Saturday, December 7, 2013

new Christmas video for Harvest India

Cory created a new video, highlighting Harvest India's Mercy Ministries. Happy Christmas and enjoy!! :)

Harvest India Mercy Ministries from Harvest India on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Friends In Tenali :: Nani

Meet Nani:

Nani has worked for Harvest India for a few months now and is a driver for school buses and other programs. He also helps take the other girls and me to the different schools we teach at each week. Talking with Nani in limited Telugu and limited English has been really fun. He is a very nice man with a great heart and an awesome smile. We laugh most of the drives home when trying to have conversations and learn more about one another. 

Last week was an especially fun week driving around with Nani. Last Thursday we taught at Quarry Junior College and were in the middle of a three day torrential rain storm that flooded much of Tenali town center. We had to drive a different route to head out towards Quarry, so we drove through a different part of the market. On the way Nani stopped two times. First, we stopped outside a corner store and met his older brother. We also stopped at the next corner and met his mother-in-law, who was roasting corn for purchase while sitting under an umbrella in the rain. She smiled and waved at us, then took three ears of corn off of the coals and handed them to me through our car window. It was so generous of her. Nani was really happy that we had met some of his family. He talked about them much of the drive afterwards. Before we reached Quarry, we stopped at Harvest India campus to drop off Carli who teaches 10th class (grades 1-10 have been moved from Quarry to campus now). Nani drove straight tot he Ashraya sewing center and called out to a woman to bring Brianca outside. One Brianca came out we were introduced to her as Nani's, "wife and life partner." They are a love marriage. Nani's face shone with love for his wife as he introduced us to her. He said he was very proud of her job at the sewing center. They also now live on campus next to Peter and his family. They have one daughter, Sweety, whom we met as we left campus. She is an adorable four year old.

Nani says that he loves working for Harvest India. He says, "It is because of God's grace that I am here with Harvest India. I am so thankful for this family and job." 

Nani, we are so thankful for you. It is also by God's grace that we all get to work together for his kingdom in Tenali. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friends In Tenali :: Rama Raj

Meet Rama Raj:

We love this man! His family lives on the top floor of the house we rent from Harvest India. Every morning he is there to say "Good morning before" he leaves for the day and we get to welcome home his kids from school most afternoons. If we hang laundry from the roof, we are usually ushered into his home for chai. Rama Raj and his family are incredibly generous and loving towards us and have welcomed us into their family. Last week, we celebrated Tony's birthday with the family and it was a blast! We love Rama Raj and his family.

Rama Raj is photographer by trade and works for Harvest India, as well as being a freelance wedding and function photographer here in Tenali. He has a very big heart, is great at helping us integrate and navigate Tenali and has a fantastic Mr. Bean impersonation. Anu, his wife, is a preschool teacher and an amazing cook. Her mutton leaf curry, chicken curry and coconut rice are some of our favorite Indian meals in Tenali. The girls on our team have also gone with her for eyebrow threading and sari girls only outings here in town. :) They have two sons. Tony is 13 years old and Funny is 11 years old. We really enjoy playing card games and computer/iPad games with the boys. It is pretty fun meeting their neighborhood friends also. A few weeks ago we watched The Avengers movie with their entire family and it was so fun just being together.

We are grateful for Rama Raj and his family and the way they have welcomed us into their home and how we get to live out a life of ministry together.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Friends In Tenali :: Gopal

Meet Gopal:

Gopal owns a wholesale fabric store in the Gandhi Chowk market area in Tenali. It is a shop where people can shop for personal purchase, as well as a wholesale store for local village store owners to buy material in bulk for their own reselling. Which means Gopal's shop is forever exploding with fabric. It is amazing to sit in his store and be surrounded by shelves and piles and piles of beautiful cloth.  I love being there when he unloads new shipments of saris (girls...this is when you start smiling and imagining how awesome this shop is). 

