Monday, June 30, 2008

Blog from Wed, June 25- Hygiene Day

I am uploading this entry now. I wrote it on the 25th and was so tired after, I now realize that I never sent it. I was typing emails to our helper Leslie on my blackberry, and then she was uploading them at home onto our blog. I forgot to send this one. Thank you, Leslie, for keeping us connected while we were at Rising Star!

Here are my thoughts on one of the most humbling days, hygiene day at the Bethel Colony.

June 25, 2008

We have been in India for 4 days now. We have been at Rising Star for
3 days. Today was just so humbling. I could hardly speak how humbled I was. We have been reminded here in the early morning session about how often it is mentioned in the Bible that Christ visited and healed the lepers. That he loved and cared for them, those that were considered, as they are today, the bottom of society- social outcasts. They suffer emotionally, physically and socially- but as I have witnessed today they do not suffer spiritually. When we show them tender love and compassion, they are grateful and have a spirit of thanks and gratitude.

Today we served the people in the Bethel colony. There are about 100 of them living there. As the medical van pulled up today, they came out of their homes and down the road to the church where we were set up. They came to have their hands and feet washed and cleaned, toe nails cut, (and polished if they choose by Syd and Megan,) and have their wounds bandaged. They pay 2 ruppies to see the Dr. and to receive their medicine, which is only a couple cents. It is important for them to pay if they can, for their self esteem too. Old ladies with no fingers and toes came, or toes so disfigured you couldn't distinguish toes, but had finger nails that were thick like jerky. It was really difficult to cut their nails since they were so thick and you just had to pick away at them.

Nate, Alex and Andrew had some really challenging cases. One man had his toes bandaged and literally part of his toe came off as they removed his bandages. Another had deep ulcers in his feet, as many of them had- but so deep you could put a finger up into the hole. He was blind with full glossy cataracts covering his eyes. Later in the day, after he had been cleaned and bandaged, he sat close by us by himself with his head down. Amy asked that I go ask his name, of course I can’t remember it, since it has been so hard to learn all the names of all the kids and all the people we have met this week. But I said hello and started visiting with him. He perked up right away and was so happy to talk. He was smiley and wanted to hug and touch me so that he could "see" me. He kept hugging me and I was so happy to hug him and rub his back. I introduced him to my children and to my husband. He was so cute and it was so fun to see Syd just giving him a big hug. She has such contagious happiness in her voice, he just couldn't’t stop smiling. He was using some of his English, "Nice to meet you," and "How are you?" He kept talking in Tamil
and although we didn’t understand him, he kept saying, "Hallelujah!"

After we had walked away, Nick, one of the helpers that is Indian and speaks great English, told us that he said that Jesus must have asked us to come and take care of a little old man. He felt that we were Jesus' helpers. Having the reminder that morning how Jesus had loved and healed the lepers, it felt wonderful to have shown love to this man and for him to be so appreciative- just like the one man who had been healed by Christ and returned to thank him.

There was a woman there named Sandra that was helping out. After we went to her house. She had a nice and tidy home and yard, but honestly not a lot bigger or different than the goat shed we were building, exept it had mud walls. She welcomed us in and we met her husband, who had a Stein Erickson thick head of hair and a great smile. He was bed bound and had collected some bandages and medicine for him. I brought Nate in and introduced him as my husband and then asked the man, why doesn't my husband have a thick head of hair? He had a good laugh.

We then went to another young man's house, who had fairly good English and said that he was in the top standard (grade) and that he was 18. He had a nice home with cement walls and it was a small two room house- where his family of six slept in one bedroom and then there was a small second room, really a hallway with a kitchen. I asked him about the posters on the wall and he said that they were Vijay and Tracey. He asked Nate and I if we had seen thier movies- he was shocked that we hadn't. He then showed us their movie in his "home theater" he called it. It really was quite impressive- he had a tv and dvd and stereo and
4 speakers around the sides. He cranked up the most hilarious music video. It was like an Indian Michael Jackson meets George Michael. The mother brought in a couple of plastic chairs for Syd and I to sit on, we were cracking up at the lyrics.

These people had a nice home, their brother was working and I was impressed that the boy was in school and spoke English pretty well. Walking back to the van, we stopped in another home where women were doing cross-stitch, another cottage industry, and the women were making lovely designs on small linen bags. It appeared that Padma had been here helping to get people going with their own little micro-businesses.

We hugged and shook hands with those that we had served today, we had given them each a bar of soap to keep clean and toe nail clippers and some lavendar oil, which really is amazing in helping heal their soars.

I was so impressed to be working side by side my sister and my daughters and the rest of our family, cutting toe nails, scrubbing feet and applying the oil to their feet. All were busy and cheerful. Syd and Megan were joyful as they ran a mini-salon over on the steps of the church, painting finger and toe nails of the leprosy afflicted. It was great to look over and see Kendall sitting in the dirt, washing the legs of the woman she was helping. It was moving to see her show those she was caring for such gentleness and love. There were several times when the simple act of washing their feet nearly brought me to tears of gratitude, of love, and of humility.

There were a couple of women that were like nurses that helped us cut off the dead skin off the leprosy affected people's feet around the ulcers and helped bandage their wounds. They were so good about cutting away the rotten skin on their feet and wrapping the wounds. It was really gnarly, and humbling.

This evening the people from the Marriott Courtyard showed up and brought speakers and balloons and music and games, and dinner for the kids. They had the kids playing cricket, which I understand more how to play now, and I also learned to play the game "co-co." There is a line of children facing back to back of every other- 3 people are being chased and one person is chasing. The person chasing has to run around the line of people but the chased can run between the people. If you can reach them you an touch someone that can run after them. You go until you have caught all those that are running.

They have thought of everything at Rising Star, because it is great for these kids to have Americans come and be their friends and teachers, but it is fantastic to have Indian role models; successful Indians that speak English, have great jobs and love and show them respect. The manager of the Courtyard Marriott in Chennai is amazing and comes out with a bus of volunteers to play with the kids and brings them dinner and has fun with them, once a month. The kids love them. They brought a big stereo system and some of the kids were dancing around, bouncing the balloons they brought for the kids.They also brought us a surprise and brought us dinner with a pasta bar and desserts and set up on the top of the dorm a great buffet. It was so thoughtful and fun to eat up top by candelight and such a nice treat for the people that work at Rising Star.

Well, I am so tired, I am going to sleep. Great, inspiring, humbling and a beatufiul experience. I am so grateful.

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