Friday, 6 March 2009

Thunder & Lightning

Hi, I'm writing this post from Arequipa. Yes I got here safely and thank you to all who prayed for my travelling and also my settling in. I am living with the McKelvie family who serve the Lord here in Arequipa with SIM. They are primarily involved in a program which provides breakfast for underprivileged children. This is actually a busy period for them as they are buying supplies for the months ahead and coordinating with the various churches involved in the program. Please pray for their safety as they often have to carry large quantities of money on their person, to purchase the food for the program, in wholesale markets which are notoriously dangerous in terms of thieves.

I have also four days of language study over me. It involves both conversation and grammar classes. So far it is going well and the homework's have not been excessive (until my teachers read this!). I will say no more about this now as I will be able to elaborate more fully about language school as the weeks go by.

There is actually something else burdening my heart, which I want to write about. I am composing this post at 11pm and hope to post it on the internet tomorrow. As I write there is a thunder and lightning storm outside. I am staying in a room on the fourth floor which in many ways is great in terms of a panoramic view over the city etc. Tonight however, it also gives me an almost front row seat for the lightning show with thunder resounding ever more loudly all around me. I've tried my best, somewhat successfully, to photograph some of the lightning from one of my windows until it began to rain so hard I had to call it quits. I've posted the two best photos I managed to take, not amazing in quality but see what you think. Earlier I considered going up the last flight of stairs on to the roof above my room to try and get some even better photos but chickened out in the end. I may not have much hair on my head to singe, but I can't imagine a lightning bolt would improve my Spanish any. Thunder storms like this are common because of the altitude (Arequipa is 2200 metres above sea level). I can only imagine the lightning storms I'll perhaps see in Puno when I go there in April. Its at a much higher altitude than Arequipa.
As I sit here writing this, with lightning flashing in through the windows around me, and the sound of thunder booming I also remember the earth tremor two nights ago. I woke from my sleep to the sensation of my bed shaking and the metal single-pane windows vibrating, and began to think to myself was this really and earth tremor or perhaps some heavy goods vehicle passing by. Before I had concluded my pondering's the tremor had passed. I was later able to confirm that there actually had been an earth tremor (so much for my reflexes). Perhaps for those of you who don't know, Arequipa is located right beside an active volcano called 'Misti'. The crucial issue is that these small tremors, which are very regular in these parts, are actually very helpful as they allow tension to be released from the tectonic plates. One of the missionaries told me that back in 2001 the newspapers had publicised that 6 weeks had passed without a tremor. The very next day there was a large earthquake which caused a lot of damage both in here in Arequipa, but also in the south for example in Moquegua.
Reflecting on the tremor two nights ago, and the magnificent display of the power of nature unfolding around me, I can't help but become so profoundly aware of Gods power. The fact that he is in control of the tremors, of the thunderstorms, and of all creation.

Psalm 19 verses 1&2 say:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge”

One of my most favourite songs is Chris Tomlin's 'Indescribable'. I have been listening to it just now and he sings that creation reveals God's majesty, something I am presently acutely aware of. He goes on to sing that God is “all powerful” and “untameable”. It is so easy to fall in to the temptation of conceiving God as a kind of teddy bear who we can have as a comfort where and when we choose. Whilst God is our Abba Father this thunder storm testifies clearly his almighty power and that fact that no-one can tame or control God. Chris Tomlin goes on to sing that God “has told every lightning bolt where it should fall”. As I look at the lightning bolts falling outside they seem to flash and crackle across the sky in an almost haphazard fashion, their destination appears unpredictable, yet God is in control. We may gaze in wonder but God has determined the path which each lightning bolt follows.

Psalm 19, continues to read in verses 3&4:

“There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”

I wonder how anyone witnessing this spectacular display of nature could fail to see the creators hallmark imprinted throughout. Nature, as David writes in his Psalm, does proclaim God's greatness across language barriers. Attending language school I have met people who for example speak only German, or Norwegian and have had great difficulty communicating with them. Yet truly, language is no barrier to God and creations ability to display and proclaim boldly His majesty.

I can say no more... words simply do not suffice,
God Bless,


Andrew said...

Great shots and great thoughts on the 'light show' the other night.
God bless,
A, C and G

Joanne Greer said...

Hi Alistair, enjoyed both the photos and the comments. When we consider the heavens, the works of His fingers, we can only say, "What am I, that God is mindful of me?" The amazing thing is that He IS mindful of us! And the reason is what we are in Christ by our union with Him. "As He is, so are we in this world." God bless, enjoying reading the blog.

J-D lovell said...

hey i glad God let you see his glory to you and a show of the great things he has created.. it is a reminder that he is hear with you in Arequipa.. its cant be clearer.. unless you want a flood as well.

thanks for popping down to the new hope children's home yesterday..!

its was so great to speck to a northern Irish dude.. a dude from home..