Tag Archives: Challenges

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.