Abigail and Mary were helping in a Children’s Home for girls in Guduvanchery, run by the Indian Gospel Mission, from July 10th to 28th.
Three super girls!!
Thank you so much to all those who have prayed, given and supported Abigail and I on our recent trip to South India. I hope you enjoy this Feedback!
SERVING “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” Mt. 20:28
One of the main things Abigail and I learnt on our trip to India was how to serve others. It is always a challenge to really love the one in front of you and especially so when you are hot and tired and in a different climate, not always understanding what is happening or how you can help!
We were so thankful to God that when we arrived at Chennai Airport there were, with Pastor Joe, two other volunteers already working at the Children’s Home- Jenny and Claire, students from Northern Ireland.
And then we were Four!
They had been there for one and a half weeks and we were able to learn such a lot, from them, about how we could help the children with their daily routine. This made things a lot easier for us!
DAILY ROUTINE:- We joined the girls in the Church Building at 6am each morning, for early morning Prayers, a Psalm and a Chapter of Proverbs (if we managed to wake up in time!).
We then helped to wash the younger girls with jugs of water and soap, outside, by the sink in the courtyard. This meant that we got nearly as wet as them! We also helped them to dress and do their hair – applying coconut oil, combing out tangles and putting in bunches or plaits. We played hand clapping games with them during this time, and then we helped with their homework before they had breakfast.
Helping with their English schoolwork was a challenge, as the exercises in their books were not well fitted to their ages, and there were often quite difficult words to understand! We did our best and drew lots of pictures and mimed actions etc! One day one of the girls asked me to draw her face, I did so and then had several others wanting me to draw them! I rediscovered an artistic gifting that had been dormant for a long time! All the time I drew, I prayed that God would help me to make them look beautiful and, thankfully, He did, and they went away pleased with their portraits!
After helping to serve Breakfast, usually some form of pancakes (dosas) and stew, we had our own breakfast and then helped to walk the children to school. The route was through the back streets with open sewers by the side of the path, cows being herded by us, stray dogs wandering around and many older ladies or men watching us from their doorways, with delight and interest because of our white faces!
Coming Home from school
At the end of the School Day we went to pick up the girls. The other schoolchildren were all very excited when they saw us and wanted to shake our hands and kept asking our names, as they do not see Westerners very often! We felt like Celebrities! After School was playtime before Homework, then Prayers and Bible Reading (a chapter from the Gospels) and finally Supper/Main Meal at about 8pm.
All the time we were helping with the children we were under the supervision of one of the “Aunties” (Indian ladies) who lived and worked at the Home.
The major lesson we learnt from the children is that you can be happy in life
even if you only have a few dresses and one, or both, of your parents are in Heaven with Jesus! Only occasionally would you see one of the girls looking sad. Jesus seemed to be saying “Look at these girls, they are so happy despite their circumstances, you can live this way Mary! This is why I came, that you can enjoy abundant life as my child! Learn from them, become like them, rediscover the world as a child and so enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18v3)
Highlights with the children included playing with the play parachute we gave them, which was just the right size for the space they have in the courtyard in front of the Home; also going to the Zoo in Chennai on our last day with the girls and boys from both Children’s Homes.
CHURCH OUTREACH We had the privilege, during our last week, of being involved in the IGM Church outreach to two remote villages in the hills about 3 hours drive from Chennai. IGM have a Feeding Programme to help poor families,
Abigail packing bags of rice
and part of the Outreach was to take bags of rice and loaves of bread for needy families in the area. One afternoon was spent helping to fill, weigh, seal and pack the 3kg bags of rice, ready for the Outreach.
We four were also asked to prepare 3 Drama skits to help to show the gospel to the people. This was fun, and I got to play Jesus in all three!
The journey was very bumpy, long and tiring, with a short stop at a Leprosy Village on the way, where we prayed and gave out some of the rice. But the most amazing moment came in the evening when we set up a spotlight and screen and showed a short version of the Jesus film in the Tamil language to the 100 or so adults and children in the village. As I sat there watching the movie showing Jesus teaching the crowds in Galilee and then looked at the people sitting on the ground around me- there seemed to be very little difference! It was an amazing moment! They really enjoyed the movie- there were gasps of amazement at the miraculous catch of fish!! And when Jesus hung dying on the cross, the lady next to me was weeping openly! A group of about 30 people made a decision to accept Jesus and came forward for prayer from the local church pastor. It was an unforgettable moment!
A SPECIAL REST DAY On one of our Rest Days we went Sight-seeing to Mamalapurram Beach.
Look at the cheeky monkey!
It was such a fun day involving seeing Hindu carvings, climbing on rocks, a monkey snatching Abigail’s Fanta drink, a lovely time paddling in the Indian Ocean and culminating in a brief visit to the Boy’s Children’s Home in Pandur where we visited the grave of Jacob Williams. He was the Founder of IGM and father of Pastor Joe and brother, Pastor Jabez. He died suddenly in April of this year. There was an amazing tangible presence of the Holy Spirit at the graveside. I was so moved that, when I asked if I could pray, I felt almost as if this man had been my father and I genuinely felt a longing to meet him in heaven! Pastor Joe also asked me to say a few words to the boys, so I spoke about the fact that I did not have a father or mother now, like many of them -BUT we were all brothers and sisters because we do have a Big Daddy in heaven who loves us completely! We finished by praying the Our Father together.
PERSONAL GROWTH Some of my time in India I struggled with accepting myself and with feelings of fear and inadequacy. God reminded me of this scripture;- Mt 5 v 16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” A while ago God gave me a picture, where I was hiding behind His back peeping out, but I so wanted to see His face that I came out of hiding and when I did, He held me up high so everyone around could see me and He laughed and laughed with joy!!! Father showed me that in order to shine, I cannot hide myself! I have to be willing to let my life be on display. John Wesley said “Catch on fire and others will love to come watch you burn.”
- Please pray that the lessons that Abigail and I learnt in India will stay with us and be imprinted deeper on our hearts.
- Please continue to pray for IGM, the children, the Outreaches, the Feeding Programme etc. One particular need is for a larger facility- they are looking at a building but need some permission from authorities and more finance before they can proceed.
In Jesus wonderful love,
Mary and Abigail XXX