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Trip to India Feb 2020 

Our time in India is now drawing to a close.  We’ve learned so much more about the rich and marvellous country of India, it’s rich history and connection with our past.  Whilst sightseeing (the last few days of our trip), we have visited other religious buildings such as a mosque, sikh temple (Gurdwara) and a beautiful temple dedicated to the B’hai faith.  This was in the shape of a huge lotus flower, a major symbol used throughout India.  Each one of us has gained an understanding of the culture and history through visiting historical sights and through our travel, shopping, eating and meeting the very welcoming people of this vast nation.  We are still processing our thoughts of our time in Mumbai (detailed below) but we look forward to sharing these with our church family sometime in the near future.
With many thanks for your prayers whilst we have been away

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Monday 24th February

If you are reading this, thank you so much for your continued interest in our visit to India. We have now explored the beautiful Amber Fort in Jaipur, having met a snake charmer on the way. In the afternoon, we indulged some retail therapy. We were offered carpets, saris, gems and paintings. Today saw us visit the monkey temple where Hanuman is worshipped. Many Indians take great delight in being photographed with us which is great fun. Tomorrow we travel to Agra. Once again, thank you for your continued interest.
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Friday 21st February

Today we became tourists and saw the vegetable and flower market, the newspaper sellers and experienced the sounds and pungent aroma of the fish market! Later we walked through a laundry area and watched the men wash hundreds of items of clothing and incidentally, themselves! 

Our guide was most informative and was brave enough to take seven excited adults on a train ride with no doors and where the train stopped at the station for no more than 16 seconds. 

This afternoon we returned to our hotel for a well-earned break and during dinner, we debriefed the week in Mumbai with our wonderful Tearfund representative, Sarah. She will be sorely missed and the interest shown by Indians in the braids in her hair!

As we are now entering the 'holiday part' of this trip, blogging will not be completed every day. We very much appreciate all your interest and your prayers.

Thursday 20th February

After a couple of very difficult days, we were invited to visit a rehabilitation/training centre. Amongst other things, the women were learning tailoring and we purchased some excellent examples of their handiwork. The young women that we saw were smiling, hardworking and incredibly brave. We heard some stories that were very hard to hear. It will take time to appreciate the hardship and trauma suffered by those there. The sun shone and playing badminton with these young women, we were almost transported to a place of normality. 
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Wednesday 19th February
india 9Today, even on the journey to the project, we heard some harrowing stories from a member of the team. Having said that, we also heard how God's love has ministered to the people the project are working with. His Grace has healed people. We split into two groups so we did not cause too many difficulties for the staff throughout the day. The projects seen were a children's daycare centre. We met the many people involved on the team. These included a male and female football coach, social workers and finance team. The children could be heard in the next door room with their very excited voices. We were able to make bracelets with them using the beads, masks and threads, we brought with us. 

After praying for the children and staff, we visited brothels, met with prostitutes and prayed with some of them. We explored the local area and shopped for Julia! 

Tuesday 18th February
Another long journey this morning led us across Mumbai to meet with representatives of the project we were seeing today. After reversing some distance along a busy highway, we drove along a narrow, dirty and dusty alleyway. Having got out of an air-conditioned car, the oppressive heat hit us and we began to navigate the tiny alleys. There are incredibly uneven pavements (if they can be described as such), tiny shacks each with a woman sitting outside. The staff welcomed us and took us on a tour of the area in which they work. We were shown bags and other handiwork made by the women, all giving them a skill that is transferable. Stories will follow when we return.

Lunch followed giving us a complete contrast between the poverty seen in the morning and the wealth enjoyed by many of India. After lunch, we traveled to another project on the edge of a red light distance. 

The women in the second project had been encouraged to clean their streets and certainly the smell of disinfectant hung in the air. We then walked to a children's centre where once again, we were greeted warmly. The children sang three songs telling the stories of David, Jonah and obviously Jesus. Our contribution was to teach them 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes!'
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Monday 17th February
It was a lovely surprise to have Prince David join us for dinner last night. We were encouraged to see him and it was good to hear that we would be an encouragement to the people we would see today. The journey to Sahaara was fascinating. Driving in Mumbai is hair-raising. We only saw one accident. The honking of horns is a second language to drivers here.  Our visit to Sahaara started with an introduction to all of their projects. This included a moving film which we hope to show you on our return. During the afternoon, we visited one of their education centres. We don't know who was more excited, us or the children on our arrival! Duck Duck Goose was a game that we were able to teach them and a smile is a universal language to show how much pleasure this gave them and us. Photos are not included of the children as we were not allowed to take them for Safeguarding reasons. Photos of the schoolroom and the team were taken. We were privileged to be asked to pray with and for the them. Enormous thanks must go to Jules Williams and her Brownies for providing exactly the right number of friendship bracelets for us to give to the children. 

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Sunday 16th February
Having arrived at our hotel at 4 am this morning, we had a short sleep before exploring the city of Mumbai. 'A sensory overload' is the main phrase that we have used today to discuss what we have experienced in Mumbai. The sights and sounds are overwhelming in parts. We've seen incredibly poor parts which we've seen in pictures and yet seeing it for ourselves is so different. People are on bikes with no helmets, including children! Women are often riding sidesaddle. St. Thomas's Cathedral was a highlight. Carlton returned there after 70 years! He was baptised there as a baby at one week old. We all found it a moving experience. Outside a cricket match was being played in the middle of the road!
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Carlton and Sarah Beasley, Julia Sciacaluga, Annabel Blanch, and Sue Swain-Fossey are travelling to  Mumbai on Saturday 15th February to visit charity supported projects connected with modern-day trafficking.  Some of the things the projects undertake are :
  • Health education and counselling.
  • Nutrition programmes and treatment for addictions.
  • Managing money.
  • Education, tuition and relationship building.
Please pray:
  • That God walks alongside us and blesses and protects us and those we meet.
  • That nothing prevents our travelling, e.g. political instability or health issues.
  • For hassle free and safe travel.
  • That we are equipped for every situation we encounter.
  • For good health for all the team.
  • That those women trapped in modern-day slavery are able to get the documents they need to be independent.
  • For training sessions to enable them to feel equipped and confident.
  • For stability for the children at the drop-in centres and school.
  • For staff who work in very difficult circumstances.

Nicola Glass, 06/02/2020

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