cool::trekking to India

>> October 8, 2009

Continuing our Thursday series on cool things PWs are doing...

Michelle Wegner, a PW in Granger, IN, trekked to India this summer to, among other things, to teach other pastoral families about a healthy, balanced family life. Not only that, she blogged and twittered her entire trip! Here's a piece she wrote for Clutch about what they did and what they learned. Cool!

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My husband is part Indian, even though he’s really of German descent. When he’s in India, he blends in the culture like he was made to be there. He loves the food, relates incredibly well to the Indian pastors he works with, and thinks and feels like a Tamil man. He is a passionate, emotive, free-thinking entrepreneur. His love for Jesus is so obvious as the pastors and church planters we work with there.

There is one difference between my husband, a pastor, and his counterparts in India-The way he treats his family. The pastors are amazing pastors. They love Jesus, love their churches, love their children, love their wives, and mostly in that order.

So what did we do about it? We set out on the bravest venture of our lives as a family. We packed up and headed to Southern India for the entire month of June. We were a part of the first Family Life Conference in Southern India. We are by no means a perfect family, but there are things we have learned in 17 years of ministry and family life that have been valuable in maintaining our lives in a peaceful and functioning way. We were invited to host this conference by our on-site staff member D. Rajendran and his family.

Our experience in Southern India is an epic saga, with so many twists and turns we could fill a whole book with the details. I’ll just share about our week with the pastors and their families at the Family Life Conference.

Amazingly, the week we spent with these families was the first time the wives of the pastors were able to voice their hurt in a heart-felt way, and in a safe environment. The pastors were shocked, angered, and outraged at first. Then they slowly began to realize it was true. They wept. Then they laughed for joy at themselves for being so blind to this issue. Then they wept some more.

The wives were challenged by their husbands as well. The men did not feel respected by them. They spoke of the women having a casual relationship with Jesus, not a passionate one. The women repented. It was amazing.

Mukum Yellem Paul!

In Tamil that means, "Your face is full of teeth!" In other words, "That's the biggest smile I've ever seen!" It's the Tamil way of saying, "You look so happy that you’re going to burst!"

Pretty much, that sums up our Family Life Conference.

A major component of the FLC was not only teaching about healthy family life, but providing space to experience it.

Virtually every one of these pastors admitted they have never taken a day off with their family. If they did, they wouldn't know what to do.

Virtually every one of these pastors admitted they have never spent an evening alone with their wife. If they did, they wouldn't know what a "date" looked like.

We showed them what romance looks like. Rob and Rajendran modeled for the pastors what an engaged, loving husband and father does with his wife and kids during a Sabbath day.

Each day we provided a few hours in the afternoon where we modeled a day off for the families, enjoying nature, playing together, talking, laughing, and just plain relaxing.

One afternoon, we took them to the local lake and nature preserve. We ended up having the World Championship Paddle Boat Context: US vs. India!

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Rob provided navigation and the girls were the horsepower. The girls have a competitive streak (I wonder where they got that from?)

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The girls and I brought some crafts along to do with the children while the pastors and their wives were doing some serious soul-searching, repentance, and talking together. I could have never imagined that these crafts would be some of the coolest activities these kids had ever done. Who knew? The activities we provided drew the creativity out of the kids, broke down barriers, and created real community.

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We started all the sessions with the entire family involved. In other words, worship is as an aerobic exercise. We played games and danced like fools.

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The "touch the tongue to your nose" game was a big hit. Our girls showed off their mad skills. Many of the people were convinced this was a uniquely American skill, until Abuwanin stepped out of the crowd.

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If you're wondering if "having fun" can have an impact for Christ, listen to this observation one of the pastors made at the end of day two,

In India, as husband and wives, we won't reveal our love to their children. We won't hug, touch, or speak words of love in front of the children. These things are consider private. However, we will have arguments in front of them. We must go against our culture in this. Why would we show our anger, but not our love? If we don't come together to express our love as husband and wife before our children, how will they know the security that only comes in know that Mom and Dad are One in Love? We must change our culture for Christ.

When he said that, my face was full of teeth. MUKUM YELLEM PAUL!

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The rest of our time together was super-charged with love and life. I never feel the presence of Jesus as strong as when I am with a group of men and women committed to each other and passionate about Jesus such as these amazing men, women and children from Tamil Nadu. God moved in their hearts and lives in such a powerful way during our time with these pastors and their families, that I am certain Tamil Nadu will never be the same.

3 comments:

The Scatterbrain October 9, 2009 at 3:26 AM  

Hi!
I came over to your blog from Andrea Wood's. Being an Indian myself and from Tamil Nadu at that, I know what you are saying to be true. I just hope that there will be more programs like the one your family was involved with. My parents are involved in a similar misintry where they hold family life seminars for missionaries who come to the MUT guesthouse near our home. (Missionary Upholders Trust)

Carrie October 9, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

It is similar here in Eastern Europe (particularly among the Gypsies, which iirc, are originally from India), wrt family relationships. But cultural differences can be difficult to change.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures! Thanks for sharing!

betsey October 9, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

Michelle--I enjoyed seeing your perspective on the whole India trip and the conference.

I think most of the time I was thinking about the kids' culture shock--maybe we could get their ideas?

Love.

B

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