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Category Archives: Mission Trip

Praising God from St. Petersburg!

Nauta Family in St Petersburg

Check out this photo of the Nauta Family, including daughter Elya (left), taken from Skype this morning! John Nauta checked in from St. Petersburg with the BIG news that the Judge approved their adoption of Elya!

The Nauta’s thank WCSG’s listening family for praying them through the entire process!

Hear the story from John himself HERE.

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India by the numbers…

photo by John BalyoIn 10 days, we spent 34 hours on planes, 60 hours on a bus. We spent time with 185 kids in 1 orphanage and 2 schools. Donations for those kids totaled nearly 500 pounds!

All glory goes to God for an amazing journey to Manali and New Delhi. Our team of 17 will never be the same. Thank you for your prayers and support for the Team!

If you’d like to experience a similar life-changing journey, consider joining us in January for an Orphan Outreach trip to Kenya.  -JB

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Our Final Day in India

Headed to the airport for the 24 hour trip back home. Departing Delhi today with wheels down in GR tomorrow afternoon. Really, really good trip. Home soon.


Our last full day began bright and early by leaving the hotel at eight and arriving at the school where our group of kids would be. This slum would be similar in sight, sound and smell to the one we visited yesterday except it seemed to be less populated. But then again, it was Saturday morning.

And like yesterday, the locals were certainly curious. We walked the 200ish meters to the school where we were greeted by 35-40 uniformed boys and girls sitting outside on an orange carpet beneath a thin red tarp. “Awkward” best describes initial contact in such settings, especially when there are barriers of cultural and social adjustment. But as it was true yesterday, so too was it true today that a song, a hug, a smile, a spoken hello made face to face can melt the ice faster than the heat of an Indian morning in July.

After the music played, the story of Jesus was told again, pictures were colored, bead necklaces were made, gifts were given, long good byes were said, and our time was over before we knew it. One might wonder if the brief time we had would really make a difference for the kids, but its more than probable our visit was as much about what God would do in our lives as well.

We look over this past week and note that India and all it offers is much like life, and in every part of it there is grace. When life gets hot and sticky, there is Grace. When life looks poor and impoverished, there is Grace. When life gets dirty and smells bad, there is Grace. When life looks ugly and hopeless, there is Grace. We have seen Jesus in so many faces; seen now more clearly through the brokenness and poverty of our own souls.

– Chris Lemke

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Sharing God’s Love in the Slums

photo by John Balyo

Today was definitely an eye-opener for the team. After an hour at a local doll museum in Dehli with some of the kids we’ll be visiting tomorrow, we grabbed lunch and started the two-hour trek across town to the slums in northern Dehli. It’s hard to adequately describe the smell, mixed with the scenes of poverty outside the bus window. When it was time to stop and walk the dirt paths to the school, there was a bit of hesitation before we funneled into the gathering crowd of excited kids and curious adults. The kids at the school had gathered on this late afternoon specifically to greet us. We sang songs, Annette played some music on her violin, then we did crafts and stories with an emphasis on Christ’s love.

I’m sure the team would agree that we’re seeing the power of a simple smile, wave or hug to say (even without words): “You’re important and God loves you!”  – John Balyo

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Off to Agra & The Taj Mahal

WCSG India Team visits the Taj Mahal

If you want to get somewhere fast in India, you won’t. The 5am drive to the airport went quickly given there were fewer cars and we were going down the mountain. And check-in was also quick given we were the only flight out of the airport that day. Yep. That day. One gate. One flight and a staff of 15-20 to help our group of 21.

With everything going so well it should come as no surprise that our flight was delayed due to inclement weather – by just over three hours, long enough for us to get to know India’s version on the TSA and long enough to force the cancellation of our time with the kids in one of the slums we were to visit.

By the time we settled back into Delhi, we had time to check out the malls adjacent to our hotel and grab dinner. It’s fair to say you wouldn’t really notice any difference between Delhi and Grand Rapids shopping except for the fact there were as many people as you might find just before Christmas, and interesting enough there were security checks and officers at all the mall entrances and several stationed the mall.

It’s not every day you get to see one of seven modern wonders of the world, so the thought of a five-hour bus ride didn’t sway us from the adventure to see the Taj Mahal. Throw in a stop to pet monkeys and have a king cobra charmed on our bus – it’s true – and the ride was even more a buzz, or in this case, a hiss and some flute music for a moment. On to the Taj.

Words fall short of trying to describe the awesomeness of the Taj Mahal (Crown Palace). The mausoleum complex located in Agra is absolutely stunning, with the main attraction made from the best marble and complete with in-laid onyx, agate, and other colorful rock. The craftsmanship is unmatched. Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal (or Mogul) Emperor, built it as a loving memorial to his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth.  It took more than 20,000 laborers 22 years to complete.

Such a beautiful building sets in stark contrast to its surroundings. So much of India – and we’ve certainly seen enough given our travels – is impoverished, physically and spiritually. And the people – so many people – to think that God loves each and every one so much that He sent His most beautiful Son to rescue our impoverished souls. There is no greater sacrifice of love to rival His gift, and there is no greater thing that will ever be built, than what God is building in us, a Church where the even the gates of Hell will not prevail against us. How awesome is that!

-Chris Lemke

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