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So what is it that we can say of our time here? It is always hard to tell about our time when we come on such a mission. Like trying to describe the color blue or the idea of soft. There just aren’t adequate words to describe the beauty of the people here and the bright light that God is shining in the midst of darkness. It takes more than words. We can actually feel God working and moving among the people here. We can also feel the darkness that exists in much of the city.

Monday we traveled to the slum village of Udayan Pally and had the greatest musical day with the children of New Hope School. Pastor Rudra and Mita were, as always, so inspiring to hear as they spoke about their passion for reaching the people of this village. They not only want to bring spiritual light to the darkness but they are meeting real felt needs. They are trying to provide every family with a clean water filtration system to protect from the high arsenic content found in the already polluted water. They provide healthy milk or protein once a day for the children that may not have another meal each day. The children came to school with their toothbrushes in their pockets. When I asked Pastir Rudra about this he said that the children were not brushing their teeth at home so it is part of their school curriculum that once a day they brush their teeth during school with the hope that they are building healthy habits with the children. These are but a few of the things they are doing to meet physical needs as they also share the answer to this village’s deepest need for the true light of Jesus.

Tuesday we celebrated the 8th birthday of Destiny with our friends, Smarita, Runa, Nandini and Shayoni. How do you have a celebration worthy of the heroic efforts of such a group? It just can’t be done… so we had cake, danced and played music instead! We prayed healing over sweet Smarita who is suffering from severe DVT. We asked that the healing hand of the powerful God above all gods would touch her and give her complete healing and rest.

Wednesday morning we finished our time here with lots of laughing through tears as we listened to the beautiful ladies of Jewels In A Crown. It was humbling and profound to hear their thoughts from our week of worship arts “camp.” We shared with them that there are more than a thousand people at Kingsland and beyond that had sent us to share this love of Jesus with them and that people they have never met are praying for them and that any blessing they felt had come for the Father who loves them and we were just the hands that were allowed to bring it.

Some of thoughts shared by the ladies of Jewels In A Crown”:

I loved this week and felt so relaxed. I don’t know what it was that drew me back every day but I couldn’t wait to come back. There was so much joy and positivity. I felt so happy having art and music back in my life.”

“When you came to our home (Kalighat area) and worshipped God with the loud speaker it brough us much joy, our neighbors were so happy to hear this. Thank you for coming to where we live.”

So many things you have taught us. We didn’t have a way to write things about God and now we have a way to express these things about God.”

“We felt so happy.”

“We have learned that Even trash can be made into something beautiful and so God can do something beautiful with us too.”

“I have learned that God sees the inside of me and that is what is important. It doesn’t matter what the world says is perfect. God has made me as I am and that is good.”

“You taught us to have no fear and to let God use us.”

From Monique and Nirupa (the lead staff of Jewels in A Crown)

“This has been such a Spirit led time and has produced much fruit. It has been an abundance of refreshment for our team. It has been above what we thought could happen in just a few days time. We have been blessed ‘bonkers-ly”

“To have Bobby here was such a blessing. Most of these women do not have husbands that treat them kindly and to see him be such a quiet servant and be so kind was a beyond what we could have asked for.”

And these words from our team:

“This has been so rewarding”

“There is so much value in encouraging those on the ground. Even though we are short timers this whole mission has been about encouragement.”

“Unhindered worship. Such sweet authentic fellowship. The people here go all in with their fellowship.”

“I have a new conviction about helping others. The women here go so far above and beyond to serve and help one another and be good friends and neighbors.”

“Such a blessed team…effortless to share time with the others on our team.”

God is working here. He has champions working daily caring for these people and earning a right to speak into their lives. The servants here have worked years to develop this. They care so very much.”

“The colors and the joy here remind me that happiness is not found in our circumstance but in the people we love and have near us. It is found in having a purpose and caring for others. True joy comes from the Father and can be experienced despite hardships.”

“Our lives should be about caring for others.”

When we rely on the Holy Spirit to direct us and work through us HE can accomplish great things and we are allowed to be a part. What a blessing.”

Our time here has come to an end but our hearts will forever be changed by the beauty that we have seen and the joy that God has brought to the hearts of the women here. God is resting on this city through the women here and the “hope bringers” that are willing to go into the desperate conditions day after day for many years. May we never stop praying for them and following God’s promptings to support them. Our privileges and blessing are not ours to keep, they come from God. Let us never close our hands around those blessings and hold them tightly as if they are our own.

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“Lord Willing And the Creek Don’t Rise”

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Sunday
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Today was our planned outreach day in Kalighat, a red light area. Monsoon season is in full swing here. It has rained almost everyday. There is a tributary of the Ganges River that runs right along the area that we were to be. We had been told that it was likely to crest today and that we would have to make a quick exit if it did. This was the river was when we arrived.

