In every life God gives marker experiences as references to look back on. Mine was a trip to India. That trip will forever be embedded into my memory as a gift from God. Everything from the culture to the people will be in the back of my mind always. When we first arrived it was a incredible. We couldn’t believe we made it! We were in India. I was ready to go and experience Indian life.
When we arrived to the orphanage we were greeted by the children waving ribbons and singing. The children would follow us and shake our hands and try to speak English with us. We could see from the time we first arrived that they had tender loving hearts. They had so little yet wanted to give so much. Every morning they would wake us up with a cup of tea. They wouldn’t let us help set up for meetings. We were treated like royalty. There were children there that come from completely broken homes, children that don’t have parents yet they still have manners, smiles on their faces and respect for authority. What a wonderful example of Christ’s love and grace.
It was interesting to learn and see the different takes on everything. For example when the children grabbed my arm for the first time and saw that when they took their hands away I turned even more white and then faded back to my skins normal color they called me magic. For the rest of the trip they would grab my arm just to watch it change colors. (I was thankful I didn’t have sunburn!) I was also able to sew with them. Most of the children have missing buttons on every piece of clothing they own. I got my sewing kit and gathered all the buttons I didn’t need and sewed it onto their clothes. It was so amazing how excited they got over a button. That hit pretty hard. We sometimes use buttons for decorations while they don’t even have enough to go on their clothes. While the children and I were sewing a lady came up and asked me to help her hem her sari. We had great fellowship time doing that.
While we were India we traveled to Pondicherry. We visited Munisamy and the church he pastors. We were able to see 2 new believes baptized. Afterwards we had a lunch together. It was so incredible to fellowship with the church people. Even though we could barely understand each other we had a connection through Jesus Christ that we could all feel.
The practorium classes were encouraging. Men from Orissa (32 hour train ride away) and Pondicherry and Rajapalyam all came together at the orphanage. Some men even brought their families. Seeing that many people truly excited to hear and learn about God’s word was astounding. The men would ask questions, the women took notes, even the children were sitting still. These wonderful people are not constrained by time as we in America are.
We also had a chance to work with the children, teaching them Bible stories, sharing testimonies, playing games, learning verses, and singing. They picked up on the stories quickly and they were excited to hear more. We ran across the same issues working with Indian children that we come across working with American children.
I didn’t feel the spiritual darkness of the country when we first got there. I did however feel extreme spiritual darkness when we went to a Hindu temple (to see the elephant). It was amazing how as we arrived closer the spiritual darkness would hit like a brick wall. You could feel it weigh you down. There were shops and venders inside the temple. Statues of gods were everywhere. It was a good experience though and it gave me a new look on the story of Jesus getting angry and flipping the tables over in the temple.
The team spent a lot of time with Paul and his family. They are some of the most generous people I’ve had the opportunity to meet. Paul will spend his own money to make sure the children have food and clothing. If it came down to it he would give the shirt off his back if it would help someone else. But he’s not unwise with his generosity. He’s aware when people are scamming him. His family is the same way. Paul and Sarah’s oldest son is studying medicine so he can open a mission hospital in India.
For our last day in India Paul hired an English speaking Indian driver (since Paul himself was not able to be with us). The driver was awesome. He took us on a tour of the city and he drove us to the ancient temples and to all the tourist sights. He even took us to the tomb of the apostle Thomas. He was not saved but since we were in the car with him so much we had an opportunity to share the word of God with him. He had asked why we came to India. When we told him we had spent most of our time in a Christian orphanage he mentioned how he didn’t understand why it is that only the Christians work with the orphans and really take time to care for them. So that was another opportunity to share with him the redeeming love of God.
The driver also took us to the beach were we got to step into the Bay of Bengal. While we were on the beach I was sitting on a rock and a group of Indians walked by and stared at me while they walked. I knew I must have looked tired and I was getting sunburned while I was sitting there. A little boy from the group stopped and looked at me and called another little boy over and they talked and kept looking at me and the whole group came and were all staring at me and finally the first little boy put his hand up and waved and said “Helllllooooo pink lady….can we have a picture?” After I laughed I got up and posed with them and one of them mentioned that they had never seen a white person. I was a minority!
God has given me many different lessons to look back on through out the trip. For a while I was extremely homesick. I missed my family and friends. But through the homesickness I had to learn to rely only on God. I had to learn to trust that God knows what He’s doing even when we don’t. I found that the busier we stayed the less and less I would think about home, which made me more and more aware of how I could help the people there. The lesson that will stick with me the most is the fact that people are people. We all get saved the same way. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, or what language you speak, God loves, cares and understands each and every person. It’s our job as believers to go out (even if it is just into your hometown) and share the love of God (not just with our mouths but with our actions as well). I challenge us all to pray for each other every day, that we will continue to lift each other up, that we will get excited about God’s Word, and that we will show Christ’s love to everyone we come in contact with.