Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 8 - Ending on a High Note

Big day today! We woke early and got an early start. Today was the convention. It started out rainy. Sadly, rain closes the city. There are no street sewers to collect the runoff and streets flood very quickly. Getting around becomes very difficult. We really didn't know what to expect for a turnout. All we knew was that there was a pre-registration number of 800. We all quickly took up posts around the registration tables. And slowly they came. As the 10 o' clock hour drew near more and more came. When all was said and done there were over 1000 women.
And so it began. The next three hours were spent in worship and in Word. Carolyn Ciocan delivered the message. Mano also delivered a message. The whole team sat on the stage with the stage lights shining in our face. To look at Mano was very difficult as it required staring directly into the lights. Combine that with a different language and it was the perfect sleepy medicine. Only 1000 women were watching. It seems that all of us struggled at some point keeping the peepers open. Sorry Mano! It wasn't you, really! The band played for us as we performed our prepared music. Only it seemed that all the music here, while recognizable has a polka kind of beat. It was just funny. Still endearing and just one of those Indian things.

After the conference concluded lunch was served to all the attendees. I don't know what we were expecting, but it was a scene to behold. The registrants were all given tickets for lunch. The registration tables became serving tables. Each lunch was individually packaged. But watching these women scramble for the available lunches was just crazy. They were 7 and 8 deep surrounding every table. You would have thought we were giving out thousands of dollars not chicken and rice. Part of the funds that we raised for this trip went to providing this meal. As I looked on in absolute fascination, I couldn't help but think of the words of Christ, "If you love me, feed my sheep."

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Our ministry for this trip had concluded. And the adrenaline that propelled us forward was now depleted. We headed back to the hotel. I don't remember our van ever being that quiet. It was certainly a time of reflection and pondering. But even though we were done, Mano's staff just kept at it. The ladies came to the hotel and brought henna paint. They proceeded to decorate all of us. Just one more of those Indian experiences that we can take home. There were four of us interested in getting tea. The problem was no transportation. No problem! There are Rickshaws. Yes, this was my suggestion. I wanted to try this. I guess I just have a propensity to live life on the edge. Chalk up another adventure. I could stick my hand out of the rickshaw and touch the city bus. CRAZY! But I never once felt unsafe. The power of the Holy Spirit.

Once back at the hotel we finished up our packing and weighing of bags. Off to the airport. The airport was a trip. Talk about throwback to the eighties. Nothing was digital, the signs flipped for current boarding. No western toilets here, only squatty potties. We have outhouses cleaner than this place. Our flight was over an hour delayed. Huge bummer. We all had home on the mind. Finally, the waiting ended and we boarded. Could it be only 8 days ago we arrived? It seems as if time has stood still. It seems an age ago when we arrived. Eleven individuals, now unified by our time together here in this place. We will never be the same. Praise be to God.

One final thought: I am leaving this utter most part of the earth. A desperate land in need of hope. And in a few hours I will land in my own Jerusalem. And while everyday life looks so different, the reality is my Jerusalem is in desperate need for hope. We don't need more religions or gods, we need more encounters with Christ. And the song that began the trip rings just as loud today.

I wanna be Your hands & feet.
I wanna be Your voice every time I speak.
I wanna run to the ones in need, in the name of Jesus.
I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdom's sake.
Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus.
In the name of Jesus.

~Esther Roden

On behalf of the team we would like to extend special thank yous. To Mano and Sheila - thank you for sharing your ministry with us. For the staff at FPTL, Merci, Merci Rebecca, Mary Ann, Hannah, Stephen, Mr. Ross, Martin and sweet Miltyboy! Your love to us made us feel safe and comfortable in your city. To our supporters - know that you helped feed sheep, administer medicine, and sow seeds. Your reward is waiting in heaven. To Woodside Bible Church - thank you for taking the command of the Great Commission very serious. Thank you for letting us- in such a small way - partake in it. ~Women's India 2010 TEAM.

Day 7 - Moving On

How do you move on after yesterday's emotional day? Without a doubt it moved us all. It was a defining point in our trip. A day that will be imprinted into our memory banks and forever give a a new lens to view the world. There seems to be an appropriate song for everything, but the lyrics that come to mind are, "keep me from just singing and move me into action." Our hope is that somehow, someway we can take these visions home with us and share them in the hopes of bringing some kind of change. What that all looks like remains a mystery, but I don't think God revealed all that so we could come back unchanged.

