Adele Jeske in India - July 2001

Dear Everyone, (About our time in India for Special Meetings )

We were subjected to the utmost kindness and care everywhere we went. It was good to have a couple days in Madras (now called Chennai) and meet some Workers we wouldn't have otherwise seen. Muriel Henderson's bach is there...kind of grand central station. She never send people away on a train without enough food for thrashers. She's had tinitis problems...and if you'd hear all the noise, especially the horns, which are exceedingly harsh, you'd know why most foreign workers have either tinitis, are hard of hearing, or both! COIMBATORE...spent most nights in Myrtle's and Julianna's bach. J. was a dentist before going into the Work. We had a busy schedule and got into quite a few homes of Friends. I was impressed with Shanti, a very little lady whose husband lost out of Truth, but she is strong and true.

Two men that touched my heart in TRICHY were blind. They live in a part of town that has mostly blind. The 1st meeting was in the home of one. His wife doesn't profess and perhaps is a bit simple, but was kind. They had stirring testimonies, and one spoke of the DEPTH in Jesus' life. After Special Meeting, we visited a fort that one can see from far away, high in the rocks with a gold-domed roof. We had to pass through a city gate with a "needle's eye" in it to get there. Had to take off our shoes at the bottom, as it's a hindu holy place...so we climbed the well-worn stones with many many others. There are shrines with idols all along the way. Bats hanging in one place. From the top, the view was splendid but the idolatry was depressing. There are many offerings made and there are HUGE tanks to receive it. Many people have their heads shaved and offer the hair. And no wonder...it's hugely lucrative to the priests. They are very wealthy. Krupa is one of the Workers who came out of that. She jokingly says maybe her hair is so thin now because of how many times it was offered! Her mother was dying when she was very young...I don't know if the priest put it into her mind, but she kept telling her husband he had to give more and more offerings. He lost about all he had, nearly lost his mind, and lost his wife as well. He placed the children with other people while trying to pull his life together. Finally they ended up staying with Mrudula's (another Worker) grandmother, who was a very enthusiastic christian. So they converted to that. But then when grandmother heard Truth, she went back to them (by then the family was back together) and said she told them wrong. As a result, Krupa is in the Work.

Deva Sahiyam was outstanding at ONGOLE. He and his wife have a home in the village, but stay most of the time in a 3-walled cement house, maybe 10' x 10' near the hostel he guards. They have SO little but it's scrupulously clean and they are happy. He used to give 10 kilos of rice WEEKLY to the church he belonged to...but it was never enough. Now he insists on giving rice to the Sisters who bach there, but can't understand at the end of a month they still haven't used up their 5 Kilos. Usually, though, people eat ENORMOUS amounts, women included. I saw one with a portion on her plate that in the USA would feed 5 women. The Special Meeting was at the college next to the hostel Deva guards. He comes to check on the Sisters daily and they really miss the girls when they're away. There was a young man in the Special Meeting named Lachmia. (Lachmi is a girl's name, it's a hindu name, the god of money. Add an 'a' and it's masculine). He got in contact through a friend in college. His uncle has been asking many questions so the Sisters started going there...a 3 or 4 hour bus ride. They say they haven't seen such a listener for a long time; he never takes his eyes off them. He came to Sunday of Ongole. Though he worked all Saturday night as a guard and had to come that long bus ride, he listened as well. When he was getting directions, he told Vandana he'd know it was the place when he saw all the loudspeakers, bleachers, etc. No such thing. But he was most impressed with the simplicity, quietness, and that the messages went right to his heart. Vandana and Ratna have water shortages lots of times, so it means dragging a hose through the house and filling all the containers every day. There was a baptism in the sea on Saturday, very nice. Eight took the step, including Lachmia. One of the college rooms was cleaned up for Friends to sleep, women, I believe. Then men slept in a curtained-off area in the meeting room. John Watt was at that Special Meetin, only one I was at with him. A large number of Friends had to leave on the bus early Monday a.m. so they spread mats on the floor at the bach and all stretched out. They don't mind sleeping like sardines. I left on the train at midnight and went to VISAKHPATNAM or Visakh, or Vizak. Stayed at Ranjini's and Florence's bach nearly a week and Hetty was there, too. Ranjini's brother, Sury, and Florence's brother, Frykholm, came and went; I'd not have met Sury otherwise. Also Peter Singh comes from that area, and was there. There was a Bible Study near the ocean Tuesday night, one Wednesday a.m. in town, and that night we visited some other Friends. Because of Work they can't get together except Sunday. One family lives in a 2-room hut...the husband doesn't profess and drives a rickshaw. He'd gotten in a skirmish with some drunk men and was knocked out with a stone to the head. Apparently he has Filaria, as one leg is greatly swollen (elephantitis, it used to be called...lots of people have it). Another home was MaryRuth's...she takes the train 2 hours each way to work at a bank. She was given lots of flak for not wearing jewellery, but because of taking a firm stand, someone has begun asking what she believes. It seemed at first to me they don't have so much difference from the world, as most wear their long black hair in a braid down the back, or a pinless bun on the back of their neck, and all wear saris or shalwar kamizs. But the jewellery thing is SUCH a big thing that it's enough to endure. I got a little more understanding, though, as it's widows who put it off, so husbands who don't profess think it's making a statement as to what she thinks of him. And he worries what others think. Most EVERYone worries what others think, and others make it very well known what they think! MaryRuth's youngest daughter became despondent for some reason and started herself on fire some years ago...it softened the husband and he's more favorable now. But she's horribly scarred under her chin and up to her lip. But she gets out and works and isn't too self-conscious about it.

