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The India Chronicles 2009

Read the Five-week Adventure

of an American Catholic family in India

 
How to eat Indie


Harris Update January 22, 2009view from our building

As we go to bed at the end of our first day of the L-5 leadership school we are over-loaded with the new personalities we’ve met and culture shock. We’ve been securely separated from the outside world in our gated and guarded complex since our taxi-van pulled in at 2 AM last night. The noise though, has been constant.

During the past 20 hours there has been the constant sound of honking horns and traffic. I don’t believe Indian drivers have any patience, courtesy or turn signals. Add to that constant honking, the train station that we back up to and the sound of big trucks changing gears. We are all starting to adjust and block it out somewhat, even though the windows do not.

20 hours of travel laterWe are on the 4th floor of this multi purpose block wall apartment type building. Lori and I have twin beds in a small tile floor room. No A/C but a nice ceiling fan. It was actually a little chilly at mass this morning. The children are across the hall. We are blessed that each room has its own bathroom with a cold only bucket showers. They felt great after the 20 hours of fly time we had logged.

We did not realize the high altitude until the taxi started going through tunnels and a steady climb for about an hour. I have not looked it up or asked but it feels like at least 5000 ft. We could feel it in our sinuses and when we started lugging 20 bags of luggage up four flights of stairs. The air is more constant brown that LA on its worst smog alert day.

Praying for the childrenWe began with a sparsely attended Mass at 6:30 in an echoing concrete church building.

We soon met YWAMers from India, Germany, Belgium, Papua New Guniea, Australia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Canada, Holland and Seattle, WA. The kids are happy having a few young children to chase around. James has Canadian teenage girls from his YWAM Tyler SST here. He got a quick dose of what a small world this is.

Even on the plane the food has been Indian. (What did you expect?) There’s lots of neat sauces, mystery meat, seasoned rice, tortilla type bread. We were a hit at morning tea break with our gallon zip locks of American chocolate chip cookies. They said the sweet fellowship matched the cookies. The lady from Ghana said, “Your cookies were beautiful.” Thanks Amanda for the last minute baking tizzy!

Our bodies have not adjusted to the time. Lori and I laid down at 2:00 for a nap and woke up in time for supper at 6:45 pm, but the kids never woke up the rest of tonight.

Romeo Fernando

Our speaker today was Romeo Fernando, an Indian, who definitely has a grasp on why different people groups clash. We had a roundtable discussion on how different cultures are uncomfortable around each other and the need for forgiveness of attitudes and actions toward specific nationalities. Because of the many nationalities participating, we are all aware of the need for reconciliation and unity.

Asha PrakashWe discussed the Catholic charismatic renewal and how we have left the young people out. Therefore our sons and daughters are not there to prophesy (Joel 2:28-29). They’re segregated off in youth group or at home while we have our prayer meetings. When they get older they don’t want to be a part, because it was not a habit for them.
 
 
Lori already has a vision of including the diocesean youth groups in our monthly Charismatic meeting in Tyler.

Cassius and Marian Soares

We wish we could share everything we did, with you at home, and this is only the first day! Please continue to pray if you are to participate in financing our time here. You may contribute online through our website.

Pray for us. We will bring so much information and experience back with us, and maybe a few staff members for our new K-Teams base in Texas!

In Christ,

Alan

 
 
 
 
 
 


Harris Update January 24, 2009

We were so spiritually prepared to come to India. I remember praying on our couch at home with Lori, ”God we don’t belong here. We’re already in India.” Our bags had been packed for days. I felt like our spirits had already come here and our bodies just needed to come here to catch up. Now that I’m here I feel that same feeling, except now I’m really here.

I knew when we came to India and would be around Indians. I thought only if we went out we would cross paths with some Indians. My main emphasis would be learning the K-Team way. Now that we’re here, if you want to see the people, look out the window. When you go in our courtyard, they stick their hands through the bars, and sometimes wander in. They think we’re all rich people. They follow you down the street with their hands out. How do you talk to these people, Lord? How do you relate Jesus to them? How do you live Jesus to them?

