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2024 India Team Blog

This team was our first "by request" serving trip as several of these ladies have been to Goa and wanted to serve the women and children of Mumbai as well. Together, we traveled by car, train, plane, and rickshaw, and oh the adventures we had.

Mar 30- 31 | Travel Days

Our team met up in Orlando for our first flight to India. The long journey is made longer with a 10+ hour time difference. We skipped over Easter a bit and landing in Mumbai at 2am on April 1st. All our bags arrived and God parted the waters for us as several of our bags were carrying some "questionable" Christian items and we breezed through customs without a second glance. When we finally made it outside the doors, we were faced with humid hot air and masses of people. New York and Lss Vegas are not matches for Mumbai. This truly is the city that never sleeps. We arrived at our hotel, grateful for A/C, a firm bed and a hot shower.


Apr 1 | Day 1

So as to acclimate to the time change, we cut our sleep short and woke up at 9am for breakfast. Vicki is the founder of Rahab's Rope and we have been fortunate to have her lead our teams 2 years in a row. Today, she led our devotional about Rahab and Deborah, two women who overcame fear and answered the call God placed on their lives. It was a fitting message for several of our women who have been fighting some fear of the unknown in this very foreign place. After devotional we headed downstairs for breakfast. The hotel we stayed in offers a traditional Indian breakfast each morning which was lovely. Breakfast includes a veggie stew, eggs with veggies, some toast and fried potatoes. The staff was so friendly to us but obviously overwhelmed to have 6 white women in the restaurant. White people, in general, are quite an anomaly in Mumbai and we had to decline having our picture taken by a stranger walking by the restaurant. After breakfast, Vicki ran through an orientation with us and went over do’s and Dont’s. She has been serving India for over 20 years and is a wealth of information. We received a history lesson of how Rahab's Rope was founded, the areas where they work, and some of the stories of hope they've been a part of over the years. Rahab's Rope started in 2004, with the intention of giving women an alternative option to the work they have found themselves in. The rope Rahab made was a tool she used to save herself and her family from destruction. Similarly, these women are being given a tool by learning different trades from Rahab's Rope. Ladies in their care are able to learn how to make jewelry and sew. They are taught life skills like budgeting and nutrition and they are growing in self-confidence. It's so beautiful to see.


In addition, Rahab's Rope focuses on education for children. Girls especially are at a deficit because the typical belief is that women are meant to serve in the home only. Most families only invest in the son's education and a good education is not free. The majority of children who are enrolled in school have dropped out by 2nd grade. Rahab's Rope partners in multiple slum areas across the country in the hopes of changing the future for many of these children. And they are succeeding.


After orientation, we went shopping at a nearby mall to purchase some Indian style tops. Although most Indians now wear western clothing, Indian Kurtas are still the style within the areas where we will be serving and matching their attire makes our presence a little less distracting. Our ladies had a great time buying a few tops and investing in some regular sized coffee mugs and bananas as well. It is about 100 degrees in the heat so we did our best to stay hydrated. The sights, smells, and tastes were all foreign to us and the sounds are overwhelming in every sense so we were glad to have at least a day to acclimate. In the evening, we discussed our teachings and creative projects as we will be hosting the staff for an appreciation event and training this week. We haven’t met them all yet but have been intentional to pray for each person. We are excited to meet them.


Apr 2 | Day 2

We started today with a devotional about inviting the Lord into everything we do which was so encouraging. Then we loaded up in 2 cars and headed to the red-light district. Unfortunately, there was construction happening, and traffic added an extra hour to our travel time. When we arrived, the ladies had already started working on bracelets as they waited for us. The space Rahab's Rope has created for them is quite beautiful. Although the building is no bigger than a 10x10, it is covered with light colored tile on the floor and light pink paint on the walls. The heaviness one feels walking through the community lifts quite a bit once you enter into this space. We had been asked to lead the women in an action song and Jessika did a great job of that. One of the staff translated the words for us but I'll say this activity did not receive the same response we received when we led an action song with young women in Goa. These women are harder, more tired, and less willing to put on a brave face. I, for one, am grateful for their honesty. After the song, Susan led a bingo game and gave out small prizes for the winners, and then Jenn L. led us in a craft about our identity and the beauty found within a mustard seed. The women stayed to complete the craft with Jenn but rushed through it, as they were stressed about heading home to prepare lunch for their children.


