PRAYER & PRAY-er
“Madam! The Principal Sister sent this Notice to you all Lecturers. You choose one column of the dates for invigilation and sign your name underneath.“
Lourdu Mary the attender brought the notice to my room in the New Hostel. I took the notice book and scanned it at a glance. There were three columns with headings on top of them. The dates were given in those headings. 1st column is written as below:
(1st column:May 1st to 10th)
(2nd column: 11th May to 21st)
(3rd column: 22nd to 31st May).
Most of my hostel mates signed into the third column; Day staff and some hostel mates signed in 1st and 2nd columns. My hostel mates were eager to go to their native places, soon after the college working days so they chose the third column.
I signed into the 1st Column as I wanted to join our church group members to go to a Prayer Retreat that would be conducted in Madras in the month of May. I was so eager to go to this Retreat, as my dad also was coming for the first time to this Prayer Retreat. I want him to meet the children of God and attend the prayer meetings. He came to know of the Lord very recently and I was very eager to spend those 10 days with him in prayer in the presence of the Lord. So I signed in the 1st column planning to attend the Retreat from 13th of May.
As all the staff left the hostel to their natives, I was asked to shift my stuff to Old Hostel in the premises of College. Now my room was only 70 feet away from the college building. And the hostel dining room was 50 feet away. I was to invigilate the junior Intermediate Exams. The second batch was supposed to attend Senior Intermediate Exams.
Our Hostel facilities were like in a 5 Star Hotel, so life was very cozy and comfortable. Every day I get up early and read the Bible and Our Daily Bread devotion, in my quiet time before breakfast, get dressed up, and go to the Examinations Controller’s Room to sign in the attendance register and proceed to my invigilation room by 8 am. We have to be half an hour before the students to check their hall tickets. 7 days passed, very smoothly. I enjoy lonely hours all by myself. So staying in the Hostel without much disturbance was a heavenly stay for me. I was praying much for this particular Retreat and for my father, in those days. My heart was burning for the salvation of my dear dad. I was very yearning for the date on which I will meet my dad and other church believers on 13th May ‘78.
On the 7th day of May, while I was submitting my answer sheets in the Examination Controller’s room, Laxmi, the attender came to me and told me, “Miss! Sr. Principal asked you to meet her after your work is over here.” – I agreed and sent her away. After the work was over, straight away I went to the Principal room. She was talking to one particular lecturer Roopamathi Raja, (A Tamilian, Zoology Lecturer, a very fashionable lady and a favourite one to the Principal)
I was waiting for the principal to call me inside Lakshmi, the attender went inside the Principal’s chamber to let her know that I was waiting for her call. Waited half an hour, and saw the lecturer going away from the Principal room rashly, later I was called in, without any introduction, the Principal said to me like this, “Miss! You have to do invigilation duty in the second batch also.” Saying that she briskly stood up from her chair and about to go out, but I apprehensively interrupted her, quickly saying, “Sister, I need to go to a Prayer Retreat in Madras from 13th of this month, please, I cannot do the second batch.” I blurted out; for which she did not heed me at all, and on the other hand she ordered me saying, “I told you to do it, and you do it. That’s all!” and left the room. I stood for a while, numb and docile not knowing what to do. Slowly I went to my room, opened the lock, threw my hand bag on my bed, and rushed to the dining room. I was not in a mood to relish the food, many thoughts of distress and disappointment overwhelming me. Inside I was torn apart, while trying to gulp a morsel from my rice plate; I got an idea all in a sudden. I rushed back to my room, took the hand bag, locked the room and went to my uncle, a Postmaster, Beera.V. Raju, Narasimha Rao pet. Immediately I told him what all that had happened, and requested him to call my dad on the phone; and I told my dad the situation and asked him to give a telegram to the Principal that,’ my presence is essential at home.‘ I told him to give telegram like this.“My daughter, Leelavathi,’s presence is essential at home please send her” Afternoon I did not have invigilator’s duties so I spent some time with Peddamma, (Aunty) and came back to the hostel for the night.
