Friday, May 29, 2009

India...May Closing Comments

Every time I visit India I see a new land, a new people, a new way of life. And this trip was no exception. The team trip in Delhi was probably one of the greatest team trips I’ve ever been a part of: wonderful team, great work, amazing fellowship. But on Sunday I left the team and journeyed a little further to do some survey work. One of the places I found myself was the city of Varanasi, the Hindu Holy City. From there I visited Sarnath, where Buddha preached his first message. I watched as men and women worshiped water and made noise to get their god's attention. I watched as people danced, and painted, and did pretty much everything but worship the one true God. And as I visited these places, I couldn’t help but think: I really have no idea what India is like. And I wondered how God must feel. 20% of the world’s population. An economy that spans from some of the world’s poorest to some of the world’s richest. Life that maintains a constant buzz…when do they sleep? Home of some of the world’s dominant religions. A place bursting with physical life…and a place reeking of spiritual death. And all this is India. There’s truly more than meets the eye. Bursting with impressive need for more workers. To steal one of my coworker’s phrases: India…where the need is only surpassed by the opportunity. May we pray in mighty ways for this special place.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

India...May 23

Well today was the final day of our 2nd Kids Camp. I’m just going to say it: It was wild…and we enjoyed every moment of it. What a joy it has been these past three days to interact with these kids from the Nandlal slum. It has been a blessing to take time with them, share Bible stories, goof off, eat, and sing with them. We’re definitely excited that they are more connected now with PMI and can have a constant source for spiritual growth and intake.

Today also concluded our 8th session of our Conversational English Class. If you would have asked our team prior to the past two weeks if they could conduct 8 English classes, many of them would have laughed…mostly unsure how we could do that much talking. But it happened. Today concluded with final conversation small groups then Peter shared about the Mystery of Life. Many of them listened intently and responded eagerly to the news that was shared.

And so our India journey is drawing quickly to a close. Sunday, the team wraps up final sessions at Kids Sunday School, the CBC church service, and Focal Point. Then on back to the States. I’ll leave and head to Varanasi and Bangalore before returning home. Thanks to everyone who has journeyed with us…especially through prayer!

India...May 22

Our 2nd Kids Camp is well underway. Day 2 provided much excitement as the kids learned about David and Goliath…many of them for the first time. Being that these kids are new to PMI and are not accustomed to an organized schedule or behavior, things get pretty chaotic at times, but we’re so glad they’re here to be able to learn about the Good News. I think they are really enjoying themselves.

In the afternoon, it absolutely poured down rain…creating some minor flooding and momentarily slowing down what would be normal, busy traffic patterns. With such a downpour, we were really wondering if anyone would show up for English Camp. By 3pm when it was time to start, we had just a handful of students, but moments later, people came “flooding” in the door and we had our usual 40-50 students.

After English class, we went upstairs for Core Group Fellowship, CBC weekly Bible study. Scott was able to challenge the group to guard their heart and we examined how the enemy works and what he has been doing from the beginning of time. It was a wonderful evening of challenge and encouragement. And we also had a blast playing some Catch Phrase…one of the greatest games ever. Tomorrow: final day of kids camps and English class.

Friday, May 22, 2009

India...May 21

Our final Thursday here in India began with a bang as we had 62 new kids show up for our 2nd Kids Camp. These new kids where ones that had never participated in PMI before so it was great to watch their faces as we introduced new activities and concepts. Since these kids have never been to PMI before, most of them have no understanding of the things of God or have even heard stories from our Good Book. So yesterday it was cool to think that for many, really most, of them that it was their first introduction to any kind of Good News teaching. Hopefully as they are now connected with PMI they will continue to be involved and understand more and more.

Thursday afternoon, we conducted English lesson 6 of 8. We are still continuing to have a ton of people present, which has been a great encouragement to the PMI staff. From what they have shared, usually it starts out with many people the first day or two but as it continues, the people dwindle away. We’ve been consistently having about 50 people present with a few new additions each day. As I’ve shared before, we’re continuing to teach in the main session about idioms. Yesterday, they brought newspapers and magazine articles in that had idioms that they had found. Each day we try to do one “hangman” session revolving around an idiom. The students absolutely love it. Hangman…we really should get back to playing it more back in the States. Anyways, after the main session we broke out into our conversational groups. At some point throughout the sessions our groups have focused on pronunciation. This is something that they are genuinely interested in as they try to develop their fluency in English. It’s interesting to hear some of the sounds they have trouble with…some of them are like almost impossible to grasp such as the sound made by “th”. For many of them it just sounds like “t”. Our team has enjoyed helping, teaching, and watching many of the students grow over the past 6 lessons.

