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Why India? – February 16, 2020

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By Guest Blogger – Stephanie Blyth

Stephanie Blyth: I’m often asked why missions, and why India. I’m not your typical missionary, and India is certainly not an easy journey. The answer is easy. This is where God has called me to serve and if you were here, you would understand.

For years I ignored His call. Always reasons that really made sense but in my heart I knew I was simply scared and not willing to take that step. For those introverts out there, you surely can relate to the anxiety of stepping out of your comfort zone. After I lost my dad is call got loud and most certainly clear. India was the place. What I was to do there was up to His will.

Romans 12:6-10

According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy,use it according to the proportion of one’s[b]faith; if service, use it in service; if teaching, in teaching; if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading,with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil;cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters.

We all have gifts that have been given to us by God. I am a mother of four very active boys, an engineer in the oil and gas industry, and to top it off, an introvert. I do well in small groups of people and much better if it’s people I know. Anxiety is real and incredibly prevalent in my every day life. But even with these challenges my heart longs to return to this place to use my gift. My gift is to love in whatever way possible. To simply be the hands and feet of Jesus. Through God’s grace, India has a way of breaking down my walls and anxiety. I can come here with a group of women that I do not know and work side by side with them to simply do His work.

So much of this trip I just feel blessed. I am so fortunate to teach science at a slum village school ran by one of the bravest women I know, Mita Singh. The honor felt to simply wash the feet of a woman that is still involved in the trade and listen about what burdens her heart through a translator. There is no judgement. Not by me and not by her (except maybe my paint work on her nails). I crave this time every year where judgment is left behind by women as it is all too common back home. Here we simply sit and enjoy each other’s company and I do my best to show her how much she is loved and valued by such a simple act like a pedicure. The stories are heartbreaking and far too many than there ever should be. One after another I hear of the darkness that surrounds this place. But the JOY…..that is indescribable.

We were honored this weekend to take a group of ladies on a retreat. These ladies are at the forefront of the battle against human trafficking. They are the social workers, the caregivers, the orphanage workers, the teachers, and a variety of other positions that are here giving it their everything to stop modern day slavery and abuse in God’s name. We spent the time with devotions, crafts, and just time together to share our stories and the pain but also the good. There is so much good in such darkness and such beauty in these warriors.

As we ended these two days, we were surrounded by these women to just pray. The feeling of the Holy Spirit that swept over this group and the love felt absolutely filled my tired soul and I hope theirs. While I certainly miss my family, to leave such a place is so incredibly difficult. There is so much need in this City of Joy and so many beautiful people I will miss. I ask that as we close this trip and this blog that your prayers for this place and these people continue. The need is great and I know overwhelming at times for those here for the duration. I also ask for prayers for safe travel and for this team. The mental toll of what and who we leave behind until next year will weigh heavily until our return.

Eat, Pray, Love – February 15, 2020

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My name is DeAnna Parsell and I am today’s blogger. This is my first trip to India as well as my first mission trip. I’m truly blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Kolkata with these special KBC women. Each one has moved me with their testimonies, personal life struggles, and experiences/relationships with the ministries we have visited. I think we have worked well together as we all have contributed differently with a common goal to spread love, prayer, peace and fun to those who endear so much pain, uncertainty, fear and sadness all too often.

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Today was an amazing day at the Mukti Network Retreat. The retreat was held at Vedic Village. The goal of this retreat is for KBC to host a fun and relaxing two days for the phenomenal women who provide services in freedom ministries for so many women and children in need. Words cannot explain what these women have heard, seen and experienced first hand, yet their faith and love for God our Father and their desire to serve our Lord keeps them strong.

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Our day started around noon with introductions, opening prayer, and lunch. After lunch the ladies painted picture cubes. This was followed by a beautiful bible story with Sterling followed by her emotional and touching testimony. Our next craft was earrings which the ladies seemed to enjoy. Walking around the room I saw some very cool creations. After tea and snacks we followed with a beautiful and wise teaching with Reagan. The women then had the opportunity to leave and relax for a bit or stay and play games. The day finished with free time, dinner and bowling.  There was also dancing and a lot of laughter!

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I’ve learned so much from this trip. It truly was life changing for me. I’ve realized that although personal struggles seem hopeless and dark, there is always light if you keep Jesus close. I want to embrace the good in my life and let go of bad…the anger that has consumed me. As our trip is closing, I feel so much joy from this experience. These women and children blessed me beyond what I can write in words, and I am so honored to have been able to serve and love them.

