My new book is out in time for Christmas!

the well is deepHave you ever wondered about the Samaritan woman at the well – how she got through all those husbands, who is the man she’s now living with, what difference does the encounter with Jesus make to her future? This isn’t Gospel truth, but it’s my imagined version of what might have happened: Visit my author page to see my other books:

India blog – final post

This is the Bengali Basti school where I taught a lesson on Friday morning.

This is the slum  school where I taught a lesson on Friday morning.

I’m writing this final entry from at home. My last 2 days in India were really packed. On Thursday morning I went into the school for street kids and did a creative writing lesson with class 10 on point of view in storytelling. They really rose to the challenge and wrote some imaginative responses, some in Hindi and the braver ones in English. After lunch I walked home with the girls. They had been commissioned to make 150 coloured paper flowers and 120 paper snowflakes for an event in the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, so I pitched in and tried to help them – although it was an area where they were much more skilful than I was! When E and S came home at the end of the day, they took me a few stops on the metro to a shopping place called Dilli Haat where I was able to buy gifts to bring home and bags of sweets for all the girls in the home. I had a delicious meal out at a Kashmiri restaurant with S and E and went home tired but happy!

On Friday morning I went and did the same lesson with classes 7 and 8 in the slum school, and again they gave the work a really good shot. Then B put me into an autorickshaw and negotiated a fair price for the ride, and I went to the programme leader’s house and had a good chat with his wife, comparing notes on our experience of raising a disabled child in India and England, and also on the way our two churches had embraced our children with open arms. I stayed and had lunch with them and Martin, which gave me a chance to share with Martin a poem which I would have included had I been well enough to do the planned creative writing workshop with the church. I was planning to pose the question, “Can God speak to us through writings outside our Christian tradition?” and the poem is by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. I will include it at the end of this post.

Then it was back to the girls’ home, and more flower and snowflake making. When teatime came (around 6 o’clock) E and S had arranged for a group of women to come round for chai and biscuits and to hear my testimony. These were all women who’d had to leave their husbands because of abuse, and it was a privilege to share with them God’s incredible faithfulness and provision for me and Natasha during the year that we had to move into temporary accommodation before we were able to buy our current house. I had so many examples of when I had literally nothing and God faithfully provided for our needs over and over again. These women are not Christians and have not been exposed to the Gospel very much as yet, so it was a real joy to be able to share with them about the love of God, and how when everyone else lets you down, you can rely on Jesus and He will always be faithful.

After the ladies had gone, I had my final meal with the girls, and after dinner I gave them the sweets I had bought the previous day. They all prayed with me, mostly in Hindi, and I really felt thoroughly blessed. After dinner, one by one they crept up to me shyly and handed me farewell cards they had made for me. A number of them had written things that they hadn’t been able to share with me (because of the language barrier) but which they managed to write down in understandable English, about how God had really spoken to them when I shared my story with them. It’s been really moving to know that the things that have happened in my life, and the ways God has led me and provided for me, have had such an impact on this little group of girls who have been through far more suffering than I will ever know. I prayed a blessing on their household and on E and S who are working such miracles through the love of God, and left them with a promise to come back. After all that I just managed to catch 2 hours’ sleep before my lift arrived to take me to the airport.

Some confusion arose between me and my driver on the way there. The conversation went as follows:
C: Which terminal are you flying from?
Me: Is there more than one terminal?
C: Yes, two terminals, I need to know which one to take you to.
Me: Hold on while I google it on my phone…. Oh, it says terminal three.
C: Terminal three is fine, I take you there.
Me: But you said there were two terminals.
C: That is right, two terminals, one and three!
So, having cleared up that confusion, he dropped me at the door, and I had a very straightforward journey home from there on, with much to reflect on and much to thank God for on the journey home.

Here is the poem I mentioned, by Rabindranath Tagore:

Day after day, O lord of my life,
shall I stand before thee face to face.
With folded hands, O lord of all worlds,
shall I stand before thee face to face.

Under thy great sky in solitude and silence,
with humble heart shall I stand before thee face to face.

In this laborious world of thine, tumultuous with toil
and with struggle, among hurrying crowds
shall I stand before thee face to face.

And when my work shall be done in this world,
O King of kings, alone and speechless
shall I stand before thee face to face.

India blog – day 16

This will be perhaps a rather more reflective post as my trip draws towards its close and I look back over the past two and a half weeks. My real desire in coming here was to spend time with the girls in the home. Of all the Karuna Action projects in which I’ve taken an interest over the years, none has moved me like this one, and here is where I wanted to be.

So while it’s been great to be able to make a positive contribution in the schools, especially with the kids with learning disabilities, it’s here in this home that I’ll be leaving a chunk of my heart behind – at least until next time I come, hopefully next year.

Before I came, Martin prophesied over me that I would leave something behind and come home lighter. I had no idea what that meant, but it resonated in my heart as something I really wanted. Now, towards the end of the trip, I understand it more.

Back in June of 2006 there came a day when I had no choice but to ask Andrew to move out of our house. I went into shock (those who knew me at the time, though they had no idea what was going on at home, will have observed me lose four and a half stone in three months, the effects of the shock). And from that day onwards, I feel as if a cloud of fog descended over my life, which has never really lifted. All my emotions have felt muted, including my feelings towards God, and all the colour had gone out of life, and that was reinforced by the subsequent events of being forced into a divorce I didn’t want and the shock of Andrew’s sudden death last year.

When I shared my testimony with the girls the other night, and saw God at work in their responses to it, I suddenly realised that this fog had lifted – I don’t know exactly when or how it has happened, but something has lifted from me and my heart feels free again. I felt so much joy sharing what God has done, and seeing the Holy Spirit at work in those who listened. Somewhere along the way here in India I have put down a burden.

I feel as if for the past few years I haven’t been seeing anything truly clearly, not even Jesus. I’ve seen for sure His love and comfort, His care and provision for me, miracle after miracle of financial provision, and all my needs have been taken care of. But that’s only one half of what I used to see in Jesus. The other half – His greatness and majesty, His glory and victory – had got lost in the fog.

Through everything that’s happened here, including the illness, which has all been part of a seamless whole of what God’s been doing, that missing half of the picture has been restored to me. I’ve rediscovered a dimension of worship that I’d lost, of honouring and loving Him for all that He is, not just for what He’s done for me.

Well, I said this was going to be a more reflective piece, and there it is. As I said, I’m leaving a huge chunk of my heart with these beautiful girls, who have faced the worst that man can do and yet can sing and dance about the freedom they now enjoy, and already I’m making plans to come back when I can.