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Journey to India by Nancy

India 2013-02-161

What did we do in India? What did we see? Let’s see. We saw cows getting bathed by their owners in a lake. Seems they bathe together often as I saw the owners also bathing themselves. I saw many people in the rice paddies. They were colorful and working very hard. It’s a back breaking job bending over like that for so many hours each day. Temples of all shapes and sizes were seen. One temple was torn down within 2 days of it being hit by a careless Lorrie driver. Goats, pigs, cows, sheep and chickens all enjoying their freedom to wander. Tailor shops no bigger than 5×8 with a tailor and his machine sewing away looking out thru the doorless shop. I wanted to stop and snap a few photos, but we were just passing through. I saw a shoe repair shop! Had not seen one of those in many years. There was what looked to be outdoor bakeries with their cakes and sweets behind glass, but still most of the shop was looking to the road without a seeable door also. Who needs to go inside when everything is brought outside.

India 2013-02-167

I saw all types of vehicles, different types of autos and rickshaws. Women riding bicycles with baskets on their heads and women riding motorbikes as if it’s a common thing. Large shopping stores among the little shops were getting most of the business, but then who can compete. It was not easy giving these little shops one’s business because once they saw us their prices jumped and this caused us to walk away most times. I saw lots of cloth, lots of saris, lots of colors and lots of food. Flies were steady, but not really as bad as one would think unless there was dead flesh from fish, chicken or mutton. The vegetable markets had beautiful fruits and vegetables at good prices. Not as many dogs were seen as one might think. No rats were seen at all by me until we got to the airport in Chennai. That was a bit strange.

India 2013-02-162

No, I did not see a snake charmer, but I did see a boy with his pet monkey. I saw no children begging. To my disappointment yet pleasure if one can get both from the same thing. I was ready to hand those kids the rupees I was holding. I was happy to know in our area at that moment that the children were not out begging for money so they would be eating that night. I can say I saw no abuse of animals by owners, no men in a drunken stupper, okay, a drunken mess, but no fighting. No throwing bottles at each other or fighting with sticks. I also saw no police officers most of the trip. Funny thing was both hotels were very close to police stations. There’s no road rage. I saw no violence whatsoever. I saw a very peaceful part of the country. I did see some child labor going on that did upset me. Young boys working on the road, laying tar down WITH THEIR HANDS, yes they had gloves on and they would grab some tar and throw it on the road. I think someone else was spreading it. All I kept thinking about was the burns these boys would suffer if any of that tar got on their bodies.

India 2013-02-166

Washing clothes is a big thing. Some do it for a living. They gather up people’s wash, go out to the canals and wash away and then lay out everything to dry. Took awhile for me to figure out that all these clothes did not belong to one woman. This can be a whole day event. I saw sheepherders as young as probably 6 yrs. They took their jobs very seriously. One could watch them for hours in the way they rounded up the sheep and carried the slow lambs. There were places they would make as a steady stop off for their sheep to graze that allowed them to get out of the sun. These were just plain shaded shelters with palm branches on top.

India 2013-02-165

I saw the handicapped going about their business as one who was using a stick and hopping on only one leg. Seems these handicaps are seen so often that no one pays attention. One young beautiful woman had legs of different length and it looked as though she had a serious spinal problem. I could tell at the end of the day that this was a woman who felt like she had walked a hundred miles with a load of coconuts on her head. Life is hard for her, yet no one made way for her to pass or gave her that second stare we were becoming so used to. The rains came at no given time of the day, yet the rain was not a cold, “I need to get warmed up and dried kind of rain”, but a refreshing, fresh smelling good feeling rain. Kind of reminded me of that movie Singing in the Rain.

India 2013-02-164

It was not easy to see who may be Christian or Hindu. One could not really tell what caste someone was from just by looking. Unless most of the people we saw were from the same caste system I can say I saw little difference between people. I know I was only there for a short time, but it’s this short time I am speaking of.

India 2013-02-169

I did not see many monkeys along the roadside though I did see some and in Tamil Nadu we saw quite a few of them in a small animal reserve running about enjoying life. We saw some very cute babies that day.

