By Matt Varghese: “Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.” (Psalm 23:3-4) God kept re-iterating this verse in my head from the moment I met up with Shibu who told me about all the various diseases I may catch in India, till the point I saw God shine through the eyes of the kids that have been through the deepest darkness. It is something to experience the presence of God till sitting in a room filled with kids who were rescued from the streets of Mumbai, singing and praising God with all their hearts minds and souls.
I didn’t know what to expect before I went on this trip, but this experience is one I will never forget. I came here thinking I would be giving something to the kids here, but they taught me more than I could ever give them. Any bad day we have had and may have in the future couldn’t possibly equate to what these kids have gone through and will continue to go through. Despite all the challenges they face in their lives, they fully and whole heartedly trust that God will take care of them. I have so much to write about this amazing trip, and not everything can be captured in words or pictures, but I will try my best to give everyone reading an idea of what Day 6 was like.
*** Disclaimer*** having been in India for 6 days, English is back to being my second language, so please excuse the grammatical mistakes 🙂
In all seriousness, this trip was amazing all by itself, but to be able to share it with the brothers and sisters of the SMR family (which includes Josh and Jilu) whose characters emulated the love of God was priceless.
There were so many highlights of the day, I selected a few cause trust me you don’t want me to type out ALL that. Shibu and his super skinny band of brothers from Mumbai set up the EMR system at Ashagram. Shibu not only configured all the computers, but taught the doctors and the BTC staff how to use the EMR system. He taught them how to correct any issues that may arise all the while carrying his 200 pound…I mean kilogram bag on his back and taking amazing pictures. In addition to all this, he also took the time to give pointers to Bruce Lee aka Raj, Bala, and Sandeep (the BTC communication staff) how to perfect their picture taking skills. Simply Amazing! (Insert side to side Indian head nod here)
Remember I told you before about how our team was filled with crazy talented people…well another one of those talented individuals is Josh. He too wore many hats during this trip. In addition to taking pics, shooting videos and answering ‘Appa’ aka Jim’s random check up calls (who by the way happened to randomly call every time we were eating.. and probably thinks that’s all we did on this trip) had a deadline to submit a video to CNN. Josh sacrificed sleep, and personal hygiene to sort through countless hours of video and pictures to create a video that left us all speechless. His efforts were justified by the reaction he got from Uncle Devaraj whose eyes filled up with tears after watching Josh’s masterpiece. You would think its smooth sailing from this point on, but little did we know Josh’s adventure was just beginning.
What I’m about to say is one of the many stories of how God was watching and guiding our every step. Since we were in the middle of the jungle with little or no access to the internet, we decided to go into the nearby town to upload the video to CNN. According to the BTC staff this should only take 20 minutes. Well we didn’t know 20 minutes in India really meant four hours. Just an FYI, everything in India is either 20 minutes away or takes 20 minutes. Any who to make matters worse Josh forgot his laptop charger at Ashagram center and only had 2 hours of battery to accomplish this task. To make the long story short, it took four hours to send the video to CNN and literally seconds after the video was uploaded to CNNís website, Josh’s laptop died. After praising God and giving each other high fives we caught the BTC bus to Ashagram. The bus’s battery died…TWICE and we all had to push the bus each time to get it started. As you can see by the pic below it was Josh the Jolly brown giant and the rest of the supporting cast pushing the bus.
All this was well worth it to be greeted by the angelic voices of the kids and adults of the Ashagram community as we pulled up to Ashagram. Kosj (our own multi talented Doogie Howser), Michael (the music director) and the Ashagram band lead the praise and worship portion of the Ashagram Community event. In addition, the kids of Ashagram showcased their various amazing talents. The event concluded with Uncle Devaraj giving us a sermon during which he asked brother Kosj and Brother Josh to share their amazing testimony. If all this wasn’t enough, Uncle Devaraj and everyone at BTC presented us with gifts that they made at Ashagram.
You would think the day is over by now, but it wasn’t. Even after a long day of seeing patients and doing various other activities these tired doctors stayed awake till 1:00 am to input the remaining Medical Charts into the EMR system; a task that had to be completed in order for the nurses and doctors of Ashagram to utilize the EMR system properly.
Even though I would like to save everyone here and maybe take a few kids back with me in my luggage, as Shainu mentioned, I find peace of mind knowing that our God who saved these kids will continue to be with them and provide them with everything they need. From the kids at Jeevan Jyoti orphanage, to the children and staff at Ashagram, and to the kids and women God has yet to save, you will be in my prayers on a daily basis. God has used Uncle Devaraj and the Bombay Teen challenge team to do His ministry in a capacity that is beyond my understanding. All I/we can do is continue to keep them in prayers and support them in whatever capacity.