pastor and his wife to take care of us. It is also difficult for Princy’s family to be without her at home to cook and clean (her mother is away, her father is working, and she has two younger siblings at home in school). With no internet access, I’m feeling lonely and out of touch. We don’t have a car here either, so we have to go everywhere by rickshaw, train, bus, or rented car (no AC) on the dry, dusty roads. Grace’s allergies have been quite a nuisance ever since we left Delhi—she’s been sneezing and blowing her nose constantly! With all that in mind, we may leave early for Thailand, if it’s possible. Please pray for God’s wisdom and direction for our next steps, and pray that Grace will be feeling better soon. 

Posted by: nemerson | July 17, 2013

Where we’ve been…

We finished our time in Delhi on Wed, July 10th. Before leaving, we did get a chance to visit the Bridge of Hope center in Dwarka and teach the 100+ kids there the song “Peace Like a River”- with all of the fun hand motions. I shared with them that we can have peace, joy and love through Jesus no matter what our circumstances may be. And, of course, we gave them candy! Bridge of Hope is teaching 60,000 kids throughout India about the love of Jesus every day. It’s an amazing program, and you can sponsor a child online at http://www.gfa.org/sponsorachild. We were also able to attend one more evening meeting with the COP church members, and I had the opportunity to go with the pastor and his wife to visit some friends of theirs who are curious about the gospel. One of the families accepted Christ that evening (Hallelujah!), and the other family listened intently but were not ready to follow Jesus.

IMG_3446The highlight of the trip so far was our visit to the Rainbows of Hope school sponsored by WEC International. The school is called Anoka, which means “precious”in Hindi. Even though school was not yet in session, the children came running when they saw their teachers. It was amazing! All the children that attend the school (about 20-30) live in a slum next to the school (which is just an apartment being used as a school!). They had not taken a bath or brushed their teeth at all since school let out at the end of April. The kids were playing on broken beds and other garbage as if they were jungle gyms. The real eye-opener came when Grace tried climbing a tree and was quickly yelled at by the mothers. That tree is one of the gods they worship. Wow. As if my heart hadn’t broken in two just watching those kids playing in the trash, that sealed it for me. They need Jesus, and I’m the one to love them and show them His love. After visiting the school, we also met with the rest of the WEC team in Delhi. Three of the teachers at Anoka are leaving this year, so they definitely need us there. Grace and I both felt very comfortable at the school and with the team and agreed that it was the place God wanted us next year. It’s a great bonus to have Pastor Jamie and his family, as well as his church family (which is now like family to me!) nearby when we move to India next summer. All systems go for take-off next summer–learning Hindi, growing out my hair to look more Indian, raising support–here we come!

Our flight to south India was uneventful, but I did wake up in the middle of the night with a KILLER headache which progressed into vomiting the next morning. I was supposed to be speaking at the Tailoring School graduation at 10:30am, but I didn’t make it. God did grant me a short reprieve around noon, so I hurried next door to greet the graduates with the love of Jesus and then return to my sick bed. The worst-headache-ever and vomiting continued until about 4 the next morning. The doctor thought it was food poisoning and gave me some anti-nausea drugs and heavy duty painkillers (which, of course, I couldn’t keep down!). I’m so glad that’s over. Pastor Jamie decided that I needed to rest and recover for the next couple of days.

IMG_3549On Sunday, we drove down the mountain to the village of Gudalur to visit the church there. Two women in that small, tribal village have lost their husbands in the last few months…I was certainly able to relate to their loss and shared my loss with them. I gave a message from Philippians 4 where Paul gives the believers a list of things they should be doing that are very difficult–“Rejoice always. Don’t worry. Think on only good things. Be content.” At the end of the paragraph, Paul gives them the secret to success in all circumstance: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” After church, we were able to do a short children’s program with the kids that were there (only 8 because many were sick due to the cold, rainy weather). We gave them their crowns and told them that they were special–kings and queens with Christ!   On the way home, we drove through the jungle and saw lots of deer, 6 wild elephants, a wild peacock, a wild boar and a bunch of monkeys.  Unfortunately, there were no elephant rides because of the rain.  (Grace was sad)

Hugs!

Hugs!

