January 23, 2010


The first day we visited Asha House we met all the kids. We played games with them and sang songs until we worn our selves out. My first memory of Jyoti is from that day. We both were sitting on the floor against the wall in the church room. I motioned for her to come to me, but she looked at me shyly. I scooped her up and plopped her on my lap.  She acted very timidly but began to warm up to me. She counted her toes and fingers in English and told me the English name for the colors on the clothes she was wearing. "ret, grean, bloo...won, do, tree..."  We sat there together for a long enough time that she fell asleep in my lap. Once she did I began to pray for her. I didn't know anything about her except her name, but I prayed for her to grow up to love God, for her to find a godly husband one day... and for healing.

After lunch that day all 11 of our team squeezed on to the 5x5 floor of the boys room at Asha House. Victor, the director of Asha House, was out of town but we were introduced to Simini, his wife. She told us the story about how Asha House came into existence (which I will tell you all another day). She also told us the stories of some of the kids. The one that stuck out to me that days was Joyti's: She has a older brother and a twin brother, neither of which live at Asha House. When she was a baby her father ran away with another woman and left her mother and to take care of the kids. This is an every day occurrence in the US, but in India there are very few options for single women and no good options for women who have been left my their husbands. Joyti's mother probably sold herself to make money to feed her children, until a man came to live with her. We are not sure about the sort of relationship they had, but it wasn't a good one. Jyoti ended up watching this man murder her mother. Her father came and took the twin brother away, leaving Jyoti and her older brother to beg on the streets.

A pastor in the slums found Jyoti and brought her to Asha House. She was very shy and reserved, especially towards white people (this is pretty common in new kids, because most of them have never seen white people).  Jyoti began to get very ill and Victor and Simini took her to the hospital. They found out that she has worms in her brain, that developed because when she live on the streets she had to eat dirt and whatever else she and her brother could find to stay alive.  She is being treated with a medicine and regular visits to the doctor. The worms should be gone in a few months from now. You can still be praying that she will be fully healed. I had no idea about this when I prayed healing over her sweet little sleeping body.

Victor, Simini and the rest of us were very concerned that Jyoti's condition would affect her ability to learn.  It hasn't! She is one of the brightest children at Asha House. During the time we were there she mastered writing her name, the upper and lower-case English alphabet, colors, numbers 1-20, months of the year, days of the week, and the names of fruits and animals. All of the younger kids got "animal names" to help them learn the English and Hindi names for animals. Jyoti is the tiger.  We would tell her "tiger bolo" (bolo means "say"), and she would make the cutest little raspy growling noise.  The only thing she has a hard time remembering is she life before Asha House...and for her, that is a huge  blessing.

Jyoti's name means "light." She truly embodies light coming out of darkness. This really stuck out to me one Sunday during church. We were worshiping and the Hindi speakers were singing a song in Hindi. We can't all fit in the church-room, so the younger kids sit on mats just outside the door. You can't see them, but as we were singing I was listening and could pick out Jyoti's sweet little voice. She was singing with all her might. It brings me to tears when I think about she singing because it is such an example of how God works all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and how He turns darkness into light (Isaiah 42:16).              
(the last four pictures were taken by various teammates, only the first one is mine)


January 11, 2010

Peeri Garhi

One of the leprosy colonies we went to was in an area called Peeri Garhi (PG). It was about a 45min drive away from Pochenpur. Along the way you would see street signs directing you to PG but spelling it a different way on each sign (Peri Gardhi, Pera Garhi, Pirra Garri...). That is because Hindi is not written in the script that English is and there is no standardized way of transliterating.   

After we parked we had to walk past a wedding pavilion, a car dealership, and a section of slums before we got into the colony. It is so crazy to see the opulence of a car dealership juxtaposed directly next to slums. In India the upper and middle classes are much less insulated from poverty. Most peoples attitudes towards those in poverty is "they must have done something in their past life to deserve the fate they have...I shouldn't try and tamper with their karma." (picture of Jaymaree, Ravi, and Me)

Once we got into the colony we would usually visit people in their houses. The "houses" are tiny little rooms smaller than my bedroom along a small sort of alley way with about 8 houses on each side.  Between one and five people would live in each dwelling. Inside there was a little counter with a gas burner for preparing food (pictured above). There was no running water inside. Sometimes people would have beds but not all the time. Not having a bed is not as terrible as it might seem. In the very hot summers sleeping on the cement floor is often cooler than sleeping on a bed. Even if there was no bed or any other furniture in the house, there was always a television.

Every week Amy and I would visit a young mother named Jaymaree. We would come sit in her house on mats she laid down on the floor, and watch Tamil soap operas and music videos (the first language of most of the people at PG is Tamil). We tried to entertain her two children, 5 year old daughter Kushabu (in the picture above) and 3 year old son Perchant. Kushabu is a little fireball, full of energy and independence. Perchant at first was a little afraid of us white people and would cling to his mothers legs. He learned to like us more as we would push him in the swing in the middle of the room, made by an old saree hung from a hook in the roof (he would also nap in the swing like a hammock). When we would get there Jaymaree would always serve us coffee and masala munch. "Coffee" in India is nothing like coffee in the States. It is milk, warmed and sweetened with some Nescafe in it. I really enjoyed drinking real coffee again once I got home, but sometimes I miss Indian "coffee." Masala munch is like Cheetoes but instead of cheese flavored it is Indian spice flavored. I loved this stuff so much a brought back five bags of it (I still have two left and I am tempted to open one of them right now). These two things actually made a really great combo.

