Mizoram - arrived in a different world!

Thursday, October 11, 2018
Aizawl, Mizoram, India
Cyclone Titli is moving in from the Bay of Bengal towards Calcutta today. It’s to make landfall between us at Visakhapatnam and Calcutta.  We are concerned that the flight might be cancelled. Our trip is so tightly planned that this would be difficult if there was a major delay.  We found that the flight was only delayed and as it turned out, it was for only for one hour and twenty minutes.  We had almost a five hour layover in Calcutta, so there is wiggle room. 
We got to the airport quickly with no traffic early in the morning. The day before, the same road was crowded with chaotic congested traffic.  
Got to Calcutta.  In India, if your connection is on a different airline, you have to pick up your luggage, go out of security, recheck you luggage and go through the entire security routine again.  Once we got through security we found a Priority Club lounge. Yeah! 
Travelling with us to Mizoram is Ezekiel Polianti who wanted to join us on the Mizoram part of our journey. He has never been to the state of Mizoram and wanted to meet the people we would and be at all the same places we would be at.  
The lounge was great and provided the equivalent of a meal and comfortable chairs and the Internet. I was able to send my eNews copy to the home office for posting later in the day.  My power cord for my laptop is acting up and is working intermittently and then later in the day stopped working altogether. I copied over some of my most used files to a flash drive and am using Bev’s laptop for the rest of the journey.    
Then we got on to the flight to Aizawl in Mizoram. We missed the brunt of the bad weather connected with coming up.  We were wondering if the flight out would make it.  It did.  But, it was an hour delayed and we left shortly after 2 pm on an Air India Airbus 319 which is a good-sized plane. Not a puddle-jumper. A nice snack was served.  On the first leg, which was Air Asia, you had to pay for everything, including coffee. 
As we make our approach to Aizwal, the capital of state of Mizoram, we see the mountainous terrain. Mizoram is a state bordering on Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the country of Bhutan. All places exotic, even to a traveler as myself.
At Aizawl Airport we were so happy to see the people that I have been hearing so much about in this unique part of the world. It’s unlike any place that I have ever visited on the face of the earth.  Both, in terms of geography and the nature of the people.  The people are more Oriental/Asiatic (not sure which term to use) and relate to the people of Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. The story about the people of Mizoram and the United Church of God is an amazing one that I’ll be telling.
While I’ve heard so much about the people and have been involved with the Council of Elders resolution to extend an offer of affiliation and permission to translate and distribute United Church of God literature under license. 
A letter was written to them from the Council of Elders in January this 2018 stated that since they have changed their name to “United Church of God, Mizoram,” and have adopted the UCGIA Fundamental Beliefs, are keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and God’s Feasts and, in most other ways, point towards a desire at a future date to become a part of UCGIA, rather than just a separate church of God that is working with UCGIA.   For now we will continue our close working relationship with UCG Mizoram as we jointly preach the gospel in the state of Mizoram.   
The people meeting us were the pastor P.C. Rualtainoa and his daughter Dorothy Duati, a schoolteacher who took half the day off to greet us.  P.C. Lalvuana who speaks English and is the person who is our communication facilitator and translator for all events. P.C. Laluavan is also one of the leaders in the Kolosib church where he lives. Also, present was Mala who works for the government health department and Zoa who is a college instructor. Our plan is to go to Kolosib  about three hours from Aizawlw via treacherous winding roads cut into the mountains. The people live in unusual terrain that requires special engineering and making do with the vertical nature of their land. But, they do and they do it wonderfully. 
We took the one hour drive from the airport to downtown Aizawl, a city of about 250,000.  We round so many curves and looked over breathtaking vistas of mountains and structures built up the slopes.   Why would anyone want to settle in such a harsh environment?  But, they and their ancestors have lived here for centuries.  One reason they gave was how green this area was how well things grew.  There are many banana trees and vegetable ranging from squash, tomatoes, cucumbers appear to be plentiful.
We settled in at hour hotel in the middle of town, but looking out our second story window we looked down hundreds of feet. It made us gasp just looking.  The vista was spectacular. 
We were to stay in an economy tourist lodge, but there some kind of government conference in place and all those places were booked. This place was nice because we actually had Internet.
PC stayed for dinner with us at the hotel and I took the opportunity ask him about the Church, his history. He told us that his first grandson was born today. We were under the impression that he would drop us off at the hotel and go to the hospital, but he ended up staying with us for dinner at the Esquire hotel in the center of Aizawl.
At dinner, PC gave us an interesting history of his Sabbath-keeping roots and the Sabbath-keepers in Mizoram.
In 1970 at the age of five, his parents came to understand the keeping of the Saturday Sabbath. It was the Church of God Israel.  There were 10 people who were part of this group at that time.
In 1990 PC became more acquainted with the Feast of Trumpets and in 1993 understood Pentecost by “counting” as differentiating using the fixed date of the 6th of Sivan.  IN 1997 he made contact with the Bible Sabbath Association which offered to list his fellowship in their directory of Sabbath-keeping groups.  In 1997 he was listed as the Church of God Israel in the directory.
In 1997 he made contact with the United Church of God in Arcadia, California and made first contact with Matthew Fenchel who was the person who wrote back to him.  Their group had a set of 24 fundamentals of belief.
Mizoram is almost 100% Christian and somewhat a protected area.  Presbyterian churches abound.  This includes lots of Sabbath groups included Church of God 7th Day and Seventh Day Adventists. There are 42 Church of God 7th Day congregations in Mizoram.   In 1997 Bill Hicks came to visit them. In 2000 or 2001 P.C asked that representatives of the United Church of God come and visit them in Mizoram and in October 2002 they came.  This was followed by elder Ken Murray and his wife Ruth from Australia on several occasions.
I have had a friendship with Bill Hicks from the Church of God 7th Day for many years now and he always spoke so enthusiastically about the people in Mizoram. 
All this history was very interesting as I am trying to really understand the background of these people who now display the logo of the United Church of God, translate, print and distribute our literature. 
Another long, but satisfying and exciting day!
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Jeanne Thorne

Love and Prayers to Bev and you! Looks lovely but also dangerous if that is possible! Always great to know where you guys are! We send our Love here from the Orlando congregation!