On Tuesday, we went to a small school nearby where we had gone last year to do a medical clinic. I was so excited to be with those kids and share our kings and queens program with them–I hugged every. single. one. (about 40!) They giggled and smiled when I hugged them, and none of them wanted to be left out. They waved at me and called, “Auntie, Auntie!” if I missed them. Though they had heard the gospel last year when we were there, I shared it with them again, and they all prayed with me to accept Christ and received their crowns as children of the King. What a great day!

IMG_3514It is now Wednesday evening, and we’ll be heading out tomorrow and traveling around south India for the remainder of our 2 1/2 weeks here in India. I’m not sure when I’ll have internet access again, but I will try to do one more update before we leave for Thailand on August 3rd. I have been a bit discouraged by our slow progress (not many ministry opportunities) and very bored most of our time here so far. Please pray for our final weeks to be fruitful for the kingdom of God and that I would be patient with the slow schedule. Grace is doing great–she’s happy to read, watch movies, and play games on her iTouch all day. The weather here has been cool (60s) and rainy since we arrived so we haven’t had the chance to be outside. (stir crazy? yep.)

Posted by: nemerson | July 1, 2013

Tourists for the week

Since our Indian visas technically say “Tourist” and not “missionary,” we took some time this week to see the sights in and around Delhi.  On Monday, we drove to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.   We left at 4am and arrived around 9am.  Before visiting the Taj, we went to Agra Fort, which was where the king lived while his wife lived across the river at the Taj Mahal.  Grace actually enjoyed visiting the fort more than the Taj because of all the cool rooms and pillars that she could explore–even though 60% of the fort is still used by the military and only about 20% of it is open to the public.  

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The Taj Mahal is quite impressive from the outside, and the fountains were even running the day we were there in honor of some visiting dignitaries.  Our tour guide said that it was for me, and I almost believed him the way people were waiting in line to have their picture taken with me as if I were some kind of celebrity!  The Taj was quite beautiful up close, but there was nothing much to see on the inside…a little disappointing.  We were quite hot and tired when we finished our tours and headed home at 1:30pm.  We didn’t make it back until 8:30pm because of road construction, traffic and the police pulling us over several times because they saw me in the car!  

On Tuesday, we had an evening meeting with the church members here at Pastor Jamie’s house, and I had the pleasure of speaking.  I related my visit to the Taj Mahal to looking at Solomon’s temple.  Solomon started out such a strong follower of God’s Word but finished his life worshipping other gods.  How can we stay faithful to God if even Solomon couldn’t?  The answer is in 2 Peter 1 where Peter tells us what we need to do so that we will “never fall away.” (Hats off to Pastor Ryan at CLCC for ingraining this in my mind!).

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On Thursday, we went to a water park nearby (2 hours!) called Jurasik Park (it had some huge roaring dinosaurs throughout the park!).  It was nice to get out of the heat and play in the water, but the water must have been 120 degrees at least!  The air felt cold compared to the water!  They also had some regular rides–Grace called it a mini version of Funtown/Splashtown.  

 

 

On Friday, we spent the entire day on a bus tour of Delhi–thank goodness the bus was air conditioned.  The hot, hazy weather continues, still averaging 105 degrees every day. 

Image We saw a lot of interesting sights like the Qutub Minar, the Lotus Temple (Bahai), and two other Hindu temples.  We also drove by the President’s house, the Prime Minister’s house, the Inidan Congress and all of the embassies. We had lunch at this all-you-can-eat Indian restaurant where they just keep filling your plate with 7 different foods, dessert included–it was quite an experience!   Even Grace is doing fine with spicy foods (the ones that aren’t TOO spicy), and we are both still in good health and strength.  Thank you for all of your prayers.

Today (Monday), we’ll be visiting a Bridge of Hope (Gospel for Asia) school to see the amazing work being done there.  There are actually two centers right here in the residential area called Dwarka where Pastor Jamie’s apartment is.  The rest of the week, I’ll be doing some one-on-one discipleship with some new believers in the church here, and we’ll have another meeting Tuesday night.  

I did have a great discussion with Heidi from WEC International about possibly working with WEC next year at their Rainbows of Hope program here in Delhi ministering to the street children.  I’m hoping to visit the school and meet with rest of the team next week before we leave for south India on July 10th.  

