Communion: At Grandpa’s Fruit Garden

In the slope of the hill, Grandpa had a fruit garden covering an entire small hill, few kilometers away from home.  Pineapple, mango, fig, jack fruit, etc. are grown in the garden.

Three small huts are built in the slope.  To save time and energy, sometimes we spent the night in those huts.   Grandpa prepared meal using the fresh herbs found inside the garden.

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When the dark night descended, Grandpa lit a candle and spread a sheet nearby.  Before we could sleep, Grandpa told Bible stories interestingly and accurately.

Among the three small huts, the middle was designed to be a small church.  With a wooden cross mounted on top the roof, there were Hymn books, Bible, a mat to be spread for kneeling, and a drum made of animal hide or skin.

When morning has broken Grandpa started his days praising the Lord.  By himself, he sang several hymns beating the drum, which we also joined when we get up, first thing first in the morning.

Grandpa told bible stories and sometimes he would also sing as we work.  We worked in the garden till lunch.

Lunch time was special.  We gathered in the small church, kneel on the mat and spent some time praying.  Grandpa opened his Bible and read portion of the book with further explanation.  Songs of praise followed which were sung with great enthusiasm.  In this way, we are happy and get our strength renewed.

The sound of the drum can be heard by several farmers nearby us.   I remember some farmers joining us as we prayed.  Others took it as a sign of ‘lunchtime’ and called for noontime rest.

As the evening approached, we spent our time giving thanks inside the small hut.  Sometimes, as we rush for home, Grandpa would sing hymnals throughout the way till we reached home.

As far as I know, Grandpa like to commune with God.  He spent his days with his Savior.  His happiness increase the more he commune with God.

And in that way, Grandpa also instilled the gospel in our heart.  Now, when I was about to relate Bible stories for my children, I can hear my Grandpa’s word-to-word narration of the great men and women in the Bible.

Although we lived there no more, the place becomes a reminiscence of our childhood days.  When we planted seeds of a tree, we spare time for thanksgiving and prayer.

From what I knew and observed, Grandpa commune with God in any circumstances, which becomes a valuable lesson to his grandchildren.

I seldom see Grandpa jaw-dropping and staying low.  He was always happy.  The more we commune with God the more we become happy.

Whenever I get the chance to visit him, my heart was delighted.  In those moments, first thing I heard before I gather myself up from my bed would be my Grandpa reading the Bible out loud.

He was old now but he’d spent the morning meditating on God’s word, first thing first.

Grandpa imparted priceless life’s lesson for his family without saying a word.

Unanswered Prayer 2: It is well with my soul!

It has already been a decade ago when I first experienced this heavy blow to my life.  Since then epileptic or seizure related problem has been, alomost consistently, troubling my life.  It caused, undeniably,  huge effect in my professional life as well as home front.

The regular visits to doctor and the subsequent scannings, be it CT-Scan or MRI scan, became part of my life.  Many times, I wanted to do away with the problems.  It was costly and tiresome.  However, this experience was a kind of blessings in disguise, as I consistently need to be in-touch with my God.

That being said, I wanted to be free from the clutch of this neurological-disorder, to lead a normal life again.  Hope, for the best, is the only option for this, as I have been through the fighting process.  I need to be fully guarded in the hands of my Lord, and that’s how I feel for a decade now.

That day, when I was admitted for monitoring in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) of a city hospital, I deeply hope it will be a life-changing experience for my better living.  Something was spotted in the MRIs few years ago.  For 25 days, Video EEG (VEEG) monitoring test was done on me.   It is done to find out the root cause of the illness, and the possibility of correction by Brain Surgery, which will help controlling the illness.

During the course of VEEG, we (me and my family) prayed hard so that surgery might, somehow, be avoided.  However, my prayers went unanswered or very much heard, I would say.  But at that particular point, God did not work as I’d desired.  His plans are higher than my plans.

It was a long boring procedure, where so many ‘leads’ are attached to my body, especially my head.  Twenty-four hour video surveillance was done, which were focussing on me.  Lying on the bed, in that tiny room, was a not so deary affair.  It was a good time for reading books though.

So, at the end of the day, doctors found enough evidence for going forward with surgery that it might help.  ‘Get prepared and come back for brain surgery’, I was told.  That is the reason why I categorized as unanswered prayer.  Still surgery was needed!

Since brain surgery is a big thing, with many unwanted possible outcome, I was left devastated.  Many prayer request were made, which work for the goodness of me.  My parents spent their time in the prayer cabin, which provided life-line for their son.

Now, surgery was performed on me, which was successful, they said.  I recovered well.  However, there is something in store for me.  Exactly after one month, the least expected occurrence happened.   Those episodes brought me closer to Him, so it was a good experience although it was not as I’d asked for.

