McMurry in Motion: El Paso

December 18th, 2014

As I am snuggling into my “bed” on the hard floor tonight, I begin thinking about the past two days. It is insanely crazy to think that it has only been two full days since we arrived in El Paso. In the two short days, our team has done everything from cleaning out a moldy basement to scrubbing chairs in the daycare (which seems easy enough, but is actually extremely tedious and frustrating). However, throughout the two days, a fee things have stood out.

First of all, there is Joel, who is perhaps the nicest man in the world. From the second we arrived here at the Houchen Center, he has made us feel completely at home with his warm laughs and his loving hugs (which smell really good by the way). His servant heart is just so evident and contagious.

One thing that we had the privilege of doing today was handing out coats to some of the kids in the community. The joy on their faces when they got to pick out their own coat was absolutely priceless. Especially at this time of the year, with Christmas right around the corner, it is extremely humbling to see this joy over something so necessary as a jacket. The manners that they had were also amazing. Even if they didn’t speak English, either a very enthusiastic or a very shy “thank you” came our way from each child.

We were also given the opportunity to tour a branch of the enunciation buikding called Casa Vides. Here, we learned about the servantship that they do through helping the migrants who cross the border for all different reasons. This was another amazing experience. It made me and many others stop and think about what exactly it is God is calling us to do. For me, it reminded me that God has called me to have a huge servant’s heart in every way possible, both at home and maybe even in spanish speaking communities one day.

Throughout the few days we have been here, there has been serious times, times of fellowship, and of course a LOT of times for laughter. All in all, I would say it’s been the perfect first half of the trip.

#MiMElPaso

The Culture in India

July 22nd, 2014

Every day I spend here in India, I learn something new and exciting! The culture is so overwhelming.

Day 3 was a very exciting and interesting day. I started off the day with helping Mark Waters teach a religion class at the school. This was very interesting, because there were a variety of religions in the class. After that we went to the Mini Taj Mahal. This was probably one of the most interesting things.

The next day was filled with even more new and exciting things! We ended up going to two Hindu temples and one Sikh Gurdwara. While here my definition of hospitality was extended to a whole new horizon. While visiting the places the people there did everything they could to make us feel welcomed! And then to add the that, when we went to the gurdwara, the Sikh lay person that was giving us a tour, sat down with us at a table and had a meal with us. It was beautiful! I continue to see similarities between these religions and Christianity.

After that we went to eat with people from a leprosy colony. This was a very heart filling experience. These people are rejected by society and thrown out to fend for themselves. Just by sitting down next to them, holding there hand, and feeding them a meal really made my heart warm.

While sitting with with them I could really see God. Every time I held there hand I was touching God and every time I was looking into there eyes, I was looking into the eyes of God. It was so beautiful!!

I can definitely feel God moving here and I can’t wait to see what we experience next.

Until Next Time

Grace and Peace,

Jack Payne

All Shall Be Well

July 20th, 2014

Dear Lord,

Today I pray you continue to make true the promise you gave to Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Thank you for today, Amen

These last two days have been a whirlwind of emotions for myself and our entire team. Yesterday we had the great privilege of beginning our morning in devotion and prayer with a group of pastors from Aurangabad who meet every Friday. We started the morning in song, which is how I would start every morning if I could! The beautiful thing about these songs was the feeling of connection. Though I had no idea what we were singing, I felt connected to the people in the church as a whole. One of the characteristics I love about song is the way it can bind any group together! God is good!

Yesterday we also got the chance to tour some of the different religious temples in Aurangabad. This is always one of the highlights for me. At some point I heard someone say, “If you are a Christian why should you need to look in other places of worship for other religions?” But I feel since I am strong in my own faith, I should be able to look at and process other religions with an open heart. The first two temples, one Hindu and the other Hare Krishna (another form of Hindu), didn’t give us a chance to be very interactive with the people of the religion. Though the last one we went to, a Sikh temple, was the exact opposite. We were shown the place of worship and had their understanding of the religion explained to us in a very kind way. We were also shown different places where people are served food and can stay for free. I feel, though, the best part of the tour was getting to sit with our guide in a “round table” setting and share what we believe with him. He asked questions and so did we!