Next day I did the duty as usual. On the 9th morning, while I was reading my Bible in my quiet time, I heard a knock on the door. There stood Thota Venkateswara Rao, an attender. There was that pink Telegram paper in his hand. He said, “Miss! Principal Mam told me to give this to you.” I took it and realized that it was the telegram given by my dad to the Principal.–I anxiously asked him, “What, What did Sister Principal say to you?” He coolly answered me, “Nothing mam”—
I was shocked; it means I have to meet her again with that Telegram to find what she would say. I sat quietly for a while, I did not feel like going to breakfast, I read my daily portion in my Bible, uttered a few words of prayer seeking His HELP and for courage to encounter the Principal to enquire about the Telegram and to seek her permission to go home. Everything looked very unjustful. Why was she insisting that I should do 2nd batch invigilation even after I followed her instructions and finished my 1st batch invigilation? I was bewildered and downhearted.
I finished the invigilation of that day, submitted the answer sheets in the Examinations Controller room, and briskly walked up to the Principal room. The time was 11:30 noon, Laxmi was standing at the door and I asked her to tell the Principal that I wanted to meet her. She went inside and came out, told me that she informed the Principal. I asked her “What did she say? “For that she told me” She did not say anything Miss!“
I sat in one of the chairs outside her room, and waited, the wall clock struck 12, then it struck 12 :30 then 1’ O clock , 1:30 and 2 O’clock –She did not call me to come inside, I was sitting there waiting …praying, at last she got up from her chair, came out and as if she did not notice me, proceeded to go to convent, I followed her instantly and called her out, ‘Sister, Sister!” She did not stop but looked at me frustratingly.
I said, “Sister! My father sent a telegram to you.” She did not stop but continued her brisk walk. We were already in the middle of the campus. She asked me, ”What is in it?.” I answered her politely, “He requested you to send me home as my presence is essential” She immediately said, ” Give another telegram that you cannot come” and briskly rushed off. I stood there astonished. I did not know what I should do next. Tears were flowing down my cheeks, the telegram paper in my hand was mocking at me. I returned back to the corridor with utmost disappointment. My hands were shivering and tears were flowing unceasingly. I tore the telegram paper into small pieces as I stood there on the steps of the corridor, and threw the pieces at the roots of that big conifer tree beside me.
(The angels from heaven must have been witnessing this entire scene, as well as Sister Ursula was looking at me from her hostel window, in the opposite building. She was doing her Intermediate and there was a beautiful spiritual connection between us. She was a slim, fair and beautiful Tamilian Sister, who was fond of me .We used to sit hours together talking about God, and walking in the New Hostel gardens in the evenings. That was veneration between us, which still sustains impeccably. Later she left the college and went to Chennai, later to Mangalore for further training as a nun and for studies. She later came to the same college after many years, as Principal to the same college. The love between us did not decrease but in fact it increased much more. Our hearts are one in the Lord. One day after 30 years when I was telling this story of God’s abundance of love, she said, “Yes Miss! I remember that day very much, I was looking at you, standing there at the steps of the corridor and tearing the telegram into pieces. I saw you from my hostel room window.” We both laughed of course. )
After that insult and humiliation encounter with the Principal about my request to release me from the second batch invigilation, I slowly went into my room, closed the doors, did not feel like going to dining hall, I knelt down at my bed, my Bible which I was reading when the attender came with telegram paper was still on my bed. I did not complete the morning Our Daily Bread– Daily devotion in the morning, so it was also on my bed. I did not feel like reading anything at that time.
I just knelt down and cried bitterly, very bitterly, it was so injustice on the part of Sr. Principal, how can she ask me to do invigilation even after my dad requested her to relieve me, ‘Oh am I going to lose this rare opportunity to go to Prayer Retreat along with my dad? I was waiting and praying for this occasion so much for many days, and Sister Principal nullified all my plans, she is so oppressive in my case, oh why? Oh lord help me’—
I was crying, there are no more of my tears. Maybe one hour passed by while I poured my anger, my disappointment, my anxiety at His feet.
