Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Most Excellent Friends and Family!
I apologize for not being able to post formally through an internet connection. In addition to having a pretty break-neck schedule (i actually came as close as i ever have the other night to literally passing out from fatigue), we have had virtually NO internet connection. I purchased a data pack for my iPhone (for a mere $70...yeek!) that has at least allowed me to post some pics through Twitter, and my amazing wife and fellow Kingdom-Commando (Sami) has posted to let you know where you can get at those. But i managed to hit a reasonably strong connection here and wanted to drop you a quick story to give you the "flavor" of the kinds of things we're hearing, learning and experiencing this time.
If you've been to India with one of our India teams working in Kalvai, you've probably had a chance to meet a captivating young girl named Monjou. Everyone falls immediately in love with her bright smile, twinkling eyes and sweet demeanor, and she is quick to rush to each team, learn names and love well. We tell many stories about this young woman because her story is such an amazing one to tell, but i wanted to tell you the latest as i thought that each of you would appreciate it.
I talked with Raj this morning about various people in the village and he began to talk about Monjou. He said, "You know, i asked Monjou recently what she thought she would be looking for in a husband some day soon (Monjou is about 16, and will probably marry within the next year or two). She said, 'a husband should love me, not be an alcoholic, not beat me, and should respect me'. 'Very good!', i said, 'Do you know any boys that will fit this bill in your village?' Monjou looked at the ground and sadly shook her head. 'No', she said, 'there are no boys like that in this village.' So i asked her, 'have you ever seen boys like this anywhere?' Her dark eyes brightened and she said, 'oh yes, Ay-yah (a term of great respect and endearment that means "dear uncle"), i have!' I asked her 'where have you seen them?' and she smiled. She said, 'i have seen boys and men like this when GCC, Life Mission teams and members from the church (Shower of Blessings) come to our village. You all care for your wives and for one another with great love and respect. Someday, i would like to have a marriage like the ones i see in your lives!'"
I'm actually crying as i write this, and am not sure whether it's because Monjou has so few prospects for what she sees and desires so fervently, or because our own teams and partners love well enough to stand out so much in her mind to set a higher standard. But either way, the amalgam of both joy, sorrow and a commitment to "doing something" about righting the wrongs in the lives of the Irula men, women and children like Monjou grows in me daily. I am grateful for the continued passion and example set by our Indian brothers and sisters at Life Mission and Shower of Blessings Church, and for the privilege of partnering with them to bring "Up There Down Here" in ways that bring hope and healing here and now just as much as for Eternity!
Know that your loved ones over here are serving with amazing stamina, courage and outrageous love and compassion! Hell is trembling... you can feel it in the smiles and hugs of the people we are loving well in the village!
Sami here again. Jack still hasn't had internet access, but is able to twitter from his phone. For any of you that aren't following him or aren't familiar with Twitter, look at the column to the right of this post, where it says, "Jack's Tweets". Follow that down to where it says "Join the conversation". Click on that. It will bring up all of Jack's twitter posts, many of which have links to pictures. Just click on the links and you can see the pictures he's posted. Also, someone very kindly posted a link to one of our LifeChurch friends, Kevin Penry's, pictures that he took while there with our team. Most of them are not of our team, but you can see the environment that they are in! http://www.flickr.com/photos/24472574@N04/4413580942/in/photostream/
Sunday, March 7, 2010
This is Sami, Jack's wife again! I just talked to Jack and he asked me to share the following with you:
- They haven't had internet access yet, but hope to begin posting tomorrow.
- Aside from some minor tummy trouble, which is settling down, the team is in good health and great spirits.
- Our friends from LifeChurch are doing well and all have enjoyed the interaction with them.
- He wishes you all could have seen the welcome the team got when they arrived in Kalavai! You'd have thought India's most popular rock band was on the bus! They were mobbed by smiling faces and given hugs and flowers as they climbed off! The village had pooled its money and bought a huge banner to welcome the team and had also drawn a giant, chalk greeting across the road at the entrance of the village!!
- The team got their tents set up just as dusk was falling and everyone settled in for the night.
- They start in at 8:30 a.m. with breakfast and devotions and then will get to work with their specific teams!
- Jack had planned to surprise the team with Starbucks coffee in the mornings by taking a coffee pot and several bags of coffee, but was foiled by voltage issues when they plugged it in! There will be plenty of hot chai, though! : )
- Friendly village faces ("Miss Lily", Kassi, Monjou, etc.) have asked to convey greetings to former team members and friends!
- Jack is looking forward to being able to post pictures and experiences for you all!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
This is Sami, Jack's wife. The team has landed in Chennai and after a somewhat lengthy process of getting all their luggage, left the airport and are all now getting some much deserved sleep! Jack said everyone was well and that the team was in good spirits!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
See this mountain of green Army bags currently sitting in Rob Wegner's office? It's a part of the total number of similar-looking bags that we're going to be hand-carrying into India when 30 people from GCC depart for that nation on Friday morning!
What's in those bags, you might ask? Great question! We're taking over 1,500 pounds of the following items that our teams will use on the ground over the next two weeks:
* 768 pair of Crocs shoes. If you study Health and Hygiene very long, you realize that footwear is a HUGE component to any sanitation system as appropriately worn shoes prevent the tracking of feces through populated home environments, as well as the entrance of parasites and pathogens through the soles of the feet. These Crocs (donated through partnership with Feed the Children), will provide footwear for every family in our partner community, church and village!
* 54 Backpacks crammed with School Supplies. Through the All Stars Children's ministry here at GCC, we have 54 backpacks of school supplies ready to take to the children currently attending school in our partner community in India.
* Clothing. Through donations provided by the people and families of GCC, we have clothing to take to the community we are serving in India. Many of the families have only one set of clothes for each member (and some of the smaller children have no clothes at all), and so new and gently used clothing provided through partnership and donations here provide a tremendous resource for our friends on the ground.
* Team Gear. In addition to the above, we'll also be taking a lot of other necessities for our teams to use on the ground. As we are sending a variety of different teams (Creative Arts, Conversational English, Health and Wellness, Construction, Micro-Enterprise, Reconnaissance, Media), each has gear specific to its functions, and we are loading as much as we can into these green duffels for easy identification and tracking.
In short, we are staging an invasion! It's an invasion of Help and Hope and Love and Compassion for our brothers and sisters in India, and through the conjunction of partnership with local churches operating on the ground! Together, we are going to see God do great things, not only as people experience the light and love of Jesus, but as their real world needs are met and engaged in practical ways through love and service by our teams!