Brian and Mo Leitch

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15th Update - 8th October 2016

Those of you who have read between the lines of our last few updates would have got the sense that, as a family, we have been struggling in Kolkata. Over the last two years, we have learned, as much as we can, how to survive here and we have structured our lives as much as possible to try be sustainable. The hot season, in March to May, gave us the clearest indication that our time in India was not going to be too much longer. Following conversations with BMS over the summer when we were in the UK and after we came back, we have decided to finish in Kolkata the week before Christmas. For us as a family this is a good thing, however, we also think it is good for the long term sustainability of the work we have shared in.

The rains have started to decrease in Kolkata, so the mosquitos are fewer in number and the temperature and humidity have dropped. We’re now entering the short time of year when we can make use of the garden at our house. Eddie is back to banging on the door and demanding “outside!”. Both children are enjoying kicking a football around and practicing cycling on their balance bike.

But the end of the rains also marks the start of festival season. This next week is the biggest Hindu festival in the West Bengal calendar, Durga Puja. Many streets have been closed with huge ornate temporary structures built to house the idols. The one nearest to us is based on second hand car parts, as that’s the main work in our area. The one in the photo is of various sites around Kolkata and is built of plywood and polystyrene. The other festival about to start is the Muslim festival of Muharram. When we arrived in 2014, this festival was just starting and we experienced a few nights of intense drumming, whistles and other sounds as people marched the streets surrounding us. 

Over the last two months, Brian has been preaching in lots of Churches around Kolkata, as part of encouraging Churches to act to prevent domestic violence. As a team, we have been approaching the issue of violence from the perspective that all who are Jesus’ followers should, in our practical, observable lives, strive towards the same compassionate and redeeming engagement with the poor and vulnerable that Jesus lived and therefore need to engage in situations of injustice and oppression, as a demonstration of our faith in him. This underpins how we envision and encourage Christians to engage with their community, particularly on the issue of domestic violence. What has been encouraging is that some key Christian leaders, who know that we’re leaving, are now pushing to explore how the domestic violence work can continue without us being here to coordinate it.
 
The decision about when to come back evolved over time as we explored with BMS the best way of our work becoming sustainable. As conversations progressed we agreed that us being replaced, either by someone from the UK or by someone from India, would not work at this stage. That decision, in many ways, opened the doors to new opportunities about how the projects could function. This last week, after much thought and prayer, a new possibility for the domestic violence work to grounded within the local Christian denominations arose and we would really appreciate your prayers for wisdom for the team on how to best develop it.

When we come back we will spend some time visiting Churches for BMS and will finish with them in the first quarter of 2017. We would greatly value your prayers as we begin to think through what God might have for us next. Preparing for and then working in India has been the story of our last six years, even though we’ve only been here for two years, and we’re not sure what the next story is. We’re looking forward to returning to Malmesbury, Wiltshire, where our families are and where we have a house but we’re not sure what our work opportunities will be.
 
Please also pray for the domestic violence work, that we can encourage as many ministers and clergy as possible to preach against violence in their sermons on 27 November and that we can get some Churches organising programmes of activities. We have also just submitted a funding proposal to train a Church planting organisation to support communities in the delta area bordering Bangladesh to express and resolve their community development needs. Please pray both that this gets funded but also that the partnership that we have initiated between two local organisations can take the work forwards.
 
Yours in Christ
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 


14th Update - 30th August 2016

It is some months since we last wrote. That's not due to lack of action, actually the opposite. We spent June and July in the UK, seeing family and friends and speaking about our work. We are now working hard to complete our existing projects and refocus them for the future. 

                                       

We had a great time in the UK. Staying at Brian's parents, who somehow survived us for 11 weeks, the children had a great time playing with uncles and aunts, enjoying the play parks and the general ability to be outside. 

Eddie spent most of his days searching the garden for snails, which he would put on his arm and let them roam. His love of the outdoors and of animals and nature in general is amazing.

Evie loved getting blinged up in jewelry provided by her aunts and having freedoms that she doesn't have in Kolkata.

We enjoyed having other family members who could help with child care, giving us some time off and allowing us to have a social life.

Mo enjoyed just being able to jump in a car and drive to see friends, something she is not able to do easily in Kolkata, where she cannot drive and where taxis are the main way around.

                                                   

We've been back in Kolkata for a month now and are slowly getting used to being here again. The oppressive heat, that we left in May, has now gone and has been replaced by lots of rain. We often now have to alter our plans according to the rain. In some ways, that's not too different to being in the UK, although I guess we have more floods.

It's amazing seeing the change in the children. They are playing much more together, and more independently, than they were even a few months ago. In certain ways, that makes life easier. In other ways, it doesn't change the fact that there is very little to do in Kolkata with young children, particularly if we want to be outside.

                                                     

Although they are very different, both of our projects are, in their own way, heading in the same direction. The focus of both is about how local communities are leading their own development.

The domestic violence project is now at a stage where we are working with specific Churches to help them consider the ways in which they want to act to prevent it in their Church and community. The intention is that volunteers from individual Churches are empowered to act as they see fit, rather than implementing actions that we tell them to. The sense of ownership will be important for the long term sustainability of the work. There is a long way to go, particularly in giving volunteers the confidence they need.

The team involved with what was our health project in the Sundarbans, the rural area where we work from a boat, has decided that the project will widen to focus on general well-being. Its starting point is also now what our partner calls a chapatti diagram, which is a way of understanding and prioritising different community needs. Hopefully that will enable the project to support communities to express their needs and their desired ways of solving them. From that, activities can begin.

Both projects are slowly becoming community led and it's going to be interesting to see how they develop over the coming months.

It would be great if you could continue to pray for us as we envision people to work within their communities and as the children and Mo live more constrained lives than they got used to in the UK.


13th Update - 30th April 2016

EXTREME!

We have said before that living in Kolkata is like living in the middle of extremes; extreme heat, extreme pollution, extreme traffic, extreme crowding, extreme wealth, extreme poverty to name a few. These things we came prepared for and, over the last 18 months, we think we have found our rhythm and our own ways of living among it all, trying to find a balance. One thing that I have yet to conquer however is how to raise children in the middle of it all.

The issue came to a head last weekend when, owing to the children being house locked for days on end due to the extreme heat, we decided to do our best to take the children out. Brian took Eddie to one shopping centre to ride up and down the escalators (owing to the extreme lack of things for children to do in this enormous city) and do a food shop.

