Greetings everyone – I have just come back from India as part of our school’s program. Our school sent out 7 different teams to 7 different countries around Asia with our entire high school. Our group went to the southern part of India where we worked with a ministry outside of Chennai. Our group worked alongside the Shalom staff and life trainees as we worked their water conservation projects to help capture rain water to help fill wells up. (It had not rained in 4 months since we arrived). The life trainees were very intrigued by us as they had never seen foreigners before. The life trainees come from very financially poor families and are fully supported with full education to gain a trade of some sort. In return they live and learn more life skills at the centre.
Along with the Trainees, we worked a different day at a local school that was closed down permanently (apparently it is because they were Christian) and only allowed to operate during the evening with tutoring. This has caused many students to have to travel to different areas to find schooling. The school had a lemon grove garden to help raise funds to support the school. We went in and helped clean it up and restore it.
We also worked “the land”- well more like “the concrete” -to prep and plant coffee and peppercorn plants. This was a very physically demanding job – but the planting of plants was very rewarding.
And as luck would have it, it was time to pick the peppercorns from some of the other plants. So we enjoyed picking some of the lower plants (the life trainees went up the ladders (15 ft)) and then separating them and prepping them for drying.
We had a chance to visit and share a church service at a local Christian school (10 percent Christian) and our group sang a song (thank you Matthew Carter – I can explain one day), we had a student share, and I had a chance to preach. We were all invited back to the principal’s home for tea and cake.
We enjoyed getting to know and work with the life trainees. We had a chance to share devotions together, we taught them card games, played volleyball, went on a hike, taught them a song they liked after we sang it to them. These are young men that are just trying to find a way out of poverty. They are so gracious to us and caring. I was humbled by their generosity and care. Within 6 months this particular group would be done their 2 years at the centre and off to school. We all parted ways after a week but they are certainly not forgotten.
We had a chance to drive back 6 hours to the various towns to get us back to Chennai airport. We did a bit of site seeing on the way with some Shalom staff members. As we were hours from leaving- we were taken to “the new mall” – not that “new” compared to Singapore- and we took them to an American place- Chili’s. I know- but it was either that or KFC. We chose the sit down meal. The Shalom staffers had never had American food before. They tried to eat with forks and knives too. We just decided to order a number of meals to share so they could try them all. There was no beef to order – only buffalo- so we didn’t order that. They didn’t really like the Pizza that we ordered. We also ordered some chicken tacos, salmon, and appetizers among other things. Actually one of the Shalom staffers said, “I think American food is more about quantity rather than quality, whereas Indian food is more about quality than quantity.” I think he nailed Chili’s on the head. We ordered a lava cake at the end to all share and they laughed as they cracked open the oozing chocolate centre. They said that was the best part of the meal. When the bill came – they asked to see the final total- (we were paying but I think they wanted to see how expensive it was compared to Indian food)- their eyes went large and they pursed their lips together as they smiled. I think they thought we were getting ripped off. BTW: All 13 of us ( includes the students who were at the adjacent table) ate for a total of $200 Canadian.
We all went to the airport at that point and they dropped us off as we then said good-bye to catch a redeye flight. It is good to be back in Singapore and I am looking forward to a bit of a break as I have been away from Les for a whole month less 3 days.
PS Les had a successful elementary concert at school while Maya went with the Middle school to Indonesia to have their own week of service. Maya said it was a great trip too.
Blessings to you all – and especially those who are enjoying Spring break as I write.