Thursday, June 28, 2007

Reflections: Kevin and Janet Maggert

We don’t think there is any good way to prepare for India. The country is beautiful, extreme, rich, and poor. The colors of the buildings, saris, and faces bring life to sites that might not be so appealing. You may see:

-goat heads in the market place

-elephants on the roadways

-billboards for the latest flat screen TV’s.

-buildings of marble

-homes of thatch and cardboard

-piles of trash and garbage with cows and goats dining

If all this sounds strange or exaggerated, you will soon get to see it through your own eyes. So our advice to the team is to RELAX! Learn, Listen and let God show you the heart of the Indian people who will blow you away with their hospitality, care and love.

Reflections: Jay Aquila

1) What amazed you most about India?
How God can do so much with so little. The people God put in place within most of the church plants were not people of stature. Nor were they highly trained scholars – But they were people seeking God’s kingdom and wanting to bring God’s love to the people of India. There really is no money to be passed around. There’s just enough for what is needed. Even when we visited our selected churches, we did not bring much more than ourselves, and our stories. And look how God used us!

2) What stressed you out the most while in India?
Just the feeling of not being able to do more. When you touch down in India, you’ll see that this new world around you has a lot of problems. Things that in America seem so elementary, like garbage collection. There’s trash everywhere! All you want to do, thinking in “Mission Trip” mode, is that you have to clean it up. Or - Why isn’t anyone cleaning it up? Or – Why did our hosts just tell me to toss my water bottle on the ground? It doesn’t make sense, and I wanted it to … badly. I wanted it to make sense to the people I was visiting. But trash collection, cast system shake up’s, and distribution of wealth wasn’t what we were here for. We could only hope that by showing people Jesus, that these separate issues would be worked out by the people we meet and show the love of Christ.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"I'll Take 'Malaria Chemoprophylaxis' for $500, Alex!"

Crew! Wanted to let you know that Dr. Don Wolfram handed me two articles that he pulled from a couple of medical journals about both Traveler's Diarrhea and also Malaria. They're both very extensive, and will yield a lot of information, and you may want to peruse them just to see what they have to say.

You can click here for the article on Traveler's Diarrhea, and here for the article on Malaria. Both articles are in PDF format, so you'll need an Adobe product to read them if you don't have it loaded onto your computer. If you need Adobe Reader, you can download it for free from Adobe's main web site, or by clicking here.


Team Training #4: Team Building and Basic Medical

We had a great time on Monday night at our 4th India Team Training! During the couple of hours that we had together, our friends Scott Crouch and Dave Cherrone led us through the process of both doing some fun team activities as well as helping to better prepare us for the field.

Pictured here are both Scott (on the left) and Dave (on the right) assembling what we came to know as "The Laser", which was used as a team building exercise for us to learn to not only trust and depend on one another, but how to collaborate and plan strategically in order to accomplish a goal. What are the rules, you may ask? Well, the "simple" objective is to get your team from one side of The Laser to the other. But while the objective may sound "simple", the execution of it is more complicated. Here's why:

1) You're not allowed to touch any of the "laser" beams that span the framework. Almost as if we were all trying to re-enact a scene from Entrapment... except that we're not stealing anything.

2) You're not allowed to use the same "hole" in the lasers more than once. One person can go through one hole one time. Some holes are bigger than others, so figuring out which team members go through which is a part of the planning process.

3) You can use "stuff around you". My belt, for instance, became a sort of sling that we would use to bolster each other around the mid-section in order to keep lower backs and bellies from hitting a laser in the process of transfer. We also used chairs and other items to accomplish our objectives when they were beneficial.

It may not seem that difficult, but trying to get 13 people through The Laser was tougher than expected. We ended up doing some pretty Cirque Du Soleil looking maneuvers to get certain team members through or over. Hayley and Brandy, for instance, were hoisted to a height of nearly 10 feet on the shoulders of Don Wolfram and then passed to waiting team members on the other side in order to utilize smaller holes at the top of The Laser, while i (yes... i know... 230 pounds might be a little much to "hoist" anywhere) opted for larger holes closer to the bottom.

The first time around, Scott pretty much let us try to figure it out on our own, and it took us 25 minutes. The second time through, he told us some good "tricks of the trade", and we managed to shave off 7 minutes for a record time of 18 minutes! Way to go, team!

