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2015 India Mission Team Updates

Our India Team landed in Philly at 4:00PM.  They have to disembark, go through customs, pick up baggage, meet their rides, and travel back to the church.  We are estimating their arrival between 5:30-6PM.  Families and friends waiting to greet them are welcome to wait inside the air conditioned church.

Check here regularly for updates on our India Mission Team!  The most recent information/pictures will be listed at the top of the post.

07/17/15 – Friday Update from Vicky

What an emotional day! Leaving GSM is such sweet sorrow. We have renewed friendships and developed new ones. With many tears, hugs and promises to return, we departed for Chennai about 10:45 am. Driving around India is never boring, so the first part of the trip flew by. When we got close to the city, the traffic became insane! Our expert driver, Serush even rubbed his head and sighed a lot! We visited the Basilica of St. Thomas the Apostle and viewed the spot where he was buried. What a powerful feeling to know we trod where one of Jesus’ disciples had been. Serush pointed out a few landmarks, like the Cricket Stadium and the beach, which has the second longest stretch of sand in the world. We spotted a KFC and chuckled about seeing one in India, when we pulled in to eat! What a friendly place! When we had to wait a bit for food, the manager gave us a tour of the kitchen. It was extremely clean! They even gave us a KFC cheer! It tasted wonderful; we weren’t sure if it was because we missed American food or that it was so fresh. Off to shopping at Spencers to find last minute souvenirs and gifts. How wonderful to have personal bargaining aides in Praveen and Paul; their patience was incredible! Our feet were aching and it was time to head to the airport through the insane traffic. It took well over an hour to travel less than 15 km. Brother Henry met us at departures with all of our luggage and there was another round of goodbyes, this was the last opportunity to see these beloved faces. Now we sit and wait for a couple of hours until we can board our flight to Frankfurt. We will be glad to get home! Love to all and so looking forward to seeing everyone!

07/17/15 – Thursday update

Hello, it’s Luke!  We’re preparing to depart from Good Shepherd for Chennai.  Thursday, we started the morning by enjoying a wonderful breakfast prepared by Grace, Brother Henry’s sister-in-law.  Her joy was inspiring, and it was wonderful meeting her and her family.  After that, we visited different schools across Puttur, which was a very interesting experience.  There are both similarities and major differences between American and Indian classrooms.  Then, after lunch, we had some down time, which we filled by playing cricket and receiving henna tattoos.  Once the tattoos were fully dry, we drove to the HIV clinic, where we provided sick and struggling people with free protein.  We drove back to the mission, and served over 200 children, workers, and community members a giant feast.  We said goodbyes, some tearful, and headed back for our dinner at around midnight.  As we travel home, members of the team are keeping this quote in mind: “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.  That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”

The team will begin their first flight, Chennai to Frankfurt, home today at 3:30pm our time. Please keep them in your prayers for safe travel!

07/16/15 – Wednesday update

Well, it has been an interesting day in Puttur. The day began by dedicating the new network computer purchased for the school. The older classes joined us for a ribbon cutting ceremony w/applause and smiles. Everyone but Vicky went for a tour of the school and visited each of the classrooms. The children were all very polite, saying, “Good morning, welcome to our classroom,” upon each visit. We were all very impressed by the level of learning which was well beyond anything we could have imagined. While the school tour was going on Vicky was going over the resident list with Brother Henry. Good conversations between Vicky, Brother, and Mary the housemother for the girls about the culture and traditions of India. After lunch and taking afternoon rest, something occurred we had expected on this trip, but had not really troubled us. A monsoon like thunderstorm blew through! Has anyone else seen the roads turn into rivers of muddy water? Pretty amazing after the dry, dusty heat! Chloe went to get something upstairs, and came back reporting there was a mini flood in the ladies dorm room! We hurried up to inspect the damage, finding several beds with puddles and items that had been on windowsills and the floor soaked. While most of the group went to conduct the boys VBS, a few stayed back to help rearrange furniture so that the multiple leaks would not interfere with sleeping. Once that was taken care of, the entire team joined to present the story of Noah (appropriate!) to the boys. Things were a bit chaotic, especially since the power went out and we couldn’t see. Well Doug and his guitar came to the rescue and we played a favorite song. When it was finished, the lights had come back on and normal activities resumed, as “normal” as they can be with a bunch of rowdy boys!

