This Is Not All About Doughnuts. Really. It's Not.

I am writing a blog entry today because I was prompted to do so by a Chinese brother who approached me yesterday here in Dali, China. I liked his indirect way of saying, "It's been awhile since you wrote a blog entry..." Those weren't his exact words, but I got the point. He graciously concluded our conversation saying, "You have people following you, you know." So, here it is, however it flows out of my fingers onto the electronic page.
Here is the road I cross to go to and from my hotel room here in Dali. There are no lights stopping traffic so that one can safely meander across the road. It is like playing Frogger, the old video game where the frog tries to hop across a busy street without being it by cars. So far, so good for me and the other members of our group. Yesterday I ventured into the Old City with Nick and Corinna Plunkett, Rita Hartje, and Frank Luo to do some shopping and eating. I saw a sign from a distance:
Hmmm... Eat? Drink? Let's at least go check it out. It turned out to be a...
Somebody said, "Hey! That's a picture of pie! Could it be...?" We went inside and discovered it could. It was an American-style diner with a glass case filled with at least eight kinds of pies, a U-shaped formica countertop with stools, a chalkboard with specials, and a menu filled with American foods including hamburgers, ice cream sodas, and milk shakes. I said, "Let's sit down and eat something, so we all ordered some sort of dessert.
Yes, those are homemade old fashioned plain doughnuts on the counter in front of Nick - 3 for 10 kuai - so I bought three for all of us to sample. They were the real deal. If you're ever in the neighborhood, go down to the end of Foreigner Street, look for the big Eat Drink sign, and stop into the Serendipity Diner.
Now let's travel back in time to the day after I wrote my last blog post. December 3rd started out with a few, tiny snowflakes that didn't "stay on my nose and eyelashes" as the song My Favorite Things says. I got on the subway headed for Myeongdong to teach the Bible class at the Yeomyung School and spent many minutes crammed up against a wall, unable to move, sweating due to the BTUs being given off by all the bodies on their ways to work and school. When I finally reached my stop, I exited the station and saw this:
BIG fluffy flakes of wet snow that stayed on my coat and my glasses when I got to the Dunkin Donuts shop to purchase the munchkins for the students to eat. Passersby must have thought I was slightly insane, because I was grinning from ear to ear as I walked down the street. Oh, it is the little things that God brings into our lives that give the greatest joy! And for each of us, the little things are different, and God keeps track of them all and blesses each of us from time to time with unique, personalized gifts, like a good doughnut with good friends or pretty precipitation while you're on your way to buy doughnuts.

I can hear some of you thinking, "Is this going to be a doughnut blog?" Hmmmm. Maybe. We'll see how it goes. I wasn't planning it this way.
I'm ever fascinated by the way God leads. Pastor Matti shared an illustration last night that resonated with me. He said that we as believers are like the little child that a father puts on his lap in the car and lets put our hands on the steering wheel. We feel like we are driving the car, but it's actually our Father whose hands are on the steering wheel and whose feet are pressing the accelerator and putting on the brakes, and it is our Father who knows where we are going. I have had that experience many times now in teaching Bible classes and preaching messages. My confession is that 1 Corinthians 1:27,28 are absolutely true and I am living proof that God uses the weak, the foolish, the base and the despised things of this world to accomplish His purposes.

At the Yeomyung School Bible study we were studying the life of Moses and God's deliverance of His people from Egypt, and I found myself speaking about miracles and the God who makes impossible things happen as theme that developed over several weeks. Interestingly, the Yeomyung School's fundraising performance was also called Miracle this year.
(God just worked it out that way, like He worked out the doughnuts and the snowflakes.)
At the class Christmas party, we ended up talking about one of God's greatest miracles of all, the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to do what was impossible for any other human to do, which was to pay the penalty for our sins and give us the free gift of eternal life by grace through faith, because He loves us so.
I wept that day, knowing that I may never see some of these students again, since the seniors finish their final year of school at the end of December. I was honored to be given one of the sweatshirts made for the benefit performance:
Meanwhile, back at the church, we got ready to celebrate the birth of Christ with some decorating,


 and rehearsing for our Christmas Night celebration each Sunday afternoon leading up to the 25th of December.
Choir rehearsal

Scenery creation
But before that celebration could happen, we had to finish another semester of Bible college.
Final exam day.
We also had the privilege of entertaining visitors from foreign lands: Tim Flint spent his layover at our church on his way back to America from the conference in the Philippines. (He took this photo of me, but I don't have one of him!)
Korea's own native son, Jongil Park came to visit on his way to and on his way back from the Philippines, and he shared about his time in Argentina and other South American countries where he ministered as a Greater Grace missionary.
Our brother Tain paid us a visit after being away in Thailand for several months. He started planning the 2016 East Asia Conference to be held here in Korea next July. Maybe YOU should come...
And then there was the special visit by our favorite pastor in Korea, Pastor Steve DeVries. He arrived in time to send off two precious sisters to America, Dawn Doorenbos and Jadzia Switek, both who lived and served God in Korea for many years.
Pastor DeVries was not scheduled to visit Korea, but God used a banking error on my part to make it necessary for him to come for a short time with us to fix my mistake. (I entered the PIN on his bank account incorrectly too many times and locked myself out of the account.) It was a classic case of Romans 8:28 - God working all things together for our good.

December 25th brought us visits from Mary and Joseph, three fatherly shepherds, three wise girls, and an innkeeper...
...musicians and singers...
Samuel and Hannah with proud papa Petros
Amazing James on the oboe

...and a return visit via Skype from Pastor Steve to share a Christmas message with us all. Look at these precious saints of God. How can you not want to come and meet them all?



Two days later, I was at the airport, ready to fly to China, but before I left Korea I drank a big dose of...
Mercy. I arrived in Kunming at 3 AM Monday morning and was brought to the Luo home where I have stayed before. Such hospitality! Such Christmas decorations!

After spending time with the brothers and sisters here and sharing on Wednesday evening about the wooing God who seeks and saves us when we are lost, we boarded buses and traveled here to Dali where we are in the midst of having a wonderful series of meetings. I will be returning to Korea next Tuesday evening to resume ministry there for two months before jetting off to Budapest for a week. 

What is in store for 2016? God only knows. More unexpected happy discoveries, I hope. You never know what you will find when you set off walking by faith. Doughnuts? Rainbow flower pots? New friends? An interesting door to knock on? As we heard last night, faith is acceptance, belief, but faith is also expectation. When you take the step of faith down that road you've never taken before because God says, "Go," expect that He's got something awesome for you (most likely Himself) somewhere along the way.




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