After The Laser, we gathered around as Dave Cherrone helped us through the basics of CPR (Dave shown here with an "Annie" dummy, which we used to practice the CPR and related compressions), the Heimlich Maneuver (for choking or blocked airway), and then on to some basic field first aid. We learned about treating insect and snake bite related injuries, as well as talked about heat and dehydration issues, fatigue, and bleeding. We even got some good "hands on" experience with the process of proper bandaging and care of related wounds.

Overall, we had fun, learned some good stuff, and are now moving faster toward our actual departure date!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Reminder: Team Training #4

Crew! Don't forget that we have training tonight (Monday) from 6 - 8:30 pm at GCC in the Jungle Room! It will be one of our more "active" training sessions as we will enjoy guest appearances from two of our friends and ministry partners: Scott Crouch and Dave Cherrone.

Part 1: The "Laser"
Scott Crouch works with the Niles Fire Department and has a passion for team building! He regularly helps GCC teams to prepare for the field by designing fun ways to foster trust and teamwork beforehand. One of the more creative processes that he has engineered is called "The Laser", and consists of a wooden structure constructed to provide a framework for bands of multi-colored lights. These lights serve as imaginary "lasers" that you are not allowed to touch as you move each member of the team through the web. Oh, and the "catch" is that you can only use one "hole" one time, so figuring out who goes through in what order and how they do so is just as much as part of the process as the actual "going". At the end of the experience, you will find that you have to crawl, hurdle and carry team members through in various fashions, and it's usually good for a laugh or two if nothing else.

Part 2: Medic!
Dave Cherrone currently works with the Clay Fire Department, has worked to build the GCC Medical Team, and also provides basic medical training to area schools and organizations. Dave has helped past GCC India teams to prepare for the field by providing a "crash course" on basic field medical practices (including CPR), and has also graciously provided his expertise in assembling the team "medical bag", which is carried to the field by teams as a basic first aid kit in the event of need.
Shown here is Dave demonstrating proper jaw lift techniques in preparation for CPR with Beda "Skip" Dodge in conjunction with preparation for one of 2006's Tsunami Relief teams. Other basic items covered by Dave will include:

* Heat issues (burn, rash, stroke, etc.)
* Insect and animal bites, allergies and irritations
* Recognizing, understanding and dealing with the basics of trauma
* Dehydration
* Abdominal and intestinal issues

While it's always great to say that we never hope to need any of Dave's training, we are always grateful to have it. As the old saying goes, "Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it."

Reflections: Zach Allen

What is the one thing you would tell the team that could help to prepare them for leaving?

Be relaxed! The trip was so well managed, from both the GCC and the Bible League, that there is little to worry about. The Bible League staffers in India will take such good care of you that you’ll feel spoiled during the entire time. The trust I had in the people leading me allowed me to relax and enjoy every moment of the trip. “Worry will not add another moment to your life…”

What did you think of the food?

I loved it! Of course, there were some things that took a little getting used to, but all in all, everything tasted great. I heard stories of unpalatable food and digestive nightmares, but I really enjoyed it. Even more, spending ten days with completely natural food was wonderful for my body – I’ve never felt healthier than the day I returned from India.

Note: Zach travelled to India in August of 2005.


Thursday evening, the team experienced its first round of immunizations for travelling to India in August, and the St. Joseph County Health Department came to the GCC campus to administer the injections!

Starting at about 6 p.m., team members began rolling in to have their "destiny with the dosages", and with the exception of the tetanus shot booster (which can be notoriously a little uncomfortable in the shoulder after it's injected), each member emerged feeling better prepared for the the upcoming trip both psychologically and physically.

As a general rule, most team members opted for the "Twin-Rix" Hepatitis A & B immunization, and while it's expensive ($50/dose and given in 3 separate doses), once finished, will allow immunization against those disease strains for life.

Most also requested Typhoid (a single dose injection that protects against the primarily water-borne pathogen), and a few also took advantage of several "booster" as well, including Tetanus, Polio, Measels & Mumps.

