Sunday, February 27, 2011

A WEDDING IN KERALA


On Tuesday, March 1st, I will be traveling to the state of Kerala for Saji's nephews wedding. This area is also known as "God's Country" because it is supposed to be very beautiful. Will return to Hyderabad on March 4th . . .

I have been asked to sing at the wedding . . .should be fun!

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for the same:



I will post pics later. . .

FUN NIGHT WITH YWAM STAFF






We had a really fun time the other night when I joined Saji and the team that work with the HIV/AIDS ministry with YWAM. They are a dedicated group of people who serve the HIV/AIDS infected communities. They do this through home health care visits, counseling, prayer -- taking people to appointments at the hospitals or social services offices -- helping access resources. Additionally, they work with Nireekshana clinic and counsel patients there as well a couple days a week. They live in community and are a really loving group.

I joined them the other night and brought along some ice-cream and a song for my contribution and then also tried to teach them Charades which they know by a different name (I forgot to write it down - can't remember it now) but it was really fun watching them play . . .they know how to have a good time.

There are a couple really short videos if you look on my video link you should be able to see them.

I am really seeing the difference between cultures that live in community and those that don't - - a big difference.

so glad I could hang out with them . . .hope to again.

peace

TRANSITIONS

It has been an interesting week since I got back from Dommeru - processing my time with the folks at NICE Mission and thinking about my friend who is really sick -- quite close to death actually - - praying for him to get better. I also consider the great disparity between when you live near a city in India and when you are in the village or rural areas -- how hard it is to get access to resources.

I think about how I complain sometimes when I am at a doctors appointment that my insurance covers almost completely that is a 10 minute drive from my house -- that I have to look for perhaps 3 minutes for a parking space sometimes -- that it seems like a pain in the neck. Or that perhaps on the way I was wanting to grab a Starbucks so I have something to drink while I am waiting in the lobby -- but it is crowded so I am frustrated because I was running late and I can't just get it and go -- still knowing I can get Internet access through my I-phone and I can work and stay connected pretty much with anyone in the world while I am in the lobby waiting.

I think about my friends in the village in Dommeru - they have to travel nearly 65 miles to get to a hospital and that would be by bus -- and most of the time -- they would need to ask someone for the money -- and if they don't get it -- they don't go . . .sick or not.

What a leveler . . .Thank you Lord for the reminder . . .

It has been a bit of a challenge as well - engaging in the situations that I quite naturally want to try and do something about -- I am considering perhaps a return trip in the fall that would have to be a couple months to help establish a greater sense of care for those in that area that are dealing with HIV/AIDS . . . and practically thinking -- what is the best way to move that forward -- who else is working in the area . . .etc. what is God doing in all of this?

Alas -- I still have assignments in my online courses for my studies with the University of Idaho as I work towards my Psychology degree . . .Exams next week -- I have a trip to Kerala for 4 days -- will meet Saji there and then come back together -- then back to the books.

It is interesting studying Social Psychology and also Group Dynamics while being in India -- it is quite an interesting filter to consider these concepts -- I also am continuing to learn how to juggle between these two classes that demand my immediate attention -- and the 3 classes that are self-paced which I will have 3 weeks to wrap up after I get home -- that is assuming I stay on top of them while I am here.

I have Spring Break from March 11 - 20th -- during that time I will be traveling to Coimbatore and also to Mumbai/Thane -- where I will be speaking to a group of pastors about the issue of homosexuality and the church -- a very loaded topic at a pivotal time in history . . .a break from school -- perhaps some time to work on my writing project -- share some more of my heart on paper . . .consider what is next . . .what is God doing during this time?

As India is ever evolving . . I find I can rest in the wake of her growth . . . it is peaceful there.

John

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dommeru / DAY TWO






Woke up and got myself to the village this time via atuo-rikshaw -- which is always an adventure. They are notorious for trying to charge to much and you have to haggle back and forth over the price. I am getting way more bold in this and it is kind of fun. Anyway -- the guy that I had I guess half way through the trip decided to try and get rid of me - - ON THE BRIDGE (smile) . .. he was honking for other auto drivers to pull over and I said, "what are you doing -- we need to keep moving I will be late." He said, "no problem" and then he got one guy to pull over (we are on the top of the bridge) and he says to me -- "You go with him, he will take you . . .not enough money for me?" I was like, "What . . .on the bridge I'm getting out?" I said, you agreed now come on lets go! He said, "no you go" and I said, "no, I am not going . . . and he saw that I was serious and and then a big smile came on his face and he took off over the bridge. A little of the way there and he pulls open his glove box and pulls out a baseball cap -- and he puts it on his head and looks in his rear-view mirror and smiles at me while he can see me wearing MY baseball cap and that was it . . .we were friends! He must of liked my hutspa!

I arrived at the Mission and then was taken over to the place where Pastor Ravi's has his office, the HIV/AIDS ministry and the school building is just behind. There are about 5 different school grades and about 100 or so kids that attend. I visited a few of the classrooms -- the kids are so cute.

