The following stories are from our trips to India and other places God has sent us. From teaching life skills as a ministry to feeding a stray dog we try to be the hands God uses to bring love to the people on our path of life. Journey with us as we learn what Kingdom love really is and grow in the grace of Christ as a family.
Bryan – Bryan works at night doing his web development work, and with his free time he often helps at the new Café our Pastor friend is starting. He is looking for a house to buy here so we will have a more permanent home here in the future. He misses American food but after a short trip he had to make back to America for work in phoenix he came back to India saddened by how rough America is becoming. He likes life here better for the children as it is more innocent and good much like he also likes Lancaser, PA. But, he loves his America and so he thinking living in both places part of the year would be best for his family. He has been such a great leader here and is always willing to serve any one us or a stranger without hesitation.
Sega- Sega has been working 5 to 6 hours a day learning web development. It is very tiring on the brain to study so intently but he never complains. He is a good cook and makes curry for us 1 night a week. He always does his house chores and cleans up his mess. He never is disrespectful or rude to his elders. He is a very easy person to live with really. He teases the girls mercilessly though and finds much joy in this. So, we let him have it and think it is good for the girls to see how boys show love through hair tugs and a purposely provoking comment like, Yuna stink.=) If we have a dollar for every time we heard, Sega! Stop it,” we would be rich.
Although an attractive young man of 24 now, he doesn’t eye the girls or speak of any girls as potential mates. When we ask about young ladies he just says, “I am not ready”.
One of the reasons our son will not marry yet is because he would have nowhere to take his bride. In this culture to get an intelligent and lovely wife you must provide for her and show her you can give her a good life. The poor men without a good job or family house do not have many prospects. So, we desire to help him. The good news is multi-generational homes are the norm and his new wife would move into our home with us, as per custom here. She would help me keep the home and I would help with keeping the grand children. win-win.
Yuna – Yuna stays busy with school, chores, teaching at Mother Teresa Home and working at a café 1 night a week. All this and also pulled of almost all A’s. She has friends at church and has really turned into a real teen this year. MayLa says she is becoming boring. She writes complex and delightful stories and spends hours weaving tales. Yuna enjoys music a lot and listens to it most the day if she can. She is really struggling with love of clothes and shopping and the concept the Missionaries of Charity teach of giving it all up for the love of Christ and to be a witness for the poor. She is a wonderful human being and I know God will lead her in His wisdom as she finds her own identity in Him. You should see her with the disabled people at the home, she sees right though the differences right to their hearts and accepts them as they are. She is such a beautiful young lady, so strong and logical and a gifted teacher.
MayLa – MayLa has really changed a lot on this trip. An eye opening experience and right during her formative years she is learning about herself, identity and the part she plays in the bigger picture. She looks like the people here yet is VERY American. People that looked different or acted strange were once scary to her but now she embraces them and sees through the differences and realizes they are all human and share the same emotions as she does.
She loves to spend hours a day in pretend play and if you’re fortunate enough to play with her for a while you will see just how deep and organized her inner world is. She has a high moral compass and makes friends easily.
She is a walking paradox and loves the irony of wearing all black to the Mother Teresa home and helping people. She likes to push the limits of life in an ever evolving experiment of human behavior. Her poetry and song writing is deep and moving. She is an excellent student and received very good grades this year. But, its her love of her family that brings the most blessing to us. Her hugs are truly healing.
Tauna – (written by Yuna)
Part 5 True Child of God
“I’m ready! Hurry, mom, we will be late!” Yuna called as she stood by the door of our 3rd story rental; Her backpack was stocked full of essential items needed for her new class, and she was eager to get going.
MayLa wasn’t as excited. “Mom, do I have to go? I feel weird there.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, sweetie. Ask for courage from the Lord and put your shoes on.” I said in a rush as I grabbed our umbrella. And so off we went on 2 rikshaws to teach our class.
It would only be our third time there, and already my heart was growing fond of a few of them. And Yuna was smitten the very first day when one of the girls, about 15, with a huge smile and forever childlike enthusiasm of a 6-year-old befriended her. MayLa had never been exposed to anyone different than herself and all these adults that she was supposed to respect didn’t look very respectable to her, and she wasn’t sure how to handle this new situation at all.
We arrived to the blue gate and entered the familiar green grassed courtyard perfectly manicured and tended to by the staff and tenants of this home. We were greeted by Yuna’s new friend Khambi. With a smile so big and squeals of delight she wabbled slowly but as fast as she could towards Yuna. After hugs and love we entered the mostly bare room, with one desk in front and red and brown plastic chairs for each student.
