Written by Joy Miller
Journal Entry – May 6, 2011
Wow, we leave in 4 days! I can’t believe the trip is here already. O Lord give me wisdom as we pack, prepare the lessons and other things we will be presenting. Help me to rely on you as we take this huge step of faith. If it is your will that we don’t come back, please give our family/friends the comfort only you can give. I want you to be honored with my life, whether in life or death. Thank you so much for everything you have done in my life through the preparation for this trip. Your power and strength are so GREAT! Thank you Lord!
Journal Entry – May 10, 2011
At the beginning of the flight from Brussels to Chennai, India something very significant hit me. The Indian people are just normal people like me. They are not all out to hurt Christians. I have heard a lot of negative things about India, but Indians are people that God loves and wants to save. As I get closer I am really excited to meet people that are from a different culture, but we serve the same living and true God. Lord, give me a love for these people and a burden to see them saved. (As I was writing this on the plane, I couldn’t seem to stop crying. I had such an outpouring of love for the people of India.)
Journal Entry – May 12, 2011
The Rajan family met us at the airport in Coimbatore and we loaded into a rented car for the ride to the orphanage. Traffic in India is an awful mess and quite an experience. The white dashed line in the middle of the road is merely a suggestion, as Joshua put it. They drive on which ever side is open. No need to worry about expensive detour signs in India. Indians just make their own road. I have heard about how bad the roads were but you don’t believe it till you see it.
When we arrived at the orphanage all the children lined the steps and sang to us in English. It was so sweet! As we were driving up to the orphanage we saw girls standing on the steps to greet us. Ladeen and I were so excited because we didn’t know ahead of time if there would be girls there since they had just added the second floor to the orphanage. They all wanted to shake our hands and tell us welcome. Their English was very limited but they wanted to try it out on us as much as possible.
Journal Entry – May 13, 2011
Wow, these days that “didn’t have anything planned” have been jammed packed. We started teaching the children at 9:30 this morning and we went to 9:00 tonight. We helped the children make their blankets this afternoon and they did a great job! They would race and see which group could do the most. The children were so excited to get something of their own.
Lord, thank you so much for preparing me and seeing me through this much of the trip. It has been such a blessing to be here! Even though it isn’t home, I love it! I can really feel your presence here.
Today Sarah and I were able to talk for quite a while during one of the lessons the guys were teaching to the children. We were talking about ministry and she said how blessed she feels that God chose her to help her husband in ministry. She didn’t say anything about how no one else helps her do things, but only how blessed she is to serve the Lord. That really hit me because I can sometimes get down because it feels like I am doing a lot and not very many people help. I thought it was a great attitude to have and one I want to model. She is a great example to me of a helpmeet to her husband and a woman with a servant’s heart.
Yesterday and today I thought none of the women at the orphanage could speak English, so I didn’t even try to speak to them. I assumed that if they could speak English they would approach me to talk. Tonight I was sitting on one side of the meeting room watching the children play games and Grace, the house mother, was sitting on the other side. As I was sitting there I thought, I am going to go over there and just sit by her. Even if we can’t talk she will know that I’m not trying to avoid her. I went over and sat down and a couple minutes later she leaned over to me and said something about the game the children were playing, IN ENGLISH! I was very surprised and I asked her a couple more questions about the game. She spoke pretty good English but she thought her English was bad so she didn’t want to approach me to talk. We were able to talk for quite a while and I learned quite a few interesting things. I thank the Lord that He gave me the insight to go over and sit by her. Otherwise I might have gone the whole 2 weeks without realizing that she spoke English. I want to make it a point to at least go around and shake every woman’s hand and say Praise the Lord (that is how they greet each other in India).
Journal Entry – May 14, 2011
We made the 10 hour car ride to Pondicherry in one piece. That is almost a class B miracle in India. We then headed to the outreach center and had a program there. Joshua gave his testimony, we sang “Yesu Rajanin” and Pastor Ike preached. Right before Pastor Ike got up to preach Paul leaned over and told Pastor Ike that he wanted him to preach on a different topic. Pastor Ike got up, sat down his notes, walked up front and preached an excellent gospel message without any preparation. I wanted to talk to the believers so bad, but I couldn’t.
