Visiting the Village
Today, we went to visit Onh Dong Village. This is the village the orphanage supports. It is quite a small area considering the number of families that live there…some 1500. I don’t think I have the writing ability to describe what the living conditions were like, but I’ll try.
First, the overall mood of the village was pretty somber as we entered. Hopelessness is what it was. An acceptance that this is how life is. Now don’t get me wrong; when people saw us walking through, they brightened up and most greeted us with a smile, especially the children. But these people are very, very poor. So poor, they had large clay pots and tubing to collect rain water from the roof.
The best homes in the village were provided by relief/ministry organizations, including Care The Poor, run by our gracious host, Pastor Komanapalli. UNICEF and the Red Cross also contributed greatly. The homes were all attached, maybe 20 or 30 in rows. They were about 10ft x 10ft, and looked no larger than most of the rooms are children have to themselves. Seriously. Imagine your whole family living in your child’s bedroom. No running water. No gas. Some electric in parts of the village, but very basic. The worst homes were made of old wood or tin…or even some type of grass or straw. Some had no roofs. Let me also say that this is Southeast Asia. It is HOT. And in rains a lot.
The dirt streets between rows of homes were atrocious. Sewage and trash was everywhere. Mud, animal feces. Flies and ants. And when you see children playing in this environment without clothes, it does something to you. Street after street, home after home, it was tough. The looks on the faces of the men of the village were sadly memorable. They looked helpless, devoid of any sort of male pride (the good kind that wants to provide and protect), and without hope. One man and his wife and two children were sitting on a bamboo table under a sheet as we walked by. They were eating rice as a family. He smiled and nodded as we greeted him. The look in his eyes said, “Yes, this is the best I can do for them.” Bless him Lord.
The Team talked much about “the village.” It deeply affected us all. We came to the conclusion that WE MUST be a blessing to the poor and hurting among us. WE MUST continue to strive for Financial Peace…not so we can raise our lifestyles to the maximum, but so in our comfort, we can comfort others. WE MUST focus on the things that stir the heart of God. When you see the pictures, you’ll understand.
The Children’s Festival
In the afternoon, there was a children’s festival. By the time we arrived the villagers were seated on the ground in preparation for the Word. Yes, I said sitting on the ground. Apparently, the word had gotten out about the festival and the fact that Care The Poor was going to be giving the first 500 attendees a gift to buy food. So the orphanage courtyard was jammed. Including children, maybe 700 people were there.
When we arrived, there were worship songs led by the older children and ministry leaders. Pastor White and Minister Wilson gave greetings and exhortation (through an interpreter), and then I preached for about 20-30 minutes. I felt comfortable, and I was glad to see so many men there. The people were more attentive, many listening intently. It was amazing to watch God expose them to His Gospel and see their hearts shifting towards Jesus. We ended praying for the salvation of many and shouting "Hallelujah" as loud as we could!
Sunday Service and Home Dedications
The next morning we arrived for church service. The orphanage was full of people. We ministered the Gospel again and prayed God’s blessing over the people.
The Vice Governor of the City came after I was done, said a few words of encouragement, and took us to the village again where the homes that had been built by Care The Poor were officially dedicated. There was music, words from the village leaders, an official presentation of home keys to two families, and a ribbon cutting which we got to take part in. The day ended on a happy note with the villagers being encouraged and strengthened through the festivities.
The only sad part for us was that it was time to go to the next country. We didn’t get to say goodbye to and hug the children again. Although we didn’t remember their names, we had started to name them ourselves. There was “Little Head Man Dude;” an 8 or 9 year old that seemed to look out for the rest of the children. There were “The Twins Grace and Mercy;” two of the cutest little girls you’ve ever seen. There was “My Special Friend;” the little girl who held on to Pastor Bobby and me as much as she could. And there was “Little Bonita;” Brother Randall named her after his wife because she was a bossy little thing. (Sorry Randall! Your marriage counseling is on the house!) :)
It was truly hard to leave the service with the Vice Governor without saying goodbye. Even though church was still going on, we couldn’t help but wave and wave and wave to them as we got in the van.