October 27, 2011
Local Teenager Goes to India on Mission Trip
by Shyanne Probst
A local teenager recently returned from a mission trip to Delhi and Bhimtaal, India. Cody Brown, 18, of Downing, completed a mission trip to India with a group from Lifepoint Church in Crestview, FL. Cody, his mom, and brother had met a girl who attended this church, Sarah English, at a Rodeo Bible Camp in 2009 in Colorado. They kept in touch and she shared the opportunity of going on the mission trip with him. The group consisted of eight people: Pastor Mark English, his daughter Sarah, Brian and Kim Campbell, Jeff and Alisha Wilkins, Cheryl McSween, all of Florida, and Cody. They left on Wednesday, September 26, 2011 from Florida, flew to Houston, TX, then on to Newark, NJ, and from Newark to Delhi, India; a thirteen or fourteen hour flight. The group stayed in Delhi with James and Shannon Watt for a day. The Watts work at call centers teaching Indians English and scriptures through their work at the call centers. James taught the group some things about India, such as some of the culture and religious beliefs. He also told them some things about the orphanage they would be staying in during the stay in Bhimtaal.
In Delhi, outside the apartments the group stayed in there was a fence, making the apartments like their own little town to keep out beggars or people who would cause a disturbance. There were guards everywhere, not police, but guards all over the city.
Delhi is a huge city that is very crowded and dirty, with trash everywhere along the streets. "The division in between the streets has grass with garbage growing in it, and crews pull the weeds so the garbage can blow away and not collect in the grass and weeds," said Cody. "The water is not drinkable because of the chemicals and human and animal waste in it. People have to drink purified water of some kind." The city of Delhi was really overcrowded with bumper to bumper, mirror to mirror traffic. Cody said, "If you rolled your window down, you could reach out and touch the person in the next car." In Delhi, the group saw a motorcycle with five people on it; a man, a woman, and three small children. India is said to be the "country with the most dangerous roads".
Cody Brown working on the swing at the orphanage with some of the orphan children looking on.
Cody said what amazed him the most was the poverty. He saw a nicely dressed businessman stepping over a man in rags sleeping on scraps of clothing in the middle of the street in Delhi. It was a common thing to see people in rags in the streets and beggars along the streets. Children only went to school if they could afford it. School-aged kids whose families can't afford an education work or sit on the street as beggars. One little girl was selling beads to support her family; her parents didn't want her to go to school because that was their means for support. There is mostly just upper class for the rich people and lower class for the beggars, with basically no middle class, although the middle class is slowly growing. Cody said, "The people in India are very friendly and if they aren't, it means they are rich."
Women walked a few paces behind their husbands or sometimes they would walk closer with their children in between them. Some of the women had red spots on their foreheads, which symbolized marriage. Depending on the temple, it stood for being religious if you had a gold or orange spot on your forehead.
The group went to McDonald's one day and noticed there was no beef on the menu, only chicken. Their meals always consisted of chicken and spicy rice, except once they had lamb and spicy rice. People in the mountain towns don't usually eat meat, only seasoned rice. The mission group got to eat meat, as they were guests. They had to go to the butcher every day for their meat, as there is no refrigerator at the orphanage. Cody noted, "Living conditions were just weird."
After staying in Delhi for a day, the group traveled by train, as this was the easiest transportation, to the much smaller mountain village of Bhimtaal. Although this was a much smaller village, it was at least three times bigger than Memphis. In Bhimtaal, the group stayed with Tim and Liz Sebastian who were the caretakers at the orphanage where the group remained during the rest of their stay in India. Tim and Liz were also the girls' house-parents at the orphanage. The orphanage had 19 children altogether; ten boys and nine girls. The house-parents for the boys at the orphanage were a married couple, Stanzen and Ruth. Cody noted that although they were at the poverty level themselves, they always seemed to be smiling. One of the little boys at the orphanage who Cody became very attached to, Tsewang, who was about 10 or 11, had three pairs of shoes; two were broken and falling apart and one pair was borrowed. Although the orphanage was poor, the children were allowed to go to school. Cody also said the children were so happy with things that children would take for granted. During a game the group played with the children, those who won first place were given plastic gold medals after the games. Cody said they were so proud of them that they wore them for several days afterward. Before the men in the group put their swing set back up for them, the children were swinging in scarves and old rags that they had fashioned into swings.
Cody with his newfound little friend from the Tsewang orphanage.
There wasn't much disease, but there were lots of lice and some of the orphanage children were suffering from bed bug bites. The orphanage did have indoor plumbing but the water was heated on the roof and had to be turned on ahead of time to take a shower.
There were several lakes around the Bhimtaal area. There was one that the group went to that had springs in it that caused the lake to look like it was boiling. The mountain towns were cleaner as the wind blows toward the valleys blowing the trash down.
In Bhimtaal they could hear the call to worship over the mountains every evening. Cody commented that it was "creepy sounding", noting how different it is over there [in India] and how the people there have the right, in their own eyes, to stone you for speaking about Christ.
While the group was at the orphanage, the women did a Bible camp for the children, similar to a Vacation Bible School. The men did work around the house, fixing windows and painting. The girls and boys of the orphanage lived in two separate houses about a quarter mile from each other with a path in between. Most of the activities were done at the boys' home, such as eating and recreation. The boys' home is also where the swing the men fixed for the children was set up.
Church groups go to the orphanage and the mountains every month or two to share the gospel.
Although "the living conditions were just weird" and the call to worship was "creepy sounding", Cody still said without hesitation that he would definitely go back. He said, "It was fun, I really enjoyed it." He commented that his favorite part was being with the kids at the orphanage and that it was really hard to leave them at the end of the week when the group head back to the States on October 5th.