Sunday, February 27, 2011

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

Many of you have asked if the children at the Jack Nelle Institute in Vijayawada, India have their mattresses yet. We are happy to let you know that the mattresses were made and delivered and are now making those metal beds a good bit more comfortable.

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hello Delhi

Saturday we flew to Delhi and were greeted at the airport by Joy Miller Allen who works with her husband, Kyle. They are FHU alumni. Joy helped us acquire taxis and went with us to our hotel to help us get settled in for the evening.

Sunday morning we checked out of the hotel and went to the Allen's home to store our luggage and left for church services with them. Kyle arranged for our taxi driver, a Sikh, to take us to the church building.

Services were conducted in part by Bro. Sonny David who has been to the FHU Lectureship. We also saw his brother, Samson David, whom we had met before at FHU. He holds a very high position in the university system of India.

It was interesting to see how many connections we had with the people there.

The Allen's daughters were absolutely delightful!
We had lunch together at a Ruby Tuesday's, happy to have something familiar to eat.

Our team of seven left Delhi, taking only overnight bags, and rode a small private tourist bus to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. An artist demonstrated the art of inlaying white marble with precious stones, as was done in decorating the Taj. Small pieces of lapis, malachite, mother-of-pearl, and carnelian are cut and smoothed on a polishing wheel. Small gouges in the marble are then fitted with colorful gems forming designs, secured with their special homemade glue and then polished.

The Taj Mahal was partially obscured by the early morning fog, but still magnificent.

-Laurel Sewell
Location:Delhi, India

Leaving the Jack Nelle Institute

As we leave the Institute, the lane is lined with the same children as when we arrived the week before. But they were no longer a sea of faces that looked as much alike as their little school uniforms. They were now individuals whose names and stories and personalities are unique and memorable. We will remember Small Boy who was admitted to the Institute even though he was too young to qualify but too hard to turn away.

We will remember the child whose smile and impish behavior reminded us of our own grandson. I will remember the girls I nicknamed "the twins," much to their delight, because they were always together and braided and looped their hair in the same fashion.

We will remember the little widowed or abandoned women who now have a home and a purpose, working in the kitchen or helping care for the children.
We will remember the young woman who is in love with a certain young man, but whose parents refuse to arrange a marriage for them.

The previously posted vignettes feature the newest enrollees, but regardless of how long the children have been here, each has a story to tell of hard luck and providential rescue, giving them a home, a church family, an education, and a chance for a happier and more productive life.

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27).

Thank you Chandrapal and Kumari, Titus and Joyce, the faculty and staff of the Jack Nelle Institute, the Leoma Church of Christ and all the other churches and individuals who make this verse of scripture come to life.

- Laurel Sewell

Location:Vijayawada, India

Vignettes -- Bullamma and Nagaruju

The following stories are brief introductions to the children and women who came to live at the institute in the last year or two.

Bullamma, whose name means "small mother" is deaf and unable to speak. She married and had a son, Nagaruju. Her husband soon tired of her and left her and their 4-year-old son without any means of support. Bullamma's brother, a preacher and graduate of the preacher-training program brought the little woman and her son to live at the Institute.

Even though the Institute was already at capacity, Chandrapal and his wife, Kumari could not turn them away. At first Nagaruju was afraid to interact with the other children, often locking himself in the bathroom to avoid others.
He became a caretaker for his mother, serving as her interpreter because of her deafness.

Now Nagaruju appears to be healthy and well-adjusted. His mother, Bullamma, works in the kitchen, happy to have a home and be near her son.

Nagaruju shown here with Jay Dryden in a "David and Goliath" pose.

- Laurel Sewell

Location:Vijayawada, India

Vignettes - P. Prashanthi, K. Dhanalakshmi, M. Anusha and Mahesh

Note: the last name initial is given first, and the people are called by their given names.

P. Prashanthi is one of three daughters whose father, a wealthy man, was unhappy because he had only wanted sons. At the urging of his own mother, he sent his wife and daughters away, leaving them without support.

