Debrief from India 2009

I woke up to sunlight streaming through gingham and sunflower print curtains. We are back in California at a church camp along the central coast. It takes me back to my church camp days, when everything was simpler. Someone else paid the bills and made sure I had food. I was learning to worship and journal and pray. I was learning some of the best and worst lessons of my life, and the air was filled with hope. There is something sacred and intimate about those memories. This place restores my soul.

Only a few days ago I was on a tropical island paradise in Thailand. We went there for two days of debrief, which happened in private conversations in deck chairs on the white sand beach. We thought we were going to the Bankok YWAM base, but the taxi kept driving, and then we got on a speed boat, and then we waded through the ocean to our island.

For the safety of our contacts, I will not tell you where we *actually* were for three weeks between India and Thailand, but I have taken to calling it Never Never Land in my heart. They have a great fear of foreigners and foreign influence. We were more free to talk about Jesus than politics, but we had to be wise about both.

I’m still processing. I feel like God has taken me “back to the place where we fell in love”, although I was in love with Him long before church camp over sixteen years ago. This place also reminds me of the mountains of Colorado. Walking along the gravely trails under the full moon takes me to so many beautiful places. It’s a good place to begin laying a foundation. A friend of mine in Never Never Land, we can call her Lisa because there were a lot of Lisa’s everywhere we went, commented that the next five months are a time for me to lay a foundation because when I return on staff I will be going into missions “for a long time…a very long time.”

…return on staff. Have I mentioned yet that I’m coming back on staff with YWAM? Lord willing I will have my support raised by November and will be back in Pismo by my 29th birthday.

That’s about all I have for now. Getting settled and getting all my bills sorted is a bit…harrowing. I am seeking peace.

Beth

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India

More things about India, since I have time

On the street in front of our house there were brand new puppies when we first got here. They’re standing now.

I am going to miss auto rickshaws. They’re super cheap and they connect you on all the crazy back roads to where you are going.

There is an election happening here in only a few days. Activity is ramping up surrounding that. Elections in India are quite something to experience.

Not only are we here at the hottest time of the year, but it is the hottest summer they have had in 35 years. Apparently God likes to refine me with literal fire. Reminds me of the August I spent in Phoenix…only hotter.

There are these black crows everywhere. When we first got here, it was kind of creepy when they looked at you sideways and you had to wonder what they were thinking. Now I know what they are thinking. They are wondering how they can poop on my clean laundry which I am hanging on the line. They begin practicing flight patterns before I am even inside. When they see me come out with a book or purse, they are even more excited because the greater surface area means they do not have to aim as carefully. This is what the crows in India are thinking.

Good night.

Looking back, looking forward

Our time in India is almost up. There were a couple of Australians here when we got here. Paul and Louise have been an amazing encouragement to me. They left earlier this week. It was really sweet to be around them, and I miss them already. I am really very grateful for their presence here. Lizzie is another friend at our guest house. She is from England and works with street children. She is a rather amazing woman. I don’t quite know how to show her how important her friendship is and has been to me. Sometimes I’m horrible at showing that on a daily basis. I hope she knows. The people you meet, they change your life as you go, don’t they? Especially in moments like these, when you are most actively becoming.

Our next stop will be working with children and youth, teaching about identity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I am stunned at the honor and opportunity which we have. Amazing.

I probably won’t be back online for the next month or so. I may check once before we fly out this weekend. I love you all. Please keep praying…perhaps now more than ever.

Beth

Children of the Howrah Train Station

Last Sunday, two boys died in the Howrah train station. I just thought that someone, somewhere needed to know. They were probably high on glue, which diminishes hunger pains, and rolled off of the roof onto the tracks, where they were then run over by the train.

I spent my week with 8 of the Howrah boys. They’re a little like the lost boys in Peter Pan. I felt like Wendy, darning their clothes. These 8 moved in with our contacts here about 30 days ago…and you can tell…you can see it in their eyes, in the way they move, treat each other, and touch you. They are being fed, they are being loved. I got to be part of that this week.

Healing in India

Well, I could begin this post by telling you how the first thing I will do when near a bathtub in the states is take a good long bath, or how the water coming off my hair the other day was nearly black…and they say that this is relatively clean air for Kolkata. OR I could tell you about evangelism time today and how we saw SIX PEOPLE PRAY TO ACCEPT JESUS and 15 people or more HEALED on a street corner.

It began with interview-style evangelism, where we took a video camera with us and interviewed some flight attendant students about places to eat in Kolkata and the purpose of life. There were three of us in the group…me, Cody, and Kelsy. Cody shared the gospel with them and they said they had never heard such a thing, then were eager to pray with us. We arranged to meet them for church this Sunday, and ran into them in the street later, where they gave us mangoes and salt, may my bowels rest in peace tonight.