I thought the heat would be a problem or water. I just didn’t realize how immersed we would be in noise. It is totally insane. It’s like we’re in Max Headroom or Blade Runner or the Terminator. I never in my life expected to live in an environment like that. It’s so filthy. At Mercy Ships I constantly sorted through images of poverty in Liberia. Not even that could prepare me for this. This is so urban. It’s almost a nightmare.

I was not prepared for pollution. We’re trapped in it. It always smells like someone just set off a large package of firecrackers. We somewhat have blocked the smell in our room, but as soon as you walk into the hall you are knocked over by it.

We took a rickshaw downtown Friday during our half-day off. I was telling Lori about all the scrawny dogs I had seen living on the street. “I wonder where the cows are?” We pulled up at our destination at the clothing district and there were two cows nuzzling through the street garbage.

Downtown there were more predictable streets than right next to our property. It reminded me of Chinatown in San Francisco or of St. Martin, Virgin Islands. In the V.I. Lori and I wanted to get off the beaten path and see the real people on that vacation. Here you don’t have to leave the pretty tourist area. There isn’t one. Its like Honolulu mutated into a horror film. I have seen not one patch of grass. There is no beauty. There may have been mountains we passed through on the way, but that was in the middle of the night.

We walked downtown for over an hour. There were deformed beggars sitting on the sidewalk with no legs. People were staring at our blond haired children You had to walk through rubble and dirt in the gutter and against the buildings next to the sidewalk. People sweep dirt up that will only return the next day. I thought the Canton, TX trade days were nuts. That’s orderly compared to here. There is no order here. There’s religion all over the place, but it’s a mess of religious articles. How to you talk to these people?

We did meet one cute little old man in a tan leather jacket who approached us after 6:30 Mass yesterday. We said we were from Texas. He said “Oh, Texas like Audey Murphey is from? I like Old American movies, like Burt Lancaster.” He said two of his sons were autistic and the other was dyslexic. One had a detached retina that he had to take into Mumbai today. His children are probably ill from all the pollution.

We’re bonding quite well with the L-5 people. Some are the Pune DTS students soing the L-5 as part of their discipleship school. I ate dinner with the girl from Seattle last night. She says she’s engaged to a Canadian. (I say that because we are fishing for YWAMers to bring to Texas) The Walker family from Canada has everyone impressed. The two older daughters are 14 and 17. They hang out with 19 year old Alex, who did her DTS at YWAM Tyler in 2007. James is quite taken up with DTS staffer, Zeger (rhymes with eager) from Holland who, like our Charlie back home, turns 22 during this school. Zeger is an expert at negotiating with the Indians for rickshaws and other purchases.

Yesterday in school I learned of “Community.” We heard testimonies of convenant communities in India and Uganda. I don’t have the total feel for that concept yet. There’s one young man who has given his life to a community, like a seminarian, but he’s not going to be a priest. He just serves the community. These African and Indian ladies are so reserved in our school. I must dig into them. They’re more open with Lori. I was so used to the Teen Mania girls who would talk to you.

Robert the Aussie is a hoot, very proud of his country. Big, tender-hearted white- headed man. Damacias has stolen Lori’s heart. She’s finishing an article on him.

As I close, the day school behind us across the barbed wired wall is having an outdoor Saturday performance for some of the parents complete with dancing. They’re banging a large drum throughout their presentation. Its been going on for over an hour, to the harmony of the cars and motorcycles honking from all directions.

We do still need your support to pay for our school tuition. We also have to pay to get online. Yesterday I paid 80 rupees (about two dollars) to be online for 1.5 hours to post my first report. If any readers can help us out with $10 it would really help.

We’re off all day today, Saturday, and tomorrow is a lot of classes, with an old fashioned YWAM “Love Feast” in the evening. Have a great weekend. Alan


Happy Birthday, Baby!

by Lori Harris January 26, 2009

Twenty-five years ago today my life was forever changed by the birth of our first baby, a huge-eyed, blue-eyed, curly headed, cotton topped baby doll who chose to disturb our peace and side track our plans to make her own. She hasn’t stopped yet.

We planned her and named her without the help of a sonogram. We found a wonderful midwife to birth her at home with us and we were anxious to get the three of us to our new life and business in California.

