I'm having an amazing time and have stayed healthy except for a bad cold the second week. Unfortunately Neill got very sick his last day and had to go to the hospital once he got home and then go to a parishioners house to be taken care of. Bad stomach virus.
I go to a different church every Sunday to preach and give greetings. The churches here can have a thousand families. The first time a helped with communion at the rail for over 500 people, my back felt like it would never straighten out. These big churches sometimes have an assistant pastor but sometimes not. This past Sunday I went gave greetings and did the communion at one church and then went with the pastor to two smaller churches that he goes to on a monthly basis for sacraments. Even the smaller churches were filled and overflowing, children sitting on mats in the front. It's wonderful to see all these enthusiastic Christians, many of them new converts; I understand that those who are like 4th generation Christians are no longer so active--what can we do to keep faith alive? After the 3 churches, we went to do a house blessing and had a big meal. I like the food and eat most of it; however, I can't get use to eating with my hands. I asked for a spoon and they had to go down the street looking for one. The next stop was a birthday service for a one year old. On the way I was asked to do the sermon--5 min. That's probably the area I've grown most in, letting the Spirit speak through me and I'm amazed at some of the things I come up with.
I'm working with several women's programs. They have a granny program where they give provisions monthly as well as counseling. Once they found out I was a Rev. many wanted me to pray for them. They stood in line kneeling at my feet. Most of them could not understand English but they knew I was praying. Some church services are in English but two of the three I've been at are in Tamil and so I have a translator. That language problem is the worst. Anyhow 4 of the grannies wanted to come see me the next day at the Bethany House where other womens programs happen. We had great fun together, individual prayers of course, translated conversations and ended with a group hug. We were more than an hour late meeting with them but they waited. Everything here except for church runs pretty late. Traffic is a big part of that reason.
I'm also teaching some of the self-help group how to crochet. I found a pattern for easy coin purses that I thought they might make and sell. It will take a lot of practice.
I'm also working with some children whose families live on the street. The diocese pays their tuition to religious school and provides daily study time from 4-6 so they can have a place for homework and some nutrition. I loved playing with them--did the hokey pokey. Anyhow I'll attach a few pictures of what I have described. I leave Chennai, my month long service project in one week and go on to a seminary in Madurai. The worst part has been loneliness in my living situation. 85% of the time I have been by myself in the Bishop's guest house. It's okay except for dinner time. They brought me food at first but now I go out to eat but there are only a few places close by.
All in all I'm glad I'm here. Love, Barbara