Our adventures in Tenali begin!

One final photo in Peddaperum before we left for Tenali

After 6 great days in location 1 it was time to move down to the main campus for the final 6 days of the Mission. Any travel on Indian roads is an experience but also reveals colour and artistry.

Today in Tenali we received a wonderful musical welcome from the children in the Campus School. Then we enjoyed visiting each classroom and being able to encourage and chat to the students. (The cover photo shows the school)

Then off to Quarri College to see some 6th form students. All working hard on this hot Saturday! (Although as we keep getting told, it is winter!) In the Principal’s office we saw this great message

At the end of the day we were taken to the Mercy Mission and Medical Centre.

Tomorrow we will be heading to King’s Temple – the large church on site. Sue, Alun and Simon will be tag-preaching on Philippians 2… shining like stars!

After lunch Simon hopes to play the Kabaddi match he promised to have with many of the children! Ambulances will be in attendance.

2 villages same amazing welcome from all ages

Yesterday a new children’s home location – led by a wonderful pastor and his family…

Today, a new children’s home next to an elderly home – led by a wonderful pastor and his family… this pastor was the older brother of the one we met yesterday!

Amazing Women

We loved spending today with a group of local women in a project helping them to find work as well as discover hope and dignity.

We shared stories about our different lives, sang songs and joined together in some creative activities. We all had fun!

As ever we are so grateful to our lovely hosts and friends

Yay, we’ve started!

Praise God we are all safely arrived in Peddapuram, it was certainly a long journey.

Triple bunk beds safely negotiated, some got more sleep/food/drink than others. A once in a lifetime experience that we all want to do once and never again!

So at 9am (on Monday – apparently this was an Express Train!) we arrived and were delighted to be met by David, Suresh and Christina’s eldest son.

After an exciting tuk-tuk ride we arrived at the house and enjoyed the first of our three curries of the day (potato curry with chapati and boiled egg, beef curry with rice and then spicy chicken noodles). We are already amazed and so thankful for how wonderfully we are being looked after.

Treated as a novelty on the Bay of Bengal beach

It was a privilege to be taken to the beach and step into a part of the Indian Ocean (sort of, we think) but the really important part of the day began when we arrived at a children’s home close to where we are staying.

Using the story of Zacchaeus we shared with the children how important and precious they are. God knows each of their names and because they are valuable to Him he will take care of them and protect them.

This was followed with a few games and songs – we especially liked the song of praise and loud hallelujahs sung to us by the children.

We are now all ready for bed and looking forward to sharing good news, encouragement and prayer with different groups tomorrow.

A long journey… Not half way yet…

Great the team arrive and immediately gel together. We get through all the necessary checks and enjoy an early lunch.

Flight at 2:10 is just about on time…we land 10 hours later (5:40am local time). By 8am we are chilling in a hotel room before enjoying our second breakfast of the day.

It is 11am (Sunday) and we leave here in 5 hours to travel to the station for a 15-16 hour overnight train journey…

God is good…

Together As One Team

Harvest India Trip 2020 – Together As One Team

Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,

7 people, three from Minchinhampton Baptist Church (Alun, Diane & Sue F), two from Cosham Baptist Church (Simon and Sue B) and two from Banbury Community Church (Kate and Bethan) are heading off to India on January 25th to see the amazing work undertaken by the Christian NGO – Harvest India (HI). We go under the banner of being the Together As One team. As yet we have not received the itinerary for our time in India, so this prayer letter is written in the expectation of events that may happen.

January 25th: Please pray for safe journeys to the airport and that we gel as a team in the three hours before the flight leaves, as several of the team have not met each other before. Pray for a safe and uneventful flight.

January 26th: We arrive in Chennai India in the early hours of the morning and will be met by HI representatives. We then have a long train journey to a town called Peddapuram. None of us have been on the trains in India before. Please pray for a good and restful journey and that we settle into our accommodation swiftly.

January 27th – Jan 29th:  Hopefully we will have had a good night’s sleep and will be recovered from our travels. Each morning we will be spending a short time in devotional studies, sharing the leading between us, as we feel lead by the Spirit before we start our day. Please pray that the Lord will lay appropriate messages on the heart of each leader to complement the activities we undertake in the days we spend in Peddapuram. These could include:

  • visiting the Freedom Centre for women rescued out of prostitution,
  • visiting a smaller children’s home,
  • seeing how the teak tree plantation is growing since some of us first saw it in 2011 – not long after it had been established,
  • a village outreach event.
  • Visiting an elderly home

Each evening we will be preparing for the next day and any messages, drama or craft activities that may be required.