With weeks to go before this little lady was due, Alan was to go ahead to LA and be back before said baby came. We drove to Dallas to put him on a plane and I spent the night with my aunt before I would drive back to our apartment in Nacogdoches, TX. Oh, not so!

My water broke during the midnight hours. I walked around the bedroom praying and asking the Lord to let me know when to wake my aunt to head back home. About sunup I called my midwife to warn her of the change in plans, called Alan (who had stopped at my sister’s in West Texas on the way to California), and then gave my sweet auntie the wake-up call.

Only God could have allowed me to be with this aunt. She was the only one who was brave enough to trust me. We loaded her back seat with a bucket and blankets and headed off on a 3-hour drive from Dallas to Nacogdoches, just so her favorite niece could have her baby at home.

She broke speed records while I mooned truck drivers. To avoid bearing down, I used the two clothes hanger hooks to pull up on. God bless dear Aunt Jean for talking to herself the whole way. Every time she looked back and saw me she threatened to pull into the next town’s hospital and dump me. I told her I would never forgive her if she did that to me and reminded her she had been born at home and turned out just fine. Just drive!

We pulled into my little college town apartment building looking like a scene straight out of a Keystone Cop caper. I barreled out of her old boat of a Pontiac and headed up the metal stairs in my floor-length maroon velour robe and into our little frozen apartment. Being the good stewards that we were, we had cut off the water heater and the heat and it was about 30* outside. (Really, we couldn’t afford the bill!)

While my aunt unloaded the car, I lit the water heater (yep, I did… picture that in that huge bellied maroon robe with me up under a water heater and in labor) and then turned on the furnace. I was glad no one was home in our little four-plex apartment as I finally got to let it all hang out and be me.

My midwife’s timing was great. Carol walked in and sat Aunt Jean down in the corner.

“Now Auntie, you just sit right here and watch. We are about to have a baby! We know what we are doing and you don’t have a thing to worry about,” declared Carol.

At this point what could she do but believe her?

I had laid out newspapers around the floor of our little studio apartment where we had previously set up a twin bed to birth on (our king size waterbed not being real conducive to a homebirth), while Carol was busy trying to set up and convince Aunt Jean she didn’t need to boil water or tear rags.

When Carol declared us ready, I mounted the twin bed and out popped the “World Changer” in less than 30 minutes of our arrival into the apartment. I think she had been waiting to make her entrance for a while. She spared me the loss of face by letting me make it home.

Carol wrapped our big-eyed girl in towels and handed her off to Drop Mouthed Auntie in the corner while we birthed the placenta.

The phone rang.

On the other end was my mother, sister and Alan who had just landed in Dallas and were getting in a car to head to us. We handed the phone to Drop Mouth while we cleaned up.

She found her voice.

“Congratulations Grandma, you have never seen anything like this before in your life! Why, they just got down to business and popped out a baby. I don’t even remember having my four because I was knocked out. She jumped up, cleaned up the newspaper, changed the sheets on the bed and now they’re in the kitchen just making tea. Them two are acting like people do this everyday! They are naming her after Moma, did you know that?”

I’m wasn’t sure my aunt has recovered yet.

The fact that her name was Juanita was a cause for celebration. I had the great joy of calling my 83 year old grandma and telling her she had a new great granddaughter with her name. Her reaction: “Show nuf? Whacha go and name her that for?” I told her that I didn’t know anybody else on earth who could pray like her and that was good enough reason.

We haven’t regretted the decision. She’s lived up to her namesake.

Thus my little World Changer made her spectacular entrance. Her daddy wasn’t there for it as we had planned, but we survived. We moved to California eight weeks later and there she became my only friend for the first months of her life.

We were busy setting up a new business in a town where we had no relatives. We lived in a little apartment and Alan would go off to work everyday. I missed my family and friends but I had a new little person in my life and she relished the role of being the Only One.

My whole life revolved around this little darling. She commanded my every minute and I didn’t mind. She was my best friend then and all I had besides Alan for quite awhile.

Twenty-five years later she is still a World Changer. She has turned into a beautiful woman of God, who still has a mind of her own, just like we raised her to. She has made excellent choices and has become a reflection of the praying woman she was named for.

