WF Report – October-December, 2010
Shunem Home, Hyderabad, India
October 16th-December 12th
After attending the October Bible Week in Vijayawada, we (along with Sister Maggie Schlageter and fifty of the Shunem children) returned to the Shunem Home. About a week after the Bible School concluded, Lydia Manning and Ellese Forbes (the other two Shunem volunteers) left to head back home to New Zealand. We made some adjustments to our activities and educational goals, but continued to focus on one on one reading with all of the children and are happy to report that in the total time we were there (August to December), almost every single child moved up one or more levels in their reading program (the A-Z reading series, which was set up at the home several years ago). We noticed significant improvements in their ability to sound out new words and comprehend what they were reading.
Through October and November, we continued to involve ourselves in ecclesial activities, teaching Sunday School at Shunem every Sunday, and having special spiritual classes with the older children and Laxmi, who works as a staff member at Shunem. Much to our joy, at the conclusion of our classes, Laxmi requested baptism. Aunt Sarah Galbraith helped her write a letter to the ecclesia, in which she expressed that she wanted to become a “daughter of God.” In late November, our new Sis. Laxmi was baptized at the Shunem home, with all of the children looking on. Sis. Laxmi is young, in her twenties, and has a close relationship with many of the older children at Shunem. We hope and pray that the example she set and the discussions we had with the older children will inspire them to seek after baptism themselves in the near future.
In November, we had the opportunity to take a short trip to another village in Andhra Pradesh; Kadiam, the location of the Christadelphian Faith Home. The Faith Home is overseen by Bro. Andrew and Sis. Suhba Johnson and supported by Agape in Action. We had a wonderful time with Bro. Andrew’s family and the nineteen exceptional children who live there and attend a Christian school that Bro. Andrew also oversees. The Faith Home was under construction when we visited; the children currently sleep in the family’s home, but with the expansion, they will have new rooms. The finished building will also include a quarter for Faith Home volunteers, which will be separate from the current mission flat above the Kadiam ecclesial hall.
The second half of our time in India seemed to absolutely fly by. The last several weeks were filled with preparations for the Shunem Christmas drama, ecclesial events (CYC, lectures, sister’s classes and get-togethers), a visit to Dasserapalli (the Christadelphian leper colony) and quality time with the children. Jessica’s father, Bro. Philip Sweeny, was able to come to Hyderabad from the 1st to the 5th of December. On Saturday the 4th, he delivered five classes on “Jesus” in a study day at Shunem. The Hyderabad ecclesial members all attended the event, partook in lunch and dinner at the Home, and stayed for an interactive Bible game we had organized for the evening time (it was a big hit!)
Our time spent at the Shunem Home was an experience that we will carry in our hearts for the rest of our lives. We would love to return someday. More than that, we look forward to the time that we will be united with our Indian Brothers and Sisters in God’s kingdom, which we pray will come soon. It would truly be incredible to see the children who we came to love so much growing up in a world of peace.