Well, I’m back… and it was amazing.
I’ll only post some pictures here, the rest can be viewed here
Woke up somewhat early (annoyingly) and got ready. After breakfast we left for the airport. As we were driving I got really nervous and mom and Mrs. M, Elaine, and Mrs. C were all praying for me. I threw up as we went through security, but after that was fine.
We got to the gate and went in groups to various places, coming back to board the plane.
I sat with Mili and Caroline on the plane. We all watched National Treasure 2 and worked on our testimonies.
When we finally got through customs and stuff we met Paul Uncle and Pastor Daniel at the airport and got into cars and drove to the church in Banaswadi. We got settled in our rooms then went up to dinner. We played tongue (spoons without spoons…) and signs until group devotions. Pastor W. gave us an overview of the week and told us our work crews… I’m in the Hoysala crew, and we’ll be going to Hoysala one of the days to paint the Church.
It took me forever to fall asleep last night. It was probably 1 AM by the time I fell asleep.
I felt a little sick in the morning, but after devotions with the Indian workers in the morning I felt fine. After devos we got told what was going on that day, and after a Chai break we started working. Hannah, Caroline, Elisabeth, Vashti, and I were cleaning the kitchen… there was SO much dirt on the floor and everywhere that all we did was clean the floor. Scrape, scrub, sweep, repeat.
We changed for a youth service, but it ended up getting cancelled so we played cards until dinner and devotions.
Devotions have been about Jesus’ passion. We’ve been reading parts from John Piper’s book, The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die. Today in devotions Pastor W. talked about what passion is, and that really it’s suffering… so what we’re passionate about is something we’re willing to suffer for. Hence Jesus is passionate about us… something else that stuck out to me is that the question should never be “who killed Jesus?” but “Why did Jesus die and what did his death accomplish?”
“I LOVE this game. How do you play?” – Kevin
“That pooch is going to DIE tonight.” – Fiona
Sunday, April 6, 2008.
Eating after Church
I felt so sick this morning… Elaine and I walked around upstairs until I felt better, then we went down to breakfast.
Originally I was going to Church “far far away,” but Caroline and I switched so I’d only be taking a 15 minute autorickshaw ride to Hoysala for Church instead.
It was a small church, maybe 20/30 people, and the whole building was about the size of my bedroom. But it was amazing to see the gospel proclaimed in the villages, amazing to see their love for Christ and what He’s done there.
Hannah, Mrs. S and I all shared our testimonies in the middle of the service, after 2 short sermons, singing, and prayer. After we spoke there was more prayer, more singing, and another short sermon. After the service we served lunch (guess what it was? RICE AND CURRY! [again]). When we finished lunch we prayed with the pastor and walked a ways to get an autorickshaw to take us back to headquarters in Banaswadi.
Back in ‘Swadi we played cards and talked while waiting for the other groups to get back from their Churches. In the evening we had devotions and then went to bed.
Devos were about propitiation and sin… the thing that jumped out at me today was that sin is not small because it’s treason against a BIG sovereign. We had a short time of sharing, and we were all touched by how much God has been working in India… and also the passion for God all of the believers have and how they take time to think about what God is doing in their lives and praising Him for who He is.
I learned so much at Church, even though I couldn’t understand a word that was being said. These people are so poor, many were once very lost and quite a few have been/are sick in some way… yet they don’t care how much they have, but what they have they give to God. There was a young mother, probably only a few years older than me who had a little baby with what was probably a brain tumor… during offering she got up and put money in the box… money that could have been used to buy medicine or something else, but she was trusting God with her money and that He would heal her child and provide somehow. Afterwards Hannah and I had lots of younger girls coming up to us asking us to pray for them, and then the woman asked Mrs. S and I to pray for her sick child.
Sharing my testimony was also a learning experience… speaking through a translator can totally ruin your train of thought, and sometimes it was hard to really get what I wanted to say across and it was hard because I wasn’t able to fully know how much they understood… but then one of the pastors got up after we spoke and used examples from our testimonies in his sermon, which was really encouraging to me.
I loved seeing the joy in the children’s faces as we served them and as they ate… they have so much less than I do but are so much happier… and mostly everyone in the Church was a somewhat new believer, but their faith meant so much more to them and they understood so much more than I do… I think of all the days Sunday was the day that was most encouraging and the day I learned the most about what God is doing in India.
