For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

photo (4)Tonight I delivered food boxes to people who would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner. It is an annual outreach into the community by our church. Working with an elementary school counselor at a school with significant poverty, we identify the most vulnerable families and deliver a meal to their homes. For several weeks leading up the the event, people give food and money sacrificially to make this possible. Alpen Rose Dairy donates turkeys. Winco foods provides discounts on staples. A host of helpers at our church came to get them all delivered.

It is a pretty organized event. There are addresses, names and phone numbers on the prearranged boxes. We need only show up at the door with the box and wish the family a Happy Thanksgiving. The address of this particular apartment was clearly labeled on the box. We knocked on the door and surprised the residents with our gift. After a few moments of confusion we realized that there was not a match between the name on the box and the people who lived in the apartment. With an apology for disturbing them we departed to find the rightful recipient. The family was clearly disappointed that they would not receive the help.

We tried to call the phone number on the box label. It was a non-working number. So we returned to the door of the family we had surprised and gave them the gift. The mom said, “I don’t know how to thank you. We were going to have grill cheeses for dinner on Thursday. I told a coworker of mine about our situation and she said not to worry, but that God would provide. And so He has! Thank you!”

When we returned to the church we found the right phone number for the family who had been the intended recipient. They said the box was already delivered to them. Apparently, one of the children of the family to whom we had given it recognized the name on the box as a classmate. So they brought it to the rightful recipient. They were back to grill cheese.

It gets better. The rightful recipient knew that the other family had greater need, so after taking just a few items they needed, they gave the meal back to the family that gave it to them. These two families who both have need were sacrificial towards one another, though they barely knew one another. Each of them tried to be a help to the other. What grace! We went back over with yet another box and blessed both families.

Last week I visited a friend who had given her kidney to a neighbor with a life-threatening kidney disease. She is a healthy mother of two who learned that her blood type made her a suitable donor, so she went under the knife and gave her neighbor the gift of life. She didn’t want any fanfare. It was a fairy quiet event between the two families.

These stories of grace are humbling. Generous people at every turn were willing to set something aside for another. And God is pleased. People who give sacrificially are showing the best of what it means to be made in the image of God.

God is a gift giver. He sent His perfect Son into an imperfect world and gave a gift that is still freeing the hearts of those trapped in the bondage of sin. As His people, we are compelled to reach into every messy corner that needs a touch of Jesus and to give ourselves sacrificially to the work of God in loving others. That is mission – giftive mission.


Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks
        (Proverbs 1:20-21)
SiliguriIndian streets are full of life. Jim and I had gone into town with Ruben and Jonathan in order to buy some tools for the work ahead. We sat in traffic for about a half an hour behind a Muslim parade and then waited by the car while they went looking for what we needed (they go without us so they can get Indian prices. If we go with them at first the price triples. So after they find what we are looking for we go and make the purchase). Hindus, Muslims and political parties here seem to have parades every couple of days.  They march with flags, banners, idols, bands, blaring music from horn speakers… For all their disruption, fervor and excitement, most people ignore them. While waiting at the car, bicycle rickshaws and Mahindra 3-wheel cabs were everywhere. It looks like chaos at first, but as you watch an order finally comes into focus.
Jim watched cooks at a popular food stand as they served the waiting line.  When a person was done with their plate, the cook would take it back, use the water in the gutter to get it spit-polish clean and then serve the next guest. My attention was on a bicycle delivery guy who had piled boxes to about 5 feet above the bike seat. It was a wonder it was even upright as it swayed to and fro. He tried to pedal but finally gave up and began to walk the heavy bike to its destination. As he turned the corner the bike tipped precariously to about 40 degrees before he managed to recover it and then disappeared out of sight. The sidewalks themselves, if you can call them that, are makeshift covers over open sewers. They are seriously hazardous to walk on, opening up occasionally to the darkness below. Fall into one of those and you may have all sorts of wildlife encounters before emerging at the plate cleaning station of a popular food stand.
Back to the school, it has been a very productive time. The staff at the school impress me more each time I come. They are doing so much with so little. They pour themselves into this school in every way. The girls are precious. We’d bring them all home if we could. Here is a short list of what we were able to do:
  • decided with the staff upon the new curriculum for next year (the school year starts in January)
  • trained the teachers and staff in the new curriculum and other teaching methods
  • installed a second storage tank on the roof
  • installed a stronger pump and replaced the pressure switch
  • installed a hand pump for when there is no electricity (pretty common)
  • purchased some maintenance hardware for the school (shovels, wheelbarrow, hammer, drill, chisel)
  • set up a 70′ x 60′ gardening area for the school
  • designed a property grading plan in order to insure that there will not be any property flooding next monsoon
  • improved the Internet access for the computer lab
This is a great team – Lisa, Linda, Melinda, Monica, Marty and Jim have given their all. What a privilege to serve alongside such amazing saints, both our B4 team and the folks of Bright Hope.



KLMThe Dutch make a mean wooden shoe, but things go downhill from there. Customer service is just not in their blood. I came up with a list of 10 things they could do to improve the KLM flying experience.

  1. Greet us instead of hanging out in a group staring at us as we arrive,
  2. Don’t say the plane will be there in 30 minutes unless you know that it will in fact be there in 30 minutes,
  3. Tell us why the flight is being delayed,
  4. When it doesn’t show, don’t announce to us that it will now be another 30 minutes, but that you will believe it when you see it,
  5. If you do finally tell us why the plane is delayed, you might find a better way to say the electricity isn’t working and the technicians don’t know why,
  6. Don’t tell people not to leave the security area unless it is an emergency when the standing-room-only security area has no bathroom,
  7. Don’t sigh and huff when people have that very emergency,
  8. Don’t blow up at customers who ask why they are not being better informed about what is going on during the 3-hour delay.
  9. From time to time, just to see if anyone might need something, you should come out of the galley where you hang out behind the closed curtains during the whole flight,
  10. Smile at least once at at least one customer.
We arrived “rode hard and put away wet” at our hotel in Delhi at 5:35AM on Wednesday morning (we should have been there by 2:00AM). We were planning to meet in the restaurant for a quick meal and a 9:00 shuttle back to the airport for our final flight to Silguri. That’s 3-1/2 hours for a quick shower and however much sleep we could squeeze in. Sound like a rough ride?  Well despite all that the team did great and was up and excited to get to Bright Hope English School in teh morning.
The flights to Siliguri were great. Number 11 on the list above is for KLM to send their flight attendants to India to learn about amazing customer service from Jet Airways and Air India. We met Jonathan and Ruben at the airport, who brought is to our hotel in the new Bright Hope vehicle. We were greeted at the Barsana Hotel by Sweetie (that is her real name), who welcomed us “home” and reminded me that we are family here.
P1030529We went to Bright Hope and got to visit a bit with the girls and the staff. Anita was already at the school and will be with our team here. The Bright Hope folks made us a wonderful dinner and we talked about what we will be doing in the coming week.
In summary, we have arrived and are doing well and are fully engaged. Please pray for us this week – for stamina (some of the team are having a bit of jet-lag since we are in a time zone that is 12-1/2 hours earlier), for wisdom with our time and resources, for favor with the locals as we engage them to do some of the water and construction work, and for our encouragement to the team here. They do a lot with only a few people and are exhausted. We want to be a refreshment to them and not a burden.