Sunday, April 18 (9 pm local time)
The team has begun the long flights back from a place where the sun does not shine. We pray that one day this land is flooded by Son light.
Saturday, April 17 (8 pm local time)
We did something unusual for an “m” trip: we went to the “zoo.” An unplanned extra day enabled us to meet with a local friend who is not a Christ follower. In fact, she is a follower of nothing spiritual. She is a faceless, nameless number in a system that uses people as a means to a voidless end.
When pressed to explain where she thought her life was leading, she said: “I believe when I die I will go to heaven. So I try very hard to do my best so I can go to heaven.”
She does not yet understand that she cannot “try” to get to heaven. She cannot do her “best.” Her best, her efforts, aren't good enough. But the efforts of another have assured her of heaven. God gave His Best - His Son, Jesus - Who died so all may live. She needs only to believe in this Savior. We have started to teach her this by sharing our love of Him - and her.
We also had fun at the zoo (actually a research base for one of God’s creations).
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.”
— Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Friday, April 16 (9 pm local time)
A familiar sight from our travels: no roads and buildings being repaired two years after a major earthquake ravaged hundreds of kilometers of mountainous countryside.
Another 11-hour drive brought us back to our entry/getaway city. We were on mostly rough dirt roads for 22 hours over two days, covering 700 kilometers. Along the way our translator gave us his testimony, which showed us the challenge of bringing this particular people group to Christ.
“I lost a lot of childhood friends (when I accepted Jesus),” Frank said. “They believe their religion is the truth. They feel I am a betrayer.”
We discussed how we can reach this type of people. “Be a good friend and show how God is working on you,” our friend told us. Good advice no matter where the mission field.
Thursday, April 15 (9 pm local time)
We left our “m” field a day early, feeling we had done all that we had been sent to do and sensing that the heightened police presence was a threat to us and, more importantly, the nationals with whom we are working. So we started our two-day drive back to the entry city, where we’ll now have a rest day (and a chance to pour into a local woman who befriended and helped us last year despite having “no religion”) before flying to North America.
The “six-hour” drive we'd been told about lasted nearly 11 hours today on mostly dirt roads. But two of the hours were spent in a city we passed through, where our driver inadvertently ran a red light and was stopped by police. Our translator told us he was “treated badly” (verbally) by the police, who were not from his people group. We were out of the sensitive area of the country so there was no threat to us. The police took our driver’s license and told us to meet them at the police station, where he would need to pay a fine (possibly quite large). But God interceded; our translator was from this town originally and he made a call to someone he knew in the police department. The license was returned with no fine and we were back on our bumpy way.
Such as been the way of this journey as many things have conspired against us: from transportation delays to illness for the trip leader, and from police and military presence to the darkness that hangs ominously over the land and its lost people. But we serve the God of the possible, and He has enabled us to do what we were sent to do. Praise Him!
Wednesday, April 14 (6 pm local time)
“Dawatashi” moved quickly down from the hill in our direction. Faster than a crippled monk would seem to be able to go. He and his sister and her two young children were overjoyed to see we had returned. They had missed us; the children, we were told, said our names each day to remember us.
One of the first things Dawatashi showed us were the results and X-rays from a brain scan. For the past three years, he has been unable to speak, has had little use of his right arm and hand, and has walked with a pronounced limp in his right leg. His father, “Loba,” has taken him to many hospitals and doctors in the region; none has been able to help. We prayed for him, asking the Great Physician for healing. We also pledged to share the information we have with doctors in North America.
We still sense that Dawatashi is sensitive to Christ’s love, and what better way to serve his spiritual need than by helping with his physical need?
It might also soften the heart of Loba, who at 68 has said he is not interested in changing “religions.”
A team member talks about Jesus with Loba and Dawatashi.
Loba was talking about photographs we were taking of his grandchildren, how beautiful they were. He said his photos were not beautiful because he is old and near death. This saddened us. One of our team was moved by the Spirit to share with him about Jesus. It was a touching moment. Our hearts ache for these people who have lived their lives in the darkness that is Buddhism. We pray that by coming again and telling them we will see them in the future we have and will continue to shine Christ’s love for them.
Tuesday, April 13 (5 pm local time)
We were driving back down the valley when up ahead on the dirt road we saw a man walking the other way with a trekking pole. "Loba!" Loba is the crippled monk's father and the man who made his tent our tent when we visited last summer. He was happy to see us and asked about the previous team's members who aren't on this trip. The trekking pole he is using was a gift from them.