Medication can control unwanted experiences by now.  I am grateful for what I had gone through although it was a bitter experience.   Although full recovery seems to be a long distant dream, which, I hope, will happen one day, in His time.

Unwanted yet expected pains and feeling are common.  It becomes an experience of a lifetime.  A lot like a stream in the desert.  Although I am not completely free from the disorder, it is advantage me as of now.  In many ways, unanswered prayers, for the time being, can be useful in our lives.  They are answered but not as we desired, I would say.

For more than three decades in a row, I’d the privilege of using a brain free from wear and tear.  It does not need any servicing or oiling in between, which is above the highly regarded man-made materials and inventions.  And, I am more than thankful for that.

These episodes helped me walk more closely to my Savior.  It becomes an inescapable event, which in many other ways, benefitted my soul deeply.  It is more than I can asked and hope for.

It is well with my soul!

PS: My days in the EMU.

The Village Tree

It can be noisy and annoying, for some, when children are playing.  Noisy sounds of children, chattering and playing, can be heard from far distances.  They did not seem to have enough time before darkness completely takes over daylight.  To them, it seems like the last day on earth.  Relieved from their daily routine, they are enjoying every bit of it.

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There was a huge tree in our village.  Village folks referred to it as ‘the village tree’.  The tree is located in the center of our neighborhood.  It appeared to be a full-grown tree and must be of ages.  With its perfect location and long branches spreading out for all, it is home to the villagers throughout the day, especially early in the morning till late evening.

For any events in the village – ‘At least one members from each family are requested to meet at the ‘village tree’ for discussions or before any community work had been initiated’, notices was served.  Before the advent of Community Centers, few motion pictures, which could instill harmony amongst the community, were also shown in the shades of the tree using projector.

It is where different generations of the villagers met together.  Young and old came out of their home in the evening to sit in the shades.  They would talk about the day’s work, politics, past glories of the village, and many more general topics.  Not all parts of the world are exposed to modern culture.  They would, comfortably, sit in the elevated area in the roots spending their leisure time.

The tree had united all the villagers in the shade.  By spending time together, they become more united and get to know each other well.  Any threat or person trying to demean harmony can be easily sorted out through discussions.  Migrants and new faces joined them, which takes them further intrude in the realm of the villagers till they get fully settled.

Few times, I had enquired about who could have planted this particular tree.  However, nobody seems to know much about its history.  Almost everyone came up with different theory, which seems to be backed by their friends.  May be they made it all up, I guessed.   The most valid and acceptable theory could be that the former generations had planted the tree for generations to come.

Every year, when spring dawns, the tree grows new buds to replace those leaves shed in the previous months.  The bud of the tree is edible, which sometimes caused few snarling sounds among the villagers.  It is natural – when there is something to benefit freely, it caused a rift in human hearts.

However, we felt blessed to have such a tree in our village.  We thank God for His creations, which had become one of the most ‘happening zones’ in our village.  The tree is not worshipped instead of that, whenever we sat under the tree, we are left in awe of God’s care for human race.

One morning, the very sad news of ethnic conflict breaking out nearby came around.  The villagers run amok like a flock of bird scattering away at the sound of gunshot.  That day marked the end of an era.  No villagers ever came in groups under this tree anymore.  Peace had eluded the village ever since.

The village tree slowly gets deteriorated, which might be caused due to its loneliness.  Eventually, the tree died a natural death, someone reported.  The tree, which had once provided shelter to the villagers, was no more talked about.  When violence and hatred enter the world even an innocent tree had suffered deeply.  It is gone!

There would be no other thing – human or any creature, like the village tree, which could accommodate all the villagers – any kind of them whether good or bad, rich or poor.  Be an agent of change – when interacting with others, spread love and unity among the ‘global villagers’.

I Spent All My Time Alone: Desolation

While scanning through my old journals, I’ve found this piece – a kind of short poem.  It was written in those times, when I really feel desolated.  And, I know, I am not a good writer.

Some ten years ago, I wrote this small piece.  My joy and happiness are short-lived.  My health was a major problem and my preplanned life did not seem to flow as I’d desired.  Few people have seen it.  And for them, it really looks annoying and depressing.

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For me, it’s a kind of prayer to God or my physical and spiritual barrenness being let out.  Here I cannot tell you all my problems but I’ve already told my God.  Some problems are solved or just withered away while some are still work in progress.

If you’ve been through such times, you might feel it.  But for some people, as I said earlier, was a waste of time and simply depressing.  I am blessed to have a look back and feel a bit relief by His grace.  By the way, even in the midst of storm, we  never walk alone.

There are times when I really longed for God’s presence in my life.  Many times, I let it slipped away from me.  One thing or another snatched away my happiness.  Yet His faithfulness endures forever.

Now this is what I wrote.  Feel free to go through it.  Should you feel with me, it’ll be a good thing to let me know or remember me in your prayer.  God bless you!

