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.

Nasik Conference Filled with Joy

The day began by driving by a beautiful Indian girl about six years old holding onto her little brother's hand and walking down the street. On her head, she carried a large tub of water spilling out onto her and her brother. The overflowing water refreshing the little girl on this hot morning was similar to the refreshment we were about to receive from the Indian women as their love for Jesus overflowed.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The last two days have been action packed. We arrived in Mumbai at 1:00am  Monday and quickly found our contact amidst a hundred men with contact signs. I think we were a easy target to spot. We spent the night in a lovely hotel near the airport. Monday  afternoon we traveled to the city of Nasik where the conference is held. Today is Tuesday and we have just completed our first day of the conference. God worked in mighty way through  the sharing, praying, and worship. The women are hungry for God's truth and it is a joy to serve them. The team is still working through jet lag, but all are doing well. We do not have wifi at this time. We will not have access until later this week. Keep praying for God's work to be accomplished and for us to be His willing vessels. Pictures will come when we have WiFi. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Introduction to the Team

There are 7 of us going on the mission trip. Below are brief bios of each one of us.

Abby Taylor: 
I was born in the Buckeye state and have lived in Ohio all my life. I graduated with a degree in teaching from The Ohio State University and taught for 3 years before becoming a mom. I have a wonderful husband of 20 years, 3 beautiful kids and work as a Director of Women at Hope Church. It is an honor and joy to travel on mission with teams of women. By seeing God work all around the globe, it inspires and encourages my faith as I begin to glimpse the enormity of our God.

Carol Snyder: 
I was born in Boston but have lived most of my life in the Cincinnati area. My wonderful husband Mark has put up with me for over 36 years and promises to look after our families while I'm gone. I also know that he will be praying for all of us along with our daughter Erin, her husband, Travis, our son David and his wife Jen, and our son Jonathan and his wife Jessica. I'm blessed to have such prayerful support.

Heather Compton: 
In the third grade God planted a seed in my heart to go to India. In 2011 He brought that promise to life and I got to travel to India and give speeches at women's conferences. Upon return I felt honored and resolved over such an amazing journey from the Lord. Now I'm humbled to say I get to return and share about being "Empowered by the Holy Spirit". I'm looking forward to God's great plans for this trip. He is only good. I am excited to think of how He will reveal himself to us and the women of India.

Janice Plummer: 
I was born in Louisville, KY., graduated from the University of Kentucky and have lived in Cincinnati since 1984. Chris and I have been married almost 29 years (!). We have two children: Nick, age 25 and Leah 15. I am excited about exploring India and getting to know the women whom we hope to serve. This is my third international mission trip and it is always a stretch physically, spiritually and emotionally. God never fails to amaze me with the lengths He will go to to reach His lost children. I look SO forward to seeing God’s glory in new ways!

Karla Harris: 
My husband I are originally from Michigan, have been married for over 25 years and have a lovely daughter and son. I graduated from the University of Michigan, and work as a Mechanical Engineer. I am pleased and honored to come to India and have this wonderful opportunity to worship our awesome God together as sisters in Jesus Christ.

Selin Mariadhas: 
I was born in Tamil Nadu, India, and am very excited to be ministering to women in my home state. I will be visiting my grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins before the mission trip and will be joining the rest of the team on Sept 28th. Outside of church, I am an engineer at Procter & Gamble working on hair care products. I'm excited to be taking a break from engineering to serve people in a different capacity.

Susan Smith: 
My husband and I are originally from Texas, and we have a son and a daughter. We are both excited to see what God has in store for us since we've both recently had India come into our lives in unexpected ways. I will be speaking about God’s love and grace, as well as on maturing in Christ at the conferences, and am looking forward to connecting with women in a new culture.