Monday, April 4, 2011

one last goodbye

It is nearing 7:30am on Tuesday morning and the team is busy packing and getting ready to bring this leg of our journey to an end.  We are headed out of Tenali this morning for Hyderabad (a 7 hour drive) where will we part ways to either do a little traveling or head back to the United States.

I have mixed emotions as I write this, it is truly very bittersweet to leave here...on one hand we are all very excited to travel, see our families, sleep in our own beds, and eat whatever we want, we are definitely welcoming the break.  On the flip side, for many of us, India has really felt like home lately and Harvest India, Suresh, and everyone here has grown to be our family.  Saying goodbye to one family and hello to another is the root of why there is joy and sadness intermingled in the air this morning.

Yesterday Suresh organized an event at his house that encompassed several wonderful things: Cory's birthday, Lizzi's pregnancy, and our team going away party.  It also happened to be the Hindu New Year so there was celebrating all around us.  Cory was given a cake and an awesome Indian birthday candle to go with it that spouts flames and plays "Happy Birthday."  Lizzi was given a Seemantham celebration which is the Indian equivalent to a baby shower.  It was super fun to see the whole HI staff and to celebrate so many events at once.  We said our goodbyes to most people here and had some great fun in the process.  Sorry there are no pictures of these events, I don't have time to upload them this morning but possibly in the next few days.

Look for another blog post soon, I am hoping to write a better recap of things in the next few days when I have more time to think.  In the meantime, we are loading up the car and preparing to say goodbye to Suresh and Christina and deal with separating from our Indian family.

Thank you for all your prayer and love, please keep in coming as our journey is not yet over!  We are reeling in the emotion of today and are thanking God for His immense provision and blessing over the past 3 months.  See you all soon!

Friday, April 1, 2011

cheeky monkey

Once upon a time, a monkey broke into our house and stole our bananas. Chaos ensued...

Watch the chaos here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

prayer and praises

We can't believe it but we only have 6 days left in Tenali working with Harvest India before we start heading home. These three months have blown by and left us shocked that we're going home already. God has done so much in our time here and we are so excited to see what He has planned for us as we come home to process and plan the next steps for this RockHarbor & Harvest India partnership.

That being said, we are struggling to get through our last few days here. The Indian Summer has arrived. It's become stiflingly hot, humid, and pretty much miserable. From what we have heard from the locals, when Summer arrives, life slows to a near halt. Nobody does ANYTHING, and we have quickly realized that we also don't feel like doing ANYTHING. It's too hot to even think. On top of the heat almost everybody on the team has gotten hit with some sort of flu/cold/sinus/diarrhea bug that's laying people up for 2 to 3 days at a time.

So it comes down to this... we are in major need of prayer. Pray that God gives us the strength to get through this last week spiritually, physically and emotionally. Pray that He guides us as we process and assess all that we've learned, experienced, and seen in our time here. Pray that those of us who are ill are healed quickly. Pray that the few of us who have not gotten sick would remain healthy. Pray that God's will would be made clear to us as we wrap things up here. Pray that God would give us the diligence to finish out our time here strong and thoroughly. Pray that it would somehow miraculously get COOLER here in India. Pray that God would grant us the patience and faith to trust in Him as we figure out jobs, living situations, and futures upon our return home.

At the same time we are praising God that our time has been such a huge blessing and success. We are thankful that our team as a whole has remained healthy, aside from a few sour stomachs and Lizzi's morning sickness. We are thankful that we have been blessed to work with such an amazing group of people as the staff of Harvest India. We are overwhelmingly blessed by Suresh and his family in the ways that they care for and love us. We are extremely thankful to Rama Raj and his family for looking after us in our beautiful home and for showing us the ropes around town. We thank God for the Harvest India residency team and all that they have walked along side us through and for being patient with us in learning this foreign culture. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord for all that you carried us through and all that you have provided for us in India!

We were also blessed with a visit from our dear friends Chris Ward & Andrew Richards this last week. They got the four day whirlwind tour of many of the ministries that Harvest India is blessing the people of India through, and I know that they were both blown away by all that God is doing. God is doing amazing things in India!