On their own, each team member will be consulting with their physician to get properly medicated for Malaria as well. Usually, we have found that most physicians tend to steer clear of Larium and its generic form, Mefloquin, and we have had bad "field" experience with Doxycycline (a general antibiotic that also possesses decent anti-malarial properties) as it tends to cause stomach irritation and severe skin sensitivity to sunlight (of which there is an abundance in India). We have had pretty good luck with the drug called Malarone as an anti-malarial, and have usually found that it "bundles" well with a general antibiotic called "Cipro" (short for Ciproflaxin, i believe) for intestinal safeguard against nasties that might be ingested.

Because a few of the injections are required in multiple doses, we will be offering a second opportunity to receive them on Thursday, July 19th, from 5:45 - 6:45 p.m. in the Meeting Room at GCC.

If you plan to be here on the 19th for more injections, please remember the following:

* You can raise support to cover your shots, but that increases your total support required amount accordingly.

* You need to let either Skip Dodge ( or Jeanna Tripp ( know that you are planning to attend and what you will be needing in the way of shots before you get there so that they can relay to the SJC Health Dept.

Finally, you can also contact the SJC Health Dept on your own if you would like to do so or missed the opportunity to get your shots here at GCC. You can, of course also ask your family physician to recommend and administer your injections.


Resource Recommendation: AIDS in Asia: A Continent in Peril

Crew! Hey, i would like to recommend that you pick up a copy of Susan Hunter's AIDS in Asia: A Continent in Peril.

"Why? We're not going to work with HIV/AIDS issues when we go to India, are we?", you might be asking, and rightfully so. And while the direct answer is "no, not specifically", this book outlines many of the cultural and social issues that exist in Indian (and other southeast Asian) cultures that make engaging such issues as HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related social issues such a difficult challenge. In addition, many of the church planters with whom we will be working ARE engaging HIV/AIDS issues in their contexts, and while it may be said that we are not engaging that issue directly through our trip, many of the people we are going to serve will be engaging it if they are not already.

According to Hunter, 3% of India is currently HIV positive. By 2010, that figure is expected to rise to 10% (which would be 140,000,000 people). If trends hold, HALF of all of those cases will be located geographically in Tamilnadu, where we do the bulk of our work. In addition, if the former holds true for speculation, then by 2010, there will be almost 3 times as many cases of HIV/AIDS in India than the entire continent of Africa (remember that Africa is a continent with 54 countries... India is a single nation).

Hunter worked for several years with the UNAIDS (The United Nations special task force on the HIV/AIDS issue), and has a very hand's on perspective on not only AIDS, but the social and community implications as well. She is by no means an avowed Christ-follower, and many of her conclusions are downright anti-male (the whole "men are evil and the root of all problems in the world" perspective kind of rubs me the wrong way... though there are some who might agree :- ), but she provides a great analysis of how culture and other issues are often "entangled" with other ones, and how no issue operates in a vacuum. I learned a lot about Indian culture that i didn't already know and often this was completely separate from the HIV/AIDS issue.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Change in Departure Date

Hey Everyone,
It's official, we will be departing for India on Sunday, July 29th instead of Monday, July 30th. Here are the flight details in case you're interested:

To India:
-Sunday, July 29, 2007
Air India-Flight AI 0124
Depart: Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport-9:30p.m.
Arrive: Bombay Mumbai Airport-Tuesday, July 31, 2:05a.m.

-Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Flight IT 0103
Depart: Bombay Mumbai Airport-9a.m.
Arrive: Bangalore Hindustan Airport-10:30a.m.

-Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Flight IT 2435
Depart: Bangalore Hindustan Airport-1:30p.m.
Arrive: Tiruchirapally Civil Airport-2:25p.m.


Return to US:
-Monday, August 6, 2007
Flight IT 2436
Depart: Tiruchirapally Civil Airport-2:55p.m.
Arrive: Bangalore Hindustan Airport-3:50p.m.

-Monday, August 6, 2007
Flight IT 0110
Depart: Bangalore Hindustan Airport-6:20p.m.
Bombay Mumbai Airport-7:50p.m.

-Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Air India-Flight AI 0125
Depart: Bombay Mumbai Airport-5:45a.m.
Arrive: Chicago O'Hare Int'l Airport-3:15p.m.

Let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reflections: From the Heart of Rob Wegner

What amazed you most about India?

