Saturday, October 23, 2010

They're Off!

The Team checked out of the hotel and they're on the way to the airport. They'll be taking off very shortly, heading home! It's been awesome serving alongside each and every one of them. They put their heart into loving every person they came in contact with, they got down on the floor, they arm wrestled and they cried a lot of tears.

Well done, good & faithful servants!


Check back in a day or so for some updates from the final leg of my journey: Project Hope's Door jewelry making project--helping women at risk.

A little bit of Indian culture to wear home!

Before heading out some of the ladies on the team wanted to partake in a bit of Indian culture by having "henna" applied to their hands & arms. Indian women have this done for celebrations, weddings and special occasions. For the next two weeks they'll have India stamped on their memory!

Day 8 - PACT Aids Childrens' Home

Today was the Kansas team's final full day in Chennai. We loaded up in the mini bus and made the hour trek to the PACT Aids Childrens' Home, which is home to 13 children at present.

These kids have been rejected by their own society and many times by their own families, so seeing them full of joy, peace & happiness brought tears to my eyes. There is one little girl named Marika* who has been in this home for the four years I have been coming. She just glowed with life. As the team presented their puppet show to the song "I am not forgotten", she danced with sheer abandon...not a care in the world. It was such a picture of how God heals us and sets us free by His love. Marika*, just like every child at PACT, is HIV positive.

We were able to tour the completed home which was especially significant for this team. Their church, Life Church, recently donated the funds to finish this childrens' home. The team members were smiling as they walked through the bedrooms and meeting rooms. You could see the pure pleasure on their faces. The children made homemade thank you cards for the team.

Thank you Life Church for your love. You are making a difference in the lives of these kids!


*name changed

Day 7 - Rescue & Restore Children's Shelter Party

Friday afternoon we drove back to Rescue & Restore Childrens' Shelter for a special meal with the kids. We played, shared a meal, danced and heard some of the stories of their lives. The thing that has so profoundly impacted me this time is the tangible change in the kids' lives. Where once they were rough, tense, troubled, now they are soft, relaxed and at peace with God and themselves. I look back to the first trip to India with Streams of Mercy almost four years ago and I see the way these childrens' lives are being transformed. It's a privilege to be able to see that change with my own eyes.

The little boy in the first picture is named Santosh*. I first met him when he was one and a half. His parents are both deaf and dumb and live on the streets of this city. When he first came to R&R shelter he couldn't speak. Now at age 3 1/2 he is an energetic & loving boy. He sat on my lap and just relaxed in my arms, content to be loved.

Here are some photos from our time.

Don't miss tomorrow's post for a report on our time at PACT AIDS Childrens' Home!

*Name Changed

Gift of Solar lights

The Kansas team brought 170 solar lights to distribute in one of the poorest slums in Chennai as well as a leper colony about 200 km outside of Chennai. Here's a short video message from Teresa....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a special thanks to the Ryan Bowers family

I'd like to say a big thank you to Paige, Justice & Trent Bowers for giving a gift that will be used to purchase toys, books, coloring pencils and supplies for the preschool in the slum! Tomorrow I'll be heading out to buy the supplies, and will personally see that the preschool kids receive your gift. Thank you! You are blessing the lives of 15 kids in the slum.

solar lights in the slum

After the distribution of rice we ventured into the heart of the slum that Rescue & Restore work in regularly. We were able to deliver solar lights to very needy families. The solar lights cut down on the risk of fires and help the people stay safe. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this project. Through the efforts of this team & all those who participated 170 impoverished families will have solar lights!

Distributing Rice alongside Rescue & Restore staff

The roar of voices got louder and louder the closer we came to Rescue & Restore's counseling center. Three hundred families were waiting in a small hall to receive a gift of rice. These families are the ones that Freddy & Daisy work with on a weekly basis, and to keep from being mobbed by hungry people, the R&R staff passed out numbered tokens as an invitation to receive rice.

To be honest the energy was running very high when we arrived. People were anxious that there wouldn't be enough for them. There was a lot of pushing, shoving and some tempers flared, but all in all, this gift of rice, given from the hands of the Rescue & Restore staff will go a long way in building trust. It communicates "we care about your practical needs".

This gift was handed out by the Indian R&R staff (and Life Church in Olathe who donated the funds) and the people know it was given to bless them with no strings attached.

Here's a short video clip blessing the people before they received the rice. This was the only quiet moment of the morning!

Check back for a report on the solar light distribution in the slum...


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 5 - Part 3 Preparing to distribute rice for residents of the slum

This evening we gathered in a large room and bagged up 1150 kilos of rice that we'll be distributing tomorrow morning alongside the long term workers of Rescue & Restore here in Chennai. The residents of the slum will see the familiar faces of the R&R staff who work in the slum every week. We're just coming alongside them and enhancing their efforts to make a difference in the lives of these families. Thank you Life Church for the contribution to R&R for the delicious rice. Check back tomorrow to see how the distribution goes.

