Bro. Snodgrass & Dodd & Covington to India & PNG- (Nov. 28th- Dec.14, 2016)
November 28th – 29th Monday Bro. Mike Covington, Bro. Chuck Dodd IV and I were chauffeured by Mark Russell to the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport were we boarded an American Airline flight to London Heathrow airport. After a long but event-free flight landed in London at 9:30am on Tuesday morning. Bro. Covington had experience navigating London rail system, so we let him guide us through the maze known as the London underground. We had made arrangements at Highbury Center, on the northeast side of London and arrived there around 1pm. After getting settled into our lodgings, we made our way to Wesley’s Chapel. There are no words to adequately express the impact of this experience. Standing where John Wesley, Thomas Coke, Adam Clarke and so many others preached was overwhelming. Once again I was reminded of the wonderful heritage of I have been blessed with. Without a doubt the highlight of the day stepping into a small room off of the bedroom of John Wesley…his prayer closet! It has been said that here was where the Methodist Church was born. As I bowed my head, I asked God to help the Pilgrim Nazarene Church to continue spread the message of scriptural freedom from sin. We later walked across the road to the cemetery where Susannah Wesley, Isaac Watts, Daniel Defoe, John Bunyan and many others are buried. As we walked the trails between the graves of these Godly people, I mentioned to the men that were with me that one of these days these graves will open and we will meet the Lord in the air. By the grace of God I plan to be among that number. After a good dinner at a local diner, we retired to our quarters to get some rest after being up for 32 hours.
November 30th – Wednesday morning after breakfast at Highbury Court, Buckingham Palace was where we started our day. The flag was flying indicating that the Queen Elizabeth was home. We witnessed the changing of the horse guard and then made our way to Westminster Abby. For those who have never been here, words really cannot describe the grandeur and greatness of Westminster Abby. From the architectural design to the history and the many people who are buried within her walls…it was an absolutely incredible experience. Leaving Westminster Abby, we walked to Parliament and spend some time at a park along the Thames River. We crossed the river and stopped for a lunch of fish and chips at a local place along the Thames. We wanted to see London Bridge and I believe by the time we reached it, we had walked off any unwanted calories that we had picked up at lunch. It was dark by the time we reached London Bridge and we decided that we should head back to our lodging quarters. We were able to catch the Underground back to Highbury Center.
December 1st – We rolled out early, and were to the Underground station by 5:15 when they opened. After about an hour and a half, we arrived at Heathrow airport. After collecting our luggage from storage, we went to check-in. There we hit a snag. Bro. Covington and Bro. Dodd were both over weight and we needed to “shed some weight” before we could travel on…or pay allot of money. It was very difficult to throw good stuff away, but we really did not have a choice. One special note: It is a good thing that they did not weigh Chucky…he had stuffed things in his pockets and coat…he looked like a squirrel getting ready for a very hard winter! In fact, as we were walking stuff was falling out…! We made it to the plane in very good time and were soon on our way to Dubai, UAE. After a long flight, we landed in Dubai with a very short layover. Soon we were off to Hyderabad, India where we landed on.
December 2nd at 2:45am. December 2nd – There were extremely long lines to get through Immigration and Customs. By the time we made it through Customs and collected our baggage and met up with Bro. Johnpaul and his nephew Joseph it was close to 4am. It was around 9:30am when we finally pulled into Tenali and were able to get some rest before an evening of ministry. We were greeted by Sis. Sudaroni, Joshua and Stephanie and had a wonderful lunch together before leaving to preach in ten churches around the city of Guntar. The Lord helped Bro. Dodd and me as we ministered that first evening. We arrived back at the Pinapati’s around 11pm.