Journal Entry – May 15, 2011
This morning we worshipped with the believers at Pondicherry and we had 2 baptisms. Josh and I were both able to give our testimonies and Pastor Ike preached again (He made sure he checked with Paul before the service to confirm the sermon topic). I wasn’t able to speak to most of the women, but I would smile and go shake their hand. After the service I found out that Christavadi (the daughter of Munisamy, one of the church planters.) and her husband, Paul Samuel, both could speak very good English but were afraid to approach us to talk. Once we learned that they spoke English, Josh and I had a great time talking to them and learned things about India. They said they wanted to help us learn Tamil and they taught us 4 phrases and some words in Tamil. They were very good teachers and helped us think of ways to remember the different phrases. Right before we left Christavadi mentioned that she was hoping that we would have sung “Yesu Rajanin” again that morning. We asked her if she wanted to sing with us, if we sang it again right there. She sang with us and it was such a blessing!
Journal Entry – May 16, 2011
We got back to the orphanage this morning at 5:30am after driving all night to get back from Pondicherry. We headed to bed with ear plugs and face masks so we could sleep longer that 30 minutes. As I was getting into bed the rooster started crowing, I was glad I had ear plugs. Ladeen and I were able to sleep till about 11:30 and we headed to lunch. As we were finishing our lunch the believers from Orissa arrived. It was so neat to see the people we have seen in pictures and have prayed for. They don’t speak Tamil and have very limited English so we are all trying to get by on a small amount of English.
Tonight after the dedication of the second floor I sat with the children on the steps and they taught me words in Tamil. They would write the Tamil word in English letters for me, then I would write the English word and then the way to spell it phonetically, so I could remember how to say the words. They got a great kick out of me trying to learn Tamil and it gave us a way to communicate without many words.
Journal Entry – May 17, 2011
This morning we had our first Practorium sessions. Because we have 3 different languages represented we sing at least one song in each language at the beginning of the sessions. During the teaching, Pastor Ike says a statement and then Peter would interpret it into Odia for the people from Orissa and then Paul would interpret into Tamil for the people from Tamil Nadu.
Each night this week are going to have a special program in the evening and tonight it was presented by the children. After the program tonight Sarah and I were able to talk for quite awhile and she told me some of the sad stories of some of the children. It is such a blessing that these children have a safe place to call home.
Journal Entry – May 18, 2011
This morning I woke up sick. As I lay in bed, I knew God had a plan in me getting sick, but I just didn’t know what it was yet. Later in the day I heard the children singing down the hall and the Lord brought a thought to my mind. Most of those children aren’t believers and I could use the time in bed to pray for each of them. I spent a lot of time in prayer today and I will continue to pray that the Lord works in their hearts.
Journal Entry – May 19, 2011
This morning when I woke up I still wasn’t feeling back to normal, but I was able to go to the morning sessions. I was supposed to give my testimony this afternoon during the children’s lesson but I was feeling really sick again. I really wanted the chance to give my testimony to the children since that was really my only opportunity to share the gospel with them. I did get up and go give my testimony but I thought it didn’t go very well because my mind was so out of it. Later on Joshua said how good he thought my testimony went and I know that it was the Lord speaking through me because I did not feel good. After the lesson this afternoon we handed out the little flashlights that we took for each of the children. The children lined up and we started handing out the flashlights. As we were getting closer to end of the line Josh and I started thinking, “O no, we aren’t going to have enough.” We both started praying that there would be enough for each of the children. As the final couple of children came up we realized that we had the EXACT number of flashlights as there were children. PRAISE THE LORD! After the service tonight we went outside in the dark with the children and we waved our flashlights and sang “This Little Light of Mine.” It was a lot of fun!