I, meanwhile, took Evie to another shopping centre to look for a new shoulder bag as her rucksack has broken. Dragging a three year old around a shopping mall is hardly my idea of how to show her a good time but she fared well and even got a plate of chicken and chips for her bother.

Evie and I came undone however as we aimed to leave Forum and collect our Uber taxi. We walked through Shoppers Stop and unfortunately wandered through the children’s toy section. Well, Evie saw shelf after shelf of garish Barbie dolls wearing princess gowns and tiaras and she was hooked.

Needless to say the retort of “You can’t have one” to her begging did not go down well and by the time we were outside I was carrying a tearful, howling three year old girl and was soon trying to locate our taxi whilst also being pursued hotly by a bunch of street children who were pulling at my skirt and asking for money for food and drink. I must confess I stood in the middle of that street listening to the needs of all of the children and feeling equally distressed for all of them.

In a city of just over 14 million people (1 million under 5 years) and with so little free, clean outdoor space, with few gardens, or libraries, community halls or youth centres, it appears that those with any money default to consumerism, not necessarily because of desire but due to the lack of other options.

In the winter the air here is as equally polluted as Delhi and rates as “hazardous” on the air index scale for 2-3 months. In the summer 50 degree temperatures and strong UV levels keep the population in the shopping malls eating, drinking and consuming. Is it any wonder therefore that city dwellers here are growing to become consumers? I wonder how many children here grow up equating shopping as indicative to relaxing, that buying cakes and drinks equals the only way to have a good time, developing an unhealthy desire for things.

One of the songs that came into my head (click the photo below to listen) was by Lilly Allen, called "The Fear". To me, the situation in Kolkata chimes to the song
 

"And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And it's not my fault it's how I'm programmed to function"

On the flip side, of course, right outside of the shopping malls there are over one million street dwellers begging for food and I cannot find balance between the extremes.  What do you do? We do our best. For us that has involved recognising that there are simply too many people with too many needs here for us to make significant changes to all.
 

Zechariah 7 v9: 
"This is what the Lord Almighty said: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.”

By setting up our gender based violence work we are helping to change the mind set of communities to recognise equality and partnership in relationships. By undertaking thorough research in the Sundarbans we can discover the real needs of the communities and help to action a response and working within partnerships and raising funds to action considered and measured assistance to some of the poorest people groups in India.


Lastly, for our children we have the privilege of being able to take them out of the city to parks and on country walks whilst home in the UK. We can help them to discover joy without spending all of the time. And I guess that’s where my second quote comes in (again, click the photo below). It’s one that I have considered for many years in the various locations that I have lived and worked: 

Pulp “Common People”
'cos when you're laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall 
If you call your Dad he could stop it all.
You’ll never live like common people….

With our home assignment now due we will be back in the UK for nearly 3 months, escaping the next month of heat and the expected monsoon rains that will flood the city.

Many other expats that we know and the wealthier non expats of the city will also be flying out. We're not Common People here and never will be, as we can always get out in the end. The privilege of being able to make choices, to be able to fly home and to be able to find balance in among the life lived in extremes. 

Our role, though, is to create the foundations for how the our organisation can envision, encourage and equip local Churches to work alongside those who can't leave, who live and work in temperatures that feel like 50'c year on and year out.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we cope with Kolkata but, more importantly, for those who don't have the choices we have.

Yours in Christ

Mo


12th Update - 29th February 2016

After much planning, activities to help Churches plan how they can reduce domestic violence in the Church and the community are underway. Over the next year, we will be working with at least 10 Churches to help them think through the issue of domestic violence, develop a plan for what they can do to reduce it and give them training so that they are able to respond. Yesterday we held the first bible study with a Church congregation on domestic violence.
 
Last year, we trained over 50 local Pastors on domestic violence, with 78% of them never having previously had any training on the subject. One of the aims of the project was to encourage as many of them to Speak Out on domestic violence as possible, and many did. Following that project, we successfully applied for funding to explore how to get Churches implementing projects in their own community that would reduce violence. 

       

Yesterday’s study started with the Church performing a still life or tableau of a scene from the Bible, something inspired by Theatre of the Oppressed. We split the group into two and gave one group the Rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13) and the other the Rape of Dinah (Genesis 34) as their passages. They then presented their scene to the other group, acting as spectators, who had to guess the passage and work out who was who from the passage.

The spectators were then asked what could have been done to change the scene and to have stopped the violence. Spectators with suggestions then stepped into the scene, taking the place of the previous actor (above right photo). The point of the exercise was that we all see things happening and we have to choose whether and how to act but that, often, not changing from being a spectator to being an actor in a scene or situation means that vulnerable people will suffer. 

       

We then focused on the relationships between Abram, Sarai and Hagar (Genesis 16 and 21:8-21) and, particularly, how Hagar was treated and why. There is a great passage in a book called Texts of Terror about who Hagar is, which says
 

‘She is the faithful maid exploited, the black woman used by the male and abused by the female of the ruling class, the surrogate mother, the resident alien without legal recourse, the other woman, the runaway youth, the religious fleeing from affliction, the pregnant young woman alone, the expelled wife, the divorced mother and child, the shopping bag lady carrying bread and water, the homeless woman, the indignant relying upon handouts from the power structures, the welfare mother and the self-effacing female whose own identity shrinks in service to others’

        

We split the group into small groups, giving them questions and then seeing what answers they came up with. As we began by focusing on Hagar and her treatment, the discussion moved to who the Hagar type women are within Indian society, what are their situations and how did they develop.

That led to a discussion, that went on much longer than I originally intended, about what the Church could do about it, focused around raising awareness, particularly with men but also about highlighting to women their rights, with the Church passionate about doing something practical.

We will be working with the Church, and the ones surrounding it, over the coming months to help them develop activities. One part of that will be specialist training by our women’s rights partner, Swayam, so that the Church knows how to respond to situations. We hope that by November this year, to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Churches can organise an exciting programme. 

       

Your prayers as we expand the number of Churches we are working in and as we seek to encourage them to develop new activities would be greatly appreciate.

Brian, Mo, Evie & Eddie 


11th Update - 31st January 2016

We didn’t get round to doing an end of year update but things in Kolkata are going well. Slowly slowly, the momentum of work and family activities are building.

We’ve also enjoyed the five days of Kolkata cold weather that we had, being careful not to complain about being cold given the heat we will soon face. We had a great time in the UK over Christmas, with Evie and Eddie being spoiled by their families. 

