Hello everyone! We are sorry we have not updated you sooner about our India trip... or pretty much anything else. With conferences upon our arrival home, health issues, lots of lovely house guest and catching up after a very strenuous outreach, we've finally had some time to sit down and share our time with you! We will share the "short version" here with lots of pictures to keep you "entertained" :) But feel free to read the full story (yes, even longer! With MORE Pictures) on our blog: PICKaPOCKET
After months of planning, tricky communication and despite reports of monsoons and intense heat, we packed up all of our gear and headed to Vijayawada…tripods, easels and all. When we arrived in Vijawada, after many flights and road trips Chinni, Raj's wife picked us up in their jeep and took us to our quarters. We stayed at their small church. Two days before we arrived there it was flooded to the knees from the Monsoons. But "miraculously" they said, the water just "went away, right before you came!". It become very clear to us that God answered our prayers and stopped the Monsoons in order for us to come and do the work he called us to do... no big deal.
Over the next week we dove full force into our work the best we could. Though the weather was not rainy, the heat was unbearable. Getting up to simply go 5 feet away and back exhausted us. We constantly faced issues of running out of water, dehydration which even lead to hospital visits, not to mention snakes in our shower and spiders and rats, oh my! But we gladly and passionately fought through the conditions to serve the project. We thanked God that He allowed us to experience the conditions these people deal with on a daily bases in order to better know how to serve them! And yes, that's me on a motorcycle in India... Bucket list baby! Let me just say, watching the people's face as they watched me, a white girl riding, straddled on this bike was hilarious #culturalfailliz
Through the week we learned a lot about the culture. How things work there. Why so many children in the Pillalu House are orphaned. We found out that the problems were far more severe then just snake bites, accidents and lack of access to nearby health care. We heard stories of suicide, murder, death during childbirth and even being given away because they were another girl in a line of female siblings. The most powerful thing, though, was seeing the way that most of our little lion cubs truly clung to Jesus through the tragedies of their childhood. And how they have been restored through His love!
During our miraculously rainless days, we had an incredible time working on all of our art projects with the kids. Uli did his photo-shoot with the giant handmade lion mask (I made this mask and will soon post on how I did that).
Pocketeers Ruth and Ashley worked on there paintings of the children. We filmed a Liz and the Lions video for a song about Pillalu on the new album being released this fall. Flori and Taylor took tons of video and photos for the media we are getting ready to do for this project! Media that effectively communicates the need and stirs people to want to meet it as well as visually connecting people with the culture and daily life of our sweet Indian friends. And Philipp worked on plans and dreams for a social business (that is in the making and will soon be released) that will help sustain an income for this little community long-term.
When we weren’t doing our projects we were spending times with the kids. Eating with them. Hearing their stories and playing with them. Play is such a strong language, it was one of our only forms of communication! Uli was also able to give the children the photos of the portraits he took from the time before- for some, this was their first photo of themselves! This was a powerful moment! To see them looking at themselves with such dignity and value- just as God sees them!
One of the craziest parts of our trip was helping Raj! Raj is the back bone behind this whole project and the one who called us to come help in the first place! On arrival we learned that our dear friend had a failing liver and needed a transplant. We were in shock. This family has nothing. They live in a small room attached to the church. Raj and their two children sleep in the bed while chinni sleeps on the floor every night. They have no income, and what they get, they give to the Pillalu kids. So health insurance wasn't an option for this family. The surgery was going to cost $10,000. This was way to much for them to handle. At night Chinni would cry and we would comfort her. We kept asking the Lord what to do until we decided we ourselves were going to be the answer. In one week we raise over $10,000 for Raj’s surgery through the donations of people around the world! We are thrilled to say that Raj will receive his transplant and we are praying for a full recovery for both he and his mother who served as his donor. This was a strong testimony to our team to always go when you feel the Lord calling. Had we canceled our trip or changed it (like we thought about doing) due to the weather, who knows if Raj would be ok. PRAISE GOD!
Our trip was amazing! Now we are back. And somewhat recovered! We are preparing for this fall were we will be going on tour with our art and music, blasting our little trumpet and telling all of Germany about The Pillalu House and doing what we do best, using art as a platform to connect the friends we advocate for with people around the world. Be sure to stay tuned as we post more updates on our art, the tour and all things Pillalu!