Sabbath in Kolasib, Mizoram, India

Saturday, October 13, 2018
Kolasib, Mizoram, India
Ladies Ensemble sings
Children's Choir
Left for breakfast at Joseph and Mahumi Lalnuntluanga’s home in Kolasib. Joseph is the nephew of PC Lalvuana. They have two small children. They live right across the street from the church building.  “Across the street” does not describe it adequately. The street is a traverse cut into a mountainside.  The church building is above them.  They are on the lower side and their house goes up and down.   They have a fabulous view of the countryside and looking up towards the church. We walked up to the rooftop and experienced the breath-taking views of everything including the church building. The drop straight down from the roof catches your breath, as well, as it seems so high. 
Breakfast was yummy.  Eggs, Indian bread, local bananas, chicken, French fries and much more. Jolinda is a fan of French fries and a meal is incomplete without FF. It was really a brunch.  They like big breakfasts.  There will be two services today.  But, between services there will only be tea and cookies.   Then there will be a dinner. 
Then the walk “across the street” to church.  You must climb about 85 steps straight up from the street to the church building level. The sound of music comes from the church building. Big bass drums.  They like drums. And, lively singing with a female cantor who leads with words for all to follow.  We noted that there were many young adults in the congregation and many little children.  The children are so cute! 
Today there are several visitors from the Mamet region of Mizoram and other guests from the Church of God 7th Day community as well as one of their elders. The people are very friendly. Language is a barrier, but there were some who spoke English and through effort on both our parts we were able to communicate some with the people. The church building is new. It was dedicated in a special ceremony a year ago by David Schreiber. From the building the view of the mountainous valley is nothing short of spectacular as we observe clouds below us.  The church has owned this property for about 20 years.   An older building was on this property that had been dismantled.  The attendance today was about 85. Two new pieces of literature in the Mizo language were released today.  One was United Church of God’s Fundamentals of Belief.  The others was locally-written booklet about the Passover by Joseph L.  Joseph did the layout using PageMaker.  A nice job on the Fundamental Beliefs book which is 134 pages.  The booklet on the Passover was to explain and emphasize our belief about when we keep the Passover which is on the 14th day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. There are so many Sabbath-keeping groups, some of who keep the Passover on the 15th day of the first month. 
As guests we were brought up to sit up front off to the side.  Bev was on the right and I was on the left.  The congregation is also segregated with men on one side and women on the others.  We noted this in Ukraine, as well.  This is what is done in most churches generally. 
When I came up to speak we had a dedication of the FB book.  A copy of it was gift-wrapped. I untied the ribbon and offered a prayer on it in the morning service.  David Schreiber did the same on the Passover booklet in the afternoon.  
I had to give special thought as to what to speak about.  I wanted to say the things that brought us together and validate our eight years of knowing and working with each other.  Elder PC Lalvuana, our main communications contact because of his knowledge of English, asked me to talk about the United Church of God throughout the world.  What and how do we preach the Gospel?  What is the work we do?  The church here is very invested in the United Church of God shown obviously by the display of logos.  There is a commonality of spirit from all the regular visits by David and Jolinda Schreiber and earlier by Ken and Ruth Murray as well as others. They spoke highly of John Miller’s visit about two years ago.
So, I gave a sermon talking about the United Church of God’s Mission and Vision.  I spoke about the Statement of Beliefs and why they are important to us.  They also wanted to hear about us speak about church unity. So, I did all that knowing they wanted to hear from me about our relationship in which we are working towards formally together being the United Church of God.
After the morning service and songs and closing hymn in which singing children and some others come up and walk in a circle. The morning service was most inspiring. The beating of the big drum was new to me.  I am told that the use of a drum is common.  At one of the earlier Beyond Today seminars one of the attending pastors asked me if we could help his congregation with “bibles and drums.”  Now, it was coming clear to me about why.
On the large patio deck overlooking the mountainous scenery we had tea and cookies.  Little children came to Bev and me and snuggled up to us. One little boy came to us and stroked by arm.  He was about eight years old.  In school he is learning English. We found that the children could speak English, while their parents could not. One young boy (about age 9) told us that his father was in the Army and away for long periods of time and that he missed his father.   His mother was in the congregation.  She did not know any English.  We found that this boy’s father was a senior officer in the Indian Army.  He was stationed in the dangerous disputed Kashmir territory. Pakistan and India are fierce enemies. In Kashmir there is constant unrest with people regularly being killed by sniper fire and other action.
The afternoon service started at 1:30 pm with David Schreiber being the featured speaker. He spoke about distractions from our life’s mission as a Christian.  A very good motivating Christian living message. 
The children’s choir sang a song in English for us. The director is Mahumi Lalnuntluanga.
At the end of the service the end was signified with singing children walking in a circle in front of the congregation.
Thus ended the day.  Afterwards we posed for many photos with the congregation. 
I might say that the Mizoram United Church of God has never asked us for any financial assistance. Even on this trip they have paid for all our lodging and food expenses even though we persistently offered.
After going back to our lodge we went over to a member’s home for dinner.  Many people were there, too. 
After dinner we set up chairs so that the almost 30 people who were there could engage us in a discussion and ask questions. 
Another day in Mizoram came to an end.  I have heard so much about our brethren in Mizoram. This experience is somewhat surreal based on expectations with reality far exceeding it. I have loved working people whose beliefs are similar to ours in Ukraine, Argentina and now Mizoram.
Many positive things were said.  I appreciated the openness going both ways.
Tomorrow, Sunday, we go back to Aizawl for more gatherings.
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So inspiring! I was looking for a picture of the beautiful view too! ;)

Ken Murray

Wow! I just loved seeing you with all our wonderful brethren there in Kolasib, on God’s Sabbath day. God would have been delighted too! It sounded like a very typically vibrant Sabbath ...including the messages given