Abu Dhabi International Airport. The central structural support looks like something out of a sci-fi movie:
This is the apartment where George lives, on the third floor:
This is my bedroom. There’s a map of India on the left wall. My small desk is on the right, but you can’t quite see it. The left door across leads to the bathroom, the right door my balcony.
My bathroom. (Yes, I have my own personal shower and toilet. I wasn’t expecting that!) Though I had a bit of a surprise Wednesday morning when the water suddenly shut off when I was covered in soap. Apparently that happens in India! The city water shuts off at certain times, but then the tank water came on half an hour later. It wasn’t cold, so at least I didn’t have to stand there freezing! It was actually kind of funny.
This is the view from my balcony. You can see we’re a little ways outside the city; it takes about half an hour drive.
I wish I could show a video of one of the flag dances at the church service on Sunday, but it's not posting properly. Like I said before, the service had very American feel to it, though they said the Tamil service is different, more in tune with local culture.
It was mother’s day, so we had a special prayer and blessing time for all the mothers. There was also a team visiting from Canada to start a partnership; that’s why you see some blonds. One lady was all alone up there, so I went up to pray for her. I’m the girl in the white shirt; George took the picture. Her name was Margaret, but she was from India. The boy with the white shirt and the boy with the superhero shirt facing front wards are Deeraj and Eso, two children from the children's home.
I like to go for walks in the morning before it gets hot, around 6:30am. Here are some pictures I took.
A very nice house and car. See, not all Indians are poor!
This name plate struck me as funny. Providence #21.
Lots of Christians in India have last names like that. Actually, the way the last name works, is that the children and wife take the father’s first name as their last name. So Manju is Manju George and Jedi is Jedadiah George. So this house the father’s first name is Providence. Very interesting.
This is a house under construction. A little girl, her dog, and someone else lives under that blue tarp too, but I haven’t met them personally. I’m not sure they speak English.
This is the guard house at the entrance/exit of the gated community where George and Manju live. I’m not allowed to go outside those gates by myself because it’s not safe. But I made friends with the people volunteering and working at the orphanage across the street, and they go out on Fridays, so I can go with them, since Friday is also my day off.
This is a small jungle/woods area nearby, but I’m not allowed to go in there. Next week we’ll go for an outing with the children into a real jungle, so I’m very excited about that!
Here are some beautiful flowers that grow in the neighborhood:
And I don’t know the names of these:
I know you really want to see pictures of the children, but I don’t feel comfortable taking them yet. George says I should get to know them well, and then take pictures in the context of our relationship. A lot of Indians see foreigners snapping photos of orphan kids and immediately think the orphanage is getting millions of US dollars in donations. We want to avoid this image as much as possible (mostly because it isn’t true) and prevent the children from getting this stereotype, so I’m being very careful. But don’t worry; when we go on vacation next week, that will be the perfect time for me to take pictures and you will get to see their lovely faces!
A little about the kids. My first and second days were a little exhausting. I was all by myself with them! Several misbehaved by hurting each other and not listening, but I got to see how well George patiently and Biblically corrected them that evening. He had them recite Bible verses about wisdom and obedience, then asked them how they had disobeyed, and how they should change. He told me he is not concerned about changing their behavior; he wants to change their heart. Once their heart is changed, then their behavior will follow. Doing the opposite, changing the behavior without changing the heart, results in hypocrites. 1.) Fear the Lord. 2.) Obey. Most people get that backwards.
The following day the children behaved much better, and I knew how to handle them, in groups, with other groups doing something else, instead of trying to teach them all together. Especially with recorders, they all want to play and have my attention at once. “Watch this, Akka, watch me!” They are wonderful, very bright, energetic children, but I’ll be very glad with the house parents come to help me! The children are already eager for “mommy and daddy” to return.
Here’s what my schedule looks like for the summer until the kids go to school in the first week of June. The bold stuff is stuff I’m in charge of or have to do each day. The other things are optional
My day off: Friday. Charles and Suddha’s day off: Thursday.
7:30-7:45: kid’s devotion
8:15: bath and ready for the day (kids too)
9:30-10:00: Adult devotion.
10:00-11:00, writing practice. Topics: 1.) Letter to God, 2.) letter to a friend who doesn’t know Jesus, 3.) diary entry about the trip, (plus draw a picture) poetry, (4.) rhyming every line, 5.) rhyming every other line 6.) not rhyming like Psalms, something about God) short story (7.) nonfiction, what God has done in your life/8.) tell a Bible story in your own words), 9.) how to do something, fiction: 10.) make up a story that teaches something about God.
11:00-11:15: Break and snacks
11:15-12:45: Music time with recorders.
1:15-3:45 Kids rest time.
3:15-3:45: I have personal devotion time with one child.
3:45: Break and snacks
4:00-5:00: Cycling and Games
5:00-6:00: Piano lesson. Monday: Pudit, Sudeep. Tuesday: Deeraj and Eso. Wednesday: Chichang and Matang, Thursday: Hemu and Angeli.
6:00-7:00: Activity or group game: Blind man’s bluff, Bible quiz, spoons, peek, hide n seek scavenger hunt, musical chairs, Red Rover, London Bridge, a dance, freeze tag, story time.
I’m also learning a lot about Indian culture and issues. Right not the government is very strict Hindu. Christian evangelism is forbidden, and those who do it, sometimes entire churches are shut down and the leaders thrown in prison. George has to be very careful with what he can and cannot do, and he’s had his share of trials. Though this doesn’t have to do with the Christian issue exactly, just yesterday, the bank wouldn’t give him the funds I sent. Manju needed it to pay the children’s school fees! George had to get on the phone with the bank president for over an hour, but thankfully, the issue was finally resolved.
The Christian persecution started back in the 90s after a terrible massacre of Christians. It’s hard to believe what some of the children have been through. Some come from refugee camps, others from physical and sexual abuse. But you would never know from spending time with them. They are so joyous and trusting, even the two new ones who came extremely malnourished. They are still struggling with English, but full of smiles and laughter.
Prayer requests for this week:
1.) My health has much improved, but George has been sick with fever. Please pray for him and his family to stay healthy, especially with the upcoming outing with the children!
2.) We’ll be going to a national forest in another state. Please pray for safety, especially from snakes and insects and accidents.