January 21, 2014
January 2013 Trip
This morning we saw the precious faces of the children of New Hope School — a Christian school in a Hindu slum village. The children there are given a free education and taught about the God above every God. They are taught that there is hope in Him. Education is key to fighting poverty. Many of these children must stop school and go to work or even be married off at a young age.
Our team went through math and reading lessons. These children are so smart and so respectful. We taught them about about Zacchaeus during chapel and even made sock puppets — my personal favorite. We’ll serve at New Hope for two more days.
This afternoon we visited Grandma’s Trust in very center of the largest red light area in India. They minister to women and children (tomorrow we will spend the day with the children). Today was spent with the women — more women than they’ve ever had! Grandma’s is a beautiful home and a bright light in a very very dark space.
We did our usual crafts and games and the ladies laughed and enjoyed themselves. We also repeated our southern cooking lessons. The biscuits we were making were already in the little toaster oven. All was good until the electricity went out. So being the “fluid” team that Pastor Omar would be proud of we FRIED the biscuits. Another new personal favorite!
The day drew to a close and it was dark. It was time to go back to our bus but first we had to weave through the busy “track” of this area. I have been here many times during the day but walking through at night left me astounded and speechless. The streets were filled with men — filled — but lining the sides of the street, there they were…..there were the precious ones, the ones He hears, knows and sees. The lipstick on their smiling lips and eyeliner on eyes that met mine were not enough to hide who they really are. One of the biggest things we pray as a team is that God will let us see people with His eyes. Tonight I did. I don’t think it’s the first time, but this is the time that I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t get to the bus fast enough before the tears escaped my eyes.
One can only pray that they will one day be afforded options in their lives or that they will be rescued from their dark surroundings if they are being forced to stay. I feel so completely inadequate and overwhelmed by the whole issue but then I am reminded that this is why we come — not because we have the answers or can make any kind of dramatic rescue. But we can come and encourage the many (and I do mean many) that are fully engaged on the front lines of this battle on a daily basis here in this city. We can come and remind those that we interact with and those on the other side of rescue that there is a God who hears them and loves them.
January 27, 2013
January 2013 Trip
Our India team is on the way home. After eight intense long days of work most would probably tell you they’d stay longer if not for missing family members. This trip is definitely not for lightweights.We start early in the mornings and don’t finish until evening. When you throw in the thick smog, body jarring rides in traffic that is virtually indescribable to an American, the sights of families living in extreme poverty and mix it up with the stories that we hear from the girls who are living in after care homes after being sold night after night one could easily want to turn and run to the comforts of home. But when you season that mix with the lovely smiles and precious faces of the children we see, the beautiful servant hearts of the translators we work with, the kindness of women who want to serve rather than be served and the extreme dedication and commitment of those that fight for justice to those the world has thrown away then you can see why we want to stay.
We finished our trip with a day of laughter and fun along with a few tears as we visited once again with the girls of Mahima aftercare home. They listened to stories from our team that reminded them that we are all very much alike…they just don’t always hear those stories and feel like they are alone.
At the end of the day our entire team was invited to the home of a couple that leads the fight for justice in this part of India, we enjoyed our time celebrating all that God did. To sit in the home of heroes like this was very humbling.
We took some time in Duabi last night for a fun time touring the city. First on the agenda was a quick trip to Jumeirah beach for pictures where we saw the most beautiful sunset. Thanks, God, for that beautiful blessing! Then we went straight to the Dubai Mall where a few of the team enjoyed a little indoor snow sledding at Ski Dubai, an indoor snow skiing park. We finished our evening at the Mall of the Emirates for the largest dancing fountains in the world and the world’s tallest building (think Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible). We are now in the Dubai airport awaiting our long flight home. We are full and blessed and thankful to have made this journey together.
January 27, 2013
January 2013 Trip
Our team spent three days with the village of Udyan Pallay near the New Town area of Kolkata. New Town is an area where it is estimated that 20 million new people will move over the next few years. Nestled in this up and coming building area is a desperate slum village. Goats in shirts run around while little children are completely naked. Small fires burn in the corners of the lean to homes to cook food. A dirt path full of rocks and litter make up the streets where the villagers mill about. Men sit outside and play cards and drink most of the day. A few are cobblers or are produce merchants or have found some other way to eek out a living but the majority expect the women of the village to leave and find some sort of work.
The work available for the women is very sparse and the pay is very, very little. Children are left unattended and to fin for themselves leaving a high probability that they can be stolen or run away.
There is a light in this village called New Hope. Pastor Rudra Singh and and his wife Mita have given their lives to help this village. They have opened a school and they are able to teach from a Christian world view in the middle of this Hindu village. The team spent the mornings teaching school and Bible stories. They even did sience experiments which left a few children wondering if our teachers were “magic.” the children learn quickly and those that we have taught before have come a long way over the last two years. Several on our team noticed this time that there were more boys and that many of the girls that we have seen before were not there. We were told that lots of girls have been forced to go to work or marry as a child bride.
Last year people from Kingsland assisted in opening a sewing center in the village to teach women a marketable skill. Wednesday we had the great privilege of seeing the first graduating class of 10 women. We planned a fun afternoon for them and finished with an official ceremony complete with a certificate, pictures, food and a gift, the women were very proud of themselves. They asked us to pray for the girls in the village. “We do not want to raise our daughters here in this place. It is not safe” is what they told us. The only answer they see is to send the girls away. Our team was very burdened by this thought thinking that community involvement and neighbors creating answers together as village would be a better way so that girls can grow up with their mothers.
In the evening we set up a mobile theater in the school and started the Jesus Film. slowly the members of this Hindu village began to trickle in. Our huge team left so as not to be a distraction. Pastor Rudra reported that within minutes the room was full with about 65-100 people in attendance. The village people were so intrigued that they asked for him to show it again sometime but in the large field nearby so more of their neighbors could come.
