We left this past Thursday afternoon and arrived late Friday night in Delhi 21 hours later. We were supposed to fly to Manali first thing Saturday morning but that flight was cancelled due to a pilot strike. We unexpectedly spent our first full day in India in a bus driving through thick traffic out of Delhi into the Himalayan mountains.
At least it got dark and the roads narrower and bumpier and filled with hairpin turns overlooking bottomless valleys. We’d have been bored otherwise. And we wouldn’t make such a big deal of it except it was ALL day – 18 hours, the last eight being in the mountains.
We arrived in the village of Pinri/Manali at 4am and were settled in an hour for a short rest. At 10am Sunday – after taking in long moments of taking in the Himalayas all around us – we got together for breakfast: eggs, pancakes and toast, Indian style (which amazingly was much like back home). A little more settling in and then we were on our way by 1pm for a half hour hike from our guest house to the orphanage.
The orphanage is run by a small, dear lady (probably in her 60s) who’s been there since she started the place 30 years ago. But what she lacks in height she’ll rock your world with her incredible demeanor of grace, humility, respect and service. She has a small staff that’s equally humble, and respected by the 80 kids (ages 5-22) who reside there.
Our team went into action loving on the kids, playing with beach balls and soccer balls. Because the kids spoke English so well (as well as Hindi), we had no trouble carrying on good conversations. We brought new white t-shirts and all kinds of markers, paints and puff paints for the kid to make their own shirts. When we were done, the outside fence was a phenomenal gallery of artwork that we enjoyed with the kids.
Following pizza for dinner – a rare treat for the kids we had planned for them before getting there – we were treated to an evening program of traditional Indian dance and music and the awesome angelic voices of the kids. I’ll never hear “Here I Am To Worship” the same again. So simple and so beautiful.
We left the orphanage after dark and took a bus back to our guest house. The team is tired but healthy and even more energized for tomorrow (Monday). We have a really good team who have melded well together and have shown great ability to adapt given the many changes we’ve had even since we arrived.
By God’s grace, the seeds being sown will continue to grow good fruit in the lives of those we serve, for us, and for the churches we all call home. Internet is spotty at best, but we’ll try to upload/update as possible. Thanks for your prayers! Blessings all, from India!
– Chris Lemke