January 30th – February 6th: Please pray for a safe journey by road to Tenali and the HI Campus, where we will settle into the new accommodation block on campus. While in Tenali we expect to undertake the following activities:

  • Safeguarding training: Please pray for Simon Ford, Co-Pastor at Cosham Baptist Church who will be leading the training sessions with key member of the HI leadership team. The training will take place over two days, day one setting out the biblical mandate to keep God’s people safe and day two the signs, symptoms of and the mechanisms for dealing with safeguarding issues, Please pray that the training will address the cultural issues and will be received well, and for those tasked with helping interpret the words Simon speaks, for those whose comprehension of the English language is not as good as others.
  • Leprosy was declared eradicated in India in 2005, but it is still there and India now has the highest number of new leprosy cases in the world. In the past two and a half years, India has accounted for 60% of the global total of new cases.(Source www.downtoearth.org.ind). Pray for us as we visit a leper colony set up by HI and support feeding and the ministry to them. Pray for the medical teams who treat their wounds and for the pastor (who also has leprosy) living with them.
  • On the HI campus is the Rockharbour Orphanage where we will spend time playing games with the children and being entertained by them. Pray for Kate and Bethan as they take part in learning their dance routines, and teaching some ‘western ballet, contemporary and tap dance’ routines to them. We may also visit the smaller children’s homes, often based in the homes of HI staff members.  We often do craft based activities, play games, sing songs and bring a message from the bible.
  • On the campus is also a school where we hope Bethan will spend a day alongside children of her own age (10) as a pupil for a day. Pray that she will find the experience challenging and rewarding in conversation with her peers who want to learn more conversational English. We may also visit the Quarry College and the KSK College and other educational establishments.
  • Pray for the women in the Ashryah Centre, where women who have been rescued out of prostitution are given back their dignity, taught new skills from which they can make a living, and their children supported by HI.  Pray we would have comforting and wise words for them.
  • Pray for our visits to the homes for the elderly and widows. So many Dalit elderly are abandoned to beg on the streets when the family has to make the choice ‘feed the children or the elderly relative’. Pray that we can bring comfort and a word that shows them they are loved and matter to God.
  • On Sunday we will either be in the 3000 seat church (Kings Temple) on campus bringing a message or we will be in a small village church somewhere near Tenali. Pray for wisdom in bringing Gods word and for our translators who faithfully work alongside us translating everything into Telagu, as many in the villages do not speak any English.
  • Pray for Sue B as she spends some time teaching in the Nursing Collage in Tenali. Pray that she will be a blessing bringing her expertise to complement the amazing work undertaken by the Educational staff there.
  • At some point we will undertake a village outreach, often in an evening, where many will come to hear the Gospel preached, sing and be prayed for. They truly are wonderful to be at. Pray that we would bring the right message through drama, song and spoken word and that many will give their lives to Christ.
  • Pray for the women who make use of the HI night shelter for their children, as they ply their trade in the red light areas. Pray that God will impact their lives and that they will take the step out of prostitution and allow HI to support them while they learn a new way of making a living. Pray for us as we visit (during the day) and meet the HI staff who work with these families.
  • We may visit a community hospital and AIDs hospice. Pray for the medical staff who serve and for the free medical camps that are held regularly.
  • Pray for fortitude as we undertake a mercy mission, where we participate in the regular distribution of food to the marginalized Dalit. It can become very intimidating when there is a fear from those at the end of the lines that food may run out.
  • Pray for Sue F as she gives testimony at any opportunity we have to bring a message.
  • Pray for Diane and I as we lead the team and pray that no one will become ill, too fatigued or emotionally drained as a result of seeing the plight of the Dalit and other oppressed groups.

We will travel back to Chennai either during the day on the 6th Feb or through the night for our early morning flight back to the UK on the 7th. Please pray for these arrangements and for safe journeys by whatever method is used to get us back to Chennai from Tenali. We arrive back in the UK at around 1pm on the 7th to the cold and damp!

Thank you for your support. Knowing people in the UK are praying for us and for the team at HI is very reassuring.

We will be posting some pictures on FaceBook – Harvest India Visit – January 2020 ( ask to join the group) and writing a daily blog at www.coshambaptist.org/blog where you can follow our activities. Technology permitting!

 Our God is good and he is doing wonderful works through HI and we will only be too happy to tell you about our trip on our return.

Every Blessing

Together As One Team

Alun & Diane Davies, Sue Fairley,  Simon Ford, Sue Brooks, Kate Davies, Bethan Davies.

Final full day – wow!

We got to the church this morning and wondered how God had answered our prayers and would any children from the village come to church?

20 minutes later we were getting the pews from back store and putting them back into the back of the church. The place was full up as 18 children and a number of parents arrived.

Wow, thank you God.

The team went through the 5 days in a great way telling of their highlights and the highlights of each day.

We then sang the songs from the week with children coming up to front to lead the singing. This brought biggest smiles from all the adults.

After this Simon and Sami spoke about freedom and life and then we had the privilege of distributing Christmas shoe-boxes

At the end of the service an elderly gentleman stood up and questioned Sami as to why we do not pray to Mary. It was great that Sami was able to answer in front of all the guests in a friendly and informative manner. But this man would not stop and kept the discussion going afterwards. An interesting insight into the mind of those from an Orthodox background.

