Let me introduce you to the orphanage… It is the mission of Sanjeeeva and his family and has been operating for six years on faith and a huge commitment on behalf of the family.
Sanjeeva and his wife Esther
As mentioned before Sanjeeva came from a totally impoverished background. He and his family lived in a small room next the roadside church with the large cross I showed you on the last blog. The whole family in one room. The sons remember going to church naked because there was no money for clothes when they were very young. Sanjeeva’s passion for Jesus has led him to share the Gospel of Jesus as best he can over the past twenty years. When his sons were old enough he sent them to Bible College about 1500 miles away. The oldest brother Rao (now 28 with a wife Glory and two children – Shine and Sajeev) left to study and did not come home for four years or even have communication – there was no money.
Raj Paul then followed him and is now 24 and newly married to Teja. The brothers and their father form a team to share ministry and are like friends and brothers.
We had a long discussion about how marriages are arranged by parents and in consultation with the sons and daughters involved. And in this culture it makes total sense. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a close knit village where despite huge differences of faith there is no crime, no police, no fear… children and women walk around freely and safely. Women serve the men meals but do not eat with them but everyone is smiling as they pump water at the wells and live at this subsistence level. The countryside is entirely green fields of rice lined with coconut trees and that is where much of the farming work is carried out.
The orphanage is a small complex where the girls sleep in one room about 15ft x 15 ft. The boys sleep in the main room which is where they store their possession – each child share one small suitcase for two sets of clothing and almost nothing else. There is a small kitchen where cooking is done on gas…. they consume five bags of rice a month and have the same meal in the morning and evening (school provides a midday meal) – meals of rice and a little curry mixture dished out sparingly… they can eat as much rice as they want.
Washing is done from a basin with a jug to pour water over yourself and the toilets are holes in the ground over which you squat….. we have been spoiled with a western style toilet alongside a traditional toilet where we are staying. However, this is where you will no doubt struggle… 🙂 there is no toilet paper….. you take a bowl of water and wash yourself. Which is why in these cultures they have the customs of cleaning with the left hand and eating with the right. We started eating with our fingers but are now using forks and spoons kindly provided.
This is life with no frills but the community and sharing life together must have been so similar in Jesus’ day. Stories like the woman at the well, healing the blind and crippled, the context of so much he teaches is right here. When you first arrive you are shocked and respond to all that is lacking and how you’re going to cope but soon it’s amazing how you adjust and settle into a routine and begin to appreciate what is replacing the dysfunctional coping mechanisms we have in the West. We’ll talk about that another day…..
Next blog will be about our shopping trip…..