"Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." (James 1:27)
Over the doorway of the parish rectory, there is a picture of Mother Teresa, which includes a quote of hers- "Hands that serve the poor are greater than lips that say prayers."
Holy Spirit come, anoint this newsletter we pray.
We would like to share some thoughts with you, in order to paint a picture of our experience here in India.
Until recently here, when a woman's husband died, the obligatory custom was to burn the surviving wife and children alive. This custom was only banned recently. Yet, the fire continues- women are treated very poorly here, not to mention the almost unbearable climate. Last week, one day it reached 118°F.
Mostly, it is the humidity that drains one's energy. Yet, the people are so eager, the teachers especially whom we are teaching English accent reduction- so, we die to ourselves and bear as much of the heat as we can, while our flesh longs for the cool of Canada.
Here, the apartment we are staying in is considered luxury- with a shower, a toilet, and AC in the bedroom. Yet, back home it would be considered the lowest income housing.
We try not to complain about anything, as men and women here work side by side in the oppressive heat and live on mostly one meal a day. Although they live in depravity, the people of the five villages that make up our hosting parish truly have the gift of hospitality, something we have found almost nonexistent in North America. Everyone has welcomed us into their homes (perhaps you heard about the house that was infested with cobra snakes!), though purely destitute.
Though they live on next to nothing, the pastor's mother and father run a daily feesing program for the elderly in their village. Mom does all the cooking, with the help of her daughter.
Every day, we hear more heart-wrenching stories- yesterday a 20 year old man, who had been born sickly, died of cardiac arrest. The heat was simply too much.
However, we are greatly encouraged by the greater things the Lord is doing here. Hallelujah- for one, there are so many priests and seminarians (500) here, they have to close down the seminary! This is unheard of in North America. The Bishop is a man of great integrity, greatly loved by his priests. Though there is scandal in the West, here the priests are truly holy- not only prayerful but seeking to break the spirit of poverty in the region through works of mercy and compassion.
We have spiritually adopted many of the priests, but more spiritual mothers and fathers are needed. Please take to prayer this call.
DARE TO BE A MISSIONARY PRIEST LIKE ME
Here, there is the city, then the country: no suburbs. There is a very small middle class. Either you are very rich or all but destitute. This is, of course, promoted by the caste system. The fourth caste is made up of the untouchables, the "dalith." Catholics, who make up only 1% of the population, are the lowest, the poorest. In other regions there is violence against Catholics. Here, there is great prejudice and economic injustice, to saybthe least.
Not allowed to live in the city, they are forced to live on the outskirts in the villages. All of the parishioners here are workers in the fields: the feudal system being alive and well.
Yet, it is the children that have stolen our hearts. Please see the pictures below.
We hope and pray you will consider helping God's people here. Even $5 goes a long way. When you sow a seed into this mission in India, you will be supporting a truly Catholic mission of mercy and compassion, and we know the Lord will bless you a thousand-fold. (Deut. 1:11)
Or sow a seed through our website and receive free music!
In the Father's Love,
Dan and Lee Anne Devine
Heart Two Heart Ministries, Inc.