Usually after closing night, the blog is done. This year however, we dedicated a second Bible worker home in Chandrapalem on Sabbath about an hour from Ongole. We thought we had seen a lot of marigold petals in the last three weeks, but the sheer volume here was remarkable! We were buried!
We had the Sabbath service. Carl preached, and Ana sang a song in Spanish.
Although not quite finished–needing paint, kitchen tiles, etc.–afterwards, we dedicated the house (one bedroom, kitchen and covered porch) to the memory of our good friend, Dennis McKown a newly retired teacher and Pastor from Washington state. Last year he and his wife Anita were ready to come with us to India. Shortly before we left, he was diagnosed with advanced metastatic biliary cancer, and they couldn’t come. Within 12 weeks he was gone.
This year, Anita decided to come on the mission trip by herself. She cut one of the ribbons and witnessed the dedication of this lasting memorial to Dennis.
We ate the first meal in the new home, while the church members were served from ginormous pots in the front yard!
It was bittersweet, but Anita said Dennis would have loved it, especially that his name on the plaque was misspelled!
Sleep peacefully in Jesus, our friend—we’ll see you soon!
Some of the young host village men wanted to provide a hot supper for everyone coming to the meetings! Somehow, they pulled it off, serving hundreds of people in shifts on tables set up in the road between the church and the tent site.
And then, it was time for our last meeting. Over 700 villagers packed into the tent–so many they had to roll up the back and part of the side to accommodate them all! You just have to be there to understand the joy of singing with that many enthusiastic people! After the program, we were given the traditional Indian farewell–more garlands, of course! We each had 6-8 of them, and they are heavy! However, they are a gift of love, and we appreciate the gesture.
At the end, we got to pray with our new friends for the last time. We’re praising God for the successful completion of the meetings, and already looking forward to next year!
21 sewing machines in three rows wore red ribbons for their new owners! The participants of the sewing seminar did not know they would receive this prized gift until graduation. It was a wonderful, unexpected surprise for them!
After 7 all day classes conducted by Jeannette with help from Ana, Doris, Anita and the local section ladies, 21 women were ready for graduation! They made sari blouses, aprons and a Punjabi outfit, becoming more proficient with each passing day.
Many of the ladies were overcome with emotion, crying in happiness and disbelief that such an opportunity had come their way. They were so grateful, it was hard to keep from shedding tears ourselves.
Each woman was presented with a professional certificate for either the beginner or advanced course, depending on their skill level. Some were truly talented and will be sought after in their village for sewing projects. All will benefit, and with practice, should be able to earn a sufficient income to live on.
The first graduating class of seamstresses in this area posing proudly with their certificates!
With the 1500 rupees ($25) they each received for expenses to start their sewing business, the ladies happily loaded their new sewing machines into autocabs for the trip home. This lady’s face says it all!
After the graduation ceremony, there was a baptism in the campus tank of 18 people from the Shepherdess program, the local campus church and the sewing class.
This young woman has been shunned all her life by the village because she is epileptic. She confided that she has never in her whole life owned a new piece of clothing until the sewing class! She wore it proudly to graduation and was one of those baptized. We pray this will be the beginning of a new life of freedom and value in Christ as well as independence, making a living as a seamstress.
Kotha Singara Botla (KSB) Palem was the site of last year’s meetings, and the recipient of the first of three Bible worker homes to be built in 2018. It was wonderful to return and see all of our village friends again!
We were given a royal welcome and again buried in marigolds!
Josh had a good time dancing with the village drummers–part of Indian traditional culture at happy occasions.
It was rather like farewell night in the number of garlands hung on our necks! Indians have no equal when it comes to greeting!
This home was made possible by donations from David and Karen Landa of Brunswick, Maine. It was built in memory of Karen’s parents who served in the Indian mission field for many years.
Although not quite finished, it is a nice 2 bedroom house with a small living room and kitchen. Paint, stone tile floors and ceramic tiles in the kitchen will complete it. The pastor and his wife have lived in the small back room of the church for a long time. This will be a palace to them!
Pastor Harry with the pastor who will occupy the house, and Anita with the sweet little Down’s Syndrome boy who lives in the village.
Doris and Ana taking turns at playing grandma!
While we were there, we checked out the wonderful new bored well the NNEC India Project funds provided. A dispute among the elders there resulted in the water being turned off to one side of the village–our church side. The people were really suffering, so we decided that was a worthy project. Not only does the well give fresh, clean water to our people, they share it freely with the rest of the village. It is a great witness!
On Wednesday, we did a grand circuit to see all the sponsored kids in three schools. On the road by 6AM, we greeted, gifted, photographed and got on the way to the next stop! It was 8 hours in the car! We got back just in time to pack up for the evening meeting!
The 32 sponsored children at Nuzvid SDA School
Here are the 23 sponsored kids in Woodpet SDA School in Vijayawada!
We were met at Ibrahimpatnam SDA School by a path to the chapel lined with uniformed girls with handfuls of flower petals! This school of 650 students had us also pass out some of the trophies for their annual sports day. There are 49 sponsored students here, but we couldn’t get a group photo– just individual ones we will be sending to the sponsors later.
A small, scummy pump station pond where sheep come to drink was the site of the baptism on Tuesday. Eighteen villagers began a new life in Christ in this humble setting.
Each one received a Telegu Bible.
We rejoice with these new believers!
Mettapalem is the hosting village for our meetings, and the last one we visited. A drum band preceded us to the church with an old fellow dancing to the beat! Of course there were marigold petals and garlands as well. Makes you wonder where this endless supply comes from!
The church has a shiny, new black marble floor, and the meeting site is just across the road in a vacant lot.
In case you wonder if the kids really appreciate the gifts you donate, here’s proof!
the widow lady who is faithful in adversity
Some of our visits were heart-wrenching–a 26 year old man in the last stages of death from a sudden illness; a destitute old widow crying because her son who lives nearby has nothing to do with her; a little boy with a bad heart; a smiling widow who is ridiculed by neighbors because she still is faithful even after her husband died last year of a heart attack leaving her with a half finished house and children who had to drop out of college because of finances. Makes you wish you were a billionaire, so you could help everyone.
One house had a horse they use for weddings and processions to make money. Pastor Harry climbed aboard and got a little startled when the animal got a bit spooked!