I knew that when I pray in tears bringing all that pain in my heart to the feet of the Lord Jesus, He will give me His peace at once, there is no other way. When I have that Peace in my heart, I know that He will speak to me, and answer to me.
Remembering that that morning I did not read OUR DAILY BREAD, devotion, I was prompted in my heart to pick up the book which was just beside my Bible on the bed. That day Portion was titled as
PRAYER changes the PRAY-er
“Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Habakkuk 1: 3
The book of Habakkuk comprises only three chapters in the Bible. Habakkuk started his prayer in the first chapter with so many questions to the Lord,”Why is God silent while the wicked succeed?” was his question in his prayer. The three chapters were his prayers, and questions to God. There was so much offense, deceit, and oppression in the world, why? Oh Why? Was his question to God “I call for you, but you do not listen? Cry out “Violence” but you do not save? Destruction and violence are before me, there is strife, and conflict abounds. The law is paralysed. and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted.”—–
(Oh isn’t this just my prayer a minute ago? The very exact words of my sighs and tears and prayer are written in this prayer of Habakkuk. Here in Bible)
Our Daily Bread explains this: Yes I read those three chapters of Habakkuk, he started his prayer like this but at the end of the third chapter, his attitude completely changed, what is the reason?
In the devotion book an incident was written like this.– Once a pastor was very much annoyed by two men of his congregation, who were quarrelling with each other and bringing much chaos in the church. So the pastor tried to pacify them, but they did not heed him. Pastor developed much anger towards them and wanted to teach them a harsh lesson, to bring them around. But when he started to pray, God asked him, “Do you have anger towards these two men in your heart”? Stuck by that question, the pastor confessed that ‘Yes indeed I am very angry with these two men” Then the Lord said to him, “First get rid of your anger towards them and then you pray.” The pastor obeyed God. Then the next day he witnessed a miracle. Those two men were entering the chapel hand in hand cheerfully. Later the pastor came to know that those two men reconciled with each other and became friendly.
The devotion continues its exhortation as follows:
If you have anger in your heart towards any one, this is the time to get rid of it. Are you angry with any one? Get rid of it. Forgive them.—I stopped to read further. Tears gushing out of my eyes, I automatically kept my hand on my heart, and cried bitterly saying, ”Yes , Yes Lord I am very angry with my Principal. Yes Lord, I forgive her with all my heart. I will love her and obey her much more. Thank you Lord Jesus for you are talking straight to my heart”
Habakkuk also started his prayer with many complaints, anger and frustration, but at the end of the prayer, in the third chapter; The prayer of Habakkuk was changed; yes the Prayer changes the Pray-er. Look at the song by Habakkuk, “Though the Fig tree does not blossom, and there are no herds in the stalls……. Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God of my salvation”
I closed my eyes , there was great heavenly joy in my heart, I do not know what happened there, all that frustration vanished, and instead the song of Habakkuk imprinted in my heart. Thankfully I knew this song, the music of it, so I started to sing that song, for some time. The song was.
“Though the fig tree does not blossom,
And there be no fruit on the vines
The produce of the olive fails
And the fields yield no food,
Tho’ the flock be cut off from the fold
And there be no herd in the stalls,Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
I will joy in the God of my salvation
God the Lord is my strength
And just before I closed my Bible I happened to see the verse in Psalms 86:8-10 “ For you are great and do marvellous deeds, You alone the great.” Wow, that was indeed a straight answer to me from God, so immediately I told my Lord, “If you are great and do marvellous deeds, why should I be worried? I believe that you are going to do great and marvellous deeds now.”