             

In October, we trained about 50 local Pastors in the basics of domestic violence. For 78% of them, it was the first time they had ever received training on the subject. In November, many of them preached in their Churches on the subject. We’re still working with the Pastors to understand the effect of the training and preaching on their Churches but we’re now also pushing ahead with a new project. We’ve received funding to enable us to work with 10 Churches this year to help them develop and implement strategies for becoming safer places for women and children. We are starting with a programme for the entire Church and then working in greater depth with four or five people who feel called to take a lead in their Church on this issue. We are holding the first training at the end of February and are busy working out the programme and required resources. We’re very fortunate to be working with the same great team as before and to have some senior Pastors keen for us to work in their Churches. We’re hoping that by November we can support the 10 Churches to conduct a programme of activities around the time of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. We are really excited about where this work could go and as we see doors being opened to do new things through the relationships that have come from it.
 
Brian is also spending more and more time in the Sundarbans, the area bordering Bangladesh. We have just submitted a funding application to enable us to work with a local partner to understand peoples’ health needs and how that varies depending on location. There was an article in the paper this morning about a new born baby who was born this last week in a clinic in the Sundarbans. The baby needed extra support and died in transit to a better equipped health centre. We need to work out how we help the most vulnerable people. This coming week, Brian will be working with the same group to develop a vocational training centre in a building they own about 2½ hours by train from Kolkata. We are exploring how we train the groups we work with in basic project development skills. This will hopefully enable them to take a greater role in leading the development of their own projects and to understand why we want to understand the perspectives of local communities. This training will be particularly important in the Sundarbans, where it is difficult to travel. That said, Brian loves the travelling, as it’s a good excuse to eat lots of different Indian snacks and sweets.

       

Evie and Eddie are both doing very well. Most children in India go to school from aged two, but we’ve decided to keep both of ours at home and, instead, explore alternative activities. Evie has recently started a play based maths and English programme which she really enjoys. Mo and the children are also exploring how to be as social as possible with other children. There is a good group developing of likeminded people, who are all up for getting out and about and, thankfully, quite a few of them are members of the social clubs.

Given the state of the pavements and the standards of driving, the main challenge of being social for us is how to move two children round Kolkata when one of us is working, but we hope that we’ve found a solution which helps us become more sustainable in India. This will be particularly important once the weather starts to warm up and the children can’t spend as much time out on the lawn. 

                                        

It would be great if you could continue to pray for us.

  1. That the Churches continue to engage with the work to stop violence against women and children
  2. That we get the resources and can envision local groups to develop well researched projects
  3. That we continue to learn how to adjust to living in Kolkata
  4. That we cope with the forthcoming hot season

 Thanks for your prayers and emails.
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 


Tenth Update - 31st October 2015

After one year in India, here's what's different:

A few weeks ago the children sat and watched a DVD of Thomas the Tank Engine and, as the opening titles began, Mo was transported back in her mind to a year ago when we had just arrived in Kolkata and were wondering what on earth we had just agreed to. If we could have come back to the UK then, we would have done.

One year down the line and things, thankfully, look very different. We have learnt to navigate the city with the children, now understand enough Bengali to get us by, survived a serious medical condition (and got to know the medical set up here in the process), made a good group of friends and worked out where to buy food in the shops and markets for our weekly meat, fruit and vegetable needs.



All in all, things are going well.

To say the first few weeks were tough would certainly be an understatement. For Brian, one of the hardest moments was sitting in the canteen of the Resource Centre while Mo was out shopping, with Eddie having rubbed food which contained chili into his eyes.

For Mo, it was contending with the heat and the humidity whilst needing to entertain a six month and 23 month old in one room, which also happened to be packed with all of our belongings and the constant fight to keep the children settled throughout the night with festivities, music, drums and fireworks banging and crashing into the wee small hours of the morning. As we write, the same festival is happening every evening but we must have adjusted, as it's no where near as bad as we remember...

Our visa type meant that we weren’t able to leave India until we had completed immigration formalities. If we could have, we may well have packed up and gone straight home. Things got better, though, a few weeks after we arrived, when we moved into a flat that was to be our home until July this year. Things got even better when we moved into our longer term accommodation at the BMS Resource Centre.

Brian has been working to ensure that our organisation has a firm foundation for its work. Part of that was finishing our local registration, for both of us personally but also for the organisation with the local government. We still haven’t finished everything, as we’re still learning about annual reporting schedules and we are still waiting on permission to bring foreign project funds into India. One of the things we have completed recently was our risk register. Kolkata is an assault on every sense. The background to one of the risks sort of sums up what we face when trying to get out and about in Kolkata.
 

‘Unhealthy pollution, broken and encroached pavements, loud noise, lots of people, rubbish dumped in gutters, faecal matter, street dogs and high traffic’
 

But we've learnt to get by. Sometimes it's difficult being on foot but sometimes it's just as frustrating trying to get around in a vehicle.

Last Christmas I (Mo) was having a few words to God about that as I was pacing the flat where we were living. The washing machine was merrily spewing its dirty water over the kitchen floor as the drain kept blocking and we were all full of coughs and colds since we’d not yet realised the need for an air purifier in the flat and the air index outside was reading “hazardous” to health. I was not in the best place to say the least and describing my displeasure in some detail to be honest when I looked out of the window and saw a man on the pavement three stories down.

He was a local man, I saw him most days, a man that looked as though he had contracted polio as a child. He was moving across the pavement between the dirt and stray animals pressing down on wooden blocks that he held with his hands, using his arms to propel him along as he dragged his withered legs along behind him. I can’t imagine what exactly he was hauling himself over there was a urinal a little further up the road and an area where all of the rubbish from the street gets dumped a little further down. I saw him and thanked God for my spewing washing machine and full belly and then, most likely, went on to complain about something else. 

But outside of the challenges, it has been amazing to see God at work over the past year, in ways we really didn’t expect. Earlier this month we rolled out a series of domestic violence workshops, aimed at challenging pastors in the local churches to address the issues of violence within their own congregations.

This was part of BMS World Mission’s Dignity campaign. Despite being a difficult subject it has been well received and promoted a number of honest and lively debates between the attendees and trainers along the way.

