Tag Archives: Challenges

Post 202. The Threat of War

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In June 2002,  the US embassy put out an advisory for all foreigners to leave India. Pakistan was threatening to drop a nuclear bomb on Delhi.

The thought of leaving our community was horrible.  “Not even an option!”  Tony made some calls to our relatives who advised otherwise.  They felt it would be irresponsible of us to not think about our children.

We made some emergency plans which in retrospect were quite silly ones.  If a bomb was dropped, there was no way on earth we were going to be able to drive our car from Delhi to Mussoorie.  We couldn’t even drive to our local market on a normal day without getting stuck in a traffic jam.  The panicky pictures we painted in our minds and to each other were all horrendous and futile, bordering on comical.

We lay awake wondering:  If we left the country, when would we ever get back?  What would happen to our Delhi community?  How could we abandon our family?  Could we take them all with us?  What about our kids?  They were our priority.  We were torn.

The threat came and went and came and went..  and with it our fear.  Love for the community grew.  Were we going to run away like hirelings? No.  We were shepherds. Our kids were our first sheep and we never wanted to put them in danger.   We were also in love with the “community sheep” who would have been harassed and helpless without a shepherd.

The test was real.  Would we run away at the first sign of trouble?  Would we pack up our things, head for a safe, foreign land and leave behind those who had no option but to stay?

One night as we lay in the dark, peace descended on us.  We decided we would only go if the Indian Government demanded it ( and even then, we wondered how we could camouflage ourselves without looking too much like Peter Sellers in The Party 🙂

The kids each got a new backpack with a few emergency items, which they kept on their beds.  Within a couple of days, the snacks had been eaten during midnight feasts and the bags were used for storing things.

“They” say, “Most of what we fear never happens.”  I have found this to be very true.   Fear can be paralysingly real.  It has the power to control.  It has the power to stop us dead in our tracks.  It disturbs our peace and limits our ability to experience freedom and love.  It affects our destiny.

We decided, after much turmoil and stress, to grab fear by the throat and hold it against the wall.  When we looked it in the eye, we were surprised at it’s timidity.

It’s fear.

PS.

See more of my posts on fear.  Yes, I’ve had issues 🙂

Post 168 and Post 169

 

 

 

 

 

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Post 201. Floccinaucinihilipilification

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Floccinaucinihilipilification:

Why Rajkumari?

I had seen thousands of homeless, desperate women dressed in smelly rags

So often in a worse state than Looli

Is it because they all had their hands out and Looli didn’t?

They demanded everything and anything as if it was their right

But Looli demanded and expected nothing

Her only demand was to be left alone and to have peace

Is that what made me go after her?

There was a nothing-ness about her

We could gain nothing from her and she wanted nothing from us.

It was there that the two arrows met

She found love and so did we

All selfishness left

We lived only to see her safe and at peace

Away from danger and evil people.

Suddenly our lives and entertainment seemed shallow and unimportant

Nothing was more important than to see improvement in her

Signs of hope, a new smile, to hear a clear word from her

Sad, stiff mouth.

O God! How many more like Looli?

I want to know but I don’t want to know

I want to see but I don’t want to see

At all! At all!

To see would demand total unselfishness

A total surrender of our whole family.

If we want to see justice done

It would mean spending our lives on behalf of the poor

So, don’t show us everyone Lord,

Just show us OUR Loolis.

The ones you want US to love

The ones you will work it out for.

And thanks for loving me in my state of nothingness,

Just as you love Princess Looli.

PS.

The loveliest, longest word in the dictionary was taught to me by my dad when I was 8:  I mastered it when I was 9.  More than the challenge of the word itself, I was fascinated that such a long word could mean nothing…

Flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication: Definition:  The action or habit of estimating something as worthless.  A state of nothingness.

 

Post 199. Losing Lata

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Lata was a small, friendly, charismatic young lady in her mid twenties. She was full of energy and talked a lot. She talked a lot about her life of hardship. It was very hard.

She was born in Bombay, never knew her father and had a hardworking mother who gave her to a family member who brought her to Delhi to work.  She went from one domestic job to the other and learnt near- perfect English from the foreign families she worked for. She arrived on a Sunday morning at Madhur Milan and made friends quickly.  Her life had been traumatic from childhood but she had found life and hope in Jesus.

When Santaram died, she offered to help us. We took her on, excited that she was a believer. Lata was amazing to have around and did everything so well and so fast. In the evenings she would sit in the girl’s room doing their hair and they would do hers. She became part of our family.

After about 18 months something started to change.  Lata was getting intense and manipulative. We noticed she had started to complain and her peace had gone. We heard from our security guard that she had started visiting a guru lady who “wasn’t good”.

We left for Australia to attend a conference feeling slightly concerned about leaving the kids with her. Louise Bulley was also staying with them so we thought it would be fine.

We had been away for a few days when we got the phone call that Lata had “lost it”. She had started having demonic manifestations in the kitchen and was laughing loudly and mocking the kids right in their faces. They said she would leave food cooking on the gas and fall on the floor, writhing and throwing pots around. They were so scared. When Josh and Andries came to help, Lata ran up onto the roof, screaming and shouting and wouldn’t be pacified.   When she finally calmed down, Andries and Brenda took her to their house to see how they could help her.  The next day she jumped off their first floor balcony breaking a leg in the jump.

