Saturday, June 30, 2012

Some things God is teaching me

Just a quick blog to let you all know I'm alive and safe in India. Had a wonderful 26th birthday with the kids and a cake. I ordered food from a local restaurant for everyone and we had a wonderful feast!

Some things God is teaching me:

John 8:36 and Glacians 5:1. No longer slave to sin and the law: “If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (trying to save yourself by total obedience and good works). “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love….You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth (that the law cannot save you)? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you…I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.” So often, Satan, our peers, or our own doubts and fears constantly throw us into confusion. We need to stop listening to this negativity.

"Shalom" is more than just "peace" as it is often translated. It also means "well being" and "blessing." When the Jewish people greet each other “shalom,” they’re really talking about all of God’s blessings on their life: family, work, faith, etc. Even though Jesus spoke Aramaic, this "shalom" was what he would have meant when he said, “Peace be with you” and "my peace I give to you."

Perfect love casts out fear, because fear expects judgment. Love expects God’s peace and blessing. Through Christ, I can expect this in all areas of my life, not just salvation! Praise God!

Prayer Requests: George and Manju are interviewing for more staff to expand their Beyond Barriers Ministry. Pray that they find the right people for the job. Also, for my health, which has been ailing lately. Please pray that God will heal my whole body! Thanks for all your warm thoughts, kind words, and sincere prayers.

Lots of Love from India!
L.J. Popp

Friday, June 22, 2012

Bannerghatta National Park

Today on my day off, I went to Bannerghatta National Park with my friends Ruth and Barani!



We rented a car and driver, a 2000 rupees ($40) package for ten hours. We left around 8:30, and it took about one and a half hours to get there. We went on a bumpy bus safari, (where we literally saw lions, tigers, and bears) walked around a butterfly sanctuary, and visited the zoo. Here are some pictures:

White tiger on the safari:


Bear on the Road:


African hornbill:



We saw a stray cat in the crocodile cage. Either that's a very brave or very stupid cat!



There were lots of wild monkeys running around loose, including some babies!


A man told us we could could go inside the special breeding center where we saw the cocoons and dead butterflies.



I kept asking him, "Baiya (older brother), how much is it?" but he wouldn't answer my question. He was acting like it was free, then he charged us! He asked for 150 rupees, but we only gave him 50. It's easy for foreigners to get cheated here, but I won't let that happen.

For more, you can visit my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/laura.popp.503/photos.

Had dinner at McDonalds and came back around 6:30pm. A very nice day!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Hectic, but fun

Life's been a little hectic here in India, so I'm taking it easy on the blog posts. Each day is filled with lessons, Bible study, prayer and fellowship. Rainy seaon's started too, so I'm a bit tired. Here's a picture of Sudeep, Punith, and Ashish. Each morning I teach Sudeep and Punith from 9:00 to 1:00 math, reading, music, and English while the other children are at school.



Last Friday on my day off, I went into the city with some girls volunteering at the orphanage across the street. I bought some souvenirs for my family at a little shop on Commercial Street (with good discounts because the girls knew the owner). I got all my Christmas shopping done!

Saturday evening George took me, Manju, Jedi, and our friends Sam and Mildred who are expecting a baby to a local mall. We had a wonderful Western dinner (I can't believe how much I missed beef) and enjoyed looking around.

Monday we had a going away party for Deepdi, a former volunteer who'll be in New York to study medical journalism. She promised I'll get to visit her sometime, and of course I invited her to Oklahoma!

Sometimes in the morning I go for a walk. I took this picture outside a pet shop. It sold all the usual pets and accessories, but didn't look anything like a pet store back home!



Tomorrow on my day off I'm going with some friends to Bannerghatta National Park to see a tiger safari, the zoo, and for hiking. I'm really excited!

Prayer Requests: For health and strength and God's grace to get through each day. Also, the house mom, Sudha, is praying that God will heal her of diabetes.

Until next time, keep praying and loving,
L.J. Popp

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Perfect Schedule

Finally, more pictures!

SS home kids!



Here are the directors of SS home and Beyond Barriers, George and Manju. I live in their apartment in the guest room.



These are the house parents I work with, Charles and Suddha:


Here are the two Hindu ladies who cook and clean for the children. I don't get to talk to them much because they don't speak English.