After another marvelous lunch Sami told us of the history of the work in Ukraine and we prayed together. We  then watched the world cup final. After tea we considered how God has gifted each one of us…

We are

  • Royal Priest Steve: Faithful friend to all.
  • Royal Priest Katie: Creative and compassionate
  • Royal Priest Dan: Gentle and enthusiastic
  • Roayl Priest Mick: Humble encourager
  • Royal Priest Ekua: Contemplative seeker
  • Royal Priest Simon: Visionary Innovator with a heart for God
  • Royal Priest Sami: Wise and passionate
  • Royal Priest Cornelia: Kind hearted and passionate for God
  • Royal Priest Seraina: Decisive smiler

One final task was to pack and then finish making our thank you gifts to the family of this home.

We get up in 5 hours to catch the early flight to Kiev. We then will spend 8 hours in Kiev searching for a Chicken Kiev before catching flight back home.

Thank you for your prayers and support – we may be coming back here again too!

And this is a picture of the week’s winning injury…Mick begins a tear of his hamstring; possibly caused by playing drip drip drench!

Final Camp Day

Today’s theme was about following the makers instructions.

Ekua made a cake with dust, leaves, mayonnaise and ketchup.

Simon and Dan played a great game of Ukrainian netball. Although Dan was leading after a throw to something yellow, getting it though Simon’s legs and repeating sitting on a chair Simon had sat on, but he was then sent off by Simon for sitting on a chair with one of his legs in the air!

Instructions and rules are important…!

The day continued with the much requested water games, the ten commandments written on yellow lilos, and a brilliant empty tomb craft… Photos will appear in later posts.

In the evening we travelled to Chernovtsy and enjoyed worship there. Steve gave testimony, Simon shared more about what partnership means and Sami and Cornelia joined with  pastor Andrei and his wife Maria who sang brilliantly. She is not visible in video as she is playing piano behind the largest red rose heart.

 

The evening finished with ice cream in Jolly’s

Today is day off so time to get up bit later, to go to big market, to university where there was at least ten groom & brides, to lunch and evening grill at Pastor Andrew’s.

Please pray for the children and their families to come to church in morning.

Blessings

 

 

 

Freedom

People of God are led by Moses through the Red Sea

Today was a day of freedom. It was also a hot day – only when the sun went behind a cloud was it cold enough to go out into the main open area and play the great variation of duck duck goose, drip drip drench – each person begging to be the victim!

So we told story of Passover and Red Sea crossing and we illustrated with the Sticky Chair sketch and the donut story.

In the afternoon we were surprised when a man arrived to give out candy floss to all the camp. Apparently it is his ministry to go to any Christian camp and give away candy floss for free… And he was called to do this by God!

The day at camp ended with us using the chains made at the start of the day in a powerful illustration.

 

The day continued with plenty of time to engage with many of our team and hosts. Steve and Dan returned to the football pitch whilst the rest of us worked out how to make two lilos look like tablets of stone.

Then it ended with an emotional goodbye to our hosts Mimi, Illyanna, Tania, Damaris and Annamaria as they left us ‘home alone’ to go on holiday to Greece . They are all so keen for us to return next year! This request is mainly from Mimi who we primarily saw briefly driving us around or cooking us marvelous grills… We will all miss Tania too as she had become an important member of our team.

Tomorrow is final day of camp and a church service in evening.

  • Please pray for ongoing strength, energy and health
  • For the children to have great memories from the camp and for God’s spirit to speak into their lives.
  • For families to hear of the great time their children have had at the Baptist church (where the heretics are according to the local Orthodox church)
  • That God will use our week here to break down a bit more of the hold there is over this community.

When Dan shouts ‘vacă’ everyone lie on back with feet in air!

Great to see new faces at the camp today. Just yesterday we were reflecting on the stronghold that Orthodoxy is within this area, and so to see more families coming and engaging even in just a very small way is so uplifting.

Once we had played the normal selection of fresh games we began by making them all slaves and forcing them to make bricks… And they had to be good quality… Although Pharoah Steve became very generous.

The slaves cried out and we heard and demonstrated the first 9 plagues… Remembered by playing the classic game of Plague Coming…a bit like captain’s coming… But with Nile, frogs, cows and storm being among the instructions.

We had a good time of singing then we encouraged the children to write or draw their favourite things. These were placed on the ground and the cross made from handprints was put above then to show that Jesus should be more important…

Jesus is more important

Such a great camp and every member of the team is brilliant… The pastor and his wife and family, The family we are staying with, with their the daughters, and Sami, Cornelia and their children,  brother and his children. The whole team came over to ‘our place’ and or hosts fed the large group with much left over. Such a great family.

Games and chat followed this until the teams came out. One thing to be thankful for: on Ukrainian TV there is 15 minutes of adverts during half time!

The rest of the team are fascinated to see the look on our faces in the morning… We are teaching about freedom – how can we not be joyful?

PS Ekua ‘pill in bottle’ won a game this evening!