Friday, August 29, 2008

BACK TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL



I thought I would take a quick moment to share with you where I and the team are staying here in Hyderabad. The Pastor's Centre at St. Josephs Church. James and myself are staying on the first floor and so we get to hear all the activity in the place and when school is in -- or let's out -- there are hundreds of kids (see photo) -- it is really a blast from the past.

What is also kind of funny is that there is a curfew -- at 9:30pm -- the gate to the front of the Church grounds are locked -- and so is the door into the dorm rooms. On two Occasions, James and I have run or told our drivers to hurry so we can get back and then run up the stairs to get in the place before they lock the doors. And when they say 9:30pm -- they mean 9:30pm. I have found it quite entertaining -- running up the stairs or I am going to get into trouble -- a blast from the past!

Additionally -- I am getting to take traditional bucket baths in the morning without any hot water (which is no sacrifice by any means) I just find myself instead of showering before I eat -- putting it off until after I have some food in my stomach -- perhaps to withstand the chill......

There is a shot of Trevain (NeoLifeMission) a co-sponsor of the Diagnosis to Hope conference and James D'Costa (Jeevan Sahara Kendra) Administrator of Conference and my assistant and also myself in a photo at the top of the stairs. I would not have been able to do this without both of them and also Kumar whose photo you will see soon.

This is a wonderful place and I am so grateful to God for the staff at the center and for Priest who runs it -- a great group of people.

The conference starts in just a couple hours -- so it is time to go back with my handouts and get dressed.....thank God I don't need to bath again.....

peace
john

BACK UP TO MUMBAI/THANE



I found a couple shots that I wanted to upload for you guys to see. The first couple shots are of Dr. Stephen Alfred on the site of the New Construction for LOK Hospital back in Thane near Mumbai. This new facility will actually have 10 floors and will have a far greater capacity than the existing hospital which is only 4 stories.

Here is a link to the existing website which tells you a bit more about Dr. Stephen and the Hospital. http://lokhospital.com/
This is a very worthwhile effort and if you would want to donate to a work that is truly changing lives -- this is one of them. In the USA you can go to www.ashainternational.org.


Dr. Stephen & his wife Claire and their boys Joshua & Ben have been very gracious hosts to me on my visits to Thane. I have stayed with them at their house on every trip.

Jeevan Sahara Kendra -- the ministry to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS is actually under LOK Hospital. When this new hospital is constructed, the existing hospital will be handed over to Jeevan Sahara Kendra becoming a totally dedicated HIV/AIDS Facility. I am not sure but it could be the first in the area.

Keep this project in your prayers.....

peace
j

Thursday, August 28, 2008

HYDERABOD, INDIA

Ok -- it is Thursday afternoon here -- and we are getting ready for the conference this weekend. Such a continual learning experience to partner with different cultures and the diversity that comes with all of that to organize an event. I always learn alot!

I haven't been taking pictures or video as I have been really busy. The conference is from Friday at 6:00pm till Sunday at 3:00pm. Then I will head to pack and go to the train station where Trevain and myself will take an overnight train (500 Kilometers) to some outlying village area. I hope to take video on this trip and show you a whole other view of things. So far when I look at the video that has gone out -- it is a very different version of the whole picture here -- I will share as much as I can.

James D'Costa from Jeevan Sahara Kendra and Trevain Kumar from NeoLifeMission and his assistant Kumar have been a tremendous help in the planning of things here. Looking forward to a great time -- Most of the participants are quite poor and also 70% will not be able to read or write -- a different challenge. God is bigger than all of that.

I hope to get you pictures and video sometime next week and catch you up with what has happened -- too much in one day it seems.

It is a privilege to be here and see the honesty of life unfold in all its beautiful brokenness......

peace
john

Thursday, August 21, 2008

ADVENTURES AND THEN DAY OF REST

Yesterday, I had a day off -- Thursday. The day before was a long one and a tough one so It was nice to catch up on a little sleep and on e-mails and on a whole host of other things. I find that I am not able to get to this blog as much as I would like to .....in order to keep people up to date on what is going on. It seems moving around can take time here, not too mention be an adventure in itself. Also -- I am wanting to do more video -- but it takes time to download and then upload the images on the blog. When I get home late -- that would mean working on it sometimes until 2 or 3 am -- which can't have too many days like that.