Journal Entry – May 20, 2011
This morning we had a teaching session on baptism and communion. At the beginning of the session they presented us each with a shawl and thanked us for coming. After the teaching sessions we headed outside for the baptisms. There were 18 people that were baptized; some were pastors from Orissa that hadn’t been baptized yet. It was really neat to see people follow what the Lord teaches in the Bible.
After the baptisms we set up for communion and the ladies were upstairs and the men downstairs for feet washing. Mara (the cook’s wife) and I washed each other’s feet. She doesn’t speak English and I haven’t been able to talk to her, but I have definitely felt a special connection with her since we washed each others feet. It was so much more symbolic to wash a person’s feet when they were actually dirty from walking around in the dust. I understand the story in the Bible much better now when Jesus said, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean.” Here my feet are dirty as soon as I come out of the bathroom from taking a shower. After feet washing we then headed downstairs and had the love feast and bread and cup.
Journal Entry – May 21, 2011
We got up early this morning so we could go downstairs and play with the kids before we had to leave for Rajapalaiyam. Most of the children are going on home visits for the week so they won’t be here when we come back on Monday. We then said goodbye to the children and the believers from Orissa. I was able to give both Alice and Swarti (the ladies from Orissa) a hug and I pray that they felt my love for them though I never got to talk to them. We then got in the car for the 8 hour car ride to Rajapalaiyam.
Journal Entry – May 22, 2011
This morning we went to the church at Cholapuram and were able to be involved in the dedication of their new building. It has taken them about 2 years to complete it themselves. We sang in the service and Pastor Ike preached. They also honored us by giving us each a perfumed “necklace.” After the service we left and went to worship with the church in Sankarankovil. The room they meet in is about 8×18 and there were about 50 people in one half and the 6 of us that were visiting sat in the other half. The people were crammed in there very tight, but they were so happy to be there and worship the Lord.
We then headed to Torbay House (the orphanage in the south) to visit the children there. When we got there they sang to us and gave us each a bouquet of roses. We were able to spend some more time with a couple of the girls who visited Agape Home last week for the classes. It was nice to see some familiar faces when we got there. We were able to help the children make the blankets we took for them, sing and play games for most of the afternoon. We had some more hard goodbyes at this orphanage also. Especially the couple girls we had grown close to the week of classes. We then headed back down the road to the youth meeting at Cholapuram. They said their youth group is ages 15-35 but because we were there, they had all ages. During the service we sang, Joshua gave his testimony and Josh preached the message. After the service we said more goodbyes, went to eat at a restaurant and then started the long drive back to Agape Home. We found out that today was our record temperature high since we have been here, 117◦ F.
Journal Entry – May 23, 2011
We got back to Agape Home around 4:00am this morning. We got a few hours of sleep and then left at 9:30am this morning and moved into the hotel near the Rajan’s house in Coimbatore. After we moved our stuff into our room, Ladeen and I wanted to go out shopping so Pastor Ike took us. We were each able to find a couple saris that we liked and then we headed back to the hotel. Soon Paul came to pick us up and we went to the Rajan’s house for lunch. We had a great time just sitting around, talking and getting to know the Rajans better. Then we headed out to go shopping and Ladeen and I got our first ride in an auto rickshaw. Benny Rajan rode in the front and Sarah, Ladeen and I were in the back. We arrived at the mall and Sarah took us shopping for Chudedar (long shirt and pants outfit). Ladeen and I each got 2 and we had a lot of fun trying on all the different colors. Then we headed to the store that sold “fancy” saris. They showed us many beautiful saris that were hand beaded and Ladeen and I each picked out one that had sequence. After we had picked which ones we wanted, Sarah said she would be right back and we should look at the other saris. As she was leaving I turned to her and said, “You aren’t going to buy those are you?” She turned and said, “I have plenty of saris” and turned and kept walking. I sat there thinking, “Did she misunderstand me or is she being sneaky?” Pretty soon she came back with a bag, Yep, she did it, she bought us our saris. It was very nice of her and Paul but we did not expect them to do that. After supper we went back to the hotel and Ladeen and I got a lesson on how to put on a sari. It took us a little while to catch on, but we finally got them on and were able to take pictures. They are so beautiful!
