Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Friends

I am so thankful to all the people we met while staying in Calcutta.  They  made our stay much more enjoyable and comfortable.  To the people who took care of us at the Volunteer house and the staff at the hospital and last but not least the leadership of Mercy Ministries.  Thank you so very much.

Geraldine and Jean
You both were a tremendous help to us and a resource of knowledge and information. We couldn't have done some of the things we did without your help. We wish you both the best in your future endeavors and hope to see you again someday. 

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to spend time with us and all the time you spent in keeping in touch with us before we even got to Calcutta.  

Pastor Joshua
Thank you for your labor of love for the patients of the hospital.  We enjoyed going on rounds with you to pray for the patients.

Orijeet and Pastor Phillip
Many thanks to Orijeet and Pastor Phillip and their staff at the Volunteer house for your care and attention to our every need.  We appreciate all that you did to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable. 

Chinese Dinner with AG members

Our team enjoyed a wonderful chinese dinner with members of the AG church and Mercy Ministries.  We are here with Huldah Buntain one of the founding members of the Calcutta Mercy Ministries. Huldah and her late husband built the Mercy Hospital and the various ministries that bring hope and healing and the message of Christ to many in Calcutta.

Here are some of the leadership of the ministry.  Sanjay and Ruhi Prasad, and Bonnie Buntain Long.
Members of our team enjoying their dinner.  Pastor Janelle, Alexa and Wendy.
Dr. Marocco prays over Jim and Bonnie celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary.

Shopping and Dining in Calcutta

Shopping at New Market for scarves and Indian attire.  It was a challenging experience.  We were harassed and bombarded by every shop keeper.  There are hundreds of shops to choose from Vendors are selling everything from teas to jewelry.  A warning to anyone going to Calcutta...keep away from New Market. The prices are high, even if you spend time bargaining.  Tourists think they get a good deal just because they bargained for a lower price.  Not true.  The best place to shop is the Government Markets or the street vendors. The Government markets have set prices and no pushy shop keepers hounding you.
There are street vendors of every kind selling a variety of foods and goods.  The street foods were not safe for us to eat, but we could by some of the fruits and vegetables.  We had to buy a papaya from this street vendor in order for me to get this picture taken.  The locals are particular about tourists taking their pictures.  You must ask their permission before snapping your camera.

Eating out in restaurants is very inexpensive.  Even in the fine dining places we found it to be very clean and quality food.  

Lunch at Pizza Hut was a good change and a good value.  A medium size vegetarian pizza was only 390 rupees - less than $8 US.

We had a geat dinner at Marco Polo.  Restaurants are very inexpensive even the nicer upscale restaurants.  We were able to have Filet Mignon for around $6 USD.

McDonald's Calcutta.  They do not serve any burgers or beef due to the Hindu religion of not eating cows.  The only meat on the menu is chicken, fish or vegetarian sandwiches.

Assembly of God Church Calcutta 50 Years

The First Assembly of God Church celebrates their 50 years of ministry in Calcutta.  The Sunday worship service was held at a large outdoor venue with over 3000 people in attendance. Everyone was dressed in traditional Indian attire.  There were speakers from all over the world and attendees from their extension churches.

Gerald, Geraldine and Bill
Dressed in their Indian attire.

Alexa, Wendy and Pastor Janelle getting a suntan in the front row.  Where's Daryl?  
Pastor Marocco was one of the guest speakers and  honored guest. He was born in Calcutta and his parents were the first to start the AG church in Calcutta.

Stars Welfare Society

A visit to Stars - Welfare Society, Turning Scars into Stars.  Children come from the slum areas and are educated at this remarkable school.  Overseas volunteers come and help do the teaching.  There is a myriad of curriculum being taught to help these children have a brighter future. 
                     Kafa and Yasmin Chung are the founders of this wonderful school. They have dedicated their lives into seeing that these children have a better future. We pray for God to continue to bless their work.

Mercy Hospital Pediatrics

We spent a lot of time in the pediatrics ward.  Alexa is delivering a Mother's Box containing toiletries for the mother and a gift for the baby.  This little girl is scheduled for a series of surgeries and is here with her grandmother.  Their family was considered cursed by their town because the baby was born deformed.  The culture considers any kind of physical deformity to be a curse.

