It was so nice to just rest for a spell in my new house and feel all the love the P’s had for me. After a little siesta, I got up and took a shower in my new shower! I could hear activity going on in the meeting building, so I dressed and headed over there to see what was happening. It was night. There was a wide and long center grass strip to the village, like the main boulevard, running straight through the village.
They ran their power poles down it which hooked up to a diesel generator. It was probably 80 yards wide, with a trail in the middle, but the grass was matted down and walkable the entire width. As I walked down the strip towards the meeting building, there was still a little bit of sunset light in the horizon ahead, but not enough light to walk by, so I used my flashlight which Russell bought me back in town. The sound got louder as I neared the building and I could begin to hear what was being said. Russell had brought big speakers and sound equipment and Fernando had installed it all earlier that afternoon. He and Casildo had now gone back to the tourist camp. It was just me and the P’s. I’ve been alone in P villages often. It was a familiar feeling. In the early years, there was a loneliness to it, but now I feel family, like I belong.
I walked into the meeting place and found a place to sit down. To my surprise, after I sat down, I looked at the person beside me on the bench and it was L together with her husband E! I almost started to laugh. What were the chances with over a thousand people crammed in that building to sit next to L and E!? I thought, “what a coincidence!” As I glanced at her she smiled back with a partial giggle as she realized that I had not realized I was sitting down next to them. I think she must have had the same thought I did. It is a nice feeling to belong and to be loved.
Leaders from each area of the P nation were getting up to give a small report from their church. They call these areas “sectors”. The P’s are very organized and keep tabs on each sector of their nation, who the leaders are, how many believers there are in each sector, etc. They use this information as they continue to target unreached areas for evangelism. At the end of the reports, the director of the meeting motioned to me to come up and also give a report. So, I went up on the stage and greeted the people. I wasn’t sure what exactly to say, but then I realized that culturally they always love to hear how you have been, how each member of your family is, how many kids, in-laws and grandkids you have, etc. So, I began to tell them stories about our family, about each of our kids, how and where they were. I think I went on for about 45 minutes. They loved all the news and also will know how to pray for each of us as I gave specific details about each of our kids and their families. What an honor to be prayed for by all these people.
It goes without saying that none of this current ministry would be happening without Russell Stendal. I can’t even begin to enumerate all the work he does and all the work that he has done for the P’s. He is a true servant of God, a very faithful man who remembers every detail of things you may have asked of him and he fulfills his word every time. The ground work for this recent trip of mine that Russell and his right hand man Casildo did months before I ever showed up is remarkable. He made special trips out to the village long before the conference was to begin. He spoke with the leaders, he checked out the security, the location, he made reservations with the tourist camp, he bought airline tickets from Bogota to the border, he took barrels of diesel fuel out to the village for the generator, he carted all the sound equipment out there which included a big movie screen, as well and on top of that, he transported hundreds of boxes of Spanish Bibles, Christian books and the recently published P primers (over 6,000 of them).
All of this was done beforehand at his expense. I could not feel a bigger red carpet than the one Russell lays for me each time I have gone. How the Lord works through His people! It is His hand indeed.
After the meeting, I went back ‘home’ and had a good night sleep. One of the P women had been put in charge of my meals. Before I went to bed, she had brought me some scrambled eggs and arepa cakes. Again, the hand of the Lord everywhere I turned. The P’s posted guards outside my house. One at the front door and one at the back door. Those precious people sat there all night long keeping guard in case there may be any nefarious kidnappers lurking about. I wished I had gotten a photo of the guards. I slept in a bit the next morning. David, Rick and the others were there at my hammock. They had gotten up around 4 am as Russell wanted a good start to the day. I had some breakfast, showered and went over to the meeting house again. Russell was there preaching. I just caught the tail end of it. G was interpreting the message. Following his message he began to announce and distribute all the Bibles he brought. He brought some 12,000 Spanish Bibles to give to all the P leaders to take back to their villages. That guy is just flooding Venezuela with Bibles. He’s distributed about 300,000 and wants to make it 3 million. The P’s LOVE getting books. Many of them are bilingual and will make great use of these Bibles as they don’t have the Old Testament yet in their language.
Russell is a man doing highly important things all over the world. He’s often on international trips or on the phone with dignitaries and yet, he takes time to lay out a royal red carpet for me and the P’s. Please say a prayer for Russell, his family and his ministry. I thank the Lord for you Russ. Thank you for all you do.