WF First Report from Sister Jael Estey, Jan to Feb, 2011
The first two months of my stay here in India was a “world wind” of changes from western life to the local culture. Shortly after my arrival Sister Abi Catchlove, my co-volunteer, and I taught the Sunday school classes at Kurnol Bible Week. We had around seventy children from the ages of five to twelve. Sister Abi took ages eight to twelve while I handled the younger group, ages five to seven. The task of teaching through a translator was very difficult to work with at first but I was very blessed in having excellent translators that were full of energy and enthusiasm. During Kurnol Bible Week Sister Abi and I learned a lot about the behavior of Indian children and the amount of violence tolerated by both children and adults. This behavior has been difficult to understand and adjust to. I understand I cannot change this custom and have no intention of doing so but I predict that throughout my stay I will continue to struggle with this part of Indian life.
After Kurnol Bible Week had ended Sister Abi and I decided to stay at The Shunem Home. Before settling in at Shunem I had a chance to see the Christadelphian Faith Home in Kadium. I was highly impressed by the work Brother Andrew and Sister Shuba are doing there. I was also surprised when I learned that there are four different fellowships on the same road. This discovery was both upsetting and encouraging. In a strange way I felt comforted knowing that western countries are not alone in our struggle for unity. Kadium by itself was an experience to say the least; I tried my best to soak in every bit of it. I was in awe over how people live there and how simple life is.
Before returning to Shunem I was blessed by being given the opportunity to visit Damanaelly and it was an experience I’ll never forget. Damanaelly is this tiny village about 3 hours away from Kadium. There is a small ecclesia there with about eighteen sisters and one brother (who is illiterate). There are one or two literate sisters there that do give classes but once every two weeks a brother from Kadium makes the trip out there and conducts a memorial service for them. These brothers and sisters taught me some very valuable lessons. Not only should I continue to be overjoyed with all God has given to me but to understand what God has given to them. In my eyes God has given them some peace in that they do not need to struggle with the burden of riches of this world. These Brothers and Sisters will not have to fit a camel through the eye of a needle because they have no camel. Granted the lives these brethren lead are not easy ones but I do envy their lives of simplicity.
Now that I am settled in at Shunem I have been teaching the children phonics. The children here are eager to learn and nearly all of them are picking up the lessons with ease. Although there is a bit of a language barrier with the younger groups I have faith that God will help me to somehow get through to these children. I have been using games, rhymes, and many other activities to teach the different age groups.
There was recently four baptisms here at Shunem: Brother Praveen, Brother Prabhu Kiran, Sister Padma, and Sister Divya. These are the first children from Shunem to commit themselves to the waters of baptism. They all gave heartfelt confessions of their faith on Saturday January 19th. After their baptismal exams the whole ecclesia gathered at Brother Tim and Sister Sarah Galbraith’s home for the baptisms. It was a wonderful day full of God’s glory.
Although being at Shunem alone has been difficult, I am told I’m doing well. It has been truly an eye-opening experience, for on some mornings it is very difficult to open my eyes at 5:30. Being the minority for the first time in my life has been struggle for me. I have never viewed people based on the color of their skin in the twenty years I’ve lived in the United States but in the two months I’ve lived in India I have found it difficult to get past the color of my own skin.