Summer of 2008

Summer of 2008

Summer of 2008


The summer of 2008 proved to be an incredibly stressful one for me. We were finishing up a big construction project for the business, one that had promise of a good profit. However, that  was the year the world-wide financial crisis crashed onto the scene, and our hopes of good sales were dashed. This left us unable for the moment to pay back all the interest-free loans we’d been given. Fortunately the men who had made the loans were willing to wait for repayment.

Then my car was stolen. It was an old one, a 1993 Fiat station wagon, a model no longer in production. Used parts were hard to come by, so it is probable that the thieves immediately chopped it up to sell for parts.

At any rate, we never saw it again. I was sad to lose it, for we had hoped to sell it and use the money to buy a car in Germany. We would just have to trust the Lord to work that out. So we praised Him and moved on.


That summer we had responsibility for organizing three big conferences. One was for all those members in our group who were working with Hindus. The second was a leadership training conference for our leaders from all over the world. The third was the annual conference for our folks here. All three were to be held in the same hotel in late July and would overlap with one another.

I began work on finding a hotel more than a year in advance, and soon, through a Christian travel agent, found one at a good price. We signed the contract and everything looked like it was ready.

However, in early July, the month the conferences were scheduled, the travel agent called and said that they were having trouble with the hotel, should we switch to another place?

Finding an available hotel in high tourist season to take three large groups was unlikely. It was a certainty that the prices would be considerably higher and beside all that, all of our people had been given the address of this hotel and some had already left on long trips, expecting to stay there at the end of their travel.   A change at such a late date just didn’t seem feasible.


The travel agent and I decided to check out the hotel ourselves, making the nine hour drive during the night, arriving in time for breakfast.

What we saw did not look good. The boiled eggs still had chicken manure on the shells; although the plates had been washed, many still had the remains of grease and food from the previous night’s meal on them. The water in the swimming pool was murky. The place in general did not look clean.

We talked with the owner and he assured us it would be in better shape when we came for the conferences, so we decided to stick with it.


The day before the conference was to start, Barbara and I took a bus down to the hotel. This particular bus did not allow cell phones to be used, but at rest stops I kept getting calls from people arriving at the airport who could not find the drivers assigned to pick them up and transport them to the hotel.

I felt really bad about this, but could do nothing. Fortunately these early arrivers were experienced and godly types who eventually found their own way to the hotel.

When we arrived, the hotel was, if anything, worse than before. It was supposedly a three star hotel, but had, in my opinion, become a “no star” hotel.

I found some of the employees who would work with me and in two days we were able to move it up at least two stars. The dishwasher got fixed, the food improved, the pool got cleaned, air conditioners were repaired and extra beds were found.

We bought fans for the meeting rooms as the promised air conditioning was woefully inadequate, and  did what was necessary to clean things up, including buying air fresheners .

At one point I had to go down to the laundry room myself and find sheets and pillows for some of our arrivals, and for several days I worked until 1 or 2 am to get everyone settled.

The difficulty with the transportation company not finding the incoming attendees at the airport continued. There was obviously some spiritual warfare involved.

.  In one case, I sent one of our Hindu workers, an Indian himself, to meet someone he knew. He is quite dark, so he stood out in the crowd, and also held a sign, but still he and the new arrival did not find each other. Similar incidences happened a number of times.

All my work to make the hotel more habitable took place while the leadership training conference was going on.  In addition to this work I was expected to attend this conference and also was scheduled to do some of the teaching.

I was glad that after all the effort of making  improvements in the hotel’s initial condition, that everything seemed to be going  more smoothly. I had no idea that events were going to take us on a drastic turn for the worse.