Wednesday, October 9, 2013


The team arrived home yesterday after around 37 hours of travel time. With thankful hearts, we said our goodbyes after 17 days together. Team Joy has been true to its name throughout this journey. We praise God for the work that He accomplished in us and those we served. Pray that the impact of this trip will last for many years to come.

To all our readers: Thank you for all your support and prayers! We could not have made it without you!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fun Highlights

Funny Highlights

·      Carol revealing hilarious stories from her past
·      Ordering virtual juice for breakfast
·      Trying to figure out how to use an Indian toilet
·      Packing and repacking suitcases to get them under 44 LBS
·      Taking cold showers
·      If there were not cows on the streets there were dogs, goats or monkeys
·      Mrs. Potato head and scripture?
·      McDonalds meal with Prati
·      Kylee and Carly motorbike stories…
·      How are you? The school children shout in unison, “I am fine!”
·      Getting stuck in a bathroom when the lights go out
·      The water gets shut off while in the shower.
·      Paper Airplanes
·      Ducking to get into the bathroom
·      Is there Internet? Where?
·      Power is on, power is off, does anyone blink?
·      How many times do we use hand sanitizer a day?
·      Peanut M&M’s!
·      Janice taking pictures of a sign and all the men in the background smile and wave…. way to go Janice!
·      Carol’s “Leprosy”
·      Pashmina

Highlights in Numbers

·      9 Flights - of course last flight delayed....current arrival 5:15 PM Cincy Oct. 8!
·      8 pat downs in 24 hours
·      7 hotels
·      40 Plus rides in Taxis, buses or vans
·      30 meals with rice
·      365 steps at the Monkey temple
·      7 pairs of shoes thrown out
·      120 malaria pills
·      1 case of “leprosy”

Dunbar Square, Our Friends in Nepal, Streets of Nepal


Our final tour for the day brought us to the international Hindu temple where Hindus come from all over the world to worship Lord Shiva and to cremate their dead according to proper Hindu tradition.  Words cannot describe the emotions we felt when we saw how lost and broken the grieving people were in that place.  As we observed from the far side of the river, bodies were being ceremoniously prepared for burning.  The playful monkeys were oblivious to the sober scene.  Our hearts were heavy to witness the sorrow and emptiness of a Hindu funeral.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nepal News

From the moment we arrived in Nepal, it has been a whirlwind tour. Our day began with a 3:15am wake up and the marathon day began. After arrival, we dutifully completed all our visa paperwork and waited in line for an hour. Finally, we emerged from the airport and made our way through traffic to our hotel in the tourist area of town. The city of Kathmandu was swamped due to the current Hindu holiday and many people are traveling to be with family.  The Tibet Guest House was our final destination in the Thamel area of the city.  After check in, we quickly dropped our luggage to join some new friends from Tiny Hands.

Thamel Times
In the tourist area of Nepal, life is never dull. The narrow and busy streets are rows of little quaint shops with many wares for sale.  Walking is best in a single file line to avoid being flattened by a small vehicle or scooter. Team Joy has become quite good at being “ducks in a row.” It has taken us a bit longer to figure out our way around since our focus was on self-preservation rather than directions. I think we have begun to figure out how to find our hotel and the best places to eat. We have truly enjoyed being able to walk around and stretch our legs a bit after 2 weeks of sitting most of the time. The chaotic streets are full of energy and given the team a new boost on this final leg of the journey.

New Friends
Our first lunch with our contact from Tiny Hands provided a great first impression of the ministry. Sarah helped us get settled and helped give us perspective of mission of Tiny Hands. Joining the group was another gal that is observing the ministry of Tiny Hands named Tasha. We became fast friends because she had been on a similar journey with a previous mission to India prior to her arrival in Nepal. We also met some journalists from an online magazine called The World Next Door. It is a free app for Apple and Android products that features Christian ministries all over the world. Tiny Hands will be the December feature, but I encourage all to download the app. The ministries featured to date are tremendous examples of God working through people to accomplish His work.  Following lunch, we met the Tiny Hands staff member that is the head of investigations at the border stations.  Listening to his account of his work was fascinating and helpful as we learn about all the different aspects of this multifaceted ministry.

Beauty For Ashes
With anticipation, we headed out on Friday to visit the Beauty for Ashes site. It is a separate ministry that helps women that are vulnerable to be trafficked or have come out of the sex trafficking industry and need income. Beauty for Ashes gives opportunity to earn wages through jewelry making or sewing and the products are sold through Tiny Hands or other places. We did not get a chance to meet the women, but we were able to meet the director, tour the home, and see the work of the women. The ministry is a tremendous example of God redeeming His beloved daughters with love and dignity.