Our days here in Delhi have been quite relaxing (i.e. boring, if you know me!).  I’m hopeful that our time in south India will have more ministry opportunities.

Posted by: nemerson | June 21, 2013

Off we go…

We arrived in India on Monday morning, as planned, but our journey did take a detour!  When we were approaching the Bombay airport after 10 hours in the air, the captain announced that the airport was closed due to heavy monsoon rains.  We were diverted to the airport in Hydrebad to refuel and wait until the airport reopened 2 hours later.  Our ten hours on that plane became 13, and we nearly missed our connecting flight to Dehli.  What an adventure!

Our first day here, after traveling for more than 30 hours, we did everything we could to stay awake and adjust to Indian time.  We went to the mall to get some basic necessities that would not fit in our suitcases, had lunch at McDonalds (only McChicken and Filet of Fish were offered!), and traveled around with Pastor Jamie on some errands.  At 7pm, we crashed and slept for a solid 12 hours.  Aaaah…

On Tuesday afternoon, a group of seven of us headed out to the marketplace to pass out invitations to a concert the church here is hosting on Saturday night at 5pm (7:30am EST).  The concert is being held at a hotel so that many nonbelievers will be interested in coming. The church members have been encouraged to invite their friends, as well.  We passed out hundreds of invitations–it was sooooo hot!  It’s been averaging 105 degrees every day, and I am so thankful that there is air conditioning in Pastor Jamie’s apartment here in Dehli. What a difference from his home in the mountains of Tamil Nadu!

Wednesday morning, I went by motorcycle (another great adventure in crazy Indian traffic!) with the local pastor (George) and his wife (Kristie) to visit some new believers that have been attending their church.  They came to know Christ after God healed one of their family members.  It was wonderful to share what God has done and is doing in our lives!  That night, we went to a local park to pass out more invitations to the concert.

We spent Thursday preparing for the concert–planning the agenda, searching for videos to use and talking about the best approach.  Pastor Jamie’s sister and brother-in-law live close by, and their two sons Godwin and Edwin have been an important part of making the concert a success.  Edwin is also in the band that will be playing at the concert.  

Friday brought another motorcycle ride through Dehli to visit another family of new believers.  It was supposed to be a prayer meeting, but we soon learned that the wife and son were leaving Saturday to meet a girl about a marriage proposal.  These new believers had no idea about God’s plan for Christians to only marry Christians–God brought us there at just the right time to teach them His Word and spare this family from possible disaster.  Wow!  

Tomorrow is the outreach concert, and that is our major prayer request.  Please pray that many unbelievers will come and respond to the Gospel!

Next week, I will be meeting with Heidi from WEC International about possibly working here next year.  We will also have a few days of fun–visiting the Taj Mahal and going to a water park!  Yes, Grace is doing just fine.  She is reading a lot and playing with Pastor Jamie’s kids.  That crazy girl has captured 2 lizards and a cricket in the house and is keeping them in an empty water bottle (with holes).  Just when I thought we would have a break from the pets…

Posted by: nemerson | June 15, 2013

Leaving!

Grace and I leave for India on Saturday night (15th)! We’ll be flying from Boston to London, London to Bombay and Bombay to New Dehli, arriving 8am Monday morning (5:30pm EST). (We’ll be skipping Father’s Day altogether, which is just fine with us!) There are still lots of opportunities to sign up on our prayer schedule: http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=BMYK6403 Instead of listing a food, write in how you will pray for us. Each day, I will get a reminder about who is praying and what they are praying for. What a great encouragement that will be! You’ll also get an e-mail reminder when it’s your day to pray.

Things have been pretty exciting here at the Emerson household! Our house of two is now a house of seven as we’ve opened our home to a family (Mom and 4 kids!) in need. They’ll be enjoying our awesome home over the summer and taking care of our dog and gerbils. When Grace and I return at the end of August, we’ll all be living together. They’ve been here for almost 2 weeks now, and it’s safe to say that we will all be missing each other when Grace and I leave on Saturday. It’s been a great fit!

Over the last month, I have interviewed with two mission organizations—Global Outreach Missions and WEC International. I will be meeting with missionaries from both groups while we’re in India and also keeping my eyes and heart open to other opportunities as we travel and do ministry. Please pray for God’s clear direction for our future as we seek to do His will.

