!ncredible !ndia (Part 2)

Monday May 14 
BEAUTIFUL Sarees at a Village Meeting 

 Sleeping with the windows closed turned out to be the least brilliant idea of the entire trip. I think I woke up every couple of hours from the severe heat trapped in our room. The next night there was a unanimous decision to face the critters instead of the heat. What's a few bugs compared to practically cooking in your own skin???

 It's hard to sleep long into the morning when there are so many things going on around the building. With no glass in the windows, sound traveled freely into our room, and I would wake every morning around 5:00am. Directly outside my window was a small pond and a dirt road leading into the village. Across the street were a couple of village homes and I could watch the families beginning their days from my window. Being unaware that there were outsiders watching, they were at ease and laughing with each other. Several little boys were chasing each other around the house while their mother fed the chickens and ducks in the yard.  

We met every morning around 8:00am for group devotion and breakfast. Michael did a great job leading our devotions, and we spent the week reviewing and discussing the steps from salvation to sanctification.  While we were doing our devotion, our host would bring us each a 'tea and tiffin'.  Tiny cups of delicious chia tea and a small packaged cake called a tiffin. The chia tea is indescribably good- it doesn't taste like any chia tea I have ever had. According to Andrew, Indians drink hot Chia tea throughout the day because it helps to coat the stomach and protect from the heat. I just know it was delicious.

After Yuna took the tumble off the harley on Sunday night, we got to ride in the cars to St. Mary's school for the morning.  Here are the cars that we rode in during the week.

 (1) the very American looking SUV and (2) the TATA Nano which we loving referred to as the 'Puppy-Mobile'. Junior Panda always drove the puppy-mobile and it didn't take long to figure out that Junior Panda thinks of himself as a NASCAR driver. I'm pretty sure the TATA was airborne a couple of times and anything we had to travel in the cars, I tried to get a seat in the SUV as quickly as possible.

 Here's 'GID' (good Indian Driver) who always drove the Boleto. I think he may have been the best driver in all of India.

 Our first day at St. Mary's School was a bit of a misadventure. When we were  trying to prepare for our trip, we received a rather long list of things that the school wanted us to do which included teaching English lessons and bible studies, etc. We were all a bit nervous (as none of us are teachers) but we did our best to prepare. When we arrived at the school the children were gathered in the chapel and we were introduced to all the teachers and students.

St. Mary's School

Andrew introduced our team, and then they looked at us and said, "OK, what would you like to do?"


 And here we thought they would be telling us what things they wanted us to do.

 Needless to say, the four hours at the school went by VERY slowly on Monday. We brought a bunch of blow up globes with us, so we spent some time showing the kids where India was on the globe and where Alabama was in the United States, and how we had traveled to visit them.  We broke all the kids up into three groups and each group has a couple of teachers to serve as translators.  We did a bible study and tried to do our best to gauge how much English the kids could understand on their own. Unfortunately the teachers seemed to have the most trouble translating what we were saying to the kids. Indians learn is King's English (British) and we all know that an accent from the Southeast U.S. is about as far from King's English as you can get. Not helpful. Somehow we made it through that long first morning at St. Mary's with a lot of Father Abraham, and Simon Says, and bible stories.

Team on Monday when we first arrived at the school.

Heading to do a group 'competition' to end the morning. The kids LOVE to compete.

Relay Races

We were a bit overwhelmed by the time we left for lunch, and I was wondering how we were going to make it through the rest of the week. We all knew we would have to regroup and come up with another game plan before Tuesday morning.

 Now to explain the photo below:

On the way back to the church compound for lunch Andrew said, ‘We will stop by the sea to refresh ourselves.’

Ok. Sounds good. We could all use some refreshing.

I think he could tell we were both totally frazzled by the morning activities and totally wiped out from the heat and high humidity.   We drove to a near-by town on the river Ganges and parked the cars in a lot by the market. By this point I was starting to get used to people starring at us, but watching people trip because they were looking at us and not where they are going was over-the-top.   We walked down through the market and out to the pier. The area of West Bengal where we were is primarily agriculture based and the towns along the Ganges are fishing villages.

There were several fishing boats off the pier and out in the water. Andrew pointed out past the furthest boat where you could start to see another land mass in the distance and said, There is Bangladesh.”

My first thought was, ‘Crap. Rick Lynch will not be happy.’

The one (of many) things dad kept saying to me before we left was, ‘Don’t go near any borders. It sure looks like you are going to be near the border. I don’t want you hauled off to some foreign prison.’

‘Don’t worry Dad. We are not going to be near the border’. (As least there was water between us).

Those tree tops in the background...Bangladesh.

After the refreshing visit to the border of India, we headed back to the compound for a delicious lunch of prawns in a spicy curry sauce, white fish cooked in another spicy sauce and rice. We also had homemade French fries with every meal. Is this what people know of Americans? Even they were spicy. We had watermelon and a sweet pudding for dessert, which Andrew again said was suppose to coat your stomach and keep you cool during the day. Believe me, it was so hot and humid you could have told me standing on my head and singing Kum-ba-ya would keep me cool, and I would have tried it once- just in case.