Here are the children hiking through the misty mountains (back two weeks ago when we went on that jungle outing).



The kids at the annual SS home spelling B:


Puniht, one of the two boys I homeschool in the mornings, all wrapped up against the night chill in the jungle during the jeep safari:



The fish George caught:


Well, now that the outing and decipleship training is over, I've been homeschooling two boys for the past week and have gotten into a kind of "regular schedule." Here's a sample of what my weekly schedule looks like:

7:00am I get up. I pray and study my Bible, have breakfast with George and Manju, and get ready for the day.

9:00am I fetch Sudeep (7) and Punith (9) from their room where they're usually playing, and home school them in preparation for entering school in June 2013, hopefully in the 2nd and 4th grades.

Every morning we start with the felt/Velcro calender. They paste on the month, date, day of the week, weather, and season. We sing a song about the weather and the days of the week. Then I set them up with some sort of craft, such as stitching with their stitching kits, tracing, drawing, or coloring. During this time they're also supposed to practice the piano; Punith and Sudeep alternate practice days.

From 9:30 to 10:00 they're working on their craft or practicing while I go to morning staff devotion. We sing 3-4 songs from a book and then talk about what God has been speaking to us and doing in our lives.

From 10:00-10:15, I teach Punith and Sudeep action songs to get their blood flowing again. From 10:15-10:45 we have reading. They both know their alphabet but Sudeep is still struggling with phonetics. He knows the sounds the letters make, but has a hard time sounding out the words, even easy 3-letter words. Mostly he just tries to guess, but I think he's slowly getting it! While I'm helping Sudeep, I usually have Punith read an easy book and copy the words to help him with spelling and penmanship. When he finishes that, he reads the book to me and shows me his work. Even though he reads better than Sudeep, he definitely needs help with handwriting, and I often have him go back and rewrite words he slopped over. When he focuses and writes slowly, his writing becomes much more legible.

From 10:45-11:15 is math time. Last week we worked on simple addition and subtraction and how to tell time. They're really struggling with time, because it's counter intuitive. Logically, they think, if the little hand is on the 3 and the big hand is on the 6, then is should be "3:6 o'clock." I've used lots of repetition and tried explaining that the short hand stands for hour and the long hand minutes, and that there are sixty minutes in an hour, but this is beyond their language skills and experience. They have no concept of "hours" and "minutes." Their idea of time is "snack time" "play time" and "lesson time." I've decided to drop the issue and come back to it a little later.

11:15-11:30 is snack time. Sometimes we watch an educational or Bible video too. Then music time is 11:30-12:00. I either give one of them a piano lesson while the other practices recorder, or I give them both a recorder lesson. We also sing songs, dance, and run around a bit.

12:00-12:30 is language time. Last week we did animals. I had a set of flashcards. If they got the animal right, they kept the card. At the end, they counted up the cards and the boy with the most cards got a sticker.

Ah, yes, the stickers. While I was teaching in Japan, I came up with a "passport" system. I got images of the flags of 15 different English-speaking countries and copied them to a single sheet of paper. Whenever one of my students does something well, they get a sticker. When they get 15 stickers, they get a small prize, like a plastic superman ring or a bracelet or candy. Both Punith and Sudeep, along with a few of the other children, have already filled up their 1st sticker sheets and are working on their 2nd.

From 12:30-1:00 we have lunch. Then Punith and Sudeep take a nap, and I plan for the next day. At 3:00 the other children come home and I help them with their homework until 4:00. They each have a designated twenty-minute piano practice time somewhere between 4:15 and 6:55, but most of them aren't interested in practicing, so I don't make them. I play with them until 6:00, when we sometimes have a recorder lesson. I usually take batches of 3 kids at a time for twenty to thirty minutes each. So far they've leaned hot crossed buns, the days of the week song, Seek Ye First, and Amazing Grace. At 7:00 we have devotions which I sometimes lead. They sings 2-3 songs and then I teach them something from the Bible. Often I tell a story and they have to tell me the moral. That's one of my favorite times!

Fridays are usually my day off, but this Friday I spent with the kids because Suddha, the house mother, was doing a discipleship training class. On Saturdays the kids either have off from school or they have a half day. On half days I teach Punith and Sudeep like every other day, but when the other kids have off, we all watch a movie together.

Sundays we go to church and rest. Thank God! By the end of the week, I need to recharge.

