Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dr. Ananthi Jebusingh and Laura Marie Come For a Visit

Last month my precious friends, Ananthi and Laura Marie, came to visit as a part of their fund raising campaign for The Good Samaritan School in Delhi, India. I may, possibly, once or twice, have mentioned my missions trip to this school last June. It was my first missions trip and it renewed my life long passion for serving overseas. It pretty much changed my life! Anyway, they arrived on a Thursday night and bright and early Friday morning Ananthi spoke at the chapel service at Davie's school. She was so wonderful with the children. She was just so captivating! The Good Samaritan School has a wonderful history and an amazing story of God's calling and provision for the slum children of India. Ananthi and Laura Marie travel once a year in the U.S. to share about what the school does and what the needs are. The Good Samaritan School operates completely on the generosity of Christians who believe that a Christian education can change the lives of the impoverished children in Delhi. One of the unique aspects of the school is that they teach English and in India if a child can learn English they can gain employment and help support their family. Like many charitable organizations The GSS is struggling financially and have discerned that the best way to meet the needs of the children is for the children to have individual sponsors. So, on this trip Ananthi spoke to as many as would listen about the ministry and needs of the school. If you have read my posts in the past then you know that my heart was changed because of the needs and the joy I witnessed in the midst of such great need while in Delhi. Having Ananthi and Laura come to my home was such a joy and to be able to show them a bit of hospitality was my privilege and pleasure. We stayed busy and made sweet memories. The photo above is from the Friday night dinner we had with some precious friends who prayed for me faithfully while I was in India(Laura is behind the camera).
One of the sweetest times that weekend was when Ananthi and I were able to go visit Leu Gardens together. It was wonderful to spend time with Ananthi and share our hearts. She is such a precious person. We talked about books and family and life. One of the things about Ananthi that I admire and want to emulate is her teachable spirit. Even as learned as she is, she is always taking notes and writing things down. I shared about books I had been reading and what the Lord was showing me. I shared about struggles in my extended family. She shared wisdom and her commitment to pray for me and for these situations. We also share a love for nature and photography and so the gardens were a perfect place for us to go. We saw many beautiful flowers and butterflies. I even saw a red-tailed hawk eating something in a tree...I'd never seen that before!
We talked about the school and the children and my hopes to visit the school again in the next year...but not in June! Maybe September or November over Thanksgiving break or something. We shall see. I am open to friends joining me....any takers? You will LOVE it! I promise!
I want to share a bit about my sponsor child from the Good Samaritan School. Her name is Mercy. She is 14 years old and the only child of her parents who work for the school. She is the top student in her class. In India they have these big major exams to move ahead in school and she just took her midterm and again scored the highest in her class. She is this sweet and shy teenager who reached out to me while I was there. When she found out that I liked to read she loaned me some of her favorite books. I knew then that we were kindred spirits and that I wanted to sponsor her. Through our sponsorship Mercy is given a real chance to continue her education and then even go to the university when she graduates. University is so inexpensive, like $300 for the year, that I am hoping that we can sponsor her all the way through. My eyes fill with tears at the chance that she has to go to college and make her way in the world. Mercy comes from a Christian family and so she is blessed with supportive parents who understand the importance of an education, even for a girl. When I found out that Ananthi was coming I began to plan what I wanted to send back to Mercy. If you know me it will come as no surprise that I sent her the Anne of Green Gables book series and The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series along with a few other things. It was so sweet that when she sent her thank you note that she said she is most thankful that I will be coming back. Isn't that remarkable? When you sponsor a child you change their lives and in the process God changes you. His heart for the poor becomes your heart for the poor. We fulfill a deep God-given need in ourselves when we give and serve those less fortunate than us. We were created to serve...and not just ourselves or our own families, but the world. If you are interested in child sponsorship you can go here and fill out the appropriate forms. It is only $35 a month. Please give it prayerful consideration. All through the Bible we are called as ones who should minister to those less fortunate than ourselves. Proverbs 21:13 says,"Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered." Proverbs 22:9 says, "The generous will themselves be blessed,for they share their food with the poor." Prov 29:7 "The righteous care about justice for the poor,but the wicked have no such concern." Please consider what your gift could mean to the life of another. With love, js

It's a Wonderful Thing...Life

(This photo has nothing to do with my blog...I just loved it.)

I don't think I could ever be a true writer. It takes tremendous discipline, time and focus to sit down daily, even weekly, and post my thoughts. But, when I don't do it in a logical manner then I end up trying to process all my thoughts for the last few weeks at one time, in one post, in the middle of the night. Not a very good plan. With that duly noted I am going to try to put some thoughts down over the next few days and actually post in small doses. My thoughts probably won't be anything too noteworthy, but I do have a few things rolling around in the ol' noggin that need to get out.