I first met Gopal during my first time in India on the ROCKHarbor two week trip in December 2011. He partners with Harvest India to provide the fabric and tailoring for women's punjabi dresses and saris. When we moved to India in October 2012, he visited our home with a few selections for dresses and saris also. This helped us a TON since it is important to dress culturally here and we were ready to be out and about, dressed in Indian wear, in a matter of days. Eventually, we found out where his shop was located and have made visiting him a weekly activity. Think of it as Indian window shopping meets our tiny monthly allowance "splurge fest" for the girls. :)

But, visiting Gopal is not just about looking at fabrics and choosing new clothes (which looking at saris is amazing here!! So much creativity and beauty in every cloth). We like to ask Gopal about his family, his children, his workers. He buys us a Sprite or chai from an outside vendor and takes a lot of pride in showing us all his "latest fashion, very comfort, very smooth, high class" cloth at "small, small cost." This really means that we can purchase a sari or complete punjabi outfit, with stictching, for under $6-$10, usually. He has brought over his daughter to our house when he delivered tailored clothing and we sat and chatted with his daughter in English for a while. We have become friends. He especially loves John. Gopal even called John on Christmas morning (a holiday he doesn't celebrate) to wish John a Happy Christmas. When we returned to Tenali in July, he called us a few days later and wished us a happy return. We simply enjoy his company and sharing joy and laughter with him, while being surrounded with beautiful material. 

And what is also neat is that his shop has become a great place to meet other women in Tenali and have small conversations in broken English and Telugu. Shyness and language barriers seem to crack and break when local women and me and the girls are all sitting on the ground, admiring a sari that is draped over all of our laps. Choosing saris and punjabis together is really fun. We learn more about culture and continue to feel more at home in Tenali, a little bit more a part of the community and town.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Friends In Tenali :: Simon the Cobbler

Hi friends! This will be a new weekly post showcasing some of the incredible people we know here in Tenali. Some are Harvest India workers and some are friends we have made along the way while living in town. Each person has a story and has encouraged us in different ways.

Meet Simon:

Simon is a cobbler who works in Gandhi Chouk (aka the market area here in Tenali). Rain or shine he sets up his shop street-side and fixes shoes with a smile. We first met Simon when we were exploring the market last fall. As we walked down the street, we heard someone shout, "Praise the Lord!" When we saw Simon, he raised his hands and shouted, "Praise the Lord!" again and waved at us. His smile is infectious in the best possible way and the joy that the Lord has given him is radiant. Every time we see Simon he is sitting surrounded by his tools, either fixing shoes or reading his Bible. We've never once seen him without it. He does not know much English and we know very little Telugu, but we've struck up a friendship anyways. He is so encouraging to see and his joy is contagious. Visiting Simon is one of our favorite things to do in the market and we always head home with a brighter outlook and a shared smile. So today friends, we are thankful to God for Simon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Freedom Reigns :: post by Kacie

We have been in Tenali for about three weeks now and have been a part of the English service at Emmanuel Prayer Tower for three Sundays now. This past Sunday was a great evening.

The youth of the church have begun playing volleyball in the church compound during the afternoons so there are quite a few people still lingering around the church building when we arrive. It is really fun having this opportunity to interact with regular Emmanuel Prayer Tower church members, practice a little bit of Telugu (and laugh at our own pronunciation a lot), and spend time with the worship team that has developed for the English service, especially the girls as they spend time inside the church during volleyball. The Indian worship team members are amazing! One young man has naturally taken a leadership role by choosing the songs to sing, setting up the microphone stands and working with another young man for microphone sound check...not to mention rounding up all the team members for team sound check, which can be a bit challenging.

A few new exciting things have happened for the service. First, we have asked that the youth worship team greet the people at beginning of service and to pray before and after the worship set. That is a big step because it can be intimidating speaking in English to such a crowd. Moses gave greetings at the beginning of service and Mounika prayed for our time together. I was really proud of their courage and how they stepped out of their comfort zone for God in those moments. It is just one more way we are trying to encourage and empower the youth leaders of the service. Secondly, there are a few local pastors who attend this English service and and the youth worship team wanted a way to incorporate them more into the Sunday gathering. One opportunity they came up with is for one of the pastors to pray the blessing for the church at the conclusion of service each week. This happened on Sunday night and those few minutes were really powerful. I would love to hear the local pastors preach one Sunday. I know it would bless me immensely, as well as the church congregation.

Lastly, this past Sunday we introduced a new song to the worship set. During offering time, we sang "Freedom Reigns." Cory played guitar and I sang by myself for the first time. I had been listening to this song sung by Jesus Culture on my iPhone for a few weeks and felt really strongly that we should teach it and sing it on Sundays. I was nervous to sing alone, since I don't take great confidence in my voice, but I have to say since moving to India and being asked to lead worship, God has gifted me with a much improved singing voice. To that I am grateful and happy to be used. As I sang, it made me so happy to sing this song to the Lord. After the second verse I felt shivers in my entire body and felt my voice becoming more powerful and at the chorus I began singing like I have never sung before. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and the freedom in the Lord that I was singing about...the freedom to let go of everything and find joy in worshiping Him alone. It was SO COOL. After service a young man approached me in a pretty shy way. He told me that the song blessed him so much and touched his heart. He said that he had never before experienced God the way he did during the offering song and thanked me for singing. I was so touched and gave the glory to God because I knew I sang the way I did because of Him, for Him. The young man's encounter with God was such an amazing ending to a really great night.

