The church bells ring, alerting the city-dwelling tribal community that the Baptist Church is starting. We are now part of this community, and the loud bells, probably heard up to a mile away, cause me to smile as I lay there in the early morning hour.
Very different from our last rental that had the mango trees and lush fauna surrounding our quiet home; This house is on the main street in the Tribal Bazaar, and as I write this, I hear rickshaws, splashing, horns, yelling, dogs, and other sounds that start at 7:00 am and end at 9:00 pm every day. We thought to cool down the house by opening a window, but the dust and exhaust were harder to endure for me than the stifling heat. But the home is very nice in every other way with 3 bedrooms and a spiral staircase that leads to a huge rooftop terrace. We are blessed to be in this mixed community of Muslims and Christians, with some of our son’s friends even living nearby. It’s closer to our church and to one of our new ministry locations the Lord finally called us to.
When I thought of ministry here, I thought I might work with Rehabs Rope to start a ministry of life skills classes for the women newly out of sex trafficking or start a business to employ newly converted people in the Hills. I thought of many grand things that would use my higher skill set to establish something new and valuable for the community. But God had a way different path for me. Of course, in His infinite wisdom and love, He seems to desire to grow me and our family in new ways as He uses us to be his hands here in Manipur.
Let me share with you how God led us to this new ministry.
We drove around Imphal with a friend, and they showed us different areas. One of the areas was Mantripukhri, and my husband liked it immediately, and so did I. Now, knowing the place I knew we would be, I prayed differently that night.
“Lord, thank you soo much for guiding us to Mantripukhri. Thank you for giving my husband peace and clarity with your path. Now that we know where you desire us to be, will you please direct our paths so that we do Your will there?”
The next morning, I did an internet search for…. “MantriPukhri missionaries”
Instead of finding another missionary family there or mission work needed I saw a link to Mother Teresa House. I read about it being an orphanage and how some lady donated refrigerators there. Oh, I thought… Maybe I can teach life skills to the older orphan girls as I used to. It’s so near the area we want to move to that I could walk there! Thank you, God! I will go right now and see if You need me there. So, I asked my husband if I could go alone and check it out prayerfully. He sent Sega with me, and we left right away.
As we approached the large metal gate of the orphanage, Sega thought I was crazy when I let myself in after no one answered our knocking. I knew it would be fine because God lead me here.
I entered a large but simple green courtyard with 2 paths that lead to 2 identical but different buildings. A basic metal but aged swing set sat in front of the building to my left. Both of the buildings were 2 stories painted in fresh white and blue paint. I approached the building in front of me and, after removing my shoes, entered the immaculate, polished cement hall and called out to announce my being there. The hall was simple with a few handmade posters of bible verses on the wall and a picture of Mother Teresa with multiple doors open to rooms I couldn’t see into from my position.
Soon an Indian woman dressed just like Mother Teresa came out of a draped hallway and welcomed me with love and a huge smile, as if expecting my arrival, and had me sit at a table in an adjacent room. There were pictures everywhere in there of news articles and posters of Mother Teresa, Jesus, and Children. Some of the sayings on the posters were so inspirational and humbling that I quickly thanked God for the spiritual edification I had in reading them. After about 5 mins another Indian sister dressed like Mother Teresa and a bit older came in and welcomed me gently with double hands and a warm smile saying her name was Sister Ann Gorreti while another sister brought me cookies and water. Sisiter Ann Goretti sat with me and talked, all the while exuding so much peace. She asked me lots of questions about my family and my relationship with Christ. Then she asked a question that changed her calm and loving expression into one of enthusiasm and overflowing joy when I replied.
Sister: “So, what did you used to do in the orphanages you mentioned you worked in?”
Tauna: “We taught life skills to the older orphan girls.”
Clapping her hands together and glancing up to the ceiling with a HUGE smile on her face, she said, “I have been praying the Lord would send us a teacher! He has bought you for us! You have come to teach here, no?”
Reminisce of the movie, Lillies of the Field, she had made up her mind, and I could tell there was no way I could do anything else than what this woman had prayed for.
I nodded and said, “Sure, absolutely; I want to serve God in any way He desires.” Then I innocently asked, “How old are the children here?”
Now it was my turn to have a change of demeanor as I am quite sure I couldn’t hide my inner shock from my face. For, I was about to be tested, and about to be stretched in my faith and humbleness in a way I was NOT prepared for nor had EVER wanted to be.
Sister: “Oh, we don’t have any orphans left here; they relocated them a few years ago. We are a home to the unwanted, abandoned, disabled and unloved now. All of our residents are severely disabled physically or mentally, and many of them both.”