I attended the Women of Faith conference this past weekend. For the most part I enjoyed it. I have thought for years that they do too many commercials, but it seems to work for what do I know? While I enjoyed all the speakers tremendously, the one I heard and enjoyed the best was Andy Andrews. Apparently he is a best selling author with a ton of books out there that I was completely unaware of, although my friend Kathy did mention one in passing this summer, but I paid little attention to her recommendation. I should have listened to her! Mr. Andrews is a master storyteller. He is a southern guy from Alabama and he was able to draw me in as he shared of his life's difficulties and lessons. The thought I took home from him in a big way is that "every decision in our life matters". There is no way to know the impact our life will have on those who come behind us as we live in service to God and others. I love that thought. All of us want to know, need to know that our life counts for something. When God set eternity in the hearts of men He also created the desire for our lives to count....for all eternity. I love the thought that my life, a rather average one, can affect the world in a big way when I take advantage of the opportunities for good that God puts in my path and because that matters to me I can trust that God will take my efforts and do things I can't even imagine. I really do love that thought. In Ephesians 3 the apostle Paul says it this way, "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" He can take my life of obedience and service and do more than I could ask or imagine. Amazing! I pray that your life's decisions have an eternal value and that you are always living with eternity in mind.
With love,
Jackie Sue

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ananthi is Coming to Town

I haven't said much about India, but it is never far from my thoughts and daily in my prayers! As many of you know the re-entry into life in America after time spent in a 3rd world country is difficult. I knew that much of what I experienced would be hard to explain and I also knew that God had allowed me the experience to change ME not so I could expect others to change. As I processed all that I saw and experienced I am happy to say that India has found its way into my heart and I can't wait to go back! David wants me to wait at least a year before I plan another trip and I am good with that.

As I made the transition to being at home I wondered regularly how I was going to be a part of what was going on in the Good Samaritan School. After I had prayed about India one day and asked, "what next?" Laura Marie, the director of the Good Samaritan School stateside, called. I was excited to hear from her and humbled when she asked me and if I would be willing to host an event for the founder of the school, Ananthi Jebasingh, in October. I told her I would pray about it and began to seek the Lord about how to accomplish this. He had answered my prayer of "what next?" much sooner than I had expected and so I began to get busy. The first thing I did was made an appointment with my pastor and missions director at my church. The next thing I did was to make contact with my childrens' schools. Following are the times and places that Ananthi will be speaking in Orlando.

Friday, October 8th at 9:45am Ananthi will be speaking at the chapel service of Family Christian School.

Saturday, October 9th at 6:00pm she will be sharing for a few minutes at Westwood Church's Saturday service

Sunday, October 10th at 9:00am and 10:45am she will be the missions moment in both services at Westwood.

Sunday, October 10th at 6:30pm Ananthi will be sharing her heart about the ministry God has called her to in India at a Dessert fellowship at Westwood Church.

Anyone is welcome to attend any of these opportunities, but the most information will be given at the Sunday evening event. I cannot begin to adequately express my excitement about the opportunity God is allowing as Ananthi comes to share. She is a holy woman that you will enjoy hearing and she has a holy calling that you won't want to miss. Please come and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to leave a comment and I will get in touch with you. Many blessings and much love, JS

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Life is Full

Right now I am in the midst of waiting...not my favorite thing, but honestly having some time to just sit is a gift so I will choose to be thankful for this wait.

Our Japanese student is here and he is delightful. He cooked a yummy curry dinner last night(hard to believe after India that I would eat it...) but it was delicious. His name is Shimone and he is 23. I keep beating him at Wii darts and that is fun and he seems to enjoy the craziness that is our family which warms my heart. Every year that we do this we wonder if we will love our student as much as the last one and I can tell you that every year we do. I am always surprised by how quickly my affection comes and how deep the commitment to them is. It truly is as though they are one of us. We only have 2 more weeks with him and we will miss him when he goes.

School has started for Catherine Jo. Another time of classes...equals family mtg to establish new guidelines. It went well though and we are thankful for our mediator and the hope that comes with a renewed commitment to relationships and excellence. It is going to be a good year.

India has remained on my mind, in my prayers, and in my heart. I am so excited about the chance to see Ananthi when she and Laura Marie come to the area in October. I will post more on that later.

I am currently in a Bible study about attitudes by James Macdonald. It is one of the most revolutionizing studies I have ever done. It touches me and challenges me to the core of my being. Wrong attitudes are exposed and studied and then the next week the Godly attitude to be added to my life to replace the destructive one is studied. Powerful stuff. What are you studying right now? I'd love to hear about it! Life
continues to bring circumstances that will challenge my issues...parenting challenges...relational stuff...but by my Lord's grace I will bring Him pleasure as I choose to believe Him and live a faith filled life.

I will post new summer photos soon...that's the good stuff, I know. Leave a post and let me know how you are, will you? I am a "words" person...your words fill me up. Much much love, js

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Home is a Beautiful Word

So, I'm having a difficult time with the whole "re-entry" thing. It is difficult to explain mostly because it is difficult to understand myself and therefore difficult to process internally and there you have it....difficult. I am so happy to be home but the weird thing is that it is like I never left. But, I did. What I saw affected me deeply, but I don't know how to mesh the two worlds that I have now experienced because like I said, in so many ways it is like India never happened. The temptation to view my trip like a "dream" is very real. To just walk back into life here in America and say, "thank God I live here in this wonderful country with Starbucks and Chickfila and Publix grocery stores" is a very real temptation. It would be somewhat easier to do that than to wrestle with God about what to do with "India", but I don't really want to forget. How could I forget? So I will wrestle with God and wait on Him to tell me what to do. In the meantime, when I can't sleep I will pray for the people I met, the school I was privileged to experience and its financial needs, my sweet Mercy girl, and my teammates who are probably going through the same struggles as me. Learning to embrace all that God puts in my life is a challenge I will willingly take if He will continue to allow me to minister His love to the world. Not just that world, but this one as well. In the meantime I have been thinking of the top ten things I do not miss about India....and the top 10 I do.