So, praise the Lord! More of You, God!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Returns and Changes

We've officially returned to India after a three month sabbatical that has taken each of us to different places around the world, but was mostly spent serving in Bethlehem, Israel. A ton has happened in the last three months and we hope to bring you up to date with this quick little blog post.

One of the big changes for our team is that Kevin and Angela have decided to stay in Bethlehem to continue serving the people of Palestine with their gifts and talents. They are still figuring out all of the details in what that looks like exactly, but you can read more about their story and how they came to this decision by reading their blog HERE. We were really sad to have to say goodbye to them in Israel, but we are excited to see what God has in store for them in the Holy Land.

Renee is also still in Bethlehem working with the Diyar Consortium for a few more weeks. She is choreographing and helping their dance program prepare for a performance that will be traveling to San Francisco in September. She will be joining our team in India in mid-August to continue teaching dance and helping with teaching English at Harvest India's colleges.

The Clanton's are beyond excited to return to Tenali and the work we are doing here with Harvest India. Kacie is really looking forward to diving back into teaching English at both KSK College and the Harvest India Junior College. The HI staff spent the Summer promoting the presence of foreign English teachers which has created an influx of new students at both schools. John is eager to get his feet back on the ground in the community of John Babu's Church and reconnecting with the people he has formed relationships with. He will also begin walking alongside another Harvest India Pastor named Samuel that is working in some really strong Hindu communities here in Tenali.

We have gained a new teammate in the marriage of Cory & Carli Hill! Cory flew home in early June  to get married to Carli, see his brother Taylor get married, and spend a little bit of time with friends and family before heading back to India with his new wife. You can see photos of their wedding by clicking HERE. Carli is jumping right in with both feet teaching English alongside Kacie and Renee, and she will also be helping IPP with communications and production needs. Cory is hoping to get the Aquaponics project off of the ground and running in the next few weeks, and will continue helping Harvest India with logistics, media and communications needs.

The entire team will also continue serving and leading the English Church service that we helped start a few months before we left for Israel. The service continued through the Summer while we were away and has continued to grow and develop as a church body. We are so encouraged by the local people that have stepped in to lead and carry this ministry on in our absence, and it's so exciting to see how God is working in this community!

Below is a new promo video for Harvest India that Kevin and Cory created from footage shot in our first six months here. Enjoy!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Israel & Palestine :: by Cory

So, we've done a pretty terrible job of updating this blog since we left India. We arrived in Bethlehem seven weeks ago and pretty much dove right into adjusting to another new culture, figuring out where to shop for food and other necessities, learning about our new jobs, making new friends, learning about the conflict here, and doing some site seeing. It's been amazing, difficult, fun, challenging, eye-opening, relaxing, educational, emotional, thought provoking, and beautiful. Living in the West Bank/Palestine is not something everybody gets to do and it's an incredible opportunity to see a side of this conflict that most people in the West hear nothing about.

For those of you who didn't know... we had to leave India for at least two months for visa law reasons and Israel is where we felt God leading us to spend our time away so that we could continue volunteering our time and gifts. Kevin and I were fortunate enough to visit Israel last year and in our time here we met some incredible people doing some amazing work in the middle of a conflict that goes back thousands of years.

So, we've been working with an organization called the Diyar Consortium in the heart of Bethlehem. It is an organization that was started by Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb who pastors a local Lutheran Church that we've had the privilege of attending a few times over the last few weeks. Diyar has a number of different ministries and is one of the largest employers in all of the West Bank/Palestine. They focus on the arts in helping the people of Palestine express themselves and search for peace in non-violent ways. They do this through the Diyar Academy that focuses on the youth, the Diyar University College of Arts & Culture, young adult leadership training programs, and elderly programs. It's incredible to see how they are impacting the lives and the communities in the Bethlehem area.

We're all chipping in with our individual skills, gifts, and passions and the staff has been incredible about making us feel right at home. The people of Palestine are absolutely amazing, welcoming, and hospitable. Everywhere we go we are invited in for tea or over for dinner. We have loved the beautiful people of this beautiful land!