The people! More specifically, the church planters.

Let me tell you about Anon. Anon is an electrical engineer. He has a full time job. In addition to that, he has planted a church among an unreached people group called the Malayali. In the area he is working in, Manure ( say it just like it reads), there were no Christians before he came.

So, along with two other team members, I got to visit one of the three villages Anon works in. There are no roads that lead to this village. We drove on the paved roads until they ended. Then we drove off road until the trails ended. Then we hiked up a mountain 10 kilometers to 8,000 feet. That’s Anon's ride to his ministry. So, get this… Anon puts in a 50 hour week. Then on Friday, he gets in a bus, takes it a couple hours outside the city of Salem. When the bus stops, he gets off, climbs up the mountain and spends the whole weekend, every weekend, in the village. He gets up Sunday morning at 3:00 am because he has to be back in Salem at 8:00 am for work. He does this every weekend! It takes me 10 minutes to drive to GCC. I’m complaining about the cost of gas.

Experiencing life in this village was like going hundreds of years back in time. Houses made out of mud and thatch. People have millstones on their porches so they can grind wheat to make bread. People live their entire lifetimes up on this mountain. For example, when I was preparing to speak, I asked Raj, “Hey I want to use the illustration about a train.” He said,”They won’t know what a train is.”

They don’t get visitors in this village. As far as anyone knew, we were the first white men in this village. So you can imagine, ministering in this village is not without it’s challenges. In fact, the first three months of his ministry, they wouldn’t even come out of their homes to speak with Anon. But he kept coming back, week after week. I was thinking, “You know what…I’d be done after 2 trips. I’d be thinking…You people are hard-hearted. Jesus gave us permission to dust our feet and leave a town that’s unreceptive. That’s what I’m doing. I’m out of here.”

But Anon kept coming back. He’d bring little gifts. Eventually, one family broke the silence and spoke to him. One of the first things they asked him, “How did you make it up the mountain alive at night?” He’s thinking, “It’s not that hard of a climb.” They said, “The demon gods... did they not attack you? The evil spirits fill the countryside. We won’t go down at night.”

Anon proclaimed, “That’s why I’ve come. You don’t need to fear evil. I come to tell you God has sent his Son to set you free from fear. He has come to set you free from death.”

No response. Blank stares. No interest. He leaves the village that night discouraged.

Next weekend, when he returns, this family runs to greet him. They said, “We know your God must have power. Every night, before you came, we hear the demons at night. The rocks would always rumble, the sound of an avalanche, at night. Since last weekend, the rocks no longer rumble. The demons must be scared of you.”

OK, that’s a Twilight Zone episode. I know the cynical, rationalist, western mindset wants to punch that full of holes. But let me say, “Is God God or not? Does God speak through culture or not?” So, for Anon, the conversations began at three months in. Still, no one has decided to follow Jesus.

On our climb up, Anon says, “About six months in, I was ready to give up. No converts. So few resources. It’s so hard.” He said, “I sat down at this very rock where we are sitting right now. I told the Lord, “I’m ready to give up.” He said, “Jesus spoke to me. He appeared to me.” Jesus said, “Anon, if I loved these people enough to die on a cross for them, the least you can do is climb up this mountain.”

I was thinking, “Ouch. Jesus Smackdown! Jesus, why do you have to be so rough on him?”

But then, he said something I’ll never forget. Anon took Jesus’ words in the exact opposite way I would have. He trusted the heart of God more than I would. He said, “Immediately, my heart filled with joy because I knew Jesus didn’t die on the cross, rise from the grave, and then call me up this mountain, so this village would remain lost.” He said, “I knew then that the whole village would know my Lord. Not only that, but that they would send out missionaries to reach all the other villages in the area. I immediately rose and went up the mountain filled with hope again!”

Let me say I stood in awe at Anon’s totally confidence in God’s love for him and God’s ability to pull the impossible off. I still stand in awe at his relentless commitment and tireless hours of work. Now, there is a thriving church up on that mountain. The week we were there another couple dozen villagers decided to leave their old gods to follow Jesus.

Anon comes from another church we have been mentoring. They’ve grown to 600 in less then three years and they’ve already sent out 30 church planters! Anon is just one of them.