As soon as I said that I was filled with the Holy Spirit, from that particular moment I walked in clouds, great belief encompassed me, I knew instantly I am going to Retreat. You may ask me How do I know that I will go to Retreat, When the circumstances are so bleak and black? How can I believe that He would take me to the Retreat? How can I have such peace of mind that assures me that I would go to the retreat? Faith, it’s a gift from God!! Listening to Him and obeying Him instantly ,God gives the gift of Faith!
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Hebrew 11:1
I did everything as if God was leading me step by step. I trusted Him that some marvellous thing will take place, shortly. I just believed it.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24
There was an assurance also in my heart that I will go to May Prayer Retreat by all means. Nobody told me so, but I knew that some miracle would take place and something is going to happen and I will go along with my dear father to this particular retreat.. That is all!
What would anyone explain about this state of my faith? Is there any reason to trust that this would take place? NO, nothing like that. But in my heart I knew that “I will be going to May Prayer Retreat along with my father”
So that evening I met the Hostel Warden, Sr. Dominica, and told her as I told her previously that I am going to vacate the hostel room on 10th May, I am leaving for my uncle’s house. I settled the hostel bills, and left the college.
I was 24 years old. Walking with God was a challenge to me. It was a joy for me. There was heavenly joy in my heart, and shone on my face.
Everything electrified at once. The things were as they were, but Faith enriched my soul and demeanour of mine changed completely. Yes the prayer changed me, the pray-er: though the situation had not changed yet; just as in the case of Habakkuk. Things may not change, but the prayer changed me absolutely.
When I reached my uncle’s home, I was in the clouds, I was talking and walking in the Spirit, from thence my body and spirit was in the control of the Lord God. I told my aunty, all that happened with the sister Principal, and added this very cheerfully “Aunty I need to wash my sarees and get ironed for the Retreat.”
She asked me surprisingly, “Leela you told me that the Principal told you to do the invigilation for the next batch also. How can you go to the Retreat? Leave the clothes alone, I will get them washed by the maid tomorrow. Why hurry now?”
I answered her, merrily,”Nah Aunty, surely I will go to the Retreat. I need to get ready within two days”
“How come? You are supposed to do the invigilation, right?”
I laughed and said, “Aunty, I have faith in God that He would take me to the Retreat, when there is faith it should be accompanied by the deeds, right? So I am getting ready for the retreat by deeds.” I really did not prepare to answer her like that, the words came out of my mouth just like that. I did not know why I was laughing, and answering her like that.
Uncle bought some fresh fish, knowing that I like fish curry very much, Aunty was an expert in cooking fish curry very tastily. Meanwhile, I washed my sarees. I still remember one cotton saree, which was gifted by another aunty Santha and Ramarao uncle when I went to their house in Pulla one summer; it was white cotton saree with small red flowers all over. I washed it spic and span and got them dried in that blazing sun of summer day, and also got the sarees ironed by the dobi who was ironing outside the house in the same street. The temperature was 43 degrees foreign heat, and all my clothes for the retreat were ready by evening.
My uncle had one boy, Vinodh (Inter final year) Vimala 1st year B.Com in the same college where I was working. Then his first wife, who was my mother’s elder sister died, later he married another widow, and by her he got Prabhakar studying 7th class, and Aruna studying 6th class, in the house. Aunty cooked the rice and called us all to come to the dining hall to eat dinner. I was almost jumping literally with happiness; I was talking to my cousins about the word of God as we gathered at the table.
At that moment we all heard a big thunder in the sky, and as we were starting to eat, there was drizzling rain. Outside, the atmosphere changed all of a sudden, there were lightings, thunder and the drizzling became a downpour of the rain within no time. Vinodh switched on the radio for the news, and it was blasting loudly that there came a storm without any prior warning, the storm bursted out at once and the trees and electric poles were falling down…. The announcer was depicting the news loudly, making the people understand the severity of the situation of the storm. My brother Vinodh went out and came into the house quickly telling me, ”Leelakka, the storm is horrible, the tree in front of our house fell on the road.” I was in the chair and I said, very quietly, “Ok Vinodh, let it come, we are going to witness a miracle” And suddenly again I remembered the song written by the prophet Habakkuk at the end of the 3rd chapter. I started to sing that song, as it is . “Though the Fig tree does not blossom…” Suddenly I stopped to sing it, I changed the words of the song like this, “Though the Principal does not send me…, Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation, God the Lord is my strength. My cousins started to giggle, knowing why I was singing like that. I encouraged them also to join me in singing along. “Though the principal does not send me….”
