We had an amazing time in Gopalpur. In the future I hope to post a story or two shared by our friends. There are many heartaches. Even so, there is joy and life.
The conference where we were working was for pastors from the state of Orissa. During the height of the persecution last fall, YWAM arranged for this gathering as a time to encourage and serve the pastors of the state.
Over 60 Orissan pastors from the Khandamal district were killed last year. over 250 people were murdered and more have died in the relief camps. There were around 90 pastors who were able to come to the conference. There were many denominations represented. Pentecostal sang alongside Catholic, next to Baptist and Church of Christ. They shared stories. They sang together. They sang many traditional-type songs in the Oriya and Kui languages.
The Khandamal District is where the Kui people live and this is where the persecution took place. One night after the training time the men started to sing and all of a sudden they were dancing together in the room. I weep just remembering that powerful moment. It brought to mind the scripture "I will turn their mourning into dancing." Indomitable spirit.
The first morning we were there I was praying. I asked God to show me what my role was supposed to be during our time at Gopalpur. That afternoon I got a minor headache. As I went to the room to snag a couple of ibuprofen from my huge stash of meds I wondered if anyone else might be able to use some advil. I took my bag of stuff down to the general area and started to let people know I had some basic drugs available.
I now had a role!
The men and young people were lining up, some with headaches. Some with backaches. Some had diarrhea. Some had a cold. I brought all sorts of stuff for headaches and backaches and diarrhea and colds! So after my stuff ran out and the line grew longer, I realized I better run to the Medicine store down in the village. For a few ruppees, I got the medicine cabinet (my ziploc bag) replenished and ran back to the dispensary (the chair in the back of the chapel). So many people with basic aches and pains and no money for running to the store to get some relief. The whole conference I got to hand out pills and vitamins. Many of the people staying at the camp are malnourished and have scurvy. Believe it or not, in this tropical region many eat no fruit. They have no money to buy it.
I prayed with many people and chatted and smiled and learned that loose motion means many trips to the bathroom and slow motion or no motion means they wish they could go to the bathroom!
Now we are in Cuttack, working with the DTS kids who are all refugees. They have looked so sick. A few have dysentery. They are passing around a cold with a fever. Some have lice. The program is giving them scholarships for their food and lodging (blankets on hard floor) but has no $ for a first aid kit. With some of the $ people donated for my trip, we went to a medicine store and stocked up with all sorts of basic meds: antiparisite, cold, cough, bandaids, lots of vitamins, lice treatment, stuff for dysentery, stomach aches, tylenol, hydrogen peroxide, etc. I hope it will last for a couple of months.
I am so grateful for the chance to do a teeny little bit to help make someone feel better. It makes me think that if we all did our teeny little bit, wherever we are, we could make a whole lot of people feel a whole lot better.
BTW, it was pretty funny, walking back to our place from the medicine store. Ayangala, one of the women leaders, walked with me to get the supplies. On the way home we were chatting and trying to avoid being hit by bicycle rickshaws, motorcycles, trucks and motorcyclists. I saw the nice fresh pile of manure and thought she did too. She didn't. I guess Ayangala did not think it terrible funny at the time, but I told her that typically we have people step in manure accidentally while visiting the farm. Not while visiting a city of how many million?
So, please watch your step. You just never know!
I have to tell you that I am LOVING the delicious food. They serve so much of it. I have eaten more rice in the last week than I have ever eaten in my life! The puris, the masala, the vegetables are wonderful. We have had many little cups of thick sweet chai. I am trying to learn words. Little to no success with instant language acquisition. The girls seem to get a kick out of my efforts! They definitely do better with English. We do lots of sign language. The pictures of the farm and iceskating and the animals are a great ice breaker. The girls think that Philip is one handsome guy! Everyone thinks the kids are adorable. Of course!
Will have more stories when I get back to the farm. Thanks everyone for your prayers. Please remember the Kui tribe, especially the pastor's and families in the Khandamal District who are still suffering greatly.