Crossing Paths – February 14, 2020

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Today’s guest blogger is Reagan Sinclair, Kingsland Missions Intern.

Today we returned to New Hope School. Although it’s a one room classroom, they have multiple teachers that each take a subject and rotate between the different age groups. There are multiple white boards around the room so that each teacher can have space for their lesson. While we were there, Stephanie taught on circuits. We all agreed that she should’ve been our physics teacher in school. We split up into different age groups, and each student made their own flashlight using a popsicle stick, copper tape, LED light, and a battery.

After school, we were invited to Rudra’s house to enjoy that Eastern hospitality and have a meal prepared by his wife, Mita. Mita is the headteacher at the school and Rudra pastors several churches. As we ate, he shared his passion to go out to the rural villages to work with the unreached people group. He is making the most of every opportunity to share God’s redemption with others, and together they bring light into a dark place.

In the late afternoon, we went back to one of the red light districts and visited a second location of a ministry we saw earlier in the week. The women made tassel earrings and rotated to receive pedicures. The Indian people have very strong bodies, because after many days sitting “Indian style” on the concrete floor painting nails, I’m really feeling it. And I’m only 28.

We were walking back to the bus when a woman ran up to our group. Remember this is a red light area, so we are very much on guard. However, as it turns out, we knew this woman. If you read Tuesday’s blog, you will learn about a woman that Sterling spent much time with that day. She shared hard things in her life, and Sterling prayed with her. This is a very large area, so it’s rare that our paths would cross again. But God has His ways. She and Sterling embraced many times and were thrilled to see each other. The woman walked us to our bus and waited until we drove away. I wouldn’t be surprised if they find each other next year.

I taught in a rural African village for five years but have recently moved back to the US. On this trip, I was hoping to figure out how to apply what I learned doing long term missions in a short term setting. If I’m honest, I was a little hesitant about all this. During my time overseas, I saw people with good intentions be harmful, and I was worried about unknowingly participating in that. In our first few days, I watched how the women lit up in excitement to see the returning members of our team. By coming to the same places each year, Kingsland has been able to build relationships and build a reputation of being trustworthy. One of the workers of a certain ministry told me that she really appreciated that we didn’t come with our agenda of how to end human trafficking or how to make their lives better. We simply came to love and to have fun. It’s for this same reason that another ministry said that Kingsland is the only group of foreigners that they allow. We’re not coming to start something and leave it; we are supporting the nationals who are already working here. This city is full of amazing people that want to fight evil in their city. We’re just here to visit our friends, support them, and give them a short rest from the emotions that ministry brings. On Tuesday, the coffee shop was full of ladies who just wanted to have a good time, and as it quieted down, hardships were shared and ministry happened. I believe a good work is happening here.

Shine a Light – February 13, 2020

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Hello! My name is Kalie, and today I have the privilege of sharing a snapshot of our day. I want to start by saying that today, February 13, is Shine a Light on Slavery Day!  How fitting for the End It Movement’s special day that we are in India on one of the many days we are surrounded by women who have been rescued from human trafficking or are still victims in human trafficking. I can’t help but thank God for allowing our trip to fall on this day.

Today was a good day. Long, but oh so sweet. It all started at 4:50AM when my alarm went off for the service at Mother House (former home of Mother Teresa), which starts every morning at 6:00AM on the dot. After the service and during their prayer time, we quietly exited the room because our schedule was very tight today and could not be late to board the bus for our next destination. However, when we left, the front gate doors were locked, leaving our team stunned and puzzled. Suddenly, a nun approached us with the keys and long story short, we were yelled at by a nun in a whisper voice. It was something we will never forget. We quickly walked back to the BMS and of course, had to stop for a 2 minute chai tea stop!

chai

After a bus ride to another part of the city, we walked about six minutes down a road in the Udayan Pally village where New Hope School is located. New Hope is a school that allows the poorest children in the village to attend school and receive an education. There were children as young as 3 ½ years old all the way to 14 years old.

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new hope

We had a science lesson about electrical engineering by our very own electrical engineer on the team, Stephanie! She taught the kids wonderful things about static and electric energy, and then the kids participated in the coolest experiment! They each received a balloon and rubbed it vigorously in their hair, hovered it over a plate full of salt and pepper, and watched the pepper quickly rise to the balloon. The kids were overjoyed and wide eyed at the experiment! Then, they made butterflies as seen in the pictures and used the energy from the balloon to flap the wings! One child in my group asked “Gum?” and pointed to the paper for the butterfly to be placed on, so I asked him why he needed gum. He replied by showing me a gesture to show he needed gum to glue the paper down. This really tugged on my heart strings. We take so much for granted in America, even the simplicity of a glue stick.