TOP 10 Things I Do Not Miss About India:
10. men urinating on the side of the road
9. the still my poor heart
8. the horns honking
7. hot water coming out of the cold tap
6. unreliable internet service
5. the street vendors and the shopping
4 the unfriendly stares
3. the dust that coats everything
2. the HEAT
and the number one thing I do not miss about India...THE FOOD :-) and since I'm not very good with top ten lists, I have to add that I will not miss the never ending poverty

Things I Really Miss About India:
the children on the way to school and at the school, Ananthi and her sweet leadership, Mercy my sponsor child, the 6th grade girls:Shootsie, Ulma, Ushi, Napur, and Joyce, laying in our bunks and talking with the gals on the team, laughing at Tyler, skyping with the fam at home as they all crowded around the computer to talk with me, Laura Marie and Frances, karaoke on the bus, dinners at the Continental Curry restaurant(not the food, the fellowship), Sanjay and the chai tea he fixed every day for us, the precious children at the MK school, the kiddos in the slums that loved to have their pictures taken, the bus rides where we talked about real stuff, cute little naked babies toddling around...the people...that is what I miss about India...the people.

The Strangest Things I Saw In India:
cows eating garbage, a naked man walking down the road, endless piles of garbage with cows eating it(said that already didn't I?), naked babies out in public, people sleeping on any surface any time of day, work camps with temporary homes, children sleeping on the cement ground under overpasses, very skinny dogs(I only saw one healthy looking dog the entire 12 days), a vet clinic in a posh shopping area, a water slide park, craziest driving experiences ever(now I know why there are so many Indian taxi drivers)

Well, that is all I can think of right now. Thanks for reading my India blogs and praying for me. Say a prayer for the school of the Good Samaritan today.
With love,
Jackie Sue

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2 More Sleeps in India

After being down for the count for the last 36 hours I finally feel well enough to go to the school today. My belly still cramps, but it is bearable and I can't stand feeling so useless. I promise not to eat any Indian food though. Maybe plain rice, but that is it.

I listened to some worship music yesterday and the tears rolled. Honestly, and I surprise myself by saying this, I would do it all again. The sickness was horrible, but not more horrible than being here was wonderful. It has been a life changing experience for me. I am doing a James Macdonald Bible study called, "Lord, Change My Attitude" and guess what this week's study is on??? CONTENTMENT! Only God in His sovereignty could have arranged that. "Contentment-being satisfied in God's sufficient rest in what one already has and seek nothing more, to say without fear of the future or envy of others, "I have enough." God calls all of us to contentment. Invites us really. We can certainly, and usually do, live in discontentment quite naturally, but He invites us to trust Him to give us what we need and then to be satisfied there. Being in India, seeing what I've seen, I am pondering contentment for them. I have plenty. Waaaay more than I need, so being content will become a conscious choice for me, but not unattainable, by God's grace. What about those living in the slums? How do they achieve this place of contentment? Believe it or not, the same exact way as you and me. Being in relationship with God on a moment by moment basis while choosing to rest in His provision. I can't comprehend it and I don't mean to simplify it, but this I know, God lives in India. He is as available to them as He is to us. He has not forsaken His children and those who are watching see His hand throughout their life, even though they live in the slums. I have seen such joy on a blind woman's face as she sang a song of praise for us. I see it in little Dolci's smile that spreads all the way across her face, even though she is an orphan and wears the same blue polka-dotted dress every day. God is all around me here. My spoiled American self has realized again and again that stuff does not matter. Relationships with God and others are all I will take to Heaven with me. Strip it all away and who am I? Would I choose to love God and be content in Him? O Lord, let it be so. Continue to rip away all that I think is important and make me find my true self in You. I don't want the truths from this trip to wash away when I finally take a shower in my own shower...I want them to penetrate my heart and change me down deep and that is my prayer. I have no idea how to resolve these two worlds, but I know God has brought me here and I don't want to waste what He has shown me.