Kacie & John in front of the Garden Tomb
Orthodox Easter on the Via Dolorosa
Orthodox Easter 
Kacie, John, and Renee at the Church of the Pater Noster 
Cory in front of the Church of the Masses: Garden of Gethsemane
The streets of Hebron
The ruins of Masada
Kacie & John at the Dead Sea covered in mud
Peace Rally at the Cremisan Monastery
Kevin & Angela at the Cremisan peace rally
The Herodium
Kevin in front of the Mar Saba Monastery
Cory with the Judean hills behind

Friday, March 15, 2013

Farewell at Quarry School :: by Angela

As we conclude our last month here in India (before our 3 month furlough) we are saying goodbye to those we have worked with, taught and loved. The schools and colleges in the Harvest India network are beginning their exam season and no longer need the daily touches of spoken English on campus.
We have already bid farewell to the students at KSK Girls College and H.I. Nursing College; but the most difficult goodbye, by far, was to the H.I. Quarry School 10th class.

The 9th class students put on a big farewell party for their 10th class friends. There was dancing, singing, emotional speeches and tearful goodbyes. We were so blessed to be a part of their year, and encouraged to witness, first hand, the wisdom, training, life skills, friendships and support HI has provided for these wonderful kiddos! We wish them the best in the future, and can’t wait to continue these relationships on our return.

10th class is the last stop in education for some. Completion of 10th class in India is comparable to High School graduation in the U.S. (even though the students are 15-17 years old). Some students will begin looking for jobs but most will remain in the Harvest India community and either attend Quarry School Jr. College, KSK Girls College, or Nursing College.  Next year will be the first for boys to have an option in HI schooling; they can either choose Quarry Jr. College or Nursing College. HI has just received permission to begin male education at the Nursing College (Hooray!).

All in all, we are sad to say goodbye, but, SUPER excited to see them flourish on our return next school year!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

An Update on College Outreach :: By Kacie

The Residency Team in front of Emmanuel Prayer Tower before the first service.
Since starting our time here in Tenali, one of our team focuses has been on college outreach and making relationships with the youth of Tenali. The town has several colleges and the youth are a huge population that Harvest India is beginning to reach out towards. We began our college outreaches with a program at several different colleges in the area…a few songs, a few games, a message on God’s love from John, and prayer for the students. Our first round of events was mainly to be a presence on campus and promote our “Tenali’s Got Talent” event at the end of December. This was a huge event that we invited all of the colleges to, in which they submitted two teams for performances that were judged and at the end of the night one team won a grand prize. The plan was to have fun and get many different colleges represented under one roof to share the love of God and Harvest India’s intention of starting college ministry. It was on December 28th and had over 1000 people attend. All in all, it was a great event and a great start of our college ministry efforts. To see a video of our team performing for the event as well, click here. Enjoy :)

After Tenali’s Got Talent, our team went back to the drawing board, reevaluating our main goal of reaching the youth and how best to move forward…after this first round of ministry, what was the best next right step to keep momentum going for a future college ministry at the HI church still being built on the HI campus. How could we go deeper with students and be more intentional in our remaining time here? The answer came a few days after our team meeting. Pastor Bonuprasad from Emmanuel Prayer Tower church (aka HI Town Church) approached Bishop Suresh with his desire to start a Sunday evening English only youth service at his church and would like the Residency team to be in charge of worship and occasional preaching. When Suresh told us we all agreed it was an answer to our prayers of the next right step for our team. 

The first English service in Tenali was on the first Sunday evening in February. We had no idea what to expect. Harvest India was very excited about the potential of this service, but we had no idea how far word had spread about an English speaking service beginning in town, who would come, and really, if anyone would come. We moved forward expectant of what God would do with this new service. Thirty minutes into worshiping together during our first Sunday night service, we had over 100 people in attendance. Cory and Kevin led worship while Angela and I sang back-up vocals. John explained the meaning of one of the songs we chose with scripture and then taught the words to the crowd. The song was, “Set a Fire.” It is a song we love from ROCKHARBOR’s new worship album and has been an anthem in my life lately as we live in India. Here are the lyrics :: “Set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control. I want more of you God. No place I’d rather be than here in your love.” John spoke of how God sets a fire in our souls, that can’t be contained for only ourselves, but that we can’t help but speak of him and his love to others. He illustrated this with the prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20:9 in which Jeremiah speaks of even when he tries not to tell the words of God and wants to deny himself as a prophet, God puts a fire in him and he must share. He can’t help but speak of the Lord and His righteousness. Likewise, there is no better place than the center of God’s will for us, at the center of his love for us. It was amazing watching faces light up when they sang the two short verses in English with us, trying to say the words and beginning to understand what they mean. I had so much fun making eye contact with girls in the crowd as I “caught” them singing and we would smile at each other. There was eagerness in the room for God and an eagerness for English, as strange as that sounds to me. I thought we would have maybe ten people come and God’s design for this service blew my meager expectations out of the water.

