I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:11-12
Praise the Lord! Megan and I have our residential permits and visas officially registered here in Tamil Nadu (it only took 2 months, 60.5 hours of driving and countless hours praying and begging police and inspectors and officers to give us necessary paperwork and signatures). I can’t even tell you how many times people threatened us with a bribe in order to give us our own paperwork back, and yet God always gave Christy, the house mother, the right words to say each time, and we did not have to give bribes. It is VERY difficult to accomplish things officially here. The home has been attempting to get a vehicle registration for 11 months now, and they have heard excuse after excuse, threat after threat, lie after lie.
Sometimes I wonder if God brought me here simply to have my heart soften for the people here that have to endure that mistreatment their entire lives. I’m also amazed at the patience and endurance of the steady, strong Christians in India. Although there are not many Christians here, the ability of these few to “stand up under” the hardships with patience and right spirits is truly an example of Christ’s suffering and life.
English teaching, Medical camp, and a story of a girl saved from the cycle of desperation:
English classes are going very well! I teach 3rd grade and 1st grade, and each class is individually making progress day by day. My 3rd graders can ask you what your name is, how you are, when your birthday is, and what your favorite color is, as well as understand classroom instructions like, “write in your notebook,” and “repeat after me!” It’s wonderful to not get a workout from the obnoxious charades I needed when I first arrived!
My 1st graders can tell you their name, what grade they are in and do a wonderful rendition of “Head and shoulders, knees and toes.” J They are also sitting and listening, which is major progress from my first two weeks, where I lost both tears and hair trying to keep them contained and not knowing how to communicate that in their language!
The girls who live in the home are quickly rising to the tops of their classes in English and all the glory goes to God! Megan and I pray often that Jesus helps them have a real understanding that although they don’t have a traditional family, they are amazing, beautiful, intelligent, and most of all loved!!!
A medical camp recently came to the home and did a one day clinic, bringing in over 200 people from the nearby villages, and it was wonderful to see villagers being prayed for, the Gospel being shared, and people getting much needed medical attention. The other benefit was that one of the doctors and one of the evangelists were American and could not speak the girl’s language. At the end of the day, they remarked that the girls had practiced their English with them and were asking them questions in English! Friends and family, the joy that brings me is overwhelming! Your partnership with me, your prayers, and your encouragement is changing the face of these girls’ futures!
As I went through old pictures from my previous trips to India, I realized one of my most treasured photos was of me with a girl here named Sandiya in 2012. A friend captured a special moment where Sandiya rubbed noses with me with the biggest smile on her face! She is now in my 3rd grade class. She is not a true orphan, she has a mother, but her mother is a prostitute.
Although her mother’s desperation keeps her from leaving that lifestyle, she did make a brave decision in bringing Sandiya to the home when she was very small. She still visits her daughter about once a year, bringing some treats and a new dress, and calls a couple times a year as well. Yet when her mom leaves, Sandiya does not shed a single tear. She has no concept of a mother’s love. This hurts me so much.
I think about my own mother, how much I have needed her over the years, and how her love has kept me going in the hardest of times! I’m reminded of Psalm 27:10 (NLT) “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” The love she knows IS here, with the house parents and her 41 sisters, and hopefully from us and most of all the God she learns about here.
God has clearly preserved her life for a special purpose. Her mother could have made a lot of devastating choices for her beautiful daughter but God “held her close” and let Sandiya be brought here. She has a contagious smile, a great sense of humor, a SHARP mind, excels in spoken English and often raises her hand first in class with the correct answer! Praise God she has her whole life ahead of her and the world at her fingertips!
Megan and I spent almost two weeks in Bangalore at the end of July and beginning of August. It was refreshing to be in a milder climate for a while, and we also got a chance to spend some time with two of the other homes Boaz supports.
The Bethany Blessing home, the very first home I saw in India, is experiencing a trial that is making my heart very heavy and I would ask you to lift it up in your prayers. Christine is a true orphan who was adopted many years ago by the pastor and his wife who run the Bethany Blessing home. She is married now, but lives at the home with her husband, caring for the 19 children there and even adopted two babies two years ago after they were dropped at the home.
I noticed Christine was not as spunky as usual on this visit, and finally at one point she tearfully pulled Megan and me aside to tell us she is experiencing some medical issues that the doctors cannot diagnose. I have consulted a doctor from the U.S. and sent pictures. She told us a “comfort measure” her doctors suggested was whole body laser surgery and it would cost thousands of dollars. They could never afford to get this done. Please pray God gives us wisdom, gives her comfort, and miraculously heals her if that is his will. Her 2 little adopted babies just turned 2 and need a healthy momma!
Taylor University team
We got the privilege to serve with 4 Taylor University students studying orphan and vulnerable children who spent a month working with The Boaz Project in India in 4 different homes. Here in Tamil Nadu, where I live, they assisted in the ENORMOUS task of addressing the lice infestation here. I asked for prayer in my last update and WOW did God answer!
Endless thanks are due to the many friends and family, and especially my dear friend Katie Rattin and the nurses at St. Francis who donated supplies to de-lice all 42 girls! Lice combs and shampoo, detangler and plastic wrap that FILLED several large duffel bags arrived with the Taylor team! We worked all day for 5 days but combed through every girl AT LEAST once, washed every article of clothing and linen in the home in hot water, and mopped and scrubbed the rooms floor to ceiling daily, until the combing was done!
This is probably just a BIG first step in eradicating the lice, inevitably we missed a few nits or few survived through the treatment, but we have covered the home in educational reminders and posters, and have lots of lice treatment we can use for any stragglers! MOST IMPLORTANTLY, the girls got one-on-one physical touch and love for hours at times, and every evening the Taylor team led a VBS that taught the girls names of God and how His different character traits teach them about how much he loves them!!! Some girls opened up about horrific suffering in their past, stories I will never forget, stories God cries over more than I even could.
Please continue to pray for our wisdom in handling the lice, the health and safety of the children as we see many other areas we would like to address, Megan’s and my health, and our upcoming visa extension process in September. Please keep Christine in your prayers, and that God would have his hand of mercy over every girl here at the Daya Vihar home! God IS good, and His LOVE endures, FOREVER!