India 2013-02-170

Where we went to… We went to the Lambadi village and the government built village and the Gypsy village. I can say I saw little differences in the children, the parents, the elderly. Yet they all are separated in their own groups. We saw some great land that was farm land, pasture land. It was bought up at a good price and is being cut up into very small tracts of land to be sold for small homes. Prices are astronomical. They were so far out of our reach I could not imagine someone selling land at these ridiculous prices.

India 2013-02-163

I kept hearing how India has so many people and only a certain amount of land. All I know is that it’s that way in any country. Land does not multiply, people do. India is a large country. The land should not be selling for beachfront prices. A person could almost buy a condo for what some are asking for land, yet there’s land with homes never finished, never going to get finished. They are sitting there, not for sale, because the wealthy have no reason to sell and most of these properties within the poor villages are owned by wealthy, absent owners. Enough of land talk.

India 2013-02-168

I never saw a buzzard!! Buzzards are needed for the removal of dead carcases. I thought it strange that I saw no dead animals and no buzzards. No tropical beautiful sounding birds were seen or heard, but lots of noisy crows are about. I guess I did miss hearing the sounds of our native birds after those rains.

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Roselin and Francis

Journey to India by Nancy

It’s good to reminisce. I remember the day very well we got a letter from a man calling himself a humble pastor. He told us of his family and of his past, all in a brief letter. He wanted to introduce himself to us and to thank us for the lovely gift box his daughters received. He sounded like a very sincere man. He was married with 2 young children, both girls. The youngest being I believe at the time about 9 months old. Well, as we are making packages to mail to Durga and Samuel and a few others Mommy decided, let’s buy a couple of little dresses for the girls. We bought a couple of dresses and fixed them up a nice Easter box because we knew the gifts would arrive well past Christmas.

India 2013-02-155

In everything that was going on that year we seemed to have misplaced the address of this family after we mailed out their package. It was not a big thing what we did and we knew it, so we were not expecting a thank you or anything. For all we knew the package may never make it to this family.

Time passes, maybe 2 yrs or longer. One day I get an e-mail from a pastor who says, “Do you remember me?” As soon as I noticed the name I said of course I remember you. He had saved the photo that was taken of his family with our gifts with his girls wearing the dresses. Like us he had lost our address, but had saved this picture and somehow he found us on the internet. He said he wanted to thank us for the lovely gift box we sent for his daughters. He was such a nice sounding man and he did not ask for anything from us.

India 2013-02-156

India 2013-02-160

I showed Mommy the letter and photo and told Mark about it and then I showed my husband the picture and he was impressed. Takes a lot to impress him, but this man did just that. We started talking on a regular basis and a bond formed very quickly. I think what did it for me was that picture, but to be realistic it was the fact that later he asked for something from us, not for himself, but for others. He needed Influenzium to help the villagers who were sick. I located some from the manufacturer and sent it to him though I heard he never received it. That year he sent us a new photo of one of his daughters and it was so precious. We sent a little Christmas money that year to them and the girls got Christmas dresses. Once United With Hope was formed we knew we had to continue to help this gentle man with whatever we could.

Meet Pastor Francis, Roselin and their 2 beautiful daughters Florence and Clarence.

India 2013-02-157

The moment I remember most was Francis having Roselin get the wedding albums. They had a beautiful wedding. Francis was playing in the church band that Roselin’s father was with. Once Roselin’s father decided that Francis would make a good husband for his daughter plans were in the making. I don’t know if she was really ready for marriage at the time, but ready or not she was getting married. Roselin was very shy. One could see in her photos how shy and scared she looked. The poor thing looked as if she wanted to run in most of the photos. I remember joking with Francis how she looked scared. I looked hard at those pictures and it was not easy seeing a smile on poor Roselin’s face. Did she not know that one day her children would see these pictures and ask why she did not look happy? I told Roselin, “Why do you look like you are going to cry?” “Why do you not look happy?” She gave me that innocent shy smile I came to love and I could tell. She was innocent and shy and yes scared also. She would be leaving her home and this scared her as it does for many young women.

