Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Donkeys of India

Have you ever wondered how donkeys get their iron?  Well, this is how they get it in India!

This donkey is Karina.  We met her at Hemelkasa in central India.  She lived right outside the dining hall.

We saw many other animals here: snakes, leopards, monkeys, peacocks, hyena, deer, bluebulls, owls, crocodiles, porcupines, sloth bears, etc.  It was very fun to see all these animals!

Hope you enjoy the photo!  -Jake Beine

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Along the way...

Riding an Indian train
Nagpur, India. 1/29/2011 

Bullock cart in central India
It is hard to believe that we only left the United States only six days ago!  Those six days have been full of travel (over 50 hours of total travel time) and has taken us from the modern Mecca of Seattle to the backwoods of central India.  The adventure has been a case study in contrast. After arriving in Delhi, we found ourselves a few hours later on a southward-bound train headed for the city of Nagpur, at the very center of India.

Starbucks and Rubic's cube in Seattle
After an overnight stay with an old friend (Frank’s place) we were then on the road early the next morning embarking on a seven-hour jeep journey to reach the remote tribal hinterlands where over twenty years ago I had conducted language research among the tribal Mardia and Gond people.  Our first stop was in Allapalli, where we met an old friend.  During my research I had stayed many days with reverend and Mrs. Stephen Sundar, simple missionaries to the tribal peoples of the district.  There simple lifestyle and love for all people was an inspiration to me.  At that time tribal peoples were having dreams and visions about Jesus and were desirous to learn more.  Stephen worked ceaselessly to communicate the Gospel with them and I learned from Stephen that the spirit of God has been on the move among  the Mardia in a big way since that time.  I also learned from Stephen that about 15 years ago he had been abducted and tortured for several days by the Naxalites (an Indian Maoist insurgency group fighting a long-lasting war in the area).  He was released after three days  and warned to stay out of the tribal area.  For that reason he has been living on the outskirts of the region and facilitating nearly one hundred other local evangelists to minister to the Mardia and Gonds.  It was a real joy to hear of what God has been up to among the tribal peoples in the ensuing years since I stayed with Stephen and his family, learning to sleep on the floor, eat with my hands, and toilet in the fields!

Dave showing his Master's Thesis to an old friend
After a too-short reunion with Stephen and his family we were again on the road (at least that’s what they call it) for two more hours where we arrived at Hemalkasa two kilometers from Bhamragad.  Although the road was still humble, I was amazed at the change from twenty years ago, when I remember it taking near five hours to cover the 30 miles of then dirt track.  Here we stayed at Hemalkasa with Dr. Prakash Amte and his family and staff who run a hospital and school for the tribal children (for a good overview of the Amte’s life work see http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=5Gxgx-e9oUg ). Sitting around the fire we figured out it had been twenty-two years since I had last stayed with the Amtes during my field research).  Although the area still feels mostly “untouched” by the outside world because of its remoteness, the vast improvement in health and education for the tribal peoples is obvious and this is a testimony to the love and hard work of the Amte family on the behalf of the neglected tribal peoples. 

The boys enjoyed the makeshift zoo which has emerged over the years as the tribal people have gifted young animals (whose parents they have hunted for food) to the Amtes. And we were also able to visit a local house church for an afternoon of fellowship, which was a sweet experience for all!   
The boys try on a Rat Snake for size
a "local"animal

This blog entry is being penned from Nagpur (Frank’s place) where we returned a day earlier than expected.  Yesterday morning the Naxalites assassinated a local political leader in Bhamragad (see http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Maharashtra/Naxal-kills-Congress-leader-in-Gadchiroli-s-Bhamragarh/Article1-803366.aspx ) prompting a search operation by the Indian security forces.  We had originally intended to attend a local tribal church this morning but with the sweep underway, felt it was safest to stay clear of the areas that could put us in the middle of a military operation against militant terrorists.  And that it would be best to depart early in case the roads were closed as a result of the military action.  So, after a long drive back to Nagpur, we enjoyed a nice long sleep overnight, church here in town today, and the boys are all outside right now playing with the 600 plus Indian boys of the school while Kimberly does some laundry. Late tomorrow we will again board a train and be headed back to New Delhi for a day of sightseeing (to see the Taj Mahal) before again boarding a train eastward bound for the Nepali border.  We will check in again with you along the way as we are able.

Soldiers patrol the road- which side are they on?
So far this has been an interesting emotional experience for me to bring my family back into this special place of my past.  India is an amazing country!  I am so thankful for the experiences I have had here and for the opportunity now to share the places of so many of my unique "stories" (that my family has had to endure over the past many years)  with the family that God has now given me.  I am, indeed, a blessed man!

Dave (for all)

All photos by Nick Beine
Tribal girl at Bhamragad

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eight Days and Counting!

Eight days and counting until we depart Spokane Asia bound.  A couple of praise and prayer items.

1.     1.  Our Indian visas are completed and passports are now in hand.

  2.  Final fund raising for our teacher is looking great.

        1.  Kimberly’s uncle died unexpectedly this week.  Pray for Kimberly’s dad and his family.

  2.  We also learned this week of the surprise passing of a dear friend of ours.  Susan Prnjak, Kimberly’s former roommate, long-time friend and one of our family’s biggest champions, was  in a bike accident in late November,  in a coma for seven weeks, and died in early January.  Although we rejoice to know that Susan is now at home with her Lord, we will miss her dearly!  She was a special friend!

  3.   Tomorrow I will be preaching at our home church in Spokane about the challenges of climbing Everest (I was involved in the Sherpa language survey back in 1990-91) and bring the challenge “do we have something worth living this dangerously for?”  Please pray for me and if you are in/near Spokane Sunday come join us at 9 or 11 at Summit Ridge Christian Fellowship, 57th and Freya.

  4. We still are waitlisted for two of our internal India train trips.    Pray that the seats would open up soon.

  5.  Please pray for our final packing and preparations this week.

  6.  Pray that we will we will find renters for our house (we have it listed as a vacation rental).

  7.  Please pray for good weather next Sunday as we drive over the pass toward Seattle (it saves us about $1K to fly from there rather than flying from Spokane).  If the pass is looking questionable at the time we will need to leave a day earlier.


Dave (for all)