We're surrounded by beauty here in Kalimpong.
Our team woke up early this morning and took a short drive up to the Tharpa Choling monastery for a spectactular view of the snow-capped Himalayas. I have neither the photographic equipment nor the skills to adequately capture the majesty of the view, but the pics I snapped give an approximation — a thumbnail sketch — of the amazing scenery.
After a delicious lunch at the King Thai Multicuisine Restaurant (it's not Thai, so the name remains a mystery to me), we headed out to visit Kalimpong 3, and experienced true beauty of a different kind.
Pastor Brad Isch and his congregation, Narrow Road Church in Heath, Ohio, have been working hard to raise the funds to fully support the Kalimpong 3 children's home for more than a year. Until today, no one from the church has had the chance to actually visit the home. Today, Brad's faith and faithfulness were rewarded with sparkling smiles, tender hugs and some intense games of steal-the-bacon, tug-of-war and red-light-green-light.
The kids were a little bewildered that Brad, a man they'd never met, seemed to know each of their names. "Hello, Wangden. Hi, Susmita!" he'd say. They had no idea that he had spent hours poring over a tiny flip-book with each of their pictures, working hard to memorize the names and faces so he could greet them personally.
After a couple of hours at Kalimpong 3, we reluctantly pulled ourselves away; this was not our only new begining to celebrate today. We drove a short distance down the road and arrived at our Kalimpong43 home. Tonight was the first visit as sponsors by representatives from Vista Church in Dublin, Ohio and Scarlet City Church in Columbus. Scarlet City's pastor, Jay O'Brien, visited Asia's Hope India last summer, but his church had not yet entered into a long-term partnership with Asia's Hope. Greg Smith, a representative from Vista, which co-sponsors this project with Scarlet City, visited a couple of years ago, and has been working hard ever since to raise support and awareness for our ministry in Kalimpong. He's joined on this trip by his wife Linda. It's her very first visit to India.
It was a real treat for me to watch the kids and staff of KP4 introduce themselves one-by-one to Jay, Greg and Linda. I was especially touched to see that one of the girls who at the time of admission into the home had been extremely malnourished, depressed and psychologically fragile was now smiling confidently and playing with the other children. The transformation was striking — when I saw her, I did a double take and had to confirm with Pastor Nandu that this was indeed the same child.
The beauty of the Himalayan mountains is often described as unmatched. But I know I speak for our entire team when I say that the smiles and the laughter we experienced today are more memorable, more beautiful by far.