India 2013-02-158

Francis wanted me to notice that he was a handsome husband on that day. He had a head full of hair and he did not smile that much either in his photos. He said to me he was the lucky one. Roselin was a treasured gift he will treasure always. I joked with Francis. I said, “You scared her!” His reply was, “No,no,no, I did not. I do not know why she was scared.” He was tall and slim. He told me he was a good cook and he had to teach Roselin how to cook. I said to him, “You did a good job by looking at that belly.” Francis does blush as does Roselin whenever certain things are said. Indians don’t show much affection in public. It’s something they keep to themselves, and in private. With this being said let’s just say there was no wedding kiss that was given in public view.

India 2013-02-159

I could see all their family members in those pictures and see how much everyone had changed. Francis had Roselin go get another book that had more wedding photos. As I searched through the second book I could see that smile that she hides so well. I mentioned how young she looked and how beautiful. I noticed that as she was standing there at the doorway while we were sitting on the bed 2 feet away that these pictures could have been taken the previous yr as she still looked just as demure and lovely as she did on her wedding day. This is one graceful, gentle spirited woman and it hurt me to see the light in her eyes dimming as we discussed our return trip just minutes later. I really do not think she knows how much an impact she has made on my life all these years. She is an important person in the community in her own right. Francis could not do as he does if not for her full support. There’s an American saying, “if momma’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy”. Well, in this household it’s if Roselin is not happy, Francis is not either! He will tell you in a heart beat how he can not stand for her to be angry at him or to give him the silent treatment. Seeing how quiet she was one could see how the silent treatment would work for her. Thank God most times everyone’s happy and that smile shines from her eyes to her mouth. My last private hug to her was in the kitchen and I so wanted her to know how much she is loved and that I will miss her also. I do love that gentle, sweet lady.

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Sweet taste of India

Journey to India by Nancy

India 2013-02-151

On our way to the airport Francis made another famous stop off causing Susan and I to think “Oh no, not again.” This time even the driver was a bit annoyed. I have no idea why he would be, as he’s making great time the way he drives. He’s getting paid for his time whether he sits and waits or drives. Now we on the other hand have reason to complain, after all we were not invited once again into the shop, but told again to wait or were we told to stay?? I have completely forgotten because it happened so often.

India 2013-02-152

As we are waiting for his return children start to cover the car with big smiles and stares and many spoken questions. These children were Hindu and going to very good schools as their English was better than most. Some children jumped back as soon as I would move my hands as if they were gonna bite them. A begger woman who was talking to herself saw the children at the car window and decided she would see what she could get from us. All of our paper money and coins were about gone, after all we were heading home soon. Seems the boys wanted to show off and get their photos taken pushing the girls out of the way. Susan was sitting closest to the road and not as close as I was, but she did her best to capture these impish faces who would not leave the car.

India 2013-02-153

Soon Francis returns with 3 bags of misc Indian treats for us to take home. He did not tell us what was inside, only to take to our families. Never in my mind did I think there were actual sweets in these bags, for after all I thought most Indians did not eat sweets. Well, American chocolate is different. Even those with no taste buds would love American chocolate the way it melts in our mouths leaving the other ingredients like peanuts, crispy rice and almonds to savour next as the chocolate disappears. Okay I admit there’s great chocolate in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and even London, but no one makes chocolates like the good old USA. Knowing how Amulya through the years wished for chocolate and how Mommy and I would mail chocolate every chance we got I decided I would bring large bars of Hershey chocolate. I had no idea how much 22 bars weighed, but enough that I had to make weight adjustments just minutes before my flight to Chicago. Hershey kisses are always a delight for young and old and this trip was no different.

Back to these bags Francis handed us that took so long to purchase. We wanted to open and look, but he said for home, so we did our best to squeeze them in our bags knowing we would need to transfer this food into our checked luggage or we might never get to taste what had been so carefully selected for us.