After the meals I was given a very comfortable bed, and I prayed and jumped into the mattress, tired after the day’s exciting events. Next day I had to go to college to do the duty of invigilation, the date was 11th,. Vinodh and Uncle also told me that the condition of Eluru was horrible, whole of it was flooded with rain water, all streets, the big trees were lying on the road, Narasimharao pet where we were staying was low laid place so the water rose to the 4 steps of our house. Nobody dared to go out. Telephone lines, electric lines were cut down, the radio was shut down. No news from outside. Whatever, I needed to attend the duty, so slowly I got an umbrella from Vinodh and waddled into the river of water in the street. I thought I would get a Rickshaw once I reached the main road. But no transport Rickshaw was available. So slowly I wobbled down the water up to the college gate.. In College there was rain water all over the campus ground. I walked on to the corridor, wondering why there was no person seen in the verandas as usual. I wondered whether I came late and everybody dispatched to the allotted rooms. But When I approached the pendal where our duty charts were exhibited, I found there on the stand, the black board was hanging with Big white letters written on it, ” The Intermediate Exams are indefinitely postponed” I could not believe my eyes. It was like a miracle personified and stood in front of me, I shouted, aloud, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! and” almost jumping up and down. Hearing my shouts, clerk Leela and Beulah came out of the office and rushed to me, asking “What miss? What happened?” I told them, “You know I was not given permission to go to Retreat, but now I can go ” I was giggling to my hearts’ content. They joined with me in praising God and begged me happily, “Miss! Please pray for us also, we too want to go to our native states.”
One was from Chennai, and another was from Mettupalayam. Seeing their pleading I assured them, very confidently, “”Yes,Yes,yes” assured as if the Lord will listen to my prayer then and there. All of us were laughing like little children in play, in heavenly mirth.
As of now the exams are indefinitely postponed there was no more invigilation duty imposed upon me , I left the college premises with joy as I need not seek permission of the principal to exempt me from the duty any more.
After that I went back to my uncle’s house, and spent a day with my cousins. They used to gather around me to listen to the stories from the Bible. Aruna and Prabhakar were always with me even while I was sleeping, on each side of me. I love to tell stories to them. I told my uncle that I will go to the retreat by catching Howrah Madras Mail on the 13th evening. He told me that all the trains were cancelled, and Rail tracks were destroyed. He almost warned me that I should not try to go in this storm. There was no communication with my dad either.
But I told him, “No uncle, I must go to this Retreat. I will go on 13th” He was much annoyed by the stubborn nature of mine by insisting on my journey to Madras in spite of his strict warnings and was angry that I did not heed his advice. As a result on 13th evening when I started to go the Eluru Railway station by Rickshaw, he sternly warned me once again not to go, and when he saw my obstinate nature he said, ” Then you go yourself, vinodh would not come to drop you at the station.”
Whenever I come to Eluru, Vinodh used to come to the station to pick me up and drop me at the station when I leave for Vizag. He used to follow my rickshaw to see if I got in safely into the train. But this time he was not allowed. So I doggedly got into a rikhawa and went to the Eluru Station. There was not even a crow on the trees. The roads were full of water and the storm is still persisting; rail transport was not yet restored.