This is Daownry Shaha. She has a fatal disease and is awaiting a donor for a bone marrow transplant.

Most of the mothers will live in the hospital with their children while they receive treatment.
The children here are all awaiting surgery for either cleft palates or some life threatening disease.  Mercy Hospital does many cleft palate surgeries and receives donations to provide the services free of charge.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Video - Ashish Singing

Time passes slowly in the pediatrics ward.  Our team spent time with the kids, such as Ashish.  He is an adorable boy that is battling a life threatening disease.  He is singing for us here with his mother.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Video - Taxi Ride to New Market

Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around in the city.  We are on our way to shop at a large shopping mall called New Market.  The taxi ride was an adventure in itself.  Horns are blaring, the taxi is weeving in and out of in the traffic.  It was a lot of fun. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ferry Cruise

We took a ferry ride across the river and did a tour of the slum areas of Calcutta. The river is an important part of the cultural celebrations in India.

After the ceremonies are over the debris is left at the river's edge.
  People of Calcutta live in many types of homes or houses.  The slum areas are in contrast to the city buildings.  Those living in the streets literally live on the streets. They do everything from bathing to cooking to sleeping to doing their bathroom duties all on the streets.

Dharpa Feeding Program

Calcutta Mercy Ministries has a feeding program that feeds 25,000 people a day. We got up early Saturday morning and drove outside of Calcutta city to a feeding station in the countryside. The meal consisted of rice mixed with dal (lentils). This would be their only meal of the day or any food if it weren't for CMM.
It was early morning and we were huddled around the fire to keep warm.

Mother Theresa's Home and Orphanage

We visited to Mother Theresa's home and orphanage.  We attended Mass which was at 6 am with many of the volunteers and the Sisters that live at this house.  Mother Theresa  is also buried here.  She established the Missionaries of Charity that takes care of the orphans, disabled and the dying.  There are volunteers from all over the world that come and serve.  


The Missionaries of Charity at Premdan is one of the Mother Theresa homes.  This specific home is for adults that are dying.  We volunteered there and helped with caring for the residents.  We did everything from changing dirty bed linens, to changing the their clothes, taking them to the toilet and serving them their dinner.  We also washed all the dishes. The men and women are separated in 2 different wards.  Photography is not allowed at any of the homes. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Royd St. Assembly of God

Royd St. is where the first  Assembly of God church was built. And the first Christian church to have been built in a 100 years in Calcutta.  The church is still being used and is also a school and printing press.

Video- Divine Fellowship School for the Blind

We spent the afternoon with the students of the Divine Fellowship school for the blind.  The students learn to read Braille and learn skills for them to live normal productive lives.  They are incredibly loving and intuitive.  They move about by sound and don't need any other assistance to find their way around.  There are 145 kids that live at the school for 10 months out of the year.
We served lunch for the students.  After lunch each student took their plates and went outside to wash it.  We passed out cookies for their dessert.

The students love visitors and they love to sing and dance.  Even though they are blind they are very smart.  They can tell how tall a person is just by feeling and exploring the size of a person's hand.  They also play sports such as cricket. 

Painting the Out Patient Dept


 Here we are prepping the walls for painting in the out patient ward.  We spent the evening washing down the walls.  The next day we primed and painted.  We painted a total of 11 examing rooms, 2 waiting rooms and the foyer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

First Assembly of God Calcutta

First Assembly of God Calcutta.  It has church services in 8 languages.


Pastor Janelle was asked to give a word at the church service on Sunday. Next to her is Huldah Buntain to woman who along with her husband started the hospital, schools, clinics and the feeding program.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Video - Slums of Calcutta

 As we drove by one of the worst slums in Calcutta, my heart was moved by the children. As they played and laughed  in a place most people in the US would not even set foot in.   I just wanted to scoop all the children up and take them home with me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Signs & Warnings

Interesting signs I didn't see anyone adhering to them.....honking is prevalent in the city. 

Enjoing Chai

Gerald enjoying his chai.

I loved it too.

Chai is served in these clay cups and then thrown away.  It's cheap to make these cups and it's also biodegradable.

People in Everyday Life

Little boy playing on the roof.

Street below hospital

Taking a siesta on the roof top