Most times we had a translator, usually a lady named Lincy (in mint green suit in the picture to the left), who would go between the houses and help us communicate. Jaymaree knew a handful of English words and even more Hindi, so between the Hindi we knew and the English she knew, we could have some short conversations that usually ended with someone not understanding the other and not knowing what to say next. Such is life in India. 

Ministry at PG was often awkward but always sweet.


January 6, 2010

From a Car Window

This is a post from the team blog that I wrote 10/5/09:

So we are almost at the one month point. God has already done some really cool things, but I feel like this period has mostly been an introduction. As a team we are getting to know each other better and better. We and are learning how each other work and how to work with each other. We have all fallen into somewhat of a rhythm (as much of a rhythm as unpredictable India can afford).  The thing to me that seems to have the most consistency yet still the most appeal and intrigue are the car rides. 

Every day that we do ministry (about 5 days a week) we have a 45 minute to a 1 1/2 hour ride to our ministry location. We have two different cars to fit all 11 of us, plus translators when we need them. There are drivers for each of them, because driving in India really is a full time job. Their names are Yoghi and Sahb Singh. I can't imagine having to driving here. It is not simply that no one pays much attention to the lines on the road (if there are any), that it is a strange thing to stop at a red light, and that it is a polite to use your horn (you use it if you want to pass someone, or if something is in your way, or just if it gives you a thrill), but also that there is so much traffic. In the capital of the second most populated country what can you expect.

As everything in India it is not your typical American sort of traffic. Traffic here includes water trucks and dump trucks that have been painted with peacocks, images of god and patterns in all sorts of beautiful colors. On the back they also paint the words "HORN PLEASE" "WAIT FOR SIDE" and "USE DIPPER AT NIGHT" (your dipper is your high beams). This all basically means don't be stupid and let me know where you are on the road. There are also lots of school buses, city buses, motorcycles, bicycles,  tons of rickshaws and auto-rickshaws, as well as the notorious cattle. These cattle do not just include your traditional picture book cows, but also bulls, water buffalo, and what are known as brahmin cows. Brahmin cows are a light beige color, they have a hump on their backs and have huge horns. On day driving to Asha House we met an enormous herd of these cows. I guess this is how your relocate your cattle herds in India. You just walk them through the street. No one will hit them because you would probably be sent off to prison and your karma would be screwed if you did. So this herd of cows went on as far as you could see and then we turned the corner and it kept going. It was quite a sight to see. At least they were on the right side of the road. :)

Driving through Delhi has been an awesome way to get to see the city. We have seen huge veg and fruit markets, rickshaws decked out with plastic flower garlands and blank CDs for decoration, motorcycles with 3, 4, and even 5 people, colorfully painted Hindi shrines, statues of gods crammed in the back of a truck, pigs playing in open sewage (no wonder no one wants to eat them), fields filled with cattle and others left fallow waiting to be sown, a bridge that is made for one lane of traffic but always seems to hold two lanes, kids "popping a squat" on the side of the road, women sweeping the street, a seemingly ironic sign that says "Green Delhi, Clean Delhi," rickshaws and carts piled high with boxes of electronics, incense or hay, cow patties pressed into shape by hand and left to dry in tidy rows, women carrying huge bundles, shallow silver bowls, or clay pots on their heads, boys stripped down to their underwear jumping and splashing in a dirty creek trying to escape the heat, and men sitting in a circle playing cards or discussing politics and religion. This list could keep going almost forever. There is so much you can see from a car widow in India.  I hope this gives you a picture of what life is like here and what sorts of things to pray about. 

second and last picture taken by Julia 

January 1, 2010

Asha House

Asha House is where we spent most of our ministry time. We would end up working here twice a week and then come back for church on Sunday. Asha House is a children's home that takes care of 35 children in ages ranging from two to sixteen. Some of the children there are what they call "true orphans" and have no parents at all, other children have parents but their parents cannot provide for them.

All of these kids are fed three meals and bathed daily. They are loved, prayed for, and taught about Jesus and how to serve him. The older half of the kids are sent to school during the day. Education is a huge thing in India. It can be expensive to send kids to school but education is the only way to better yourself. Without Asha House these kids would not get access to school.

When we were there we worked with the younger kids when the older ones were at school, helping to prepare them to take their exams to get into school. We taught them English, math, and things like the days of the week and months of the year. They loved to play this hand-game where you get in a circle and go around, saying either the months or the alphabet, touch the hand of the person to your left. The object is to not get your hand touched when we get to "December" or "z" (like the British they say "zed"), if you do then you are out and the game starts all over again.

Around 1pm is lunch time. Before lunch is served the kids all have to wash their dishes and hands at the hand pump. We would help pump water for them. This was one of my favorite things to do because they would all say "good afternoon Auntie" and when they were done they would say "tank you Auntie." They eat in the "Church Room", which is also where we had school. It is really the "Everything Room." Like good Indians all of the kids eat with their hands. At first you might think it is easier to eat rice with a fork or spoon but hands are really the way to go. These kids can consume a huge amount of rice. After lunch the kids all have bloated bellies because they are filled to the top with rice. They sometimes look like they might pop. They are so cute.

After we have lunch there is some play time and then the older kids work on homework and the younger ones take naps. We could either help the older kids or nap with the little ones. I loved to nap. It was a sweet time to snuggle with and pray over them.

We would leave around 3pm to make the hour long trek back to our house in Pochenpur.