I waited for the seller of the tickets at the counter. There was none at the enquiry. I waited and waited for an hour, then the little window opened and one person peeped outside. I immediately approached the window, and asked him to give one ticket to Madras. It was utter darkness. There was a candle lit behind him. He said,” We are not giving any tickets now, madam, all trains are cancelled. The tracks were destroyed, Howrah mail is still in between srikakulam and vizag. we cannot give assurance whether it would reach Vizag at least.“
Ignorance is bliss is true in my case at this juncture. Not knowing the dangerous situation and the distance of the trail track, my faith triumphed happily. Thereby I was not disappointed but looking at him tenaciously, I asked him innocently,” Sir I need to go to Madras at any cost today, what shall I do?”
I do not know what made him say this to me, but he said,” If you insist so much, I will give a ticket upto Vijayawada, that’s all. Madam.I am sure the train will not go further”
Knowing pretty well the train is not within reach, why he said so, why he amended his rule to give me a ticket upto Vijayawada is only within the mercy of the Lord. The ticket collector knew that there were no other passengers booked a ticket that day to go to Madras except me seeking to travel.
A flash of thought went across my forehead, it was ‘GOD HAS DONE SO FAR, AND HE WILL DO FURTHER’ That thought assured me that I will go to Madras, if God paved the way for me upto Vijayawada. From Vizag to Eluru 350 km from Eluru to Vijayawada 60 km from there to Madras another 450 km. Now I have an assurance that if at all the train comes to Eluru that night, I can reach up to Vijayawada, then what?
Ignorance clubbed with faith does mighty works of God. My ignorance of the difficulties in reaching my destiny gave me abundant faith in my Lord God.
I smirked and said to him,” OK Sir, give me a ticket up to Vijayawada then.”
Holding the ticket carefully in my fist I reached the number 2 platform of the Eluru Railway station, the weather was terrible, stormy rain was pouring down cats and dogs without ceasing, there was no electricity; all platforms were empty, not even any eatables available. I reached the second platform, in those days there were no cement sofas under the tin shelter. There were two big black cargo steel boxes on the platform. I went and sat on one of them. My heart was expecting the arrival of the Howrah mail. There was not an iota of doubt or question. Postponing the invigilation is like, me starting my journey from Egypt, from slavery, into the freedom. Walking in the middle of the Red sea is one of the many miracles I am yet to be exposed to, along with my Lord.Its like me witnessing His mighty deeds in Egypt to deliver the Israelites in one night.
Fath accompanies ignorance and deeds.
The train was supposed to come at 7 pm but there was no sign of it anywhere. I still do not know what made me sit there and wait for a train all alone even though there was none on the platform. Even though I was told that the time schedule of the trains was changed and that nobody knew whether they would come or not.
I have faith in my heart; I was committed by deeds in that situation. How come there were deeds? Only when our faith is strong, the deeds come by and by.
The clock on the platform showed 8o’clock and I was there in that shivering weather, all alone. At 9’0 pm I saw 4 people on the same platform sitting on the other second cargo black box nearby. They were two men and two women, older people, in white dresses. Men were in white full hand shirts and panchalu. (Long 5 meter cloth around their waists.) Women wore white long sleeved blouses and white sarees.) I thought they might be Ceylon Pentecostal church members. They came near me, and enquired of my journey. I enthusiastically told them all that miracle story of me going to Prayer Retreat in Madras. They rejoiced along with me. Heavenly joy encompassed us. While His children talk to one another He listens to the intently.were very happy. They said that they too are going to Madras to attend prayer meetings, not the meetings I am going but some other meetings. “Do not worry we will take you to your place.”
“Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honoured His name” Malachi 3:16
In that dark night in the down pouring of rain on tin shed under which we were sitting where I even could not see the features of those four white attired people we could enjoy the Heavenly bliss to the utmost.
Assured of their godly company, I was utterly joyful..We talked so many things of God’s wonderful love and care for us. The time was passing on to 11’0 clock; still there was no sign of the train. At 11’0 clock we heard the announcement that Howrah Mail would reach Eluru within 20 minutes. Nobody knew my joy. 20 minutes passed just like 20 seconds, the train with a big light on its engine was entering on to the track of the platform, then I got a doubt, ” Oh even the train did not have electricity in the compartments. How do I know where my dad is? He does not know whether I was coming to the retreat.”