The Bishop of Calcutta (above top photo) opened the first training day and the Pastors enjoyed creating a tableau of a Bible passage, as part of a discussion about how they could have changed the situation. The above bottom picture shows the Pastors doing a tableau of the rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13). The feedback has been positive, with many Pastors wanting to do something on the issue within their Churches. What has been incredible is that God has provided the experts we needed to deliver the project. We’ve focused on creating a framework which takes us towards a vision and our experts have filled in that framework with their knowledge and skills. It’s going to be really exciting to see where this project goes in 2016 and onwards.

Brian is just starting to explore other projects we can get involved in, which could be health, education or justice projects in the district bordering Bangladesh or other activities which come out of our relationships with churches. It would be great if we could understand more what could be done alongside the approximately one million people who live on the streets. We have no idea of their needs or aspirations. One approach we may take is to develop a training programme on holistic/integral mission that can be delivered to church leaders here, alongside helping them think through the resources that they have to work in their own communities. There are huge opportunities. 

One year down the road we are still finding Kolkata a hugely challenging place to live in, with the sheer volume of everything surrounding us but we are finding our rhythm and recognising that not every need we see here can be addressed and solved. We moved house in July to where we hope to live for the next few years. We’re now in an oasis in the middle of the city, with our bungalow looking out over a piece of grass and trees, rather than a rubbish filled alley.

We’re getting used to the fact that cleaning the house out every day is simply a necessity unless you want black feet and we’re adjusting how we live to the fact that it is extremely hot and humid in the summer and full of polluting smoggy particulates in the winter. It’s not the easiest place to move two small children around on foot but there is no easy way of getting around Kolkata and we’re in the process of organising to purchase a car. It’s a battle to stay on top of so many of the things that we take for granted back home.

Another gift from God are the contacts we have made in the city, which mean that although Evie and Eddie are not in school, neither are they socially isolated. We particularly felt this when Eddie was unwell in July, where our friends took care of cooking and looking after Evie.

It has been a tough first year, we always knew it would be, but things are ok. 

Prayer points for the coming months:

  1. That the Pastors we have trained on domestic violence against, that they are equipped and able to speak out in their congregations on 22nd November (International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women is on the 25th)
  2. For Mo as she takes on the leadership of the domestic violence work and leads the team to develop activities and structures which result in churches being safer places for women.
  3. For Brian as he seeks to strengthen Cyan’s organisational foundations here and create a pipeline of projects (and funding) that engage and are implemented by local Christians
  4. For Evie and Eddie that they continue to develop a good network of friends to play with on a regular basis

Thanks so much for your support and emails over the last year. We couldn't have done it without you. If you would like to know how you can support us and our projects then please get in touch.

Lots of love

Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 

Ninth Update - 6th October 2015

Prayer Request - Training Programme

Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, and over the next week, we're training Indian church leaders about domestic violence. Please pray for the team here!

For the last few months we've been developing a programme for Indian church leaders to be trained on domestic violence, probably for the first time for many of them. Over the course of the next week, up to 75 church leaders will be taught by local experts on understanding domestic violence and by local theologians in understanding what the Bible says about violence against women.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers! Please pray that the church leaders who have signed up for the training actually attend and that they are prepared for the training, but also especially please pray for the Papiya, Philip, Amrita, Asis and the Bishop of Calcutta as they pass on their knowledge and wisdom. Please also thank God for the way that he has provided the right people to deliver the training and that they can do it in the local language.

We will be training up to 25 people per day. The first training is tomorrow, Wednesday 7 October. The second group of leaders will attend this Friday, 9 October and the last group next Tuesday, 13 October.

We are praying that these leaders will Speak Out  in their churches against domestic violence on 22 November and the training is to help them do that.

We have huge hopes for what we will do in 2016 with some of churches that these leaders come from. We found out this last week that an American organisation has agreed to fund the pilot project for what we want to do next, which is an amazing lift for the new work we are doing here.

Thanks for all of your support

 

Eighth Update - 21st September 2015

Back in Kolkata

After five weeks in the UK, having Eddie’s liver checked out, we’re back in Kolkata and it’s still steamy but the rains are now finally diminishing. We’ve managed to get the mould off of most of our clothes, had new colleagues arrive from the UK and are pushing on with our work to encourage Churches to stop violence against women.
 
When we arrived in the UK at the end of July, we were not sure whether Eddie’s health would prevent us returning to Kolkata. After a couple of trips to specialists in London and yet another ultrasound, the consultant said that he was completely better and was no more at risk for an infection than any other child, which is fantastic news and for which we thank God. Thank you for your prayers.

It was great to have a bit of time out in the UK, although we suspect Brian’s parents were glad to finally regain some peace and quiet when we left. We even managed to take two days away without the children, which meant we could start walking the Cotswold Way. If all goes to plan, we will try to walk two days of it each time we’re back, eventually finishing up in Bath, near to our families.

The size of the Cyan International (India) team has now more than doubled, with a new family, the Dimonds, having arrived from the UK with their three children. We’re looking forward to exploring opportunities with them and seeing how we continue to push the development of our work here. Evie is enjoying having new female friends upstairs, although the youngest of the girls is a few years older than her.

                 

Now we’re in September, the planning and preparation for our workshops with Pastors on domestic violence has picked up speed. The Bishop of Calcutta hosted a workshop in early September for local Christian women to talk together with the female members of our project team so we could understand their experiences and knowledge of violence and how it is responded to within the Christian community. We’re hoping to use this to inform the work we will do with the Pastors in early October. We’re still hopeful that we can encourage up to 75 Pastors to Speak Out in their Churches against violence on 22 November. We’re also working out how we will know the impact of the training, to help us think through how the project will develop into 2016. One of the things we are currently exploring is how we can use text messages to reinforce our training.

It has been amazing to see how God has opened doors for this project. The complexity of organising domestic violence training from both a theological and legal perspective for up to 75 Pastors who have likely never had any training on this before and do so in a way which ensures there are avenues for women to respond if they've suffered violence has required involvement from many partners. Thankfully, the right people have become engaged at the right time and offered their skills, knowledge or reputations, which is making this project happen.

                 

 

                 

One of the advantages of having the Dimonds living upstairs is that it makes it easier for Brian to explore projects in the rural delta area bordering Bangladesh than would be possible without them being able to support Mo with the children. Many villages are on islands or are cut off from the towns and cities by the rivers, meaning that vital services are often not delivered. One of the main employers are brick kilns, which are notorious in many parts of the Asia for low labour standards.

