Rev. Glory arranged for the Wings Team (Ann, Pastors Doug and Paul, Cathy, Rita and I) to visit a rural village outside Salem. We traveled some pretty rough roads in our van which was skillfully driven by Andrew, Rev. Glory’s younger brother. Our trip was not without some humor. Prior to driving to this village on unpaved roads with extremely deep ruts that caused many oohs and aahs (not the pleasantly surprised expressions either), we stopped by a roadside stand to buy nine dozen raw eggs (for tomorrow’s event) that were placed in the back of our van. We teased Andrew about our having scrambled eggs for breakfast the next morning. Amazingly, less than half a dozen eggs were broken.
We arrived at the village after 7 PM. The villagers knew we were coming. Rev. Glory and Rev. David, (the village pastor), have spent many months establishing a friendship with the villagers. The people were so kind and so excited to see our team. We were told this was the first time they had ever seen “white people”. Their questions were interesting. They wanted to know why we were not speaking in the native tongue which is “Tamil”. We had rehearsed a song in this language on our drive to visit them and did our best to sing it—not doing too much justice to the language. They kindly showed their appreciation.
After several introductions to the leaders of the village, we were invited into one of the villager’s homes–a thatched roof hut. Surprisingly, the wall construction reminded us of our adobe type homes in New Mexico. The home was one circular room with a small area for cooking and a clothes line running from one end to the other on which many clothes were stored. The mats for sleeping were stored or the wooden beams above. The shape of the hut and the dried palm leaves that constituted the roof (some of the palms making up the ceiling charred from cooking—a health hazard we were told) reminded me of the huts I saw in Maui that were a part of the “old Hawaii” luau. The villagers inquired if there were any such huts in America. We told them about our adobe styled walls in many New Mexican homes. I was gathering all of this information on video. We also took many pictures with our digital cameras. The villagers loved looking at themselves on the digital screen after the picture was taken. Rita enjoyed their responses to seeing themselves on the camera.
We were given chairs to sit on while the rest of the villagers (men, women and children) sat on the ground (outside the huts) under the stars. We then were treated to some delightful water coconuts presented to us by the people. Many of the villagers were in traditional outfits. The saris were beautiful and very colorful but not as beautiful as the women who were wearing them. While we were enjoying our water coconuts the women performed several traditional songs that they sang as they moved around in a circle. Rev. Glory stated they were singing about the history of their village. We are told that most of them are Hindu. Next, the men performed several spectacular dances. There were about 12 men, holding sticks in each hand and dancing and hitting the sticks that belonged to the other men. How there were no injuries was amazing to me. Rita acknowledged my own fear of what might happen if one of those sticks popped out of a man’s hand and hit us. However, these men were very skillful. Their dances would rival any Las Vegas performance. We met the man in the village who taught the men how to dance.
It was now our turn to perform. Ann spoke about Wings. Rev. Glory was her interpreter. We sang two of our songs that we perform at our Wings Parties. We were informed early on that our contact must be woman to woman and man to man. They seemed to enjoy our music. Both Pastors Doug Sweet and Paul Collins spoke to the people. Doug brought greetings from America and welcomed the people using their greeting in Tamil. Paul boldly spoke of the love of God and His Son Jesus and how we are saved by grace because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He let them know how much God loves them. We gave out pencils, pens and crosses. The villagers were very respectful and applauded when we finished. In fact, we were invited by the chief of the village to spend the night. We were told that this was quite an honor. The villagers are very suspicious of anyone who might stumble upon their village even if accidentally. This individual would be placed in a dark room for three days without food or water until it was decided if their intentions were good or bad. If good, they would then be released. None of us even wanted to know the latter.
One of the reasons we were treated so graciously was directly related to the trust that was established between these villagers and the local pastors. I know it took a lot of patience and a great deal of faith in our Lord for Rev. Glory and Rev. David to form this bond. Hopefully, the words spoken to them by our Wings team will be like those seeds planted in the good soil. It was more than coincidental that our morning devotion discussed this very topic.
We stayed at the village until 10:30 PM. We left with our hearts filled with love and hope in Jesus that in time these beautiful people will accept Jesus as their Savior. What a truly delightful evening this was.