Sunlight picture

Sunlight picture
Some of our hostel girls gathering for a picture at sunset. "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fragments, Part Two

April 5 - Here I am now at Raju and Joyce's house. The journey has come full circle and I am back with them again. I forgot how lovely and elegant their house was. There are actually tiles on the floor and clean, unstained, painted walls! The guest room provided for me is beautiful, with a door opening unto the balcony. Now I am seeing that everything is different here in Bangalore. The area where the Mathews live is actually quiet! (Can you imagine? A quiet Indian street?!) The roads are paved in this neighbourhood. Not very many people, tall, modern buildings, sometimes a shack here and there. I cannot believe the richness of some of the houses ...

More goodness, more blessings. A delicious meal with Uncle Raju and Aunty Joyce: chicken curry, rice, dal and vegetables. We even had bananas and ice cream for dessert! (What extravagance!)

Already we met with some people, friends of Joyce. I talked to one young girl named Nisha. Her husband is far away in Abu Dhabi for one whole year. She has a young son and she's writing a final exam for a job. I'm praying for her.

Joyce also talked to me about Accept, the AIDS clinic run by the Mathews, which I will be visiting tomorrow. God is providing me with children again. What a joy! After a three-day rest in Pappanaikanpatty, I feel ready to "roll up my sleeves," in new work. How I miss my dear hostel children, that dear difficult work that required so much faith each day, but in the end was so rewarding ... Maybe it sounds strange, but I had not known there would be work for me to do in Bangalore too. I knew I would get to see Accept, but the way Joyce is talking, it sounds like I will actually be able to spend lots of time with the children. There are 20 orphans, all with HIV.

April 6 - The Accept compound is situated outside of Bangalore, down a rutted dirt road. It is a lovely place and reminded me a little of Dohnavur. Very clean and spacious with red-tiled roofs on the buildings. There are two main facilities: the clinic and the children's home. The clinic has a full staff of doctors and nurses. Patients stay for days or weeks, depending. Sometimes they die. Seeing some of the patients was heartbreaking. Immediately you can tell they are very sick with sallow cheeks, tightly drawn, paling skin, thin, frail limbs, bloodshot eyes. One teenage boy looked so sick he could barely walk, every step causing him pain. 

When I first met the children at the Home, I instantly realized they were not like normal children with their yellowed skin, sunken eyes, wispy hair. The children at the ---- Home were not like this. (I'm so glad those children were healthy!) And my heart breaks for these little ones, who cannot live as most children do ...

April 7 - These are the names of the wonderful orphan children at Accept: Rachel, Dia, Anushri, Mariya, Rageswari, Ramiya, Chandini, Angilee, Subramani, Kishore, Ramesh, Naveen, Amir, Sathish, Srinivas, Prakash, Kumar, Richard, Eshwargowda, Sharath and Rahul. 

One of the littlest girls, Anushri (age three), caught my attention almost immediately. She just stared up at me with big dark eyes and an impish grin. She always wants to be held and I am more than happy to scoop her up into my arms. I also noticed she constantly bites down on her bottom lip. Then I found out that she was breast-fed up until 3 months ago when her mother died of AIDS. She is still a little baby and sometimes seems to be lost and sad.

Subramani has the same birthday as me. He's about ten years old and looks healthier than the others. Very sweet, and he likes playing soccer and volleyball.

Prakash is a walking miracle. When Accept took him in he was close to death, but the Lord revived him. Now he is entirely full of joy and LIGHT in Jesus! It is amazing to see the faith of this young boy. I've never seen a frown or heard a cross word from him.

Kishore melts my heart as no other. I'm not sure what it is about him, but he is so special. He captured my heart from the very start with his sweet, unassuming ways and quiet confidence. He is extremely intelligent and looks much younger than his fourteen years. He has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen ... light brown framed by long eyelashes, communicating sadness and hope and longing and the knowledge of one whose experienced life sorrowfully.

