Since I was unable to record the events of the trip in real-time due to time restraints and a lack of internet connectivity I have decided to take some time while on the plane to gather my thoughts, summarize the trip, and hit a few highlights.
Let me first say that I have been forever changed on this trip to India. I really don’t think it is possible to remove yourself from everything you know, dedicate a whole week to getting after it for God and your brothers and sisters on the other side of the world and not be impacted. Weeks prior to actually leaving on the trip my prayer for the time there became that I desired for God to speak to me however he desired and that he would use me however he desired. God did that this week and he used His people in India to do more for me than I could have ever done for them.
Thursday – Home for Widows & Children’s Visit:
After arriving in India and getting to bed at around 2:00 AM local time we crashed hard after all the travel. We slept until about 8:00 AM then took care of some breakfast handily. After returning to the room and gathering our things we met downstairs and waited for our local hosts to arrive to greet us and give us instruction. Our mission while there was to submit ourselves to their authority while we were there and serve them in what they are trying to accomplish for God in India.
After our agendas were finalized we jumped into the vehicles and drove about 20-30 km’s outside of the major city to a picturesque piece of property set between two small mountains right between a couple of low cast villages. This is the setting where a visionary’s dream is becoming a reality. Our hosts (name protected) are some of the greatest visionaries I’ve ever been around. They have two small buildings. One of the buildings is finished and is housing about 100 orphaned boys and girls. The other building is a work in progress but will be where poor widowed women will be able to stay and learn a trade. The engraved dedication stone in the front of the building quotes James 1:27 which says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” This is exactly what they are doing and seeing it in action absolutely rejuvenated me from my jet lag. I kept finding myself trying not to show any emotion but my heart was jumping out of my chest at the sight of this work.
After touring the facilities and grounds we went inside to see the children who had prepared a welcome program for us. They ranged in age from mostly 3-12 years and they were all stunning. Excitement radiated from their faces as we took our places in chairs. They sang songs and danced while we snapped pictures as fast as we could. As I looked at their faces, I didn’t see hopelessness, sadness, or sickness. What I saw was children filled with Jesus, full of life, and as healthy as any child you would see in the U.S. I knew at that moment that these visionaries weren’t just visionaries. They weren’t holding their hands out to us in hopes that we would empty our pockets to them in the future. They were being busy doing what they could do in excellence until God supplies everything they need to complete the work there. I was fully impressed at that point.
We each took turns greeting the children through our interpreter. There were also several widows from the nearby village that joined the event as well. Pastor DN then shared a quick story about David in the Bible then we had time at the end to walk around and pray for all the children. At the end we presented to all the widows a really nice blanket for each one of them. This time of the year the nights can be chilly for them so they all were unbelievably grateful. I presented one to a precious lady probably in her fifties. As I handed over the blanket, she grabbed my hand, looked down in appreciation, and I saw tears running down her face. It was as if I’d handed her a million dollars. I fought back tears of my own as I went back to my chair while the presentation continued. I couldn’t help but think about how I lay down in a house with central heating and air and how I have all the blankets I would ever need, but many people do not.
After this time together all the children swarmed us and every single one of them wanted to shake our hands and talk to us. They called most of the guys uncle which was cute. I then discovered the ice breaker of all ice breakers…It’s called, take a picture with my iPhone, then show them what they look like after I take it. Not only did this ice breaker work here with these children but it worked with every person I ran into, no matter the age! We may not have been able to communicate with everyone but this made everyone relax and laugh so I used it like crazy (although if you did it too much you might get mobbed depending on the number of people in the area).
Afterward our hosts’ cook had prepared a delicious meal for us to enjoy together in the courtyard area of one of the buildings. My plate was so full that by the end it looked like I had barely scratched the surface. We were later told that their cook was actually an orphan who grew up in one of the other children’s homes that they oversee. We applauded the meal as he grinned and looked shyly at the floor not knowing how to react. As we prepared the leave the children wanted to interact more, we hugged on them some more as we left.
After leaving we made our way to a really small town in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere that would be pretty close to the site of the Pastor’s Conference we would be speaking at on Friday and Saturday. Upon arrival our spoiled mentality was immediately challenged. This was a rougher (not dangerous, just no frills like toilet paper or shower, I think the mattress was formed out of concrete, and it was pretty dirty) little hotel than what any of us would ever typically stay in, however, no one complained one bit. It was the “best” hotel in the town. Everyone just made the best of it. My roommate Paul helped combat the situation with humor which he proved to be quite effective at. I spent quite a bit of time laughing my face off at his one liners. We then hit the sack fully dressed and covered with Off and got about 4 hours of sleep.