And there they sat. All 20 of them. Staring at me. Well, most of them anyways. Some were already asleep or staring at the ground or looking around the room. Mostly women with about 6 men. All different. So, different. Different languages and mental/physical conditions and different life stories.
Thrown to the wolves, the Sister literally rounded them up for us and left, saying, “This is the Sister Teacher; she will teach you now.”
We learned after the first two times of being there that we were going to have to separate them somehow. Five of them knew English quite well, ten knew some words, and about 5 of them knew no English at all. Seven of them wanted to learn things, about 11 of them would stay involved but didn’t desire to learn, and four of them, well, they were just there. Sometimes.
Tardy, the one I called, Grandma, walked into the room. I remembered her! I will never forget the old woman that, on my first day there, stood up and kicked me and then sat back down in her chair. I was caught off guard but decided to go with the flow and use it to teach English. Bowing in the traditional Indian style of respect, I said, “Grandma kicked me, Grandma mad. I am sorry Grandma, “and the class laughed very hard at this. Thankfully, Grandma walked in happier this time, and I welcomed her again with the bow of respect due to the elderly, and this time, she bowed back with the same bow of respect to me as a teacher! Praise God, there is hope.
But, as I stare at them with no idea how to proceed, I am 100% reliant on God at this moment. “God, I do not wish to upset anyone or to breach boundaries, I do not wish to offend, and I am not even sure who goes where or how to move some of them physically. God help me, these are your children whom you love, and you have to help me love them the way you desire me to.”
I am still not sure how but we managed to get them into 2 separate classes. One class with the ones that knew zero English or seemed to us to be forever a child, in the hallways with Yuna teaching with a sensory storytelling experience she had been so excited about teaching, and the rest of the people with me learning English in the main room.
The class was going well, and I had a few different exercises I did that helped me further identify the abilities of each one. I found that three of the people in my group were very intelligent but just didn’t know English. One of them a woman who used to be a professor but would only talk if spoken to and had no emotions; She quite possibly has schizophrenia. And another girl, about 20, appeared to have severe Muscular Dystrophy and was almost nonverbal but desired to learn more than anyone else there. This girl named Albin would end up dominating my thoughts as I wanted so badly to help her. A few there seemed to have Alzheimer’s. It would take me months to learn each person’s needs.
These were people! Real people. Just like me. In fact, with my TBI, it was very probable that one day I would be one of these people. As the reality sunk in, my heart grew. I was so overwhelmed with God’s love I hugged one of the girls that helped me clean up the chairs when class was finished. Her name was Bina. With stunted growth a face that was un-telling of any age and an IQ of about 40, she had a servant’s heart. Her family didn’t want her, yet I found her to be the most pleasant and helpful person. She did everything for the sisters and me, always in service always at peace and very quiet. At this moment and only for a moment, I seen as God sees her. She was way more beautiful and worthy of praise than me. Adorned in righteousness and glowing with inner beauty that rivaled Snow White; she was someone I aspired to be.
I had much to learn about being a true child of God.
Part 4 Fast Friends
Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
She sits sprawled legged on the concrete floor in her pretty ruffled shirt. Palms callused and cold, holding up her crooked back and twisted neck. Sparkling dark eyes fixed on me walking towards her; she desperately tries to keep her head straight and chin up. Her mouth speaking volumes with just her smile, welcoming me and begging me to accept her and draw nearer to her. She tries to get closer to me and drags her almost elderly looking legs with thickly callused knees closer to herself with great effort; The pain of moving evident on her sweet glowing face. Her joy of my hug and tender caress causes her head to fall back in joy and I gently pull it back up for her and whisper that I missed her into her eat. I love her. She loves me. Her name is Albin and she is my new best friend.
She likes deep conversation and fashion. She loves Jesus and is quick to pray. Hindi is her native tongue being raised most her life in Mainland India. Now she is forced to use only English and Manipuri. She has lived with the Sisters of Charity her entire life. At 20 years old one of her fondest memories is of going to school in Calcutta for a while when she was younger. She LOVES to learn. In school she learned letter sounds and simple math. Now she desires to learn to read and write English so she can converse easier with me and others. She can not talk like we do but but if you listen closely you can understand what is it trying to say. It takes so much effort for her to get her muscles to form words coherently so most the time she remains silent. But, her mind races with things to say.