It blows my mind to think that GCC had a little part in helping Anon reach the Malayali people. The Malayali will be in Heaven now. The Malayali people are now included in the present Kingdom of God. Before Anon went up the mountain, this wasn’t true, but it is now. We’re a part of that, friends.

The brothers and sisters in Christ you will meet in India will leave an indelible mark on your life. Go ready to listen and to learn. Sit at their feet. Ask good questions. Listen intently. And ask, "Jesus, what would You have me do to serve these great people?"

Reflections: Jeanna Miller

What amazed you most about India?
The sense of relaxed urgency. India is a very fast-paced country – from the quantity of things to accomplish to the traffic moving at a frighteningly fast speed – and yet there was always time to “take rest”, there was always time for family, friends and building relationships. It’s ironic that I had to travel across the world, to a place that runs at warp speed, to learn how to integrate relaxation into my every day schedule.

What did you pack that, after getting to India, you either never used or wished you would have left behind?
I was scared about the food we would be eating. In fact, I think our whole team was, because all of us packed insane amounts of non-perishable food. A little would have been perfect, I packed too much. We never had to worry about being hungry while in India – even i
f Indian food isn’t your favorite, there is always bread, rice and fruits of different sorts. The only time we broke out our supply was in the airports and our last night at the hotel when we were too tired to venture out for dinner. And that night a little container of peanut butter with crackers was like heaven. I would have had much more room in my suitcase for souvenirs if I hadn’t over packed with food. Word to the wise though – if the Indian people say something is “good for digestion” they really mean it, and consume in small amounts!

Reflections: Becky Callender

* What amazed you most about India? The hospitality shown by everyone we came in contact with – not just TBL people, not just church planters, but Indians in general. They’re warm and generous and loving people.

* What did you think of the food? It won’t kill you. It might make you vomit on the side of the road before taking a 3 hour bus ride, but it won’t kill you.

* What stressed you out the most while you were in India? The antibiotics didn’t agree with me. The lack of modern bathrooms was intimidating at first, but it’s surprising how quickly one can overcome that! When you gotta go – just do what you have to do! :)

* What did you "take away" from the trip that still impacts you today? A lasting friendship – I’m still in contact with a couple of friends, and I can’t wait to see them again!

* What was the smartest thing you packed (i.e. the thing you were most glad you had when you got there)? Toilet paper. And snacks – granola bars, trail mix, etc. And baby wipes – they’re great for cleaning up between showers, which you feel you need to do – A LOT!!

* What did you pack that, after getting to India, you either never used or wished you would have left behind? Don’t bother with make-up or hair products.

* What did God teach you through your time in India? Many things, but among them, that Americans are a very blessed people. EVERYONE should be required to travel to a 3rd World country at least once in their lives.

Reflections: Val Qualey

What amazed you most about India? India may be a "Third World Country" but very early on, God showed me that within India there are amazing men and women of keen intellect and capacity to change their nation. Such a man is Rajendran, with the Bible League, that you will soon be meeting! Another friend (shown here) leads a community health initiative in Northern Tamil Nadu, that is literally transforming villages and lives. He has been implementing healthcare, housing, and micro-enterprise schemes with amazing success for nearly 10 years. He is my mentor and teacher when I have questions about health issues in India. It is best to go to India, not with answers, but with lots of questions. You will learn a lot if you take the time to listen!

What did God teach you through your time in India?
The man pictured here taught me what true joy is all about! Joy does not depend on circumstances or situation, but rather on an inner contentment and happiness in spite of circumstances. This man, a destitute leper, cast out by his family, nearly blind, deformed and disabled by his disease gave me a clear picture of joy. Spending an afternoon with him and his friends at Shantigram humbled me. I have a lot to learn about joy, and this picture helps me to remember every day, to not focus on the negative but rather to rejoice in everything! As you travel to India, prepare for God to shake up your priorities and attitudes.

: Val is one of our "pioneers" who led some of the first ventures to India from GCC. She has led teams, has been several times, and has most recently helped us to design much of what will become our HIV/AIDS intervention strategy for Indian church planters as they engage that tragedy in their contexts. Val has a passion for India, and we have been privileged to have her expertise and experience as we have moved forward on a macro-scale in taking our next steps in that environment.

