Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Final Thoughts from Ray

Please read this wrap up from third time India missionary, Ray.

I’m asked by a lot of friends if I enjoyed my vacation. I smile and say “Yeah, it was great”, but vacation would be one of the last words that I would use to describe our trip. The travel is brutal, and the work is non-stop once you get there. But there certainly are sights to see along the way. The ways they transport goods and people are very interesting, and in the U.S. would result in a ticket minimally, if not jail. These were all taken on the expressway, not rural roads!

I think the word I would use to describe the trip would be overwhelming. Overwhelmed by several things.

First of all, I am overwhelmed by the spiritual darkness. Hindu temples are everywhere and images of Hindu gods are ubiquitous as well. They dominate the skyline of every town, village and city we passed through. The current ruling party in India has made their agenda clear; to make the entire nation a Hindu nation. Our Christian brothers and sisters are praying for a change in regime at the next election cycle (India is the world’s largest democracy) and we join them in that prayer. Persecution against Christians has broken out in India, especially in the southern regions, (we were in the north) but there are signs that it is traveling northward. I was told that while the government does not take an active role in the persecution, they turn a blind eye to it unless somehow forced to address it. Pray for our brothers and sisters.

One of the churches of Everlasting Life Ministries is in the city of Hoshiarpur. Hoshiarpur is an area where Hindu extremists are based, and the church and its members have been attacked on occasion. Yet these brave Christians (virtually all of them converts from Hinduism) still gather to sing His praises and hear His word. The “church” is a building that was fairly recently built after they outgrew the home churches they were meeting in. It is simply a rectangular brick building with a dirt floor. They spread carpets over the floor and sit on the floor and worship Him with an enthusiasm that is remarkable. Their worship can be heard throughout the neighborhood, which can be dangerous, but they want others to hear His message, even if they are afraid to come through the doors.

As you travel through the country (it’s a 12-14 hour bus ride from the airport to Dasuya) it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the poverty and the living conditions a large percentage of the population live in.

Even those that live in homes and buildings have very little and make do with what they have. Yes, we have the poor in our country, but the scale and degree of poverty you see there is staggering.

Despite this, they are a friendly, welcoming people. The church members were especially open to us, but even strangers passing in the street were happy to welcome a group of Americans.

But mostly, I am overwhelmed by what God is doing in this place. Even with the difficulties of resistance from the culture and the government, God is moving His kingdom forward through His chosen people in India. The church in Dasuya continues to grow, and the influence of Everlasting Life Ministries is spreading throughout Northern India. Pastor Daniel trains and mentors pastors throughout the region and they are founding churches and through the Holy Spirit bringing people to faith. We happened to be there the week of a pastor’s conference. These are some of the dedicated souls that God has called to do his work. Pray for them.
Most overwhelming of all is that our team saw just under 1000 people, with around 700 of them hearing the gospel for the first time. They came for eyeglasses, but as part of the process they go to a station in the clinic where the people of the church witness and minister to them, giving them Bibles and other information in their own language. Pastor Daniel tells us that every time the eyeglass clinic comes, there are people that join the church as a result, are baptized and their eternal destiny is changed. To be a small part of that is the most overwhelming thing of all. It is such an honor and a privilege to have had this opportunity.

Waiting to get into the clinic.

Sunday service in Dasuya.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Visit to the Taj

As promised, you're going to get to see some pictures of the Team's visit to the Taj Mahal.  The day before the team headed for home, they took a bus from Delhi to Agra and visited the Taj. This ornate building, it really is incredible to see.

The craftsmanship is exquisite. If you'd like to see a short video on the Taj Mahal, click here. Look at some of these neat views our team captured.

And now, I ask you .... who carried it best?

The team enjoyed their visit to the Taj and even got to visit a marble shop afterwards. The artisans there are descendants from the original artisans that did the marble inlay work on the Taj and they use the same techniques. 

Here are a few other pictures you don't see every day ... 

I hope you enjoyed your quick view into the Taj Mahal!

Thank you for continuing to follow this group. They have made it safely home and are ready to share their stories! Make sure to ask when you see them. One of my favorite questions is, "How did you see God working in India?"

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Food Blog

So, the team is on their second flight and very close to home. They will be landing shortly. 

While we pray for their safe return and await more pictures and stories, how about a few pictures of some of the food they got to eat! I know it doesn't look like what you're used to, but it's so good!!

This is my favorite meal at Pastor Daniel and Elizabeth's house. Although, this is stacked a little more like and American would eat it. :) Aloo prantha is on the bottom and it's a typical Indian bread fill with a mixture of potato and onion and then pan fried. On top is a simple egg omelet. You can see toast and yogurt, too.

Here's a little better view and eaten a little more traditionally. They often serve fresh fruit, washed to make sure the Americans stay healthy.

Gulab Jamun is a sweet dessert, soaked in sweet syrup.

Here's the team praying before a meal.

This a typical non-breakfast meal served to the Americans. The rice is so delicious! It's basmati rice with a little onion and cumin cooked in. Dal (yellow) is a sauce that's very common and most Americans find it very tasty. They often serve chicken with some spice on it, but they always keep it tame for those with less of a spicy palate. And there is always roti, a bread similar to the texture of a tortilla, generally used to scoop other food. If you didn't know, most Indian people eat with their hands.

Another breakfast with chickpeas and poori (similar to the roti, but fried)

Indian hospitality ... always served chai or juice and a variety of tasty snacks and sweets.

When traveling, the team stopped at "Haveli." They are like very fancy rest stops with traditional India foods served. Here are some of the meals they had.

This is more of a Southern India dish, plain dosa. I don't know what the curries are.

I think this is a sampler meal, served with yummy naan (another delicious Indian bread).

They don't shop at Meijer or Costco ... most of the food is fresh from stands, including the eggs, milk, chickens (live), and fruit.

And the team did partake in a couple of fine-dining American restaurants ...

I hope you enjoyed this short glimpse into some of the Indian food (and not-so-Indian) food that the team got to experience.