The other morning I was supposed to go and speak to the Staff at Oasis in Kurla. Oasis is a Christian http://www.oasisindia.org/

The brother who was going to pick me up was supposed to get me at 9:00am and it would be 10:00am when we got to Oasis. At 9:45am -- I still had not seen him and then a knock on the door and he was here. Only -- there was no auto-rickshaw -- evidently they were on strike today so we were going on the back of his motorcycle to the train station and we would take a train. So we head off to the station. He didn't have any helmets so I got to really "feel" the open air - and bugs, etc., against my face. Since the auto-riks were on strike -- there were about 50,000 less vehicles on the street - -so even though it was crowded -- it was not normal. We drove along and I was filming until he started saying something that I couldn't understand and then he said it in English......"Police" -- which meant -- shut the camera off on the road!

We got to the train station and I noticed a sea of motorcycles parked there -- it was pretty amazing site. My friend Ajay who was my escort to Oasis -- got tickets and we headed toward the proper train. When I got to the platform I noticed that the trains in our direction -- were absolutely packed -- in fact, people were hanging out the side. I thought -- there is no way we are getting on the train and he said you have to push your way in. I was about to try when the train started to move -- and then we had to wait for the next train. When it pulled up to the station -- with my backpack and camera bag I just literally put my head down and pushed to get inside the train with all my might and then apologized --(typical guilt!) It is so amazing that what would be so rude is acceptable and common behavior as it is just the way it is. I couldn't take any shots inside the train 1) because I couldn't get to my camera -- and 2) because I felt invasive shooting so close to people -- so you will have to trust me on this one -- perhaps I can do it at another time.

We got to the station in Kurla and moved out into the city to try and get a bus to the location -- that is where the video I shot ends.

I had a great time at Oasis with the staff - -learning about their new center and the work they are doing and then had a chance to share some of what God has been doing with me and then we spent some time looking at the scriptures. Afterwards we shared a meal and I was on my way with Pastor Stanley John from an Assembly of God Church. We went to his house to visit for about 4 hours in between -- it would have taken too long to go home and then come back as I was scheduled to speak at their home church in the evening. So, I even got to lay down for 30 minutes between on the couch in the living room for a rest -- but what a trip to wake up and have people sitting in chairs waiting for me to speak -- I was like -- Hi.....where's the coffee!

Anyway -- we had a good time together and Pastor Stanley is a wonderful, Godly man who has dedicated himself to the work in the area. He also has a heart for those living with HIV and has people in his congregation that are living with HIV and have also died from HIV. He has a very open mind for learning and is a real gift to the body of Christ and to Kurla and the country of India as he takes a lead in this way.

My way home was even more eventful -- because I did not want to deal with trains at night by myself for the first time I decided to take a taxi. Well a one hour taxi ride took 3 hours. I left the meeting at 8:30pm and walked into Dr. Stephen's place at 11:30pm -- absolutely fried. I was in a car where I had to bend my neck because I was too tall -- and the back seat touched the front seat so my knees were pressed against it -- it was an old ambassador -- that I think the Ambassador of Lilliput is the only person that could fit in the back seat. However, Traffic Jam -- took on a whole new meaning. But by the grace of God I got home safely and I was able to even complain about it!

Enjoy the short video that I shot on the back of the bike......

Peace
john


video

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monkey'n around!



Simon & Andi -- enjoying their bananas!

JEEVAN SAHARA KENDRA


I spent this morning with my friends at Jeevan Sahara Kendra -- the Christian Organization dedicated to those living with HIV/AIDS. We had our devotional time together and then I had a chance to visit with Marice Andrews -- the Dr. wife of my friend Nathan -- Marice has been volunteering at the clinic for sometime now.

I also got together with James (Left in Photo) and spent some time talking over getting to Hyderabad next week. He is coming for the week to work with us at the conference in that city -- looking forward to it!

By the way -- in getting ready today and running late -- I jammed my toe in a chair at Dr. Stephen's house -- and it was fine at first -- but as the day went on -- it started to really hurt. Had to put shoes on for support and I am limping a bit -- such a doof!

