Skinner’s Garden, India

Skinner's GardenFriday, October 26, 2012, we boarded a jet at the Bangalore airport, en route to Hyderabad. Hours later, we boarded a turboprop airplane bound for Rajamundry. Half an hour late departing and arriving half an hour late, nevertheless, brother Samuel Raja and other brethren greeted us immediately upon our entry into the Rajamundry terminal. From there, an hour’s journey by land, we arrived at Skinner’s Garden, children’s home, widow’s home, church building, Bible school, vocational school, Gospel literature print shop and farm.

MarripudiThat evening we left Skinner’s Garden at 8 p.m. for a Gospel meeting eight kilometers away at the village of Marripudi; we returned to Skinner’s Garden at 10 p.m. Therman Hodge preached and I exhorted (gave the invitation). Ninety-two people showed up with only about four hours’ notice. The little congregation there has its own baptistery, though no one responded this year.

Louis & Bonnie RushmoreSaturday, October 27, 2012, Bonnie did laundry in a bucket and hung it to dry outside; the water tank on the roof overflowed and drenched one side of several pieces of otherwise nearly dry laundry on the line. Bonnie also taught a ladies’ class at Skinner’s Garden with 32 women and girls in attendance. That evening, I spoke at Peddada for a street meeting; 92 combined Christians and denominationals attended. Of those attending, 29 came with us on the Skinner’s Garden bus; the bus was supposed to hold 15 people! Two expressed interest in baptism and local brethren are following up with them. The preacher for this congregation died, and his son is training to be a preacher to resume the work of his father in that village.

Therman HodgeSunday, October 28, 2012, we worshipped in the morning at Bikkavolu about 10 kilometers from Skinner’s Garden. Therman preached and I gave a message for the Lord’s Supper. The attendance was down by 30-40 due to people being away for a holiday, but the building was full – possibly around 150 attending. Upon returning to Skinner’s Garden, we were able to participate in the concluding of worship services at Skinner’s Garden; Therman led the closing prayer.

Bikkavolu

A little after 7 p.m., we left for a meeting at Medapadu. The congregation assembled in a building still under construction. The bottom level where we assembled was to be the residence for the preacher, and the top level would be the assembly hall when completed. Women sat in the main room, and men sat in an adjoining room off to the side. Electrical wires (220 volt) were strung haphazardly overhead. The power went out briefly, but with my mini laptop, it posed no problem for me to see my notes as I preached.

Medapadu baptismOne woman wanted to be baptized, but she wanted to be baptized with her husband who was not present. When another man wanted to be baptized, the assembly adjourned to the communal bathing and washing ramp to the local river – a couple of blocks away through the maze of houses in the dark of night. Upon arrival there, the woman who expressed interest in baptism met us there with her husband and 17-year-old daughter – all of whom were baptized. A total of four were baptized in the ebony cloak of darkness with only a flashlight and the headlights of a car to illuminate the baptismal pool.

Skinner's GardenThat concluded our stay at Skinner’s Garden this year. We were able to encourage brethren and acquaint non-Christians with the Gospel of Christ. Some of those with whom Christians have been working obeyed the Gospel while we were present. Annoyances but really insignificant were the bug bites, irregular electricity, scarcity of water and the pink, ceramic pedestal sink that dumped the basin water at our feet to run along the base of the wall to a hole to the outside of the building. School at Skinner’s Garden for most children was not in session due to a widespread outbreak of chicken pox among the kids; some were hospitalized.

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