I will post our itinerary once we arrive in India…

Posted by: nemerson | April 12, 2013

He moves, You move

On March 17, 2005, I was leaving India for the first time after a challenging and exhausting two weeks of ministry.  It was no coincidence that I had the window seat as we flew out of Bombay.  As the plane took off, I stared out the window at the thousands of shacks made of tarps and pallets and junk all lined up just outside the fences of airport—the slums of Bombay in living color.  Tears started running down my cheeks, and all I could think was, “How can I leave?  Wait!  Stop the plane!  There are a billion people in India—and only two percent know Jesus.  Someone has to tell them!  Someone has to show them that Jesus loves them, that there’s hope in knowing Him, that they matter to Him.  Someone has to tell them…and that someone is me!”

 Shortly after that trip, I talked to a missionary friend who had been on the field for 30+ years. I told her that I felt God had called me to be a missionary in India.  I asked her what I should do—expecting a list of books to read, people to contact, classes to take. But her answer was only one word:  “Pray.”

“That’s it?” I asked.

“That’s it.”

ImageEight years have passed since that day when God turned my heart to mush and focused my life in a whole new direction.  Eight years that God has continually confirmed my calling—and longing—to touch the people of India with the love of Christ.  Eight years of loving and caring for my husband (died 11/17/2012), who modeled so perfectly the love of Christ in all of his suffering.  Eight years for my daughter Grace to grow into an amazing young woman with almost as much desire to serve in India as I have.  Eight years of love and laughter, tears and troubles and heartache.  Eight years of prayer.  Eight years of falling more in love with Jesus than I ever dreamed of.  Eight years…but not a moment wasted.  Nothing was wasted (Jn. 6:12). 

And now the time is right.  It’s time for me and Grace to spread our wings and leave our nest of safety.  We’re starting by spending this entire summer in India serving with Pastor Jamie and Comforter Action Mission Trust (CAMT) as we have in the past.  Our trip will also include visiting several mission groups as we look for the right place where God can use us full time.  Yep…as in LIVE in India year round.  Grace and I both have a heart to work with the millions of poor and destitute children in India.  I’m not sure exactly HOW God will use us in India.  In fact, I’m not sure about a lot of things at this point.  Will we stay forever?  Maybe…but we’ll start with a 2 or 3 year commitment.  Will we sell the house?  Probably not.  Will Grace go to MK (missionary kid) school?  Probably not since she wants to be involved in the ministry.  She could homeschool or go to an English-speaking Indian school.  When will you leave?  Probably not until June, 2014, at the earliest since it normally takes 1-2 years for new missionaries to train and raise support.  There’s so much that’s unsure and even a little scary, but we’re trusting God to direct our path one step at a time. 

 ImageWhat we need to focus on right now is summer, 2013.  Together, Grace and I came up with a theme for our summer ministry– “Kings and Queens,” based on the song by Audio Adrenaline (video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U64bongHqYU).  We want to tell the people that we reach this summer how important they are to God.  They are the apple of His eye.  To Him, they are kings and queens!  They are valued.  They are loved.  They have HOPE.  And you can help share that hope by giving to the ministry.  God has provided all the funds needed for our travel expenses.  That means every dollar you give goes directly to touching the people of India with the love of Christ.  We would love to provide feeding programs, medical camps, school books and so much more!  If you’d like to donate, you can make your check out to Comforter Missions, which is CAMT’s sister organization here in the U.S.  You can give checks to me or mail them (with a note that this gift is for Jill and Grace’s ministry) to the treasurer of Comforter Missions:

Rob Howe

30 Abenaki Acres

Naples, ME  04055

And we’d love it if you would pray for us this summer.  We NEED you to pray for us this summer!  I actually set up a schedule using http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=BMYK6403.  Please do not bring or send us any food!  What we’re hungry for is prayer. 🙂  Sign up for a certain day—include your name, e-mail, and “meal” (what you plan to pray about—like peace, good health, salvation for the people we talk to that day—whatever God puts on your heart).  You will get an e-mail from TakeThemAMeal the day before you signed up to remind you to pray for us the next day.  (That’s what I love about this website!)  We’ll be leaving for India on June 15th and starting our ministry in Dehli (northern India).  In July, we’ll fly to southern India.  On August 3rd, Grace and I will fly to Thailand to assist and encourage our missionary friends Jeff & Mervil Kowatch.  A week later, we’ll fly to Lithuania to spend 10 days with Grace’s birth family there.  It’s going to be quite an adventure!  I’ll try to update this blog regularly and post pictures on facebook whenever possible (friend me as Jill Alessi Emerson).