I have found the child I want to sponsor. Her name is Mercy. Isn't that beautiful? She is the only child of her parents and is so precious. Her mom shared many testimonies of God's faithfulness to their family. They are the caretakers for the school and have a small home attached to the church property. I mentioned them in my last post. Mercy is in 9th grade and is in the top of her class. She and I have made a connection and I want to continue in our relationship. She and I both love to read. We were talking about books and she told me who her favorite author was(Enid something) and then went into her home and brought me out a little story book to read. I took it back to the flat and read some of it. It is separate little stories, sort of like fables where there is always a lesson to be learned. I can't wait to send her the Anne of Green Gables Series! I haven't been back to the school to see her yet, but Colleen(my team member) took her book back for me and she gave me another to read. Colleen told her I was sick in bed. Last night she called me on the phone to see how I was. She said her parents were thinking of me and she asked if I had eaten. They are very big on eating here! I told her no and she said I should eat. I told her I had some toast and she said ok. Too cute. I am humbled by her affection and concern for me. I hadn't even told her I wanted to sponsor her until last night. I can't wait to put her picture on my fridge. Do you have a spot on your fridge for a child like Mercy? There are so many here who could benefit from your generosity. Would you pray about it? It is only $34 a month and could change a life.

I will post some more photos soon. I am awed by God this morning and thinking of you all and praising Him for such a wonderful support system for me. He shows me His love through you. Thank you for being His voice. Many blessings and contentment, js

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday in India

Today was a fantastic day. I will tell you about it, but first let me tell you about yesterday.

Saturday morning we went to the school at 7a.m. to play sports with the children. When we got there we had about 12 children. First I played Badminton with some girls which means that we hit the birdie back and forth for as long as we could and if it drops then the next girl plays. I was ok at it. I didn't embarrass myself too terribly. Then we went to play Indian Volleyball or Throwball which means we caught and threw a large ball over a volleyball net. I was doing great until I caught a ball, jamming my ring finger in the process. Ouch! Immediately the first joint of my finger went crooked. I looked at it and since I couldn't straighten it I asked the girls near me to pull it straight. Yeah, it didn't work. Not so much. So, I switched games again and ended up playing with the 6th grade girls. We played freeze tag and Carrom, a game with a large square wooden board with wooden pieces and pockets. Then I taught them how to throw an American football correctly. I even showed them how to hike it which they thought was hilarious. I'm happy to report that I didn't receive anymore injuries! It was such fun to play with the kids and to see them in a smaller group setting. After that fun we had a meal with Ananthi, whom we now all call Auntie.

The team is now divided into 2 teams. One team stays here to minister to the children of the school and the slums(that is the team I am with) and the other team is working in the area of child trafficking/prostitution in Delhi and leaves tomorrow for Mumbai. Our team made more home visits in the slums. It is difficult to convey how these visits go. We walk into a room of about 6x8 which is their entire home. A larger home would be 10x10 with an upstairs roof. These homes are dark, hot and crowded with the double bed platform in the corner which doubles as a couch. When we come in they introduce their family to us and then they share their prayer requests. After we pray they will try to serve us some soda or snack of some sort. It sounds lovely and it really is until you have to do it again and again and again. After the 4th visit I was just done. I couldn't emotionally do it anymore. It is difficult to explain, but the truth that I am powerless to do anything for them becomes overwhelming. They treat us like celebrities...we pray for a few minutes and then we leave them...still living in the exact same climb into our air-conditioned van and go eat our food in restaurants and sleep in our clean beds. We have seen so much poverty and sickness. Blind people who's blindness could have been prevented by a simple cataract surgery in the states. Naked babies. Cows eating garbage. Pigs running loose. Beggars. Children with skin conditions. A baby with horrible burns who's eyes are painted black because it's parents worship the god of death. You can appreciate that I just couldn't process another visit. I joined our driver "B2" in the car along with a teammate, Glenn, and we talked about nothing. David and Colleen did one more visit and then we headed to the church for a work project. The men did the work(my favorite kind of work project) and Colleen and I visited with some of the women and took pictures. I met one of the students who's name is Mercy. Don't you love that? She is in the 9th grade and is the head of her class. (Her mother is the woman who doctored my bleeding toe the other day)We shared testimonies. It was so nice. At the end of the day, around 730pm we headed over to "Capitol Curry" for dinner. It is a nice Indian restaurant with ESPN on. That was my Saturday. (I prayed for the folks at home who were celebrating our sweet friend, Sharon's, life and Homegoing!)

And now for Sunday....we started by attending church with Auntie. The service was exactly what you would expect in a third world country. Delightful. All three of us that were there were asked to share. Of course I cried, but it didn't go into the ugly cry, just couldn't talk for a bit. All of our speaking was done through a translator named Kapil. I don't have any video of me sharing, but I don't need any. I won't forget that experience for a very very long time. After the sharing we were asked to pray for anyone who wanted prayer. In the states we rarely have anyone come to our prayer room. We don't admit our need very quickly in the US. Here every single person in the church came forward for prayer and waited in line like we were "holy" people. I was struck with the huge responsibility of it all. They waited in line to have me pray for absurdly amazing. I even had two women ask me to pray and bless bottles of water. I guess they are hoping that it will now have some sort of power. Only God knows if He intends to use that water for His holy purposes. It was a precious time. Blessing the children who came for prayer was my favorite. If I can say this and not sound the children waited for me one of the older women tried to push them out of the way and I thought about Jesus and how he said, "no, let the little children come unto me" and I asked her to leave them. I loved laying hands on their heads and faces as I prayed. It was like nothing I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing before. God was in our midst. It was a holy experience.