Having made a few exploratory visits earlier in the year, we are now developing the research phase of both health and education projects, as we seek to accurately understand the situation on the ground and to work out how best to respond. We are keen to neither duplicate existing services nor fill the gap in provision that government services should be filling. There are, however, many areas that make accessing services easier and that is what we’re seeking to discover.
 

  

It has always been our intention to learn Bengali while we are in India. One of the (many) problems we’ve had is that most of the people where we live don’t speak it, they all speak Hindi. That’s the case both in our old neighbourhood and the new one. Thankfully, many of the staff in the compound where we are living speak Bengali and so we are hoping to start learning again soon, partly inspired by the need to organise language lessons for our new colleagues. It’s always complex to do study/do anything productive with two children, so we’re not sure how it is going to work.

Now the rains are abating, it's the beginning of festival season here. Structures are going up alongside, and often into, the roads, which will soon be adorned with lights and idols. The noise has already increased, with parades passing along the streets till late in the night.

We arrived in Kolkata last year during the middle of the season and were thankful that the children slept through the drums and horns and we're hopeful that they will do so again.

                           

It would be great if you could pray for the following

  1. Thanks that Eddie is so well and that we have arrived safely back in Kolkata
  2. Thanks that the Dimonds have arrived safely and that they are settling in
  3. Thanks that local Christians are engaging with our domestic violence projects and pray that Pastors accept our invitation to attend the training.
  4. That we have wisdom over how to develop new projects in a way which
  5. That we find the energy and enthusiasm to learn Bengali and the avenues to practice.

Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

Please do keep in touch. It's great to receive emails etc. Because of the way we have created this list, there is no way of signing up for this list. Please do circulate it and please do ask people to email us if they'd like to receive it directly.
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 

Seventh Update - 19th July 2015

One of those Months!

Sorry for a short update but sometimes plans get side-swiped. This month, it was Eddie being in hospital with a serious liver infection. After two weeks of IV antibiotics he’s back home, with the fevers subsided, but on another two week course of oral antibiotics as we make sure he’s clear of the infection. He was a very sad sight, particularly after the operation to drain the abscess, but is now bouncing back. This means we’re going to have an unscheduled trip back to the UK, as we confirm whether Eddie is well enough for us to return to India. We’re likely to be in the UK for most of August. Given the way he is now running around and eating us out of house and home, he’s certainly on the mend.

           

One of the things we learned during the two weeks while Eddie was in hospital, with one of us constantly with him, and while we were trying to juggle Evie, moving and renewing our visas, was quite how much support we have received from the people around us. Evie enjoyed going to various friends’ houses for play dates with their children, including being taken to a five star hotel for an all you can eat buffet breakfast, which is heaven for a girl who loves her food. Other friends brought us meals, toys for the children and generally relieved the pressure. It was literally a God-send.
 
As some friends will know, we always choose the most inappropriate time to move house. We moved into our last house in the UK three days before Eddie was born and we finally moved this last month, while Eddie was in hospital, into our long term accommodation. Instead of looking out on to a concrete jungle, we now look out on to grass, although more recently it has mostly been a lake, and in a house that works much better for us. It’s great to finally have wardrobes, a base on which to put our mattress and a forthcoming kitchen. It makes life so much easier and has helped us to settle. We haven’t used the lawn that much yet, as it’s rainy season and it keeps flooding… We've also had a range of interesting visitors, including a kingfisher.

                                       

We have, however, also been pushing on with work. Brian has met with the Bishop of Kolkata, who has agreed that the Church of North India (CNI) will be a partner in our project to have the Churches in the city Speak Out about violence against women.

Over the next month, while we are away, we have organised for the Women’s Department of the CNI and our training partner, Swayam, to conduct interviews and questionnaires into Christian women’s experiences of violence. We have drafted the interview and questionnaire questions and, although we will be in the UK, we will be working with them to have the questionnaires completed. The outputs will be used at the training sessions in October with the predominantly male pastors.

We have also organised for a team from a local theological college and our partner Swayam to pull together the training programme while we're away. We are also hoping to do a trial training session at a local ministerial training college at the end of September.
 

                                   

When we return, assuming that Eddie is now as fit and healthy as he seems, we will be continuing our work to research local issues and to begin to develop whether we should be engaging with them and, if so, how.

We still feel that we are at a very early stage of our work here and, although it is sometimes frustrating by how slowly we feel we have engaged with meaningful activities, on the other hand we have met lots of people with whom we can have conversations and have learned, often the hard way, how to live in a very large city.

                 

                 

We always ask in these emails that you pray for us. Below is the list from the last email and the partnership of organisations working together on violence issues is forming, we're in our new bungalow and we're adapting well to increased humidity of the rainy season and the impact of the rain on our plans.

Please do pray (from May):

  • Thanks for a great trip back to the UK
  • Please pray that we can build a partnership of Churches to Speak Out against gender based violence on 22 November 2015
  • We have to have moved into our bungalow by the end of June. Please pray that it is finished in time
  • That we can adapt and cope with the forthcoming rainy season


It would be great though, if you could continue to pray

  1. Thanks that Eddie’s fevers have subsided and that we received amazing support while he was ill
  2. That Eddie makes a full recovery and he is fit and well enough for us to return to India
  3. Thanks that plans for supporting 75 pastors to preach against violence against women are developing

Pray that progress on the project can be maintained while we’re in the UK.

Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

Please do keep in touch. It's great to receive emails etc. Because of the way we have created this list, there is no way of signing up for this list. Please do circulate it and please do ask people to email us if they'd like to receive it directly.
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie
 

Sixth Update - 6th June 2015

It’s hard to overstate quite how much Kolkata has heated up over the last month. It’s not just the weather though that is heating up, we’ve just received our first grant for a project, so our work is also heating up. This last month, though, we took our first major holiday away from Kolkata, with an almost three week break in the UK.

              

After six months in Kolkata, we really enjoyed going back to the UK and spending time with family and friends. Eddie was a star and timed beginning to walk to the day after we returned. What better way to charm his grandparents…! Evie enjoyed the greater open spaces that being in the countryside rather than in Kolkata gave her. She adores her aunts and uncle and made sure that they doted on her. We did very little travel but saw lots of people. One thing both children really enjoyed was when it rained and they were able to jump up and down in muddy puddles, just like Evie's idol, Peppa Pig... It was great to be able to give a short update to our Church, for which we put together a short video, which can be found here. The password for the video is Kolkata.