Saturday, March 26, 2011

the month in review

How is it that the time goes by so quickly here?  It's mind blowing that it's been a month since we wrote the last team blog post...and we have done a whole lot!  Here it goes...

Shortly after the last blog post recapping our Bridge event dancing, we said goodbye to our dear brother John who went back to the States for the summer.  It was an interesting transition considering we lost a team member and the person who took care of most of our team-to-Harvest India communication.  We desperately needed to figure out the dance of communication with HI here so ultimately it was a great time of learning even though we miss John.

You can always count on India to be extremely unpredictable at times.  We had a monkey sneak into our house and steal some bananas...which presented some amazing video footage of Cory, Bethany, Taylor, and myself trying to protect our homestead against the attack monkey.  I will hamper Cory to get that footage up here so you can share in it, but in the meantime I was able to snap a couple of pictures during the chaos of the event which I will share below.  We had a great laugh about the whole thing when we shared the story with the rest of our team who had sadly been out working while it happened.  Luckily, Mr. Cheeky Monkey has not been back to visit us since, for which we are very grateful.  The reasoning behind that might have something to do with our latest house addition...a dog!  Suresh, not even knowing about the fateful monkey incident, sent over (the VERY next day, post-monkey) a dog to "protect" us.  We named him Baxter and he is mostly a good dog, though he barks non-stop if we ever have to put him on his chain in the yard.  We have also learned another interesting India fact through our acquiring Baxter...most Indians hate/are terrified of dogs...and they also think that EVERY American owns a dog, so naturally we would automatically want one.  Ah, the joys of cross-cultural living!

Monkey stealing bananas from our table!

Taylor and Bethany keeping a safe distance

This past Wednesday morning, our team left bright and early to board a train headed for Chennai, Tamil Nadu.  Our sole goal of hitting the town was to track down some pizza (oh, and to pick up Andrew and Chris, two pastors from Rockharbor at the airport).  After a 6.5 hour train ride in a mostly comfy AC chair train car, we arrived in Chennai and set out to eat as much Pizza Hut as we could manage...and we did.  It was glorious!  It was great taking a break from rural life and seeing Chennai, which is a huge and fairly Westernized Indian city.  We visited 2 malls in one day, the second of which was literally nicer than South Coast Plaza (for those of you OCers) and had a movie theater that would rival any Vegas nightclub!  We watched a movie and relaxed in the leather arm chairs of the theater (which also boasted an internet cafe and video game room with big screen Macs.  We stayed that night at a hotel and then Thursday morning once again ventured out, this time to actually get a little work done.  We visited one of the HI children's homes that is a couple hour drive outside Chennai so we could gather sponsorship information and pictures.  The home was so wonderful and the kids and staff offered one of us the best experiences we have had at any of the children's homes.  We went back into Chennai in the late afternoon and visited one of the huge beaches there.  We put our feet in the ocean and sat and relaxed in the wonderful ocean breeze.  We also got to visit St. Thomas Basilica which is built on the supposed burial site of the Apostle Thomas, who is credited with bringing the Gospel message to India.  That same evening we headed to the airport in Chennai to pick up Andrew Richards and Chris Ward, the two pastors on the annual RH pastor's trip to India.  We were super excited to greet them and have some fun new visitors in our midst.  Andrew has never before been to India so it's been fun teasing him about cultural nuances (such as eating with your left hand, a no-no, which he did the first meal we all ate with Suresh).  

Crystal took a short ride on a horse in Chennai

Since getting back to Tenali yesterday morning with Chris and Andrew in tow, we have been very busy, as the pastors are getting the royal ministry tour of HI, and we are joining them in most of their outtings.  It's been so awesome to see the ministry again through new eyes, as neither of them have before been to Tenali or seen the breadth of the HI ministries.  Last night was the annual HI Bible college graduation which brings together Bible college students from all over South India for a huge celebration and graduation.  Chris and Andrew were VIP guests and spoke a message and greetings at the event.  The rest of us from the team were also honored by being sat in the front and given caps and gowns to wear.  At the end of the ceremony, all of us got to help pass out diplomas to the graduates, which was really fun.  Many new pastors (men and women) were commissioned last night and we were able to take part in their joy and accomplishment as we prayed for their new callings and ministries.