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The ladies of JIAC had invited friends and neighbors and family to the program. They were expectant for God to speak to them and prayed that the river would cooperate.

This morning Hope, the daughter of the ministry director, was praying for the program and that God would bring deliverance to this dark area. He gave her the image of floors being swept and mopped. He impressed on her that we were but the mops and brooms and that He would do the cleaning.

A couple of our team left church early this morning to go with the director to set up the rooms for our program. The place we were to meet consisted of three tiny rooms with open windows and doorways between them. It was supposed to be cleaned and ready for us. When Bobby, Malory and the director arrived they found the room was dirty and not ready at all. To their surprise, they found large ceramic idols laying all over one of the rooms. The ladies joined in and started cleaning, moving out all the debris, sweeping, dusting and cleaning the floors. Of course, the heavy idols were carried out one at a time. As if Hope’s word from God were not strong enough this was one more reminder that we are just the God’s tools and that He was ready to clean house.

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Then they began to pray.

As the rest of our team worked our way there we walked through the darkness that is this red light area. We passed the large temple where people were standing in line laden with flowers, food and other offerings for the goddess Kali. Many were waiting for the regular daily morning sacrifices of goats.

When we arrived at our destination we joined the others and all spread out, inside and outside, to pray and ask for God’s light to fill this dark area.

Nestled among little one room homes were lots of small rooms made up mini temples to various gods. People were milling about everywhere, children played and incense was burning.

We had a large speaker set up to amplify the sounds of the program that would go on the the tiny three room house. Christine had shared earlier in the week that she felt very strongly that what would be shared wouldn’t necessarily be for those in crowded rooms but for those on the outside listening in and those that didn’t even know they were listening.

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The ladies shared their stories and songs. We sang and shared a testimony of the freedom that God offers. Christine shared the gospel and said through tears that her fear was that any of those listening would ignore the freedom that is found in Christ.

Just as Christine was finishing we were alerted that the river was cresting. Just in time we finished….so like God to hold back the waters just long enough. Here’s the moving water that was beginning to overflow as we finished:

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A great day came to a close with a special event. Jordan Raycroft is a Canadian recording artist and Juno nominee. He’s kind if a big deal and now he’s our friend….we all feel a little bit cooler because of that. He is serving an internship at JIAC. He has been such an awesome blessing to our team and was very instrumental in our recording session with the JIAC women. You can hear his amazing music at http://www.raycroftmusic.com

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Wordless

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I have no more words that can adequately express the time spent in our worship arts workshop. This has been one of the most profound, memorable moments in my life, if you haven’t read about our previous days go to http://www.gobeyondkolkata.com

Pictures will have to speak to the joy and meaning of the end of our week. We will soon head into the recording studio to record the women and their original song!

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Words of the day for the last five days

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Malory teaching the chilldren to play drums at a nearby school

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Self portrait journaling assignement (how does God see me.)

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We presented “Daniel’s Story” at a nearby school with 400 children

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Bobby leading the songwriting session

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Today’s shirt was tie dyed by the women on Monday

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Tear Bottles made by the women. (Psalm 56:8- “…Youu have kept my tears in your bottle…

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Fun with Malory!

Danae taught Painting a with A a Twist- India style!

Danae taught Painting a with A a Twist- India style!

Her Song

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March 2015

Kay: “So hey, Bobby,I’d really like to help the women at the workshop to write an original song that speaks to the freedom that they have found. Would you be willing to help make that happen?”

Bobby:”Ummm, well I’ve never done a lot of that. But sure!”

Kay:”Ok, well, I’d like us to record it and put it iTunes as their original song and any amount of money made would go to them. What do you think?”

Bobby: “Count me in….The Lord is going to have to put this together.”

….prayers, planning and fast forward to:

July, 2015

Who will join my broken pieces…”

This is the first line to what we are currently calling “Her Song.” Bobby Miles’ face is bright as he sings the melody that God has dropped into his heart.

Monday and Tuesday we began the process of thinking about what all God has done in the lives of the precious ones we are allowed to be with this week. Many lines, phrases and words became a part of what is now part of a song In progress. The ladies decided that they wanted their song to be slow and beautiful.

Today we asked them to reach inside the life of the one who is identified as a prostitute in the red light area. Trying to be sensitive to what could be fragile and “too fresh” we asked them to describe someone else who is living in that life. The words flowed and they had so much to say about the broken hopeless life that “she” faces. I don’t want to give away too much of an unfinished project but I can tell you that God so clearly laid out a plan for this song to tell the story of one brought from brokenness to hope and then to be the “hope bringer” to those who are still there.