For lunch yesterday we had the great blessing of sharing a meal with the people from the leprosy community. I enjoyed doing this much more this year because before worship we were able to divide into small groups and visit with the people. I had about four or five women in my group and one small girl. As they were telling me about themselves, the same feelings of loneliness were shared by each one. Each of them felt as if they had been abandoned, whether it had been by family or community. But each women was so beautiful in a very unique way. Looking into the eyes of those women was where I saw God yesterday.

Today the women on our team lead a Women’s Conference for some of the Christian women in Aurangabad. Our theme was “Share Your Story.” To begin Jessica gave a brief talk about shame, vulnerability, and worthiness within community. Afterwards each person from our team shared a small glimpse of their life. The last thing we did was to wash the feet of each women who attended the conference. Having my feet touched is a normal thing, but to touch the feet of these women meant so much more. Touching someone’s feet is seen as touching the worst, most dirty part of their body. After we washed their feet, they almost demanded to wash ours! It was so meaningful to visit, share, laugh, touch, and cry with these amazing women of God!

Last night after, our visit with the people from the leprosy community, I had a daunting thought. A few nights ago I realized I have begun to ignore the beggars on the streets, but the only way some of the women in my group could make money is to beg on the streets… Would I ignore those women? Would I even glance their way? What if they recognized me and I didn’t recognize them?

~ Caitie Wood

India Changes Jack

July 19th, 2014

Today has been an incredible day! We really got to interact with the people today and especially the children here.  We went and visited the school and children’s home.

While at the children’s home we were given our families for our time here in India. I was given 4 of the most Christlike boys I have ever met. These boys are only about 10-13 (I think) and there hospitality is overwhelming!!  When they would see me sitting on the floor they would run all the way to another room to get me a chair. Then, when I started to sweat they would wipe the sweat off of my forehead.

These kinds of things really get me thinking  of how are hospitality is in America and how we can learn so much from India!! This place is just so beautiful and I can’t wait to see what I get taught next!!

Until next time.

Grace and Peace,

Jack Payne

Back “Home”

July 19th, 2014

07/15/2014

We made it to India!

At the current moment I am wide awake and I really need to be sleeping. It’s a little past 1am here. However thanks to not being able to sleep in planes I was so exhausted I only woke up long enough to have dinner. So this makes a perfect time to blog.

I can’t explain the feeling of arriving in Aurangabad! It feels like I came home! I literally can not fully explain how excited I am to be back reunited with this place and culture. We get to see our kids tomorrow and go to the school. I can’t wait to hold my India children! I miss them just as much as I miss my Julia, because I love them as my own.

I also miss everyone in the US. I was so weird to not wake up to Raven or walk to my office or go to monks or hang out with Hannah, Logan, and Tanner or go to Aldersgate on Sunday. While I still want to eventually be in India full time I know that right now in my life isn’t the time to pack up and move here. And knowing that doesn’t change anything about how much I want to be here it only makes me realize how much “family” I have both at home and here.

Peace and blessing,
Tereza

Ps. I don’t think I ever will like the flights to get here!

India Update

July 19th, 2014

Hello Everyone,

We will have student blogs to post soon. In the meantime, I want to offer a quick update. So far, we have spent time getting to know the children at New Beginnings Children’s Home and St. John’s English School. We prayed with local pastors at their weekly ecumenical prayer meeting. We engaged intercultural learning experiences through visits to two Hindu temples and a Sikh Gurdwara (temple). We shared lunch yesterday with a group of beautiful people from a leper colony, many of whom have been rejected by their families. We ate, sang, and prayed with them.

More to come….

Grace and peace,

Mark

 

We are in Aurangabad!

