Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 1 - Punjabis & more

After arriving at the hotel and sleeping a few hours, we loaded up in the mini bus and headed out to buy the ladies punjabis to wear during their time here in India. Shopping for punjabis is a pretty wild cultural experience, especially during "festival" definitely isn't like heading to the mall. Hundreds of people were packed into the fabric store, and each person hunted for the fabric of their choice to make a suit. It was great to see Jeff Goldsby getting down and digging through a bin of women's scarves. What a guy!

From the fabric store we went to a tailor shop to be measured and then we stopped running (& sweating, I might add) for a dinner break.

The team members were quite the troopers! I kept them running all day, so they sleep really well tonight and get over jet lag quickly, and they kept up all day without complaint. In the process they got to catch their first glimpses of what life is like here in India.

We wrapped the day up with a time of preparation for a full day tomorrow. In the morning we'll be attending a growing church in the slum, and in the afternoon & evening we'll be at Rescue & Restore Childrens' Shelter.

Check back tomorrow for all the highlights!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Made it safe & sound!

The Kansas team arrived safe & sound this morning at 4:00 am. They're resting right now for a bit and then we'll head out later this afternoon. Stay tuned!

Norway team heads home...Kansas team about to arrive!

Today we spent a few hours with Freddy and Daisy, the directors of Rescue & Restore Shelter. It was a precious time! Then it was off to do last minute shopping, packing and dinner together to wrap up the Hearts of Mercy trip to India.

The team just left for the airport, and they'll be boarding their plane in a few hours heading home to Norway and their families.

What a privilege it's been to have these incredible ladies here in Chennai this week. They are an encouragement to everyone they meet!


In about four hours I leave for the airport to meet the second group that's joining me--an amazing group of 9 from Kansas! Check back tomorrow to follow our time. For now, it's a quiet four hour reprieve :) Just me and my computer. The guys here in the hotel can't figure out why I'm not leaving! Haha. Little do they know.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Slums - Part 2

This afternoon, after a short break from the heat, we made our way to a second slum, which is home to a little under 1,000 people. We visited a small church whose pastor grew up in Rescue & Restore Shelter. As a child he lived on the streets, but was rescued by the directors of Rescue & Restore when he was a young boy. Rahkesh* is a grown man now, and just over a year ago he started a small church in this slum. His congregation has 38 families now who are actively involved, and they are thriving and growing.

Seeing Rahkesh rescued from utter hopelessness as a child to grow up to be a man of influence in his community today gives me hope that this is possible for many more. I'm thankful for my friends here in India that pour out their lives daily on behalf of these kids. It's an honor to know them.

We sang some songs together, joined in with their Childrens program, and encouraged many who asked for prayer.

Tomorrow I say goodbye to my dear Norwegian friends. Stay tuned for more from Chennai....


*named changed

The slums - part 1

This morning we made our way down a narrow alley to the entrance of one of the poorest slums in Chennai. This slum is home to about 4,000 people. Desperation, hopelessness, and despair can be seen at every corner. Kids run wild, sometimes naked through paths filled with garbage. Many kids scrounge for basic food to survive. Children are abused and neglected. It is one rough place to grow up.

Each day Mary & Sidharth* were left alone in their hut while their mother worked, with only mud and leaves to eat. Because of some abuse she had faced in her past, she wanted to kill them, so she just left them alone & didn't feed them. They were eventually rescued and are thriving in Rescue & Restore Shelter. This is the slum they came from.

In the heart of the slum, right smack dab in the middle of the chaos, sits a beautiful preschool, started by a couple with a heart for giving love & hope to families. The kids come each morning to learn, to be safe, and to receive a hot meal. Most children from the slum don't go to school because their parents can't afford the school uniforms & supplies needed to attend.

This morning we sang songs together with the kids, we loved on them, and we celebrated the priceless treasures they are receiving there.

The school day ended when they ate lunch in a circle. This is the only hot meal that many of these kids will eat today.

Check back later for The slums - Part 2!

*names changed

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

No one else is just like you in this big world

Sitting in a circle tonight with 28 kids from Rescue & Restore Childrens' Shelter, you could hear a pin drop as the song began...."You are special, and God cares about you. You are special and God cares about you. No one else is just like you in this big world. No one else is just like you in this big world."

Tears streamed down the director's face as she listened to our team sing the song from the back of the room. Later she pulled one of our team members aside and said that the words touched her heart deep inside. Things have been so hard for them in the last few months that she was beginning to wonder if they were alone and forgotten.

This song was like a balm to the kids that live in the shelter as well as the staff who work tirelessly to care for them.

The kids's stories are both heartbreaking and full of hope. Some were abused, some abandoned, and all needed a home with someone to love and care for them. That is what Rescue and Restore is for each one.

Tonight our team had a wonderful time loving the kids, giving them a special meal and letting them know THEY ARE NOT FORGOTTEN. Our heavenly Father knows them, loves them and sent us to remind them of that.

Here's a clip from tonight!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arrived safe & sound in Chennai!

Early this morning I walked out of the airport into the steamy air of Chennai and saw my two friends, Freddy & Daisy, waiting with smiling faces. What a wonderful sight after 26 hours of travel!

Just a few hours later the Norway group arrived and we're just getting settled into our rooms for the night now.

Check back tomorrow from our first day on the ground here in Chennai! Here's a picture of our dinner together!