Journal Entry – May 24, 2011
Today we started our journey toward home. The Rajans took us to the airport and came in to see us off. We all prayed together and said some very tearful goodbyes. We flew back to Chennai and our driver picked us up at the airport and we headed to our hotel. After we got settled we went on an adventure to find a pizza place. We were able to find a Pizza Hut and try the Indian version of pizza. It was good but not worth as much as we paid for it. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at some shops and Josh and I were able to find quite a few gifts for family and friends back home. After we were done shopping we decided we would all try to get into one auto rickshaw. That is a tight squeeze! Pastor Ike was in the front with the driver and all four of us younger people were in the back. I had to sit on top of Ladeen’s lap for us all to fit. After cooling off and dropping off our stuff at the hotel, Joshua, Josh, Ladeen and I headed back out to do some more shopping and exploring. We had a great time and found some really good soft serve ice cream cones for 8 rupees ($0.25 US dollar). We tried quite a few different flavors over the course of the evening.
Journal Entry – May 25, 2011
We headed out on our tourist day around 6:30am so we could get most of our sightseeing done before it got too hot. We went to see the Tomb of Thomas, some hand carved stone temples, a replica of an Indian village and the sea shore. We told our driver that we wanted a really good Indian meal since it was our last meal in India. He chose very well, I had some really good naan and Indian noodles. Then we headed back to the hotel and Ladeen and I headed to bed to sleep till we left for the airport at 9:00pm. We are trying to get our bodies back to USA time as soon as possible. Our driver picked us up and we headed to the airport for the long flight back to the USA. We had to go through multiple security checkpoints and finally got on our plane headed to Brussels.
Journal Entry – May 26, 2011
When we got to New York it felt so good to be back on America soil, without soldiers walking around the airport with big guns. We went through customs and headed through security again to go to our next gate. When we got to our gate we found out that our flight was canceled. We had to wait around 9 hours for the next flight to Cleveland. I didn’t think I would ever sleep on an airport floor, but I did today. Once we finally got on our plane we had to sit on the runway for 3 hours until we were cleared for takeoff.
Journal Entry – May 27, 2011
We are home! We finally made it to Cleveland at 2:00am this morning. After all the trouble we had, I have never been so happy to get to Cleveland. When we started the trip home I was determined to still look “okay” when we got to Cleveland. I still looked human when we got to JFK, but after the 13 hour layover I am sure I looked pretty bad when we got back to Cleveland. Through it all, the Lord had a plan and I pray that we will continue to trust Him now that we are home and things are back to “normal.”
A big highlight was getting to stay at Agape Home (orphanage). During our stay in India we started looking at the orphanage as home. When we were away for the weekend we would find ourselves saying, “We get to go home tonight or 3 hours to home.” We didn’t even realize we were saying it most of the time. I loved waking up to the sound of the children outside our window and also the rooster, though I didn’t enjoy that very much. I loved eating at the same place as the other believers and children. I loved going up on the roof of the orphanage each morning and doing my devotions. I loved getting to spend extra time with the children each evening. If we had been staying at the hotel in Coimbatore we would have missed a lot of special times. When we got to Agape Home we learned that only about 20% of the children were believers. There were so many days that I wanted to talk to them and share the gospel with them. Because of the language barrier our only opportunity to share with them was during our classes with them each day. After that they would just have to see God’s love in us. I pray that each of those children thinks about what they are learning and decides to make Jesus the Lord of their life. It was really hard saying goodbye to all of them because I don’t know that I will ever see them again, on earth or in heaven. With fellow believers we know that we will see each other in heaven if not before. That is a promise that I cherish.
I pray that you enjoyed reading about India through my eyes. I also pray that the Lord has touched your heart through my experiences – Joy