Posted by: janpierce | November 24, 2009

Bingo and Goodbyes and Preach it, Sister!

I am actually writing this from the comfort of my own home. We lost internet connection at TENT for the last four days we were there and then in Hyderabad the internet cafes were not open on our last Sunday. Anyway we had a very long and unfortunately eventful (if you count diarrhea and vomiting) trip home. It took 38 hours. My bed literally felt like it was floating me in a nice warm web of comfort after the hard beds of India.

Back to our last days there. After I taught my last sessions I decided to have a bingo night for the women. They were done with their papers (strategic action plans for cross-cultural evangelism in their home districts) and were feeling like college kids after finals. So I made up the bingo cards and we used little boxes of raisins for markers. I had an assortment of little gifts and junk left from the trip and away we went. Not one of them had ever heard of bingo. They thought it was fun to win, but were too shy to call out “bingo” when they got five in a row. Roger roamed around helping them and it was really a hoot. They all had a good time and even losers were winners with extra prizes at the end of the time. One of the older women didn’t ever win and she was so funny sitting there with her little pile of raisins and not getting any of the numbers. I wish I had video of the expressions on her face. Women are the same everywhere I guess as the cosmetic prizes were the first to go.

Then it was time for their commissioning service which was a combination of a Christmas church service and a graduation type program. The men and women had combined to learn a version of the Christmas story so they can use it as outreach when they get home. The men really hammed it up as shepherds complete with a live goat and a real fire burning in one of the metal pans they use over there to move sand and gravel and things. The angel had a strobe light behind her to make her seem otherworldly and the lines were all given loudly in broken English.

There were two events related to this program that made me add the “preach it, Sister” to my title. Mary Vijayam, 75 year old wife of the director of TENT directed the play. She was unhappy at the last rehearsal because the men were late and somewhat unprepared. She said, “Do you know that 85% of the work done in the country of India is done by women? She looked the men in the eyes and after a long pause said…………… “So be nice to your mothers.” I wanted to laugh out loud, but of course I couldn’t. The men were duly chastened and the rehearsal went on. The speaker for the women’s commissioning service was a theology professor from one of the Theology colleges in Hyderabad. She was a smart cookie. She spoke to the women about leadership and their roles as evangelists to the people of their home areas. She said that traditionally a large majority of the work of evangelism has been done world-wide by women. She also said that India has been progressive in having women in political leadership roles. Right now the president of Andhra Pradesh is a woman and Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister. Her question was, “Where is the church?” In her college there are over 200 students and only 14 of them are women. She scolded the churches for not encouraging women to take leadership roles.

Then it was time for goodbyes. The four women from Manipur had a four-day trip ahead of them, two days and nights on a train and two more by bus. It was remarkable to realize the strength of the bonds we made with those 14 women in only two short weeks. It will be interesting to see how many of the women keep in touch. Those who have electricity can use e-mail. Many are in remote areas without such luxuries.

So now we’re home and it’s sort of winter here. I just came from summer-like weather. I have to get into the holiday spirit. Honestly the best gift I received in a long time was the first night in my comfy bed.



  1. I think I would’ve busted out laughing while pointing at those guys that Mary Vijayam had chastised…maybe better I wasn’t there:)

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