Reflections: Skip Dodge

Crew! I thought that you might like to hear some things from other past team members from time to time as you prepare to go yourselves. So i asked Skip Dodge to give me her angle on the following two questions:
1) What amazed you most about India?
What amazed me the most about India was how nice and welcoming all the people of India were. We were complete strangers, but yet they welcomed us like we were family. They would do or give us anything just to make sure we were taken care of. Everyone from the Bible League to the people off the streets. As I felt the welcomed by these strangers (and there were thousands of them), I realized that God loves each of them just like us.

2) What is one thing you would tell the team that could help to prepare them for leaving?
To help prepare you for leaving for India I would tell you: Prepare yourself for God to do what you never thought possible. Prepare yourself to rely on God wholly for everything especially with being flexible. God will challenge you like you've never experienced before and will stretch you to limits you never though possible. Spend as much time as you can in the Bible and in prayer. Then, when everything changes last minute, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is still with you and that He will take care of you.

Note: Skip travelled to India twice in 2006 to work with Indian church planters who are operating in the tsunami zones. Both teams helped to build 27 homes total in the tsunami regions of southern India, and gave TBL church planters the opportunity to demonstrate that Jesus cares for the everyday needs of people as well as their hearts and souls.

Skip also volunteers regularly with a variety of GCC ongoing teams, including the Angel Team (administrative teams) within the Life Mission Department, and the Connections Cafe.

Food Simulation: Star of India

On Monday night, we all met at the Star of India restaurant on Grape Road at 6:30 p.m. and had a great time experimenting with India food.

We started with "Chicken 65", a dish that has a variety of stories in regard to how it got its name, but which our friend Rajendran in India claims to be due to the fact that it has "65 spices" in its process of cooking.

This was shortly followed by vegetable briani (something akin to long-grain vegetable fried rice), white rice, dahl makahni (a thick "bean soup" that is dumped over the rice), chicken curry (featured in picture here), nan (a crispy, wafer-like "chip" that is the size of a saucer), nan (grilled "tortilla" bread), and, of course, Chai Tea.
The "Rules of Engagement" for the evening? Simple! They were as follows:

1) No silverware. In India, most food is served without silverware and is roughly the consistency of Campbell's Chunky Soup. As a result, you "access" it best by simply using your hands to mush everything together into a soupy pile and then "scooping" it with four fingers into your mouth.

2) No napkin. In most rural settings in India (i.e. the kinds of areas where our team will be working), napkins are generally not provided nor used. As a result, your fingers stay pretty messy as you move from one part of your plate to the other, and just learning to enjoy the amalgamation of flavors is part of the game. Either that or your pants get pretty messy if you insist on wiping your fingers after every bite :- )

3) No left hand. In India, the only thing you do with your left hand is what you normally do with toilet paper when you go to the bathroom. As a result, you don't use your left hand for anything else, particularly if it involves eating or other people. That's why if you used your left hand to help you eat on Monday night, i Karate-chopped your wrist. Or maybe not... but you get the idea.

Overall, the team did a great job! They enjoyed the food and the experience, and felt wiser and more prepared when we left!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Don't Forget! Shots: Round 1

Crew! Hey, just wanted to remind you that the SJC Health Dept will be on premises here at GCC tomorrow night before New Community (Thursday, June 21) to administer immunizations for you as you prepare to go to India. Some quick reminders about tomorrow night:
* Time: 5:45 - 6:45 pm
* Place: Meeting Room by Staff Offices
* Don't worry... if you don't know where the Staff Offices are, we'll have someone in the Atrium to direct you.
* Please come prepared to pay for your own shots. You may also raise support to cover the cost of shots, but be aware of the fact that such increases your total amount to raise, and therefore the amount necessary for your "full support due". Below are the costs associated with each immunization:
  • Twin-Rix (Hepatitis A & B)*: $50
  • Typhoid: $58
  • Polio Update**: $37
  • Tetanus: $8
  • Measles/Mumps: $50
* Twin-Rix is a 3 dose vaccination. Each dose costs $50, but when you are finished with the full cycle, you will be immune to Hep A and B for life.
** If you have not had a Polio booster since childhood, you will want/need to have this.

See you then!