What a week in Kota! We have had such a special time. Nothing has become more apparent to me than this: I need to somehow bring India home and share it with the Hopegivers' team (sponsors worldwide). This is such an amazing ministry and I had no picture or idea until I got here. It is also very sad because we have viewed the schools and orphanages here in Kota that only a year ago had close to 3,000 orphans and students, and now are down in the 600-800 range. It's truly heartbreaking. Most of those orphans were chased out of the orphanage during the persecution, which leaves them back on the very streets that they were once rescued from.
I finally got to meet and hang out with M.A. Thomas. What an amazing experience! For those of you who don't know, M.A. Thomas is to India what the Pope is to Rome. He is so well respected by most. This man who has met with many world leaders and who has literally changed a whole country, spent quality, unhurried time with little me. He is very down to earth and warm-hearted. He is very intentional about the way he lives each day, kind of like I would imagine Jesus, in that he looks for all his divine appointments and makes time for them. I just love this gentle but strong leader!
I have spoken to a few pastors this week who have been beaten, imprisoned and threatened with death. I feel unworthy to sit in the same room with them. One man yesterday was beaten many times and just got out from a year-long prison sentence for false allegations. But in prison, did he mope and whine and pine away, even though they beat him and mistreated him continuously? You know, like I would have done? Absolutely not! He shared the Good News with 800 prisoners and ten of them have put their hope in Christ. They asked this Pastor to tell their families about Christ when he got out, and now most of their families are attending his village church!
Today, we will leave Kota, and I will leave a part of my heart here. The orphan gals have been so sweet and fun to hang out with, and we have grown close to so many of the people. I can't say enough how serving and gracious everyone we've met has been to us and have lavished us extravagantly with gifts and love.
While I am excited to come home, I am sad to leave these new friends. I cherish my time here in India and I have to say of all the things I've done and places I've visited, this has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life!