School Teachers
One of the joys of our time in Nepal was to meet two fun loving teachers that teach English at a school where some of children of the homes of Tiny Hands attend.  While enjoying a delicious Italian dinner, we enjoyed learning more about their work with the children and their adventures while living in Nepal. The work is challenging and the language barrier a struggle, but day by day, God shows up and uses them to accomplish His purposes.  Way to go Carly and Kylie- It was a joy to meet you!

Marathon continues
The day began with a breakfast with our Tiny Hands friends and an introduction to a new staff member Cara. She has a heart to develop a home through Tiny Hands that specifically serves boys infected with HIV. Her love for God and her heart to serve this precious group of people was apparent in her every word. Thanks Cara for sharing your faith journey with us.  It was a pleasure to spend time with you.

Durbar Square
Blending the history of the dynasty of the kings with the religions of Nepal, our walk through Durbar Square gave us new eyes for the people of Nepal. The square included many religious temples as well as the dwelling for the king in former days. Each new king would build a new temple to leave his mark on the area. The square was also the home of the “Living goddess” who is a little girl selected to serve as the model of purity to the people until she becomes a young woman. While her selection is a great honor, her life is spent in isolation with very brief moments of appearing to the crowds. When we saw her, we were filled with sadness knowing that she lived such a jaded and difficult life.

Monkey Temple
After seeing the Hindu temples and gods in Durbar Square, we immediately traveled to a Buddhist temple in the city. It is called the Monkey Temple because many monkeys live near by, but the worship in the temple is all about Buddha and the prayers of peace and harmony. There were many Buddha incarnations in statue form around the temple as well as prayer flags and wheels.  The history lesson in Buddhism was interesting from our Christian guide who grew up right by the temple, but it was a dark and empty place.  However, the monkeys provided some good entertainment with the baby monkey antics and many great photos!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sights and Sounds in Delhi

The team is safely in Delhi and has had a packed last two days. Here are a few snapshots from Tuesday to today (Thursday):

  • Meeting and hearing testimonies from almost 100 Indian men doing work in North India
  • Getting to encourage these men as well as some women
  • Meeting women from different parts of North India taking a beautician training course to help bring extra income to their families and to help build relationships with other women in their villages
  • Getting to see schools for children in some impoverished conditions
  • Spending time with our hosts, who were gracious enough to invite us to dinner at their place

We are looking forward to spending a few hours this afternoon getting to see more of Delhi. Many of the contrasts of India are really standing out to the team here in India's capital. We've seen slums within a few minutes drive from a posh, modern airport. Walking around with our host who knows 7 languages and then meeting people who may not be literate. We are all slowly taking these images in. It will probably take some time for it to all sink in, and perhaps even longer to understand how to respond. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We would like to share a few snap shots of South India Village Life..,Enjoy!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Discussion While at the Airport

We're currently waiting at the Bengaluru airport for our flight to Delhi. We arrived with plenty of time to discuss the book we've been reading (Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence), and to pray for one another and for those we have yet to meet. The question for today from the book is "who determines who is poor?" A quote from a Ugandan church leader mentioned in the book: "we did not know we were poor until someone from the outside told us." We have been having very rich discussions while on this trip.

A Visit to an Indian Village

The last couple of days have been busy and productive. On Saturday, we served lunch to a colony of lepers. IGL serves a banquet lunch to these lepers once a month with all the elements similar to a wedding lunch -- rice, multiple curries, multiple side dishes, all on a banana leaf. Banana leaf plates are used for special occasions, so IGL reinforces that the lepers we served are guests and are worthy of the best as God's children. This is how one of our team members describes her experience: "One of my jobs was to put a banana leaf 'plate' on the ground in front of each person. I am SO bad at banana leaves! They curl up, stick together and there is a protocol as to how they are placed. The lepers, many without fingers, we're helping me position their leaf. What a fiasco!" Another team member mentioned that she went into the experience unsure of what to expect and wondering if it was going to come across to the lepers as if we are gawking at them or something like that. Instead, we had a lot of fun with them. They laughed with us as they taught us how to serve them at this feast.

After they finished lunch, we (along with IGL) gave some of them sandals, a bag of rice and a little money.

Yesterday, we went to church in the village that our church in Mason, Ohio sponsors as part of IGL's adopt-a-village program. After the service we drove to see a sewing center (6 sewing machines in maybe an 8x20 room with two small windows), a tutoring center where after-school help is provided to children, and we were invited to help commission a new computer training center (again, a very small room with four new computers and a printer). It was very special for us to meet the pastor, his family, the congregation, and some of the villagers that Hope Church has been supporting for a few years. They also enjoyed meeting people from their sister church in the US.

