In early 2010, our church began a partnership...
More to come soon...
In early 2010, our church began a partnership...
More to come soon...
Our motto on this trip has been "Just the way we like it." Brian encouraged us from Romans 12 that the Christian life should be
We thank God for all of you who have been praying for us. Praise God for the 16 decisions that were made for Christ this week, the amazing relationships that have been formed, and the fact that none of our team members got sick at all. God is so good; his mercies are new every morning.
Our trip may be over, but this amazing journey has only begun...
We then drove to the church, and had a "debriefing" with Pastors Rajiv, Pravir, and three other local pastors. We exchanged blessings and thanks for a week well spent. And then we engaged in an amazingly powerful time of prayer. In the US, we always pray one at a time - but why? Then we worry about if what we are saying will sound good, and the prayers are really for God, not for us. So all the Indians prayed for all the Americans for a time, in Bengali. Despite us not understanding a word they were saying, we understood in our spirits the love and care that they have for us. And then we were able to do the same for them. It was an amazing time, and there wasn't a dry eye in the whole place.
Next, Rajiv treated us to Chicken shish-ka-bob - Indian style! No propane grills here - just charcoal in some bricks. It was amazing!
When we got back to Duars, the men built a badminton court in the play yard, while the Woodlands women met with the ladies from the community. About 100 ladies showed up to hear Jane, Jane, Sarah, Sara, and Dara speak about their experience as a daughter of the King. They shared their own personal testimonies, some principles from Proverbs 31, and some songs. Then, the ladies shared a dance together.
|All the ladies sandals on the steps of the church|
|All the women that attended this morning's meeting|
After lunch, the remainder of the team got to go meet their sponsored children. This was very special to us. The families always welcome us warmly into our homes, and we pray that through the translator we are still able to communicate the love we share for them and their children, and encourage them in the great job they are doing parenting. The impact of Compassion is far-reaching, beyond just the children in the project, and into their families. When asked what she wanted to do when she grew up, one of the older sisters of a sponsored child shared that her goal was to be able to sponsor a child herself. Wow.
We got to participate in the Compassion project again this afternoon. The new thing today was they began the monthly distribution of hygiene supplies. Each child received some laundry soap, bar soap, hair oil, and toothpaste. What we were amazed at was Compassion's precise method of having each child sign for receiving the items - to make sure that every supply is accounted for. You can be assured - every dollar - every penny - that we send to Compassion is well spent.
On our way back to our hotel tonight, one of the cars got a flat tire. We watched as the drivers changed the tire in about 5 minutes flat. Please pray for the three young men that have been driving us around all week. We intend to give them a Bengali New Testament tomorrow or Saturday. They have slowly warmed up to what we've been doing, and at least one of them was listening intently when we were doing the "street evangelism" yesterday. Pray that their hearts would be softened and ready to hear the gospel.
Thank you so much for your prayers. We know that they are working. No one has gotten sick, God has stretched our faith to new boundaries, we have made amazing relationships despite the cultural differences. It's amazing how the bond of brotherhood/sisterhood in Jesus Christ creates a relationship with people half-way around the world.
Well, it turned out that some of the members of the church had simply invited their neighbors over to their house to come hear what the Americans had to say. One group had about 50 people, the other had about 100 people. We sang them some songs in English, and then preached, shared our testimonies, and sang some more. Then the pastors gave an invitation to the people who came. At one of the groups, 8 individuals made first-time decisions to follow Christ!
In the afternoon, we led the opening ceremony at the project by doing a "trust fall." Andrew stood on top of a chair, on top of a table, and the group caught him. But it was with much pomp and circumstance, and the children loved it. I think they will always have this image of trust burned into their memories.
Afterwards, when the children split up into their classes, each team member taught one of the classes for an hour. We had each prepared our own object lesson or bible story that we shared, and then we led them through making a Salvation bracelet that they got to take home!