After church Auntie took us to a wonderful Chinese restaurant in a 5 star hotel. It was just 4 of us and we had such a nice time. Auntie is like a holy woman to me. She is one of the most delightful people I've ever met. I have fallen in love with her. While we chatted after our meal our American contact, Laura Marie, called us from New York. She had to leave us on Friday to go back to the states as did Frances. I cried when they left. Laura Marie is a 26 year old woman who is the executive director in the U.S. for the organization we are here to serve. The Lord allowed us to share some intimate conversations this past week and our hearts bonded in a deep way. Part of why God brought me to India was to meet Laura and Frances. Precious people who inspire me to love God and others and journey this life looking for ways to serve the world. She called to check on us as we struggle to get along without her. Frances is 19 and I've mentioned her before. A remarkable gal for her age, really for any age. We had a ton of fun together and are hoping to meet up in July while we are in north Georgia.

I know this is a lengthy post. I hope you have stayed with me through it all. Can I say with a smirk, "comments would be nice!?" Thank you for all your prayers. I will continue to process all that I see and share as much as I'm able. I will post more photos because you know I have a ton! Just 5 more days in India....
Love in Him who is alive and working in India,
Jackie Sue

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Delhi Belly"

So, last night, Thursday, I got really sick in the night. I won't go into detail, but it was bad pretty much all night long. Thankfully I didn't throw up. This morning I stayed back at the flat and started taking Cipro. One of our leaders, Laura Marie, said, "oh, you have Delhi Belly." Oki doki then. The good news is that since I've already gotten this I don't have to dread it again. In all seriousness, please pray for the health of the team. We are all struggling a bit. Tomorrow morning early we are supposed to go do p.e. at the school. I will be the photographer I think. I did a bit of shopping today. Bartering is not my gift, but I had some women with me who were experts at it. Love what I got and loved the price. Let me take a minute to say that for me there is no getting used to the heat or the smells of India. It is sensory overload every day. It is raw and amazing in not a great way. Even in the "nice" areas you will see homeless people sleeping on the ground all over the place. It is beyond description. Simply amazing. After shopping we went to dinner tonight and I had some chicken soup. I have managed to keep it down, but still the belly cramping and aching. I will be fine soon I'm sure. I almost finished Tom Davis' second work of fiction, "Priceless". It is an intense and quick read. I highly recommend it. Well, peeps, I got nothin' else....maybe tomorrow will be better. I bet I will get some great pictures of the kids. Love from India, js
p.s.I tried to upload a video of the kids singing to us,but it was going to take a really long time. It will have to wait until I get home. 7 more sleeps. Miss home but love being here.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It was a good day!

Today was a really good day. The only hard thing was the heat. I don't think I'm gonna get used to it, but it certainly doesn't seem to affect the nationals. We went to both of the other school campuses today and visited some other homes in a different slum. We went in two homes of children that attend the school. The first was nice with photos of the children framed and on the wall, but it was no bigger than my closet...for five family members. Amazing! I love how gracious they are and how they always offer us something to drink. To have so little and to share with others is just precious. It was a very special day. We went to the youngest students, preschool and kindergarten campus and they sang for us. I will try to post the video. It made me cry. They treat us with such love and we were important people or something. Truly humbling. I cut my toe while at that campus on the edge of a cement doorway and the staff from the school served me and cleaned my dirty foot like it was a major injury. It was bleeding a lot and they moved right into action. Again, truly humbling. My feet were filthy! They treated me like a queen. The Indians are big into serving others. I could learn a lot from them...and hope I do. The best news of the day was that Ananthi(the head of the schools) had the opportunity to talk with the 9th grade boy that was interrogating me yesterday and she said he allowed her to pray for him. He came to see her! They talked for more than an hour and she said it was amazing...a bit on the miraculous side that an older student would ask to come and see her and respond so positively to her counsel. I can't really say much, but my heart was overflowing with such joy that God would use my feeble words yesterday to prod him to go see her and that it would have such a positive outcome. He is amazing! I am falling asleep so I am going to bed. Blessings and love. We serve an awesome God!
Jackie Sue

More fun photos...more beautiful kids!

Day 2

Has is only been 2 days? I can't believe that. It seems like much more. Our days start with a lovely Indian man, Sunji, fixing us omelets, coffee and chai tea. Today I was able to skype with David and the girls. That was a fun surprise. After that we headed to the school to teach Bible stories to 4 different grades. I was the storyteller for Daniel and the Lion's Den. I didn't have my Bible with me so I had to tell it from memory. I think it went well. I LOVE the little children with their wide eyes and ready smiles. They are just precious and I could honestly spend all day with them. Their sweet voices looking for confirmation as they call out, "here, ma'am'. They asked if my name was Jackie like Jackie Chan and I said yes, just like Jackie Chan and they laughed. They are delightful.