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Next, Stephanie taught the kids about circuits and each group built circuits by using a snap kit. They were able to see how the electricity flowed through the circuit to make the lightbulb turn on and the fan blow. Each time these happened, they would cheer loudly and clap with happiness. Stephanie really did an outstanding job planning the school lessons! Stay tuned for the description of the experiment tomorrow!

circuits

At the end of the school day, the children all lined up in 5 single file lines for chapel. Deanna gave a devotional about how we are lights for Jesus and a life without Jesus is darkness. The kids all prayed together and it was a sweet moment seeing them praying to Jesus.

Next, we hopped on the bus to travel to Mahima Ashaloy! This is a community center for women who live in Sonagachi, one of (if not THE) largest red light districts in south Asia. They have weekly medical checks, counseling, dance therapy, music therapy, just to name a few. Here, Danae and I spoke about anger and stress management and healthy ways to cope when feeling angry. This really resonated with the women and about half of them opened up with personal stories from their friends and families. They asked good questions asking for advice and I believe they took away important coping mechanisms. After this, the women made tassle earrings and had a blast. Our dear friends and translators, Zeenat and Anita, were a huge help today helping us communicate with about 30 women on the terrace. Of course, they blessed us with chai and samosas which were delicious.

ashaloy

To wrap up a very good but long day, our team had dinner at an American owned coffee shop and café named 8th Day which was delicious. On the way from Ashaloy to dinner, my mind circled thoughts about the day. I’m amazed at several of the women’s faith after all they have been through, they’re still trusting that God has great plans for them, which He promises in Jeremiah 29:11. As for me, I’m having difficulty believing God has great plans because of recent events in my personal life, even though I know it to be true. It’s amazing how some of these ladies and all of the staff are so strong. It truly blows my mind.  Our God is doing great things here in Kolkata, the city of Joy. Please keep praying for the people here who are living in darkness away from Jesus!

Blessings,

Kalie

Touching His Robe – February 12, 2020

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My name is Sterling Greene and I am the guest blogger on tonight’s Kolkata Go Beyond blog!

This is my fourth trip to Kolkata and my ninth mission trip with Kingsland. If there is one thing I have taken away from all my travels, it is that a smile means the same in every language. A smile can go a long way between two people who do not speak the same language. So I smile a lot, because I only speak one language!

Today we spent the day with Destiny Foundation at two different locations.   Destiny was established about ten years ago.  Their mission is to empower women that have been trafficked by teaching them job skills.

The Destiny women are always so happy to see us! We have continued to go year after year, and as a result we have built relationships with them because of our consistency. When we enter the facility it is always such a precious time as we have all longed to see each other. We are always welcomed with huge hugs and joyful smiles.

I had the privilege to share the Bible story about the bleeding woman from Mark 5:21-34, and Danae shared her testimony. The women were intrigued. The majority of the women at Destiny are not Christians, but they are always so receptive to us and the words we speak about Jesus. They always have so many questions and amazing discussion. They always bless us with their questions and their desire to want to know more.  Today after the story, one girl asked, “I wish Jesus were still alive so I could touch his robe and He could heal me.”  That swung the door WIDE OPEN for a conversation about how OUR GOD is not dead.  He is alive and active and working in our lives every day.  When we speak to Him, He hears us.  He sees every tear that falls. These women sometimes feel forgotten by their gods that they worship as Hindu followers.  What a contrast!

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After our Bible time and testimony, we taught them how to make threaded earrings.  And of course we have our signature activity, pedicures! Feet are a big deal here and no one wants their feet touched. It is a cultural taboo that 1. They feel like they are sinning by having their feet touched and 2. Someone younger washing the feet of an older person is not okay. So many ladies were uncomfortable having their feet washed and cleaned today, but they allowed us to bestow our crazy American ways on them. It was such an amazing day full of so much love. 

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Ten years ago, I would have told you I would NEVER go to India! NEVER! It was the last place on earth I ever wanted to go. Today, I can tell you it is my second home. The hospitality of the Indian culture is such a heart warming quality that we as Americans have lost. I have a family here that is always welcoming. This city of Kolkata is amazing and full of so much good that we tend to forget because of the great darkness, but our God is BIG and is in the business of transforming hearts with His crazy love.