July 16th, 2014

Dear Friends,

Students participating on the India mission trip will begin posting blogs soon. In the meantime, I want to let you know that we have arrived safely in Aurangabad, India. It is a delight to see our friends here. We will begin our work today with St. John English School and New Beginnings Children’s Home. We have built relationships with children at each location over the past three years. I’m sure they have all grown a lot since last year. Can’t wait to see them!

Grace and peace,
Mark Waters

India 2014

July 8th, 2014

Our McMurry India Mission Team departs this Sunday, July 13. Once again this year, we will work with our great friends at Life Light Ministries in Aurangabad, a city located in the state of Maharashtra.

Team members are Thomas Cleary, Martin Finau, Dakota Hartness, Camille Martinez, Jack Payne, Tereza Sliter, Jessica Watson, Rachel Wolfe, Caitie Wood, and me. We invite your prayers as we travel and as we serve together with our friends in Aurangabad.

Watch for posts from various team members as we narrate the highlights of the trip.

 

 

Dr. LeMasters’ Blog

July 24th, 2013

Dr. Philip LeMasters spent two weeks with us in India. Upon returning to the states he wrote a marvelous blog reflecting on his experience here. I hope you’ll read it:

Thoughts on Christianity in India

           At the risk of drawing overly broad conclusions, I would like to share a few thoughts about what American Christians may learn from their brothers and sisters in India.  A small religious minority in a country with a vast population and a wide mix of cultures, the Indian Christians I met over the last two weeks are under no illusions of being a dominant force in their society, let alone the brokers of political power.  Their faith is not associated with a particular party or interest group; instead, it gives every impression of focusing on bearing witness to the love of Christ and maintaining the practices and attitudes of discipleship.
 One such practice is ministry to the poor, needy, and outcast.  For example, Light Life Ministries in Aurangabad runs a home for orphans and other children whose parents cannot properly care for them, as well as a school and a ministry to lepers.  St. John’s English School serves children from families of very modest means who want a private education superior to that of the public system.  When it comes to lepers, literally no one else in the city has anything to do with them.  The lepers we met included people of different religious backgrounds, but they all experienced the presence of the Lord Jesus in the hospitality shown by Light Life Ministries.
Outside the city of Nagpur, India’s Orthodox Church (which traces its heritage back to St. Thomas the Apostle) sponsors a theological seminary where the students begin their day with prayers at 5 am, share a disciplined communal life, and have permission to go into town once a week for a few hours on Sunday afternoon.   By our society’s hedonistic standards, that kind of spiritual commitment by young men is hard to understand.   But to prepare pastors who seek God’s kingdom above all else, at least a bit of asceticism is in order.  Adjacent to St. Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary is a home for mentally retarded children called the Prerana Special School, which provides a residential education for vulnerable kids who are easily neglected and abused in any society.
By running schools, seminaries, and ministries to the weak and marginalized, Indian Christians manifest the love and mercy of Jesus Christ both by what they say and what they do.  In a society where religious conversion is complicated and it is often a real accomplishment for different groups simply to live in peace, the Christians seek to treat everyone as the Lord treats us all.  Their practices count for little by worldly standards and certainly will not make them rich, famous, or powerful.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, because our Lord’s  kingdom is not of this world.  Yes, we American Christians have a lot to learn from our brothers and sisters in India, for they remind us to live out what we proclaim with a generous and humble spirit.

http://easternchristianinsights.blogspot.in/2013/07/thoughts-on-christianity-in-india.html

Additional blogs from the India team

July 16th, 2013

We will update this blog soon. In the meantime, here are personal blogs from several members of our India team:

http://chelseagriffithinindia.blogspot.in/ (Chelsea Griffith’s blog)

http://caitieisgoingtoindia.wordpress.com/ (Caitie Wood’s blog)

http://hartnessdakota.wordpress.com/ (Dakota Hartness’s blog)

http://terezagoestoindia.blogspot.com/ (Tereza Sliter’s blog)

http://lsm02e.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/day-4/ (Le’Ann Ardyono’s blog)