The ladies continued their paintings, dancing, journaling and cross projects. Their creativity is really flowing and we are seeing God give a new voice to their grace story.

Jesus set my spirit free.” Stay tuned…

There’s An Army Rising Up

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Today our team carried on more of the same activities described yesterday. Each segment was so very anointed of God in that it pointed right back at Himself in such a creative subtle way.

We chose early on to adopt a color of the day that represented the Godly characteristic that we’d talk about each day. We purchased t shirts for everyone at the workshop to coordinate with the color of the day. I have to say that when we planned it I didn’t quite realize how powerful this was going to be. Monday was red and stood for REDEEMED which used Rahab, the prostitute, as an example of God redeeming our lives for good when we place ourselves in His hands. Tuesday was pink and stood for HUMILITY. The example story was the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with the tears.

Tuesday as we had our worship time together with the ladies Bobby and Rachael led us in the song Break Every Chain. There’s a line that says “there’s an army rising up…to break every chain…” There we sat. A big, girl packed, pink army….but I have to say that the supernatural power of Christ working though this “womanly” army is going to rival any dark army that the enemy would put in their path.

These beautiful woman come to work each day in lightness and learn useable skills. They learn about about living a life of freedom and victory but they go home to darkness…most of them have husbands who are regularly drunk and mistreat them and many still have family in the brothels. They long for full freedom in their families’ lives.

One of the excercises in songwriting today asked them the questions, “what is the one thing you’d want the world to know about Jesus- or Yesu (pronounced Yeshu) and what is the one thing you want the world to know about you.” The answers were far and wide but each group was asked to give a group answer. In general the answers were that In Jesus they found a love they had never experienced and had to learn to accept the love shown by the ministry here. They have found freedom and joy. They want the world to know that Yesu has the power to change and that before Yesu they felt darkness in their soul but today they have peace and light. They want to destroy the darkness that is in Kalighat and bring the peace and freedom that they have experienced.

Our ministry partner here shared that she believes that revival will come to Kalighat and then whole city but it won’t be through giant services or foreigners doing big evangelistic events. It will be through the evident freedom and bold declarations made by these supernaturally powerful women…one home at a time.

Kalighat is a red light area that seats a giant temple to the goddes Kali….Ghat means area in Bengali. This area that they live is literally “Kali’s place.” As our partners minister and work here they have adopted the name for this area as Yesughat….Jesus’s area. They pray and worship and lift high His name….they don’t march around and bind the enemy up or try to do battle with him. She (our ministry partner) says “that is God’s job….ours is to lift His name and everyone will be drawn to him.” This army’s weapons are the Word of God and the Sword of the Spirit, meaning they are filled with His Spirit and testify to the truth of God’s Word.

We will take this little army, at the end of our time together, into the middle of this area claimed for goddess of death and they will “sing their song, dance their dance and tell their tale” to those that will listen and to those who are on the outside listening in. In boldness the ladies will tell the followers of this dark deathly goddess that there is such power and such liberating freedom in just one Name. This Name that is above every name. The name of Yesu. Jesus. That in His name the chains of addiction and slavery and abuse can be obliterated. If you don’t believe them…just ask them. They are convinced and are living testimonies to this and there is not one thing that can be done or said to dispute it. Just as the image of Kali shows a deathly looking woman holding up a severed head in one hand and a knife in the other to show what she is representative of these women are what God holds up to show what He is about…He holds them up as trophies of WINS in the column of the one and only true God. He holds the women up and says look at their lives…they are showing you My peace, they are showing you my freedom and my love. Come to me and I will give you the same rest.

We ended our day singing together. “There is power in the Name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus. There is power in the nae of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”

To the One and Only God Who has the power and authority above every addiction, darkness, evil, or any spirit, to HIM be the glory.

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Only God Could Have Done That

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synergy[sin-er-jee] 1. the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.

What a day! We all said on multiple occasions, “wow…this is so God.” This team is just packed with amazing, gifted people and I stand back in awe of the talent I am getting to be around! BUT the definition of synergy really fits the description of what happened today…it was greater than the sum of all of that put together….something only God could do.

Our team and the ministry staff started the morning with a worship and prayer time with Bobby and Rachael asking God to reveal how He was working and to make us aware of His great presence that is already resting upon this wonderful ministry that reaches women from one of the red light areas here. The women have become fierce followers of Christ but many still have family and friends in the brothels. Some still live in the same areas they once worked. This ministry not only teaches them a skill but but disciples them to be victorious in the midst of great spiritual darkness.