Abundant Touches of Love – February 11, 2020

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Today’s guest blogger is Sydney Farquharson, the Missions Intern for Kingsland Baptist Church.

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Today was an incredibly special, significant day. It was a day filled with heartbreak, laughter, meaningful conversations, delicious chai, and lots of hugs. As we spent the day in one of the darkest regions of India, I was reminded of Jesus and the genuine compassion that He had for the lost people around Him. “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”’ (Matthew 9:35-38 ESV). I can only imagine how deep His compassion ran. I can only imagine how beautifully He loved those people. Today, I feel as though our team got a glimpse of the deep, heartfelt compassion that Jesus felt for the people around Him. Our hearts were stricken with grief as we encountered a group of women who live in the midst of darkness. At the same time, our hearts were filled with much joy in knowing that organizations like FreeSet prove to be a radiant light throughout the city. Thank you, Jesus!

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On this trip, the Holy Spirit has continually led me to pray for my team members in this way: that the Lord will grant us compassion for the people around us and that He will teach us how to love and cherish them well. I firmly believe that He is actively answering these prayers! Today, we were so privileged to be the only foreigners to enter “The Cup”. The Cup is a local coffee shop ran by FreeSet. We spent the majority of the day here. We gave women pedicures, engaged in conversations, and made sweet crafts with them. The Cup is located in a red-light district, and only women are allowed to enter. We heard numerous stories of hope, and this brought our hearts much joy! I was able to witness one of our team members, Sterling, give a local Hindu woman a pedicure. They laughed and talked as Sterling spent a substantial amount of time washing her feet. She proceeded to paint her toenails and put stickers on them. The woman delighted in these meaningful moments. She never ceased to smile! After this, Sterling found someone to translate, and began to talk with the woman. The woman mentioned that she prayed to God every day that she would lose her life. Wow – this broke my heart. Sterling’s heart was broken too, and she began to cry. She then shared her personal story of how Jesus changed her life, and shared the Gospel with this woman. They hugged and the woman mentioned that she did not want to leave. This was a moment that I will never forget! I am looking forward to the days to come. I am looking forward to see how the Holy Spirit continues to move in this beautiful city filled with many colors!

By: Sydney Farquharson

From Hopeless to Hope – February 10, 2020

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Hello blog readers!  My name is Danae Patterson. and I am the guest blog writer today. This is my 5th trip to India with Kingsland. I first came to India back in 2011 and instantly fell in love. Kolkata truly has a special place in my heart and the relationships I have made here will forever be a huge part of my life.

Today was a very busy and exciting day for the team. We started the day off by going to a temple in Kalighat called Khali. Kalighat is the second largest of the red-light areas in Kolkata and the temple was filled with people looking to see and pray to the god. We had the opportunity to go inside and walk through the crowded place. Needless to say, it was an experience that really pulled at my heart. The whole time I was inside, I was praying to the Lord for strength and for the lost people inside. Afterwards, I was talking to a team member about how we were feeling, and she said that if she could describe the temple in one word, that word would be hopeless. I felt that this appropriately described the feeling inside of me.

From there we walked to a rooftop terrace where we were met with ladies from JIAC and their friends. For those who don’t know what JIAC is, it stands for Jewels in a Crown. This organization was started by a Canadian couple who would teach the women how to make jewelry and would give them hope, new life, and surround them with the love of the Lord. Unfortunately, JIAC shut down due to personal issues and the ladies lost their jobs. However, we still keep in touch and love on them when we are in Kolkata. So today we got to see about 5 JIAC ladies and 35 of their friends and family on this tiny rooftop terrace. We fed them biryani, made bracelets, told them a bible story, and washed the feet and gave pedicures to the women. For me, today was extra special because I got to see my friend Soma. She is a dear friend of mine whom I met at JIAC back in 2015 and I look forward to seeing her each trip.

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After loving on old and new faces, our Kingsland team made our way to Sari Bari. Sari Bari is an organization that employs women who have been exploited in the sex trade or who are vulnerable to human trafficking and teaches them how to make handmade kantha products from recycled saris. Here one of our team members, Sydney, told a bible story and shared her testimony. Then she taught the women, and our team, useful self-defense training that could help in the future if ever needed. It was a joy to watch the ladies practice with each other. After that we had teatime and ate delicious samosas and visited with the ladies. We then were able to give them pedicures and teach them how to make earrings.

Today there were a lot of emotions felt and it was truly a day I will never forget. I am so thankful for my team and our amazing leader Brenda who works so hard and does so well.

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