We’re now back in Kolkata and are trying to cope with increasingly challenging weather. You may have seen the news reports about the weather in India. Although Kolkata is not anywhere near as hot as other parts of India, we are still struggling with a combination of heat and humidity. The temperature has been floating around 38’c in the afternoons here, but an app on our phones tell us that it feels more like 47’c. Regardless, it’s hot and we’re spending most of our time in our flat, or visiting the accommodation of friends. The children are coping well with this confinement and we hope the weather will be more amenable in the coming weeks, when the monsoon hits. We’re preparing for the rainy season and putting some possessions into air tight bags to prevent mould, for when the long rainy season does come. 

BMS World Mission is running a campaign, Dignity, to prevent gender based violence. Whichever country you're in, the statistics on the level of violence against women is horrific. BMS has a video, here, that introduces the subject. We've borrowed these UK statistics from Restored, an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women:

  • 1 in 4 women in the UK will suffer abuse in her lifetime (Source: British Crime Survey 2011)
  • 2 women a week in the UK are killed by their partner of former partner (Source: British Crime Survey 2011)
  • Approximately 80,000 women in the UK suffer rape and attempted rape every year (Source: Walby and Allen, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking: British Crime Survey, 2004)

Cyan International (India), our local charity, is joining BMS' campaign by encouraging Churches in Kolkata to develop activities which will reduce gender based violence in their communities. The first phase of this is to encourage the Churches to Speak Out on the theme of gender based violence in their services on 22 November 2015, which is the nearest Sunday to the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
 
To encourage the Churches, we will be helping Church leaders think through what gender based violence is, to have a greater understanding of what the law in India says, for them to understand what the Bible says about women and what that means for relationships and how women are treated.
 
Longer term, we will work with willing Churches to develop activities and see what can be started, to reduce and prevent violence against women both in the Church and in wider society. We’re looking forward to trying to bring groups from different Churches and different denominations together.

 It has been really encouraging as we have presented the vision for this project to different people and organisations that so many are coming on board. What was going to be a Cyan International (India) and BMS World Mission project is now expanding into a much broader partnership of charities working on violence against women and Churches who are keen for training.

We have been working hard to identify the right people to teach the pastors about these issues. One of the biggest challenge we think we will have is challenging Pastors existing beliefs about what the Bible says about women and the implications of that for how the Church should respond to cases of gender based violence. We have been concerned to find the right person to lead this element of the teaching. It was great this week that we were introduced to a male Bible College lecturer who teaches trainee ministers in Kolkata about gender based violence and who we believe has the cultural and theological understanding and the respected position to be able to present this part of the training.

We would like you and your Churches to be involved. Will your Church partner with what we are doing in Kolkata and Speak Out against violence against women during your Church service on 22 November 2015? There are many resources available to help, including these ones from BMS here, or this one, here, from Restored. Closer to the November, Restored and other organisations will be launching sermon kits and other resources aimed at encouraging Churches to Speak Out around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Please do get involved! 

Please do pray:

  • Thanks for a great trip back to the UK
  • Please pray that we can build a partnership of Churches to Speak Out against gender based violence on 22 November 2015
  • We have to have moved into our bungalow by the end of June. Please pray that it is finished in time
  • That we can adapt and cope with the forthcoming rainy season

Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

Please do keep in touch. It's great to receive emails etc.

Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 

Fifth Update - 27th April 2015

Extreme weather...!

The temperature in Kolkata has been rising sharply and most days are in the the mid-30s, with increasingly high humidity. The evenings are now bringing thunderstorms, although they're slightly unseasonal. Evie and Eddie take the thunderstorms in their stride now and like to count between flashes of lightening and claps of thunder, to gauge just how close the storms are. The heavy rains that accompany the storms flood the roads outside our compound and the rubbish that is piled up nearby washes around the streets settling around drainage points as the water recedes. 

Extreme rubbish...!

Rubbish here is dumped into the streets in the morning, picked over by people and animals and then scooped up and carried away by trucks later on in the day. Rubbish bins are not found in the city, most people throw their rubbish to the ground, generally assuming that someone else will pick it up, albeit scavengers or cleaners. It is a hard lesson to observe, especially when it makes the communal areas so unclean and unsafe for children to play around in and we are ever more grateful that we will soon be moving to a new property with a lawn. 

Extreme party...!

Sometimes not everything goes according to plan and being in someone else’s house with two curious children at a seven year old's birthday party and trying to be polite, engaged and culturally sensitive can be a little tricky……

When we arrived at the party Eddie and Evie were both completely bowled over by the sheer volume of balloons that were hanging up. “Boo, boo”, Eddie kept saying, pointing up and requesting one of the hanging items. Literally a few hundred balloons adorned the flat and there were polystyrene princesses being hung around the doors and walls too. Unfortunately, the blades used for cutting them out were also around the place and thus began Mo's evening of keeping Eddie off of the floor and Evie within view, so she wasn’t destroying gifts or the cake, whilst also trying to look calm and chat with the other adults. Evie was absorbed for some time in getting her hands on phone in the lounge and was generally found putting it on loud speaker and hitting a variety of buttons before having a mock conversation with her granddad or other relatives over in the UK. Eddie, meantime, kept wriggling out of Mo's arms and heading back into the birthday girl’s bedroom, where there was a bunk bed with slide. In one of his braver moments he made it mostly up to the top, so some of the older children carried him up to the top bunk. Mo arrived to find him grinning and bouncing on his legs whilst leaning over the edge. “Is this OK Aunty?”, the children greeted Mo with as she entered the room. “No it isn’t, he can’t stand let alone get down...!”. The conversation then revolved around the children pushing him down the slide, to which Mo had to consent in the end, as he was too high up for her to reach and get him.  

A little later on and a piñata style situation broke out, sending small plastic toys and balls to the ground – all perfect swallowing size for both Eddie and Evie. The cake followed and, in between the excitement and frenzy of the cake appearing, and the fact that it was 7:30pm and way beyond the kids bed time, Evie had a melt down over getting some cake without the red icing on it and Eddie had a wobbly as Mo wouldn’t put him down to head over to the flurry of plastic goods that were scattered about the floor. Meanwhile, children were racing all over, the TV was on and music was blaring, and, after saying that it was time for us to head home, Evie was promptly ushered over to a chair, popped on it and told the next round of food was on its way! Mo debated pinching Eddie at this point to make him scream really loudly (!) but with them both on the verge of being entirely overwhelmed by the noise, the crowd and the fact that two large gas burners on the kitchen floor were gaining Evie’s attention, Mo decided they would make their farewells and leave. She tried to exit quietly but were immediately handed a number of bags full of gifts, including a small games table, and so she wobbled out into the hall way balancing two over stimulated children, party bags and a small table under her arms!.