We kept walking and found a “blind” beggar on the street. Cody began to pray for him, for healing, and within seconds a crowd was gathered. I looked at him, thinking this could end well or it could end very very badly, “This should be fun.” He grinned and proclaimed that it is fun, which was pretty much my cue to jump in. I was praying for the beggar as Cody began explaining what he was doing. No one spoke English, so he prayed for a translator, and in short order a young Christian student happed by and thought we might need some help, so he started translating. Woooooooo!!!

I felt things get a little harried and my attention was drawn to the shrine only a few feet away. Just as Cody was getting to the resurrection power of Jesus, he was interrupted. I began praying against death and praying in tongues, and the man clears out and Cody goes on. As he put it:

At the end of my message, I hear come out of my mouth, “I want anyone who is sick to come forward, I will lay hands on you, and when you are healed you will know Jesus is real.” This surprised me, I was not planning on saying that. And what happened next I will never forget.

He starts praying for a man’s arthritic knee as I’m remembering that God promised to put His power behind the words of His saints, for His name’s sake. I’m remembering and praying for the man and against doubt and against death and against pain and disease, bringing the Kingdom of God and all this in the name of Jesus. Cody prayed for the man four times…the second time he had some relief, but the pain persisted, and the fourth time it began to recede. Three more people came forward for healing, and I continued praying for the beggar. I finally felt a sense of peace that he had had healing, and although I could not communicate with him very well, I saw his countenance change before my eyes, and just as I thought, “It’s done. He can go now,” he got up and left.

I wanted to pray, so Cody sent over a man with a headache. Hurrah! I have prayed for many headaches since this trip began, with great success. It’s an area that I want authority over and so have been pressing in for that. I had Kelsy join me so that I would not be praying for the men one on one. We prayed for his headache several times, and it was when I touched the spot lightly and prayed that the pain was healed.

There was only one woman in the crowd, and I smiled at her. She returned shortly with her camera crew! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Indian paparazzi. I’m cracking up, they’re videoing us, Cody gave them an interview and Kelsy told them that “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible told me so.”

We were walking away…very slowly as people continued to want prayer…and honestly, it broke my heart to send them away…and some people warned us to be careful…and the police started running after us…which was a little threatening. They told us to wait as another police man and a guard came over to us. Kelsy and I looked at each other sideways. They wanted healing! We prayed for all three of them, for their backs. Wowza! What a night.

We then went out for dinner with the team to Mouline Rouge, which is a knockoff from the movie or the place in Paris, or both, but it made me smile because it’s my favorite movie.

Glory be to Jesus! This is amazing stuff…God really is powerful…and amazing! I’m so excited to see more!

Dance Therapy in India

Friday I have an appointment you want to know about.

It was during our Evangelism time. Cody, Jonathan, and I set out to pray for sick people. The guys asked me which way I thought we should go, and I had some sense to go right and then right again…so off we went. Half way around the block, we saw a sign, “Women’s Union of Kolkatta.” We stared at the sign and then at each other. I had been ruminating to Cody earlier that this is not a good city to be a woman, so I was very intrigued by this organization which has been around for over 75 years. Cody raised his eyebrows and said, “Wanna check it out?” Of course I do!

The men at the gate gave me a little slip of paper to fill out. Name: Beth; Name of person to visit:…………………uh………………….”Guys, what do I put?” “I don’t know…make up a name?” “I could write my mother in law’s name.” Instead, with now six Indian men gesturing to me that I should write on the paper, I wrote “I want to know more about women’s union.” We were escourted to a cool room with many nice women in sarees sitting behind desks doing paper work. The little paper was handed to one woman who asked me what I wanted, then we were invited to sit on a little bench. We spoke prayers as conversation to one another in the moment of expectancy. Within minutes we were taken to meet the vice president.

She told us about how they take in refugees and women and children who have been trafficked. How they have formed a school and also take in some of the street children. They are a government subsidized residential facility for women and children in need. She spoke about the children who are trafficked, and how they needed to get counselors for them. And then her face brightened even more as she talked about how they have been doing a dance therapy program, and how freedom of movement has really transformed these girls!!!! So there were some confusing conversations and phone calls, and I have an appointment at 1 PM on Friday to meet the woman from the organization who offers that. And maybe…just maybe…I will get to participate in a dance therapy session or …maybe several. Glory be to Jesus…this is just stunning. Amazing. Only He could be so magnificent!

In other news, for those of you who follow all the random and amazing places I have danced, we can add a rooftop in Kalkotta to that list. Wooooooooooooooo!!!

Happy Bengali New Year. Tomorrow we are working with children, then we will start with the mother homes on Friday. That should be intense.

First Post from India

Hello from India!!!

I am excited to report that there is an internet cafe just around the corner from our guest house (hostel). This is very good news, and although I will not have very much time to be online, hopefully I will be able to make blog posts on a weekly basis.