I remember the first 2 times I seen her, I thought she was mentally challenged and spoke to her like a child. I spoke about her to others as if she wasn’t understanding. On the third time I was with her she took a pencil and a paper and wrote her name and letters and numbers and drew a beautiful dress. All with hands that do not cooperate and with great effort in every stroke. She was showing me she wasn’t dumb and was a competent adult. As I was watching Albin with 3 other young people coloring papers on the pavement, I said to Yuna that day, Yuna I think she understands a lot more then we think she does. At this, Albin turned her head, looked right at me and smiled. My hear dropped, I was mortified at my misunderstanding. From that moment on, I treated her as an intellectual equal. As the days and time went by I came to understand just how smart and ambitious she really was and vowed to help her find whatever freedom one can have with that I figured out was Cerebral Palsy.
This next part is written by Yuna, describing her new friend.
I remember the first time i met her. The Sister led us to the courtyard. A girl about my age looked at me; she looked lonely and strange standing all by herself in an award position. She slowly walked up to us with a smile that melted my heart. Her right leg didn’t work right, almost like she had to try extra hard to make it work right. Also, her arms didn’t seem right but I didn’t know why. Maybe it was the way she held them, stiffly. She very much appeared special and I was sure I was approaching a girl about the mental age of 7.
I was enraptured by her bright eyes and smiling mouth. She made me feel welcome and was so approachable; I was enthralled. It wasn’t until the 2nd time I taught her class that I discovered something surprising. We were drawing pictures, and I said I like ice cream, and she drew me an ice cream cone and handed it to me with a smile! I was amazed! Sure enough, she can understand almost every thing I say!
I have been getting to know her better for the last 2 months. She has a servant’s heart and helps me in my class and stays after to clean up. She like white and blue and yellow. She is quick to laugh and jokes easily. Her and I have become fast friends even though she is completely nonverbal. Her name is Khombi. She is mentally the same age as me. But, no one knows her age for sure. She has no family, so I try to be like a sister to her. When we are together it doesn’t matter if she has a disability, together we are just girls, and we like it that way.
Below is a link that takes you to a video. The girl in the video is very much like our new friends. We only wish our friends had the same kind of freedom and life this girls has. But, with Gods help we are trying to get Albin off the floor and into a electric wheel chair. We also have ordered Speaking devices for both of them and they are on there way here! We are super excited! Please watch this video.
Part 3 He Leads
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.”
Part 2 Watch the Tree
I was pleading as I said, “We haven’t been to India in many years. Our son Sega needs us now, when should we go there and help him?” He agreed it was time and told me we will plan for Summer 2022.
That day finally came and I was telling him how excited I was at all the new opportunities that God may have for us to minister besides just helping our son. Then he said something that changed everything. “I will be working remotely every night and most likely tired on the weekends, any ministry we do in India will be your doing. You are in charge of that. I will help in small ways, but you can seek God and lead in that area.”
He always knew his wife was a tad different, but his choice to put me in charge of this aspect of our lives was going to test him and my family in ways I wasn’t even prepared for.
Wait. When we think of persecution and judgment we don’t think of the word wait. But this simple word has been the chisel that has been transforming our faith as a family painstakingly slowly lately.
“Lord, direct our paths, we are at a crossroads, which way do we go?” I pleaded after 2 weeks of being in India.
Wait…. Watch the tree
“It’s been a month! Lord, so many people are looking at us; please don’t turn your face from me! They think I am mad!
“This is insanity, you can’t just wait forever!”
“Wait on what, exactly? Little voices?”
“We must make a plan, or we will run out of money.”
“How can you have children and yet have no idea what your doing?”
“God gives you choices, it’s okay to plan what’s next.”
“Mommy, what are we doing?”
“So, where are you moving to in India, are you buying or renting?”
“It’s been over a month, are you sure God is in this?
Wait…Watch the tree
Looking out the wide, open bedroom window during my daily devotion routine, I watch the trees and feel they are symbolic of something and feel an almost ethereal pull towards the hidden wisdom they contain as I meditate on God’s truths. And then one day..
The leaves rustle in the cool evening air; my mind intertwines with the wind as my thoughts dance with possibilities and hope of God promises.
“Yes, Lord. The tree is content. It waits on you, it does not stir its own leaves but waits for your loving caresses in the wind. It does not make itself a piece of furniture nor beg to grow taller. Its just grows. It never complains the birds eat its fruit, nor does it get irritated with the squirrels, ants and pruning. Instead, it houses and feeds and gives where it is planted. And as it waits to be used by You, it matures into a beautiful and fruitful tree. “
“Forgive me Lord, for the times in my life I demanded my own way. Forgive me the times I gave into pressure from the world when you did direct me and I was lured away by the wisdom of the world. And forgive for not waiting on You when you have called me to. I see my folly now. Thank you for the Tree.”
I would ask my dear husband for more time. And each time the Lord found us a way to remain where we are longer. My poor husband has surrendered and even though I’m not sure he really believes God will direct us, He has said that he wants me to see this through and allow me to do whatever it is that I feel called to. (As long as he has good internet for work.) I am blessed to have such a patient husband.