Thankfully, today was a lighter ministry day. In fact we were ministered to more than we ministered to others. This morning was staff devotions with the FPTL. They fast each Friday morning and pray. And when I say pray, I mean pray! They have hundreds if not thousands of requests from around the world. They split up in small groups and cover all of them. They lay hands on a map of India over the different regions and pray for the pastors there. The persecution they suffer. And that the Gospel of Christ will penetrate further and further into the hearts of the people. We had a time of singing and sharing from God's Word.

Up next was lunch and shopping. I know it seems like we did a lot of shopping but really it was a shop here and a store there. Nothing major.

Our final destination was the AFRA orphanage. While we loved the orphanage, all would agree that we needed a lot more time with the kids. It was over an hour away and we had all of 45 minutes with the kids. We would have preferred a few hours. The kids here were older and spoke English. It would have been great to talk and get to know them. In our brief time we sang with them, played a few games and left all the crafts and snacks for them to enjoy another time. Another hour in the van put most of us over the edge. We were so sick of driving in this city. It is so congested. Many are starting to have tummy issues.

Just a quick note about Prasad our driver. We were suppose to head to his house today and meet his wife and family. But sadly, we couldn't fit it into our busy schedule. I know that he was bummed. While he tried not to show it, he became very quiet. Tomorrow is one more day to minister to this man.

Just a quick note about pictures. One of the reasons that not many pictures are up is because we don't have the necessary cables for all the camera types to download everyone's pictures. The new media specialist on staff with FPTL has been taking hundreds of photos but we won't see them until we get home. He is cutting us all CD's of the week. So we will get those pictures up upon our return. I know that a picture is worth a thousand words. Experiencing it all is priceless.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Find other blog entries

You can find day 3 and 4 and 5 at the following links. I wrote them so I didn't rewrite for this blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Hell...then Hope

We started off today with another medical clinic. Only, I will be honest I think that the Monday clinic was just a dry run for us. The minute we stepped out of the van it smelled as if we had landed in the middle of the sewer in a third world country. As the waves of nausea rolled over me, I sent a quick prayer to heaven for my olfactory senses to be taken away. Once they adjusted we walked over the makeshift tent that we were to do this clinic in. Looking around was a sight to behold. It was gross, disgusting, and every kind of nastiness you could even imagine. The fishermen's wharf yesterday looked like palaces to this place. Even our Hindu driver would not take us down the slum alley opting to drop off us in the main street and having us walk. We were pretty clueless as to the danger that we were in. But where we ministered at today is known as the underworld. Frequent murders, drugs and every form of filth. Even the police don't enter this area.

The pastor of this slum organized the people and one by one they came for meds. A bit more about deworming, today we learned that people here need to be dewormed every 6 months. If they do not the worms will travel into their lungs and eventually kill them. We saw Hepatitis patients. Anemia is quite common here as the dietary deficiencies are overwhelming. Diabetes, scabies, impetigo all common. It was all truly heartbreaking. Where is the hope? One woman was picking the lice out of her sisters beautiful mane of hair and throwing it to the ground. Yes, just like you would see the primates doing at the zoo.

After seeing about 50 patients we walked through this area just praying. We would stop and pray at one believer's house and then move on to another. When I say house, I really mean a 5 x 5 box of a room if that. The longer we prayed the more nervous our handlers became. We walked through feces and urine running in the street. One woman tried to hand her baby to us in the hopes of a better life for the infant. Desperation, Despair, Depravity. I am so glad my sunglasses were on as the tears just poured from my face. Why God? This is so terrible. This isn't living it is mere survival. How did you choose these people to face this rather than me? What is so special that I could be born in total affluence compared to this? How can I bring change?

As we came back to the hotel all these questions kept circulating. Once I got to my room I just wept over my bed. It just wasn't fair. And in a still moment, the Holy Spirit spoke, "Why do you think the conditions were so different today, than a day 2000 years ago when Jesus entered the world? This Word brought a whole fresh round of tears because the reality is, it probably was not a lot different. They had no toilets and there was animal feces all around. And yet the Creator of the Universe came to a dirty, crowded, disease filled land to save humanity. Yes, my Bethlehem story looks very different now. Gone are the clean stables and purified versions that we have made it.

