Posted by: nemerson | July 28, 2008

What’s going on with us

Ministry day 1, Friday

You’d think that maybe since Rose and I had been to India twice before, serving with the same team, that we’d be reasonably prepared for what the days would bring.  Well, it seems that over the time we’re away from India (it’s been 20 months since our last visit), we’ve forgotten many of the difficulties and remembered all of the best parts.  This is a good thing, I’m sure. 

One of those long-forgotten memories was driving in India.  We experienced the harry-scary craziness of city driving in Bombay, but our first day of ministry took us back down from the Nilgris Mountains, which amounted to about 4 1/2 hours of hairpin turns over very rough roads and ended in our jeep getting stuck in the mud.  Ha! 

In so many places the roads were just one giant (7-ft-across) pothole to the next with cars, buses and trucks coming the other way competing for that same 4 feet of passable road.  Did I mention it had been raining all day?  So, those potholes were also filled with water.

Part of the reason for our long journey (besides the bad weather and roads) was that we took the “long way down” so that we could go through the Nature Preserve.  We were so blessed to see up close monkeys, peacocks, deer, bison and so many elephants!  The elephants were…

 

 very close to the road and cause for concern–since on several of Jamie’s last trips on this same road, the elephants had charged after their car.  We tried to keep a safe distance, but Jamie’s daughter Abby and Ragu were still quite scared!

When we made it down the mountain and headed out toward the Adopt-a-Village, the roads were red clay and very slippery because of the rain (hence, getting stuck in the mud).  When we couldn’t drive anymore, we walked in the rain and mud to make it out to this little village deep in the jungle, the poorest of the poor.

And, boy, was it worth it.  🙂

The young children were waiting for us in their community center/churh/school (built as part of the adopt-a-village program).  They sang a song for us about how God created all the animals unique but made them extra special, His children.  We sang “Peace Like a River” for them, with all of the silly hand motions–they were cracking up!

Jamie explained that before this village was adopted, these young children would wander the streets during the day while their parents tried to find work.  They had no sense of personal hygeine and no food until the parents returned home with something.  Now, you can see they are clean, dressed, well-fed and so happy to be able to go to school during the day.

We could only stay in the village for a few minutes, though, because we had a meeting scheduled at a house-church in Gudalur Town.  It was a small gathering but a great Spirit.  Bob shared Prov. 2:1-5 about God’s great desire to communicate with us, which gives us direction and wisdom.  I followed by reading Phil. 3:10 (“that I may know Him…”) and explained how my daily, personal study of the Bible allowed me to know God through Jesus more and more each day.  Rose went through Jesus’ prayer for His disciples–and all believers, us included!–for protection, joy, sanctification, promise of heaven, and unity from John 17.

We had dinner in a restaurant at 9pm and made it to our hotel around 10.  I was sooooo tired since Grace had gotten me up at 2:30am.  She napped in the car for a few hours, but not me!

Ministry day 2, Saturday

Grace slept in a little more–till 4:30am.  We’re making progress!

Grace enjoying Indian breakfast--dosa!

Grace enjoying Indian breakfast--dosa!

After a delicious Indian breakfast, we got in the jeep and headed back to the Adopt-a-village.  We took a different route this time and saw many amazing fruit trees like mango, passion fruit, papaya, and all different kinds of banana trees.  Since we came in from a different road, we had a different path to take to walk to the village.  Instead of a long, straight path through fields, we took a shorter path, hiking down into the valley and then back up the other side.  It was steep climbing on clay “steps,” and the rain made it a bit treacherous.  No casualties though!

Before we started the children’s program, Jamie wanted us to see the well that had recently been dug for this village.  Unfortunately, it is close to the bottom of the mountain and is a steep, steep climb up and down.  Bob and I braved the hike with just one wipe-out by Bob.  We could barely walk it–how did they carry water up this steep hill?!  But they are so thankful to have clean water, it’s worth the hike! 

Like yesterday, the children and their teachers were waiting for us at the community center.  There were about 50 kids there, ages 3-12.  We started off the day teaching them some songs.  First, we taught them the entire song of “Peace like a River” with the hand motions.  They did great!  We also did “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and one of Grace’s Sunday school favorites, “Jesus is our friend today, Clap your hands, Shout, “Hooray!” Jesus is our friend today, we love Jesus.”  Jamie translated this into Tamil for us at breakfast so we could teach them. 

Next, they had a presentation for us–7 or 8 songs they had learned in school, all about God’s love for them.  They also took turns reciting Bible verses that they had memorized.  It was amazing how much of God’s Word they had hidden in their hearts!  These will stay with them forever.