Andrew speaking at a leprosy camp

Andrew handing out food to a leper

The team working hard to pass out rations to the lepers

Chris Ward praying for woman at the leprosy camp

This morning we held our last Bridge event for this 3 month Residency Team.  It looked very different than our other Bridge events.  We held the first church service ever at the site of the new HI church building on the HI campus!  Suresh and his team made sure we had an awesome set up and sound system under the church structure as we christened the site with the first official service, calling the local youth to step up and pray for the church plant, and possibly even step up to get involved.  It was invigorating holding a service at the church site and seeing the incredible turnout of youth and young adults, even during the education system's statewide exams.  God is so faithful!  We lead a Western-style service complete with English contemporary worship songs, communion, and a great sermon from Pastor Chris.  Afterward, we all ate lunch together, the whole team, the HI staff, and all the attendees of the service.  We were able to really fellowship with a lot of the youth and hear their heartfelt excitement to serve the Lord.

It's difficult to believe we will be leaving Tenali in only 10 days.  Much of our ministry and work will be wrapping up in this next week and we will begin our debrief and preparation to go back to the States.  Thank you for your continued prayers and thoughts over the next week and half as we prepare to step back into Western culture.  Please pray specifically for our reverse culture shock, which always presents many challenges after living an extended time abroad.  We will SEE you all soon!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

i came to dance, dance, dance, dance...

Last night our team put on the first program at the Harvest India campus that we are calling The Bridge. We've spent the last few weeks performing at local colleges to promote the event and rallying college age students to attend from the surrounding area. The hours of preparation, practice, planning, and promoting paid off ten fold as the event was a huge success, but not without it's challenges.

Our team has been learning quickly and thoroughly in our time here that nothing in India comes easy, and nothing worth doing comes without its challenges. If we weren't experiencing difficulties, then we would know that we weren't doing something right. We've tried to recognize that each conflict and difficulty is God's opportunity in disguise. It's our lion to slay.

We received news just before the event began that two of the colleges we had previously visited were not allowing their female students to attend because they felt it wasn't safe for them to be out at night. One of those two colleges is an all girls school of roughly 500 students. Once again, the Indian culture caught us by surprise as we were under the impression that the schools had already confirmed that they would be participating. So there we were, staring at about 70 students when we expected over 600 to be in attendance. This was our lion.

So before we hit the stage, we rounded up the team and the Harvest India staff and prayed over the event and whatever God had planned for it regardless of our expectations. It was out of our hands and we knew it. We had to just let go and trust that the seats would be filled even though we had no idea how.

The show kicked off with our MC's John and Bethany and slowly the seats began to fill with people coming in from the main highway. The Bridge band came up next and performed two songs, one of which was Billy Jean, and the crowd went nuts! They absolutely love Michael Jackson here in India and they showed it. Next up were the Minute To Win It games hosted by Lizzi and Taylor that gave the students the opportunity to win prizes such as sunglasses for the boys and bangles for the girls. After the games, Crystal gave a message on the importance of community and how God intended for us to live in it. The whole team took the stage after the message and performed an amazing dance choreographed by the very talented John Brokenshire that can be viewed by clicking HERE. Needless to say the audience went absolutely crazy! Afterward, The Bridge band came back on to perform one last song before the Harvest India team honored John with a plethora of garlands and hugs.