Prayer Requests for this week: George and Manju have both been sick off and on (due to the change from dry to rainy season, I suspect). Please pray for a full restoration of their health and that no one else will get sick. They're also beginning a big project of expansion in Beyond Barriers and SS home, and are trusting God to provide all the funds, resources, and time they need. Please pray for the two Hindu ladies who work for SS home. George and Manju have been talking and praying with them, but as of yet they have not accepted Jesus. (Evangelism is a touchy issue in this area. In all other states in India there is a secular government, but the government in Kanartika is Hindu and sharing faith in Jesus is even more illegal and punishable. So please pray too that the government will change!)

Personally, I'm struggling with a lot of anxiety and fear about the future and what to do (which I really shouldn't be thinking about right now anyway), and I just need to feel the peace of God and His love in and upon my life.

Until next time, keep loving and praying,
L.J. Popp

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Small World Providence

You'll never guess what I did last week! It was such a coincidence. George and Manju wanted me to go for some discipleship training at the church, and the leaders were from nowhere other than Tulsa, Oklahoma, my hometown! God brought me halfway around the world to attend a session I would have never otherwise went to right on the other side of town.

Here's the team. The leader, Pastor Chene Tucker, is in the middle in orange.



I never would have gone to it otherwise because it was super charismatic. Dr. Chene Tucker, a professor at Oral Robert's University, spent the entire morning 9:30-1:00, sometimes later, leading very loud, boisterous worship, praying over people in tongues, and casting out demons, before launching into the afternoon teaching session of another 4-5 hours on such topics as inner healing, soul ties, prophesy and life purpose. (This was an all day affair Tuesday through Sunday.)

Whoa! At first I was very put off. I thought these people must be insane, or at least delusion and messed up in their theology. But then Pastor Chene sat down with me and showed me places in scripture where things like this happened, and also described various revivals throughout history that were very legitimate and resulted in entire tribes or cities coming to Christ. Manju confirmed what she said.

"Laura, if you want to plant churches in places that have never heard of Jesus, this is the sort of thing you're going to see a lot. The power of the Holy Spirit has to break through various demonic strongholds inherent in idolatrous cultures. You should not just expect to see this, you should hope to see it."

Still skeptical, I agreed to at least stay until the end. God really stretched me. I realized that I don't always have to understand something or feel it myself in order for it to be true and genuine. Everything they did was strongly backed up in scripture. Did I end up speaking in tongues or manifesting prophesy or some other "gift of the spirit?" No. But I did discover and strengthen some of my "motivational" spirit gifts which are also mentioned in scripture, such as teaching, encouraging, apostleship, and evangelism. Through the personality test, I learned that I'm a "melancholy" temperament, which explains why I'm so analytical.

At the graduation ceremony on Sunday, we all read the meaning of our name and our life mission statement. "Laura" means "victorious," and "Jane" means "God is gracious, so I say, "God is gracious to give me the victory." My life mission statement is to, "Victorious proclaim the graciousness and love of God in Jesus through my writing and teaching, especially in places where Christ is not well known." Three prophecies were spoken over me: 1.) That God has set me free to use my talents and what I enjoy doing to bring honor and glory to Him. 2.) There is a great "epistle" inside me waiting to be written (unbeknownst to them I've saved all the Christian letters and advice I've written over the years and am slowly compiling it) and 3.) That I would not always write "sitting in a chair" all the time, but through my amazing experiences and the lives that I touch.

Here we are processing:


Graduating class:



God also told me independently that my "secret" name is Petra, the female form of Peter. When Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter, Simon meant "wavering reed," but Peter meant "rock." God told me I should be a rock, firm in my decisions, not always waffling and wavering in the winds of doubt and fear. Just as a man who begins to plow a field should not constantly look over his shoulder, so I should not always second guess myself.

Here's a symbol of the conference, a sparrow's nest we found in the backyard of SS home:



So was it a interesting coincidence or God's providence that I ended up in that seminar? You can think what you want. I've already made up my mind.

Prayer Requests: We spent a lot of time (at least 2 hours a day) praying for revival in Bangalore and India at large. Please add your own voice to this petition. Sometimes God does not give simply because we do not ask. He loves to give good things to His children!

Until next time, keep praying and loving,
L.J. Popp