Prashanthi's mother came to the Institute to work as a cook and later left to work in a garment factory. Finding it difficult to care for the daughters alone, she allowed one to be adopted, kept the youngest, and brought Prashanthi to live at the Institute. Prashanthi has finished school now and is in her second year at the local Junior College.


K. Dhanalakshmi was 9 years old when she came to the Institute in May, 2010. After her mother had died, her father left with another woman. Abandoned, she roamed between the homes of her relatives in the village, sometimes sleeping in one of their thatched huts or in the church building. The preacher in the village, a graduate of the Institute, began to study with some of her relatives and also with her. When he discovered that no one was taking responsibility for her, he asked Dhanalakshmi if she would like to go to live at the orphanage. She said yes. He bought her a couple of dresses, since she was wearing rags. She is now in fourth grade and doing well.


M. Anusha, age 13, and her brother M. Mahesh, age 10, were two children of a drunken father who died, leaving his wife to care for three children, her sister, and her husband's sister. The mother's brother offered to go collect the insurance money for her, and then disappeared with it. This left her destitute and depressed to the point of sickness and death.

The two aunts, with the help of the children, began making liquor and selling it to support themselves. A minister who had heard of the Jack Nelle Institute brought two of the three children here and left the third at another orphanage. The aunts were able to close the business, entered nursing school, and became nurses.

Before Mahesh entered the institute he used to go out all day and no one knew whether he ate anything or not. Consequently, he was severely malnourished. He fell down often and had trouble breathing. His attacks sent him to the hospital on four or five occasions. Joyce, a medical doctor and wife of Titus, the school's principal, took charge of his diet, giving him eggs every day instead of 2 or 3 times a week like the other students and milk twice each day instead of only once. He has regained his health.

Mahesh and Anusha knew no English at all when they entered the Institute, but now read and write in English as well as their native Telugu.

- Laurel Sewell

Location:Vijayawada, India

Vijayababu and family

Vijayababu shown here with his wife Elizabeth and their two sons, Akash and Ajith.

Vijayababu's story is an interesting one. He was formerly an atheist and full-time worker for the Communist Party. Chandrapal taught him about God and in1993 baptized him. He studied at the Institute and is now, as he says, "a full-time worker in God's work." He is minister for a church in Chanubanda, a congregation of 60 members, and also teaches at a church of about 50 at Tiruvuyu. He also teaches a Timothy Bible School for rural youth. His son, Akashi is a great example of the teaching he has received, as he has a great knowledge of the Bible for his young age.

Vijayababu serves as a teacher at the Jack Nelle Institute and is a member of it's Board of Trustees.

- Laurel Sewell

Location:Vijayawada, India

Graduation of the preacher-training school at the Jack Nelle Institute

Preparations are being made for graduation. A large tent is erected to shield us from the hot sun. Although it is their winter season, we find it pleasantly warm, but mothers wrap their babies in caps and blankets.

Our hostess, Kumari wishes to dress us--Hilde, Janet, and me--in the traditional saris for the ceremony. We feel like Cinderella as three young ladies choose our wardrobe and begin to wrap us in the beautiful fabrics. There is quite an art to dressing in a sari!

Graduation is a very big occasion for them with the graduates dressed in bright saffron-yellow robes and faculty in red and blue ones. They provided robes for us to wear also. Milton delivered the graduation address and other words of encouragement were given by Arliss Gray, Jay Dryden, and Lynnwood Cockerham.

Diplomas were presented to the 32 graduates of the preacher-training school, including a few preachers' wives who completed the 2-year course in Bible along with their husbands.

A lunch of curried lamb and rice was served to the crowd. We were told that the 10 sheep that were delivered the previous day and slaughtered early this morning yielded 400 pounds of meat. This was cooked and served along with several hundred pounds of rice.

-Laurel Sewell

Location:Vijayawada, India