By the end of the night nearly all the seats were full and we had a rambunctious crowd of students dancing, laughing, and shouting right along with us. It just goes to show that if you put your faith in God and let go of your own expectations and worries, He is faithful to provide all that you need and more!
The Bridge band rockin' out

Crystal bringing the message

The Bridge stage and crowd

John B. with Christina & Suresh Kumar

The team in all its glory

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the week in review

Based on how crazy busy the last week has been, this single post is going to be more like 3 posts in one.  India has become challenging as well as comfortable on new levels for us.  The honeymoon phase of the excitement and newness of living in a foreign country has worn off and we are having to learn to work through things more constructively and with more grace for one another.  Each day brings about new challenges to face and process...yet some days bring about the same old challenges that just require time and diligence to overcome.  On the flip side, there are many day to day things that have become second nature for us as we are learning to integrate into Indian culture as seamlessly as possible...even though we stick out like sore thumbs everywhere we go!  We are just about halfway through our time here; it's mind-blowing how quickly it has gone by but we are all feeling much more solid in our groove and schedule.

Just over a week ago, we participated in a ritual that was inspired by the book of Exodus and the story of Passover.  John had been reading in the Old Testament and felt totally captured by how similar Indian rural village culture is to the cultures found in the Bible.  Based on this, he approached the team and asked us if we wanted to buy a lamb and carry out the detailed ritual explained in Exodus chapter 12, the instructions given to the Israelites on how to slaughter and prepare the lamb used to protect them on the eve of the Passover.  Some of the team went out to a local village to visit a shepherd to buy a one year old male sheep without blemish.  After the sheep was purchased, it was transported back to Suresh's home where it was cared for for 4 days.  Last Monday evening, a professional butcher came to Suresh's home and slaughtered the sheep and prepared it for cooking over an open fire pit.  Some of the team participated in watching the slaughter and were appreciative of the once in a lifetime experience of taking part in something so basic to our roots as humans: responsibly killing and utilizing livestock given to us for nutritional provision by God, while being reminded of His faithfulness to His people.  We then shared a huge feast of lamb with our whole team and many of the Harvest India staff.  It was super delicious; we were all stoked to eat some solid meat!

The day after our sheep-feast, we piled into a van and headed an hour away for the Andhra Pradesh coast where we stayed two nights in little beach bungalows that were literally right on the sand!  We were really excited to have a break as a team to just let loose, relax, and play in the beautiful and warm Bay of Bengal where the waves were perfect for body surfing.

The Team

We arrived back home on Thursday where we once again hit the ground running and headed to another college campus to do a night event that we call The Bridge.  It was a small school, very humble in appearances but the people there were very sweet and welcoming.  Most of the students were more reserved than the group at our first college outreach but we still had a great time playing music and games.  Bethany preached an awesome sermon (which was even more awesome since she had previously expressed her hesitation with public speaking!).

Our third college campus event came this past Saturday night.  We set up shop at an all girl's school where 500+ girls came out to participate in The Bridge.  The crowd of girls was SO energetic and fun, it was great to see them apart from boys, they really came to life!  They wanted to be close to us and talk to us every moment they could.  They screamed like school girls at a Justin Timberlake concert when Chris and the guys played a couple of songs.  They were racing to participate in the games and cheered their friends on with tons of enthusiasm.  I was blessed to give the sermon for the night, my first time ever delivering one!  It was a great experience.

Crystal with some of the students

Bethany and her fan club!

The boys, rocking out

Lizzi and some of the awesome girls at the event

Lizzi, Shiny, and Crystal prepping for the night

Taylor and Lizzi leading the Great Pyramid game

One of the game finalists hard at work

After a somewhat restful Sunday, we spent all day yesterday in meetings and planning for our upcoming college event this Friday night at Harvest India.  We are expecting that the number of students in attendance could be huge, as we passed out 1000 flyers and told all the students to bring their friends.  Tons of them seemed interested in attending this larger Bridge event, especially because we told them the 8 of us will be doing a special dance performance (video footage to hopefully follow...).

