Shopping in India

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I want to acknowledge the generous support and giving from members of Jericho Road in Port Alberni and Parksville (Vancouver Island, Canada) – without your support none of what is being described in these blog entries would be possible…. so the sharing as best as I can with you along the way is an appreciation of our team effort to make a small difference where there is a big need.

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Yesterday was nearly ten hours of shopping for the orphanage children and the family who support them. One of the most privileged and wonderful days of my life in a context where every little thing is appreciated and gratitude is so great for what we would regard as so little. As promised to the wives we wanted to buy them saris. Then I asked, Who is going to come with us to choose?” “My father will,” Raj replied. “Oh no,” I said, “the blessing is for them to come and choose, so that’s an important part of the deal.” We laughed and smiled (I think) and eventually all piled into the van and headed for the town of Tamali about 40 minutes away.

Buying bicycles
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Driving is a survival sport that includes overtaking anyone in sight, just missing pedestrians, children, cows, dogs, bicycles and whatever else strays into the road. In villages everyone drives and the first one to hesitate loses right of way. Of course the British must have said that the engine will cut out if you don’t honk your horn every 15 seconds…. so the noise level is a cacophony (lovely word) of sound all around. There are millions of people everywhere plying there trade and occupying space to eke out a living. Others wheel their wares around and the sound of voices competes with the vehicles to make for a bustling of life unheard of in the west. No big shopping malls but small business owners offering food, bicycles, cooking utensils and everything you can imagine…. seems to me if we take away the motorized transport this is how the world lived until 200 years ago. It feels like stepping back into biblical times where communication and community are valued. There’s no real rush or urgency… no sense of violence or danger at all…. just a beautiful chaos and gentle friendliness.

WE bought Saris!
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Our mission in shopping was to buy as much of the wish list as possible…. the total we calculated was under $1,000. First stop was the saris so that the women could return by bus before the children finished school. You enter a small store, first removing your shoes, and then review items until the choice is made. It was one of the most moving moments to see their excitement and joy – these items only cost about $35 each. Then we went to a children’s store and bought clothes for Rau’s two sons.

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Time for lunch of rice and curry and off to the cloth merchant to select cloth for a shirt and trousers fro Jim and myself. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was their way of honoring us and we would be wearing the clothes at the men’s conference. Being a humble man I submitted and was measured for the items, as was Jim….. we also check in for the cloth to be given to each pastor from which they could have their own shirts and pants made.

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Other items for the orphanage included 30 metal plates and cups, ten slate drawing boards, floor mats for the children to sit on, three bicycles for older girls to get to school and others to utilize as needed, and ten metal suitcases which two children will share to hold their belongings. We have also ordered 30 sweaters that should be collected tomorrow.

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The sun had long set by the time we rattled and bumped our way after negotiating a small truck to transport the items home. One of the priorities of Sanjeeva and his sons was to buy items with us present so that we could witness where money was going. They are extremely diligent about honoring what is given and want to be transparent in the process. Another great purchase was a sewing machine so that Glory can fix the children’s clothes and possibly make more…. where would you go these days to buy a sewing machine with a manually-operated pedal…right here.

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I can’t put words around some of my thoughts and emotions relating to the needs here and the lifestyle I have…. the so much contrasted with the so little…. the joy of life in eyes and relationships rooted in community contrasted with us living in self-sufficient independence with spare rooms and tranquilizers…. It is what it is….. but exposure helps create appreciation, awareness, and possibly even a lifestyle change – not from guilt but rather because our hearts get touched and our vision expands as our need to have lessens with our desire to release more to others…. It’s a glorious challenge and a great honor to be here……

And there’s also great sadness and pain as you’ll see in the next blog as we visit a small group of lepers….

John Cox

Offering Pastoral Counselling to encourage, heal, transform, and give hope.

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