This cloud of doubt vanished in an instant.The compartment door where my 6 foot dad was standing and searching for me on the platform. In an instant we both saw one another, and surprisingly that compartment where my dad stood came and halted just before me. Immediately I reached my dad and handed over the suitcase at once to him and jumped into the compartment. While climbing into the compartment I just turned my head to see the four people, but I did not see them anywhere. I thought they must have climbed into another compartment. But I did not see them later either. Were they angels sent by the Lord to give company to me while I was waiting for the train all alone? Don’t know till now.
The compartment was a reserved compartment with berths, our church members were there but not even one face was lit in happiness seeing me. Only me and dad were happy. Soon I sat and started to tell dad what all that had happened and how God made the path in the Red sea for me. That was a reserved compartment fully occupied by my church members right from Srikakulam, Viziyanagaram and Vishakapatnam. The Church leaders also were sad enough that I felt very discouraged to see their faces.There was no food for anyone. They started from Vizianagaram at 8 am. Not even a bottle of water was available on the way. So the rest of the church members were gloomy and sad.While I was bubbling with joy and wanted to share my testimony. But none of them were in a mood to listen to me half drowsy and gloomy.
When we reached Vijayawada, Police entered into the compartments with Lathi sticks to tell all the people that those who do not have reserved tickets to Madras should get down at once. As my dad was a Police officer he talked to one of the constables and got two tickets to Madras , one for me and another for our church member Dheenalathakka, a widow who was coming to the Retreat,for thefirst time, from Vizag. Actually the cost of the ticket from Vijayawada to Madras was only 25 rupees, but it cost 50 rupees that day. We were told that the train was not going to Madras directly but it was going to Hyderabad first and to Wardha in Maharashtra state then going to Madras. Usually only one night’s journey was enough to reach Madras from my place but now it was going to take two days to reach Madras. On the way we did not get any food on the platforms, all people were starving including me and dad, dad had only one banana, and we both shared it. Such was the severity and destruction of the storm, whole South India was flooded and destroyed. Nobody knew my joy even while eating that half banana my soul was rejoicing in the Lord.
Though the fig tree does not blossom turned into Though the food is not available,
Though the distance to the destiny tribled,
Though there is no joy in the compartment,
Yet will rejoice in the Lord
Yet will rejoice in the Lord
was my song in my heart, because I could not show my joy outwardly to the church members in the fear of the leaders who were accompanying us.
I was praising the Lord, rejoicing. I entered the campus of George High school, where the Retreat was conducted. My heart was jumping with joy, ecstasy. I had the presence oF God and I spent more precious days with my dad praying along with him.
It was the 1977 May Retreat. The Lord’s presence was immense. I could pray for the salvation of my dad along with him. I could introduce him to the servants of God and sought their prayer support. I was singing the song. I did not miss these retreats even when I was 7th month pregnant and with two breast fed children I attended these retreats and was immensely blessed by the Lord.
Later those retreats became entertainment self centered, lost its power of prayer, became a club of meeting friends from different centers throughout India, thereby I stopped going there. But the lessons we learned in the years 1975 to 2004 were a blessing to me and my children. The discipline and the Betty Lou Mills songs were the foundation to our christian life. We as a family benefited to the utmost spiritually. Each testimony, each Bible class, each message was challenging. We had minimum food and comfort. Ate only one morsel of coarse rice with water rasam, and slpt in thatched booths in that hot summer, water was scarce but yet enjoyed the presence of the Lord and rejoice in the Lord for 10days.
“ I love the thrill I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people,
Love the thrill I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people
.What a sight just to see all the happy faces
Praising God in heavenly places,
What a thrill that I feel when I get together with
God’s wonderful people.”