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Hello all, this is Abigail here! Looks like it is my turn to here blog on our fourth day at CEM. This is a really hard blog post for me, because I truly feel that there are not enough words to accurately describe my experience here so far. We have been here four days and they have been some of the busiest I have ever had in my life. They have also been one of the most relaxing and stress free days I have ever had. While I cannot speak for everyone here I feel most, if not all of them, would agree.

It is 4:23 pm and I’m currently watching both the Communitas and Kensington teams out of the office door playing games with the children, or showing them photos from back home. The children here at CEM did not have school today. I think both the children, and our teams, were happy about this. It gave us a day that we dedicated to do nothing but focus on the children here. Today it was the CEM talent show and playing games.

Some of the children here at CEM showed off some of their many talents. I’ve learned I need to start taking Indian dance lessons. Even at a young age, these children sure do own that stage. Of course, our U.S. teams are not to be outdone, and we also participated in the talent show with our own skits, singing, and dancing. While I sat there and watching the kids on stage, the ones watching, and all our team watching and recording these performances I just sat there in awe. I am in INDIA! I am halfway across the world, and I have seen more of God’s presence here in India in these last four days than I see back home in the States a majority of the time.

These children, by definition, have nothing. However, they are so much more fulfilled than most of the kids and adults I know in the United States. They have a faith that is so deep in the Lord that it is just mind blowing to me. They don’t have rooms full of toys, closets that are bursting with clothes, cell phones, Christmas trees during the holidays with presents spilling out everywhere, or mothers and fathers to hug and tuck them in at night. However, they love others, and our Lord, unlike anything I have ever witnessed.

I have also spent quite a bit of time with the women of the Agape home. There are two women there in particular that I have grown attached too – Chitamah and Yankamah. Please forgive me on the spelling of their names. I am spelling them phonetically, and not how they are actually spelled. These two women are so absolutely amazing. We do not speak the same language, but I have had some of the hardest and longest laughs with these two amazing women. Our group determined that I am the younger version of Chitamah, and that when I become old, we will be very much the same. We got along so well that she asked if I could bring her with my back home in my suitcase (thank you to our translators!), that she wanted my outfit, I let her wear my sunglasses, and ended it with telling me when I come back next year to make sure my nose is pierced.  I could have sat with her all day if I could have!

That last request struck me because both the children and the women of the Agape home have asked, if not begged, me to come back next year. I never really gave it much thought in the beginning. I was so overwhelmed with everything that was going on around me. Now, I couldn’t think of NOT coming back next February. It is really hard for me to comprehend that I will be leaving here on Friday. I know I will be glad to be back in my own apartment, in my own bed, and have a warm shower. Yet, I know the minute I am finally done unpacking, and preparing for the week ahead of me back home, and have finally had a moment to relax that my heart and mind will be with the people here at CEM. I will be counting down the next ~365 days until I can come back and see everyone.

God is absolutely amazing, and I could not be any more grateful to Him for allowing me to come here. Thank you. Thank you so much.

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imageThis is my first time to India, and the last place I ever thought I’d be. I felt God calling me to come on this trip though. This was certainly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Multiple times a day I am blown away by the outpouring of love these people have for me, and they barely know me. We are in a very poor area, but you constantly see people smiling and they seem so happy. A lot of people will ask you to pray for them too.

It’s moments like this that make me see that sometimes the only thing a person can hold onto here is their faith. The children wake up every morning and have chapel where they talk to God. They love Jesus and they love everyone here. All the smiles and hugs have been genuine here. We can learn a lot from them about faith. Maybe sometimes we could love a little more and smile more too. I can definitely see God’s work here at the CEM campus.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see” ~ Hebrews 11:1

Nikki

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Hello to my family and dear friends.

All of you that know me well, and even not that well, know I am almost never at a loss for words, I feel that way here.  The multilevel experience of  being in India and living and working with the children at the Christ Evangelical Mission has managed to take me to a place of awe and wonder. 

My best intentions were to journal every day and blog every day, India had other ideas. It’s hard to blog when the power is out for the third time that day, thank goodness for the extra flashlights Jim brought. As far as writing in my journal, try wanting to even find the time when 155 children all want you to talk to them, play with them, take their pictures and just touch you. I can write in my journal on the long trip home.

I am only wise in that I know that I don’t know how long it will take to process this journey. I am more than thankful for my time here, actually amazed that I don’t care when the power goes out,  it will come back on soon enough. I still haven’t touched on the fact that the majority of the 155 children are orphans, the rest brought here by their families that can’t really afford to do anything for them and believe being here will give them a chance for a better life.

I miss those dear to me but I really feel that you are here with me every minute and I look forward to sharing all of this when I return.

Faith, hope and love to all.

