<![CDATA[The Travelling Arts - India]]>Tue, 01 Mar 2016 12:03:54 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Equipping Others To Equip]]>Fri, 27 Feb 2015 13:31:59 GMThttp://pgbtravellingarts.weebly.com/india/equipping-others-to-equip
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Tapos with his Christmas present from the team.
          The roof of the tall concrete building was completely overfilled with people. We were having Christmas in Kolkatta, and the top of Loch's house was filled with families we had invited over for our celebration. To many this description gives them a typical Christmas picture, but on further inspection, it's easy to see that something more than a party happened that night. The families and children that were there were not living in other houses full of food, running water, and Christmas decorations; these people were living on the streets. Our goal for the night was to provide some sort of relief for these wonderful people who suffered such hard daily lives. We not only wanted to provide physical relief for them, but we also wanted them to have fun for just one night. To forget all the worries and concerns that come with living on the streets. To experience or get a glimpse of God's peace and joy. Not only were we able to do this with our words, but we were able to physically show them how God provides. With extra money that one of our team members had fundraised, we were not only able to purchase a meal and a blanket for each person that came to the event, but each child also got a present. The look on some of the children's and parents' faces explained it all. Their faces were filled with relief. Their hearts had been moved because of the light that they had experienced.
         Hearts across the world were also moved because of what happened that night. A picture of a little girl holding her gifts and blanket with a little bit of the story behind it circulated over social media. People saw the immediate impact of their generous gifts and felt led to give even more. Money started flowing to our team. We had so much that we hardly knew what to do with it! After a lot of praying and talking about what we should do with it, we decided that it would be best used to buy Loch supplies so that her ministry could be expanded. Our heart behind the donations was not to just give gifts to people to make them happy. We didn't want to be a charity. We wanted to use the money in a way that would equip Lodge to help impact others around her eternally. With the extra money that we raised, we were able to buy Lodge and the seven kids that lived at her house a television, a DVD player, and some movies. This was in hopes of giving Loch and her kids something fun to do. To give them some sort of rest and fun in the midst of their hard and hectic lives. She's also hoping to use it as a ministry tool someday as well. 
          Another ministry tool we were able to purchase was a hot water heater for the street kids. Every day Loch takes in children and gives them showers and a safe place to play and learn. Thanks to many people's generous donations, those kids are now having hot showers. The final gift we were able to buy with the extra money was a bike. This bike is an amazing resource for Loch and her ministry. Tapos, a staff member who works with Loch in her ministry, goes to the streets almost every day. While he's out, he talks with the families that live on the streets, checks up on any of their needs, and does minimal medical care. Now with this bike he'll be able to carry more supplies and get to places twice as fast. By simply giving Tapos a bike, we didn't just give him a gift. We equipped him to reach more people and impact more lives. These gifts and this impact wasn't by our own strength. We couldn't have done all of these things without others being willing to give, without God impacting their hearts. If you have been a part of this process or give to any other cause, thank you. This generosity truly has made an incredible impact on this world which can't be measured.
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<![CDATA[Rising Up]]>Sun, 22 Feb 2015 18:24:28 GMThttp://pgbtravellingarts.weebly.com/india/rising-up"HE raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. he settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children."
        Ever since I was a little girl I've dreamed of going to India someday. I never imagined that this dream would actually happen so early in my life. I was impacted in so many ways in India that words can't really explain what happened to me. I learned so much about this world, how much it needs Christ, and yet how beautiful it is. I learned a lot about myself and how inadequate I am. But with Christ in me, I can accomplish so much more past my own strength. Because He has done this in me, He has allowed me to also see this happening to others. He makes the weak rise as leaders.
        This truth stuck out to me over and over again in India. So many people there are rising up. Those who are changing and impacting India are those that someone would least expect to make a difference. God is using the weak and broken people of India to make an impact so that the glory can only be given to Him. This is an extremely unlikely situation to be happening, but especially so in India. The caste system there plays out into every aspect of life. Each person is born into a certain caste, and can never move up the caste system. If a person is of high caste, they never associate with a person who is of a low caste. And a person of a low caste never has equal opportunities to people of high caste. However, a person can move down the caste system for many reasons. These can include when a woman becomes a widow, a child becomes an orphan, or a person is born with a certain disability or mental handicap. So for me to witness so many times a person of a low caste impacting India as a nation and rising up to be a leader, I truly did witness a miracle.