07/15/15 – A Tuesday update from the India Team.

Our days are packed full of so many experiences! This morning we were able to visit the Good Shepherd School adjacent to the mission. We were showered with flower petals and big smiles as we arrived. The school children are so joyful and eager to learn, yet very disciplined. They had an entire program prepared to showcase their knowledge and talents. Praveen has put together a top notch program on a shoestring budget! The loving staff is so dedicated as well, having worked for nearly two months without a salary! Is anyone willing to give up a dinner out to pay a $70/mo teacher paycheck? Our boys have completely enjoyed playing cricket with the children here. The children had been making do with a makeshift bat, so a gift of 2 new sets of cricket were presented today. The excitement and gratitude on those faces was priceless! Since the girls here don’t play cricket, the ladies put on a VBS program that included singing, dancing and the story of Noah. We all had a wonderful time! Brother Henry showed us where and how the children’s meals were prepared…8 kilos of rice with some gravy and eggplant soup. Later we would see their meal served on the porch of their residence in a very orderly manner, saying the blessing in unison. We also had the opportunity to participate in a second youth meet up, singing to the best of our ability, but Luke and Doug carried the ball tonight. We closed our day with a view of the senior wing and the girl’s mealtime. The breadth of what GSM does in the community with so little is incredible! Tomorrow holds a whole new set of adventures!  We are having trouble sending pictures—hopefully the pictures will send tomorrow!

07/14/15 – More great pictures…

Lunch at Swathi Restaurant following a medical camp in Sataveydu, a treat from Brother Henry and Brother Prassad.

Lunch at Swathi Restaurant following a medical camp in Sataveydu, a treat from Brother Henry and Brother Prassad.

Hi! This is Luke! Sunday night, our group went to a small and heavily impoverished village near Puttur. Participating in a worship service with the village’s people was very raw and powerful. We’ve had another busy day today. We drove to Kolladam today, which is a mission that is headed by Brother Henry’s brother, Prassad, about 2 hours away (a drive that was shorter than in the past, thanks to new roads). We helped in the morning giving immunizations at a medical camp. Lunch was at a restaurant in Sri City (a fascinating corporate manufacturing city), and it was our first meal outside the settlement. After lunch, we returned to Prassad’s mission to administer immunizations and play with the children. Just like the children at Good Shepherd, Kolladam’s children are a joy to spend time with. Following a goodbye that was tearful for some, we headed back to Puttur. We’re all heading to bed for the night! I hope all’s well in PA!

07/12/15 – Day 4 recap

Still no WiFi, and the computer internet has not worked. We will be doing a 3rd medical camp tomorrow, Monday, on our way to Kolladam. We did a street service in Pastor Paradise’s village tonight. All went well, but we are tired!!

07/11/15 – Text message from Vicky Kefer: Just wanted to send you a quick message. It was a good day. Trip to the Bonesetters in the morning, then the waterfall. In the evening we all pretended to be Rock Solid (except Doug) and sang at the Mega Youth Meet. Earlier in the day Praveen had asked me to share a message, of course I can’t say no. So I did. Some stage fright, but not to bad. Doug was awesome! The group is really bonding. Say a little prayer for Chloe, she is still struggling a bit with tummy troubles. Have a good night, happy Sunday!

07/11/15

Still having internet issues, surprise! We talked with Grace, Minnie and John on Thursday night. Also Pastor John and his pretty little girl whose name is Blessing.   Our second day at GSM was another busy one. We began the day at a village medical camp held at the local DMV. The space was very cramped and hot! Our gloves filled with perspiration and we mopped our brows. Even Doug’s knees were sweating through his pants! But the teamwork was there, ALL pitched in to administer the 35 immunizations. The look in the children’s faces ranged from puzzled curiosity to outright terror! We were certainly ready to take rest following the morning. Praveen’s beautiful wife Anitha led us around the town so we got a close up look at true village life. And alive it is with scooters, children, markets selling goods of every type. And we were all like Anitha’s little ducklings with our yellow hydration packs. The evening was spent playing games with the children, Cricket, Lion and Goat, duck duck goose, all in great spirits! We look forward to what the days ahead hold for us! (This edited version is from Vicky. Pictures in the next email.)