As I write this we are in different countries and I can’t even tell her Happy Birthday. I can’t tell her that on the day twenty-five years after my life was forever changed. She paved the way for six more to follow but she will always hold the place of the first. More than likely, I won’t get to hear her voice for several more weeks and I won’t be able to know where she is or the conditions of her safety.

The only thing I can do for her is what she does best. Pray. So here it is:

Holy God, who looked down from Heaven and sent your Only Son to become human and live among us, suffer, die and be buried only to rise again to bring us eternal life. Grant that wherever Juanita is on this very special day in her life, that you will bring her comfort. May she feel your love and the love and prayers of her family. May she truly understand the only life worth living is the life worth giving so that others come to know what forgiveness is. May she know your peace in the midst of turmoil all the days of her life and may the Mother of the Son, be my advocate and wrap her arms around my baby and hold her, rock her and tell her how much her mother loves her on this very special day.

Happy Birthday, Baby.

I love you,

Mommy

 

 

Harris Update, January 27, 2009

By Alan Harris
It’s very intense here. The noise, the smog, the spicy food, the sea of people everywhere.

I got overwhelmed yesterday and deeded to shut down.

Even though our sleeping is on schedule, I don’t sleep well. It’s warm. Even the locals are complaining. We only use a sheet over us. We all sleep on our own twin beds. I wake up every hour or two.

Bathing is fun. There’s blistering hot water down the hall that we use to wash our clothes in, or haul a large bucket full to our room. I stand in one bucket and pour hot water over me with a large measuring cup. John likes it. Only James takes cold showers still.

We had a love feast Sunday night. The food wasn’t much different. You’re never quite sure what you’re eating here. What they call chicken has maybe a ½” square piece of meat on one out of 10 hunks in the sauce. The rest have fingernails of meat and camouflaged bones. I’m not eating that again. That leaves the red curry sauce, which is tasty, but protein-less. James wore his new punjabe. We haven’t found the right price for Susan’s yet.

Today is James’ 14th birthday. Lori picked up a cake at the bakers that the L-5 paid 660 rupees for. That’s about $14. It was very light and good, with a pineapple filling.

A guy from the very beginning of YWAM is here teaching this week, Bruce Clewett, of YWAM ,Austria. He’s way cool, from California, over 30 years ago. I’m going to try to film “Live fro L-5” YouTube reports starting with him today. He thought it was a cool idea.

Yesterday Bruce spoke about unity in organizations how we must teach first the history to new people – how we got here. Then the Core Values and then the vision, in that order. He said protestants and Catholics have the same core values, but in different order.

Lori and I discussed with each other the steps and lessons God used to bring us to this point, from leaving Mercy Ships, joining Woodcrest with no promised support. Then declaring we were going to India and getting prayed out by everyone and packing our bags when we were thousands of dollars short of our airfare. Thus far the Lord has brought us.

Bruce said YWAM was established by prophetic people who would do things no one else had done before. That’s part of YWAM’s DNA. Lori and I have always considered ourselves prophetic, but we also do things no one else has done before, as we are now.

This place definitely gives me a new world-perspective. No wonder they think all Americans are rich. We are. Living in Garden Valley makes a person long for mission trips. It’s in the air. Being here in India now seems so completing. I understand the “fever” of “going there fore.” We’re so safe in our little Christian World, driving 3 miles to work on an empty paved, clean country road with grass and trees on each side. Most of these people have never seen anything like it. How spoiled we are. You have to leave to appreciate it.

I have no idea how to begin to reach these people, but God does. It is so refreshing to learn, pray and worship with an international choir of believers. Over half speak with an accent other than western English. I guess Lori would be one of those too, eh?
Bruce Clewett

Tell your friends to read our posts. Give us feedback.

Alan

January 28, 2009
Its 89 degrees as I try
to update my site outside
from the internet cafe.
Saw it was 31 in Lindale.
Don't have anything to tell
you about today.
Here's a video to watch. Alan



Live From L-5

 
Bruce Clewett, the Founder of Kerygma Teams, gives a humorous welcome to our leadership training in Pune, India January 28
 
 

Harris Update, January 29, 2009

by Alan Harris
Had a nice talk this morning with Zeger. He’s from a charismatic Protestant fellowship in Holland. The two pastors have former YWAM experience. Their church is very open to YWAM, and sends their youth to Kings Kids, a YWAM youth singing ministry that operates all over the world. One YWAMer in the church had his birthday party at the local YWAM base. Zeger attended and saw a YWAM base for the first time. He was very interested, which led to him participating in GO Teams one summer during High School. Go Teams, he says, is a four-week short term missions outreach.

