Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013
The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done.

If powerful men and women could center themselves in it, the whole world would be transformed by itself, in its normal rhythms. People would be content with their simple, everyday lives, in harmony, and free of desire.

When there is no desire, all things are at peace.

~ Tao Te Ching, Verse 37


Today was our first day as a Global Volunteers team. Six of us came on this trip together as friends. We are joined by one couple and one other woman; nine in all. This morning after a good night's rest and an Indian breakfast, we met with Stephen for our orientation. One thing we did during our orientation was set team goals through consensus. Our goals describe what we want to achieve or do during our two weeks with Global Volunteers in Chennai. We decided on these goals:


To Go with the Flow

To experience Indian Culture 

To learn and to grow

To Give

To Connect 

To Be Love 

To Be 


We also received our work assignments. Three of us will do construction work at SEAMs. Four will work with preschoolers in day care at two different locations. The last two will teach at a local low cost private school. In the evenings, we will all tutor children one-on-one.


During our orientation, Stephen told us a little about our free time options. One thing we learned is that there are some very interesting Christian sites in Chennai. The apostle Thomas, commonly know as "doubting Thomas", came to Chennai after Jesus' crucifixion. He converted several Brahmins to Christianity through a miracle reminiscent of Elijah's miracle on Mt. Carmel. In Kerala, St. Thomas came across the Brahmins while they were worshipping the sun god. As was the tradition, they offered water to the sun god. When they opened their hands to offer the water, the water fell to the ground. Thomas asked them why their god did not accept the water. When they did not provide a good answer, he offered water to God and the water did not fall to the ground; it rose up as the offering was accepted by God. Many of the Brahmins converted to Christianity right then, even before it was called Christianity. He walked from the west coast to the east coast preaching and in Chennai he even converted the king Mahadevan. But the Hindu priest was not happy with this, so one day while Thomas was kneeling and praying, the priest killed Thomas with a spear from behind. 


No one in our group knew this story. We also did not realize some of the earliest Christians were Indians in Chennai. Although most of our group would not consider themselves Christians, we found this story interesting and we hope to visit the sites related to St. Thomas while we are in Chennai.


This evening we went to SEAMs to meet the children. They greeted us tenderly. They seemed so excited to learn out names and eager to share their names with us. The girls sang a song for us, the boys also sang a song, and then the boys danced for us with accompaniment on the drum. There is definitely talent among these children. After their performance, we played with the children for quite some time, a few of us dancing with them before one team member organized a game of Simon Says.


While we were at SEAMs an unexpected downpour came leaving large deep puddles all along the way from SEAMs to the restaurant. This turned our walk into a hike-like challenge as we balanced on stones to cross the biggest puddles. We also needed to carefully avoid fireworks that were being set off by citizens in the streets as part of the Hindu celebration that is occurring now. And then, there was the excitement of crossing a very busy street at night. Stephen and his wife, Sheeba, were wonderful at orchestrating the crossing so no one was flattened by a passing car. Even with these two talented guides, crossing the street was an adventure!


Dinner was fabulous. We ate traditional Southeast Indian cuisine on banana leaves (instead of plates) using our hands (instead of silverware). Everyone loved the meal. In fact, we feasted.


Now we are all settling in for the evening. Tomorrow will be our fist day as servant-learners with Global Volunteers, and we are excited. We also feel very welcomed by Stephen and his family. They treat us as if we are their closet friends who have come for a visit.


Submitted for the team in gratitude,



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