I won’t sign off without giving you a brief update on daily life here at the Emerson house.  Things are good…really good, most days.  The strong arm of God has been supporting us, encouraging us and propelling us forward with each new “sad day” as we grieve Nathan’s death.  Grieving is hard work…I had no idea just how difficult and exhausting it would be. We’ve been attending the Center for Grieving Children (which has a parent support group) every Wed night since December, and that has been soooo helpful.  Jesus is now my “best guy,” and I’m learning to see and feel His love in a whole new way using Nathan’s love for me as an example.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I will finish up my job as nanny for Bobby (going to kindergarten!) on June 15th when we leave for India.  We are doing fine financially, but I’ll be looking for a new part-time job in the fall—any suggestions?

ImageGrace is just…AMAZING.  I am one proud mama.  She’s just about to finish up 6th grade, averaging 2 hours of homework a night.  This has been the most difficult year of her life, and she’s still gotten straight A’s every. single. semester.  Her friends’ parents tell me she often amazes her classmates with her strength and her Biblical wisdom in everyday problems.  Her weekly horseback riding lessons are great therapy for her hurting heart.  She blesses me so much with her great attitude—showing honor and compassion continually.  She and her friend even wrote a song for ME about missing Nathan.  So sweet.  And I know just where she learned it from…her Dad.   Nathan’s last few words to me before he lost his ability to speak were, “What about Grace?”  My answer was, “You’ve taught her everything she needs to know.  She’s going to be fine.”  Better than fine, I’d say.  Much better than fine.  Love that girl!

We also have a few fun trips planned before our big summer adventure.  Next week, Grace goes to Florida to spend one week at Cocoa Beach with Nathan’s Mom and one week hanging out with my parents while I head to California for a week to be on The Price is Right with some of my girlfriends.  It’s a 40th birthday celebration!  In May, Grace and I head to North Conway, NH, with our friends, the Vaughans, and then we’ll fly to Philadelphia for a long weekend at the end of the month to visit our friends, the Forsyths. 

Finally, God recently prompted us to make the difficult decision to change churches after 13 years at Highpine.  We are still in the midst of our “church search” and are looking forward to finding a place where God can use us.  Pray for that! 

Here is our theme song for 2013.  It’s called “He Moves, You Move” by Audio Adrenaline (again!):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKkKfPOHYMs

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Special thanks to Matt Yeaton Photography for the awesome shots! See more at http://matthewyeaton.com/

You, you’re scared to take a step, afraid to see what’s next
So you wait ‘til you think it’s safe to move
You tend to think too much,
You need to open up your heart to see where He is leading
With a lamp just for your feet, a spotlight just for your path

When He moves, you’ve got to move, you know
You’ve got to lose control, let go
There’s nothing left to hold on to
This life you live is really not your own
So where He goes you go, you know
He leads and you follow
He moves, you move

Right now, is all you ever have so forget the past
And don’t worry about the future
‘Cause He’s the Author of your story,
So let Him take you on the journey of your life
Oh, it starts tonight

So if I move to the right, or I move to the left
Move up north, move down south, the east or the west
No matter how far I go, or if I stay right here
If I’m in the middle of Your will, there’s nothing left to fear

 

Posted by: nemerson | August 3, 2012

Last days…

Well, today is the day…it’s bittersweet. We’re excited to be going home to see our families, but we are sad to be leaving India and our “family” here. We’ve had an amazing 3 weeks of ministry here, and what a joy it has been to see God working in us and the people that we touched.