December 3rd – After a good night of rest and a wonderful breakfast we were ready for the Preacher’s Meeting. There were about 50 pastors present and the Lord helped us as we tried to encourage and challenge the pastors in their labors. There were two sessions in the morning and three in the afternoon. Bro. Dodd spoke on prayer and it necessity in the ministry and Bro. Covington spoke on glorifying God in the trials of life. I used the Old Testament character, Obedidom to challenge the pastors to desire and nurture the Presence of God. We closed out the meeting with communion. It was a sweet and special time together. As we said our goodbyes, I thanked the Lord, once more, for allowing me to be a small part in this ministry. It is not perfect and has its challenges, but all in all, lives are being impacted and changed. After supper, Bro. Johnpaul took be to an optical store to purchase new glasses. I was able to order 2 pair for $120, this would have cost me $1,000 in the U.S. Upon our return, Joseph and Joshua took Chucky on his first rickshaw ride. December 4th – Sunday morning! We were anticipating a big day of visiting churches and started out after breakfast. It was a full day of ministry. We visited 10 churches. Bro. Dodd and I alternated preaching and I believe God helped us. Bro. Covington had been ill for a couple of days and he stayed home and preached at the Steve Harbison Memorial church where Bro. Isaac is the pastor. We arrived home about 9pm and had a light supper. Following supper, we went to the children’s home and held a 2016 annual birthday party. We went through each month of the year, having children step forward and sang “Happy Birthday” to them. There was cake and ice cream, soda and candy…it was so much fun. Following the birthday party, the children presented their Christmas program to us. It was just a special time together and as we closed in prayer that evening, I felt so humble to be a part of this work!
December 5th – I had expressed to Bro. Johnpaul that we needed to budget our strength because we had allot more traveling to do before getting back home. He had originally scheduled for us to visit 9 churches on this day and 4 were in the south and 5 were in the north about 100 miles away. After my insistence that we would not be able to physically do all of them, he cancelled the 5 in the north and we drove south for the day. We visited 4 churches, preaching only 3 times. The pastor of one of the churches had lost a son-in-law in a hit-and-run accident a few days prior. We did not have a service there but we did meet with the family and had prayer with them in their grief. We will continue to pray for this family and widow. We arrive back in Tenali around 5pm and spent some time in our rooms before having supper around 7:30pm with the Pinapati family once again. Sis. Sudaroni is a good cook and fixed many different dishes on this trip. A couple of favorites were shrimp curry, fried shrimp, Pinapati taco with chicken curry. We retired to our rooms after a good day and began to get ready for the next day of travel.
December 6th – Brunch was served around 10am and Bro. Isaac joined us for this meal. We had a working brunch and discussed the future of our partnership with Favor the Helpless Mission. There are many exciting things happening, but we sought the will of God and His direction for all of our ideas. The orphanage was discussed and it seems that the dynamics have changed and we will need to revise our promotion information. We also discussed the possibility of translating the work of Shepherd Global Classroom into Telugu to be used for training of pastors and Christian leaders. I emphasized the importance of knowing that this would be of benefit and would be used actively in the ministry. I believe that it is imperative that Bro. Johnpaul see our vision of this and began to train the pastors. Over all it was a good talk and I believe if we seek God’s direction He will give wisdom. We pulled out of the Pinapati place around 12:30pm and made our way to the Hyderabad airport.
December 7th – Check-in and customs were a breeze a the Hyderabad airport and we at our gate with much time to spare. We left India around 12:45am and flew to Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. We landed with no time to spare and hurried to catch our connecting flight to Hong Kong. When we arrived they were on “final call.” We got on the plane, but we would find out later that our bags did not. The flight to Hong Kong was uneventful and we landed around 12:30pm. After making arrangements for the airline to deliver our bags to our hotel, we caught a taxi to City View Hotel in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong. While I caught up on some much needed rest, Bro. Covington and Bro. Dodd went exploring and found a KFC. I’m thankful they brought back a little taste of home and I had a late supper. Our bags arrived at our hotel room door around 10:30pm and we were very thankful.
December 8th – After catching up on some rest I decided to catch up on some journaling till around 1am. Reflecting on our trip so far, I thanked the Lord for His help and drifted off to sleep around 2am and woke up at 7am. Bro. Covington, Bro. Dodd and I had a very good breakfast in the hotel restaurant. After breakfast, we spent some time getting our luggage ready for the next phase of the trip. Around noon, we checked out and spent some time walking the streets of the Kowloon district markets. We must have walked by 50+ jewelers of the highest quality on Nathan Road, where anyone with an appetite for excess could be satisfied…for a while anyway. We turned from Nathan Road unto the open street markets…this was quite an experience. We returned to the City View Hotel and collected our bags and caught the shuttle to the Airport Express train depot. There we checked our bags before catching the train into the airport. Note: this is the way to go…if in Hong Kong go the first stop of the Airport Express and all the airlines are represented and you can check your bags in there…a beautiful thing. We could get off the train and go straight to Immigration and Security. We boarded our plane at 8:15pm, crossed the Equator for the first time in my life around midnight and will land in Port Moresby, PNG at 4:55am on Friday the 9th.