I Spent All My Time Alone

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In desolation I spent  all my time,

Where is Your presence in my wilderness?

Yet my faith will not perish on the way.

It’s hard to even call on Your name,

How will I ever feel Your presence again?

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Yet my mouth will sing Your praise.

Through the sorrow and the pain,

My hope in You gives fragrance of life.

I will keep praising you forever.

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I cannot see the plans you had for me.

Is there a good thing you’ve planned?

Yet I will not lose my faith in You.

It’s really hard for me to pray,

Would your presence not go with me?

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Would you not filled by barren soul?

Broken and deserted here I lay.

Yet where would I go besides You?

It’s really hard for me to pray,

From my sickness and sadness deliver me.

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Yet my mouth will sing Your praise

Through the sorrow and the pain

Yet my hope in You gives fragrance of life

I will keep praising you forever!

Due to my wrongdoings and unfulfilled dreams or promise, I assumed that God deserted me, .  He never did.  It was me who deserted Him.  Even in my worst condition, He loved me!

Give me Rest!

At a very young age, we started working in the family paddy field.   We grow rice to meet our essential need for food grains.  It was not meant for commercial purpose.

For starters, rice is grown in a water-retentive soil, with a reliable source of water for irrigation, and a way to drain the water when it is time for harvesting.  Growing rice is the main source of food grains in the region.

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From dawn to dusk, we spend our time preparing the field suited for planting rice.  I felt blessed to have learned, lived, and experienced the art of farming in the field.  It takes a lot of hard work to garner a good harvest at the end of the season.

First, it was making the cultivation bed or terrace ready, which needed hard work the most.  We used self-made Langkawn in ploughing the land.  Since we do not use machine, the work need to be done physically.  The process took huge toil on our physical as well as our mental strength.  Looking back at those time, it easily fits into our story time with my children.

In the muddy soil, we started our work very early in the morning.  Every stroke of our ‘wooden-handle spade’ made us nearer to the most awaited lunch time.  With no more energy left, I remember lying down in a pool of muddy water many times during the period.  However, I needed to get up again so that I can have a hearty meal and take rest in the shades.

We were filled with mud and dirty water.  However, when we washed in the clean water we become as fresh as new.  Let me tell you something here that it always reminded me of the cleaning of sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.  For it is written:

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.1

There is something to do in my part; I have to get up from that mud-filled soil with the tired body.  So that I may get rest, very much-needed for my well-being.

The hope of getting rest for a while in the noontime keeps us going, although the hope of getting a good harvest seems like a distant dream, for now.  However, if there is no natural calamity for that particular year, a good harvest is assured at the end of the season.

Now, with the preparation of the cultivation and planting being done, it looks like a very promising return will be garnered at the end of the season.  Even the sight of it provided attractive scenery, with its clean and lustrous green look.

Let me conclude herewith what has been offered to us with open arms.

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”2

1 Isaiah 1:18b, 2 Matthew 11:28

The Small Cabin – a place of hope

I’d just graduated from High School.  It was time to move into universities.  My friends and my peers are busy juggling their choice of universities.   For me, it doesn’t seem to happen soon as I wanted.

There was no money in our family balance sheet for entering a prestigious university.  Since Daddy involved us in maintaining the balance sheet at a very young age, and I know, there is no money.  There is no point of putting up a demand, which cannot be met.  It will simply lead to unwanted misunderstandings for a moment.

At that time, we lived in the western corner of a small town.  Nearby our house, there was a place designated for prayer but not yet in used.  In the family, we called it as ‘our Bethel – our place of prayer,’ taken from the biblical Bethel.  Every evening, just before dark, Daddy led us there to kneel and pray.  So the practice of talking to God was inculcated in us.

One day the thought of spending time alone with God, acknowledging my needs and concerns, came in my mind.  I asked Daddy for his permission to go alone in a prayer mountain, which was located at the outskirts in the eastern side of our town.

Daddy agreed with the idea.  So, in the evening I set out carrying the Bible, hymn books, and some candles to be lighted in the night.

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There are number of small Prayer Cabins made available for anyone who wanted to spend time with God.  It was maintained by the Nehemiah Prayer Team based in the vicinity of our town.  I’d occupied one such cabin by myself – all alone.  I was there for three days and four nights, fasting – without eating a thing.

I’d sang and prayed through day and night.  I’d started pouring out my heart.  My secrets were made known to God, especially those I could not afford to tell anyone.  In that way, letting myself emptying.  There was no time for sleeping.  It was as if someone came down to spend time with me.  It was a great feeling.  It was a time I will never forget in a life time.  My request and thanksgiving were let known to Him.  It was a time to commune with my God.

In between, I remember singing several devotional songs like –  ‘God will make a way’, ‘There is none like you’ by Don Moen, ‘Pass me not…’ by Fanny J Crosby, and many more.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11 reads.  This is a ‘very promising verse’ in a ‘very unpromising chapter’ of the Book of Jeremiah.