On Wednesday, David took Wayne exploring around the tourist center of Ooty, including a visit to the highest peak in southern India. Wayne said it was really cold up there! Since the guys had the car, Rose and I took an auto rickshaw (driven by Ragu’s brother) to visit Ragu’s family. Ragu used to work here at CAMT and traveled with us on our previous visits to India, but now he is married and living in Dubai. We missed having Ragu here! It was nice to see his family, though, and we prayed that his 2 brothers and his sister Esther would be married soon.

Rose and Jamie and I continued on our rickshaw journey to the home of Shiva, our bus driver when the whole team was here. We were so happy that Shiva was home (not at work) when we arrived in the afternoon. Shiva’s mom and sister were there, too, and his sister had come 30 minutes from her home just to meet us. Our purpose in visiting was to give Shiva and his family an opportunity to pray and accept Christ as their Saviour. We were just talking–small talk–and Rose and I looked at each other and asked how we would direct this conversation to Jesus…then the door was opened when Shiva’s mom asked me about my family. I told her about my husband, his ongoing battle with cancer, but that he was not afraid of dying because he knew without a doubt that he would be going to heaven. Then Rose asked her if she died today, would she be sure about going to heaven? From there, Rose shared the gospel with all of them. Before we even had a chance to ask if they wanted to accept Jesus, Shiva’s mom looked at me and said, “I see so much peace and joy in you, in your face. I want that, too!” How exciting! Jamie led all 4 of them in a prayer of salvation, and we prayed for them to grow in Christ and also for Shiva and his sister to each get married–to Christians!

Wednesday night, Rose and Jamie and I walked up the street for a gospel meeting at the home of one of the church members. Though most of the people there were believers from the church, the woman’s husband and adult children were not. Rose and I both shared from the Word. I talked about the parable of the sower because there were all of these huge pots of different sizes lined up on the shelf in the room we were meeting in. The pots reminded me of the different ways that people accept the gospel–some who hear and discard it, some who hear and accept but don’t grow, and some who hear and grow and bear fruit 30, 60 or 100 fold. I challenged the believers to bear enough fruit to fill up the biggest of those pots!

After the meeting, they served us a wonderful (spicy!) dinner, and after dinner, Rose spoke directly to the woman’s husband (his name is Mani), asking him why he was not following Jesus. He hedged and hedged but finally admitted that he had a problem with drinking and that was what was holding him back. By the grace of God, Mani accepted Christ that night, and we’re praying that God will deliver him from his alcohol addiction! We also prayed for the children, but they were not yet ready to become followers of Jesus.

Thursday morning, which dawned beautiful and sunny, Rose and Jamie and I went back to the small school where we had done the medical camp at the beginning of our trip. We were able to give the school principal the money for the jackets–thank you to those who gave for this cause! I’ll post a picture here in a few weeks when the kids have their jackets. Only 16 of the children were at school that day because it was another Hindu festival day, but we spent a few minutes with them. We reviewed the days of creation which we had taught them on our first visit, and we left the papers, stickers and crayons for the teachers to do the activity with them when all the kids were back in school.

In the afternoon, Rose and I went to visit the home of one of the women from the Tailoring School here at CAMT. She lives with her mom just across the street and speaks very good English. It was a nice visit, and she and her sister are both very interested in studying the Bible. Part of the Tailoring School curriculum is Bible study, and we gave her an English Bible (she doesn’t really speak Tamil!) to help with her studies. We prayed for the two of them and their extended family that they would all come to know Jesus!

Thursday night, under the full moon, we attended another house meeting in the village of Boys Company. Rose shared from John 17, and I shared from John 16 about how Jesus has overcome the troubles of this world and given us everything we need (protection, sanctification, unity, the Spirit, love) to do the work He has called us to do. We were blessed with another delicious (and spicy!) meal of beef curry after the meeting, and then we visited several of the homes nearby to pray for the widows who lived there. Those ladies were so sweet and happy to have us in their homes! 🙂

It’s Friday morning here, and we’re packing up–weighing all the suitcases! The Coimbature airport allows only one checked bag, so we sent Jamie’s assistant, Harry, by train to Chennai with our 3 extra bags. He’ll meet us at the airport tonight where we’ll be able to check in the extra bags on our British Airways flight. As I was typing, an elderly man came to the door, begging for water. The drought is so bad here–even in the mountains–that he hasn’t had any water for a month at his house! Several women left the meetings we were holding the last few nights because the village water supply was being turned on for only one hour, and they might not turn it on again for a few days. God has blessed CAMT with a deep well full of water. We are giving water to those who come in the name of Jesus. But please continue to pray for India that God would send a slow, steady rain (no flooding!) to quench their thirst and their hearts.

