Bridge to India

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Reflections on the July 2013 Trip: Laura, Part 2

Tuesday started like any day with Chapel. During Chapel I touched some girls’ hands. They were awed by my touching their hands. I held one girl's hand and she showed her friend. She then tested me by putting her friend's hand out. I touched her friend's hand as well. When I did, they were absolutely in awe. Abbey kept talking about their smiles. How precious and beautiful they were.

After Chapel, Tuesday was the pastor's meeting and then a day of work. After the Pastor's Meeting I spent some time with Mounika and her Pastor K.R. John and K.R. John's daughter, Preethi. Mounika was able to talk to her dad on the phone. I then asked her pastor if it would be okay if I adopted Mounika as my Godchild. He said yes with tears in his eyes. Then I got down on my knees, held Mounika's hand and asked if she would like to be my Godchild. She said yes and hugged me so tight! She then hugged Abbey and kissed on her. Both cheeks. Then Pastor K.R. John took my hand and placed it on his head and asked me to pray for him. He asked me... to pray... for him. I don't pray very well. I talk to God like he is my friend. I don't have fancy language or anything. I just talk to him like a friend. But I prayed for K.R. John, his daughter Preethi, Mounika, her dad and their village. What a precious time.

The team was there as part of the Bridge To India project. We interviewed the new kids in Class 1 (think First Grade) that just joined the school, as well as new kids in the other classes. After interviews, we took new photos of the kids. (We all know how much kids change in a year.) So we started a process. Somehow I got the blessing of interviewing the little Class 1 kids. I would ask them three questions. We would practice once, and then tape it. The videotape would be used to introduce the kids to their Godparents. So it was important to get their little personalities to come out and to learn just a little bit about them.

We took them in groups of four. What was their favorite color? Favorite food? Favorite game? Since they were the Class 1 new kids, many were frightened or didn't speak English. So we had older children from the Tech Team assist. The kids would come in, sit cross-legged on the floor and I would greet them and ask my questions. But it always turned out the same way. The kids would be overwhelmed by the people in the room and the video recorder. They would whisper their response after much prodding by the older kids. I would tell them I was going to ask one more time. We would turn the camera on - and they would freeze. Kids who answered their favorite foods were chocolate, ice cream, biscuits (our cookies) and mutton (not joking), would all of a sudden respond "rice", "rice", "rice", "rice". They didn't remember what they had just told me. So the first child muttered "rice” and they all repeated. It was precious. They are only 5-6 years old after all! So Godparents, your child definitely likes more than just rice. It was just hard to communicate!

The photos and interviews got easier as the day went on. And eventually we were done with the work for the day and it was time to play. Another hundred rounds of thumb war. But this time the girls taught me a new game - colors. In colors, someone yells out a color and then you have to run to somewhere in the play area that has that color. So green would have all the girls running to a patch of grass to touch the grass. The last one there got to pick the next color. I added a twist. They would name a color, and I would find a child wearing that color and lift them up in a hug. The first one was easy - they yelled blue and my daughter was across the way playing a different game with some girls. But I ran up to Abbey, got down and hugged her pant leg. Her pants were blue. The girls thought that was hysterical! They proceed to explain I couldn't go after a child - I needed to find a "thing." Okay, rules explained once more, the next girl yelled out red. So I scooped up a little Grade 1 girl who happened to be wearing a red dress. I held her in my arms and pronounced that I had found my red. More laughter and more explanation about how I did not understand the game. Next color - green. They all bent over to get the grass. I searched for an older girl with green and proceeded to run to her and lift her up. More laughter and more girls were coming to play with this crazy American woman who kept touching and lifting them up. Remember, these are the Untouchables. They aren't used to someone hugging them or picking them up. But they laughed like any American schoolgirl would have laughed. And it was the best game I learned!
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That night, after my bucket shower lying on my concrete bed with flies dancing on my face I couldn't stop smiling. It was absolutely the best day. But I was also a little bummed. How could the trip possibly get any better? Those are the times I picture God in Heaven looking down at me and laughing, thinking oh wait Laura. Just wait until tomorrow!


After chapel on Wednesday I was just feeling like everything hurt. My head hurt. My stomach was cramping because of the food. I hadn't slept very well in days. I was simply beat. The team rallied around me and encouraged me to stay back and get some rest while they visited a village. I took them up on it and slept for 5 1/2 hours. I woke up feeling much better listening to the kids singing the "Cells Song." I don't know it's real name, but it goes like this...

“Thank you God, I feel so good
Every single cell in my body is well.

Every single cell in my body is happy
Every single cell in my body is well.”

It is an amazingly simple song that gets stuck in your head! And my little Class 1 and Class 2 kids were outside my window singing it. I quickly dressed in my Salwar and scarf and ran downstairs to join them. They were memorizing their scripture versus and singing. I just sat in awe at how much these kids could memorize. But I was also a complete distraction. So after 10 minutes the teacher gave up and pronounced it was playtime. So we played on the swings, the teeter-totter, the slide, the bars - everything! And I loved every minute of it. I took every chance I could to hug the kids; to hold their hand while walking from one place to another; to simply smile at them. And they started reciprocating it. My heart swelled.

The rest of the team came back from the village and we got to play some more. Dinner was with the adults - the teachers and staff. The principal's name is Vedamani, which sounds like "Where's da money." He is a sweet, tender, soft-spoken wonderful man. Unfortunately I got a little tongue tied and asked "Show Me The Money" a question. The whole group erupted in laughter. It took me awhile to realize I had messed his name up. But the rest of the trip he was known as "Show Me The Money."

Thursday - AIDS clinic and continuing Bridge to India work
Thursday the team separated. Half of the team went to an AIDS clinic while the other half stayed back and continued the Bridge to India update work. I was blessed to stay back and spend another day with the kids. We took more photos and did more interviews. It was a rainy day, but the kids' smiles lit us up. They were absolutely precious. All day we took pictures and documented their new achievements. We were so proud of them!

Friday - Samaritan's Feet
What an amazing day! We took part of the first ever distribution of Samaritan’s Feet shoes to any child in India! Ramel and Brent had worked with Samaritan’s Feet for a long time in order to get the right permissions and clearances to bring the shoes to India. But we did! And what a glorious day it was.

We started with Caleb washing the first little feet. As Caleb washed, he explained why he was doing this – Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.
It was an amazingly inspirational moment. This was a seal of approval on these kids – they are worthy. Jesus loves them. God loves them. We love them. They are worthy in God’s eyes and in society’s eyes.

After the feet were washed, new socks and shoes were placed on their feet and they received a Bobcat’s Jersey. What a blessing! The August team will deliver the shoes for Classes 4-9. We had the privilege of performing the ceremony on Classes 1-3.

Laura concludes her story in Part 3 next time. Stay tuned!

Laura and Prashanth