As we were teaching, the rain began to fall. It's interesting, because February is the dry season; but in the summer, it can rain solid for many days in a row. It was interesting to see how well the staff took it in stride, and we were able to laugh with them as we served dinner to the children in the pouring rain. Everyone pitched in, even the older children, to server the younger children, all packed into the covered classrooms. It was a wonderful, bonding experience, and just a taste of what they have to do in the rainy season. They always make sure that the children get a meal, even if the weather doesn't allow them to do anything else.
Everyone has finally gotten fully adjusted to the time and the food. We miss home, we miss our families, but we love the new friends we have made. We know the staff and some of the children by name now, and share smiles with them every day.
|Pastors Rajiv and Pravir make sure our wall is plumb.|
|Sara and Jane paint the gate to the playground.|
Monday started out with several of the team members being able to go to their sponsored child's home and visit their families! This was an amazing time of being able to meet them, share love with them, and encourage them. Children gathered and giggled as we gave the gifts that we had brought for them. Parents stood tall as they felt the love of these people from around the world.
|Andrew and Sarah meeting Sajina's family|
Next, we began the 3-hour task of preparing dinner for the 350 children that would be coming. This included cutting up vegetables, peeling boiled eggs, and stirring huge cauldrons on a fire.
The program starts promptly at 3:00, and all the children line up very orderly in straight lines, by age group, each evenly spaced apart. They say prayers and sing songs together in a large group.
Then, they each split into separate classes, some in "classrooms" (cement-floor rooms, with tin walls and roof), and some on tarps in the dirt courtyard. Instructors teach them songs (In Bengali or English), reading, writing, drawing, math, and/or geography. Several team members got to help teach new songs in English!
(Day 5 will have to be posted later - sorry!) suffice it to say Day 5 was filled morning to night with all kinds of travel... air and land... and the land travel was characterized by one of our team as a "300 mile roller coaster'. A very apt description. think of an old unused logging road with potholes that would make Buzz Aldrin jealous ;)
Yep. rough. and it was a full 4 hours...
Anyway on to today:
To say that today was powerful and life changing for every member of our team would be a vast overstatement.
We traveled to EI-187, our Church 2 Church partner and the Compassion Project site.
We were greeted by a flowing stream of children wanting to greet us with "hello", "good morning", and "Nomoshkar" - the local greeting. Tears flowed freely and our hearts were incredibly touched by the unconditional love shown us by the kids and the adults.
We then joined the church for worship. Again, it may sound like an overstatement to say it was a piece, or glimpse of heaven, but also very, very true. One of the young men shared how he had come to Christ from a Hindu background, in a village with strong demon oppression. only the prayers of visiting pastors drove the demons away and he (and his family) now believe in Jesus. They honored us all publicly during the service and by the end both a group of men and a group of women were dancing to praise songs of Jesus. We're hoping to post video at some point, but just to be here and experience the strong, heartfelt adoration of Jesus by our Indian brothers and sisters was more moving than words can articulate.
Part of our team then split off the main service to teach Sunday School, which again ... powerful. Jane W, Sara H, Rob M and a few others taught the kids lessons as well as teaching them "Jesus Loves Me This I Know' for the first time they had ever heard it. They caught on very quickly.
After this the church held a dedication ceremony for the new playground Woodlands helped build. Pastor Brian cut the ribbon and the children got their first opportunity to play on the playground. Pastor Brian described it best as "pure unadulterated joy." We had so much fun playing with the kids on the slides, merry go rounds, swings, teeter totters and monkey bars.
After lunch our team sang, "Here I Am to Worship" for them and then Pastor Rajib shared stories of how God is moving among them, including some truly miraculous stories. Real miracles - not just cool stories. genuine miracles.
Next we were part of their jr/sr high time. These kids are from the village and not necessarily part of the church. I (Doug) shared "Glory to God Forever" with them and then Paul Otto shared an out-of-the-park message that had us all moved deeply. We then taught these students the chorus to "Rescuer' and sang together of our God Who is 'mighty and strong to save.'