After I spent about 4 hours with some of the AIDS victims and was trying to counsel and pray for them. The cases are heart breaking. One of the guys had a CD 4 count of 11 -- you have AIDS when you have 200 -- most people have between 750 - 1100. He can't work because he is too week -- plus no one would hire him looking so sick -- as a result he has no money for food -- so he can't get any bigger because no money for food and when he does it is just rice -- no protein. The closest hospital for them is 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) they don't have money for bus so they usually can't go unless someone pays. They are supposed to go pick up there medicine once a month. Dommeru is 30 minutes from Rajahmundry and there is a River that separates them -- the river also separates the districts and if you are on the east side of the River -- you go to Elerue if you are on the Rajamundry side you go to Kakinada --

Sitting across the table and hearing these stories are heart breaking. We think about AIDS in America -- even though no cure is available -- it is manageable at this point with medications -- and we think the rest of the world is like us . . .people have no clue how poor the really poor are -- it is nothing like the United States --

I wanted to make sure the one gentleman who was a christian -- was really solid with his walk with Jesus -- and that he knew if he died he was going to heaven -- we went through some scriptures and he said, yes he was sure . . that made me feel good as I know if he passes at least he would be with the Lord. I also found out that NICE mission will provide them with some rice but they too have so many needs.

It would take about $38.00 a month to give someone enough rice and vegetables and milk for a month plus transportation to go to the hospital round trip to pick up medications. That would actually keep someone alive -- $38.00 a month -- that is like 8 basic Starbucks drinks.

I found out that there is a new Government Hospital in Rajahmundry which would only be 30 minutes. They would have to get permission to transfer to this location but it would not only be cheaper but less of a physical challenge for the journey for those who are literally on deaths door. -- I met the Head of the AIDS organization for the whole State a couple years ago and will be making an appointment to see him next couple weeks to talk about getting these patients transferred to the new Government hospital -- pray that God gives me favor!

I want to try and help them strengthen this work -- but there is much to do and it will take raising some money-- let us see what God can do.

I also had a chance to speak with the Muslim boy who was 9 years old and got HIV from a blood transfusion -- his parents let me him come to hang out at the mission -- and he came and heard me speak last night and sing and today I was asking him how it was going at school -- if the kids made fun of him or anything -- he said they didn't -- I we spoke through a translator for about 30 minutes and then I asked him if I could pray for him -- he said yes. . . it was a really good time with these people!

Back for lunch with some of the other patients and then a trip back to where I was staying and time to say goodbye. I really enjoyed my time with the folks at NICE Mission and look forward to working with them in the future...

DOMMERU/ DAY ONE - EVENING







Once a month NICE Mission does an outdoor gospel meeting wherein they invite the whole village area to come. They have different people share from the word, lead worship, sing special songs and people testify about how the love of Jesus has changed their lives.

I was going to be sharing my testimony and how God had done a work in my life as someone who is living with AIDS. It was really cool to see the way that they laid out mats on the dirt and coverings that the women and children came and sat on and then there were chairs in the back that were mostly occupied by Men.

They had a good sound system and, typical of India, it was CRANKING . . .almost too loud for me!

Mr. Smirnu was my translator and he did a really good job - -poor guy -- all day of translating -- he was exhausted by the end of the day!

I spoke from Psalm 116:1-6, 9-11 and shared my testimony and sang a few songs -- we had a really good time together and ended with a time of prayer for a large group of the people. It felt pretty amazing to sing in the open air with those songs going out into the night sky . . .

There was a young Muslim boy that came who I would meet the next day . . . very cool kid.

Dommeru - DAY ONE






Was greeted in the morning where I stayed by Mr. Smirnu, Douglas and Karpavarum who escorted me to the NICE Mission. On the way we stopped at where Mr. Smirnu lives. It is in an outlying village passed Rajahmundry and it is actually an old leper colony. The government about 25 years ago built these buildings for lepers -- they are now the equivalent of "projects' and some of the poor live there. Mr. Smirnu has two apartments at the place that he rents -- one is his home which is like a studio and upstairs he converted one of the rooms into a church -- it is so small - about 8 x 6. They have about 50 people who come to the church service each week he says. We greeted some of them on the way up the stairs.

Next we took the journey over the bridge and across the Godavari River to Dommeru where we arrived at NICE Mission. NICE Mission is directed by Pastor Ravi and his father with the help of a very good team. They had a meeting set up for me to address some of the pastors that they work with, regarding HIV/AIDS. We had a couple patients show up along with a group of women from the community as well. I think they were challenged with some of the frank discussion but in dealing with a disease whose primary transmission is sexually -- it has to be delicate but it has to happen. We ended up having a really good time together.

After that it was lunch and then around 2:30pm in the afternoon I went back to where I was staying for a rest and would return around 7:00pm for an outdoor evening meeting for the village. . . .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

RAJAHMUNDRY







I arrived to the place I am staying near the river after a harrowing taxi ride. I don't think you can ever get used to dodging in between trucks and motorcycles and cows and people at high speeds -- with oncoming traffic honking and darting within inches from your taxi . . . but that is India.

