We went on a long road trip today. From Chennai south to Sankarapuram and back (304 miles). I saw lots of things that I was familiar with, because much of the terrain and buildings and traffic reminded me of travels during my years in the Philippines. The colorful Hindu shrines were an obvious difference, and I did not see one basketball court. So, no, it was not in the Philippines.
We stopped along the way for some traditional Indian coffee, and Immanuel showed me how it is cooled for drinking. It was surprisingly refreshing, considering the fact that it is served piping hot, in 80+ degree weather. I could definitely develop a habit on that stuff.
The highlight (and purpose) of our trip was a visit to Christ Special High School in Sankarapuram, a special school for disabled children and children from single-parent families. The campus is clean and simple, with not a lot of fancy adornment. But it is decorated with the smiling faces of (currently) about 100 wonderful kids. The atmosphere changed as soon as we saw those children. All those miles were worth it.
We had just arrived when some of the girls wanted to show us the craft projects they were working on. There was little shyness here. The kids wanted to get to know us, and they seemed genuinely happy that we had visited. It was hard not to fall in love with them.
There were smiles, songs, and dances as the kids put on a special program for us. We exchanged gifts, greeted one another, and prayed. We especially thanked God for the gifted teachers who have been giving of themselves to allow these kids to have a chance at a better life.
I appreciated meeting with pastor Paul Nilavan. It was impressive to see a man give so much of himself for the ministry, and sacrifice without complaining. Since 1993, this school has been making a difference in children’s’ lives, and providing a better future for the community. People like Paul and the other members of his team have been taking the hurting and helpless and putting smiles on their faces.