Last night we were invited by Suresh to attend the Bible Society of India's (BSI) 200th Birthday celebration of the Bible coming to the nation of India!  The event was held in nearby Guntur in a huge lot.  The stage was giant and the set up was completely professional.  We were told that over $300,000 was spent on the stage set up and the event and there were nearly 50,000 attendees each day over the course of the weekend.  Last night was the closing night of the event and due to rain earlier in the day there were probably not quite 50,000 people there but there were still multiple thousands.  It was awesome going to an event where we weren't expected to preach or stand in front of everyone and we could just be part of the crowd...or so we thought!  After sitting down at the event and getting settled in for the program, it wasn't but ten minutes before one of the several camera men spotted us in the crowd and decided to plaster our faces all over the jumbo-tron screen at the front.  It was great fun the first time...and the second time...but 5 or 6 times after appearing throughout the night on the jumbo-tron, we started to feel our "white-celebrity" status setting back in.  Over all the night was super fun; there were traditional Indian dance performances, dramas, music, a 200 person choir, and speakers from all over the world, including the US.

It's hard to see but this is us on the jumbo-tron!

Traditional dancing from Andhra Pradesh

Saturday, February 12, 2011

first college outreach

We have been very busy the last couple of weeks as we have been reworking our groove to fit into a culture foreign to us in every sense of the word.  Despite our lack of experience getting things done here, we are learning tons of valuable lessons and seeing the Lord use us to encourage some of the Indian people we are in contact with on a regular basis.  We have also been blessed with several opportunities to reach small and large crowds through different functions we have attended, including a pregnancy celebration and thanksgiving dinner, a pastors' conference, a large village crusade, and a college campus outreach in which we planned out all the details.  We have also been finding that participating in these events and outreaches is a huge blessing to us, individually and as a team.

The college outreach happened just yesterday evening at a local junior college that is located less than a mile away from our house.  It is a co-ed Lutheran college that has a lovely, tree-filled campus with an outdoor stage that we were able to use to put on an hour long program.  The program consisted of live music lead by Chris, with Cory on a second guitar and Taylor on drums.  The guys did 2 cover songs from popular American artists and one Hillsong worship tune to wrap up the night.  Crystal and John were our fabulous MC's and helped the program to run smoothly and transition well between activities.  After the first 2 songs, Lizzi presented and lead a game from the popular TV game show Minute to Win It.  We asked for volunteers to create 2 teams (one of guys, one of girls) to compete against each other in a game where the contestants had one minute to get as many little cookies from their foreheads into their mouths without using their hands!  The outcome was hilarious to watch, as completing this task took an array of facial twitches and creative moves to accomplish.  True to Indian culture, the girls were extremely shy and no one wanted to volunteer to play for the girls team.  After a whole lot of rallying, we got 3 girls to attempt the first round of the game.  The second round was a little tougher in the participation department so myself, Crystal, and Bethany jumped in to play for the girls and we totally schooled the boys, scoring a total of 6 cookies to the boys 3.  After 3 rounds, the boys ended up winning and were each awarded 100 rupees, the equivalent of about $2 (but it goes a whole lot further here than $2 would in the states).  After the game was over, Cory preached an awesome message about stepping out in faith, a truly relevant subject for the college students in India.

It was a seriously amazing night that turned out even better than we thought it would.  We absolutely did not anticipate the reaction we got from the crowd of 250 students, but we give all the glory to God for bringing His presence and joy into that place!  The whole team had a ton of fun planning the event and making it all happen and we are looking forward to doing more of these types of campus events in the near future.  One of the main goals of our team is to research the viability of a 2 year residency program with a specific mindset for the youth and college age demographic in this area.  We also are working on making a presence known in the local colleges and universities as we represent the name of Harvest India.  On February 25th, we will be holding an even bigger event on the Harvest India campus for all the colleges in the area (that will include more live music and even choreographed dancing!).  By doing these smaller campus outreaches, we are able to spread the word for our big blowout event coming up in a couple of weeks.

We are calling the Friday night events The Bridge and this is the flyer that Cory designed for our upcoming February 25th event:

Please enjoy a couple of photos from the event last night!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

pray for us.