December 9th – We arrived in Port Moresby around 5am and made our way through immigrations and customs. The rest is a blur, but I will try to recall it as best as I can. After we received your visas and passed through the gate, I started hearing “Bro. Covington, Bro Covington.” A large delegation from the Port Moresby Bible Fellowship Church had gathered to welcome us to PNG. Bro. Covington gave 17 years of his life for the furtherance of the Gospel to country. It does not take one long to find out that Mike Covington is love and well respected in PNG. This group honored us with leighs and many hugs. They also escorted us to pick up our bags and to the domestic ticket counter. I’m not for sure how it all happened, but we got to the front of the line around a lot of people. There was many hugs and talking in Piegon that I did not understand, but everyone was happy. One of Bro. Covington’s friends, Richard, bought us a good cup of coffee before we made our way to catch our next flight to Mt. Hagen. After some delays (which I would soon find out are common in PNG) we made the 1 hour flight to Mt. Hagen. Met by Sis. Shirley Fogleman, Bro. Timothy Rapula and several of his board members and Bible School faculty. It was upon their invitation that we came to PNG and we were excited to be here. They loaded our things in one vehicle and we stopped by the school where we were met by the students and more Bible Fellowship pastors. We left the Tega Bible School and made our way to the mission house that we were to stay in for the next five days. This is the same mission house that Bro. Covington managed before his tenure ended in 1990. When we arrived, we were greeted by Bible Missionary Church missionaries, Neal and Edith Taylor, Doug and Ramona Shields, Jon and Amy Taylor and their families. They were all in Hagen for a field meeting and were staying at the same mission house. We dropped our luggage at the mission house and then went to Sis. Shirley’s place for a meal. I got a little rest while Bro. Covington and Bro. Dodd went to the bank and did a little shopping. We went back to the mission house for a shower before a supper with the missionaries who were staying there. They had a board meeting scheduled, so after supper we were able to excuse ourselves and get to bed for some much needed rest.
December 10th – I woke up around 1am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I started pulled my laptop out and started working once again on the commencement address that I was to give at the Tega Bible School graduation at 9am. We had coffee and a good talk with Bro. Neal Taylor around 8am and we spoke to him about our desire to visit the Jessie Dodd Memorial Church in Lambo and also go see the house that Bro. Covington built up a Waluwando (sp?) We had a good visit and later before leaving for the graduation had a good visit with Doug Shields. Our ride to Tega Bible School arrived around 9:30am. In true PNG fashion, there were delays and the graduation started about an hour late. During that hour, the congregation sang and it was a blessing to hear. The was singing and admonitions given and we did our best to challenge the graduates to be keepers of the oil from a scripture in I Chronicles 21. Following the graduation, we went to Sis. Shirley’s for a delicious meal and fellowship. Following the meal, Bro. Timothy drove us back to the mission house where we rested and prepared for the Sunday services.