          Not only did I witness the people of low caste rise up, but I saw them bringing others up with them. I specifically remember one woman, Anu, who has devoted her life to doing this. Anu was both an orphan and widow. Her story was incredible. She spoke of how she was taken into a huge orphanage that was started by a woman who was also both a widow and an orphan. When I heard of this orphanage, I had a picture of it in my head. I pictured it to be a small, crowded place that desperately needed us to volunteer for a day. I was completely wrong. As soon as we stepped onto the huge campus, about an hour outside of Pune, I could feel God's presence and peace there. As we toured the campus, I was left in awe. The place was so large that we couldn't nearly cover it all. In each building, a person could easily detect a certain transformation taking place. Thousands of lives were literally being changed in this place. I saw a huge revolution happening right before my eyes. Thousands of widows, orphans, and handicapped were rising up.
          One of the first buildings we stepped into was a school for the blind. The head teacher had been there for about forty years. As we sat in a circle listening to a young girl read us a beautiful poem from the Braille book before her, God opened my eyes. He showed me that He equips the least likely, by the world's standards. He lifts up those that many think don't deserve to be lifted. He made me realize that I don't deserve to be experiencing all of these amazing things. But He has lifted me up as well. He's done this so that as I travel and find others and help lift them up, they don't give me the glory, but they give God the glory. Because I could not do anything I do without the strength that God gives me. It was only at the beginning of the day that I had this realization, and so the rest of the day was completely overwhelming. Time and time again I was overwhelmed with the power and the love of God for His children.
          After realizing this, and after the girl finished her poem, we were shown into another room. Along the walls were rows of blind women, many of whom were widows, sitting between large piles of straw. Each one of them were weaving beautiful, intricate baskets. And while they were doing this, they were singing some of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. As we walked in and made our presence known, they welcomed us in. Over and over again they kept saying how God had blessed them and redeemed them. While this sounds like a beautiful thing to have experienced, it literally cannot be put into words meaningful enough or deserving of the actual experience. These women are the perfect example of redemption. By their society's terms, they are useless. But in God's eyes, they were so valuable that He had others help them rise up. They now have a purpose, a meaning in life. They are learning life skills that equip them to face the world. By weaving these baskets, learning how to read, and how to communicate well, they are learning how to provide for themselves. This is a huge deal. The skills that they learn at the orphanage also help raise funds to keep the programs running.
         These women had such incredible stories of impact. We didn't have much of a chance to hear their individual stories, but their character, their voices, their hands spoke so loudly. Each one of them were filled with an unexplainable joy and peace. God's presence was thick in the room. By sitting with them I was so blessed. I was so filled with that same peace.
          I had that feeling in every room that we stopped at that day in the orphanage. Every room was filled with the presence, peace, and joy of God. I couldn't believe how vast the campus was. To think that God started such an amazing and impactful organization by a small group of widows was so mind-blowing. Today there are so many different schools at the orphanage campus that a person can't cover it in one day. We stopped at all the classrooms, the huge kitchen, and the shop where all the women and children sell their handcrafted items to make a profit. There were also more special departments, such as the school for developmentally delayed and mentally handicapped girls to learn and grow. They are specifically taught life skills in order to be independent and handicrafts so that they can make a living. There was even an arts and crafts department devoted to teaching the children life skills such as sewing. Each place was devoted to helping the poor, the lowest of the low, the outcast. And what was most incredible was that this place was equipping the people of low caste to go out into the rest of the world and rescue others out of that same system. Anu was the perfect example of this. Because of her upbringing there, God got a hold of her heart. She now has started a school in Pune, and does rehab and care programs for widows or other women who have been rescued from dangerous situations. And that is just one woman out of thousands that had been brought up in the orphanage. The impact that these people are making in their communitities, their nation, even throughout the world literally cannot be measured.
          Time and time again I saw awesome things like this happening. Over and over again, I saw India being transformed; I saw people rising up with the power of God. It was an incredible miracle to be a small part of. God has made me realize how much healing He can do through individuals if they are willing to be a part of His amazing plan. He has made me realize that the world really can be radically changed if Christians rise up to care for the orphaned and the needy. To be His hands and feet. To rise up.
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Going to the school for the developmentally delayed was one of our favorite parts of the day. While we were there, the girls proudly showed us some of their artwork or dances that they had learned. We also got to play with them and read with them for a few minutes. The joy on their faces to see us overflowed into each of us in an amazing way, even though it was only for a short amount of time. It's one of the many experiences that we'll never forget.
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