Bliss Hotel indeed had my name and put me in a room on the third floor at the front overlooking the street. One of the first things I always do in a new location is check-out their Wi-Fi so I can get/send email and talk to Rosemary on Skype. It was so bad I went downstairs and told them how important this was to me that I get connected. Thankfully, they had the same room on the second floor and it was better; but only a little better. At least I could get email. Unfortunately, this proved to be a struggle for both Tim (after he arrived) and myself for the rest of our stay. While this is a modern crutch, it is vital to stay in touch with home as much as possible for many reasons.
Worried that Mang had gone to the airport and not found me, I walked four short blocks to their place on the top floor (eighth) of a corner business and residence building overlooking the Yangon River, to let them know I had arrived. It was a thrill to see them again. We discovered that the young man they sent to the airport arrived too early and left before I got to the lobby. We enjoyed dinner together with Mang, Ciin and Andrew from Australia who was there to teach the following week on Cell Church Ministry during the day, and Tim and I would train using God’s Plan for His Church in the evening. The schedule was not completely clear, but I usually figure the details as we go along.
After dinner, I walked back to the hotel to settle in for the night. Friday was largely a day of rest except that Michael wanted to have lunch with me. He arrived around 12:30 p.m. with a brother (Sun) and we walked up the street to a Mini-Mart which had a pastry shop on the third floor. Getting to know Sun’s story was fascinating. He is a truck driver (big rig) and for many years lived as an alcoholic which brought trouble to his marriage and family. After complaining to a friend about how bad things were, his friend gave him a Bible. Not knowing where to begin reading, he opened to the book of Proverbs and was drawn to the wisdom he had never heard of that answered so many of the problems he faced. After a time, he went back to his friend and asked where this wisdom came from? This was the open door of his heart that received the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ that delivered him from Buddhism and drinking. Because his wife is very ill, he has left his job and is now caring for her full time. What a marvelous story of grace! We cannot limit God and the ways He will use to bring a soul out of darkness into His light.
Saturday was the 25th Anniversary Celebration of God’s Trio Partners at the training center, beginning at 10 a.m. Arriving about 9:45, I found myself among two hundred or more and began to see a couple familiar faces, including Andrew from Melbourne, Australia, the three from England, and Moses who Tim and I trained in Chiang Mai. Trying to take a back seat didn’t work. So, along with others, we were asked to sit in the front with Mang and Ciin. Many church planters and pastors from all over Myanmar were there who had been trained by them over the years. The next three plus hours were filled with worship, testimonies, slide shows and singing by different ethnic groups. After the service there was a meal provided for all who had come. It was quite an event.
Mang asked me to attend their service the next day (Sunday) and serve Communion. This is usually a risky thing to do because there are so many denominational and cultural traditions and specific ways of doing this, but knowing Mang, I felt at home to help as the Lord led. They placed Communion in the middle of the service after worship and many testimonies, but before the sermon which was being given by Andrew. I took the liberty to explain how and why Jesus used the Passover as a transition element to introduce the Lord’s Supper and why it now holds such importance for the church. Many came up to me after to express appreciation for the way I had done this and what greater meaning it gave them every time it would be celebrated in the future until the Lord comes.
Tim was arriving from Chiang Mai in the afternoon, so I double checked with Mang to be sure that if someone was going to meet him, they had the correct time of arrival, and if necessary, I would go as well. Oh how I wanted to see him again. I was assured that Joe Lim would be the one to fetch Tim and bring him to the hotel. About 3:30 p.m., he arrived at the Bliss Hotel and we both had a moment of blissJ Now we were up to our old habits of walking the town to find a place for food and, yes, ice cream! Finding places to eat was no problem. Good ice cream took a back seat for one day.
Oct. 27-29. Since Andrew was continuing his teaching on the “Cell Church” until noon on Thursday, Mang asked Tim and me to take two hours in the evening (Monday through Wednesday) to begin the introduction of God’s Plan for His Church. This gave Tim and me the next three days to get into mischief during the day! Don’t ask for details!!
Michael had asked me through email and on Friday if I would speak to a group of church planters and pastors who gather regularly at his office for prayer and encouragement. When I made this arrangement with Michael, I did not tell him that Tim might be with us, so it was a joyous moment when He came around 10:30 a.m. with Sun and we headed to his office which is about ten minutes away. It was only a couple blocks away from our hotel that I noticed a new building that was near completion which had on the first floor a Swenson’s Ice Cream and it appeared open. I tucked that in my memory for later reference.
We arrived at Michael’s and were greeted by his wife Gulu. It was good to see her and Dal No who was the interpreter for Randy and me the last time we were here. Sitting at a long row of narrow tables were about fifteen men and women who were giving testimonies of what God was doing in their ministries and asking for specific prayer. About 11:30, Michael asked me to speak a word of encouragement to them before lunch was served. The Lord put on my heart to trace through Scripture those who had learned to live in a close relationship to God so they could hear Him speak to them. Beginning with Enoch, Noah and Moses, and then ending with those in the seven churches of Revelation 2 and3 who have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the church. Michael then asked Tim if he wanted to say anything. He concluded our time with how the importance of this truth affects our marriage, family, the church, and our testimony to the world. We then enjoyed a time of fellowship over lunch, learning what the Lord is doing with some of those present. I have not mentioned it each time it comes, but this is the rainy season and it is common once a day to have a heavy downpour. I was beginning to wonder if we would even be able to get into the car parked outside. It is also common that these storms do not last long and within a half hour it had almost stopped. Michael took us back to the hotel where we rested and prepared for the evening session.
Since Tim was leaving Saturday morning for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I deferred to him teaching as much as possible and prayed that this would set the stage for the ten days ahead. There is one thing in our favor and that is our dear Brother Mang who is truly like-minded with us in GPHC. Tim took extra time in Chapter One hoping to lay a firm foundation in the sixty or so present. On Tuesday, Tim and I decided to sit in on the Cell Church training just to see what it was like and how close the teaching was to what we were presenting. We both agreed that it was supportive of an Acts model and did not detract from our training. For this we are thankful!