After this time several of us shared our stories of how we came to faith in Christ and the time ended with Pastor Rajib and Pastor Praveer giving an invitation for the kids to place their trust in Christ. Six responded for the first time. Six children of India, now six brand new children of God! What an awesome God we serve!!!!
Next we "took tea" and we then surprised to meet our sponsored children well ahead of when we thought we would be able to. This was a very deeply moving experience and we are very excited to continue the ministry we are here for!
Please continue to pray for us for the work ahead. We miss soft beds, hot showers and real burgers... scratch that last part - we are all in love with Indian food now. Yes, even Jane W and Dara H.
We miss aspects of home, but this is 'just the way we like it.'
For the team,
The enthusiasm and warm hospitality of the Compassion staff here has simply increased our enthusiasm for getting to the church and Compassion project.
Our Compassion host, Marty, shared with us that if a child receives just one letter from their sponsor each year, their academic performance improves 12%. The letters we write our sponsored children do really get there, and are very important.
Everyone is healthy and got a pretty good night of sleep last night.
Were off to catch our flight. Don't know when well be able to write again. Were back in Kolkata next Saturday, so it might not be until then.
Thank you for your prayers!
Pastor Henry, from the East India office, spoke to us about the strategies Compassion uses to reach children and their families here in India. Compassion has only been in East India for 8 years, but has already grown to helping nearly 50,000 children! We were all inspired as we listened to the staff's enthusiasm about the work that they do. For them, this isn't just a job - it's a calling.
We boarded our Air India 777 - which holds close to 400 people - and settled in for our 14 hour flight. Luckily, the plane was only half full, so we got to spread out a little. We left nearly on time, and soon got our first taste of India (literaly) with a delicious spicy dinner.
We passed the time reading, talking, and watching movies onboard. But soon we were drifting off to sleep - some better than others. To help get our internal clocks adjusted, they woke us up at 3:30 am (central time) to feed us breakfast - again a very impressive meal for airplane food!
But soon we were back to where we were supposed to be, and on our flight to Kolkata. Once we got there, around 11 pm, the Compassion India staff were waiting with a bus to take us on an hour ride through the streets of Kolkata. Wow, what a different world it is here. The streets were still packed with Taxis and cars, and a constant honking of horns. But soon we checked in to the BMS retreat center, thankful for an actual bed, and exhausted after a long two days of travel.
Our trip is almost here - we leave on Wednesday! Please continue to pray while we are gone. Below, you’ll find some specifics on what we think we’ll be doing each day on the trip, so that you can be praying for the opportunities we’ll have.
|Date||What We're Doing||Please Pray…|
|Wed - Thur|
2/9 - 2/10
|Fly to Kolkata, India||Travel mercies; sleep|
Visit Mother Teresa’s home
|Open minds as we learn more about the culture|
|Sat, 2/12||Fly, drive to Alipurduar||Strong stomachs and no motion sickness|
|Sun, 2/13||Teach Sunday School at Church|
Lead worship and teach at youth service
|Courage and boldness as we began teaching and meeting with the church|
|Mon, 2/14||Meet with our sponsored children|
Help with household chores
Help with the Compassion program
|That we can communicate love even with the language barrier|
|Tue, 2/15||Construct Classroom|
Help with the Compassion program
|Good teamwork; that we can connect with the children|
|Wed, 2/16||Community evangelism|
Lead special games, crafts, and
|Boldness and leading|
That God uses the crafts and object lesson to impact the children.
|Thur, 2/17||Badminton court construction and|
tournament with children
Special women’s ministry
|Fun time playing with the children|
|Fri, 2/18||Closing ceremony with church and|
|That we can humbly give encouragement to the pastors and staff|
|Sat, 2/19||Drive, fly back to Kolkata||Travel mercies|
|Sun, 2/20||Attend church service in Kolkata|
|That we would not leave unchanged|
To find out more about Compassion's work, and/or sponsor a child, click on the banner to the right. Your tax-deductible donation of just $38 per month connects your child with a loving, church-based program that provides:
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