Our friend Loba.
We gave him a ride to the village where he was going many kilometers away and told him we will come to visit his family on Wednesday. Prayers answered again. We know where the crippled monk's winter home is located!
We can't camp near them for security reasons. Many of the people who were receptive to us last summer were visited after we left. "Yibeyay" said police came and asked about us. He told them we were just nice North Americans trekking around the area.
Yibeyay, left, receiving a gift from one of our team members, right.
Before we left Yibeyay's winter home this morning he told us we are welcome any time. He said we know where his nomadic family spends the summer months and we can visit there again, too. We gave him some gifts that we pray will continue to work on his heart for the Lord. He rode his motorbike with us as we walked and then drove out of that stretch of the valley. We will see him again.
Monday, April 12 (7 pm local time)
We followed the rough dirt road up the valley we’d entered last year, stopping to ask about the people we came to find. We were told where “Yibeyay” had his winter home and drove as far as we could in that direction. Then we set out on foot, turning up another valley and climbing to about 14,000 feet. Yibeyay’s family welcomed us. Yibeyay, who was herding yak when we arrived, greeted us with a prayer wheel in his hands. He was happy to see us again and invited us to camp at his home, which we are doing tonight. He said he knew we were Christ followers, and said Christianity is “a good religion.” Although we felt very strongly that he was a seeker when we first met him, it is clear he is holding firmly to Buddhism. We pray for God to continue softening his heart and the Spirit to move in him. It is our hope that God will use us to draw Yibeyay closer to Him.
Monday, April 12 (9 am local time)
We are ready to head out from our jump-off city to the mountain valleys we visited last year. We are praying for God to take us back to our crippled monk friend and his family, as well as others the Lord used us to speak to - most of whom had never before heard the Gospel. The problem is they are nomadic people so we will need to search for where they may have moved. We are trusting in the Lord to lead us to them. Join us in praying that this will be accomplished, if not today in the days ahead.
Sunday, April 11 (6 pm local time)
We drive 6, 10, 14 hours on bone-jarring roads, some paved, most not. The paved ones are snow- and ice-covered through the mountains. The dirt ones are nearly impassable mud in which many vehicles get stuck and long lines form waiting to get through. We've been this way before and know the drill.
“It certainly is a long drive,” one team member said in his usual understated manner.
We pass through God's beautiful creation and man's darkness. There are bead-wielding monks everywhere, and prayer wheels and flags at every turn. Hillsides are littered with this trash.
Jesus says in John 3;21, “whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” We have brought that Light here. We have come to shine Him brightly in the darkness.
To God alone be the glory!
Sunday, April 11 (7 am local time)
Driving up mountain passes at 14,000 feet.
Saturday, April 10 (10 pm local time)
From the It’s-a-Small-World-But-I-Wouldn’t-Want-To-Paint-It Dept.: A woman who walked into the restaurant where we were eating tonight gave us directions to a bakery last night in another city that was a seven-hour drive away. What are the odds?
We have another vehicle and driver set for early Sunday morning to take us to our jump-off city. It’ll be a full day, and likely a day full of surprises like the woman we saw twice in two different places 24 hours apart.
Saturday, April 10 (11 am local time)
We are taking a bus 6-8 hours from one city to another as we make our way toward the people whom the Lord has been and is preparing for our visit. We are seeking those who were receptive to the Word on our last visit. One of our “m” friends, who has worked here since the late 1990s, knows we were the first to share the Gospel with these people. Now it is our prayer (and we hope your prayer as well) that we would be able to locate these nomadic people.
On our flights to this country, God revealed a verse that is perfect for this place. It is Isaiah 45:22, which says: “‘Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.’” We have added this as the theme verse for this Mission: Possible.
Friday, April 9 (9 pm local time)
We had dinner with our new friend and translator this evening. We said after Mission: Possible 3 that we would not go again without a translator. Up until three days ago, one had not been found. Then God sent our friend to us. We are excited about the possibilities.
One of our local partners told us tonight that up until 1999 the people group we are ministering to was off limits to outreach. We may be the first to have visited the particular area where we are again going, and we are doing so within nine months. They are praying for seeds sown, fruit born, and a harvest to come.
Twenty-five hours of flying brings us to the place where we get our ground plans finalized. Two “m” friends picked us up at the airport and took us to the hotel we are staying at for one night. The logistics will come together today and travel (this time by road) will continue on Saturday. As we know, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). We’ll see where the Lord takes this trip.