The second service happened last night. We passed out English New Testament Bibles and an English songbook of 12 songs our team has chosen for worship songs. It was so fun and so amazing to sing the same songs we sang during the first service and this time have everyone reading the words. The clapping was missing that is such a huge component of Indian worship due to holding songbooks, but it was replaced with everyone’s eyes inside their songbook and huge concentration on singing along with us. I have never had so much fun in church and felt the happiness of God bridging two cultures together. A Pastor visiting from Sun Valley Church in Arizona preached the sermon and it can be summed up in that there is no one greater than an Indian to bring the good news of Jesus to India. He spoke on empowerment through the Holy Spirit and that even one person can be used by God to change the face of India for generations to come. It was incredible sitting in the audience alongside Indian girls ranging from 14-30 and listening to a message about how important they are in the eyes of God and the advancement of His kingdom in India.

Please pray for a few specific things as we move forward. Our heart, from the very beginning, is to train and equip Indian youth to take our place in leading worship. This is especially necessary, not only for empowering them, but also because our team leaves for Israel and our furlough April-July. We will be holding weekly meetings of some sort soon in order to teach the worship songs to interested people and maybe start some sort of small group through it out of this night service, but we especially need a few boys and girls to lead worship on Sunday evenings. Someone who can play guitar would be awesome to find. Please pray that God brings forward Indians who we can train to work alongside us and take our places. In addition, please pray that God raises up interested youth to serve as leadership for this service. Our heart is really to hand this service back into their hands once we find those who would love to serve. There are several amazing people from Emmanuel Prayer Tower who serve with the small bits of set up and tear down, but finding and walking alongside those interested in leadership would be really great. Pray for the youth to continue to come. We are expecting great things for this service, no matter how much or how little English the people know, God is going to use this service in some mighty ways for His kingdom. I can’t wait to see how He continues to use English as the language with Western worship songs, but also makes this service completely culturally relevant as well. The bridging of two cultures is really fun to be a part of. We are stoked to play our part!  :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time with the ROCKharbor 2-week Team

We were fortunate to be a part of something new to end 2012.  Our home church is ROCKhabor and all of us came to India for the first time with our church on a two week mission trip.  This is how we all came to fall in love with India and Suresh's far-reaching ministry.  Now that we have been living here for 3 months, living and breathing this ministry, we had the opportunity to welcome 26 people from our home church for the same two week trip we have all experienced.  This was a new experience for our church; to have members already here in India to walk alongside a mission trip from home.
We are close with several of the team members, so it was refreshing to see some familiar faces and to experience the ministry we love with these friends.  All the new faces we didn't know were a joy to be around as well.  Seeing them experience India for the first time and watching God working in and through them at each of the ministry events was awesome.  Since the Residency Team does not usually do the two-week trip ministry stuff, it was a great reminder of how incredible Harvest India is and how God works through each ministry.  The team spent half of their time in Tenali and half in the town of Peddapuram (4 hours north of Tenali).  
Some of the ministries we did with the team included: food/clothing distributions, red light district, leprosy camp, sending time with the IPP women, visiting KSK college and seeing the new construction there, visiting elderly homes, HIV hospital, small crusades at villages, and going to village churches together.  We also spent New Year's together with with the ROCKharbor orphans and HI staff that included communion, cake, dance parties, and fireworks.
We had been looking forward to the team visiting ever since we landed in October... praying, worshiping, and just being God's church together all the way over in India was such a blessing to the six of us.  It was like we never left home.  We all laughed together, cried together, sang together, ate Indian food together, made new friends and had an overall great time.

Thank you Jesus for bringing our friends here and back safely.
Thank you for blessing us with their joy and love for India.

Here are some photos from our time with the team:

The Team
At the food distribution
Food distribution
Angela and one of the sweet elderly ladies
Clothing distribution at Thota house
Talia using her nursing skills to assist at the Leprosy camp

Food distribution
At the construction for the future site of KSK college
Worshiping at a village church
Suresh and Christina with the "Mother India" railway kids.  The team served them a meal.
Rockharbor orphans praying during New Year's celebrations