We had brought with us a suitcase full of supplies (carried on Ragu’s shoulder all that way!) to do a craft with the kids.  We split them into 3 groups–Rose led the craft, Grace and I led outside games of jump rope and duck-duck-goose, and Bob told the story of Peter’s big haul of fish and call to follow Jesus.  We rotated each group through the different stations, and they did awesome.  They picked right up on all we were teaching them, and some had very deep theological questions for Bob. 

The children then sat in rows on the floor for lunch–rice, beans and beats, sauce, boiled egg and water.  Those kids had tons of food!  Some women had worked all morning preparing the lunch while we working with the kids, and they did a great job.  We even had chicken on the bone–Grace’s favorite!

Playing with the parachute!

Playing with the parachute!

After lunch, we took them outside to play with the big parachute we had brought.  They were so amazed by it! Then, we brought them back inside so we could perform our skit of Daniel and the Lion’s Den.  It was tough with the translation!  Rose gave them a quick message and Jamie closed in a prayer that the kids could repeat after him.

Before they left, we gave each of the kids a TY Beanie Bear (thanks, Mom!) and some candy.  We spent some time just hanging out with the kids while Bob walked through the village, visiting some of the homes.  It was pouring rain at this point, so we could not safely return the way we had come.  Our driver, Balu, drove the jeep around to a different spot to meet us.  Even in the pouring rain, this way was better!

Needless to say, we were all exhausted when we got back to the hotel at 6pm, but Jamie had another meeting planned with a local church.  I stayed back at the hotel with Grace and Abby while the rest went ahead to the meeting.  It was in a small hall in town.  Though there were only about 20 people there, they had a sound system set up–the whole town could hear!  A special singer had come and performed, as well as the pastor’s wife, Blessing.  Beautiful!  Rose spoke on the fruits of the Spirit, especially patience, which Jamie followed up with.  Bob gave just a quick word before it was time to come home. 

Sleep, at last…

Ministry day 3, Sunday

We were off to church in the Adopt-a-village.  It was another rainy day which made for slippery traveling.  During our walk back from the village, Ragu and  Jamie both took a slip-slide-splat!

Church at the Adopt-a-village

Church at the Adopt-a-village

At church today were almost all adults, which was wonderful.  Many did not come out due to the rain, but we still had about 40 or 50.  As we were walking up the path toward the community center/church/school, we could hear the singing.  Ah, heavenly!  After we arrived, the singing continued for a while, followed by a time of prayer. 

Next, came testimonies from the church members. They were so grateful for their pastor, James Matthew.  He is indeed a wonderful man of God!  He is the perfect fit for this village.  His wife, Bincy, is staying with her mother as their first baby is due soon.
James Matthew and his wife help out with the kids at the school during the weekdays.  In the evenings and weekends, James Matthew goes house to house to talk to the people in the village about Jesus.  He also travels up to 40 km out each week to share Jesus with some other villages nearby.  He is so faithful to what God has called him to!  He said it was rough at first, but now he is sure this just where God wants him.

After the testimonies, I shared a short testimony of my own about how just like a parent’s greatest joy is to see their child obeying, a pastor’s greatest joy is to see his church members growing closer to Jesus and telling others about him.  Then we Americans sang “All in All” before Bob shared.  He talked about the amazing power of God described in Eph. 1.  God’s power was enough to raise Christ from the dead, and it is in us as believers!

Rose completed the sharing time with the hilarious saga of our trek into the village each day and the search for the shortest, easiest route! She also talked about Eph. 2 and challenged the people of the church to each bring one of their neighbors to church.  Growing the church is their mission, not just the pastor’s.

After church, we had time to visit with Pastor James Matthew while Grace played with some of the church members.  All of the church members stayed for lunch, but we had to get back to our hotel and check out.  After a quick bite to eat, we headed back up the mountain (the shortcut–only 2 1/2 hours this time!) with a lively discussion about women’s roles and divine healing. 

Once back at CAMT, Grace was thrilled to have some macaroni and cheese and go out shopping with Ragu–they took 2 buses to get there.  She had lots of fun!

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Responses

  1. Have just read your latest update. My heart is overflowing with the joy only Jesus can bring !! Thank you, Jill, for sharing your days/adventures/ministries. Your trip becomes so real to us at home this way.
    My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you all as you climb those muddy hills, sing about our God, share His Word, and love those precious children.

  2. Thankyou so much for your trip experiences.We can all share in your experiences and joy of sharing christ with others .Please be sure to add needs & prayer request so we can lift them up daily along with our prayer support for each of you .
    Hope you have captured some of those muddy , wet, slippery moments in your native dress on camera to share with all of us. bob have you gotten in the native dress yet?!.
    “The Joy of the Lord is our strenght.”
    Our prayers & thoughts r with you daily as you reach out to those who r so eager to hear God’s message. Love , Uncle Butch & Aunt Jan & family


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