After story time we had another traditional Indian lunch. Quite spicy, but good. We went to share our testimonies with 9th graders in the early afternoon. We broke up into teams and the kids were in groups of 15 or so. There are many more boys in school than girls and so I said I would talk to a group of boys since we didn't have enough men. I began to share my testimony with them and am embarrassed to say that I made a couple of cultural mistakes. It is difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that many of these children, especially the older ones, attend this school for the free education and not at all for the Christianity. What I know now, that I failed to realize before my talk with them, is that many are actually hostile to Christianity. So, in my naive' way I began to share about finding the one true God at age 11 and how He loved me and how that changed my life...etc. As I finish these boys start asking me questions...very hard questions about how I know who God is and why I believe in Christianity when there are other religions that teach the same things....they were intense, but not intent on learning and listening...intent on proving me wrong. I think I handled it ok at the time, but later in the bus I wept silent tears because I could hardly stand the fact that I had possibly offended the very people I wanted to minister to. I don't write this so that anyone will try to "fix" my mistake...I just want to say that my world view is being so stretched on this trip. I am a small minded person who lives in a "Christian" nation and who forgets, even accidentally, that these people have extremely strong beliefs and I need to be very sensitive to who they are. I need to be educated on how to share my story. Using the term, "one true God" could have been, and probably was, very offensive. They didn't do anything wrong. They were not disrespectful, but I think I was' unintentionally, and it broke my heart. They are not waiting for us to save them. Even though I KNOW that we are not the "savior of the world" it is so easy to forget that. Every country does not want to be America and every person does not wish to be American. I learned a valuable, albeit painful, lesson today that I will not soon forget. Humility is my friend and I will embrace him.

Directly after the small group time we headed to a Hindu Temple dedicated to Kali, the god of death. I could not bring myself to go in. For whatever reason I just could not. Even being in the marketplace that led to the temple area was intensely sad to me. There were beggars, many of whom were children. At home we have homeless people and beggars, but not children. Even though I knew to expect it, it made me very sad. Today I saw the India that many of you told me before hand you wouldn't want to see.It was sensory overload. The smells and the sights and the filth was everywhere. It was exactly as you would imagine. Even the slums weren't this bad. The people here were going to worship a god of death. They blacken their children's eyes to ward off evil spirits. Tiny little babies with thick black circles under their eyes. The hopelessness of it all is disheartening. Terribly terribly sad. The people in the slums were friendly and happy, but the people in the market place were solemn and didn't smile or say hello. I don't even know how to adequately describe it except to say that I did not find one single thing to take a picture of. It was just too sad. Most of the group went into the temple and they said it was very intense. I'm sure some one else will blog about it and share their experience. For me the market was enough.

After the temple we headed back to the lovely coffee shop we went to yesterday. We all talked at our little tables. One gal, Frances, has been here nearly a month with Ananthi and the other one is part of our team, Chelsey. Both are 19 year old girls from large families. Both have been home schooled at times and both have a part in caring for their younger siblings. Both are very mature for their age and both are crazy about adoption! I wonder what we talk about??? Frances has a little sister my Ellie's age from the same province in China so we connected on that level immediately. Chelsey has 2.5 year old twin foster children in her home right now. I love being with these gals. We really do talk about all kinds of things and I love it. The rest of the team is wonderful too. At dinner tonight we watched the USA vs Algeria soccer match and laughed about all kinds of things. We laughed hard and I needed that. God is so precious to give us the gift of laughter. We laughed at each other and ourselves. Laughter is such good medicine and gives us "classics" to laugh at again and again. It is very bonding to share laughter together and we certainly did that tonight. When we came back to the flat a certain leader had taken some Ambien. Suffice it to say that when it kicked in he got funny. I'm thinking he should take that pill once he has climbed into bed. I'm just sayin'.

Tonight I am thankful for laughter and new friends and "classics" to celebrate in the midst of heartbreaking sadness. I am thankful for husbands at home who take care of the kids. I am thankful for God's redeeming work. He can use my failed attempts to speak truth into the hearts of young men who aren't even interested. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the broken and to offer them hope in Jesus. I am thankful that God loves humility and He desires to build that in me...and often times it is in the midst of humiliating circumstances that I learn humility. Please keep praying. I desire for God to make me more culturally sensitive and wise. I would love it if you would comment here and let me know how to pray for you. It would be an honor to take you before the Throne of the One who loves you intensely.
Much love,
Jackie Sue
More photos from yesterday:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 1

It is my first day in Delhi. The flat where we are staying is quite nice. We have running water and air conditioning. On my list of things I am thankful for today, air conditioning was the top of the list! It is so hot that it is difficult for me to breath. I am drinking lots of water so I think I will be fine. Sweating a ton! I slept pretty well and woke before the alarm at 5:30. That’s the best thing about the time change is that I wake early in the morning.

We visited the school today for the first time. When I first walked in my eyes filled with tears. I saw the children and my heart overflowed with compassion. I am going to try to convey what it means for them to be in school and the amazing ministry this school has here. Ananthi is the lady that started this school. She gave her testimony and the story of the school this morning. Amazing! I feel like I am with a holy woman when I am in her presence. Like a Mother Teresa I guess. I am deeply moved by her story and compassion for the the children of the slums. She is a well educated woman with a doctorate degree in linguistics who began the school because of one child and the Lord’s call on her life. You can read her entire story here.

