Showers of Blessings Fell
We began with just a rupee or two
When boys arrived, we had no food.
That went on, for quite a few years
We reminded God, “Hey! We’re working too!”
And refused to beg from anyone else…
And that’s when showers of blessings fell!
Selaqui, in 1986, consisted of a local betel leaf (paan) shop. Today the bazaar is so packed with shops, cars, and industries, that standing on the road to take a photo would be putting your life in danger. The flyer hanging over the road welcomes the Canadian Ambassador to inaugurate our house. Our hope was that a little publicity may help us out. Thinking our way through survival was hard.
In 1976 we began with 4 boys, then 14, then 34, then 50…. and in fact, we went on to have 25 girls too. Ridiculous? Indeed! At that time, we lived in Mussoorie, the foothills of the Himalayas, and rented two houses. We had no income, therefore, most of the time we had neither money or food. Yip managed to make a deal with the leper colony; they would give us oats if we gave them potatoes. (We had bags of those.)
I cajoled the girls to accompany me into the jungle to find eatable plants, mostly thistles. With big sighs, they picked up the tools; gloves and scissors. They hated it, but at least we had some greens. We told no one about our needs and waited for God to provide, since that is what God said he will do. We were new in following Jesus and were told that God doesn’t lie. So simply, we held out.
One day, some guests came to visit us from Kenya. As they walked in the front door, Yip hustled me out the back door to borrow some coffee from our neighbour. We had nothing to give them, which is culturally rude (…rude to be poor?). As they sipped their coffee, they told us about their work and how the Lord always provided for all their needs. We hoped they were enjoying their borrowed coffee. It was quite depressing. Why didn’t God provide for us?
One day, a friend requested help to move his refrigerator up the mountainside. He needed strong boys, and we had boys by the dozens. They did the job and earned 20 rupees. We ate vegetables that night.
And thus, the saga of not having money, and not having food, went on. Occasionally an envelope would arrive with the needed finance at just the right time. We called those years, our desert years, similar to Moses who roamed the desert while relying on God to supply.
But many great things came out of those years. The boys learned to trust us and understood we loved them, for when we had no money for food, we all went hungry. It added honour, integrity and endurance into our lives together because we stuck it out together. Once, when we ran out of all our food supplies, the boys counted the papayas on the tree, to make sure no one selfishly went for them.
Yip told one of the older boys, Ravi, to go to Dehra Dun and find out if we had any money in our bank account. He went and found there was nothing. But the children were hungry. In the bazaar Ravi found a shop willing to buy his watch for 13 rupees. He brought the money back and gave it to Yip. Ravi said, “Buy food for the kids.”
That day, a friend came to visit. When the sun set, he straddled his Bullet to take off again. The engine roared and he said his goodbye’s. “Oh!” was his murmured afterthought. The motor sputtered and stopped as he reached in his vest and pulled out a fat envelope full of money.
We had no money or food many times, but I have no recollection of ever going even slightly hungry. God faithfully came through when we had needs. Even so, we were living constantly on the poor side of life. We never knew where or when we’d get our needs looked after.
One day, as we prayed, Yip and I looked at each other, both feeling rather fed-up with the way God was treating us. We agreed with each other, and in prayer, told God just what we thought. “If you’re not going to take care of us, then we’re not going to work for you.” (God was just waiting for us to get serious with Him.)
We found some (rocky) land and moved off the mountainside into the valley. The Doon Valley. Every day Yip and the boys walked to the land and moved rocks here and there, only to find more rocks. We rented a house near the land but found it too expensive. We prayed about it and felt that God wanted us to buy it. The owner was ready to sell, so we made the deal. We had to pay 4,000 Rs. for the first down-payment. Of course, we didn’t have anywhere near that amount of money.
Once more, Yip sent one of the boys to Dehradun to check our bank account. No one had ever donated into it, so our expectation was not high. However, we were in for a surprise! There was exactly 4,000 Rs. in the account. Yip quickly made the down- payment and was informed that we need to give another 30,000 rupees in 6 weeks. Yip agreed.
Six weeks went by remarkably fast. “God? Why do you do this to us?” Same story; no money. Yip sadly went off to the court to annul our agreement. In the meantime, I sent one of the boys, Jugat, walking 4 km down the road to Selaqui to get the mail. Jugat returned with a letter. In the letter was a check, and it was in English pounds! I grabbed the boy by the shoulders and shook him excitedly, “Run! Go fast to the courts in Dehradun and find Uncle. Give this to him! Go!”
Well, God must have been having a chuckle. The check was from a young English couple who ran a bakery in England. Yip gave them ride from Mussoorie to Dehradun in our 1964 crank-up Willy’s jeep once… the only meeting we ever had with them. And now a large check looked us in the face.
Jugat reached Yip just in time. He paid the 30,000 and was told we needed another 30,000 in the next six weeks. We were pumped and quickly agreed. We were on a roll now.
Six weeks later; no money. Despondently, Yip sulked around. That week he remembered that Sister Agnes, who ran the leper colony, had asked him to drop in when he had time. He figured he might as well visit. There wasn’t anything else happening, unfortunately.
He met Agnes, who said, “A priest in Germany died who was like a father to me; he left me an inheritance. He worked with boys. And since you work with boys, I think he’d be pleased for you to have it. It amounts to about 50,000 Rupees. Do you think you can use it?” She had a suspiciously sombre look on her face. Yep, Yip used it, alright. With that much money we even bought a bit of land around the house.
Then we invited the Canadian Ambassador, the Wardens, to come and inaugurate our house. Canada made a donation to support “grass-root projects.” The embassy sent our project proposal to Canada to show what projects they were supporting. Canada was confused. They thought it was a new proposal … thus, a second donation was mistakenly given. The Embassy apologized, and asked if we’d be willing to use it (returning it to Canada involved too much paperwork). We took time to think it over (no!) … of course, we’d use it!
God, in his Godly, playful way, met our needs. He helped us learn faith.
After that, showers of blessings fell. Why? I guess God trusted us now with faith. We leapt out of the desert and into palm-tree-ed luxury on the other side of the desert.
(Same place where the rocks were in 1986)