Now that the fourth night was over, the Caretaker of the place came and informed.  My brother came to pick me up and bring me home.  I was happy to spend such time at a very young age.  However, my request to God for a prestigious university did not happen for one year.  I felt lighter and happier than before.

I am blessed to work as a small time Teacher in an Elementary School at that time.  After a few months, I got settled in my job.  I loved spending time with the school children, imparting knowledge as much as I can.  I also enjoyed their company through the day.  I was thoroughly enjoying my role as a teacher.  Even more so, I earned money for the family and my enrolment in a local college.  It was a tight schedule from morning to evening, and I was really happy.

One year had already passed, when one day, I got a long distance call from one of my Uncle.  He was enquiring if I would like to pursue college degree from a prestigious university.  I was informed that they could spare some amount from his hard-earned money towards my study expenses.  And that I might pursue higher studies if I wanted to.  Now, I was overwhelmed by what God has done.

Even after one year, when my hope has already become thin, He answered my prayer. Not all prayers are answered, there are unanswered prayers too.  I praise God for His unfailing faithfulness!

We discussed the matter with my father, and agreed to take advantage of the ‘help’.  I was fit and healthy then.  So, with high hopes, I set out to enter one of the top universities of our country.   I started there and go on to complete my master’s degree in few years.

Unexpected twist and turns are experienced over the phases of life.  However, one thing that never deserted me – ‘His presence’ – the presence of God even in the worst crisis of life.  I do believe, He will lead me Home safe and sound, when all life’s works are completed.

Written based on my journals.

She is my Mother!

A thousand miles away from home, I am blessed to start a small family.  It wasn’t easy.  When things did not fall as planned, there’s someone to whom I can always poured out my heart.  Being grown up isn’t easy either.  We all need someone to cry on.  She did not interrupt me while I am pouring out my mind.  She did not utter unnecessary words, she knew what I needed.  And that she is my mother!

There was no hospital nearby.  Every delivery was attended by experienced mothers in the village.  The labor pain must be intense.  The suffering, however, was taken to be just a normal thing by men.  We did not know what they go through, mentally, physically, and psychologically.    To give birth to me, she risked her life.  She is my mother!

The use of diapers was not introduced to us at that time.  My bedwetting spree was the talk of the house in my childhood times.  Mother never scolded nor treated me bad because of that problem.   I still remember what she told me.  ‘You can do one thing,’ she said, ‘to pray to God so that you wake up when there is pressure for urinating.’  In that way, dearest Mommy instilled the power of prayer in my life, which I could use throughout my life.  She is my mother!

She spent sleepless nights because of me.  My tears and my cry pierced her heart.  She spent all her thoughts and strength tending to me.  I became the apple of her eyes.  At the same time, she need to prepare meal for the whole family as they were busy working to make ends meet.  We were big family then.   With the little energy she gets from the meal, she fed me.  She is my mother!

In the field, she grew vegetables.  When we were young, mother was toiling during the day.  Mother worked through every kind of weather, be it sunny and rainy days.  The vegetables products were sold in the market by her.  The money earned was used to buy clothing and meeting educational expenses for us all.  However, I never heard my mother saying a thing about being tired nor did she complain.  It was an act of love, she never runway from obligations.  She is my mother!

In my younger days, I used to spent time with my friends till late at night for some years.  I know there will be someone who would not sleep till I get home.  In the middle of the night, when I got home, she was there to welcome me.  She reminded me to get home early but never did she scold me.  To which many times, I replied in a light mood, ‘Mom keep praying for that’.  But I never fully understand how much I meant to her.  She is my mother!

She was soft-spoken but was tough when needed.  I did not remember my mother shouting on me.  She did not use harsh words.  With her love she molded me in taking the right steps.  She was true to her words.  Her soft words easily heal my heart.  There are times when I really longed to hear her voice.  She is my mother!

The first time I hear Mommy’s voice trembling was when Daddy left us for eternity.  She was a strong woman who can hold her emotions.  She did not simply show her emotions.  I respect her for deeply loving my father.  They were together everywhere they go and whatever they did.  Many times I thought Daddy must be real happy to have her in his life.  And that she is my mother!

A mother’s love was unique and binding.  She never gave up on her children.  Many times, I saw her on her knees praying for her us.  A praying mother was truly a blessing to have.  When mother told, “I am praying and/or will pray for you”, it always gave me comfort.  She is my mother!

She was encouraging.  She told us to be strong and face the world.  Mother always reminded us that the world and its beauty will fade someday.  Whatever is happening on this earth will not last forever.   The good the bad included.  And I believe I can face the world because of her payer.  She is my mother!

There are more reasons to write about my dearest mother whom I adore and love so much.  Stay blessed Mommy.