After classes we split up for dinner. Each free evening some of our team members have been visiting with our hosts P&H to talk, understand more about India, and be encouraged. Some of the team used the opportunity to have some Indian Henna put on their hands. Thanks to those who have been lifting us up. We’ll be home soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

India...May 20

As we’re here, the relationships and conversations become more intentional, more personal, and more probing. I think that for many on the team, it will be very hard to leave some of the new friends next Monday when we return to the States. Wednesday was another great day. We began by touring what I would call “the mall”…similar to our “mall” in Washington, D.C. We were able to see various parliament buildings and what is known as the India gate, a memorial to many who have lost their lives during war. 

After our visit to the India gate we were able to go and visit one of the largest Hindu temples in the city. It has been very interesting and helpful to gain some perspective on what motivates different people. By now, we’ve visited a Hindu temple, a Sikh temple, a Jain temple, and a Muslim mosque. Following our temple visit, we visited Delhi University and St. Stephens College. Within about 5 miles of the PMI resource center, there are about 500,000 college students. Their classes just concluded, but there were still many on campus that we were able to invite to Chat Over Coffee.

We rushed back to PMI quickly after our brief University tour to find many students ready for English camp. To this point we have had about 80 different students participate in the camp. Close to 50 have been present each day. Teaching about idioms has been an intriguing topic, but the conversational sessions have brought about topics that far exceed English grammatical application. In fact, many conversations are occurring now that revolve around faith, love, and serving. The relationships that have been built through the English camp are probably the deepest aside from those we have developed with the PMI staff. Please join us in prayer for these intentional conversations that are taking place. 

Wednesday was packed back-to-back. Following the English Camp we began Chat Over Coffee. COC was first developed to be a question/answer conversation time based upon questions university students had after focal point on Sundays. This COC was a little different however. We began as usual with just casual conversation, but halfway through began a special program. We played some games such as “Gorilla, Man, Gun” and put on 2 random comedy skits. One of which, focused on the staff of PMI (hopefully I can load the video soon! – it was a spoof we did where each of us were one of the staff people from PMI and kind of acted things out that had happened throughout the week that were funny). They really enjoyed it! Finally we finished with some songs, then Peter interviewed us regarding our India experience so far. It was a night filled with much laughter and enjoyment!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

India...May 19

After a long journey to Agra yesterday and a breathtaking view of the Taj Mahal, today we journeyed back into the slums to conduct the first ever PMI Sport’s Day for the kids from Nandlal Slum. Many of these kids were a part of our Kids Camp last week, but many were new faces. We had a blast as we split up the kids by ages then competed in various games. Relay races and a game of cricket were seemed to be the highlights. But we also had fun beating a piƱata, doing a general quiz, eating snacks, and everything was concluded with an awards ceremony. EVERYONE had a great time. This afternoon we completed session 4 of our 8 day English camp. Many are growing in their conversational English and it is interesting to watch their enthusiasm as they pursue grasping another language.

India...May 18

We’ve passed the halfway point of our trip. Much work has been done and great things are happening. But after a BUSY Sunday, it was time for a little mind refreshment. So we took a road trip and ended up at the Taj Mahal. Unbeliveable. Enough said.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

India...May 17

Sundays are quite a bit different with our friends here in Delhi. No church function starts before noon. What does that practically mean?...sleeping in ☺ and it was much needed. But after we woke up, we packed quite a bit of activity into have a day. We started by leading the children’s Sunday School class. Today’s featured story: David and Goliath. Scott and Evan have found their second calling as actors.

We stopped briefly for lunch then picked up with the afternoon church service for CBC. It was great singing with folks from all around the world. I had the opportunity to speak and challenge those attending. We thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with the community of believers.

Following that service kicked off Focal Point…a discussion meeting for unbelievers. We played some games then broke into small groups to discuss the differences and similarities between University life in India versus the States. It was great to learn about the factors that go into making university decisions and see the type of commitment that is involved in pursuing higher education. We had close to 80 people there and probably 25 or so came because they have been joining us for English classes this past week. Great day. Great team effort! Tomorrow: Taj Mahal!