I have to admit at this point I was so broken I had nothing left. My cup was empty. And we still had one more stop. We were doing pastoral home visits for the slum pastors. Honestly, it was like I was in the Christmas Carol nightmares. "Lord, no more. Please, I can't take anymore." And with that small whisper He said, "No, you have to see this." This time our van pulled up in a different alley. Still bad just not as wretched as the other. Our group split up half one way, half another. And one by one we entered shacks and prayed for the Christian. People who love the Lord. An area were God has planted 4 different churches and they are growing daily. People turning their lives over and being rescued from drug abuse and alcohol addiction. People who were content, yet active prayer warriors. We ended at the pastor's house. Here we talked about his ministry. The joy on his face as he talked about what God was doing took my breath away. All the while our van driver sat on the porch and listened to us pray over him.

I want to introduce you to Prasaad. He is our driver for the week. He let us know early on that he was strong Hindu. We never said anything about conversion, but we entered into lots of dialogue. He started out very reserved and quiet and now he is a regular chatty Cathy. He is relishing his job as tour guide. He speaks very good English and even has a sense of humor. We have laughed and joked with him and he is loving the attention of 11 women. But today was different. When the 5 in my group finished up and went back to the van, he said, "you guys sure like to pray a lot!" And we simply said, "That is why we came." He then became quite serious as he asked us if we would come to his house tomorrow and meet his wife and child. I have no idea what his house is like but he saw what kind of houses we headed into today so he figured we wouldn't be too shocked. We looked over our schedule for tomorrow. We had a site seeing event that we quickly scraped and slotted a home visit in. Only this home visit is very special. Please pray for this man and his family. That the Holy Spirit would open his eyes to the joy of Salvation.

As we headed back to the hotel for the night, there was a song in my heart. "You ARE God of this City!" And He is. He is doing a work here in the midst of utter despair and darkness. He needed to show us the Light that is flickering to encourage our hearts. HOPE! That is what He brings. And my heart is full. My cup is restored. Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day Two

The following entry is suppose to be on the WBC site but for some reason we are having technical difficulties, so I will post here and will post my personal one later.

Day Two - Worship
After a much needed nights rest the team headed out fairly early today. The church was about an hour from our hotel. What a treat it was to worship with the people here. The three hour service in hot and sticky conditions gave us all a new appreciation for our quickie worship with comfy seats and temperatures. But there was something about a non scripted service that was very moving as well. Lana Seidel and Carolyn Ciocan were able to give their testimonies to the congregation and our team sang a couple worship songs. Mano Daniel delivered the message with his dear wife, Sheila, translating for us. After the service there was an ordination of elders and a baptism.

While the baptism was occurring, the women of the church divided into three groups. Our team divided up amongst the groups. We shared about our life and struggles and they also shared their own. While our lifestyles look so different, our concerns for our family and unsaved loved ones united our hearts. As we departed this church the women of the church sent us off with this, "we will see you in heaven." While this was hard to hear it probably is a reality. But on that sweet day that we are united, we will once again worship the same Lord and Savior that we did today without a language barrier. How sweet that will be!

Back at the hotel we had a bit of time to rest and clean up before heading out again. Only this time it was all about shopping! Sheila took us to the largest mall in Chennai. We were able to stimulate the local economy a bit. Much to the shop keepers delight and our husbands' chagrin.

A special note to the Lake Orion campus - Pastor Rick, we thank you for all your effort to get comfy chairs. We have a new appreciation for them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day one

Below is the link to the blog on the website for Woodside. I would love to write my own thoughts but I am so exhausted and the morning comes really early. So I will post tomorrow sometime.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Morning reflections before departure

So the day is here. For the other women of the team, FINALLY! Months and months of prep has gone into this day. For me, well, 5 weeks seems so little time to prepare. And yet I see God's signature all over this. From confirmation to funds raised in two weeks to this moment it is very clear that I should be heading out today. For why? Only God knows...

But first 22 hours of travel are ahead. Ugh! As my good friend, Abe Philip said, it is too bad we can't teleport.

Stay tuned for more incredible stories and adventures!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

48 hours

Wow! Just a little bit longer to get everything in order. In just under two weeks, God has blessed me with some amazing friends and family that helped me raise $1700. I just want to thank them for their incredible generosity. Today I am busy with laundry and packing and last minute stuff. I am also dreading saying goodbye to the kiddos and the hubby too of course. I know the trip will be so short and before I can exhale we will back. But it is still hard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Commissioning and Unity

This past Sunday our team was commissioned at the Lake Orion campus of Woodside Bible Church. The idea of commissioning is based in Acts when believers were sent out.  The sending church body prayed over them and released them to do the work of the Holy Spirit.  The message on Sunday was about Unity.  The text was John 17 when Christ prayed that His disciples be as one.  This is the prayer of our team as well.

9 days and counting....