The internet has been down here for the last 48 hours so there is a bit to reflect on.
Since I last wrote we have offered more medical clinics in the church in Manubai and yesterday we offered up the afternoon for healing prayer.
We started the afternoon with some enjoyable praise and prayer led by Pr Manoj who usually leads a church in the red light district of Pune a city about ten hours drive away. Then we had two prayer stations and we were praying for three hours solid. Several people reported that they had been healed and many felt peace and a relief from their symptoms.
Today we drove to another village where there is great hunger for Jesus and The Gospel and where we did house calls praying for the families in each house as they requested. The village called Mira has a great scenes of peace and joy about it and we were accompanied by many happy children and drank far too much sweet tea generously provided by our hosts.
Before all of this we had a very enjoyable Sunday service with the local church here in Buldana. The church is simple with plastic garden chairs in the place of pews and everything functioned well and we were warmly welcomed. The church was also very kind regarding the song we had been asked to prepare and sing in Marathi, the local language. After lunch we spent some time in the local Sunday market which was incredible really for the sheer number of people in such a small space.
The photos are largely self explanatory but if you have any questions I’ll be back on Sunday so do ask me then.
Over the last couple of days we have been helping in the hospital in the morning and then in the afternoon we have been driving for an hour out of the town to a small village. It is a village that two American missionaries went to in the 19th century and most of the Dhalits or untouchables became Christians. There is a small church there built in 1932 and the village is where Dr Moses Khartoum,s mother grew up.
Moses is the founder of CBHP and this village is a significant place as the missionaries also set up a school that Dhalits could go to and this enabled his mother and father to be educated and become an accountant and doctor respectively. It also allowed Moses to get an education. The photos show the village and church and our clinic in the church. As we were in a church and in this village we were able to pray for healing as well as do what we could to help medically.
Tomorrow we will go back to the village probably for the last time as we will go to others next week.
The time for outreach to Buldhana had arrived and on the 11th of November I set off from Dumfries and arrived in Mumbai around 19:30 the next day. I met up with the rest of the team in Mumbai and flew 40 minutes inland to Aurangabad, from here it was a three hour car journey to our destination of Buldhana.
Buldhana is a large town on the top of a hill surrounded by bush inhabited by bears and tigers. The town has many hospitals run by both the state and private individuals and we planned be working in these hospitals as well as providing mobile primary health clinics in the surrounding villages. We planned to be undertaking this work in partnership with community-based health project (CBHP) which is a voluntary organisation that has been providing and teaching community-based care in the local villages for the last eight years.
Some of you may have noticed that there have been one or two near misses recently, particularly with visiting Clergy, who have either tripped over the middle section of the altar rail kneeler, or who have stood on it, and found it not to be a stable surface to stand on (as we know, it’s not meant to be, anyway).
There is not a simple solution. The kneeler is in 3 sections and the middle section is longer than the opening when the central part of the rail is lifted. Adaptation to make just the central section of the kneeler removable would still result in something that is too heavy for one person to lift and would create difficulties with where to put it, when removed.
The Vestry has considered a number of options and none is straightforward. Having a thinner central section of kneeler would make things look uneven from the rest of the church, would be more difficult for people to kneel down to, and get up from, would make the servers have to bend over more (already a bad enough problem as things are) and would still not solve the problem of the weight, or the storage. Replacing the whole thing with carpet would not provide sufficient cushion for people’s joints, might just create a new trip hazard…and so on.
Nonetheless we have to do something about this. Churches are not subject to quite the same Health & Safety régime as other public buildings; but we must minimise the risks as much as we can. To that end, the Vestry proposes trialling various alternatives over the next few months. The best solution we have come up with so far would be to remove the central section of the kneeler altogether. Those who particularly wish to kneel would use the side sections, where there would still be kneelers; those in the middle would stand. A number of people choose to stand, anyway, but this arrangement would allow for either. It might be a bit untidy to begin with, but no doubt we could adapt. If you encounter this happening in the next few weeks, please remember it’s an experiment only and there will be proper consultation before we make any permanent change. We are already in discussion with the Dean, to ensure that we observe the Church’s rules about alterations. And if you think what’s proposed is a silly idea – do you have a better alternative to suggest? Talk to a Vestry member, or contact the Rector (rector AT stjohnsdumfries DOT org / 01387 254126) or Vestry Secretary (secretary AT stjohnsdumfries DOT org / 07754 596140) if you have suggestions.