07/11/15 – They were able to finally send these photos from their first few days at the Mission.

7/10/15 – Reflections from Luke Myers… Today was another great day in India. We completed our first work outside of the mission compound today when we assisted at a health clinic at a local driver’s license center. Our role was to administer Hepatitis B vaccinations to infants and toddlers. After we completed vaccinating about 35 children (bringing our total for the trip to 125), we returned back to the mission for lunch and to be fitted for our tailored Indian clothing. Believe it or not, this process took longer for the men than for the women! Once we were all finished, we went on a shopping trip into town, which gave the women more than enough opportunity to reciprocate the waiting for the opposite gender, and they surely took advantage. The town was remarkably crowded and busy. When we returned home from shopping, we had a few hours to interact with the kids. We played cricket with the boys and a variety of creative group games with the girls. This has been one of our trip’s highlights thus far, the kids are delightfully full of energy and bright-eyed. The excitement that they have is capable of bridging any language barrier. A worship service then followed, and we went up for dinner and are now preparing for bed. I have a feeling that we won’t have any trouble sleeping tonight after the day that we had today. An interesting note: it rained here today for the first time in any of the returning team members’ memories.

Hope everything is good back home! Luke 07/09/15 – Notes from the team…

Our Welcome at the missionWe arrived at GSM this morning just before 4 am and were joyfully greeted by drummers, musicians, and dancing. The orphans lined our path with candlelight. We celebrated with them briefly in the Ashram and then down the path to our home for the week. A beautiful mosaic had been painted in front by the girls. Our beds never felt so wonderful! And surprise…air conditioning in the bedrooms! In the morning we enjoyed a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast. A medical camp was underway at the hospital, so we headed over and were greeted by hundreds of people waiting to be treated by the physicians. Following introductions and a brief tour, immunizations got underway. What a blessing to have all the helping hands! A few were taught to fill syringes, others applied Band-Aids, held babies, and we all agree that Ben was the most enthusiastic Tootsie Roll dispenser! Our count was 90 Hepatitis B immunizations in about 2 hours. The room was filled with good spirits despite all the cries of frightened children! It was a humbling experience for parents to place their trust in us, handing over their children to aid in their future health. Not to mention heartwarming!  Stay tuned for more to come. Be patient, our connections are spotty!

Love and blessings to all!

07/09/15 – The team participated in a medical camp on their first day at the Mission.

Greeted with garlands at the airport.

Greeted with garlands at the airport.

7/08/15 – The team has landed safely in Chennai, very tired, but happy to be in India.  They still have to travel to the Mission compound.  Stay tuned for more news… 07/07/15 – 12PM – Send off Prayer Circle @ Calvary UMC. And they are off!! They will be meeting Kristin, Lucille, & Ryan at Philadelphia!!

Comments

  1. Conestoga Family Practice says

    Sending prayers for Vicky and the group for safe travels and lives changed by their commitment to serving God and others! We will miss you Vicky, enjoy your trip!!
    The gang at Conestoga Family Practice! 🙂

  2. Cindy fortunato says

    Your team is in our prayers constantly! Knowing you will all shine your light (and buy a few cool souvenirs as well 🙂 )

    Enjoy and God speed!
    The Fortunato’s

  3. Kathy Moore says

    We are so glad to hear that you arrived safely. Our thoughts and prayers are with your team as you continue your travels and mission of sharing your knowledge, skills and especially your love of God. We know that your presence will make a tremendous differnece in the lives of all you serve.

    Take care, be careful, and have a wonderful time!
    Kathy Moore, John Renninger & Family

  4. Janet & Fred Myers says

    How wonderful that we can read about your experiences in India! We are so proud of all of you – for realizing that giving of yourself can make such a difference in people’s lives.
    BLESSINGS,
    Janet & Fred Myers

  5. Darlene Myers says

    Hi all!! You are daily (ALL day…lol) in our hearts and prayers. I cant tell you how powerful and meaningful it is for those of us here back home to have a window to the events you are part of in India, as we have traveled so much of this journey with you. And I must say Luke’s jurnal entries and updates are phenominal and dear! Luke, please continue sharing! Love and blessings to you all.

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