Right now the majority of the children are in the upstairs room here at the Home, watching superhero cartoons on TV. They get tired easily during the day and they like relaxing in front of the TV in the afternoon. It's a little difficult to write, but there is so much to tell that I have to write. The Lord is doing something incredible in my life. There is so much ... so much fullness, and He is changing me. I praise His name and want to give Him all the glory. He alone has filled me with overflowing love and joy!! The past few days with the children have been wonderful and I have come to love them so much already. The Lord brought me here at a perfect time.

Now as I go to sleep my mind and heart are filled with the treasures of the day: talking with Uncle Raju about the Lord, playing volleyball with the boys, listening to Richard's music on the keyboard, Amir and Ramesh laying their heads in my lap as we watched "Oceans," teasing Rhoda (she's from the local assembly and she helps at Accept), seeing Prakash's smiling face, so joyful because of Jesus. The overflowing love and joy today -- so incredible!

April 8 - There is a saying written on a plaque in the house here that says, "Rest a while and run a mile." This is a good reminder to me of how we should live our lives. First we must sit at Jesus' feet and then He will give us the strength to run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Isn't it a comfort to know that it's already marked out? God knows the future. I'm so glad He does!

"Delight in Me," the Lord says. The Christian life is not a task or duty. It is a life of love. The life of one head over heels in love with the Saviour.

Lord, here I am at Agape chapel for prayer meeting. Even though I am weary I know You are here with me. Today at Accept, You gave me strength when I had none. The children are wonderful. Especially the boys ... I really really love the boys. Thank You Lord for these children. It's amazing just to spend a few days with them. Oh help them right now. Flood them with Your joy and hope.

April 9 - The past few days have been so full -- spending the whole day at Accept with the children and then in the evenings accompanying Uncle and Aunty as they visit church members. I also help Aunty with dinner in the evenings.

Last night I talked with Uncle about India -- the corruption of government, the horrible darkness of Hinduisim, persecution of Christians in some places. People are doing awful things here - because of idolatry. It's overwhelming for my mind to comprehend all the things I've been seeing, hearing and doing the past few days.

The words of this song are a perfect reminder:

I've found a friend in Jesus
He's everything to me
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul
The Lily of the Valley
In Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole

In sorrow He's my comfort
In trouble He's my stay
He tells me every care on Him to roll
He's the Lily of the Valley
The Bright and Morning Star
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul

He all my grief has taken
And all my sorrows borne
In temptation He's my strong and mighty tower
I've all for Him forsaken
And all my idols torn
From my heart now and He keeps me by His power

Though all the world forsake me
And Satan tempt me sore
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal
He's the Lily of the Valley
The Bright and Morning Star
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul

He will never never leave me
Nor yet forsake me here
While I live by faith and do His blessed will
A wall of fire about me
I've nothing now to fear
With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill

When crowned at last in glory
I'll see His blessed face
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll
He's the Lily of the Valley
The Bright and Morning Star
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul

To delight in Him. That is all.

April 10 - Two days left in India. Soon I will be returning to a rich and bountiful land where most people have everything. India has taught me so much about being thankful. The children at ---- had none of these luxuries, only rice and curry every meal. Here in Bangalore, at the Mathew's house, there is so much food -- we eat fruit everyday! In Tamil Nadu, fruit and vaday were luxuries. I can't believe the richness even here in Bangalore, compared to the village. Yet Canada will be a hundred times more.

Let me write about a bit more about Bangalore city. Much of it is very modern. The people dress and look very different from our village. There are less saris and more chudidars, and even t-shirts and jeans! I've seen a few people from other countries too. Rhoda told me that many people are from Manipur (a Northeastern state in India) -- they look Tibetan or Chinese. There is a totally different sense to the city -- a roughness, a confusion, even an unfriendliness. It is busy and crowded; everyone on the streets, on the buses, in the autos and rickshaws have somewhere to be and don't care about anyone else.

