WE’VE ALL HEARD
about how destitute so many in India are.
But do we really understand, when we read it from the safety of our living rooms here in Wisconsin?
One of Ripon’s clergy certainly does, and those memories remain fresh in his mind. It was such a rich experience, I’ll let Ripon’s Immanuel United Methodist Church’s “Pastor Paul” tell it in his own words, by and large.
Here is his story.
Drawn from Rev. Nul-ton’s report upon returning: Now that I’m back to people with an accent like mine, I’m sorting out my reactions to the intense experiences. It was a psychedelic trip, with colors and sounds and smells and tastes and vehicles and people flashing before us much of the time. Thankfully our accommodations at a German Catholic retreat center were quiet and beautiful as a shelter from the storm.
It was a richly rewarding time in India.
I saw one American in a month.
My roots are in small town Wisconsin but I need to get out of town occasionally to connect with a bigger Jesus in the rest of the world ...
Our purpose in going to India was to teach conversational English to children in an orphanage. Fifteen adult volunteers from various churches in Wisconsin and three Indians taught 28 kids for three weeks. We used interactive and real-life situations to present programs in English ...
Our location was Nagamalai, just 3 km west of Madurai in Tamil Nadu state in south India. We resided and did our morning teaching at a German Catholic retreat center ...
Temperature was in the 90s during the day and 80s at night. We kept our room doors and windows closed to keep out mosquitoes and creatures of the night. This meant the rooms were hotter than the hallways and we relied on our ceiling fan to keep the air moving. We still put on mosquito repellent and slept under mosquito nets.
There was a 6-inch lizard who stayed behind the picture of the Madonna on my wall during the day and went out at night. Power went off for a few hours a day, not at the same time each day. The main inconvenience was losing work or not being able to check email on the computer. ...
The joy of the trip for me was the children. Kamali had a permanent huge smile.
Jebisha is an 11-year-old who organized five others to do a beautiful dance to music in their fairy dresses. Muhannapriya’s father died of AIDS, her mother is dying of AIDS. She wants to be a doctor. She tried so hard in one lesson to get the words right to the caterer’s tools including “coppeefot.” Induja and Jothi and Nandhini picked up the messages quickly and helped the other girls get it.
Abraham learned the chords on the guitar and keyboard quicker than anyone I’ve taught and could sense changes without looking at the music. Aravindsamy wanted to try the trombone, guitar, iPod and camera before anyone else got a chance. One girl wanted me to come and teach her more about the cost of living in America, even after our time ran out.
What will happen to those kids, I wonder? I left part of myself with them. I see their faces when I pray. They made the trip for me....
To read the entire column, see the Sept. 16 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.