During this time of waiting, we have found a wonderful Church and have made brethren that are earnestly helping us. Ministry opportunities come here and there, but I am learning to be content in that, as we wait upon the Lord as He has directed me to.
Peace is now the trunk that holds up my branches as I wait upon the Lord.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
2022 Journey Begins
A small, tropical toad jumps across the uneven, crudely laid stones that mark our path through a small canopy of tropical fruit trees. We can reach up and grab a pomegranate as we walk to our temporary home in the valley of Manipur, India.
No ac and humidity giving me curls I had forgotten in Arizona I ever had, I grab the local sweeping broom and bend over with one hand behind my back and the other diligently sweeping Ina long arcing motion across the shiny cream, marble floor. These brooms made of palm grass work better than our tall brooms but are tough on my weakened back.
Our kitchen is tiny, with and base sink and a metal dish and pout rack on the wall above it. the Black marble counters I first thought of as lovey has proven to be difficult to keep clean. Our frig is a 4foot version of our one back home but that isn’t a problem because most of our food is not prepacked and used quickly.
The city we are in is busy and mostly made of multiple stories of cement buildings and many of the side streets are what once may have been asphalt but now are just extremely rough dirt roads. So, the overall feeling is dusty and the color is a light grey and this matches the air as well. The only color found is on the women. In contrast to their dull backdrop, they stand out like colorful gems. From the orange stripe down the nose line of the Meitei Hindi women to the Bright red and green tribal skirts of the Kuki women, it’s a feast for the eyes. The people here are beautiful! Exotic and earthy yet refined in an Asian traditional way.
Oh, sad day, because I have been so desperately ill. I long to get to the hills. just a few kilometers outside this old-fashioned city are the most breathtakingly green mountains and views to be had on earth. We have planned a trip there next weekend to visit friends and help them out, hope I am well enough to go. (you must be able to eat what is offered to you; to refuse an offereing is a huge insult to them)
Sweet Yuna and MayLa seem to do well here. The different types of fruit trees outside our doors being a favorite of theirs. And the humidity doesn’t phase them, so the moderate climate suits them well. They are not excited about school starting Monday after having such a long break and living so unrestrained during the days here. Yuna loves it here and just wants to find a permanent home and settle down Visiting USA for a few months a year, while MayLa is not in the same boat. She thinks it was a nice visit here and can’t wait to get home as the harshness of life here is unfamiliar to her American ways. While Yuna sees many opportunities to help people here and try new things being a seasoned world traveler.
I am in between, not as young as I used to be, the harshness is harder for me, and my body made delicate over the years from health issues, is not handling this very well. I am more introverted now and being married so long has made me less of a leader. So, I have days I want to save the world and others where I long to go back to comfy, easy America.
Bryan took a while to adjust and relax but he is doing well here now. Learning the local shops and the maps and trying to find food for his limited tastes is still a work in progress but one he continues to press on. His work is doing fine but it is hard for him to work at night when he is tired.
But, all in all we are doing well. Seeing Sega again was a highlight. He is coming again Monday night, and we are making his favorite, Mexican food. He is a man now and my mind still remembers him as a silly teen boy. He is quiet and contemplative but laughs easily and cracks jokes if he feel comfortable with you. He is testing to get a government job right now. But, we heard it’s so corrupted that even if you pass the 2 tests required for an interview that you must bribe your way in or know someone to get the job. And even if you pay the bribe, they may never call you back, taking the bribe and hiring someone else right after you. I am not excited about this, but he is 23 years old now and must make his own way.
We met with Rahabs Rope people. They are very nice. But, they want us to go 2 hours north of here to a remote place that doesn’t have good wifi and would be far from Sega. So, I am not going to probably work with them much here.
The three goals I had were to Visit and help our friends and family here, Look into Rahabs Rope and see if that would be a good fit for me and see if God leads us to live here. So, we will finish our goals and pray for guidance, we should know soon.
We have met very nice people here so far. A couple through Rahabs Rope lives in Imphal and has a 2-year-old daughter. They are very nice and it has been a blessing to attend church with them and befriend them. And a dentist that filled MayLas cavity for 13 bucks; a Hindu woman that we got to preach the gospel to, has asked to have us do her website for her.
Even if we don’t stay here we have 2 other places we may visit on this side of the continent. We will keep you posted as the Lord leads us. Please pray for the healing of my stomach, and for the Lords, grace, power, and wisdom to lead us as we interact with the locals here. And pray for our Hindu dentist friend that she may come to know the saving love of Christ.