This afternoon we went to visit the slums. Picture “slum dog millionaire” and you have the idea. The children are amazingly beautiful and LOVED having their pictures taken. Their favorite question to ask is, “Ma’am, what is your favorite sport?” And I answer, “In India, it is Cricket!” While in Rome… We went into several homes to pray with families of the children who attend “The Good Samaritan School”. They were so sweet and honored to have us in their home. By home I mean 2 rooms with cement floors, no bathroom or bathing facility, one bed or pallet for numerous family members. The have no furniture to speak of, but still these were the better of the slums we will visit. At least they have permanent structures to live in. It is a huge community of over 200,000 people.

We attracted quite the crowd of followers. Most were children, but many adults also. The longer we were there the bolder they became. By the end of our visit even the adults were asking to have their pictures taken with me. Hopefully the internet will co-operate and let me post them.

It is impossible to adequately describe the heat accept to say that I have never sweated so much just standing still. Not complaining, just stating a fact. It is also extremely dusty. My feet are so swollen you would think I was pregnant….but I am certainly not…just the swollen feet. Even with all that, He has accomplished what I asked of Him. I have a deep compassion and love for the people. Many of the people worship idols and are in severe bondage, not to mention the poverty and struggles they have just to live. The message I want to give to them is that their true Father in Heaven loves them and He sees them. He sees their struggles and wants to give them hope and a future. I believe part of the hope He offers is through Anathi’s school. It is amazing to me that He allows me to feel what He feels for these people. The school has the capacity to educate 4500 students, but because of funding the enrollment now is just under 1000. That is where you, my blog readers, can help. If you feel led, you could sponsor a child for just $34 a month. You could give a child hope and a future because in India education is everything and education is only available for the wealthy. Without The Good Samaritan School the slum children would have no opportunity to be educated. My goal is to have enough of my blog readers to sponsor an entire classroom at the school. Imagine that you could be used by Him to equip a child for their entire lives. Think about it, will you?

On a personal note, I wish you call all be here with me. Seriously, it is amazing. Our team had a great day. We’ve had lots of humor and fun and even visited a divine coffee shop. Not a Starbucks, but so close to one that I could hardly tell the difference. It was like an oasis in the midst of this dusty and dirty city. They even played some western (I don’t mean country) music. The traffic is crazy…just like China. The biggest vehicle wins. The smog is just like China too. The sun is just a big white ball in a sky covered in a think haze. No clouds, no blue sky, just a very thick grey. Today we had traditional Indian food. It is very spicy, but edible. I wouldn’t say I liked it, but I didn’t hate it either. Last night we ate Dominoes pizza at about 11pm and tonight we ordered Chinese. I hope to lose some weight, but that is probably just wishful thinking. A girl can hope though, right? Even in India I can be shallow and vain. Unfortunately that part of me goes everywhere, even so, I will post all my photos even the unflattering ones for my favorite blog readers. I will sacrifice myself so that you don’t miss a thing. Smile.

A big hello to my family. Eddie, I love you. Thank you for being so supportive of this trip. Kids, I love you. You would have loved all the children today and they would have loved you.

With love from India,
Jackie SueThe morning assembly where they greeted us and sang for us. PRECIOUS!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One More Sleep...

Hello friends! I have one more night at home before I begin my life changing experience of India. I was praying this morning and realizing that this is not the first life long dream that has taken many years to come to fruition. My little girls were 22+ years of longing. Traveling as a missionary overseas became my passion at the same time that adopting Asian children did. Both of these passions began the summer after my freshman year in college. Interesting...! I have a really long "prep time", don't 'cha think? If you know me you can understand why God takes His time with me. I am filled with anticipation and excitement at this point. I am finally an official, albeit temporary, foreign missionary!!!! is really just sinking in. Use me as an encouragement if you can...don't give up on the dreams God places in your heart. He may accomplish them yet!

As I awoke this morning I had an awareness, as I do anytime I travel, that I may not be coming back. Things happen and we lose people. Something could happen to me on this trip or something could happen to someone I love while I am gone. That is the truth. I was filled with this truth this morning as I began my time of prayer. I surrendered again to my God all that I love here on this earth. I am acutely aware that He has blessed me abundantly and I don't ever want to take that for granted. I want to always remember that this life is temporary and I need to hold onto people, circumstances and possessions loosely. So I had some "releasing time" this morning. I am a bit controlling so it took some time. The truth is, I am still letting go. Anyway, it had been a long week and David was finally home and I was in the middle of getting ready to leave. Ironic I know. I asked David to bathe the girls for me. Ellie girl was not happy with that. She misses her daddy when he is gone, but there is always an adjustment time with her. She is a momma's girl(and I do love that)so to appease her I told her if she would let her daddy bathe her I would read them a book before bed. She acquiesced. I know the moms reading this post will understand that by the end of a very long day I am often so "done" that it is hard to get the little ones in bed with a kiss, much less a book, but last night I climbed into Davie's bed with my girls and had a precious time. Ellie picked her Easter Knock Knock joke book that she received for her birthday from our fellow adoptive family, the Venn's, and the laughter began. Each of the girls took turns saying the "who's there?" part of the joke. Fun times...or as our Japanese student, Takuro, would say, "Big Fun!". Then Davie picked a book about Gilbert the Gopher. As I began to read I gave the characters horrible southern accents. The girls laughed. Then I gave this one girl an accent that Davie corrected. She said, "Mom, she is supposed to have a nice voice." To which I replied in a whispery sultry southern voice, "like this?" and the hysterics ensued. We laughed and laughed. One of my favorite things in this life is watching Davie get really tickled. She has the most delightful belly laugh and her mouth covers her face and her eyes disappear. It was a precious time. I tell you that because while it hurts to leave my girls and go to India I KNOW it is the right thing to do, regardless of whether I come back or not. I tell you that because I want to stop and pause and give thanks to the God who made laughter and little girls and momma's to enjoy one another and to remember that the precious time I had with my little ones last night did not cost me a DIME! Do I think I will be back? OF COURSE! Do I realize the possibilities and remember that life is temporary? OF COURSE! Relationships are all we have in this life and in the next. They are the only riches we will take to Heaven with us.