The Christians here though are wonderful. I met a lovely young lady named Joanna. She's from the Northern state of Gujarat, but she's studying in Bangalore. Her accent is much different from the people of the South. I was also able to see Aunty Dorothi again -- she is such a sweet sweet person. And Rhoda of course ... it was so good to see her again! I met her mother finally. Her name is Pauline and is so sweet, with a beautiful, sunny personality. I liked her instantly. Rhoda's father Madhu is so friendly and kind, always making me laugh. It's nice that most of the people can speak English to me. Roshini, Rhoda's younger sister is wonderful too. When I first met her she was extremely shy and didn't talk much, but now that she's been coming with me to Accept we've gotten to know each other better.

April 11 - My last day in India. It will be a busy, full day. I'm going with Uncle one last time to Accept.

Today is full of ups and downs so far. Kishore, Prakash and Sharath were not feeling well. They did not have much energy for play. I found a chess set in the grocery store nearby Raju's house and bought it for the boys. Today I taught Richard how to play. Kishore, Rahul, Sharath and some of the other boys watched. Roshini was there too. We had a lot of fun with the chess set.

I'm reflecting on the past days at Accept where I felt so part of everything: teaching English rhymes and songs, helping with crafts, reading stories, and playing with the children. Today is the last day and I feel distant from everything, shadowed by the knowledge that things will go on whether I'm here or not. I pray I have made some difference ...

Oh India, when I am home, I will long for you!

April 12 - On the way home. The Lord has been so faithful in all His ways. My last day in India was beautiful beyond words. I was at Accept and the children were taking their afternoon nap so I went into the activity room and shut the door to be alone with God. My heart poured out to Him because I was feeling discouraged by leaving. I prayed for some kind of miracle and a few minutes later,  Shanthi teacher walked in (she's the lovely lady in charge of the children's ministry at Accept). From the first she had warmly welcomed me. She is so beautiful in the Lord, with a strong faith, bright cheerfulness and a deep love for the children. You can tell she just loves every moment being with them.

As we talked, she completely opened up to me and shared her heart. She told me how she had been crying earlier because I was leaving and I've been such a help to her. She spoke such lovely, encouraging words about God being with me as I return to Canada and how He alone will fulfill His wonderful purpose for me. She talked about how Jesus is coming soon and we cannot waste time. Every day must be lived for Him. She explained how God provided this ministry for her to work with children. Sometimes it's so difficult and she just cries out to God for help. Without prayer we cannot do anything.

Oh the kindness of our dear Heavenly Father, who knows our every need! What she said resonated so deeply within me. I was filled with tears of joy at the goodness of my God who graciously provided this Indian lady to speak to me at just the right time. We connected in such a beautiful way and I realized God had given me another Indian "mummy." She reminded me painfully of Sornakumari far away. After our conversation I was flooded with so much joy. And I began to understand that my time at Accept was no small thing, even though the time was short. Shanthi told me God sent me to help her at just the perfect time. I do not boast in myself. Only God could orchestrate such a thing. I am only His vessel. He does the work.

The last few hours with the children was precious and heartbreaking. It tore me up inside to have to say goodbye. At the Home in Tamil Nadu I spent nearly three months with the girls. At Accept I was only with them for a short time -- it broke my heart to let them go. Saying goodbye is so hard. The children are so wonderful, especially the boys.

God gave me a special love for Kishore. He's fourteen years old but he looks about ten. A beautiful, angelic face with long eyelashes surrounding his piercing eyes, and a sweet smile. I don't know why but whenever I think of this boy my heart just aches. There is something special about him. Just like Rengith. In the last hour with them I was taking a few more pictures (Uncle Raju let me borrow his camera because I forgot my camera in the village). I asked Kishore to get in a photo with Richard and Eshwar. As they stood there in the sun, Kishore's face suddenly turned away as his face crumpled into tears. Then he went away and sat in a corner. When I asked him what was wrong he wouldn't answer. After several minutes it dawned on me that he was crying because I was leaving ... There were knots in the pit of my stomach and my heart just broke for him. I shared some bible verses with him and told him I loved him, but he was still really sad.

A little later Uncle took a photo of all the children and I (quite unexpectedly) and then they gave me a card, with all their precious names written in it (also very unexpected). The tears came freely when I opened the card. It was too much for words -- so humble and sweet and unnecessary, but a token of their love. Only a week with them and so much love ...