Thursday, February 15, 2018

Our last few days in India were spent in Gurgaon at a Campus Crusade for Christ retreat center. 
We spent Friday morning visiting classrooms of the younger students and attending a short ceremony for the staff, in which our team thanked and gave  them a gift. From ANURAG we followed 2 buses filled with 120 teenagers on a crazy drive that should have taken an hour, but instead took 3 hours due to the difficulty of finding the place. This is pretty typical since there are very few street signs. Our drivers tend to find places by driving in the general direction and periodically stopping to ask people, on the street, for help.   
We finally arrived and got settled into the guest house. This was the challenging part of the trip for all of us. We were taken a back by the accommodations, especially the bathrooms. But, we were aware that they were nicer then what most of the kids have. We got a little heat going with electric heaters and found some blankets to keep us warm. The showers were but a trickle and were either very hot or ice cold. It seems we are all very spoiled and we’re reminded to be grateful for the comfortable life we enjoy. 
Saturday morning began with worship. The students are very enthusiastic and enjoy singing and dancing in the back and in the isles. They have hand motions and movements for all the songs. They invited us to join them and loved it that we jumped in on the fun. After a serious time in prayer, the morning was turned over to us. We each shared our story and some encouragement about the power of prayer, which was the theme of the weekend. It was meaningful to listen as each one shared a different perspective and lesson that God had taught them about trusting and following Him. 
(Prem was really pleased with what we shared and used Our points for her wrap-up talk on Sunday.)
After lunch, and in the evening, we did activities with the kids, ranging from 4-square, volleyball, and some form of dodgeball, to Jewlery making and play-doh Pictionary. 
On Sunday, after worship and teaching, 14 students came forward to confess their sins and need for a savior. Our team joined them at the front and prayed over them as the wept. It was the highlight of our trip to see God move in this way. 
Another hightlight for me was that one of the kids we sponsor, Rohan, was now old enough to attend the teen camp. We were able to visit with him and ask him about his faith. He received Christ last year!
We also encouraged him to work hard in his studies. He is the only boy in a family of 7. His family will need him to help earn money to support all of them. 
He gave me a big hug before getting on the bus, which made my day. He has gotten so tall and handsome. Prem tells us that he’s a good boy!
The trip was a huge blessing for us and those at ANURAG. GOD IS GOOD!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Day 5 Thursday

We had another wonderful day in New Delhi. After breakfast and our morning devotions, our driver took us to meet Prem, and the tailoring staff and students, at the Mela Handicraft Fair. Think the MN State Fair meets a Flee Market. Crafters from all over Asia come here to sell their goods. 
The students went out on their own and we stayed with Prem and the teachers. This was the first time we’d done this and a great opportunity to spend time getting to know these ladies. We bought them all lunch, watched dancers from Napal, New Zealand, and India; and walked from booth to booth, inspecting the handmade items from many different countries
. Garrett and I (Gloria) simultaneously joined in different “mini stages” and tried our hand at Indian dancing . The staff really got a kick out of that and the crowds were taking lots of pictures of “the respected foreigners”. 
We walked with the ladies as they shopped for fabrics, furniture, and small gifts for family. Towards the end, some of us found a couple of things to bring home. 
In the evening we were dropped off at a restaurant to grab dinner. Our team decided they wanted to be adventurous and take rickshaws back to the hotel. And, what an adventure it was! Kurt and I squished into one with Hannah, while Chris rode with the boys. We laughed, (and screamed!) most of the way back as we weaved between cars, did u-turns in the middle of 4 lanes of traffic, and followed so closely to a big orange truck that we were expecting to collided at anytime. 
Back at the Justa Hotel, we met for our debrief and evening devotions. Bryce led us today and had some great insights. 
On another note, we prayed over Prem’s shoulder a couple days ago. She has been in a lot of pain, but only treating it herself. She told us today, that it is feeling much better. God is good!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Day 4 Wednesday

Hannah here: 

Wednesday we had some extra time in the morning so we started our day by encouraging each other, along with our morning devotional. Later we headed to the Taj Mahal with our wonderful tour guide Talip, a historian local to Agra who was very knowledgeable. The Taj was built in 22 years with 20,000 workers. The details were incredible!

After the Taj tour, our guide took us to some local artisan markets. The first stop was a embroidery shop. There are only 50 artisans left in the craft. The artists use silk thread and semi precious gemstones to make their beautiful masterpieces that take months to complete. The second artist that we visited in Agra specialized in inlaid marble. It was incredible to watch the craftsmen shape the pieces and make designs out of the semi precious stones. My favorite stone is the orange cornelian. It is a gemstone that light passes through. Similarity, it is our desire for God's light to shine through us.

Next we planned to go to Agra Fort, where the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty resided. However, we got in a bad traffic jam and decided to head back to Delhi instead. Traffic is known for being crazy in India. Typically there are three lanes on the highway, but usually cars form five lanes with the added animal crossings and people dodging the cars and tuk-tuks. On our four hour ride from Agra to Delhi, we stopped at a "washroom" and the power went out. We have learned this is very common in India and the locals didn't even flinch. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Day 3 - Tuesday

Kurt here:

Another great day at Anurag, Some highlights were when me, Bryce and Garrett had chai with Jacob while the woman had time alone with Prem. Chai is always a great pause each   morning and afternoon.  Then we split off and Bryce, Garrett and Hannah spent time in the classrooms. They connect so well with these kids who love to have their attention. Our team said they were amazed at the education level in which they were learning.

The Lyrek's were able to present  provisions that they purchased for their sponsor child's family. This family just had their 5th child and has found it difficult to provide basic nutrition for their children.

We spent most of the rest of the day taking updated photos of each of the several hundred sponsored kids. It was an awesome experience to see the face of each of these beautiful kids. When I wasn't taking photos, I took the opportunity to silently pray for each child.

Later in the afternoon we took off for Agra (about a 4 hour ride). Before leaving we circled in prayer with Prem and Jacob.  We prayed for our safety on the ride and specific health needs. Prayer is a way of life throughout the day at Anurag. We then headed out for our trek to the Taj Mahal.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Day 2 -Monday

Our first day at Anurag was a huge success! We started off the morning by receiving a tour of the facility by Prem. We were able to see the children practice on sewing machines, and Kurt, Bryce, and Garrett were even measured for their own garments! We saw the computer lab with the desktops/computers donated from PCC from the previous trip. Being able to be in the room with the lists of sponsored children from the specific families of PCC was a touching moment.

A highlight of the day was being able to visit of homes of various sponsor students. It was awesome to see how proud the families were of their students, and how the students took pride in their studies.

For lunch, Prem took the time to have traditional, homemade India food cooked for us. It was delicious, and everyone had to loosen up their belts. Later in the afternoon, Garrett and Bryce bonded with the school boys by playing basketball on the rooftop court while the girls sang Christian songs and played with Hannah, Gloria, and Chris.

The evening was wrapped up with Bryce getting the best haircut of his life at and Indian barbershop recommended by Jacob. And oh, it costed about $2 including the tip.

We are all very excited for the rest of the trip and for what God has in store for us. We aren’t sure what’s coming next, but we know to trust in Him.