My mind is full of the preciousness of life this morning. In the last week I have been able to join with some friends several times to visit a precious woman in her last stages of cancer. We have laughed together, sung songs of the faith, prayed and given thanks for her life. Sharon and Dale have been committed, faithful members of the church we attend for many many years. This last year we were in a couples small group together and we got to know each other on a much deeper level, sharing our struggles and joys. Spending time in the room with a person who will soon be on her way to the next life has a profound impact on me. The chances are that I won't see Sharon again on this earth. It has been an honor to be with her here and I will look forward to seeing her again there. Westwood folks, can't you just see Sharon at the gates as a greeter???? Love that thought!!!

Trusting God is the only way to release those we love. Believing with all of my heart in Heaven makes all the risks I take in this life worth it. Not testing God, but trusting Him and the promises of His word. So, I head to India with great anticipation that God is doing a good thing and with an acute awareness that He is in complete control. He is good. Everything He does is right. He has my best interest and the interests of those I love in mind in all He allows. I love that His truth has penetrated to the depths of my soul and gives me His peace.

"The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)
Jackie Sue

p.s. here is a link to follow the trip of the entire Hopechest India team and to receive prayer requests, see photos and all sorts of stuff.
p.s.s. Eddie, you are the best! I love you with all my being. Thank you for letting my dreams come true and for always being here to pick up my messes. There is no one like you in the whole world. We are a blessed family to have you as our leader. My heart is full. Happy Father's Day!!!!

and for fun...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Several Countdowns Have Begun

The first countdown is that tomorrow officially ends Catherine Jo's middle school years at Family Christian School. They have been amazing years of development in every sense of the word. We couldn't be prouder of the young woman she is becoming. Also in this photo is my last baby and tomorrow begins the last year I will have her home with me. My last little shadow...gets me right here...points to heart....!

Another countdown...I'm down to 12 days before I leave...just 12 days!!!

Its just two days before Matthew gets home from Japan. I'm planning his favorite meal to celebrate with him if jet lag doesn't do him in before he can eat. It also looks like we will be getting another Japanese student in August for a month. We have had so much fun with them that I will really look forward to it.

It is officially butterfly season! That's a big deal around my house and if you come over I will take you all around my yard to show you the tiny life that you might miss. These are newly hatched black swallowtail caterpillars...the first of the season! They are tiiiinnnnnyyyyy!

Another countdown...I got my shots today and have my anti-malarial pills on order. In just 10 days I begin taking the pills to keep me from getting Malaria!!!

Tomorrow is the last day of school. Davie is officially heading to 2nd grade. It is official, summer is here!

Not really a countdown item, but I have to share that I just finished a book last night that I LOVED. It is by one of my favorite authors, Charles Martin, and is called "The Mountain Between Us". What a moving story! It gets the thumbs up award from little ol' me if that means anything to you.

Counting down to prepare myself for the trip I find myself worrying about the little things and not the big things, but God is helping me with that. I have gathered some things to take with me and folks have made some donations so what seemed a long way off is truly just around the corner. Back to my feels surreal that I will be traveling to India. It is much like going to China. When we were planning our trips to China it just didn't feel real until we were on the plane. This feels the same way. I know I am going, but the brain just won't grasp it. Thankfully the whole gang here at home is behind the trip. Ellie says she will "mi"(miss) me, but she also talks about how "tool"(cool) it will be for me to go there. I have figured out that my anxiety about the trip is not so much about what I may experience, but honestly it stems from wanting to "make God proud". If you know me you know how high-maintenance I can be. It would be stating the obvious to say how completely inappropriate that will be on this trip. So, I worry that I will be too much me, and not enough Him. I have found that the older I get the more I realize that I am not as easy going as I would like to think I am so I have to be conscious all the time of my words and attitudes....not unlike I should be here... and that is what He is in the middle of teaching me right now. I will try to post daily about my experience and includes some photos of the kids and area. Thanks for your prayers and support. Life is good and God makes it so. Many blessings. Jackie Sue