It was 6:30 in the morning, and we were already covered in a layer of sweat. Showers were useless at this point, since we could only anticipate what the heat would be like once we actually got outdoors. At our morning devotions, Reverend Vijayam, president of GDM churches encouraged us with the story of the first missionaries to this area, who came in 1836 to plant a school and hospital. Despite not seeing any fruit for more than 10 years, they persevered, and now there are more than 400 churches in the area, as well as our very own Riverside. We indeed are standing on the shoulders of giants! Then, after a delicious breakfast of Masala Dosa, we hopped into our school bus to our first location for our VBS. Most of our discomfort dissipated as we turned the corner into the Gospel Assembly church in a local village. The grand building, complete with blue-tinted windows was filled with 180 kids and many parents.
We started off the day with a few songs, including “Every single cell in my body is happy!” and “Romans 16:19 Says…”. After we convinced the very well-behaved children, about 2/3’s girls, to participate in the activities with us and not just watch, the energy in the room shifted. We were jumping around and singing and laughing at what fools we were willing to be for Jesus. Highlights included getting to talk with the kids while we made friendship bracelets and witnessing their joy when we brought out the parachute to play with. We were so grateful to the pastor of the church for translating for us, and even providing commentary for our pantomime skit about Jesus’ redemption from the temptations of this world.
After lunch, we swapped stories about our mornings, reliving each delightful smile and beautiful moment of sharing that “Jesus is our friend!”. Martha Miss was gracious enough to take the team shopping in Malikapuram, the local market town. Once again, we were in awe at the tenacity of the drivers and motorcyclists. Each of the girls picked out a few beautiful punjabis as Martha haggled down the prices, and soon we headed out. However, the sun was already set, so we had another uniquely Indian adventure as we traipsed through the rice paddies in near darkness.
God has taught us to trust Him completely for strength despite the draining heat, patience with equally tired teammates, and joy amidst intense poverty. Some of this joy came in celebrating our dedicated principal Joice’s birthday. As we came together as a team to encourage her, we each were encouraged by the amazing unity of our group. Praise be to God for this team, and the small piece of His work we have been able to do.
Have a blessed day!