WCF Report – March 2010
Greetings from India. We had promised a report now and then, so here it is. Unfortunately, our laptop isn’t accepting photos from my camera’s memory card – so we’ll have to find an alternative. Hopefully we can send you some in the next few days.
We arrived here in Bangalore March 3rd. Right away we were busy with young people from the local ecclesia stopping by to chat and have impromptu Bible studies. While we usually are visiting other smaller ecclesias or people in isolation on weekends, the first weekend we stayed “home” (part of adjusting from the nearly 12 hour time change and the exhausting flights). A “welcome back” reception was held for us that Saturday night and then we received a warm welcome the next day at meeting. The meeting here is quite large and I would guess that over half the members speak English. So it’s very comfortable for us. The service is held in English with translation for those who speak only Tamil. A couple of songs, however, are sung in Tamil.
We spent the first week trying to get over jet lag, which seemed worse than we remember from previous trips. Bangalore’s dusty air seems to prompt asthma and then bronchitis symptoms in Bruce each year. Fortunately he is over these by now.
During that first week Bruce continued preparing classes and I tried to get the flat into shape, as well as stock up on groceries and other supplies. The flat is in a 3-story building owned by the Christadelphians – top floor is the meeting hall, middle is the 5-bedroom flat, and the ground floor is used for various activities – it’s open every weekday for sewing, computer, and English classes; also the isolation league mailings are done from there as well as a feeding program for the local slum kids.
Next 3 Weeks
As soon as I had the chance to meet with Susan Danial, an Australian sister married to a local brother, we started working feverishly on the Bible Week lessons for kids. She and I will adapt the curriculum from one that was used at the Bible School in Australia that Kyle taught at this year. But, it takes dozens of hours of work just to get the Teachers’ outline adapted to the local culture and language skills. Then it has to be translated into 2 different languages. We’re at that point now. After that, we will be busy organizing all the crafts and preparing the children’s activity books. Last year I spent almost fulltime at this job over the first 2 months. Looks like the same for this year. [One work sheet from Australia asks the children what they can do to show love to others, and offers suggestions… weed the garden, wash the family car, etc. None of these even distantly resemble any local child’s reality, thus the cultural part of the re-write].
The past 3 weekends have been tiring but exhilarating. We leave by train each weekend to head to the outlying ecclesia – we always have to have a translator with us, as none of these places have many English speakers. The first of those weekends was the easiest – only a 2 ½ hour train ride. Bruce gave a 4-session study/ workshop based in I Kings entitled “The Kingdom, The Power and The Glory” over a 2-day period – plus the Sunday exhortation. This was for the members of 2 small ecclesias that are perhaps 15 miles apart – total attendance was about 35.
The following weekend we traveled 4 ½ hours by train (Friday morning) to the home of a brother who is quite a preacher. He had wanted me to do a couple of women’s classes on Friday afternoon, but when we got there, his wife had decided that women wouldn’t come since they’d be working. Instead, this brother took us to a remote village to visit a contact. There, I gave a children’s story on David, and then Bruce gave a simple lesson for the adults on “the whole armor of God”. As we were leaving to head back to our brother’s home, a woman asked us to come to her house to pray for an elderly woman there who was obviously very sick (cirrhosis). By the time we left there, quite a crowd was following us and we were invited to at least 4-5 more homes. Some just wanted us to pray for them – others wanted a class (we obliged). In the end, a visit that had been planned for an hour turned into several hours. It was very touching, and a powerful witness for Christ to this Hindu village.
The next day my 2 classes for women were held simultaneously with Bruce’s first 2 Kingdom classes on Saturday. I taught on prayer. Then after lunch, we all gathered together for Bruce’s 3rd class. About a total of 35 people attended – some brethren, but mostly contacts. A couple of the brothers in that area are paralyzed (waist down), both from falling out of coconut palms. They seem very cheerful and accepting of their state.
That Saturday evening we left by train for another ecclesia – 3 or so hours farther from Bangalore. Bruce spoke the next day at their small meeting (about 15 or so attendees) and then we had lunch with them before heading back to Bangalore. This meeting is made up of mostly people formerly from an evangelical church – I think their former pastor learned the Truth and brought some of his congregation with him. Anyway, the service was a bit more lively than a traditional Christadelphian service – much more singing, some amen’s hollered out during the talk, etc… a wonderful spiritual group. We were touched when one of them suggested they sing happy birthday to our granddaughter, who we had mentioned was celebrating that day. Then the lunch was dedicated to her, as her birthday lunch – in absentia, of course.
This past weekend we traveled to 3 places, leaving Thursday night and traveling by train all night, and then a few more hours by car. The first stop was in the most 3rd-world type village we’ve been in for a long time. Bruce was to give a Truth camp there, had to simplify his message a bit from what he had planned when he saw the type of crowd who had gathered. We didn’t count, but estimate that there were 30 or so people gathered there in a very simple building. Lunch was served first – all sat on the floor, were given banana leaves for plates and began to eat and eat and eat….rice and more rice. I think many of them may not have had such a meal for a long time. After Bruce’s 2 talks, we joined the one local sister and the one local brother for a breaking of bread. I wonder if any of you have ever had pepsi in place of wine or grape juice? Well, we have now. Since soft drinks are so much less expensive in 3rd world countries than juices and wine, I suspect that pepsi was the best this sister could afford. A piggy bank was passed after the service for the offering. Then we left for the 3 hours by car back to Madurai.
The following day Bruce gave another Truth camp. In this area, a sister has been working with blind people for some time and there are now 4 blind brothers. They, plus one of their blind friends, were all in attendance. I remember with fondness our visit to this ecclesia last year. One of the blind brothers was presiding at the Sunday meeting. You should have seen his fingers fly over the page (in Braille) as he read the readings to us.
After the talks this year, there were 2 interviews and 2 baptisms. The one new brother was Hindu before. He and his wife have a new baby girl and (as is the custom to ask for suggestions) asked me to choose a 3rd name for their daughter. I suggested all 3 of my granddaughters’s names and they didn’t seem to appeal. Then Michelle Hewitson came to mind and I suggested her name. That was the one – so Michelle has a baby girl named in her memory! I can’t wait to show Brett and the kids the photos I took!
Then we traveled a few more hours by train to spend Sunday in the home of a brother who has lived in the same place for 10 years. He has tried and tried to preach with no apparent success until recently. When we arrived Sunday morning, he had gathered around a dozen friends and contacts. Again, Bruce taught 3 classes on the kingdom. It was a lovely day and so precious to see this brother and sister welcome us and the others into their very simple home.
Back in Bangalore
Now we are back in Bangalore, and we await the arrival in two days of our dear friends, Mic and Shoshanna Hindmarsh from Australia. They will be leading a youth conference here in Bangalore this weekend. There’s much to do in preparation – our flat will be full overnight, as well as both floors above and below us. We expect around 40 attendees – about ¼ from here; the rest from ecclesias all over southern India and a few young field workers from Hyderabad (where Tim and Sarah live).