Mrudula's grandmother that I mentioned earlier came from RAJAHMUNDRY. It's quite a miracle that she was saved, as she was VERY religious, Lutheran, I think. And seems she had some power to heal, or at least many people believed she did. But when she heard the Gospel, she wanted to know what was right and, to her everlasting credit, wanted to be told. She's gone now, but her influence lingers on, and several Workers trace their contact with Truth to her. Anand's and Joy's mother drove her water buffalo cows around the city, selling milk. If anyone ever set foot in Mrudula's grandmother's home even 2 minutes, she was telling them about the Truth. She didn't let them go on their way until they'd had quite an earful, too. So Suryudu became very interested and made her choice. Her husband beat her frequently, and beat Joy also, for going to meetings. But they held fast, and now 6 of the 8 children profess, 2 are in the Work and the eldest has just said he wants to come to meetings. He's illiterate and was very opposed to Truth. His wife, Lachsmi, professes and had to walk carefully around him. But she was steadfast, also. He took a pilgrimage every year (hindu)...it included wearing black, killing a black chicken, and I don't know what all. The wife is supposed to do some things, too, but Lachsmi got her kids to fill in. One time the Workerrs had planned a gospel meeting in the home, Bill the Overseer coming to be with them. This son was furious, broke benches, and hollered, etc. The family thought they surely needed to cancel, but Suryudu said, "No, GOD Planned this meeting. He protected Daniel in the den, and He'd take care of them." HE did, too. By that time, Suryudu's husband had softened quite a bit and sat in the meeting just to show he sided with them. Of course, there's no power in it and he's fallen into drinking heavily and been depressed to the point to near-suicide. So it was a miracle to see him walk into the Special Meeting and sit near the front, listening well. It was the first time he's heard his Worker sister and several of his relatives take part in meetings. That Special Meeting was in an electric company building and some rooms were cleaned for Friends and Workers, and there was a kitchen to use. We heard they used paper plates and plastic cutlery at Hermosa and it worked very well...they use banana leaves and fingers at Conventions and Special Meeting there, so there aren't many dishes, either! It's almost like a mini Convention but Friends come fm quite a distance, and the first meeting is Saturday night. It was the only Special Meeting at which I saw Bill Lester. After the Saturday evening meeting, he had to go a distance to a funeral. It's another long story in itself, maybe I'll tell you sometime... but he said it was hard to tell if it was a funeral or a circus.
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Before ELURU, Glory and I visited a little village where a family of Friends live. It's customary for the sons to live with the parents, bringing their bride with them. They have 2 water buffalo, they milk and sell it. The son's wife, Padma, was a small but energetic, pretty lady, who bore him 2 CUTE sons. But in the past couple years, she's developed what the doctors in Vijayawada say is results of arthritis and it's led to life-threatening anemia. Her hemoglobin was down to 2 (!)