Day 5 - Part 2 The Preschool in the Slum

While we were at Chengel Pattu Leper Colony, the other half of the team spent time with the kids in the Rescue & Restore Slum preschool.

They sang, told stories, colored and spent time with the children.

The kids in this preschool come to this safe haven a few hours each week day, and are fed a hot meal at the end of the school day (noon). For many of these kids, it's the only hot meal they will eat that day.

Most of the parents in this slum do not put their children in school, but the preschool offers at least a beginning to learning for the slum children. The school has made great strides in developing their program in the last few years. The teacher does a great job with them!

Day 5 (Part 1) - Visit to Chengel Pattu leper colony

This morning six of us loaded up in a van and made the 1 1/2 hour trek to the Chengel Pattu Leper Colony. Every week the National Leprosy Relief & Rehabilitation Work offers a free medical clinic to those suffering with ulcers from the disease. Our team watched as dirty bandages were removed, ulcers cleaned out, and rewrapped in fresh gauze.

Interestingly enough there are government clinics that offer help to these patients, but they will not clean out their deep ulcers. They will not touch those wounds. That's what's so wonderful about this work.

As I reached out and laid my hand on one older woman's back, I wondered if anyone ever touched her. I found myself stroking her back, and praying God would comfort her. She was so grateful. I watched as she hobbled away on what was left of her feet.

It was an incredibly moving experience. I kept thinking about how Jesus reached out and touched lepers. I could feel His love for them today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 4 - first visit to the Leper Colony

Today half of the team visited a medical clinic inside a Leper colony in Chennai. They were able to spend time visiting with the leprosy patients after they had their wounds cleaned. There is such a strong stigma in this culture for those who have leprosy. They are considered "untouchables", but our team touched, hugged, and extended love and kindness to them. Many patients asked our team for prayer. It was a precious time. Tomorrow the other half of our team will visit a separate leper colony. Here are some photos of the time * note: one picture is a bit graphic.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Clip of the kids getting down to the song "I am not forgotten"

Day 3 - Children of Lepers Home

Monday we loaded up in the bus and headed to the Children of Lepers Home. Little Lights is home to 33 Children whose parents & or grandparents live in the leper colony. The vision of the staff is to see the lives & futures of the kids transformed. They want to break the cycle of generations that have no other way but to stay in the colonies. It was touching to hear how committed the staff are to keeping the kids very connected with their parents and families. They spend holidays with them & the parents visit regularly. Living at Little lights allows the children to get a good education, brings them into a safe place and breaks the stigma that society puts on them as children of lepers.

Joe was a toddler when the staff found him in the colony. He was tied with a rope around his wast to a tree. On the ground beside him there were 2 bowls--one for water, and one for food. His parents left him tied to the tree each day when they went out to beg.

By living at Little Lights Joe is able to play, go to school and grow up as a healthy child. I first met Joe when he was 3. He has grown and changed so much. Seeing his progress this time brought tears to my eyes.

The team presented the puppet show with the message "I am not forgotten", sang with the kids, played, and loved on them.

I walked up behind one of the girls who was decorating the back of her shirt and had to contain myself when I read what she wrote,"I like this shrit". As I looked around at the other kids' shirts in her group, I realized they all said the same thing. Glad they kept the "r" in there!

Check back tomorrow for a report from the Leper colony visit!

Day 2 - Part 3 "I am not forgotten"!

Rescue & Restore Shelter cares for 28 kids ages 3-17. Each child has a unique but similar story. They all need the love & care of a family.

There is a little girl who lives in Rescue & Restore Shelter. Her name is Mina*. Her life story is full of tragedy and hope. Mina's family thought she brought a curse to the family. As she was growing up, they threatened to take her to the city and drop her off. One day her grandfather was going to the city to do some shopping and asked her to come along. He took her to the train station here in Chennai, lead her to a bench and asked her to wait there while he bought a snack. Time passed. Minutes turned into hours. He never came back. She was abandoned at the age of 9. Left alone in a big city to fend for herself. Night was coming.

Miraculously that evening some of the staff from Rescue & Restore shelter passed through the station and saw her sitting alone. They heard her story, and she ended up coming home with them. This vulnerable little girl never spent one night on the street. She truly was not forgotten by God.

The message we wanted to communicate to them is that they are not forgotten, or alone in this world. Their Heavenly Father knows their name, and we do too. They are special and valuable.

The team put on a great puppet show to the song "I am not forgotten". We also passed out the cool lime green T-shirts with the theme in bold letters on the front. To say the kids loved them is an understatement.

They had a blast decorating the back of their own shirts, they signed our shirts, and danced and celebrated His goodness!

What a terrific night. Here are some photos to give you a glimpse of the evening....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Punjabis for the young ladies of R&R

A few minutes after walking through the door of R&R Shelter, we presented the young ladies of Rescue & Restore with some punjabis donated by an Indian Church in the North Texas area. Thank you so much, Ajay & friends, for sending the gift of clothes to these girls. We're very grateful for your gift!