February 5: Abigail, age 25, number two daughter. Traveling throughout a relatively primitive tribal area southwest of Kolkata (Calcutta) this month. She is not seeking "The Temple of Doom," but I suggested when (not if) she encountered any elephants, to be sure to ride one for me.
February 18:Had a wonderful church service and got to wear the most beautiful saree (also spelled sari), provided by the lovely Della.
Stopped for street food here on the way to the mountain region of Daringbadi, where we will visit remote villages. I took this photo through the car window because I didn't want to take out my camera on the street because the area appeared to be a little sketchy. I'm traveling with Pam, John Bridge and his assistant Ranjeet.
John Bridge, back to camera, is registering with the police before we can proceed to Daringbadi. Ten Italians were removed from the area before we arrived for not registering.
John Bridge discusses the situation with the expelled Italian visitors in this video as we drive. Born in England, John still has a wonderful British accent after over 30 years here.
In the hotel, and I even have a room of my own...yay!
Another view of hotel room. The bed might as well be made of concrete, though. Closet on left, toilet is through door at right.
Hotel Padma, where we stayed
February 19: We reached this remote village, about two and a half hours from Daringbati, and they greeted us with a celebration in the streets!
The villagers love to greet visitors. So far, I have not seen an elephant, however, the villagers put food out for them at night so that they do not eat their roofs (thatched).
We are eating rice, dal, chicken curry, chicken liver, cauliflower, beans, and a salad mix of cucumbers, tomato, and onions in a chutney sauce. We eat before everyone else. It's the culture. The food is very good for the most part, as long as it's cooked in hot oil and served hot. I stay away from raw vegetables and ice cream in some of the hotels because the water and ice are not safe. Tea is usually okay because it's boiled. The milk is sometimes a bit strange. We drink bottled water mostly.
The people here are wonderful!
February 15: "With my puppies. They are strays being raised as watchdogs. I've adopted them. Spotty, Max, and Balu (meaning bear).
February 16: Abby's selfie with some of her students.
February 16: "Our last day of teaching five and six year olds." The children live here at the compound, and are either orphans or children of a parent or parents that are too poor to care for them. There were 64 in this class.
"They are soooo incredibly smart."
"I found a new puppy today. Her name is Lucky. She will go with my other three puppies."
February 13: From the podium, "Spoke today at a day care school for village kids. The children picked me a bouquet of wild flowers."
Only in India? "Rose petal ice cream...it tastes exactly like the smell of roses."
February 12: "What we do during the day, teaching the children English using pictures, games and sign language."
Many children here suffer from physical genetic deformities.
Abby is a guest of the Rev. John P. Bridge and wife Della, directors of Faith Outreach at Cox Colony, Jharsuguda, in the Indian State of Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). This is some 280 miles southwest of Kolkata in one of the poorest states in India. Here she is addressing over 1000 at the weekly Sunday worship service at the main facility. She is traveling throughout the region visiting many rural villages where Faith Outreach satellite churches are located. Abby's grandmother, Helen Dexter, served as a Christian missionary here, beginning in 1989, before establishing a Women's Bible school, orphanage, and vocational school for women in the nearby village of Birmitrapur.
February 9: "We were just in the car going through a town and got stopped by the cops! To take a SELFIE..lol. There were more police around us, and some people started to form a crowd, so we had to get back in the car and leave."
February 10: Addressing a crowd with an interpreter of about 400 at a worship service in the Village of Loisingha, a satellite church of Faith Outreach.
Some women greeted me after the Loisingha service and gave me a gift of a beautiful shawl.
February 10, Abby also had the pleasure of visiting the nearby Village of Karkachia and Peter Tandy's home, her grandmother's long-time assistant. He has operated a small orphanage here since 2008. From left: Daughter Hebrona, Hosanna her holding daughter Siona, age 3, husband Debashis Deep, and Peter. Absent is Daughter Hope and her family and son Hosea.
Children at Peter's village enjoying oranges
On Peter's roof patio with some of the village children and orphans looking on.
A strong deadbolt and solid hardwood door for Abby's hotel room on this trip through these rural villages makes a lot of sense to her parents.
Abby arrived at the Jharsuguda compound on Friday, February 2 following a nine hour train ride from Kolkata. She is scheduled to leave India on February 24, for a three day stay in the UK, visiting her cousin, Emmanuel Dexter, at Liberty Church, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, where he is associate pastor. She returns home March 3. She is shown here with Della Bridge, co-director of Faith Outreach.
The monkey looks like something out of Night at the Museum.
Riding through town with Christine Bridge of Faith Outreach and Pamela Ward of New Zealand
February 9: On road through the Village of Bhullar to Loisingha where Abby will speak to 400 people tomorrow. Abby's time difference is clocked at 10-plus hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time.
February 8: Abigail with Horsho and Husband Aditya, a village pastor, and son Daniel. Horsho Senapati was one of the first children to arrive at the Birmitrapur compound, and has been sponsored by Abby's cousin* Joan, who lives in the Boston area, since Horsho was an infant. In her letters to Joan, Horsho always signs herself, "With love from your Indian Daughter," and addresses Joan as, "Dear Lovely Mom." (*Joan's mother and Abby's grandmother were first cousins).
Visiting the campus her grandmother built in Birmitrapur
Abigail tours the compound founded by her grandmother in the Village of Birmitrapur, about a hundred miles from Faith Outreach in 1992, guided by the Rev. John Bridge and the current occupants. Here her grandmother built 18 buildings in three years, including a church which she insisted include 12 pillars, to represent Christ's 12 disciples, topped by a crown. Today, over 200 worship at this church every Sunday. Abby used her cellphone to record the videos, creating images often appearing sideways as she tilts her phone for the wide-view feature on the first video. Click the image onto "full screen" for better viewing.
Abby's grandmother had turned the work here over to other leaders in the late 90s, when she joined Faith Outreach to direct a woman's school there, from which she retired in 2008. A Christian missionary organization leased the facility for several years, then moved on when the lease expired, leaving the property to let nature take its course. Now another ministry occupies the campus. Presently there are 74 students being served. The property is in good hands, she says, and being rehabilitated.
|House of Peace 1992. Abby's grandmother is second row, center.|
|House of Peace today. A little worse for wear, but will be spruced up, they say.|