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.
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.