Spent the evening with a good brother Zen and the members of his home fellowship in Mulund. I got a chance to share about what has been happening with me and to also hear about the HIV work that Zen is leading through this church. He has really grown and is just a blessing to be with. Both he and his wife have stepped out in faith to move into this work --

There was also a gentleman who was there that I had met when I did a mini concert at this school last year. He was very sick and very skinny when I met him then -- he is looking stronger -- his face was full of life and he was thanking God for how far he has come.......

very late here -- almost 2:00am -- have to be up at 7:00am to go....

peace
john

A ROOM WITH A VIEW


This was my room for the 4 days at the conference -- I slept sound here.........zzzzzzzzzzz

NEW FRIENDS


There was a young boy named Simon who was attending with his mom who is HIV Positive. Simon latched on to me at the conference and every opportunity he had -- he just wanted to be near me and hold my hand. So beautiful this little guy and so needing input from a guy -- being in a house with just his mom -- I guess he misses his dad -- what a beautiful kid.

POSITIVE FRIENDS RETREAT


Day two of the conference I got to speak in two different sessions --On the third day Dr. Sheba Eicher shared with the group about Internal Health -- The whole picture -- Body, Soul & Spirit. Her teaching really opened up the minds of everyone attending.

POSITIVE FRIENDS RETREAT


After a day of rest, getting a new mobile phone number/Sim card and having some time with Andi & Sheba Eicher from Jeevan Sahara Kendra -- We headed up to a Retreat Center near Mira Road outside of Thane. It was held at a nice facility that is owned by the Catholic Church and it is rented out to groups for retreats and conferences.

This particular Conference was called Blessed to Be a Blessing. The premise being God has poured into our lives so that we can give to others. There were about 45 HIV Positive believers who attended along with their children. In some cases it was husband and wife -- other times single parents with their kids along with the staff of Jeevan Sahara Kendra. This is my 3rd Conference with them and my 4Th trip to spend time with them and their ministry.

It was so great to see so many individuals that I had met for the first time a couple years ago. At that time some of them had recently been diagnosed, or were new in their faith and were still very overcome by the circumstances in their lives. IT was great to be able to seem them enter into a fuller place of freedom over the past couple years and to see them walk into rooms with a sense of strength and hope -- all the shame that used to be there seemed to be gone. Those who were couples -- I felt that there was a deeper sense of their relationships having persevered thru some very rough waters. For me, to see God blessing these individuals and having them come to learn more was a great refreshment to me and an encouragement in this kind of work.

We spent from Thursday Evening through Sunday Afternoon together and covered quite a bit of ground. -- I'll share some photos and thoughts on the same.....

ARRIVING IN INDIA

Arrived in Mumbai International Airport on Tuesday August 12Th around 10:30pm after a 14 hour flight from New York. I must say that I was able to sleep a bit on this plane -- but it was a challenge at the last stretch. We ended up taking off about 45 minutes late as we sat at the runway. The pilot came on to apologize for the delay and said that we had to wait as there were 16 planes in front of us. I thought, couldn't we honk and pass on the right like they do in India? No such luck.

I had finished up the design project I was working on just at Saturday Afternoon -- so there was not much time - in fact 48 hours to move from my "home-tel" and put my stuff in my office and get prepared to leave for 3 months. I guess I am getting a bit faster at the process - -but if it wasn't for good people like my friend Mac (as in Mac my friend the person not the computer -- although my other Mac is helpful as well!) who helps me with stuff while I am gone -- I could never do what I do! Thanks Mac!

After passing through Passport Control and picking up my bags -- I went through customs and exited the doors of the airport which is always an event. There is usually a very large crowd of people. In fact it can be in the hundreds sometimes. I remember the very first time I arrived -- I was overwhelmed with the faces and not knowing where to go and all the taxi drivers approaching me for transportation -- Thankfully, this time I was met by Willie who has driven for many years for Dr. Stephen. It was nice to see a familiar face in such a far away land and get right into the swing of things. As we drove off I could see a bit more this new terminal that had been built. (see video clip) He helped me with my bags and we headed through the Mumbai traffic and towards Thane where Dr. Stephen & Claire Alfred live and where I will be stationed for the next week.

I attempted to shoot some video on a new camera that I am just getting used to. I hope to be able to get some snippets that are interesting for you -- when possible. Please bare with me as I am learning how to shoot, edit, download, upload and all --

Till later....

Peace
john video