The ladies arrived and we started the day with a segment we call “Fun With Malory.” We’ll have these segments 3-4 times each day. The ladies play drums, rhythm instruments and even boomwhackers (plastic tubes that are tuned to the C scale). It was so much fun to see them “play” and then all of the sudden realize that real music was happening!

We told the ladies what their week would be about and that they were to remember the words “no fear.” From art to dance to songwriting…no fear…just let God express His story through their bold attempts!

Jacalyn talked about our color of the day, RED, which represented the word Redeemed. She taught how to make a tie dye shirt with a red heart in the middle to remind us of this…tomorrow we get to unwrap them and hang them to dry and see how they turned out.

Karen shared the story Rahab and how God kept his promise and saved her and her family. How he used a woman who was known as a prositute and from her life 48 generations later came Jesus.

Karen also made us all feel like we really were beautiful dancers as she taught the women choreography that God had impressed in her for a month. The song was “Yeshu, Terre Naam” (Jesus, Your Name). As they learned the steps she put it to the music and was brought to tears as she heard the women singing the words as they danced.

Danae made painting look so easy. The beginnings of their masterpieces are drying tonight ready for the cross and lesson that she will teach them tomorrow. After lunch we had a time of worship with Bobby and and Rachael. Heart.Melted.

Bible Art Journaling was next. We talked about letting God be very interactive with His Word and that as they considered scripture and let marinate and flavor their hearts to then express that in drawing…today, water color pencils and sewing ON the actual paper! The hope is after this week they will begin to really look forward to the times that God speaks to them through His Word and that they will have a tool to share that with the neighbors and family.

Bobby began the creative process for the ladies to write a song together. To unlocked a little creativity we started with blind creative doodles….sounds strange but it was so fun to listen to different types and music and with our eyes closed we “doodled” shapes and patterns that the music made us feel. We have no idea what this sonhg will be about or even what it will sound like but over the course of the week it will become clear. On Saturday we will go into a recording studio with our team and record this original song.

Christine began a project that the women are excited about. She makes crosses from discarded used up material and shows how, because of the cross, they are beautiful. The ladies have an assignment as they go home tonight. They be bringing back “trash” and she will show them how to add it to their project to become something beautiful.

It was a packed day and we saw the ladies off with wonderful hot chai and a sweet treat and lots of laughter and hugs. We saw lights come on in their eyes at different times of the day. We saw confidence begin even though they were afraid of something new. It will be neat to see what God will do with five days of this together.

Synergy….it was the only way to describe today.

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Sing Your Song, Dance Your Dance, Tell Your Tale

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Psalm 107:2 “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…”

This scripture is the basis for our mission. This is a very unique opportunity and one that none of us can even believe we are a part of. In January I met with Monique Shaw, the founder of Jewels In A Crown, a ministry that reaches out to women in the brothels to give them a chance to learn the skill of jewelry making. As we talked she shared that the women had learned a dance for a special event and how much they grew in their spiritual walk as they went through the experience. Of course, lightbulbs were blowing up all over my brain. When I told Monique that my job at Kingsland was to help people find creative ways to use their gifts to teach people to fall more in love with their Creator. The idea was born.

Fast forward to March…we received the invitation to have a team do a week long worship arts workshop with the women of JIAC. Lots of fun meetings and plans later here we are sitting in the Dubai airport waiting to board our plane for Kolkata.

Through dance, crafting, art, music, songwriting and Bible journaling we will give the women the opportunity to explore ways to express their worship to God. It is also as a chance to give them a creative way to be influencers to their neighbors, many who are working in the brothels. Much more on that as our trip progresses…stay tuned to the blog. But for now….here is the most creative fun amazing team that God has put together:

Bobby Miles is junior high music teacher and a Krava Maga enthusiast and can beat you up.

Jacalyn Miles is a singer and school teacher and is named after her sister’s cabbage patch doll.

Rachael Soroski is a recent graduate, a singer, songwriter and got her start in 2nd grade as “Angel” in the WAM musical “Christmas Crosstalk.”

Christine Reyna has a ministry called Crosses For Missions that makes crosses from discarded materials and speaks fluent Wolof (as long as you are just talking about monkeys)

Karen Adamson owns and teaches at Adamson Ballet School and has close ties to the Queen of England (just ask her)

Danae Patterson is a painter and a junior at University of Alabama and is a “biker chick” who loves her red Honda Rebel.

Malory Waldo is an elementary music teacher, drum circle “expert” and she cannot ride a bike.

Me, I am Kay a Smith who feels like the most privileged one to get to travel with this group…and I think glitter should be a staple in everyone’s home.

Stay tuned!

For more info on Jewels in A Crown http://www.jewelsinacrown.com

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