After lunch we talked about the morning at the school, and tried to game plan something better for Tuesday. We figured out that Michael actually had a pretty good day with his group because Andrew had been his interpreter. We decided to try something new the next day.

Around 3:00pm we headed out on the two Harleys to the first two villages with new NeverTHIRST hand pumps in place. We rode the Harleys when the roads to the villages were too narrow for vehicles.  The first village we arrived at actually bordered the sander bands on one side. The Sander bands are a marshy low land area that makes up the border between India and Bangladesh all the way down to the Bay of Bengal. It is a World Heritage site and one of the last places on earth where Bengal tigers exist in the wild (we did not see any).  Before we got to the village we had to park the Harleys and cross over a cane bridge bordering the sander bands.   Junior Panda kept saying ‘Come come! One at a time!’ as we crossed the bridge. I have serious doubt it could have supported more than one person at a time. We did not press our luck.


Crossing the Bridge
When we walked into the village, a large group of villagers had already gathered for the meeting. They had a row of chairs for us to sit in and the villagers sat on large tarps and grass mats in front of us. We were (of course) welcomed with a generous offering of coconut waters.   Louanne and Andrew introduced the team and we discussed the hand-pump with the villagers. We asked questions like the following:

·         How long have you had the hand-pump?
·         How many families are using the pump?
·         What are you using the water for?
·         Have you noticed any improvement in your health since the hand-pump has been installed?

These questions would help start the conversation. Many villagers wanted to know about community sanitation and future plans. This is the next step in the NeverTHIRST program, but it has not been implemented in any of these villages yet. The village model is currently being developed.

Neverthirst Well

Andrew also introduced Pastor Panda to the villagers. The driving force behind NeverTHIRST is to not only provide clean water for villagers, but to provide LIVING water through salvation in Jesus Christ. NeverTHIRST is a catalyst for connecting the local church (Pastor Panda in this case) with the villagers. In the NeverTHIRST program villagers actually have to raise and fund half of the money for the drilling and maintenance of the well. Someone in the village even has to donate land for the well to set on. This way, the villagers have a stake in the well, they paid for it and are responsible for its up-keep. Because Pastor Panda was an active part of the process of bringing the well to the village, he now has access to the villagers and can share the gospel with them.

We also did a skit called ‘The River Crossing’ that shows the importance of gaining knowledge from others and then sharing it with others to pass the knowledge on.’ We all know I am not the actor in the family, but I gave it my best.

Heather reviewed ‘Safe water’ practices with the villagers that included things like:

·         Cover your clean water container.
·         Use well water for cooking and drinking.
·         Wash hands after using the restroom.

We also played a huge life-size game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’ that helped to reinforce the Safe Water Practices.

 Before heading to any of the villages, Andrew had prepped us by explaining to us that you are not allowed to share the gospel with people in a public place (ie the village meeting), but that you can share with someone one-on-one after you have been invited into their home.

 Due to a 'lost in translation' moment I'll not exactly sure what happened at the end of our first village visit, but Pastor Panda was speaking to the group of villagers, and then Andrew asked Michael if he would close the metting in prayer. At this point one of the villagers got very angry and marched down front and was speaking very animatedly in Bengali. Another man in the crowd had to stand up in front of him and sort-of block him. Andrew would not translate what the man was saying, he just turned to Michael and said, "Pray fast." We left the village immediately after that. Andrew never did elaborate on what the man was saying. Maybe he did not want it to discourage us for the remainder of the trip.

 We continued riding the Harleys to a second handpump location. We did not have a formal village meeting here, but walked around from home to home and met the villagers who lived there and used the hand pump.

Walking through the village
Typical Village Home. Yes, a few homes do have satellite TV.
Hand-formed cow patties drying in the sun on the roof. Used to burn as fuel.
Visiting with a woman outside here home.
Visiting with a family outside their home.

After dark (7:30pm) we rode the Harleys back to St. Mary's School where we sat and had a snack. Then we met with a group of local Evangelicals, most who have been saved only a few years. The purpose of the time was to study the Word with them and better equip them to share the gospel with others. Believers in India desperately need someone to train them in better biblical understanding. Michael led the men through the same principles that we were studying in our morning devotions.

 Around 9:30pm we headed by the the church compound for dinner. Our days in India were rather long-especially with the heat. For dinner we had fried rice with peppers, chunks of chicken and cashews. French fries and mangoes for dessert (of course). Then I took a shower and went to bed. Louanne had to kill the biggest, fastest moving spider that came in the window and ran across the ceiling over our beds. I am not exaggerating when I say its body was the size of a silver half dollar, PLUS the legs. Ick. Is this really only the end of Monday?     


  1. Looks like you had a pretty interesting experience.

  2. How close was that border !!! Dad

  3. Great writing...I am just going to tell people to read your blog, so I hope that you continue to write. Brooke and I were blessed to have shared this experience with you and the rest of the team. We look froward to seeing you again soon.

  4. Meg, I am enjoying reading about your trip. I love the sweet little faces on the children. And all the beautiful colors in the ladies sarees. What a blessing. I know you and your team have planted seeds for Jesus! I'm looking forward to hearing more!