Upon graduation, Zeger went to Pune, India for a K-Teams DTS, because of his interest in ecumenism. Zeger now rotates sic-months of the year in Holland, and six months serving as DTS staff in Pune. The DTS staff and students are part of the L-5 participants. Zeger, who turns 2 during this school, serves as worship leader at L-5, playing guitar.
Today he led us in a Hindi “budgin” or spiritual song, but with Christian lyrics. He has become quite knowledgeable about getting around Pune and negotiating with local merchants. He has become James’ buddy and is a safe companion for my son who likes to wander of to interesting things. They’ve been going out at night with the big girls for beverages. Last night it was milk shakes at the train station for 40 rupees, or about 80 cents U.S. Watch out Dairy Queen!

 

Alan wrote something new: Feb 8, 2009

Here we are at the mid-point of our trip. We’ve made our adjustment to the humidity, the noise, the smell. Actually we don’t hear the noise anymore or notice the smell. When we lived in Fillmore, California, everyone who came said,” Wow, what’s that smell – like perfume?” It was the orange blossoms. Our olfactory senses had become numb to those odors. Same thing in India. We can’t smell the pollution anymore.

Today in class, Bruce Clewett, one of Kerygma’s leaders, said if you were asked to name 10 good things about Pune and ten bad things, you could name the bad things instantly. Is that our nature? I’m sure I’ve named that many in my web postings. But ten good things? Lets see.

  1. The beautiful clothing on the women, and some of the women in those clothes.
  2. It never freezes here. I got a suntan in late January.
  3. I haven’t seen a television here.
  4. My wife is not on the phone
  5. The cost of living is as low as 1/20th of the U.S. or even less, especially involving services. But food is way cheaper too.
  6. Perfect strangers are willing to help you – even if they have no financial gain from it.
  7. Everybody is trying to make a buck. There’s not a lot of dead beats. They’re hard workers, even if its begging
  8. They accept their condition. They don’t sit around and whine about it.
  9. They love getting their picture taken.
  10. People dress modestly. Men never wear shorts. I’ve seen no homeboy low crotch pants. Women cover their bodies –to the ankles.

Indians are very religious, whatever it might be. The Catholics in our host church. Our lady of Perpetual Help, are not charismatic, but they sing better than any American parish I’ve been to. They’re singing old Agape Force songs from the late 70’s. The Steadfast Love, Glory to God in the Highest. And they sing good. They’re wrapping up a nine day Novena tonight that we’ve listened to during and after dinner. The preaching is good. I’m going to check out some Indian priests in Texas We have a lot of them.

Our vision for Kerygma Teams in America is re-shaping. It seems we are not Catholic YWAM, but ecumenical YWAM. We give Catholic doctrine equal space. WE are knowledgeable about Catholic beliefs, respectable of them and encourage our Catholic members to keep their beliefs. We learn to work together for the common good. Were on the same side.

It’s not lie we’re joining with the Hindus or the Muslims. We have the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So pray for us as we figure all this out before we return home for the next chapter.

 

 
 
 

Feb 10 We heard from Juanita!

Our oldest daughter, who turned 25 on January 26, sent letters to us from her outreach location somewhere in Europe. The courier also had videos from Christmas time and still photos that we have copies of. These people were with us for about a week and are leaving today. We made a special video for her and sent it back on a flash drive for her to view, as well as a lot of the photos on this website, which she has been unable to log onto. Pray for her. She's very homesick. Moreso than us! She will not return to Texas until May 1.

 

 

 

God Change My Life

By Alan. Feb 11, 2009

To our loving supporters.

We feel you are all here in India holding us up. Thankyou for your prayers and encouragement.
Having been here about 20 days, I felt it would be good to re-explain our mission. I feel some of our sweet supporters still don't understand what we're doing. First of all, we have not become permanent missionaries to India. We’ll be coming home to dear old Texas at the end of February. We have been at a leadership training for world wide Kerygma team leaders and members. It's going quite well.

