The Tao never does
anything, yet through it all things are
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
When there is no
desire, all things are at
~ 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
To experience Indian Culture
To learn and to grow
To Be Love
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
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.