It's been another awesome but tough week here in India...several of our team members have been sick again, this time with what we lovingly refer to as The Delhi Belly.  It hit some of us on Sunday and a few more of us on Monday and we have been slowly recovering day by day.  Most people are feeling on the up and up but a couple of us are lagging behind in recovery.  Myself and Cory received a visit from the wonderful Harvest India doctor tonight and were given some sort of miracle shot in our rear ends that is the common remedy for the travel sickness that Americans sometimes experience here.  John has also been feeling sick with a fever and body aches and Crystal who was sick Sunday and Monday and feeling better Tuesday is afraid her Delhi Belly might be coming back.  Crystal and John may receive the lovely butt-shot tomorrow morning if they aren't feeling better.  It's apparently a magic potion made up of vitamin K and antibiotics and I am beginning to feel its effects least it's making me very drowsy so I will soon be off to bed.

The rest of the team (Taylor, Bethany, Crystal, Chris, and Lizzi) are off at a night crusade with another visiting short term team from Holland.  The crusades through HI bring in thousands of people are a great way to spread the Good News of Christ to an area where HI is beginning to plant churches and foster discipleship.  Please be praying for the crusade tonight and that many hearts will be softened and turn to the Lord.

Please also be praying for the health of our team as we have been continually hit hard with sickness and we feel the Enemy really trying to hold us back from getting work done here.  It's been a constant battle physically and spiritually  but we are comforted knowing that those who love us back home are interceding on our behalf.

Despite illness we are mostly in good spirits and still excited to be a part of what the Lord is doing here in India.  More updates to come soon!


Sunday, January 30, 2011

a shout out

Today is not only Sunday (which has meant a wonderful day of church at home, fellowship, and relaxation) but it is also Taylor and Bethany's one year wedding anniversary!  We want them to know that they are a wonderful and integral part of this Residency Team and we stinking LOVE them!  Congrats, you two, on one year of wedded life were totally handpicked for one another in order that you could come to India and serve the Lord through your work here!  Please also note that they met on a RockHarbor India team and therefore have come full circle in their relationship...which is pretty rad.

Oh, and, you're hot...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

dancing and colds and dead bodies, oh my!

It's been several days since you have last heard from us and for that I apologize.  It's been a bit of a hectic week here in Tenali-land.  Five out of 7 team members were feeling some degree of sick with a cold that was floating around.  I am happy to report that we have mostly recovered and are back to our regular full schedule.

Monday was our first full scheduled work day during which we visited the Ashraya house on the Harvest India campus and helped with a quick job of counting and sorting some fabric.  Tuesday we braved our first day of teaching English at the Harvest India Public School which was a bit of a crazy adventure...but served to teach us some valuable lessons.  We spent much of the day observing classrooms and trying to gain some perspective on the teaching style, which proved to be incredibly difficult considering all the classes were taught mainly in the regional language here, Telugu.  It was a great learning experience as it forced the team to come together to answer some tough questions about our expectations, limitations, and goals since none of us are really equipped as teachers, especially not as teachers to students with English as a very weak (at best) second language.  Luckily though, some of our team members are passionate about teaching and hanging out with the kids at the public school so we know that God definitely has a place for us there.  Please continue to pray for that specifically as we learn to navigate how to make it work and to best serve these kids and their dedicated teachers.

Wednesday was Republic Day here in India which is very much like Independence Day for the US.  It is a national holiday celebrating India's formation as an independent republic (more specifically the induction of their constitution) after the British Raj finally vacated the country.  It's a big deal here and is celebrated with a day off from work and school.  The kids at the public school performed dances and drills, and played special games commemorating their independence.  Our regularly scheduled work day was halted as we were invited to join in the festivities.  Thursday was a much needed day of rest as we recovered from illness and laid low at home doing laundry and running some errands.  Yesterday we ventured out to the site of the new church Harvest India is building on their campus (it's still early in its construction, pictures to come soon).  This is potentially the site of the future church RockHarbor will help support Harvest India to plant so we are intentionally seeking time out each week to meet at the site and pray for an extended period of time.  We met up with our Indian Residency Team members and all shared a time of devotions and prayer.  It was a solid time of connection with them and a time to refocus on our goals and the big vision for the Residency program as we once again put into perspective the reason we are here.  Today we had a bit more unscheduled time so we decided to walk to the downtown Tenali market to check out the surroundings and buy a couple of needed items.  On the way there we heard extremely loud fireworks up ahead and as we came around a corner we saw a Hindu funeral procession coming down the street complete with drums, horns, bottle rockets, and a corpse on top of a car with the head fully exposed!  It was quite a shock and a sight to behold, albeit really creepy...and Crystal was able to discreetly snap a quick picture of it.  Welcome to the unpredictability that is India!