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Posted by: nemerson | August 1, 2012

One on one

As you might remember, Wayne and David left for the west coast of India (Kerala state) on Friday evening by train. They had an amazing Gospel Meeting there on Saturday night and church service Sunday morning. They were also able to spend some time with David’s relatives in Kerala…the timing was just perfect since David’s aunt underwent emergency heart surgery while he was there to support them. Wayne and David returned to Coimbature by train last night (Tues). Rose and I went with Pastor Jamie to pick them up because we had some shopping to do in Coimbature. On our way, we stopped at a piece of land that CAMT has purchased with the goal of starting a small Bible College (for about 20 students at a time) to train new pastors and leaders. It’s a beautiful spot, and Jamie already has the architect plans drawn up–he’s just waiting for the funds to come in to start building! We would love some sponsors for that! We spent about 30 minutes there walking around the land, praying over it, and praying for the students and teachers who would come there. I can’t wait to see God build that college the way He did the CAMT building!

Around 4pm, while we were shopping, Jamie asked us, “Would you like to go somewhere?” We’re always ready for an adventure! Jamie brought us to an orphanage of about 30 kids there in Coimbature! We told them the days of Creation story (with motions!), taught them some songs, and also told the story of Adam and Eve. When Rose got to the end of explaining how Adam’s sin had separated us from God but God sent Jesus to bring us back into fellowship with Him, the kids knew just what she was saying. They all raised their hands saying they already knew Jesus! The pastor running that orphanage seems to be doing a good job! He’s currently renting the building the kids are in but has purchased some land to build a new building for the kids that his church would own and operate. He took us to the land so that we could pray over it. Please be praying for the funds to come in for this, too!

After picking up Wayne and David at the train station at 8pm, we went out for pizza (Domino’s–yum!) and then stopped by to see the Bible College that David had attended for 3 years when he was 15. (In India, students complete only through 10th grade before choosing a “specialty” to study as they complete high school). There are about 25 full-time students at the college now, and they were so encouraged to hear David’s story of all the Lord has brought him through since his time at this college over 20 years ago! We couldn’t leave without praying for them, that God would strengthen them and send them off to “shake up” the world for Him!

So, that was what we did yesterday (Tues), but I guess I need to back track a little…

On Sunday, Rose and I attended church here at CAMT. It was nice to be able to just walk upstairs to church! We each gave a message, with the over arching theme being prayer–though God doesn’t always answer the way we want Him to, we can trust Him to do what’s BEST. We were thrilled to be able to pray for those who came forward at the end of the service. After church, we went to visit a friend of Jamie’s who had recently lost his father. Jamie missed the funeral because of our ministry travels, but we had a special time of prayer with the extended family at their home. Jamie and David grew up in that same neighborhood, so we walked over to their childhood home. The current owner let us come in and look around. Jamie kept saying, “It looks so small! I remember it being so big!” It’s so amazing to see how God has now blessed both Jamie and David with large, beautiful homes as they have faithfully served Him.

On Monday, Jamie had several meetings to go to. Rose and I did some cleaning around the CAMT building, played with the kids, and watched the Olympics. In the afternoon, Jamie had a short break when we were able to go to the hospital to visit Jennifer. Jennifer used to be on staff at CAMT, and Rose and I knew her from previous visits. She had some cysts on her uterus, and the doctor was planning a total hysterectomy. She’s young, married, but with no children, and she was devastated by this. We prayed for her over the phone while we were traveling last week. When we arrived at the hospital, we found out that the cysts were on the outside (?!!!) of her uterus where the doctor could remove them easily and leave her uterus. What an amazing miracle and answer to prayer! Jennifer looked good and was planning to come home from the hospital Wed or Thurs.

That’s all the news for now… Today (Wed) and tomorrow we’ll be doing some more home visits and Gospel Meetings each night. Friday evening we’ll be boarding the plane in Coimbature for our long journey home. I’ll try to add one more update before we take off!

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