Saturday, February 25, 2012

Bagdogra to Ruth Gunter

Thursday February 23
Today was a travel day for us. We spent the morning repacking and preparing to fly to Guwahatti to meet Dimbeswar and Mamu. The respite was well appreciated as it gave us time to catch up on some rest and to organize for the next adventure! We also were able to blog a bit extra to share our world with our world back home.
Asho drove us to the airport where Mahindra was waiting to give us one last hug and to wish us well until the next time we meet with him. We sent notes and gifts back to Jyoti our dear younger sister and bags to Tabita and Pulshari.
At the airport we were able to exchange a bit more money in order to pay our excess luggage fees for one last time! Then we enjoyed an airport snack of chicken and cheese sandwich and an icecream treat before heading through security and to our gate. Just after we asked if it was time for us to board yet and were told no, we were approached that the gate was closing and we must rush to board the plane. The gate attendants had a bus waiting to take us out to the airplane awaiting on the tarmac. We boarded and found our seats with plenty of time to spare. The planes do seem to leave the airport a few minutes earlier than scheduled, however. Onboard we organized pictures to be ready to post to the blog as soon as possible…
The Calcutta airport was larger, with several shops lining the lobby. We maneuvered through the maze to find the line to affix our carry on tags and then to the security once again. We sat waiting for our flight to be announced and leisurely entered the line as the crowds began to thin only to be told that Jonnie’s carry on tag was expired! She had to take her bag back through security where they emptied every item and repacked then called a woman to scan it again! Well, they came to find us and once again sent us by private bus out to the airplane! We felt very special.
Dimbeswar, Mamu and Maram met us in the airport with open arms. We found the Little Flower vehicle and driver waiting in the parking lot to load our luggage and zig-zag our way through the night streets of Guwahatti, the state capital of Assom. The trip from the airport to the hotel took well over an hour. The hotel was very impressive from the street, but it does not meet the standards of the Sinclair or the quaintness of the Ivanhoe House! Dimbeswar and family stayed for dinner with us. Mamu is a sweet young lady, ten years younger than her husband. Dimbeswar and Mamu were married in December in a legal marriage with the justice fo the peace. Maram turned four on January 10th. She has a heart condition that requires that she travel four and a half hours to Guwahatti once a month to have the fluid removed from around her heart. She is on a list for a heart transplant. Maram has not yet warmed up to Dimbeswar. She is very attached to her mother. Dimbeswar says her language is her very own…only her mother can understand her. She is a very opinionated child. They left us to spend the night with Mamu’s parents nearby.
Breakfast was the redeeming item of this hotel. We enjoyed the typical buffet we had seen at the Sinclair with the addition of pink grits and oatmeal along with crescent rolls and cannolis. As we left the dining room, we found that Dipak and Jeuti Ray and their co-workers were waiting for us in the lobby. We enjoyed getting to know them. They were delightful Christians with a true heart for others and a love of God. It was hard to tell them good-bye when Dimbeswar came to pick us up.
We drove for over four and a half hours to arrive at our hotel in the midst of a shopping mall in Bongaigaon. After dropping off our luggage, we traveled another hour out to the Little Flower School. I sat in the back of the jeep and packed book bags for each child as the driver maneuvered the roads. . . Just finishing up as we drove through the gates. The children were gone for the day, so we gave ourselves a tour of the complex. Dimbeswar served us fried eggs and toast before taking us to the Ruth Gunter Orphanage to meet the children.
The children were delighted to see us drive up! Each child offered us a handshake and introduced himself or herself to us. They were thrilled to give us a tour of their home. The former church building has been divided into two rooms by a cement wall. The larger room is divided by portable walls in two…a TV room and a living room. The smaller of the rooms is divided by portable walls into three sections…dining area and two sleeping quarters. Another section has been added to the original building to serve as food storage and kitchen. It is on the ground instead of being up on the cement foundation of the church. The bathing area and toilets are behind the orphanage detached from the main building.
We gathered the children in the living area. They sat in a circle and I taught them “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and they sang “I Have Decided” to us while we waited for the last ones to dress and join us. We were so excited to deliver the book bags filled with Bibles, readers, sticker books, gift bags and treats for each child. The group clapped for each child as they came forward to claim their bag.
They were thrilled to find pictures of Montie or Merita who had made the bags them inside their Bibles and the American $2 bills crisp and clean from ASB. They fingered their Bibles with love and worked diligently at reading the Bible stories. A few ventured into their Bible sticker books, but most dug quickly into their treats. Grace wrapped herself in her quilt and carefully folded it back into the plastic bag for safe and clean preservation. Others oohed and aahed over her soft and cuddly prize. Little girls donned 3, 4 or 9 hair barrettes while the boys blew up balloons and bounced them around. Elizabeth began taking pictures with my camera, and soon others took their turns as well.
Smiles and giggles filled the air as the children spilled out of the door and down the steps. Each one was eager to pose yet another time with bag and Bible displayed. These angels began to help each other decipher the codes and determine how each item was to be used. They delighted in the sticker books and matching the pictures to the correct space on each page. They were thrilled to see that they could actually read the English Bible story books and compared the beauty of each Bible cover to the next. The children beamed with pride as they spent time with each other and as they shared their home and yard with the “aunties” from America.
God’s love filled the air…God’s love expanded the hearts of the children and melted the hearts of the adults. God’s love washed over us with an overwhelming joy and sense of belonging. The children of Ruth Gunter won our hearts and souls.

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