That's Telugu for "Christian greetings!" It has been so fun to pick up Telugu words from our hosts and the children that we interact with in the CLCI! A couple days ago, Nireekshana actually taught us a song in Telugu...now let's hope I can remember it!
The past four days have been somewhat of a blur. We've settled into a routine which is kind of nice. In general, we go to the CLCI compound in Nidubrolu during the day, spend time with the orphans and other children when they return from school (after 4 pm), and then go to a village to greet the congregation and teach VBS. At VBS, we sing action songs, teach lessons about Jesus, and lead a craft; Pastor Baker then preaches a sermon on Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." It's a good message for us to hear, too, because even though we aren't doing much physical activity, all the travelling is rather tiring!
At the Orphanage
The children at the orphanage are just wonderful. I learned the other day that not all of them are orphans. Some are the Benjamin's children and some are just children from the village who want to see the "Sisters." (That's what our fellow Christians call us -- brothers and sisters in Christ!) We sing action songs with the children quite often, and they really love "He's got the Whole World in His Hands" (very fitting) and "Heaven's Hokey Pokey" (Thanks for teaching me that one, Laura!) They actually ask for them by name! :) We've also taught them how to give "two thumbs up" and say "good job!" It's so cute!
On Friday, we had our first VBS in a village in Andhra Pradesh. There were about 70 children and 50 adults squeezed into a church no bigger than 20' x 30'! And the church itself is nothing like an American church. It's simply one room with walls and a roof. The churches we've been to have concrete walls and a thatched roof made of branches and mud. It was so exciting to see the different style of worship that the people have. First of all, the service is in Telugu, and everything we say is translated by Brother Nireekshana or Brother Jyothi. The people are quite expressive in their worship and occassionally the entire congregation will shout out "Praise the Lord! Hallelujiah!" What a blessing to see how God's name can be praised around the world!
Praying with the children
We've been asked a couple of times to pray for people at the congregations, but on Sunday a couple of the children at the orphanage asked me to pray for them, too! In actuality, I had to kind of assume that's what was asked.... Since they don't speak a lot of English, it can be difficult sometimes to communicate, but they are teaching me Telegu words. One girl looked at me and said "pray," and another agreed, so I figured they wanted me to pray for them. I stopped right there, put my hands out, and held theirs. Several other children put their hands into the middle of the circle, and I said a brief prayer. It was so amazing to see how much these children know and love Christ, and to be able to pray with them. Wow!
Bread, Toast, Butter, Jam
Sunday also brought a little bit of familiarity to my life. When I went to breakfast, I ordered a "Jam Sandwich" or "Bread, Toast, Jam" as Pastor O. had called it. It was blessedly familiar -- four pieces of toast, butter, and jam. After all the spicy food we have been eating, I'm thankful for a "normal" meal! As Laura wrote in one of her updates, India is not for the faint of heart! A couple days ago, I discovered a salamander in the shower with me and last night we were swarmed by small insects during our teaching. Yikes! And, I've mentioned before how crazy the driving is, but what Pastor Nolting said was true -- riding in a car in India gives new meaning to the passage "pray without ceasing!"
Today we're back to the orphanage again and then to another village to do VBS. A couple people on my team and on other teams have been sick, so if you could continue praying for us, especially for our health, that would be great. God truly does hear our prayers!
I also have a couple prayer requests for people we interact with, as follows:
1 - The babu (gentleman) that Whitney gave a Bible to at our hotel.
2 - The people in the congregations that we visit. There are so many lost souls in the villages that need to hear the gospel. Please pray that the people in the congregations may be a shining light, like the lighthouse on the Indian Ocean that we saw in the fishing village last night!
3 - Madhevi (I'm not sure if that's spelled correctly) -- She's the Sunday School teacher at the CLCI in Nidubrolu, and she is pregnant with her first child! She's due in November!
Thank you all for your continued messages and support! I really enjoy the email responses that you send -- they are so encouraging! I'm sorry I can't respond, but please know that they really do help!
Love in Christ,