They were all relieved to get back to the cool and quiet of the flat, though that statement is relative since the rooms were shaking from the noise coming in from a different party going on outside. Still it’s amazing what you learn to start ignoring and, despite the “boom, boom, boom”, the children lip synced an episode of Peppa Pig before passing out in their beds.”
 

We can’t finish this update without making reference to the earthquakes that hit Nepal these last few days. Being in northern India we felt the tremors and were evacuated out of our 14 storey block of flats a few times, as they wobbled gently. The epicentre was over 600 miles from Kolkata (that’s roughly the distance between London and Nuremberg, Germany) and it’s hard to imagine the force that those living in the area must have felt. The BMS' partner organisations in Nepal are involved in the disaster relief and they will be there longer term, to help the country rebuild. BMS has launched an appeal which you can find online by clicking here

Please do pray:

  • For all those affected by the earthquake, that they would receive quick and effective help and that those who mourn would be comforted.
  • For BMS’ partners and personnel at this time as they seek to respond practically, compassionately and appropriately.  
  • For those responding to the destruction, that they would have wisdom, energy and resilience. 

That all those affected would be encouraged by the present and compassionate response of BMS’ partners.

Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

Please do keep in touch. It's great to receive emails etc.
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie
 

Fourth Update - Easter 2015

As Easter and the end of the season of lent approaches, we too are approaching the end of our first phase in India. For the past five months, we've gradually settled into life in Kolkata, focusing on language study and orientation. Now, however, we're expanding our horizons, as we begin to think about what God would have us do here and our longer term plans. 

                                                            

This last Friday was Eddie's first birthday. We spent Friday morning celebrating at a local soft play centre with a group of friends and then yesterday at a swimming pool, which was great given the heat of Kolkata. It's great that we're beginning to develop a closer network of friends who have children about the same age, who we now regularly socialise with.

It's great watching Evie and Eddie learn to play with each other, although Evie sometimes now struggles as Eddie develops his own personality and asserts his desires over the toys that Evie also wants. 

In some ways, it’s hard to know where the past few months have gone. The main focus has been learning Bengali but, for now, we've decided to take a break with study. Although we're still at a very basic level, we can now express our basic requirements in Bengali. It's great to be able to understand the gist of a conversation, even if responding without prior thought and large amounts of time is hard. We think now, though, that it is time to think more about work. 

      

The other key area has been putting ourselves on a firm foundation in Kolkata. As the first long term international personnel in India from BMS in recent times, there has been a learning curve as to what we need to do. Over the last two weeks, we have managed to complete both the registration in Kolkata of the organisation we are seconded to, Cyan International (India), and we, as a family, have been registered with immigration to live here.

Completing our registrations means we can begin to think about what we could be doing here. In a place with so many needs in many ways it is easy to do good things. We could work among the reportedly one million people who live on the streets of Kolkata. We could support rural health, water or education projects. We could run projects that improved people’s physical environment. Our initial thoughts, though, are to explore how we can support and encourage the local church to engage in the community surrounding it, possibly on all the above, depending on local needs. We passionately believe in the Church as the living, breathing witness of God’s kingdom and it would be great to encourage the Church to be that. The problem is that just because we could do something doesn’t mean it’s what we should be doing. We would greatly appreciate your prayers as we seek to know what God would have us focus on.

To help us resolve these questions, we are meeting with lots of local organisations and Church groups to understand who is doing what across West Bengal and what their understanding of needs and opportunities are. It’s great to hear what other groups are doing and to explore our ideas for projects with them. These meetings will be an increasing focus of our work over the next few months, as we enter a new learning phase.

One of the exciting initiatives we are looking to join is BMS' Dignity Campaign which is campaigning against violence against women. We are still working through the details of how we will be involved in Kolkata but, again, we’re hoping that we can work firmly through the local church to be advocates on this issue.

      

       

      

As we enter a new phase of learning about local needs, it would be great if you could continue to pray for us.

  1. Thanks that we have settled in so well.
  2. That we find out about and can meet organisations who can help us learn
  3. That we have the wisdom and understanding to know what God would have us do here
  4. That we cope with the heat and humidity, as the heat pushes towards 40’c

        

Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

Please do keep in touch. It's great to receive emails etc.
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie

Copyright © 2015 Leitches at Large, All rights reserved

Third Update - Dated 7th December 2014

Just over five weeks into our time in Kolkata and we’re beginning to settle in. We celebrated Evie’s second birthday last week with a party with some other children and then a family meal out. We moved into our flat a few weeks ago and have found a reliable market and other shops to buy the things we need. We’ve started language study and found the back roads to the office. Things on the whole are going well. 

                                                       

It was Evie’s birthday at the end of November and a group of us visited a horticultural garden in Kolkata which had a play park. It was good for Evie to run around with some friends, have play equipment to enjoy and then have a chocolate birthday cake with the largest birthday candles.

Both Evie and Eddie are doing well and are getting used to the noise that constantly surrounds us. Evie is being a proper girl and goes through countless changes of clothes in a day, as she tries to decide what to wear. Eddie has in the last week pushed through two teeth, with more on the way. He is crawling and climbing and will soon be walking. 

Language study has started. We've got a tutor who is helping us understand the basics of Bangla, focusing at the moment on the things we see, such as fruit and vegetables, or do, such as meet people.

                           

Since we'moved into our new flat a few weeks ago we have been buying most of our fruit and vegetables in a local market. We tend to go to the same stall for most of our veg and they are now used to us asking the names of different items and then us practising our pronunciation. 

We're about a 20 minute walk from where we will be living from April(ish) next year and we're getting used to walking along the back roads to where the house and our office will be. Evie does well with walking, as much as the roads allow, but there is a lot of traffic, people and cows that need to be avoided, so Brian does a lot of carrying of Evie...

Today we sourced Christmas decorations and the flat is now adorned with tinsel. We've decided against a tree as we already spend enough time stopping Eddie from climbing on or eating things to not add another temptation. Although Christmas won’t be like it is in the UK, we’ve been invited to a few events that all of us should enjoy.  Alongside work out how and where to celebrate Christmas in Kolkata, we’re hoping over the next month to orientate ourselves more in the city, learning where more things are and what the different areas of the city are called. We also need to complete our immigration registration process here, which has proved slightly more complex than we first anticipated. We’ve worked out what we need to do but it will take some time to get all our ducks in a row, so we can present the requested information. 