We’re learning about:

  • Ecumenism, working together with Catholics and Protestants, in society, in charismatic worship and prayer, in communities and in YWAM
  • Kerygma Teams – the ecumenical branch of Youth With a Mission, with a Catholic focus
  • The different options Kerygma has to begin a new work in Texas, including:

a. Full year weekly courses in parishes

b. Discipleship Training Schools with short term mission outreach.

c. Two to four week Go-Teams of short term outreach

d. Weekend GXP’s for youth to have a God eXPerience.

  • Fellowshipping with an international mix of believers. The accents are great – Slavic, African, Australian, Dutch, Canadian, French, New Zealand, Belgian, German. We want to bring them all home.
  • Indian Catholics, priests and Bishops who can preach and quote scripture better than our Protestant or Catholics teachers back home.
  • Hearing God and getting our eyes off ourselves and. Letting him teach us and show us the right path and vision.

We’ve invited everyone here to pray about visiting, teaching or joining our Kerygma Teams work in Garden Valley Texas. Were excited about what God is about to begin.

We’re in the process of collecting, filming, and writing down much of the information we’ll need to shared and promote this work to Catholics and Protestants in the U.S.

Pray for us

Please remember to pray for us, Right Now. This trip to India is not over. We need God’s covering and the prayers of you faithful back home.

· Pray for our sustained health. The kids are frequently eating street vendor food with their local Indian friends whose stomachs are used to the local “crawlies.” We’ve had a lot of short-term fevers, mainly James and Susan, not John. Lori asks prayer for Susan’s immune system.

Remember to pray for our other four older children.

· Juanita is still on outreach in an undisclosed location. Pray for her safety.

· Charlie is at LeTourneau in Longview, TX he keeps Sam company at home some weekends.

· Sam is working fulltime this semester at a special needs school in Tyler and covering our Catholic youth group while we’re gone.

· Charlotte is in Ft Worth at College of St. Thomas More and working.

Global Gathering

Our Global Gathering went to the Botanical Gardens on Feb 6, last Friday for a fun-day. We enjoyed playing on the hard dirt with no grass in sight. I saw gardens far away, but not under the trees where we played. Just small yellow leaves peppered the ground.

We did church picnic type relays: sack race, bocce ball, egg race and reverse tug-of-war: That old American tradition “Push the Bambo” (only in India!). My team of Rosemary and Jessica lost 7 out of 8 games. I did two sack races and nearly had a stroke. I was dead that night.

Like the homeless park I wrote about before (A Different Light), the locals just sat and stared the whole time. Our team had great fellowship, silliness and relaxation. That’s an important part of learning to be a community. Taking time to lighten up, so we don’t burn out. I liked that. It reminded me of church picnics back in the Methodist church. We rode there on a real Indian bus with no air conditioning. Look for the Picnic Photos in the Photo Album.

Contextulization

The Global Gathering wound down with a special Indian worship band. Jose Josephs ministers through a YWAM school of worship her in India. We last saw him five years ago at YWAM Tyler when he encouraged our son Sam to come to Pune to teach arts in India. Jose plays “budgins” or Indian worship songs. It was very different music. Not exactly Paule Baloche or even Credence Clearwater. It’s a concept we’re learning called “giving the Indians a cup of water in their own cup.” Put it in a form they recognize and they’ll receive it. Jose was tickled to see us.

I would encourage all reading our posts, of any age, to pray about coming on a short term.mission trip with us. We’ve got all ages here, from babies to senior citizens, experiencing the Indian culture.

I read another YWAM missionary’s email newsletter yesterday and I have to admit: I just scanned it. So if you’ve made it to the end of this letter, God Bless you for your diligence. Some people just read our stuff, and others are really our support team. We love all of you. Continue to dream dreams of God and not be afraid to act on them!