As a contrast to the ride here -- the place I am staying is really very peaceful - right near the river. Tomorrow morning at 8:00am I will be picked up by some of the local pastors that are working with Pastor Ravi from NICE Mission. We will be traveling to a place called Dommeru -- which is about 45 minutes over the river I am told. Pastor Ravi has been working with a couple of the Pastors at my church back home. I am here to see how their HIV/AIDS ministry is going and how I might support them in their efforts.

I will be meeting with the various village pastors and finding out about how their work is going and sharing with them some of what has been passed on to me. I will be meeting some of the local people who are actually living with HIV/AIDS and hope to encourage them. In the evening I will be joining them for a outside Meeting where the villages are being invited and I will be sharing my testimony, some music and will join the rest of the pastors in ministering to the people. On Saturday I will be visiting some local schools in the area and also will be seeing some of the local clinics and organizations that are working with those with HIV/AIDS. I am really looking forward to seeing what is happening here!

I will have more pictures and stories to come . . .for now . . .these shots are from the banks of the river quite near where I am staying.

Peace from India . .

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Rajahmundry - Dommeru


I will be traveling to Rajamundry on Thursday morning --

. . . from Hyderabad and will be staying in a place near the river. Traveling about 35 minutes into a village area called Dommeru, I will be working with a group of pastors that have been working with one of my pastors in Idaho -- We will be going over their HIV/AIDS program and seeing where they are at and how I might support the work there. Also I will be sharing my story on Friday night with a group of people I think from the surrounding villages, probably doing some singing and will pray with folks as well. On Saturday I will be visiting clinics and some of the patients living with HIV/AIDS, schools and getting familiar with the surrounding areas. I am hoping to encourage them in the Lord!

Got through my Exam in my one class -- did not do as well as I would like to have done -- but did ok. Back to focusing on the book for the next 3 days before I go and then I will be working on homework in between my meetings and over the weekend while up in Rajamundry.

I hope to get some really nice shots of the area . .

check back in a bit . . .

Peace from India
john

here is a link for some info on Rajahmundry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajahmundry

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Is that a Horse in the middle of the street?



Why not . . . .everything else is in the middle of the street! There was a really beautiful horse in the middle of the street -- it looked like it was dressed for a party. No doubt the horse was used in a wedding procession somewhere- - but it was odd seeing him and motorcycles and auto-rickshaws and buses all at the same time.

. . . . welcome to India!

Peace
john

Trip with Trevain and Brother Noble







We stopped at a really nice fruit stand on the way so that Trevain and Brother Noble could get some fruit for the kids. Also -- it was cool to see the chicks and Chickens on the property -- the source of food and eggs for them - -plus pets for the kids -- That is quite a bang for your cluck!

Accompanying us to the Orphanage this morning was Brother Noble from Kakinada and also Pastor Joel. Brother Noble is a retired Policeman who is now involved in full time ministry and spends his times planting churches and assisting pastors in rural churches. We has invited me to come back next year where he wants to take me to a place where I believe he said the Kaya people are staying -- there is about 200 people in the village and you have to get there by hiking up a mountain -- he said they hunt for people who come and visit and that they hunt and kill all that they eat. Sounds like an adventure. There is another place they go to called Hope Island -- which is just off a very long reef- - so you take one boat and then you have to walk on a reef in the water and then get another boat that takes you to the Island -- Next January or February . . .

looking forward to the adventure as last time I went and did ministry with Brother Noble and Trevain - -we had a wonderful time in the villages and got to meet and pray for many people. Brother Noble has an ongoing outreach into these areas and has established a very solid network of people.

NeoLife Mission -- Terry Duffy Home






This home is run by my friend and the director of NeoLife Mission in Hyderabad, India -- Trevain Raj Kumar. http://www.neolifemission.org/

Trevain is the brother who hosted me for my last two trips to Hyderabad and helped organized all the conferences and meetings with me. I could not have not done the work without him. When I visited just two and 1/2 years ago the house just had a caretaker -- and a few items in it -- now it is fully furnished and there are 9 children. There is a woman who is taking really good care of the kids -- her official role is called "Warden" although she is much nicer than the wardens' we have in the states.


The kids at the Terry Duffy Home were really cute and sang some songs for us and shared some things about themselves -- we had a meal together and got to see some of the property.

A really wonderful work -- the kids are healthy and happy - -a sign of good care! Praise the Lord!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Off to an orphanage

Tomorrow morning I will be getting on a bus and heading to downtown Hyderabad where I will meet Trevain from NeoLife Mission. We are going to be heading out to the Home he has for Orphans, some of which are HIV Positive. I am looking forward to spending the day with kids and checking out how things are going.

I will be sharing more and loading some pics as well....

Peace
j

orphanage

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Window Into India


This picture was of the back of an Auto Rickshaw -- it is the space that is supposed to be the window. This particular one has been replaced with some plastic straps that are coming apart -- they have endured much heat and wear and tear - an appropriate lens for looking into India . . . enjoy the pics that follow.

Peace from India
John

Shots around Secunderabad & Hyderabad





More Shots around Secunderabad & Hyderabad