Today, we arrived late to serve and then the women left earlier than expected. Overall, it was not a "feel good" day for our team and we felt kind of discouraged. It is valuable to check our hearts in these moments and see what our motives are for doing what we do. Is it to bless others or to "feel" like we are a blessing? There is a fine but dangerous line between the two; not every act of service is going to result in a "feel good" moment for the server and that is ok.


Apr 3 | Day 3

We are about acclimated to the time change now. Jenn L. has felt a little sick to her stomach recently and Susan felt it today but we have pushed through. Vicki thought we might make more progress traveling by rickshaw to the slum today, rather than by car. We arrived to a beautiful two-story building Rahab's Rope has built on the outskirts of the slum community. Here, their staff hosts a free preschool downstairs in the morning and a beauty/sewing school for local women starting at noon. Several of the women have gotten jobs in the salons after graduating the class which is amazing. There are about 30 children in the preschool learning basic skills to prepare them for primary school. Children who are not in school often go unsupervised during the day and disappear as a result. Having this school is a safe haven for them. Our team was blessed to lead the kids in a craft coloring activity that helped us teach them about Easter and Holy Week. All of the children were so well behaved and very interested to learn about our Risen Savior. The school had been running low on coloring supplies, so we were grateful to have brought plenty of crayons with us.


After school, we went upstairs to see the women. They asked to practice their eyebrow threading on us, and we were all excited to participate. Jessika even got a hair trim. Once that was done, we went back downstairs to lead the entire staff in a discipleship training they requested. Specifically, we taught on how to grow closer to Jesus, how to love Him better and better understand who he has created us to be. As part of the event, we gave them each personal gifts with specific scriptures God gave us for each of them. We were nervous to see if the verses would resonate and of course, they did. It was beautiful to see how touched they were. God knows us so well. And knowing that will change your life.


After the event, we all traveled by train and hosted the whole team for a late lunch. They could have chosen anywhere but their hearts' desire was KFC and several of them ended up with their own buckets of chicken. So funny. This has been a beautiful day.


Apr 4 | Day 4

This morning, our devotion was led by Ms. Mackey. She was a long-term missionary in India for 16 years and we were honored to have her join us on this journey as a co-leader with Vicki. To know Mackey is to love her. She is now 81 years old but walks faster than any of us. This morning, she blessed us by sharing an original Christian rap, and it amazed me to the point of tears. May I be half the spitfire Ms. Mackey is when I am her age and may I still love Jesus that way. After breakfast, we headed back to the red-light district. Last time, we walked more along the outskirts and Mackey wanted to walk us through the heart of it this time. We walked through the community and saw the spots where the ladies work. We felt their heaviness and shame and it started getting to us, to be honest. It was a bright, sunny day and about 10 am but the spiritual darkness was almost more than we could bear. Susan started praying softly as we walked up to the center and once inside, we started singing, "Worthy of it All". He is, you know. Regardless of the darkness, He is worthy. Regardless of the weight, incense and prayers can still arise. And they still matter. Little by little, we were able to get recentered. Less about us, and more about Him.


Today is church day for these ladies and they come willingly. We course corrected for today and asked the staff to lead us in a Hindi worship song which was much better received than our English one. Jen P. led a message about the woman with the issue of blood and weaved in her personal story as she taught us all. The room was silent as they listened intently. After the lesson, the women were invited to ask for prayer, and they all jumped at the opportunity. Each team member heard some challenging things.

"Please pray for my husband who beats me."

"Pray for my children to do well in school."

"Pray for my body pains."

"Pray for my mom who lives in the village and doesn't know what I do."


Most of their prayers were for others. After prayer time, Jen led us in creating a “life of Jesus” bracelet. The women picked it up quickly and were eager to complete it. Several of them had to help us complete ours, actually. They have become proficient beaders. After the activity, the women rushed out, many to prepare lunch for their families, but today felt more like community than the first day, and that was nice.