...I didn't know anyone could live with it that low, and she nearly didn't. She had transfusions...which helped greatly. But with their limited income, they cannot afford treatment and there isn't government provision like other countries, so she's gone to homeopathic treatment. Which caused her boils to erupt all over, so they had to shave her head. She looked so pathetic...a little skeleton with cracked and bleeding lips and painful cramps. She really doesn't care if she doesn't live as she feels she's a burden to the family and has better things to go to. But she was at the Special Meeting, lying on a cot. (I've found out since that a Saint lady in Iowa has/had it... wonder if her treatment would be possible for Padma?!) That was in a home of friends...there are several families in and round Eluru, dear folks. Before we left town, there was a hindu funeral next door to the bach, so we climbed on the garage roof next door and watched. The body must have been washed by pouring water over the head, from the looks of it, and it had a clean dress on...it was sitting against the house and a young lady was holding the head to keep it up. A priest, scantily clad, was chanting loud and furiously. Probably no one understood a word, as it's in some Sanskrit language. The sons, dressed only in a lungi, had to pour water in her hand, whisper in her ear, and etc. A pot of cow dung was started on fire, and fumigated the place while they moved the body to a bamboo-woven sort of stretcher. Then several walked around the body 3 times and then placed a garland of flowers on her. Then they lifted her onto a truck. When I saw one of the sons sobbing, I felt touched...for all the corruption and emptiness of the thing, they still were 2 young men who'd lost their dear mother. And so little comfort in it all. Vijayawada meetings are Friday and Sunday. The Friday night there were 3 groups of us. Chin sung, Prabhakar, Salomi, Krupa, and I were in an unfinished upstairs of Friends. They'd worked like fury to get fans and lights up for the mtg. There were some chairs and the rest of the floor was covered with mats. They were expecting over 30, but 80 came! Many were contacts. They kept dribbling in until the second speaker (me) was 1/2 done. The lights attracted tons of flying bugs, which dropped down our necks and crawled around inside our shirts. So they turned the lights off, and tune of the next hymn wasn't familiar to them so it was sung in English by Chin-sung, Prabhakar, and me. But it was a good meeting...Chin sung spoke about us being God's husbandry, God's building. Told about a sign in Taiwan..."This property is under disputed ownership." And as long as it was, there was nothing but grass and weeds produced on it.

Andrew Mellville (Australia/Sri Lanka), Desmond Harding (North India), and Sandra MCDermit were the other visitors that I haven't mentioned elsewhere in this letter. Sandra is now in Nepal with a North Indian company and there are 2 Indian Brothers there. (They don't need visas.) Sandra is taking language study and one day a week teaches English.

When we were in Calcutta, we didn't get to see one of the Friends because we got on a wrong bus. There are 2 areas of town with almost exactly the same sounding names, but they're in totally opposite directions. So ....you guessed it. We spent 3 hours and many miles on the bus for only 5 rupees! But it was no bargain when we didn't end up where we wanted to be. Same spiritually, huh? We could take a bargain way, but it will cost us dearly if we don't end up where we want to be.

We're back to the same schedule of Thursday night, Friday p.m. Gospel Meeting, Saturday Evening Bible Study, and 2 fellowship meetings per week. Now this is WAY too long so I'll stop...

With love in Him and best wishes,
Adele J.