“I can do 100 pushups. Just don’t ask me to do them.” – Kevin
“Yeah, he can do 100 minus the zeros.” – Mrs. S.
Lots of work today… we went back to Hoysala, which was so enjoyable, just to see the pastor and my younger Indian sisters again. The Hoysala team was Caroline, Me, Elisabeth, Kevin, and Craig. Caroline and I went with the girls to get water to wash the Church floors and walls and got to walk through their village and see how they lived. We walked back to the Church and swept it out, scrubbed the floors, and the walls and then pulled weeds outside. The girls were all over the Church with us, up on tables scrubbing the walls, holding the dust pan when we were sweeping, moving pots out of the kitchen, borrowing our gloves to pull weeds… so much fun to work alongside them. They thought my travel pen which clipped onto my name tag and folded up was so neat and I spent about 20 minutes writing names on their hands… sadly I can only remember two of their names, Kowselya and Raksheta.
We finished work and drank chai and fellowshipped with the pastor and an auntie there. They were telling us about miraculous ways God worked healing and conversion in their village… auntie was an upper-caste Hindu woman who’d converted, the pastor had been mentally unstable and hadn’t been able to speak, Kowselya had been very sick… we prayed for the Church before we left.
Back in Banaswadi we cleaned the entrance hall and then started painting the dining room. After dinner we had devotions and prepared for VBS tomorrow. My crew was helping with VBS the next morning and we prepared a skit and a song to teach them.
Elijah, Jarod, Mr. G, Isaac, David, and Pastor W left for Veernhalli today. They’ll be back Tuesday evening.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Pastor W was back for devotions this morning. He talked about dying to self and taking up our cross… which basically means dying every day and living as humble slaves of Christ. At devotions that night we talked about what this trip cost us. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but when I did, I realized I was WAY out of my comfort zone… but very happy and so grateful still.
I managed to get breakfast down this morning without much trouble.
VBS went well, we did a skit of the Good Samaritan then taught the kids Father Abraham. They had fun and thought we were hilarious. 😛 Afterwards we got about 50 little Indian boys coming at us wanting to shake our hands… “Auntie! Auntie!!!”
Upstairs we painted and scraped paint off of chairs until lunch. After lunch we painted and scraped some more. We painted the kitchen and basically finished painting the dining room today. Two Indian guys were painting with us today, which was neat, getting to work with brothers in Christ… also made work go a bit faster since the guys were still gone.
The guys got back from Veernhalli tonight and we’ve enjoyed having them back.
We also talked about heart attitudes this evening…and about examining your heart. The cost of being here has been WAY overwhelmed by the joy of being here and how great an encouragement it’s been to work alongside my Indian brothers and sisters… worship with them, serve them, and fellowship with them… bugspray may be annoying, I miss my music, sleep, and milk… I love India and my siblings in Christ here. It’s been so awesome… so sad today was the half-way point.
Devos this morning were about weakness… and how our weakness makes His power seen so much more. We decrease, God increases.
We finished the kitchen today… we have to do the floor again, but other than that it’s all done.
Today we scrubbed, scraped, scrubbed s’more… I did get to help do some detailing on the tree in the dining room. Tomorrow we get to finish cleaning and finish the decorations in each room.
After lunch we went shopping. I got a lot of stuff and although at times the shopping was a big pain, I enjoyed myself.
Devotions were great… Tuesday night we’d been assigned a person to write a letter of encouragement to, and mine was Vashti, and she ended up writing to me. I was grateful that she and others see God working in my life and some fruit in my life, even when I myself am not able to… though sometimes I felt somewhat hypocritical, because my heart attitude is not always my outward attitude. The second part of devotions tonight was about examining your heart and looking at the sin in your life. The majority of the sin in my life comes from selfishness and the failure I am at dying to self and putting others and God above myself.
It’s something I need to work on… dying to self is hard, and it takes strength to make myself weak so God can show His power in me.
Thursday, April 10, 2008.
Last full day in India. 😦
We completed the kitchen and the conference room.
Tomorrow we may have to clean the dining room floor, but that’s it.