After some tests at Vimhans Mental Hospital, she was diagnosed as being bi-polar and a manic-depressant. We knew there were also some unhelpful spiritual things happening in her life and that wasn’t a good combination.   The police got involved and insisted that Lata sign an affidavit clearing the Lindeques of the insinuation that they caused her to jump off their balcony. It was quite a task. She was manipulative and pretended not to know what we were talking about. It took quite a while for her to sign, but she did.

We arranged for her family from Bombay to take her home. We encouraged her to keep taking her medicine and told her she could come back when she was better.

Within a week her family called to say she was refusing to take her medication and that she was back in Delhi. We saw her a few weeks later and could see that something just wasn’t right. She had lost touch with reality. She blamed us for everything and wasn’t grateful for the help, medical treatment or anything else that had been done for her. It was difficult.   We loved her so much.

That was the last time we saw Lata but our landlord saw her a week later, sitting cross-legged on the pavement with her hands in the air, singing and shouting at the top of her voice.

Lata, the little lady with the big compassionate heart, had helped so much with our Looli. Now it seemed that she, like Looli,  was also lost.

PS.  I have never stopped praying for Lata.  I sometimes find myself looking out for her on the streets of Delhi;  hoping that one day we will find her.

Next post: “Loving Looli” : With a photo of Lata and Looli 🙂

Post 89. Challenges

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When we arrived in Mussoorie from Goa we still had one-month visas.  We had made a connection with music producers in Bombay.  They wrote letters requesting that we help them with the distribution of Christian music including Tony’s “Colours” album.  When we took the letters to the registration office.  The officer wasn’t impressed.  He folded our papers up, gave them back and said, “Just do your music and go home.”  We were stunned.  We knew if we left his desk we would not be allowed back in.  The girls were sitting on our laps and we were all beyond tired.  We refused to move.  We just sat there.  We sat while he did his business around us.  People came and went and the Johnsons just sat.  In the bizarreness of the situation, Zoë somehow managed to undo all my dress buttons while we stared at the officer.  Fortunately I noticed before he did.  After two hours, he looked up and asked, “So, what can I do to help you?”  We couldn’t believe our ears.  It was if he was seeing us for the first time.  He asked if we knew anyone who could teach Tony Indian classical music.  We did.  We knew an elderly Sikh man, Ajit Singh who owned Pratap Music House in Astley Hall.  His claim to fame was that he had taught George Harrison the sitar.   We needed to get a letter from him.

With that suggestion we drove for seven hours back to Dehra Dun to Pratap Music House.  Ajit was more than happy to help.   Then back to Delhi we went.  The same officer stamped one-year visas into our passports.  We were so relieved and happy.  It was another miracle.  Tony bought a sitar and went to Ajit once a week for lessons.

A priority for us was to get a phone line.  We really needed one.  We put in an application and waited.  In the meantime we gave people the phone number of the orphanage next door.  It was an almost impossible situation.  If someone called, one of the children was sent to call us.  By the time they got to us and we got to the phone, the caller had hung up.  Many of the calls were international.  Every now and again, men from the telephone department came and hovered around waiting for us to put some money into their hands to do the job.  If we had paid a bribe we would have got one in a week.   We decided that it was better to wait for a miracle than to pay a bribe.  We knew one bribe would lead to another.  Those we bribed would have been back every month for more.  It would have been a never-ending story.  It was two years before we got our phone.

Banking was quite a challenge.  The closest ATM machine was in Delhi.  On a few occasions Tony couldn’t get money from our local bank so he drove to Delhi early in the morning and arrived home late that night.

Sarita and her family lived in a small tin roofed room on our property.  When we moved in she came down to ask if we needed help.  She was heavily pregnant with her first child.  Her husband had a maintenance job at a local school.  She was lovely and we fell in love with her from day one.   Asha and Zoë went in and out of her house as if it was their own.   Within a few months she gave birth to a beautiful little girl.  We were so happy but they clearly weren’t.  There was no wild celebration, just a few cheap Indian sweets to announce that they had a baby.  Our excitement helped them to accept and love her.  Sarita asked me to name her so we called her Angela or Angie for short.

With baby Angie.

With baby Angie.

Seeing their disappointment at having a girl baby inspired me to write some words:

Baby Girl:

Baby girl

Held loosely in your mother’s arms

Her breasts withholding love from you

Your cries fall on bitter ears

The future is in her eyes

Like watering a plant in another man’s garden

Building a house that’s not your own

Like feeding a lamb that’s bound for the slaughter

Loving a baby into somebody else’s home

Little girl

Drawing water from the well

Dusty feet and worn out hands

Your tears fall on bitter ground

The future is in your eyes

Beautiful lady

Dressed for the occasion

Best clothes you’ve ever worn

They’re fixing a price upon your head

What are you worth?

The future is in their eyes

Angie and Zoe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t understand why there was no celebration.  Angie was so beautiful.  She was perfect in every way.  She hadn’t done anything to disappoint or anger anyone.  She was just a baby.  A baby girl.