I went to stay at my sister's flat for a while, hence the lack of blogging. I had a good time there. While I was there I found out that my very old Grandmother has begun to slip away. She isn't in pain or anything, it is just that she seems very thin, like butter spread over too much bread. She isn't dead yet, but the Doctors say that it is more a matter of which week rather than which month it happens. Grandma sleeps much of the time, and doesn't speak much if she can speak at all (sometimes she can't).
To refer back to some of Paul's reflections on the anglo- take on death, I myself found it very weird to hear my Grandmother even SAY the word 'dying'.
But I am not wholly sad about this experience, my emotions are quite mixed. I had been concerned that, even with a part-time job (which I actually don't have yet), I wouldn't be able to get enough money to go to India. My Grandmother has just given me a large sum of money, more than half of what I needed to go on my three month mission-trip to India. She didn't even know about the trip, so I was so glad to see the look of pure excitement on her face when I got to tell her about the mission-trip that her money would ensure that I would go on.
I don't know what the trip has in store for me, but it starts here. Now I can begin this next semester knowing with certainty that I will be able to go on the trip, and that means that I can plan my studies and direct my passions in a very specific direction.
My trip will take me into the rural outback of india, half-way down the eastern coast and then inland. I'm not sure on the exact long-and-complex name my region has, a missionary couple I know tell me that my description sounds like it is near Andra Pradesh, a popular missions target. I'll know more after the three day preliminary 'Meet-the-Team' Camp I'm having this Friday to Sunday.
I'll be going with a group called GlobalTask, an organisation that one of my friends works for. GlobalTask sends teams yearly to India, Africa and other places (like Cambodia perhaps?). I had the option of either a one month trip or a three month trip for only $500 more. Naturally, wanting to avoid the major hiccups of an "STM" that was more like an "S!!tm", I chose the three month option.
The first month with be spent with the other 1-M'ers, taking a large trek around an area accompanying a local Indian missionary, covering the villages that he tries to reach the rest of the year. I don't envy him at all, the distances walked are large and the life must be lonely for him. I only hope that we can do him justice and not stick our foot in it like a bunch of goobers. From the sounds of it, he appreciates the teams that come through with him. Like it or not, the reality seems to be that the annual foreign presence opens a few doors for him and the people seem a little more receptive to him and the gospel every year. Some of these villages he can't even see himself more than once a year, due to the large area that he covers and the remoteness of some locations.
The remaining two months will be spent doing a multiplicity of things. The exact itinerary for the 3-M'ers hasn't been set yet because this will be the first year that people have gone on a three month trip to India. From the sounds of it, the remaining members of the team (after the rest have returned home) will head to a more urban locale, working with Indian Pastors in the region and maybe even doing some work with an Orphanage. I'm looking forward to doing work with Indian Pastors, especially since there is often so much zeal and passion in an area but so little good biblical training. Whatever I can do or add in my short time there, I will be glad to do so. As with the rest of it, good follow through and continual communication is needed. There is no use thinking that Christianity will thrive in a region from a hit-and-run approach. I used to be involved with TSCF while I was at Auckland University, and they in turn raised money for IFES which helped sponsor Indian pastors through a Bible college. I wonder, will any of my past TSCF contacts will help me achieve more when I go over there? I'll have to let a few know and see what happens.
So, I've got until about October to raise the rest of the money. I think I can do it, particularly if I get a part-time job (hopefully I'll be able to raise it all and more, if I do).
It's going to be the biggest experience of my life so far. When I get back, I'm sure I'll go crazy when I see the luxury and the apathy of our society rolled into a neat Western ball. It's going to be exciting. It's going to be scary. By the end of it I'm sure I'll have wanted to go home more than once. By the end of it I'm sure that I'll wish that I could stay forever.
There is going to be more than a little spiritual warfare happening against my favour, so hopefully the community at home will dedicate themselves to prayer for myself and my team. We're going to need it.
More than anything, I myself pray that the team that goes with me will be sensitive to the needs and the desires of the people that they go to reach. I pray that we will put others before our own desire to have a good time, and not use the trip only as a chance for personal growth.
And so it begins! Thanks, Myra.