The youngest girl we met was 17. She was born here and has worked some. She knows how to read and write and knows some English. The center is also teaching her to sew. She still smiles like a young girl. This life has not hardened her yet, and even seeing that was hard. These women consider this center their own and it is a safe place for them. Men can come and go and treat them however they want but not in this center. This is their sacred place, and we are so grateful it exists.


Apr 5 | Day 5

Jenn L. led devotional today on being the salt and the light and we learned a lot about the properties and uses of salt. We headed to the slum by train today and spent time with the women and children. Kids as small as 2 years old up to age 6 go to the daytime preschool program offered for free to the families in that area. The kids started the day watching a little bit of SuperBook, which is translated into Hindi. Once all the kids arrived, Miss Jessika led us in Bible songs, and Susan led an interactive puzzle activity about Holy Week. By noon, school was done and we sent the kids home with a banana and an extra snack in their backpacks.


After time with the kids, the women started coming in for church service. They sang worship songs in Hindi which was so beautiful and then Jenn L. led us in a Bible lesson on the parable of the Sower. She brought a demonstration of the story done using henna and the visual was perfect for everyone to understand the message. She truly had a captivated audience. After the lesson, we were asked to pray and each of us had the privilege of praying for women and for their children. After prayer time, some of the young girls blessed us with Mindi. Jessika got one of the parable of the sower which Jenn had taught on, which was really special. Today was a beautiful day connecting with littles and lovely women of all ages, religions, and backgrounds. They touched our hearts so much and we are praying for them as we slowly start to prepare for our journey back to the States.


Apr 6 | Day 6

Today was our sightseeing day. It took over an hour by train to arrive to downtown Mumbai. We saw the India Gateway, the Taj hotel, the Hanging Garden, the famous laundry, and the Ghandi museum. We were able to enjoy a lovely traditional Indian lunch that included chicken biryani, butter chicken, veg Manchurian, and garlic cheese naan. It was a beautiful hot day sitting at about 105 degrees. We have truly enjoyed these last few days together and it has been a blessing to have such an easy, God-loving team.


Apr 7 | Day 7

Today is Sunday and we were blessed to go to church where we learned what it means to be a royal priesthood. The pastor taught us that a royal priesthood offers praise, thanksgiving, does good, and shares with others. He quoted multiple scriptures to align his points and he was funny as well. It was a great service.


What hit me most was the first worship song which they played in English. It was the same worship song God brought to mind and had us sing as we were walking the streets of the red-light district. "Day and night. Night and day, let incense arise. You are worthy of it all”. The Lord had us singing that once again and it was a sweet reminder of His close presence. Even as the team entered the sanctuary, several of us began to cry. Such a sense of peace and light after experiencing so much heaviness. God is real. Jesus is the prince of peace. We are grateful to enter his house with thanksgiving.


After church, we had our last meal together and celebrated full hearts and purposes fulfilled. Many of us are left pondering how we will explain this journey to our friends. So much to tell. And most aren’t ready to hear it. For me I will say India is beautiful, colorful and also loud and overwhelming. An attack of the senses, especially in Mumbai. But then you see the One. The little girl begging for some food who doesn’t seem to know how to smile. The tired mom working the streets to pay for her sons’ schooling, who hopes he never finds out the truth of what she does. And the dedicated schoolteacher who could work anywhere but chooses to travel an hour each day to work inside the slums with little ones. Each One of these are valuable to God and to me. May they come to know their value. Even in the hardest of things, God is in their midst.


India, dear India. Each of us went on this journey out of obedience to His call. The Lord loves India and His presence is very much felt there. Along the way, our team learned that the people in this country are gracious, loving, and beautiful in spirit. He helped us see beyond the poverty and the traffic and into the absolute beauty that exists within the people. Our hearts have grown bigger on this trip and we are indeed in love with India. God is always on a mission to surprise us and we are grateful for this life journey he has us on.


Thank you for all your prayers. We felt them. They mattered. Be praying for the people we've shared with you. Those serving in some way and those being served. God is doing a mighty thing in India.


Blessings,

Susan



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