the Vijayawada home group, but you'd never guess that it's a home group.
just outside the Askhaya Family Restaurant
Prasad, Ashok, and us in Eluru (Prasad in front, Ashok in back)
beautiful sunrise over the city of Vijayawada this past week
This week was eventful and fulfilling and many prayers were answered. There were so many experiences, all of which I wish to share, however, for the sake of concision I will share but a few:
This week we went to Eluru, a nearby village that is about an hour's travel by bus. We received a referral from a missionary whose cousin lives there and is interested to learn more about our church. This brother, Prasad, is awesome, he recently earned a master's degree in chemistry and is currently searching for a job. Our initial plan was to teach just Prasad, however, we soon learned that Prasad has a roommate named Ashok. As we talked with Prasad, Ashok was bustling here and there getting ready for work but we could tell he was interested in us and our message. We invited him to join us for a few minutes. We shared the message of the Restoration with them and after the lesson, Ashok said something like, "I'm so happy you came today, God only sent you." That was such a cool experience.
While traveling back from Eluru, we received a call from President instructing us to make arrangements to move our Sunday meetings into a conference hall we recently came across. I don't know how much I've shared about our search for a temporary meetinghouse, but for the past few weeks we have been searching diligently to find a place that would meet the Church's standard's, be reasonably priced, and also located in a central location that people can easily travel to--and we finally found one: the Akshaya Family Restaurant on MG Road. Up until now, our meetings have been held in the living room of a brother's home who lives in a village-type area on the outskirts of Vijayawada. As one can imagine, our members, let alone our investigators, were not so keen on attending due to the complicated nature of travel to church. So President's call and approval was a great blessing for us. Our Sunday attendance this past week was the highest it's ever been: thirty in all, ten of which were investigators. It was incredible. It looked and felt like a branch, not a home group. I will send photos. It has been such a great blessing to be a part of the miraculous growth here in Vijayawada. My first Sunday here there were just eleven in attendance and now we've nearly tripled that.
Last few experiences, sorry this is lengthy already:
We were tracting in what would fall under a more upscale area here in India, which is not common for us, usually people don't accept our message in such areas. We hadn't had much success that day and we decided to give the area a try. One house we knocked on, a woman opened the door and we asked her if she ever wondered why there are so many churches today. She quickly and enthusiastically responded, "YES, come back tomorrow at 3:45PM." So we went back the next day and shared the Restoration her and her 14-year-old son, they loved it. They said, "This makes so much sense, where has this been all our lives?" It was so cool.
That same night we made found this woman, in fact, right after the experience, we walked across the street from their home to a small neighborhood park in hopes to find someone to teach. As we walked around, we saw a man seated on a curb, attempting to watch a movie but his eyes were fixed on us instead (common here, haha, we are quite the spectacle sometimes). We felt impressed to talk to him so we sat down with him and almost immediately he opened up to us about everything going on his life, how he's been struggling for three unsuccessful years to find a job, his friends had left him and gone their separate ways, and he had been sitting at the park for hours that day contemplating whether or not God loved him and knew about him. He told he was a Christian but wasn't sure where God is in his life right now. We testified that God does love him and knows him and has a great plan and purpose for his life and that we would help him find peace through Jesus Christ. He was so happy. He told us, "God only sent you to me today." Experiences like this make the whole two years that much sweeter.
Sorry this is long, remind me to share of other experiences not included in here when you see me.
Have a great week, keep the faith!