We had a chance to debrief with one of the IGL directors today about our trip so far. She gave us further insight into IGL's approach to the adopt-a-village program. The church is called a "life center" and is open all week to provide for various community needs. For example, any medical camps that are conducted are done at the church, so people of all religions and castes in the village become familiar with the building and can start building relationships with the people connected to the building. The sewing centers provide 6-month courses to become certified in making traditional Indian clothing. Once they are certified, the Tamil Nadu state government gives them a free sewing machine. Even after people are certified, they can come to the center to have questions answered and to continue building relationships. Our IGL host talked about how each class over the 6 months begins and ends with prayer. The students really get to know one another and it becomes a place of sharing as the teacher asks for prayer requests. We have been seeing miracles on this trip, so we know God is answering these prayers in a way that is visible to those praying and the villagers. We continue to pray that God will strengthen the faith of those in this village and continue to show Himself in miraculous ways. 

Today was a traveling day -- we drove about 5 hours to Bengaluru in the state of Karnataka. We fly out of here tomorrow morning to Delhi to meet up with our new hosts. Good bye, Tamil Nadu! We will miss you!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

IGL ministry

The smell of good coffee with eggs and oatmeal began our day in India. It was a welcome taste for weary travelers who miss the tastes of home. Next, the tour of the Sharon campus began with a first stop at the sewing center. Training was taking place for women and men to learn the art of sewing so that they can have a vocational skill to take back to their homes. We watched in amazement as the people sewed all the beautiful fabrics into intricate designs for little girls. 

The community college was just  a few steps down the road and provided some good conversation about the opportunities for higher level education and vocational training that IGL offers. The college offers medical training, basic engineering, skill training, and nursing training. We stopped by a classroom and saw some students (Christian and non-Christian) having a spiritual class.

The tour continued with a look at the children's homes and observed a game of cricket played with tree branches and a ball. The hospital was the next stop and we got a good look at the facilities and the needs from our tour guide Dr. Daniel. Nurses in training greeted us kindly and we saw some patients receiving chemotherapy. The hospital services the local area providing basic care and cancer related treatment. Cancer often goes undetected as many do not have the resources to follow up with an early warning signs. The patients pay little to nothing to receive services and sometimes have to be turned away due to the deficit of funding and supplies at the hospital. Pray for God to supply the resources for this valuable aspect of the ministry of IGL. Through providing medical care, people are exposed to the Gospel and the touch of God's love through His people.

The final main stop was the school run by IGL. The children in the children's homes attend the school as well as local children. There are 700 students. The students were not on campus since it was Saturday, but we were able to peek into a classroom. The rooms were simple with no desks or chairs, but with children's artwork hanging from the ceiling and it appeared to be a happy learning place. 

We discovered through the tour that IGL was integral with the tsunami relief back in 2004. IGL focused on rebuilding and long term sustainability after the tsunami hit Sri Lanka. Southern India was devastated with the terrible disaster.

Later in the day, we traveled into the city of Salem and had an office tour. We were greeted with beautiful flower leis and the office staff waiting for our arrival. The office was a beehive of activity and planning for the 4 pillars of IGL (childcare, rural development, evangelism, and health.) The tour proved to be informative and helpful to our understanding of the ministry. Also,  it was a joy to reconnect with Selin at the office. Now our team is complete!

The complete IGL tour ended giving us a broader perspective of the ministry of IGL and gave us new vision of how God can work through His people. 

eyes wide open

The days at Sharon Garden are an oasis of rest, refreshment, and encouragement as we see the ministry of IGL up close and personal. The lush green gardens right in front of our rooms offer sanctuary and stand in contrast to the harsh landscape of rural living right down the road. We find our minds full of sights and sounds at the end of every day which do not easily quiet for a restful sleep. We find ourselves humbled as well as grateful for the opportunity to be in this beautiful land of contrasts. Now that are conference work is over, we have a sense of relief, but at the same time challenged to be open for whatever God wants to reveal in the moment. Sometimes, when the tyranny of the urgent passes, we can become complacent and self focused. Throughout the preparation for this journey, we read the book Serving with Eyes Wide Open to help us understand more about short term missions and the importance of having cultural intelligence. We pray that our listening and learning about the Indian cultural will impact our mission in a positive way, but more importantly we want to listen to the Holy Spirit and have eyes to see with God's vision. We need to lean into Him for every ounce of strength and purpose. Pray for us as continue the work and for us to be fully present with "eyes wide open."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Children's Program at Sharon

We were invited to a children's program right after we arrived at Sharon Gardens.  The children welcomed us with claps, waves, and big smiles.  They quoted scripture, danced and sang for us.  We introduced them to Mrs. Potato head and shared with them I Corinthians 12 The Body of Christ in a skit.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Returning to Mumbai and fly to Salem

The scenic bus ride through the mountainside landscape from Nasik to Mumbai was filled laughter, sweet fellowship and rich times of sharing...Friday morning we are flying to Salem and eager to see the home of India Gospel League.