Posted by: janpierce | December 20, 2010

Our Trip to Hubli

   Our short two-day trip to Hubli was packed with visits, functions and touring of the countryside. Grace and her son Abhyudaya, otherwise known as Bunty had gone to lots of trouble to show us a good time while at the same time showing us their hopes and dreams for ministry. Grace is a widow who took an early retirement from bank work because she needed her retirement bonus to pay off the debt incurred as her husband died of kidney failure. Now she lives with her son and daughter in law and works with over 100 women whom she has formed into microbank groups. She oversees these groups which enable women to build equity as they save money for the education expenses of their children or to begin small businesses. Grace lives in Hubli which is another city in Karnataka and has over 500,000 people. It was a pleasant city with wide streets, lots of trees and many beautiful old historic churches. It also has the usual eye-popping sights for westerners:  elephants in the streets, herds of water buffalo competing for the traffic lanes, etc.

Our son, Josh went with us as we wanted to let him see some of the village life as well as the city. On Friday we drove to a remote area where some women from Hubli do a ministry outreach to 200 children of a village. There are both Hindu and Muslim children who come to the little church building weekly for songs, games and snacks. They hear about Jesus and have a good time. On the day we were there many children were absent as it was a Muslim festival day. The festival celebrates the martyrdom of a Muslim leader and is celebrated by serving a juice drink to the public and at nights by parades in which believers whip their backs as they go through the cities.

          

The kids had a great time singing songs and playing musical chairs. The highlight of the day was when they had the adults play musical chairs and Roger won. He made a big show of elbowing the women out of the way and the boys cheered loudly and mobbed him as their hero. I helped to pass out the snack plates and everyone was happy.

Later that evening there was a gathering of all the women in the five self-help groups. It was their annual Christmas meeting. The pastor of Grace’s church was there. They had singing and some opening remarks and then as chief guest I was asked to speak. I learned about five minutes before that I was to speak for thirty minutes on something to inspire the women to greatness. I have a hard time being great and inspiring, but this is India so I did my best. Then a scrumptious biryani dinner was served and the traditional Christmas cake which is a light version of fruit cake.

  

We stayed at a very nice hotel where we had a living room, two flat-screened tv’s, nice beds and so forth. We saw a lot of police around and later learned that a local Hindu radical and mafia guy was also staying in the same hotel. We saw him leave the building–long blondish pony-tail, he looked like a Hollywood actor.

On Saturday we spent the whole day visiting various relatives and having tea, seeing some historic church buildings from missionary days and then a long drive out into the countryside to see villages where Grace hopes to live and minister soon. She is prepared to live amongst the people, walk on foot between five villages, continue micro-bank projects, begin a small dairy and composting venture and teach all these things to local women. When she has gained rapport with them she will begin to share about her faith in Jesus. She is very organized and determined but needs money to buy land. Land is surprisingly expensive in India. On our drive we passed a gigantic Jain temple which is being built. It represents nine planets and nine gods. Look for the people to see the size of the statues. We also saw typical village life: women washing clothes in a river, men building a road by hand, two men plowing a field by standing on a piece of wood to force the plow into the ground while being pulled by two water buffalo, lots of brick-making sites and more.

     

     

We stopped in a small town and bought little plants. On the stems are little pods called groundnuts. They taste like raw peas. We also bought some drinks on the way and were accosted by two women who beg and then try to tell fortunes. When they saw the Jesus image on the car’s dashboard they assured that our Jesus would help us too.

  

Here is the final meal we ate before leaving Hubli and catching our flight back to Bangalore. We  were exhausted, but it was worth it.

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