Last night was the night all the villages bring flower garlands to say thank you for the meetings and visits. It always makes me cry! The 4 girls did something new--charades for the children's story--it was fun and the kids loved it! Heather did the sermon, and had everyone spellbound with her personal story of being trapped in a cave! It had a great spiritual application. We were buried in up to 10 garlands each--take it from us--they weigh a ton! We each got to express ourselves to the crowd--say what the experience has meant to each of us. We've given away 1000 Beanie Babies, and 800 Matchbox cars--the most ever! We've prayed hundreds of prayers in the villages and after the meetings. For sure, we all will come back physically tired, spiritually refreshed, changed in many ways, and eager to return again. The shining eyes and beautiful smiles of these generous people will always be in our hearts, memory and prayers.
Friday, February 4, 2011
While we were pulled over to wait for our pastor to join us, we happened to be next to a brick "factory". In this part of India, a tractor drives round and round in a pit filled with clay, cement and water--it mixes the stuff together. Then men take the mud, roll a ball of it in cement powder, slap it into a wooden mold, and tap it out onto the ground in straight rows to dry in the sun. They do hundreds a day! Later, they stack them closely into a flat tower with rice hulls in between, and set them on fire, where they smolder for days until fully baked. It's quite a process!
We finished all of our village visiting yesterday. It is always so interesting, though still startling to see the poverty even after 2 weeks. The 5 children pictured were all alone while their mother was being seen at the hospital. The oldest, probably about 7, was busily sweeping the dirt floor! We met a 14 year old in advanced pregnancy with her 2nd child! We visited another gypsy village where most of the women wear traditional dress, including all their worldly wealth in the form of dowry jewelery--brass necklaces, huge nose rings, and large white bangle bracelets. Today, while driving over big piles of lentil brush that the laborers put on the road (so the vehicle tires will thresh it for them) a big bunch got tangled in the drive shaft of the van! Emily joined the workers and the driver, and crawled under and cut it away with her knife! The fellow with the stocking cap is our beloved Pastor Mark Lazarus--it was 73 degrees, and he was cold! Don't panic! Katie only took a short spin on the motorcycle on the school campus!
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
India is such a land of contrast! Before we got on our way to the village this morning, I had to run an errand to the medicals stall, where they sell the latest in pharmaceuticals. Walking back, I had to dodge motorcycles, auto-cabs, cars, a sow and 3 piglets, 2 cows and a herd of water buffalo! Don't see that in downtown Portland very often!! We have had 2 baptisms of people in our villages--61 in all, with another planned for tomorrow. They have been studying with our faithful Bible workers well before we arrived. Some made decisions at the meetings. What a joy to see this, and present each one with a new Bible! The site is near the village of T. Gannavarum--a watering pond for the local herds of water buffalo. It was a lovely setting with white egrets perched in the trees and flying overhead, but the shore and bottom were deep mud! The pastor and candidates sank ankle deep! It was also the hottest day so far--humid, no breeze and in the high 80's. Those baptized ranged from an elderly couple, to teenagers and everyone in between--starting a new life in Jesus. This is what India Mission 2011 is all about!
We have been very happy that the lord has blessed our meetings with wonderful attendence each night--about 250-300. Lots stay after the benediction for special prayer. Katie gave an interview when Phil preached on the Sabbath--what God's special day has meant to her personally. The most unusual visitor (if you don't count the drunk that kept trying to get up to the platform, and the puppies that roam through!) was a tiny baby monkey one of the boys brought on a rope! It just loved Emily, and snuggled right into her arms! Leading the song service has been so much fun--everyone is so enthusiastic. I wish we could pick up Telegu as fast as the kids pick up English! Steve has been playing his electronic guitar/zither thing, and Harry is on guitar. As usual, loud drums and clapping accompany every song. Emily has been our capable audio/visual person--she runs the computer and power point presentations. Our 5 outlying villages pack into 9 tiny 4 passenger auto-cabs--up to 15 in each one! Only 3 meetings left!
Last Sabbath, we drove 3 hrs and 40 min each way to visit one of the churches that was built after our meetings in 2006 by donations from Northern New England. It was good to see the finish of a promise made to the new believers before we said goodbye 5 years ago! It was especially nice for Bob and Sondi, who were on the team that worked there! Phil preached, Sondi got to give her testimony, and we all passed out gifts to the kids. The church was fairly full--it's a large congregation.