                

It would be great if you could pray for the following
 

  1. Thanks that we are settling in and that we are comfortable in our new flat
  2. Thanks that we have started language study but also prayers that we quickly get to grips with it
  3. Thanks that Evie in particular has made some friends but also prayers that we can build a good friendship group
  4. That we begin to build good professional contacts and can begin to get a feel for how we can contribute here

That we find a church to settle in.

    

For those of you who have asked, our postal address is
 
Brian & Mo Leitch
c/o BMS Resource Centre
44 AJC Bose Road
Kolkata 700017
West Bengal
India
 
Thank you for all your support and good wishes.

We will you all a very merry Christmas and New Year!
 
Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 

Second Update - Dated 8th November 2014

Just a brief update to say that we’ve arrived and are beginning the process of settling in. Sorry that it has taken a week to write but time and energy have been lacking. The journey was as good as could be expected with two small people. Evie’s highlight was one of the air stewardesses taking her into the business class lounge and being given nice chocolate, which we promptly ate… Thankfully, all of our luggage arrived and Evie has been pleased to see some of her toys appear from bags and boxes.
 
The folks at the guest house have been great, collecting us from the airport, working around the issue that the kids need to eat earlier than folk normally do here and helping us source the things we need to move into our apartment. Although being at the guest house has been great, getting into the apartment will make it easier for both children to sleep and the addition of play space will make things slightly less stressful...

              

Evie and Eddie have been doing really well. Evie didn’t have a cot for the first few nights and would take hours to get to sleep. Fortunately, we found a company locally that could rent us one, as we have been so far unable to buy one in Kolkata, as most Indian children sleep in the same bed as their parents. We’re hoping to sort a permanent solution soon. We had a quiet few days when we arrived, to help Evie in particular get used to the guest house and the different noises and sounds. We’ve gradually expanded our horizons and taken them into busier and more crowded situations. Evie has done really well. We went shopping earlier and she was happy to walk around and only at particularly busy points wanting to be carried. She’s fascinated by the trams and motorbikes and completely non-plussed by the continual horn beeping. There has been a major Muslim festival over the last week, with some extraordinarily loud drumming, shouting and whistles till very late into the night, which both of them somehow managed to sleep through. Eddie is doing really well with all the food he has been presented with, which is no great surprise. Evie is slightly unsure and will take more convincing that Indian food is tasty.
 
We still haven’t sorted language study. We’re exploring a few leads but the word on the street, or at least from the person from a partner organisation helping with our orientation, is that there are few, if any, good language study options in Kolkata. Given the importance of being able to speak even basic Bengali, we would appreciate your prayers on finding a teacher who can teach well and work lessons around the demands of two small children…

One of our biggest concerns about moving here was how we would ensure that Evie and Eddie could make friends with other children. When we were out the other day, a lady from the UK approached us and asked if we had moved to Kolkata and then got chatting to Mo. Email addresses were exchanged and now we have some leads as to what is going on socially within the international community in the city. We’re looking forward to participating at an activity day in a few weeks’ time. Other potential channels for the children engaging with both India and expat children have presented themselves, which is great. That said, Evie, as the photo shows, is enjoying spending time reading books and playing with stickers with mummy…
 

            

We’re hoping to move to our new apartment in a different part of Kolkata within the next few days. It’s on the third floor of a block of apartments. There is a little outside play space, with a swing and a slide, and a swimming pool, which is currently empty as it is technically winter… We’re looking forward to finally being able to unpack, not that we have anything to unpack into yet. We’ll get that sorted over the coming weeks. We also need to sort out what the children will sleep in as well. We’ll be in this apartment until sometime around March, as our long term accommodation is currently being constructed. When we arrived the builders had just knocked a grapefruit tree down for it (12 trees were planted in its place, in a different part of the garden) and then have since been digging the foundations. It will be great to watch it go up. 

          

It would be great if you could pray for us as we work to settle in

  1. Thanks that so many of our prayers from our last email were answered, particularly that we arrived safely and have been taken such good care of in our first two weeks
  2. Pray that our apartment is soon ready for us to move into and that the builders do a speedy job on the bungalow being built for us
  3. That we find a language teacher or a good way to learn Bengali
  4. That we find friends for ourselves and the children
  5. That we work out a way to live in a very busy city
  6. That we get our immigration papers sorted so we can be registered as living in India

Thanks for your support!

Brian, Mo, Evie and Eddie 

First Update - Dated 27th October 2014

With less than 48 hours till take off, it’s all go... Today we moved our final possessions out of our house and into storage at Brian’s longsuffering parents. Evie is very unsettled but will hopefully spend tomorrow morning with all of her grandparents while we prepare the house for the tenants and work out what the item is that we’ve forgotten to pack. We leave for Heathrow first thing on Wednesday morning and fly in the early afternoon.
 
In the month since we last wrote, we have had the last of our vaccinations, done a trip to see the last remaining person from Brian’s family to have been born in India and finished renovating the house. The house has been rented out, which is great. We’re so thankful that we can go knowing that things have all been sorted back home.
 
We land in Kolkata early on Thursday morning and should be ensconced in the guest house by the time you wake on Thursday (depending on where you are in the world…). We will spend the first few days acclimatising and obtaining everything we will need to live in a flat in Kolkata. We are fortunate that the guest house is a safe place to begin this adventure, with good food and water, comfortable rooms and friendly people. Thankfully, there is a great team in Kolkata who have already put in a lot of hard work into getting things ready for us and organising our orientation, so we are confident that it won’t be long before our initial nerves abate.
 
As soon as we can after we arrive, we will move into a flat that has been organised for us. From the little we know at this stage, it sounds like a good place from which to be based while we work out how to live in Kolkata. Our first role in Kolkata is to learn Bengali and, alongside that, build initial contacts with people in the city. What both of those things look like in practice will be worked out in the coming weeks and months.
 
Please pray for

  1. Safe travels and that Evie and Eddie sleep on the plane
  2. For good health
  3. That we can find the things we need to move into our flat, so that we can begin to settle
  4. That we quickly find people near to where we will be living with whom we can build friendships
  5. That we can quickly start learning Bengali and for the miracle of us being able to learn it…

Brian, Mo, Evie & Eddie


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