India 2017 part 3

That Monday started early. Chris and David got up at 6:30am and went to play soccer with the local men’s team while I got up and went down stairs and found Tekoa back in the kitchen working on his lego set, so I sat and I helped him finish it. Monica came down after a little while and she and I had coffee together and waited for the boys to come home, after which she graced us all with omelets for breakfast.

We were able to take the morning kinda slow, just bonding as family, playing with the kids and chit chatting about life. More in depth than can truly take place over Skype or FaceTime. This was about the time that Layani started to realize that “Aunt” Steph isn’t like the other “aunties” she has in India. Aunt Steph actually says no, and follows through with mom and dad’s instructions. So she clung to David off and on that day.

At 11am, after Monica let me raid her closet for a Curta, which is a longer Indian shirt, and David borrowed a button down shirt from Chris, we all loaded up into their car to head to a local village where a dear friend and his family live.

This was our first experience driving into the villages of India. This is where the look and feel of poverty is. You see trash lining the roads while kids dig through it. Some people living in shacks made from scrap wood and metal. Sticks of Bamboo stuck into the ground as fences, and dogs everywhere. You see men and women, (with their children around them) in the riverbed smashing rocks to different sizes that are used for different products, (cement houses, gravel and paving roads, and making walls) and then carrying load after load in baskets up a ramp and into trucks. They do this all day for just a few rupees a day.

Sammy and his wife welcomed us into their home and he was excited to show us the school that he and 5 other teachers work at, right on his property. The school has only been around for about a year and a half, but it has nearly 100 students. They are a private Christian school so families pay to send their kids daily, and have them learn the academics as well as about the gospel, isn’t that AWESOME?!?

We were there in time to see the old school, which wasn’t more than a long metal garage separated into different areas by ropes and sheets of fabric, and the new school that is currently being built just on the other side of Sammy’s property. The Lord has been working over there and to have the finances to move to a cement school with 5 classrooms on the first floor, with more floors a possibility, is so amazing!

After the tour of the new building, we had fun watching Aida and Tekoa slide down a dirt hill using cardboard as a sled. From the top of the hill we saw some tea farms, some goats, and a friendly game of cricket going on among the village children. We had to cut the sledding short when Chris found some broken glass bottles at the bottom of the hill, right where the kids were landing.

We then went back to the house and David took photos of the children at the school to print out and give to the parents because not everyone has a camera over there or can afford to have photos taken. Watching the kids just stand there looking at david not sure what to do, many of them didn’t smile. Sammy’s son, Adam*, was all about cheesing it up for the camera though. I think he’s had a lot of experience with spending time with Chris, Monica, and the rest of the team.

Mary*, Sammy’s wife, then announced that lunch was ready so we all went in to sit and eat. The rooms in traditional Indian village houses are not like the low-income houses we have here. Here you can expect to find a livingroom, diningroom, kitchen, bathroom, and 2-3 bedrooms. There you walk into the living room, but it is also the dining room, and it is long and narrow, almost like an entryway. The bathrooms are usually outside the houses, and not supplied with toilet paper or a wash basin. The kitchens, even though they are used nearly all day, they’re not very big. They have gas stovetops, and no microwaves, So leftovers are either eaten cold or you have to heat it back on the stove. The water that comes into the house isn’t safe to drink, but most people can’t afford a water purification system, so they have to deal with the issues that come with drinking dirty water.

(Our first seatmate told us while growing up in India he had developed a tolerance to the water. After moving to America he kept getting sick and not feeling well so he went to the doctor and he told him of this parasite he had in his digestive track that he needed to get removed if he wanted to get better. So he got the parasite removed and lives pain free in the US, but now whenever he comes back home, to India, he can’t be as free with drinking the water or eating the awesome street food like he used to. He was pretty bummed about that.)

The lunch was amazing! Chris had served me my first dish full of food since I was playing with Koa, he did a great job giving me a plateful of the hot food. When I was done I went back to get more, and try the fresh veggie salad. He told me later that he didn’t serve me the fresh stuff because of Mary not having a water purifier so all the veggies were washed in the regular tap water. So we kinda shrugged our shoulders and said “oh well, we’ll just have to see if it affects my stomach.” The rice, dahl (a dish made from lentils, pronounced ‘doll’), veggie salad, and the chicken curry dish were so good, many compliments went to the chef, who, according to Indian tradition didn’t eat until we were all done eating, Monica shared this fact beforehand, so when I went back for seconds I didn’t take much, I wanted to make sure that Mary would have enough food for herself.

After lunch we were able to pass along a gift for the school from our church, followed by tea and chaat (a doughy snack) with the family. On our way out the door, Sammy invites David and I to see the progress on the school that had happened during just that day. So we walked over, and saw that more of the bamboo and plywood framing had been completed for the ceiling of the first floor. When we had gone over earlier there were only 2 guys working. Sammy told us that the other men from the crew were at a different construction site removing the bamboo sticks to bring over and use at his site. Since that time, 3 more workers had shown up with the bamboo and it was just going to be another day or two before they could pour the cement and have a roof. How exciting!

On the drive home, out of the village, we saw children of all ages walking home from school on partially blacktopped roads, most of them were wearing uniforms and had backpacks or bags for their books. Some had shoes, most had at least sandals. We also stopped by a little road side store and picked up some thick blankets because the nights are a bit chilly in winter, they don’t have any way of heating their houses, and everything is made out of tile, concrete, and metal.

Monica made dinner for us again, then we decided to watch a movie. So we went upstairs and spread out in their TV room, which also doubles as their office. I got to cuddle with Aida while Koa was snuggled up with his dad, and Layani was going back and forth between mom and David. I tapped into my “Clinch” blood and fell asleep while watching the movie, both Chris and I. Jetlag was still plaguing me I guess, so after the movie I crashed, it was only 9:30!

*The names are not theirs. I am remaining discreet in my details to keep my family and new friends safe.

**About 65 Indian Rupees equals 1 American Dollar.

**Meeting Sammy and his family was such an honor. We had heard about them and have been praying for them for the past 2 years, so to meet them in person was so exciting for me. It made the whole “brother moving to India” a real thing. My family and friends haven’t been over here doing nothing, they’re doing great things in the name of the Lord.

**Even though the kids were living in less than ideal conditions, they were happy. The way that they were playing together was just like looking into a typical american small town life. Kids running around, organizing their own games, and laughing.

**Watching life happen there was something that I will never forget. I am an American and It’s in my core to think that these people need saving, because of the way that they live. If only we came and built this, or if only we can and provided this for these people. How about automating this or that. Then I am reminded that this is the way that they’ve been living for years. Coming in to rescue them and fix physical things isn’t the answer. Their hearts have to be changed. Their minds are stuck on the traditions and the caste system through their religion that they can’t be free from those thoughts unless Christ is revealed to them. Then, THEN changes can come and be permanent.

Even born again natives succumb to the traditions and superstitions from their old religions. It was a freeing experience to hear that Mary doesn’t even usually sit with guests while they eat with her husband, thankfully she did grace us with her presence while we were there. This is a Christian couple, but tradition is so ingrained that the freedom in Christ takes some time to fully be understood. We continue to pray for movement of the Holy Spirit in this family, and the others around them for whom they are setting an example.