Dear Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation,
The month of May flew by faster than I ever expected. After running two bible schools at the end of April and saying good-bye to the Shunem children for the month I was blessed with time to rest and recharge before going to the Bangalore bible week and helping with the Sunday school program there. Thankfully Sister Carmen and Sister Carly from the Cumberland Ecclesia in Australia helped Sister Susan from the Bangalore Ecclesia organize the Sunday school program. We were blessed with a very well behaved group of kids and although I was more than willing to help whenever and wherever I was needed the group of children was small. As a result I was not able to be as big a part of the program as I would have liked.
I was however able to assist Sister Carmen with the drama about David and his best friend Jonathan, along with leading the craft sessions when needed. I thoroughly enjoyed drama practice each evening, the group of only eleven children were very outgoing and excited to be part of the production. We were truly blessed with some natural born performers who brought their own personality to each character. The production was a huge success, filled with laughs and unexpected antics.
Adult Classes and Discussion Groups
One of the benefits of not being a vital part of the Sunday school program was having the privilege to attend the adult classes and discussion groups, something I now appreciate more than ever. I really enjoyed going to the discussion groups and hearing other brothers’ and sisters’ points of view on different topics relevant to life in India such as; love marriages, blue jeans and dating. I tried to listen and understand why these things cause such a controversy here rather than force my input that wearing blue jeans is normal and dating is an important step to finding the right person to share your life with. I came to find out that my group shared some of my opinions although dating is still a difficult subject to approach.
North India Adventure
Once Bangalore Bible week was over I was given the opportunity through God’s good fortune to see yet another part of India. Sister Carly agreed to join me in an adventure of North India where we visited Delhi, the country’s capital, Jaipur, the pink city, Ranthampur, the jungle, and of course Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. We started and ended our trip in Delhi where we saw; Humayan’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, the India Gate, the Lotus Temple, the Loti Gardens, The National Museum and a Hindu temple. Of all the sights we visited in Delhi my favorite was the Lotus Temple, it’s structure is inspired by the lotus, India’s national flower, and inside is a place for deep meditation and prayer. There is no talking or photography allowed inside this temple. Although the concept of silence is lost in Indian culture, it was the quietest place I’ve been in all of India.
After Delhi we ventured to Jaipur where Sis. Carly and I rode an elephant up to explore the Amber Fort where nothing was off limits. We climbed up many different staircases and at one point found ourselves on the roof of the palace.
From Jaipur we journeyed to Ranthampur where we went on a safari. Unfortunately we did not find any tigers but we did see fresh tiger footprints along with peacocks, deer, crane, wild boar and a crocodile. The highlight of Ranthampur was really the family of monkeys at our hotel. Sis. Carly was brave enough to swim in the questionable pool and discovered them drinking the water not five feet away from her.
After our jungle adventure in Ranthampur we finally went to Agra. Upon arrival Sis. Carly and I saw the Agra Fort, or Red Fort. We then went to a small shop, owned by one of the companies that maintain the Taj Mahal, where we learned about how all the marble inlay work is done through artistry. On May 22, 2011 I saw the Taj Mahal, Sis. Carly and I spent hours looking around and taking hundreds of pictures. I was and am so thankful that through God’s good grace I was given the opportunity to see such an amazing structure.
Back Home—Sort of
I am very thankful that God blessed me with time to rest and explore in India but I was anxious to return to Hyderabad and spend time with my Shunem family.
Towards the beginning of June the Hyderabad ecclesia held a Youth Conference here at Shunem. Brother Nathan Badger from Canada traveled all the way to India to lead the youth studies on Judges. It was such a treat to see someone I knew from North America and very uplifting to hear someone else’s thoughts on one of my favorite books of the bible. The Youth Conference was filled with studies, games, discussion groups and evening meditations. I was asked to lead a meditation on Jael from Judges 4 the first night of the conference. The character Jael has always been an interesting person to me not only because we share the same name but because of her strength and bravery.
Over the past 6 months I have tried to teach, and help the children with the reading skills here at Shunem, as well as share our promise of the Kingdom. Instead I have learned so much from the staff, elderly, and children here. It saddens me to know that I must return home but I know in my heart I will see them all again. Before I left America my mom warned me, “Jael try not to fall in love with all the children you meet.” But how could I not? Sometimes the children here made me crazy, and other times they made me even crazier! But Shunem and everyone here will always have a place in my heart. I pray that they all grow big and strong and do well in their studies, but most of all I pray that the children will all grow in faith. God has provided me with so much by giving me this time at Shunem and I know he will continue to provide so much for everyone involved in the Shunem home.
Throughout my journey in India I have had so many life changing experiences that have taught me things like; patience, understanding, appreciation, and trusting in God. Patience is a very important lesson to be learned in India, seeing as everyone and everything moves very slowly or comes to a complete stand still. Understanding this idea of being very patient with your brothers and sisters was extremely difficult for me to put into practice. Coming from a home where things are organized and done on time made the transition to complete disorganization and procrastination a challenging one.
Now that I have been a part of such a different culture and different way of life I really appreciate the little things so much more now, like having electricity to wash my clothes, or just being able to get in a car and go where you need to go when you need to go. India has been an amazing growing experience from being immersed into a completely different culture I have had the gift of growing in faith and even more understanding of God’s will. This adventure through India gave me some hands on learning about completely putting my trust in God. From getting on a motorbike without a helmet to sleeping with rats I was forced to trust that God would keep me safe. Having such huge mental road blocks put in front of me, like being at Shunem without a co-volunteer was nothing less than a gift from God. Being here on my own helped me to fully rely on God. I admit it was difficult not to have a physical person to talk to during the day but I always had God to talk to. I pray that I will not forget the powerful lesson that God is always with us and always listening.
In conclusion I want to thank the Williamsburg Christadelphian Foundation along with the Schooley’s Mountain Ecclesia, and all the Brothers and Sisters who donated cards and items for my fundraising yard sale for giving me the opportunity to be here. Without your support and many words of affirmation I would not have been able to have such a faith changing experience. I pray that God was in some way glorified through my work here.
Your Sister in Christ,