INDIA: Always Exciting, Never Knowing What Is Next!

[/caption] It seems every time we travel in India, there is a strike or a holiday that disrupts our travels or those traveling to be with us. This trip has been no different. During the end of the 50th Celebration in Siliguri a strike prevented several people from attending the momentous Celebration. God made it possible, even in spite of the strike, for us to get done what He wanted done. We just had to adjust, be flexible and adapt to Him! On Monday, after the Celebration in Siliguri, we traveled around the local area visiting the property for the new Outreach Center where a border wall is being constructed. We also visited a few other ministries before calling it a day and making preparations for the next day’s travels to the Bhutan border. Tuesday started real early for us as we prepared to leave for Makrapara Child Development Center and the Bhutan border, which is about a four hour drive. We went to the Bhutan border first then went onto the Makrapara Child Development Center; we made it there before the children started to arrive when they get out of school. It is a great sight to watch the 213 children walking into the area; they arrive by age groups, [caption id="attachment_349" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Bhutan Border"][/caption] the youngest arrive first to the oldest arriving last. They then line up, have prayer, get their food, go sit down and wait until everyone in their group has food, they pray once again, then they eat together. This procedure is followed by each age group as they arrive at the CDC. After their meal they have classes to help them with their school work, and then on this day, it was playing and singing praise songs, which we joined in with them, before being released to go home. After they were released, we went to visit the family where John and Judy Boedeker sponsor their son. John had carried gifts and pictures for the family from him and Judy. It was a wonderful time for everyone! We spent the night in the area at one of the guest houses out in the forest. The next day was also to start very early in order to ride elephants through the protected forest area. We try to do some tourist things on each trip for the Team Members who have never been to India before; this trip will not have as many opportunities as we do normally, so we thought with this being Ken Merrifield’s first trip, this would be something fun to do [caption id="attachment_350" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Children eating at Makrapara Child Development Centre"][/caption] with him. We had to get up early to start the 6AM excursion; early morning is the best time to see the wild animals. This trip was no exception; we saw a rhinoceros, deer, water buffalo, monkeys, peacocks, parakeets and some other birds. It was an exciting time for all of us! After our ride we were all quite ready for breakfast! Afterward we traveled to the Riverside Church to dedicate their new building. Cyclone Aila had come through the area last May and destroyed their church building; we had given them funds provided by your donations to rebuild their building. They wanted us to dedicate the building since we were in India. There were not many people able to attend the Dedication Service, for it was mid-day and most people were out working in the fields. After a short greeting we started the service, John shared a few words of encouragement and then prayed before we entered, Ken gave a challenge from the Word, then I shared and offered a prayer of dedication. It was a wonderful service for an exciting ministry! This is the only witness for Christ for miles around this church; it is in India, but is on the Bangladesh border. We traveled back to Siliguri to eat, get clean clothes and prepare to [caption id="attachment_351" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ken playing with the children at Makrapara"][/caption] head out Thursday morning for Hope CDC and Sikkim. Thursday morning started early in order to travel up to Sikkim and arrive before dark, but there were some ministry concerns that Sanjay had to address before we left, which caused us to leave later than we wanted. We made it to Hope CDC around lunch time, spent some time there so Ken could see this ministry before heading to Sikkim. At this project they are training some of the younger mothers in sewing and craft making as a skill to provide an income for their families. Before we left, they presented each of us with a small table place mat; we were very blessed by their gift. We then headed to Sikkim, which is about a four hour drive up the mountains on a very curvy, windy road that leads you into the foothills of the Himalayans. It is a beautiful ride, but for some who have gone with us before felt a little different about it . . . they actually have called it a very frightful ride! They were not able to relax and enjoy the beauty. We made it up to Gagtok, Sikkim about 5:30 PM and church service was at 6PM., so there was not much time before we walked down to the church for the evening [caption id="attachment_352" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Elephant ride in the jungle"][/caption] service. The Worship Service is always upbeat and spirit filled, young people lead the Worship with much of the congregation being young people. John shared from the Word of God and then we had a time of fellowship before our evening meal. Afterward we headed back to the hotel for the night. Another early start the next morning to drive up to the top of the mountain to the look out point to see the Himalayan mountain peaks, but it was so cloudy we were not able to see them. I always enjoy going up to this point and looking at the Himalayan peaks, thinking of the awesomeness of the Lord and singing “Majesty” (to myself, of course, no one else would want to hear my off beat singing). I felt bad for Ken; he would miss the beauty of this sight on this trip. “On your next trip you will see it”, I told him. All too quick, (well maybe not all too quick, for it was cold there on top of the mountain!) we headed back down to the church for breakfast and to talk with Brother Marshal before making the five hour trip back to Siliguri. We spent the last evening with [caption id="attachment_353" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Hope church with pastor"][/caption] Sanjay and his family, Sanjukta, his wife, prepared a great evening meal. With our stomachs very full, we headed back to the hotel to prepare to leave this area on Saturday afternoon. When we were in Gangtok, Sikkim we were around 6000 ft elevation on the Eastern side of the Himalayans and by Sunday evening we were around 6000 ft elevation, still be in India, but on the Western side of the Himalayans. You will never believe what is happened on Sunday and Monday! India is had another holiday, it is called Holi Day. Many businesses were closed. On this holiday many people throw “colors” at other people. Colors is a dried powdered paint, in various colors, and is put into balloons or bags and then thrown. People everywhere have this colored powder all over them; they look for willing, and unwilling, targets to throw their own colors at. Like I said earlier, there is always some type of holiday here in India! This time we had to watch so we were not someone’s target with colors all over us! Until next time . . . be blessed and keep praying! [caption id="attachment_354" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Fresh vegetables along the mountain road"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_355" align="alignright" width="300" caption="How some ride going up the mountain"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_356" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Gangtok Church with Pastor"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_357" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Gangtok, Sikkim Discipleship Center"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_358" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Teachers and mothers with our gifts"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_359" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Teesta River along road to Gangtok"][/caption] ]]>