Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sunday morning

Good morning! It's Sunday, about six a.m. We had a great transition day yesterday -- a couple of of slept and mostly we stayed awake, did a little preparatory shopping, and last night had a non-guided adventure, taking a jeepney -- hopefully I can post a picture soon; for the moment imagine a fleet of miniature buses driven by weld men who generally speak little English and who can immediately tell you how many people are riding in the back of their jeepney, how many have paid, where each of them is headed, and whether the guy on the bicycle ahead will veer in front of the jeepney and cause them to hit the brakes hard. Incredibly, in all the time I've spent hear I've never seen anything resembling a traffic accident. Thousands and thousands of near misses, but no damage.

So yes, we went adventuring. Julie C. says, in her words, that she's "all about the food." So she got a recommendation from the hotel clerk yesterday that we should go to Smallville, a tiny island of restaurants, bars, and dance clubs about three or four kilometers (get used to it) north and west of here, just across the river. We had some choices. We could take a taxi, which is more expensive, and tends to get you ripped off by taxi drivers that offer you a bargain flat rate rather than making you pay according to that annoying meter. We talked to a taxi driver and found out that at least in that one case, all the stereotypes are well deserved.

So instead we took a jeepney. A helpful policeman got us on a jeepney that was going the right direction, in daylight, and we got to Smallville with no problems. Wandered around for a while, found a great restaurant, and enjoyed an amazing meal.

It got dark, and it was time to start back. So we got on a jeepney headed the right direction. South. Yes. But the wrong route. When we finally gave the name of a large, well-known store close to our hotel, he shook his head and wanted to put us off the jeepney. We were by that time in a deserted area of town that looked like every nightmare you've had about being lost in a strange city in the Philippines as night is deepening and the scary things come out to play. We stayed on that jeepney like woodticks on a dog. Finally he took on two young men who spoke English and could do some translating. They got us to an intersection where we could wait for the proper route and gave us a little info that would help us pick out a more appropriate ride.

We got home just fine. Adventure had. Many lessons learned. Stomachs full, we had devotions and collapsed into bed.

Eight hours of blessed sleep later, I'm wide awake in the hotel lobby. It's getting light outside and I've been laying in bed talking to God for quite a while about this coming week and what I hope, dream, and pray about for this Global Alpha Training time.

And now I'm going to spend some time going through my notes for my sermon this morning at Grace Church. Preaching through the end of Mark 4, where Jesus takes the disciples to the other side of the lake and on the way calms an incredible storm.

Come to think of it, being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee when a storm is coming up might be a little like being on a jeepney in Iloilo as night falls and you realize you are outside of your own control -- you have to trust and pray to make it through this. If Jesus isn't in that boat with you, you are in a lot of trouble.

The key thing in both cases, of course, is making sure you're doing what Jesus tells you to do. It was his idea to get in the boat and go across the lake; the disciples were just following him. That status -- being an obedient follower of Jesus -- doesn't guarantee them safety and security. But it does mean that they can trust that what happens to them along the way is Jesus' business more than it is their own, and in the end his word is good -- he will never leave them or forsake them.

Have a great Sunday!

P.S. Those of you who are leading and helping with Alpha tonight (Saturday evening) at Central, know that you are in our prayers this morning. If I've got the time change figured right, at this moment you should be gathering to prepare things. May you know the presence of Jesus in your boat this evening!

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