Thanks again for words of encouragement and prayerful support during these days in Pakistan. This will probably be my last email because by this time next week we expect to be almost home.
Last Saturday’s visit to Lahore had some of the characteristics of a scene out of Alice in Wonderland and we are still somewhat bemused …… ask us about it if you want the tale!!
We were back in Sargodha for Sunday Service in the house church which uses our sewing school classroom. A congregation of about seventy sang a welcome to us and garlanded us with roses. The service usually consists of about 40 minutes of worship songs, 40 minutes of scripture and preaching and then another couple of songs before and after an open prayer session. I think I failed the test for 40 minutes of preaching but it was lovely to work with my daughter and grand-daughter as interpreters when my Urdu ran out. A number of people requested prayers for healing and three childless young couples came after the service for prayer for a baby. There was no hiding from the raw pain of their situation – and the Pastor explained that one prayer session each week is set aside especially for childless couples.
The week proceeded with energetic preparations in sewing school for the Caritas Conference. We were invited to various lunches and teas which reminded us of the huge range of circumstances in which our Rehmat Park Project members live. Monday evening saw us with torches in hand walking along bricked gullies, avoiding the open sewers to reach our hosts house. The regular power cuts meant that but for our torches we would have been sat in the dark. However, along with several other visitors, we shared various dishes not all of which we could identify – and I think we were in competition with the ants!
The following day we visited the home of our former Project Gynaecologist, Dr Shameem, - a home with torches and a battery back-up system for when the lights go out. Dr Shameem now runs her own clinic at home but yearns for a return to the days we all spent together.
During the second half of the week, the local Roman Catholic Technical Institute has hosted the Caritas Women Farmers Conference. Having been allocated seats at the front, we had little choice but to listen to several hours of repetitive speeches – mostly about the hardships and inequality women suffer, and what might be done about it, including education, skills training and a range of micro-economic agricultural and business projects. When we escaped the hall, we were able to spend some time looking at the colourful displays of work being undertaken by women’s projects across Pakistan. Our own students were involved in dance and drama productions and received many accolades for the display of sewing and craftwork.
At the end of the first day we heard news of the death of the 28 year old son of local people we know – a young man who had been an outstanding student at school and college but who had then got caught up in the drug scene. So many of our local young men are at risk and already there are a number of widows with young children to raise because husbands have died from drug abuse. Many of the elders ask “What future for our Christian youngsters in this environment …… in this country?”
Now we have a couple of quiet days with our friends in Lahore. Dr Gill is on his travels selling medical machinery, Martyn is teaching his nephew English and driving and I am learning about Farzana’s hobby – going to beauty parlours!! (with interesting results according to Martyn)
Looking forward to “normality” with you all!!
Jane and Martyn