Alan & Lori Harris

 

We wanna go home

by Alan Feb 17, 2009
What does it take to be equipped to be a leader? Good teaching that makes you think about and discuss all the factors of leading. We’ve studied the history of YWAM and Kerygma Teams, the core values unique to our branch of YWAM, and our vision. We’ve looked at the structure of how we get it done – the various schools and activities we offer to the ecumenical world. “Thus equipped, we go back to our homes and God puts us to work. That’s what we’ll be doing at the end of this month. Will you still stand beside us? You were so good to get us here. The work’s just beginning. What will your participation be?

 

We’re not in Pune anymore Toto.

February 25, 2009

 
We left Pune after 32 days and headed to the west coast of India in Vasai. Our trip here passed through the mountains that we couldn’t see in the dark when we arrived a month ago. John sat in my lap and the other four squeezed in the second seat. Our new friend from Nairobi, Kenya, Rosemary, came with us.
 
 
 
 
 
Vasai is beautiful, cooler, quiet, and has the ocean. It reminds us of San Clemente California, complete with Spanish Tile roofs and coconut palms. We have bananas at every meal because they grow right outside the window. We’re being treated like kings and queens in gorgeous marble floored homes. We are staying in a lovely three story and have visited several others.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We had dinner Monday night at the Bishop Dubre of Vasai’s home where we attended an ecumenical pastors fellowship and dinner. WE were very impressed when the local Assembly of God pastor got up and shared that he believed Bishop should be Bishop of all the churches in Vasai! He is well loved by all because he has embraced the Catholic Charismatic Community and ministries and attends and hosts so many of the ecumenical events for this area.
 
This is a large Charismatic Catholic community, spread out all over town. There are 250 families and growing. They are very well discipled They are very dominion minded and many own their own businesses and their Christian community is growing.
Mostly we are resting before we head home at the end of this week. We’re meeting sweet families with kids and grandparents resident. Lori is learning a lot about Indian food prep techniques, since we didn’t watch that in Pune.
Today, Tuesday we toured an old Portuguese fort near the ocean that at one time held seven Catholic churches. This is the port where St. Thomas came and established the church in India. These old church and forts are now being restored by the government. My children enjoyed climbing the stairs and exploring as we realized how very industrious these old civilizations were.
We got our feet in the water at a boat launch on the shore line of the Arabian Sea.
We heard the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, filmed in Mumbai, won best picture last night. We watched it here in India and plan to show it some day in our home for an India party. It is very representative of some of the lifestyle we have seen here. Actually it didn’t shock us as much as it does most people. Mostly answers some questions of what these people think on the inside.
We were able to get some photos and videos sent to Juanita and she loved them. We miss all our big kids and all the rest of you too. Keep praying for us. We are still loving on the Indian people. They are very kind and generous. We’re not home yet. The next post will be from home.

Encounters on the Testing Ground

by Lori Harris
March 10, 2009

In recapping the last six weeks of life in India I realized how very much God desires us to love one another, not just the unlovable but everyone we encounter daily. I should already be doing that, right?
Landing in Mumbai in the middle of the night after a 24 hour day of flying, I was assaulted instantly with the total confusion and mass of people as we walked out to wait on our ground transportation to the city of Pune, India and our home for the next five weeks.
 
 A man held up a sign with our name and flight number on it but it took an hour of haggling over price and contact information to find out if he really knew where we were to go. Turned out he didn’t but he did get us there and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride had nothing on what we experienced. The uphill drive for four hours coupled with the constant honking, passing on both sides of the vehicle ahead of us that we had just
tailgated, the loud Indian music blaring and the smells of exhaust mixed with the heat from the open windows and pollution was enough to make a girl swoon! I prayed for super sized angels to cover the too small vehicle we were in and closed my eyes knowing God did not bring us that far to die in the middle of the night.
I didn’t know there were so many people who just like to hang on the streets at night. Bunches of men, gathered around little fires built on the side of the street seemed to be everywhere as well as the endless barrage of rickshaws, scooters and dogs. It’s 2:00 AM in the morning! Where’s the party? These guys make L.A. look sane.