India 2013-02-154

Once home I carefully put one box into the freezer as it says ice cream sweets. Yes I know it’s not ice cream as we know it, but I thought maybe freezing would help deliver the taste we are expected to find so enjoyable. Well, yesterday while looking for something to throw in the oven I spotted this box. My curiosity got the best of me and I opened it finding 19 small fudge sized wrapped candies looking like vanilla fudge and the other pieces looked as if there were very small herb leaves baked inside. I took a piece and shared one with a friend. This is not fudge or any candy I ever tasted and as I gave it a second and third taste to decide if my taste buds liked this new treat I had never tasted I decided it was an acquired taste, one I could acquire, but in very small pieces after all this is very sweet. This made me open the other box Francis had given us. Once opened I could see it was not what’s on the box cover. I thought he had given us some candied figs or something I tried earlier on in the visit and found out I did not enjoy as much as he thought. When this box was opened I saw a mixture of other sweets he had chosen from the shop individually. Some were small rolls with green coloring, some were like a small yule candy roll all cut in slices and these were orange color filled. There were 4 pieces that reminded me of small cheese wedges cut up to reveal pink centers. Some looked like brown sugar squares. What a thoughtful man. He knew once again we would not be none to happy to be left alone in a car, yet he was ready for us because as soon as he entered the car we were given our gift bags before we could say “Why do you keep doing that to us?” What a sweet man our Francis is. What an assortment of sweets he has left me. These memories, sweet memories will last long after our sweets are gone.

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You changed the world!

Journey to India by Susan

A drive on a beautiful day in the back of an old taxi cab through the backroads of India. I had to pinch myself to believe I was actually here! I had my window open wide and my hair was blowing in the wind. We drove through the town next to Pastor Francis’ and turned onto a bumpy old road.  Mainly a dusty road with some small rocks here and there. We drove and then made a left. We saw eyes looking our way as we stopped in front of a small house.

India 2013-02-147

“I don’t think they are home,” stated Pastor Francis. We had come to visit our four deaf children that receive monthly food from our sponsorship program. Nancy and I were a bit disappointed. We had met the children just a few days earlier and were anxious to see them again.

India 2013-02-149

We met them; our four deaf siblings, during the welcoming party that our children had thrown for us.  They sat toward the front. The youngest sibling is a clever little boy named Yesuratnam. He had a shy smile at first, but a bit of spunk about him too. He reached his hand out to shake mine. That one gesture instantly stole my heart.

India 2013-02-143

Yesuratnam has three older sisters; Karuna, Mary and Sudharani. Pastor Francis met them a few years earlier after hearing of them from a local shopkeeper. He searched for them and one day found the four children living in a small tent. They were trying to cook something to eat, with little success. He asked them where their parents were and the children were trying to explain with gestures. He realized that they could not speak or hear. He asked them where their mother was and the youngest boy brought out a photo of her. Shortly after this, their father returned to their tent and explained to Pastor Francis that their mother had died after giving birth to his son. The father does the best he can to provide for them, selling chalk, but it is never enough. Pastor Francis asked about adding the children to UWH program and shortly after they all found sponsors.

India 2013-02-144

“Can we get out and take some photos?”, I asked.  “Yes of course!”,  Pastor Francis said joyfully, and soon we were all outside the taxi standing in front of this small home. It was not much to look at, but it was their home.

India 2013-02-145

This dear father and his four children live there now. They had previously been living in a small tent which was basically just a piece of plastic, the kind you may use when you go camping, not on top of the home you return to each night after work or school.

India 2013-02-146

Who are we to judge a home by the way it looks when we do not know the whole story anyway.  No, it is not much. It may look old and rundown, needing paint and cleaning up. But it is a home. Hopefully one that is filled with love and hope. It is filled with letters the children have received each month from their sponsors so far away. In England, in Germany and the USA.  There was hope in the letters, and we saw it when we received photos of our children holding the letters with bright smiles on their faces.

India 2013-02-148

We were all standing there looking at the house. I heard a loud scream and I turned to look down the street. Here he came! Our little Yesuratnam whom I had never heard make any noise, but he sure could scream. He was running up the road towards us with a big smile on his face! I quickly walked towards him and met him just in front of the taxi. I bent down and hugged him, and he hugged me back. “We are so happy to see you!” I think he knew what I was saying. Nancy came and also gave him a hug. She had a big smile on her face! I loved seeing that smile of hers as it made me always feel happy! Nancy also started to talk to him. We were both chatting to him and to each other. His sister was not far behind and she too came with a big smile and leaned in to hug us. Her little arms around us.