Healing in His Wings

Our travel time was amazing. I got to see my friends Lisa and Barb before leaving (waves) which was a gift from heaven, and then I got to see my friend Terry during our layover in San Francisco. We had a wonderful dinner together, and Terry prayed for the team with her flags. That was super exciting. Then she gave me a key…and a confirmation…to remind me that I have the keys to miracles and healing. Um…wow. Yeah. That’s pretty God. Within moments I was with my team members, two of whom were sick. One I prayed for and she felt a little better maybe. The second one I was praying for and I got to the point where I didn’t have any words left, so I said, “and…Jesus…I don’t know what else to pray…but I feel like-” My friend interrupted me, “Wait! I’m better. Hold on,” she swallowed, “All better! No pain!” Are you kidding me? I mean, yeah, that’s what we were going for and all…but…wow. We continue to pray for one another for healing, as we see that modeled in the New Testament. Sometimes people get better quickly, sometimes over time…and I am talking to God about how He works in all this. Hurrah.

New Clothes

We each came with only a few clothes and intentions to buy some functional Indian clothes once we got here. Yesterday we spent most of the day at market buying clothes. I found a couple punjabi which I really love (Despite ludicrous amounts of starch. I feel like I’m wearing paper. Anybody know how to get this stuff out?), one which I’m not sure I like and I feel like I paid too much for…but Jesus says that He cares even more about me looking nice than I do, so I can trust Him with this. I was really disappointed because I love the bright, bright colors and my punjab are all pale or drab. I wanted something that was pink and orange and gold like the sunrise. Our guide, a very shrewd man who helped me find my friends when I was lost, told me, “One more place for you. Just come.” Okay….so I sit down and they begin showing me saree’s. There were a few that I really loved, and as the man was measuring me, just in case I wanted it, I saw fabric that was exactly what I had been wanting. I asked him about it and he laughed, knowing that it was way out of my price range. Then, on an impulse, he said he would give it to me for the price of the one I had been thinking of buying. Are you kidding me??? All this, because his sister is visiting from Portland. I will go pick my sari up tomorrow and have it in time for Easter sunrise service, which we are leading. How lovely is that? I think I would like to paint for him a picture. Please pray that I make something lovely and meaningful…a gift from the heart of God.

The Father of Lights

One of the hardest things for me in this culture is knowing how to successfully interact with the men. I do not like to send wrong signals, and I find it hard even within my own culture because I am so interested in hearing what other people have to say, in really hearing them and hearing what God is teaching them. The lecture phase of DTS was great, because there was a pretty clear age boundary between me and most of the men in my life. I was walking along last night feeling rather overwhelmed by it all, thinking about how hard it must be to be a woman in this culture (and yet how lovely the women are!), when I looked up and there was one more guy looking strait at me, raising his eyebrows. (There is also an assumption about American women…grrr…based on movies. This is one main reason we are buying these clothes. Even when I was buying my sari I had to stipulate that I wanted a “shy…good family” neckline.) Ugh! I looked away, crying out to Jesus, and found myself staring down full face the nearly full moon. We were walking between two buildings, and there it was, beautiful as ever, carrying in it all the haunting memories of beautiful life and love and friends that have happened under nearly full moons. Every good and perfect gift comes down to us from above, from the father of lights in whom there is no shadow of turning, no variation, constant as light. (James 1) In that moment I was found.

Prayer requests

Please pray for me as I try to learn this new culture. I feel like I barely understand my own culture…although Jesus says I am lovely in any culture. I am struggling with my attitude, feeling overwhelmed, and not knowing how to even interact with my own team. It would be really great if we all got our feet under us during this time, and a sense of openness, vulnerability, and love for one another was established and rooted. We are already unified in thought and action…but here in a place so far from where we live we will get to see how strong that foundation really is, how deep those roots really go. For myself, I feel like I’m still digging, like the things God has for me here will require strength and depth which I am still seeking. Pray for me, I do not feel like I even know how to seek Him more, and yet I am so hungry to find Him, to find more. Also, I feel like we are here as representations of life and light in this place. I am praying that we reflect God a little more clearly each day, and that as we walk, life comes forth from the city around us. The abundant, lasting life of God.

Love you all. Holy Spirit, keep coming…deeper, deeper, we want more of you, more than we ever thought possible. More than we can handle. More.

Beth

P.S. There are pink roses in the garden of the guest house, and I saw a butterfly this morning. It’s the only one I’ve seen since getting here, but maybe that’s normal for places that aren’t Pismo Beach.

P.P.S. The food is especially comforting to me because it reminds me of Daksha (my sister-in-law’s mum) and the four months I spent living with my brother and his wife in Washington D.C. After a hard week of flying I would always come home to Daksha’s wonderful cooking. It warms my heart…every time. 🙂 Mmmmm…glory be to Jesus.