Monday, January 31, 2011

School Visits

We have enjoyed visiting 2 of our Adventist schools in the area--The Nuzvid school (1700 students), and the Ibrahimpatnam School (1025 students). The classrooms are spartan, and some of the students don't even have benches or desks. In the kindergarden rooms of Nuzvid, wafts of sewage from somewhere outside regularly invade the air! Teachers have up to 60 students per classroom!! Imagine trying that at Pine Tree!! In spite of it all, the kids seem eager to learn and very happy to be there. We had prayer with them, then passed out Beanie Babies and Matchbox cars to Kindergarden thru 4th grades--not enough to do the whole school. The expressions on the faces of the children tell the story better than I can!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More Village Visits

We have had a great time continuing to visit in the villages! Here are a few photos of life in such a poor rural place, and all of us getting to know the people. The girls have children stripping every
flowering bush to put blossoms in their hair! A crowd of kids follows us from yard to yard, begging for Matchbox cars and Beanie Babies, We prayed for 2 people today that made a decision for baptism at last night's meeting! The picture of the boy and the Matchbox car is for all those who generously donated them--have you ever seen such happiness and pride on the face of a child? We learned today that a good bull ox costs $2200!! There are quite a few of them--wonder how long a field worker has to save for one on a salary of $1-2/ a day!! By the way--what are the odds of getting pooped on by a crow twice in 3 days? Just ask Beckie--they're doggone good!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gypsy Village!

We visited our last village yesterday--Pooratam Nagar. It is a tidy place set in the middle of 6000 acres of forest. The people are primarily gypsies, and as a national minority, they recieve a parcel of land from the government to settle on. The 550 homes are set farther apart than other villages with plenty of room for animals and a garden--a nice change from other villages that are extremely crowded, with homes almost on top of each other. It has a spacious, relaxed feeling. Some women still dress in traditional gypsy outfits--colorful skirts, and heavy vests covered with small mirrors. Most of the homes are round clay with thatched roofs, and painted with intricate designs. After we visited, Beckie, Katie and Emily had fun teaching the children to play Chinese jumprope! The land the church is built on there has plenty of room for a much needed Bible worker home--I think this is where we will build one. The ladies of the congregation cooked and served us a great traditional meal--some things we'd never tasted before. We watched a mother give a baby a bath, sipped Indian tea under a blossoming mango tree, and passed out lots of Beanie Babies! I think this is my favorite village.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brides and Bird Poop!

Yesterday, we were invited to a huge Christian wedding at the Nuzvid church! It was fun to see the bride in her lovely white sari (Christians use white, Hindus use red), throw rose petals and tiny colored styrofoam balls at the couple, and listen to the uniformed band that played so loud you couldn't hear yourself shout! The ladies of our group sported punjabi outfits--we posed with our friend, Rukma in the sapphire sari. The whole festive occasion ended up with a crow pooping on Beckie's head!

Culinary adventures!

This trip, like all the others before, is a culinary adventure of extraordinary proportions! The nursing school cafeteria (a concrete room with tables and chairs!) where we are having most of our meals, has provided us with special (not fiery hot) food. We went out back to check out the "kitchen". The ladies clean and chop veggies on the ground, and cook over wood fires in clay and stone pits! Chappatis are all hand rolled and cooked on a long iron griddle. Harry, Phil, Heather, Katie, Beckie and Emily have all been eating Indian style--with their right hand! The rest of us are too inhibited! Eating in the villages is awesome! We have been treated to curry of every kind, flavorful rice with lots of foreign whole pieces of leaves and spices, Indian tea, the local favorite sweet (an awful thing that resembles a flat, greasy donut), snacks that are hard to describe, but are crunchy and tasty, sugar cane stalks, local odd fruits with names like "laykiya" and "cheeku", and the favorite Indian bottled drink called Mazza--mango juice! Steve is being an awfully good sport about the whole thing, as this is wa-a-a-a-y out of his comfort zone! He is surviving well!

The Power of the Word!

It never ceases to amaze me how God reaches the ones seeking for Him! Over a year ago, one of our local pastors decided to visit every home in his village. A Hindu rice mill operator became a friend as a result of the visit. The pastor gave him a Telegu Bible, which he put away and never read. His son found the Bible after his father died several months ago. He began to read it, and now is having studies and attending church! We prayed for him and his family in his mill. Please keep them in prayer, too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Republic Day!

Today, January 26th is the 62nd republic day in India! We were invited to be guests of honor at the Nuzvid SDA school's celebration. We all received little Indian flags and (can you guess!) more flower garlands! This day is a big deal--like our 4th of July. There are programs at every school, parades, etc.

Evening Meetings

ItalicCan't believe the meetings are 1/3 over already! On Monday night, we got to our site and found the son of one of the church members had just died 2 hours before. He was only in his forties, and the fact he died of tetanus made it especially sad. For the sake of not having one simple inexpensive immunization, he was taken needlessly from his family. The village elders initially asked us to not hold the meeting, but after part of the group went and prayed for the family, they allowed us to continue without the loud speaker. So Sondi preached close to the crowd so they could hear. We actually liked that, as the speakers are always on ear-splitting decibel mode! Heather preached last night on the 10 commandments--she's got a real future as an evangelist!--it was terrific! I'm posting some photos of some of us in action. The attendance is good, and we are having so much fun with the song services--they love the action songs!