December 11th – Sunday morning, the area churches combined their services (they call it a b???) and we met at Tega Bible School. Bro Israel, the teacher from the school, led the morning worship service that morning. God moved in in such a wonderful way. The congregational sings, the special singing from the different churches was such a blessing to us. Coming from India where we did not understand much of what was being said, this was different. Most of the songs were traditional hymns and some were sung in English. After being gone from home for 13 days, we needed this. Bro. Covington, stood up to preach and was overwhelmed with emotion. Twenty-six years before, he and his family were called home by the organization (BMC) whom they had served 17 years under. After all of those years, here he stood, in Mt. Hagen church, taking a text holding his old Piegon English Bible and it was a very emotional time. God helped him to preach to the people in their native tongue without the assistance of an interpreter. Following the message 5 seekers came forward to pray. There were many there that morning that were under Bro. Covington’s ministry in years past and it was another time of reunion. (Their house-girl and her daughter) We spent the afternoon at Sis. Fogleman’s house, where she cooked a delicious meal. We returned to church for the 5pm service and once again, God was there. The testimony service was refreshing and rich. God helped Bro. Dodd has he preached on the ingredient for revival. He was sick and had taken medication, but God gave him strength and clarity of thought and anointed the truth. There was an altar call and 27 came forward to pray for revival and a fresh touch from God. In the testimonies that followed, some expressed their renewed commitment, some (pastors and others) expressed that there had been barriers of division between them and others and went to them and apologized publicly. This went on for some time. What a service. We left refreshed in our souls. After a quick bite at Sis. Fogleman’s we made our way back to the mission home with full hearts.
December 12th – Arrangements had been made for us to visit some of Bro. Covington’s old mission stations. Donald Yaki (sp?) hired a Land Crusier for the day and Bro. Timothy’s son, David and several others rode behind us as an escort. We left at 7:00am and began our way south to Lambo (sp?) We have heard about the roads in PNG all of our lives from missionaries, but what they say is true, they are rough. (We were told that they are much better now than years ago.) As we approached the mission station at Lambo, we saw that we had picked the perfect time…the Bible Missionary pastors were gathering for a meeting and many from the outstations were gathering at the Jesse Dodd Memorial church for this meeting. Many pastors who had worked with Bro. Covington were there and it was yet another reunion. Bro. Covington, picked up the metal rod and rang the gong (old gas cylinder). We then walked into the church and that Bro. Covington had built many years ago, in the memory of Chucky’s great-grandmother. It was a very special time. They (Mike and Chucky) walked up to the platform (preacher’s looking on) and got their picture taken behind the pulpit. Bro. Covington, walked us around the station, pointing out items of interest (the first house he built for his family when they came) that made up years of ministry. The sad thing is there is no missionary on this station and all of the buildings (4 houses) stand empty. It is a beautiful station. It was fun to watch Bro. Covington and Bozo and (?) walk around and reminisce. We then began our way to Walawonda (sp?) It was quite a ride, but a couple of hours later, we pulled in the mission station, where the Neal Taylors serve. We drove right up to the house that Bro. Covington was building when he fell of the roof. These many years later, you can see what a beautiful building it was and the vision that it held. The nationals came running when they saw us and word had already spread that “Covington” was there. Tears of joy, and many hugs!! The people stood outside the and talked excitedly recalling the day when he fell from the roof, but more importantly the fond memories they had of the Covington family. I overheard them say to him, “we loved it when you were our missionary, would you be our missionary again?” It was a very touching scene. After a time of visiting with the nationals, we drove down to Sis. Hook’s old house and had coffee with the Neal Taylors before hitting the road (literally) back to Mt. Hagen. We met Loki on the road and spent some time visiting and arrived at back at Sis. Fogleman’s just before dark. We had stew for supper and made our way back to the mission house thankful for a good day with good friends!
December 13th – We walked from the mission house to Sis. Shirley’s. Spent most of the day there. Walked to the store with Israel. Picked up coffee. Visited with Sis. Fogleman regarding different projects that need attention. At 6pm Bro. Timothy and the Tega School board met for supper and a meeting. They gave me $1500 toward my airfare to PNG. We discussed the possibilities of Bro. Covington helping them draw up prints and organize a work team to build a duplex for school faculty. Had a time of prayer together. Bro. Timothy drove us back to mission house.
December 14th – We woke up early, ready to begin our journey home via Hong Kong. Loke came Leave Mt. Hagen at noon. Connection in Port Moresby. Arriving in Hong Kong around 7:35pm. We shuttled over the to the Marriot by the airport. December 15th – After breakfast at one of the most fantastic breakfast bars I have ever seen, Chuck and I made our way to the Kowloon district until about 11:30am and make our way back to the hotel. Check in at Terminal 1 and leave for home at 3:45pm…cross the international dateline and arrive in Dallas at 4:00pm! To God be the Glory!