The Light the Way mission team followed up the work we did during 2010 by partnering once again with Good Shepherd Homes, who care for orphaned and abandoned children in India.
This time around, we were invited back to help run a summer camp for all of the children. At the time of our trip, they had seven homes and provided care, love and assistance for 108 children.
The plan was to take out two teams: one working with the teenagers and the other with the under 12s. We also wanted to help out in other practical ways around some of the homes whilst also running the summer camp for the children and house parents.
One team was going back to the home in Nasik, where we were the previous year, while the other team would be visiting Malavli to work at the home for teenagers and put up a solar water pump for a borehole. The summer camp was planned for four days (23 to 26 May) with both teams participating.
Before we travelled out, we decided to help raise funds for Good Shepherd Homes and other projects. Ian Vickery organized a sponsored 25 mile 'Night Hike', which was well supported by everyone at King's Church Medway. We also had a family fun day to help raise awareness and funds for the project.
There was also a lot of support and work by members of the remaining Light the Way team who were not travelling with us on this particular trip.
Priscilla Ashun-Sarpy helped with the tickets and Tolu Adewuya worked tirelessly to itinerate for the summer camp with the assistance from Ian and Gill Vickery.
Other members of the team helped with administration, packing, transport to the airport and of course, much need prayer! We had loads of support from the congregation, who bestowed us with gifts, clothes, toys and books, which were donated for the orphaned children whom we were aiming to help.
We were also constantly liaising with our 'brother' Binu Varghese of Good Shepherd Homes for guidance and direction
There were challenges right through the preparations as well as during the trip. Max Allen unfortunately broke his leg in a rugby game before hand, which ended his involvement in the trip. We also had three members of the Light the Way team have their visa applications delayed which weren't granted until just hours before our flight! Praise God!
A team of nine people finally travelled out on a Kingfisher Airlines flight to Mumbai. Our team members this time around were: Paul Akinbadewa, Ian Vickery, Gill Vickery, Gary Canning, Ricky Grosvenor, Tammy Ehiwe, Thomas Savage, Laura Vickery and Simba Masvaure.
Upon arrival, we were met by staff from Good Shepherd Homes and one group, led by Ian and Gill, travelled to Nasik for the under 12s home, whilst the others, led by Paul and Gary, travelled to Malavli to stay at the home for teenagers.
The summer camp was planned to run from 23 May 2010 to 26 May 2011, open for all of the children and with both teams participating.
When we saw all of the children wearing the specially designed T-shirts that proclaimed them to be mighty children of God, all of us became very emotional! With God inside them and beside them, they will be mighty men and women of God. We had such a sense of the amazing work God would do through each one of them.
During the four day summer camp, there were many activities such as art and crafts, of which the children showed us the many gifts and talents that they already had. It was such a joy seeing them express themselves through their creative imagination. But it was also very fulfilling seeing how in tune they were spiritually, again through artistic media, but also in praise and worship to God.
The children and teenagers were divided into teams based on the armour of God. The art and craft reflected this theme, together with being creative with beads and fabric pens. All the children were amazingly artistic, but the real fun began later with the whole community taking part in the biggest water fight we have ever seen!
After the summer camp, one team went back to the home in Nasik, where we were the previous year, and where they were helping to install a new security gate for the premises. The other team visited Malavli to work at the home for teenagers and put up a solar water pump for a borehole.
It was quite a task to set up the solar array as the very tall scaffold tower that was to support the solar panels had to be welded and constructed on site during the limited time that were there.
The team started on the bore hole and five of us lowered the pump very carefully into the well. The tower was raised up and we connected the solar array to the pump.
So much work was done in such little time! It amazes us even now of our accomplishments and how God moved through the hearts of the people we visited.
One final memory, which happened as we were leaving and upon arrival in Mumbai for our flight home was the children knocking on the window of our car begging us to buy what they were selling. It was really upsetting, but it made us so thankful of Good Shepherd Homes and the work that they are doing with the street children in Mumbai.
Children who find their way under their guidance will find Jesus and know the transforming power of Jesus in their lives. The children themselves testify that they are helped in every way and they, in return, want to give back; they want to be pastors, to set up their own organisations and to help children attend school.
Our God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine and we know that He has good plans for these children of His, which makes us even more desperate to return to India and continue our story.
We want to provide help and to be a resource where possible in making a difference to the lives of people who are living in some of the poorest and most deprived areas of the world and to those that God might send us to.