Safely arrived at the Nav Sadhana in Pune and squared away, we were ready for the early morning welcome. There we met the personalities behind the sixteen nationalities we would be living with for the next few weeks.
There is nothing quite as comforting or refreshing as worshipping with old YWAM buddies. You may not know them personally – yet, but the common thread runs deep and straight to the heart. One mind and one purpose unite as we come together from our different worlds to center on one thing: Knowing the Fatherheart of God and sharing that with others.
Here in these settings, purity and simplicity rule. No amount of glitzy music can accomplish what plain, unadulterated worship and spontaneous prayer can do when everyone is there for the same purpose.

The kids were ready to explore our very safe surroundings and we were grateful for the compound feel to the facility. One of the great things about YWAM has always been the family. Ten kids rounded out our group, so we were never lacking for reality checks. Our mix included another full family like ours, singles of all ages, some couples, priests and teachers coming in and out and even grandparents. It doesn’t take long to get cozy with a mix of YWAMers.

From the start we were there to learn and school it was. We were able to ask questions and get plenty of feedback from teachers and students alike. The depth and range of teaching was excellent as we learned to minister to different cultures and be sensitive as well as to contextualize the gospel. As Protestants and Catholics working together, we should be about learning to grow into unity as we grow into Jesus.
As different nationalities expressed preconceived ideas of others who were not like them, we began to minister to one another, pray together and seek forgiveness for differences – real or perceived, that might separate us from all that God would call us to be. There were no denominational lines there. We were brothers and sisters in the Lord who were thirsty for more of God. It is good to be with those who are as thirsty as you are. Thirsty and hungry people want relationship with each other and Jesus.

We learned how very reverent many of the Hindus and Muslims are. They have prayer rooms in their homes. These sweet and gentle people put many Christians to shame with their reverence and devoted prayer time. They are looking for God. They need a savior, and so do a lot of our friends. Is what we do and live making them thirsty? That is a good question to ask ourselves anytime we have unsaved loved ones or neighbors. If we aren’t making them thirsty, then we are not letting Jesus really use us. I don’t think that I am salt and light to enough people, are you?

Bishop Valerian D’Souza of the Diocese of Poona, shared with us that ecumenism based on love and prayer between believers should be happening now. The division among Christians is seen as confusion to the unbeliever. They will know we are Christians by our love but not if we don’t have any! Christians have fallen prey to the enemy’s lies and chosen to divide themselves instead of love one another. Pope Paul VI states in his encyclical Announcing the Good News ( http://tinyurl.com/aw3q) that true evangelization must spring from true holiness and the Christian must be evangelized before they can evangelize.

Our times on the streets showed us people in every situation of life, much more intensified and out in the open because of the millions that were there living an urban life. It is so easy, even in five weeks to become numb and lack compassion on the masses but Jesus looked on them as sheep without a shepherd. Everyone needs a savior. We cannot save ourselves. How easy we forget those simple words!

If the normal Christian life is defined by scripture, then most people are satisfied being sub-normal Christians. Personally, I like to put Jesus in a safe and acceptable box that everyone can relate to. Who wants to be the weirdo that does everything different from other Christians around them?

Our encounters on the testing ground of Poona, reminded us that Christianity comes with a price for many. A Hindu convert shared her conversion experience with us. Jesus came to her in a dream. She finally saw the same picture of the Jesus of her dream in a church. She began to find out who Jesus was. She was willing to make the supreme sacrifice for a single, Indian, Hindu girl from a good family to make, she was willing to give up her family if she must. She went through many trials and beatings by them but eventually they relinquished and she was baptized. She had to go before the city magistrate and register as a Christian. Her signature had to be notarized by a witness as well as a statement from her that she was not forced to become a Christian against her will.
Most of us have not gone through anything like that and prayerfully, our children won’t have to either. We heard many stories like this and also those of suffering in the state of Orissa, there many are renouncing their Christianity out of fear of the Hindu extremists and certain death. The extremes cause one to speculate which side of the fence we would be on if this kind of persecution ever came to us here in America.
We saw Christians keeping a united front, no matter what their level of spiritual understanding was. When people are in a situation where it is Christian against non- Christian, most don’t ask which flavor you are,
The Catholic World is not easy but we saw dedicated believers in India that would put most people who claim to be Christians in America, to shame. They know the price of their salvation.
We have dedicated our lives to work in the evangelization of the Sleeping Giant in America. We want to see American Catholic youth on fire for Jesus their Savior. Will you go with us?


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