Pastor Rudra, Mita and their team will begin to follow up in the homes of the villagers over the next week. There is such a darkness there and this film seemed to bring some light…the same light that shines at the end of the the road where the New Hope school sits. Pray for this village as they begin to learn community and skills that will help them better serve one another as well as their families. Pray for Pastor Rudra and Mita as they work to serve the needs of this desperate community.
January 22, 2013
Field Reports, January 2013 Trip
Today part of our team did a retreat for ladies who work with those rescued from trafficking. Their job is stressful and full of emotional turmoil. They deal with trauma and spiritual warfare on a daily basis. As our team prepared for this trip the Lord impressed upon us to take up the theme Be Still from Psalm 46:10. In order to carry the weight of the burdens of these girls we wanted to encourage the aftercare workers as they seek God in a very busy, noisy and harsh environment.
The aftercare workers began arriving and were told to just have a seat and that breakfast would be served to them. This was a very hard concept for them. As Americans we are used to being served. These ladies remarked time and time again how special they felt just by us serving breakfast to them. Next on the agenda was a treatment called Satin Hands. By the time some of the ladies reached us to begin a simple hand treatment they were in tears saying they felt so unworthy of this attention. As we applied lotion and massaged their hands we thanked them for being the hands and feet of Christ to troubled girls. We prayed for them individually that God would strengthen their hands as they continued their work. The tears just poured…from them and of course from us as we realized the impact this was making.
We spent the morning with testimonies and sessions on clinging to the vine of Jesus and drawing our strength from Him. The ladies in the groups shared and prayed with each other.
We shared American treats with them from brownies to fudge to Texas Trash. They were giddy with excitement. And in typical American fashion we fed them lunch not long after that. We served food until they just could not hold any more. By the end of the morning their tummies were as full as their hearts.
Tomorrow we will do round two of the retreat. God’s hand in this plan is so evident. We hoped and prayed that it would minister to those who give so much but had no idea the power that simply serving them would have. What a privilege to be a part of their lives, if only for a few days.
The second half of our team spent the morning at New Hope slum school. They taught the story of Daniel and used the children as actors. Three of the team were able to visit in the homes and pray with village residents. We’ll have more from the school in the next blog.
The afternoon was spent at the aftercare home that Kingsland helps support. 150 girls and 19 of us. It was a fun, blessed day filled with smiles and laughter. But we also hear a lot of girls share their need just to talk to someone about their feelings. We used some activities that spurred discussion, something we’ve never really done before….and they were ready to talk. We will return to spend the afternoon with them again tomorrow.
Our team is at “the wall.” This is what I call the third day of a trip to India. We have worked since we hit the ground and it will not let up at all until Thursday for a couple of hours. But I have not heard complaints from anyone. Every team member is pushing beyond their own comfort zones and giving until they are spent. God has truly given us a special team.
The women of the first ever Mukti Network Encouragement Retreat
Lelana teaches on how to Be Still and fight
The moms and daughters
New Hope children proud of their portraits
Raju 2, Raju 1 and Santu. Amazing young men who teach the children at New Hope
January 19, 2013
Field Reports, January 2013 Trip
Matthew 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.”
Today we spent time with the ladies of Sari Bari in two of India’s largest red light districts. The women here have chosen to work their way to freedom from a life of prostitution by learning to stitch beautiful items using the “kantha” stitch. This is a traditional stitch used by the poor to stitch saris together to make blankets. The lives of women in India are hard….these precious ones in particular.
One of the craft projects that we have chosen to do with the women of Sari Bari and several of the women in aftercare is a sparrow’s nest charm necklace. We want them to have a reminder that if God knows when even a sparrow falls then He is not unaware of them…He knows them, loves them and has a beautiful plan for their lives.
We used the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, from the Bible to reinforce this. Joseph had many trials and disappointments in his life but God used it all for good to bring Joseph great blessing and even to save a nation from starvation. We reminded them that God may still be in the middle of their story and to not lose hope.
Our team is strong and finished the day full of excitement and encouragement. Everyone spent themselves today but feels that they received more than they gave.
January 16, 2013
Field Reports, January 2013 Trip
Today our team leaves for India. I don’t know if you can hear it but there was one giant collective sigh as we all reached the airport and checked in. Getting nineteen women out of town is a huge undertaking. As they say, “a woman’s work is never done.” Really I think everyone of us will say how thankful we are for our families and support that have gotten us to this point…but there were times when I think we all had the thoughts that we would never get it all done….meal prep, transportation for children, school work, jobs, volunteer duties, house duties and of course, for some, picking out matching clothes for children to help those husbands/fathers who are a little challenged in this area. We are all truly grateful for all of you who are staying here and helping in order that we may go.
As we prepared for our trip many of us saw our plans trying to go off track. I don’t like to give a lot of air time to the enemy but he is real and he doesn’t want us going in the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many things we are leaving behind that we can “worry” about. There are many things in India that we can “worry” about. But together we are choosing to lay those things down and pick up the peace of God. As we walk among the beautiful people we are going to minister to we want them to see peace. I think it’s good sometimes for us to have to walk in peace while a storm rages. We can be sure that most of those that we are going to see will need that peace…their circumstance will not always change immediately…some may never have that benefit As Philippians 4:6-7 says, the peace of God which passes ALL understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Pray for our team…pray that we will love with abandon and that we will be able to bring hope and light to some very dark corners.
We’ll be off in a bit for the first of two plane rides and an eight hour layover. Our first flight is fifteen hours, but I guess it’s a blessing when you consider that we will be “forced” to just sit, watch movies, visit and eat food.