Sharon

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Prema means love in Telugu. I do not speak Telugu but in the three days I’ve spent here in Rajahmundry, India I’ve come to see that the language of love is universal. Jesus knew this well when he said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

I was able to speak the universal language of love yesterday as we painted the nails of the elderly at the Agape Old Age Home. They spoke it back to us with smiles and laughter. I saw it as we massaged their arms and hands with lotion and they responded with expressions of relaxation and thankfulness. I was reminded of the powerful example Jesus set for us of love, when He washed the disciples feet.

The joy that the children and orphans who live here get from the simplest acts of love is astounding. This morning we walked all the kids to school. The whole twenty minute walk we held hands and enjoyed each other’s company. Then we hugged them and sent them off to school with love. This simple act of love is something I do for my own children daily. These kids don’t get that very often but today they were overjoyed to have it. When their school day ended a little boy named Rajesh came running out of the school and ran right into Jay’s arms for a hug! He was delighted to have his new friend there to walk him home from school.

The people here are so easy to love because they love us so easily. No matter what language you speak or where you live we all want to love and be loved. For this week, we get the gift of loving and receiving love here in this special place called CEM! A place where they are providing food, shelter, clothing and education to those that otherwise would be without.

“We love because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

As the kids here like to say, ” Jesus loves me, Jesus loves you. So, I love you.”

Natalie and Jay Richardson

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After 4 flights and many hours of travel, we were exhausted and ready to be on campus. Most of us knew what to expect upon arrival, but it is still so exciting to be greeted by the children in this way. We walked individually between two rows of the cheering children as they threw flower petals on us. For those of us that were returning there was anticipation of seeing the children we already knew and grew to love. For the new team members it was an overwhelming, joyful experience, especially overwhelming afterwards when the children raced into us and immediately wanted us to know their names. Like all of us, the children love to be recognized and called by name. It is so difficult at first to remember only a few names, but after you start to pick up their names and see their faces light up in response, you try harder to practice their names to show them how much you care about each of them. The energy of those first few minutes with the children is magical. All of the travel instantly becomes worthwhile.

My favorite (Victoria) moments with the kids are the candid moments when we are playing and something unexpected happens. Someone trips on their jump rope or says something silly or looks at you in such a way that you connect. I feel like the girls that I met last year are long lost best friends of mine. We don’t know too much about each other, but still we KNOW each other. And it’s God’s love that links us together in this way. My favorite (Kyle) part was walking the kids to and from school today. I loved learning more about where they are from, their families, and what they want to become. I already feel a connection to some of the boys and know I will grow closer to them with each passing day. We both loved teaching crafts to the J.E.M.’s kids today and are looking forward to tomorrow’s craft. Hopefully we will be able to sleep more tonight so we will be able to match the energy of the children tomorrow. We are eager to see how we can be used this week and we are ready to show so much love to these people. God is doing amazing things in India and we are both so grateful to be a part of his work here.

– Victoria and Kyle

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For the past several years, the team blog has been a fantastic way for all of our family and friends to get live day to day updates on short term trips to the CEM campus in Dowlaiswaram, India. It is a live real time journal expressing what is happening on the trip on many different levels. It is a great way to pray for us as we know, this is ultimately a battle for the hearts and minds of precious people in advancing Jesus’ Kingdom in places like India.

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II360 Year End

Merry Christmas!

By now, you are in the middle of the final preparations for the holiday and may even be dreading the thought of Aunt Millie’s fruitcake on Christmas Day. But we have great news for you!

The Impact India 360 Board has come together and have unanimously agreed to personally match the first $10,000 of giving from now until 11:59pm on December 31st. You have the chance to double your impact and make the lives of hundreds of children and elderly in Dowlaiswaram brighter on this holiday
season.

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editor’s note: Any newcomer to CEM can experience quite a range of emotions. This place has a way of drawing the best and worst from even the seasoned veterans. What follows are team member and newcomer Vickie’s unfiltered thoughts and the story of God in the midst of it.

Enjoy!

After five planes, a bus ride and two days of non-stop travel, we were looking forward to rest and to sleep, laying flat instead of upright.  We flopped down on our mattresses with one-tenth of the padding of our normal beds in the U.S. and had the best, worst sleep ever.

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I left home several days ago to begin this amazing journey and my suitcase contained letters and cards from loved ones.  My wonderful family and friends took time to write me notes and cards of encouragement and love. Beautiful prayers and scripture, pictures and even funny cards! I have been opening them daily and been greatly blessed. What a delight to know that so many are praying for me, for this trip, for this team and for this place.

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Hands-1268     Wrinkles, callouses, bad backs and swollen knees – prayers, hugs, lotion and… nail polish!?   One moment I’m crying and the next I’m in tears of laughter.  Yesterday and today we visited the residents at the Agape Old Age Home. I’ll admit, they are what pushed me over the edge to jump into this trip. I’ve always loved hearing about and supporting the work CEM does with the children, but whenever I’d see the photos of the bent and wrinkled old folks, I’d find tears running down my face – not quite knowing why.

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