Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
~ John 20:21
When I was told that there were going to be two consecutive mission programs in Assam, I was both excited (as I was eager to participate and serve) and doubtful (if I would have enough leave). God took care of ensuring that my leave that was sanctioned and I was able to make it, albeit a day late.
The first program was the Assam Regional Youth Conference (RYC), which evoked a great response from the locals. So much suffering and poverty, poor educational facilities, broken families and addictions; but nothing could dampen the spirit with which they received the entire content of the program. Before the breaks could end, the participants would reach the stage and the musical instruments would no longer be idle.
During the letter-writing activity I came to realize the state of women in particular, who longed to study and develop a career but lacked the necessary means to pursue it. As the RYC program came to an end, we experienced how touched they were by the program; they did not stop singing all through the train journey from Dibrugargh to Tinsukia.
We were in for a surprise when we learnt that the next program was to be a growth program in leadership. We were to both learn and present the sessions! It was a happy time spent in a CFCI member’s home near a railway crossing with so much greenery around and lovely rainy weather – a true whiff of Assam! As the program went on, I got a better understanding of what the community is about, who a real leader is, and also got thinking about why the Lord would have me attending this program.
The session I was supposed to present was the last one, so I was a bit on my toes till the end. Through the session, I learnt that true disciples of Jesus are not those who follow Him in good times but more so in adversity, a teaching that I needed to follow in my own life.
The best part of all was the two day trip to Dhelaghat village with our five member team. It had rained almost every day when we were there, so much prayer went into asking God to bless these two days with sunshine, which He did, and we could all proceed to the assigned villages. Being from Dehradun, I like forests, and was happy being in the midst of so much greenery. We received a warm welcome with a bouquet of flowers each, a song in our honor, a hand-wash with brass vessels, and gift of a cloth on the shoulder, locally known as ‘Gamosa‘. There were many youth waiting for us, in fact they did not even go to school/college expecting us to conduct a program for them. So we conducted a session of praise and worship, Gospel reading and reflection, Rosary and played a few games with them before breaking for lunch.
After this we were welcomed into the home of a community-member and had a sumptuous Assamese meal. After a brief resting time the whole team started visiting the village homes one-by-one, starting with the sick, home-bound, old people and then the other families. Prayer at every home consisted of worship, a hymn to Mother Mary, petitions, thanksgiving and a healing prayer. We were amazed to see that almost every home had a beautiful altar with candles and fresh flowers. The houses were so many that we had to split the team in two to ensure that we wouldn’t miss any homes. We extended an invitation for a youth program the next day and a program for the families in the evening. We must have visited over 30 houses that day and it was a very pleasant experience, the most memorable being worship with small village kids on the street. The evening visit concluded with Rosary (since it was the month of May) at one of the homes.
We knew we had gone with little preparation, both spiritually and content-wise and so a decision was made to avoid losing time in cooking and eating in the morning and instead fast for the success of the programs. We utilized the time to prepare for the youth program. There were sessions on God’s Love, Sin, Repentance, and the Holy Spirit which were preceded by a game, and praise and worship post the session. This kept the participants engaged and excited and we were able to conclude by lunch time.
After lunch we again got going with preparation for the evening program- street-plays for the families. I felt a lot of pressure, in the sense we didn’t know what the turnout and response would be, and how successfully we’d manage to drive down the concept of holiness in a creative way. Things started going haywire with tiredness and various distractions creeping in. But the prayer at mercy hour helped us to bounce back again and prepare.
As evening approached, we began with hymns, praise and worship, and Rosary. Within few minutes the local Church was packed beyond capacity! As the street-play began we observed that the community accepted what we had prepared with an open mind and were enjoying it to the hilt. There were bursts of laughter here and there. We had put together a brief and inspiring street-play related to various weapons of holiness (Rosary, Confession, Mass, Bible Reading, Personal Prayer, etc). It was well received – not a single moment did we observe any distraction or uneasiness among the crowd. We splashed in a few testimonies related to Mother Mary‘s intercession, reading the Bible, etc. Towards the end of it a few people came up to share how they were touched by the program. There was a closing ceremony during which the whole Church danced (almost!) and there was hardly a brother or sister with whom we did not shake hands that day. I have never seen people lining up in such a long queue to shake hands with anyone. I don’t think there will be another such day in my life apart from my wedding day!
May God continue to send me for His work. I am thankful for having been given the opportunity.