We have a very full and awesome schedule for the coming week so we will be sure to keep you better updated on the days ahead.  We love and miss you all!

Here comes the corpse...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

the adventures of a sunday morning

This morning the whole team ventured to a small Harvest India house church...not only small in congregation but also small in room size!  Roughly 30 people were squeezed into a room about 9 feet x 12 feet big and needless to say it was cozy quarters and quite warm but so full of joy and the Lord's power.  The church is newly started and has already grown quickly.  They are in the process of trying to build a church that will hold more members but for the time being they are meeting in a home.  It was an incredible blessing to be in the presence of such a wonderful community of believers and to worship side by side with them.  Taylor shared an awesome message about the importance of bearing fruit in our lives for the benefit of others and God's kingdom.  Lizzy also shared a great encouragement about the power of prayer.  After the service, Rajesh (an HI staff member) and his wife Anu, hosted us in their home for biscuits and a cold drink while we chatted and fellowshipped with them and their adorable one year old son, Leo.  It was a great way to spend a Sunday and to connect with some of the people involved with Harvest India.

The house church congregation.

Lizzy and one year old Leo who is too adorable!

Lizzy, Crystal, and Elana on the ride to church.

True Indian driving...while texting and holding a one year old!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

home sweet india home

We're finally getting settled into our new house and making it feel like our own. We absolutely love our new home away from home! Click here to watch a video of our new home in Tenali. 

After our first full week in Tenali we're beginning to get a feel for our neighborhood and we think our neighbors are beginning to get used to us as well. Every afternoon groups of kids come rushing to our front yard after they get out of school. They yell up to us from the street and jump around trying to get our attention. They love it when we take pictures of them and are eager for the opportunity to practice their english on us. They are pretty darn cute!

Here are a few pictures of some of the kids and a few of our team from this last week. Enjoy!

Elana, Anita, and Crystal looking good!

The neighborhood kids

One of the adorable girls in our neighborhood

Tony and his family live on the top floor of our house.

John, Rajesh, and Daniel

Cory, Elana, Anita, and John

Taylor, Chris, and Sayuri

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

one week in...

The whirlwind of life continues as we have spent the last several days seeing a portion of the incredible ministries that Harvest India fosters here in Tenali.  Since I last dropped an update we have visited an elderly home and an AIDS hospice, dedicated a water well, checked in at the Asraya rehabilitation house for women that left the Red Light District, and met a fun and rambunctious group of young men that live on the streets and beg at the train station but that come and receive hot meals and a shower at a day program run by HI.  It's been a huge blessing to get a small glimpse into the ministry we have come to support and to see the amazing amounts of planning and manpower that goes into keeping it running on a daily basis.

We are off to begin another full day here in Tenali.  This morning we will be attending a birthday party for the one year old son of one of the staff members here at HI.  We will then be visiting one of the schools that HI runs before ending the day with a visit to the incredible orphanage that houses 400 children on HI's main campus.  It is always tons of fun to hang out with the kids, they are so full of life and want so badly to be loved on.  More updates with pictures to come soon!

Lizzi praying for a patient at the AIDS hospice.

The food storehouse at the HI orphanage...
this is only 2 days worth of veggies!

The sewing center at the Ashraya house
where women who came out of prostitution and
sex trafficking sew beautiful PJ pants that are
sold in the US through International
Princess Project.

Marlyn praying for one of the young women
of the Ashraya house.

A young woman of the Ashraya house,
a truly joyful soul.

Piles of shoes outside every door...true Indian style!