India 2013-02-150

We took some photos and spent some time talking to each other and the two siblings.  We talked to them even though they may not have understood us. They needed us. They needed our word and our attention. They seemed so happy to have our love and we too were blessed to have theirs. It is a feeling you can never forget and no one can take it away from you.

India 2013-02-142

As we were getting in the car and ready to pull away, the children and their friends all started running next to the car. We stopped at the end of the street and this little boy held my hand for just a second and I held his. The taxi started to go and our hands left one another, ever so slowly. In that instant I realized how much this sweet little boy had already changed the world! Through his silent smile, and hugs, through the hope I could see come alive in his eyes. He changed me, and he changed the world.

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Journey to India by Nancy

India 2013-02-135

The Annamani home seems to be a place where many gather. The old woman who has no home, but lives on a porch of others and works to keep herself busy. Aruna, our lovely woman who has a heart condition, visits often and is welcomed at any time. The feeding children come and go like this is an extension of their home. Sujeeth’s family is seen often also at this home. When I looked at our photos Susan and Sujeeth took there are times one can not tell who’s a part of this huge family. It is not just food these children wish from this household, but nurturing also. They want to feel as if they are a part of this family and when they are sitting there singing songs, learning a Bible verse, or a dance they are a part of this extended family.

India 2013-02-136

When the older ones need help with school work they can find that help right here because someone will be able to give them help and check their answers. To some of the smallest children it’s a place to play, a place their siblings go to. It’s a place that gives out love and food freely. I have seen that children tend to come here most days before they go home after school. The children in our AIF feeding program are loving and warm hearted. They smiled often and laughed and were just as happy to meet us as we were to meet them. They accepted gifts graciously and were very polite. Some were shy, but not shy enough that we could not get them to smile for us. I am told we need a post on these children, but I would like these photos, these faces on the photos to speak for themselves. As I view our pictures I see they speak volumes. I will say the children in the feeding program are a part of the Annamani home and it’s no wonder Durga wishes to see these children not only happy and well fed but healthy and educated. The Amma Irene Feeding program is an extension of The Annamani home.

India 2013-02-138

This one day, before we are to leave, Durga crammed as much as she could into what time we had left. We went to view the Lambadi village. I think I said briefly that our children in the feeding program and a few at the Annamani home are Lambadi. This has proven to be both good and bad it seems. The good side is that our children whose families live within the village can visit their families with little trouble because it’s so close. They can still keep that bond within the family. The bad thing can be if a child’s family requests Durga and Sujeeth take in their children and a child does not like following rules. Then it’s not far to go when and if that child runs home.

India 2013-02-140

We saw many families. Durga tried to point them out to us and Susan did her best to remember and photograph everyone, but keep in mind that we were in a hurry once again and you all know how I don’t like to hurry. We saw many people gathering for the wake of the father who passed the day before. Looked like the whole village was there. We did not wish to disturb and take away anything from their mourning. We had plans to visit later, but we did not. At one time or another I know that the entire village visited and paid their respects. It looks as if the Lambadi community is a very close knit one.

India 2013-02-139

The body was laid out on a table for all to pay their respects to. So much crying and grief. No singing, no loud prayers, only soft cries coming from so many. I felt so sad for this family. The children had little time to prepare themselves. No one knew that one day this man would be walking around, laughing with his children and the next he would be in a hospital and a day later he would be meeting his Maker. I felt for these children, as they do not understand. They are told their father is gone, but still they will look for him in the faces of many. They will listen for his voice. They will not know anger in having this father leave them, only hurt. They will experience loneliness as they wait for his return that will not happen. I am sure he looked grand to those viewing him, peaceful, but still he looked as if there should still be life in him. He was after all a young man. It was good seeing how everyone pulls together in a time of crisis. I wish time could have stood still for awhile longer so we could have taken a proper visit through the village. I so wish we could have paid our respects that day.

This was a place one could walk and feel no fear. Everyone we met, everyone we saw was friendly and happy to meet us. This place we will visit again and time will not be calling us to hurry.

India 2013-02-141

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