P Uncle shared his testimony and how the Church center got started… God’s awesome is all I have to say. I wish I could stay and finish/help more with the work God’s started here. Guess the best way for me to do that is through prayer.
The main things to pray for are bigger facilities for the smaller Churches like Hoysala, money for everything, and the means and people to go out.
It’s been amazing hearing stories of how God’s been working in India… the healing of Kowselya, providing for all of Paul Uncle’s needs now and as a child, the conversion of many upper-caste Hindus to Christianity, Indians leaving everything behind to follow Christ… God is awesome, and He’s moving through India…
They gave us all short Kurtas, and for dinner we all dressed in them and ate upstairs in our new dining room. After dinner we got a projector set up and watched all the video footage that had been taken so far. All of us went to bed at 12:30 AM very tired and somewhat sad…
I woke up very drearily this morning… did not want to get up and have my last day in India.
We all helped out at VBS this morning, and it was really sad saying goodbye to the children. After VBS we cleaned our rooms and packed up, then hung out in the conference room until lunch. After lunch we had a time of response to the trip, suggesting ways to make it better, etc… and then we said goodbye to R Auntie, P Uncle and everyone and loaded up to drive to the airport. Mili and Sonja weren’t feeling all that great, but eventually we all got in the airport and checked in. Jarod, Cait, Pastor W, Caroline, and I ended up ahead of everyone else and were waiting around for everyone after security. We were bored, so I got out pencils and my notebook and Jarod and I started drawing. First he drew a very interesting picture of me, then he wanted me to draw him, so Caroline and I got somewhat goofy and drew him like a pirate… then Pastor W took the drawing and added lots of detail to it… it doesn’t look much like Jarod but it looks like a pirate, for sure. 😛
We finally got all together and on the airplane… I ended up next to Hannah and in front of Jarod, which ended up being an interesting combination. 😛 Jarod and I both had aisles, so we were able to talk some on the way home, mostly about the movies we were watching (The Last Legion and August Rush) and some about other things. Hannah and I talked some, too, which was nice. We landed and I had very mixed feelings… I’m so happy to be back in Dubai, but at the same time I already miss India… chai breaks, R Auntie, P Uncle, almost rice and curry…
Thursday night we went around the circle and had 3 questions to answer…
1. What has God taught you about yourself this week?
2. What has God taught you about Him this past week?
3. What’s one thing you’ll never forget?
I didn’t have to think too hard to answer these…God showed me how selfish I can be at home, when all I’m thinking about is myself and what I want to do not others…. God taught me just how much He can be trusted and how much I can rely on Him each day, when I don’t want to get up in the morning, don’t want to eat rice and curry for breakfast, don’t feel like scrubbing floors all day… He’ll give me the strength I need to get through the day and He’ll use me and He has a perfect plan that I don’t know about, but He does… I’ll never forget ch-ch-ch-chutney! (inside joke) or the stories of how God’s worked so amazingly in India…
Sometimes during the trip I wished I would have been able to go on the June trip instead, to get to build relationships with more people and not just work… but at the same time I think I did build some relationships within the group and out of the group… I have my friends in Hoysala, Kowselya and Raksheta, and within the group I got to know Mani, Vashti, Kevin, and Jarod a lot better. I got to know God more, got to see Him working in my life and in others… and I learned so much about trusting God and letting Him have His way because it’s so much better. I happened to be reading in Psalms the whole time on Surge… and God used so many Psalms to encourage me in so many different ways. I learned I don’t need much to be happy… that God’s got it all planned…that sometimes dying to self brings you more than serving self does… that I don’t examine my heart enough, that I don’t praise God enough for who He is… I also learned so much that I’m not able to even begin to put into words yet.
The highlights of my week were probably everything that happened at Hoysala and helping out with VBS… the kids enjoyed having us so much and I enjoyed bringing God’s word to them in ways that kids like to hear it.
“Look! It’s an Indian river!” – Elijah
“Where was that from?”
“I love chutney!” – Hannah
In short… I had so much fun in India, God taught me so much, I want to go back… and I almost miss rice and curry…
But my pictures and words don’t do the trip justice… it was an amazing trip and God worked so much in everyone.