Update From Sri Lanka
There are many sounds outside Rev Partheepan’s home here in Vavuniya. The incessant chirping of squirrels, the chatter of a multitude of birds, their exotic colours occasionally glimpsed darting amongst trees and bushes, easily provoked dogs barking from neighbouring gardens, and together with the drone of engines and movement on the busy road there is a cacophony of beeps and blasts from vehicle horns in the jostle for position in defiance of any highway code. The palm tree, laden with coconuts, and level with the veranda is, however, just out of reach. The gentle breeze, which lifts the huge palm fronds, passes through the open doors of his first floor home mercifully circulating, if not cooling, the air. In the absence of local office bearers the purpose of my visit has been to support Partheepan in the exciting and encouraging, and yet exhausting, gospel work here.
Today we’re really tired, returning late last night from Mullaitheevu, the only road is through the jungle. One section is leopard territory, another where the elephant might roam. Adrenaline surges at the prospect of a sudden encounter, though sleeping cattle strewn across the road can be equally devastating. I’ll not here elaborate upon rice farmers whose drying crop carpets large swathes of the carriageway and who leave, in unexpected places, great heaps of huge and heavy sacks, while they themselves rest reclining on the tarmac.
On the Lord’s Day, there is to be a communion service in Mullaitheevu, and we’re late after meeting with applicants for baptism and membership. A couple seeking membership also wish their infant daughter baptised. Two teenage girls have asked for baptism and admission to the table. Another couple, their family now has grown up and away from home, also wish to join as communicant members.
The construction of the church building in Mullaitheevu in 2017 was a great encouragement for the congregation, providing greater visibility in the community compared to the rented house previously used. The new facilities are also ideal for the pre-school classes that now provide basic care and an introduction to education in this impoverished community.
The work in Vavuniya has benefited from a suitable building for more than 5 years. Though the materials in this temporary structure, built through a generous grant from Ceylon Christian Care, are beginning to deteriorate, the decision to now start construction on a new site was compelled by the owner deciding to sell, at a premium, this original site.
On ground gifted to the congregation, I was privileged to lay the foundation stone – a large boulder in a trench dug into the sandy soil. The congregation had gathered for this happy event, and some of the children and then many of the members each added a stone. The work is progressing diligently, perhaps the only mechanised part being drilling a narrow pipe well – 100 feet through the sand into bedrock and clean water. Men from the congregation are labouring with the hired tradesmen and all costs are kept to a minimum.
Please pray for this exciting development in the work. Please also consider supporting this work financially – there is an urgent need, and it would be a great discouragement to have to delay the contractors and would add to the overall project budget of £25,000.
All donations can be sent, either directly to Muriel Smith, Free Church (Continuing) Manse, Struan, Isle of Skye, IV56 8FB or through your local congregation, marking your gift clearly ‘Sri Lanka Building Fund’.
I send Christian greetings from Rev Partheepan and the Sri Lankan Church,
James MacInnes (normally in cold and wet Lochalsh & Strath)