Mission India Reports
By Lt. Colonel Mervyn L. Morelock –
Thirteen officers and soldiers from the USA Western Territory have just returned from a three week service project at the Evangeline Booth Hospital in Ahmednagar, India, where Majors Ted and Roslyn Mahr have served as missionary officers since 1978. The team, representing each division and command unit of the territory, was chosen for their skills in electrical, welding, carpentry, painting, construction, teaching and counseling experience.
The team was composed of Dick Davenport, Tustin Ranch Corps; Clarence Ing, Kauluwela, Hawaii Corps; Captain Mooi Leslie of Sacramento; Dr. Victor Lim of the San Francisco Asian-American Corps; Major Cynthia Lowcock, senior counselor at the College for Officer Training; Envoy Kenneth Mowery, El Paso Citadel Corps; Envoy Michael Nute, Sitka Alaska; A/Captain Gerald Pigeon, Escondido; Captain Maynard Sargent, Seattle White Center Corps; Captain Dawn Trueblood, Perris ARC; CSM James Webber, Cheyenne, Wyo.; and the team leaders, Lt. Colonels Mervyn and Shirley Morelock, territorial evangelists.
The team was recruited to visit an overseas area to observe the work of the Salvation Army and provide whatever assistance that might be needed. The Mahrs had indicated that many areas of the hospital were in need of paint and repairs and that such a team would be of great value to them. The hospital, located in a rural area about 200 kilometers from Bombay, provides full medical services to 168 patients in a General Hospital setting. Much of the work of the hospital is directed to poor patients. The hospital has an excellent reputation and many come from far distances, passing other hospitals in the area, for treatment.
The group met together for only a few hours before departing by plane for India, but the level of experience and maturity represented, molded the members, many of whom had never met before, into a hardworking, devoted team of workers, painters, counselors, preachers, and Bible teachers. The Indian staff at the hospital were amazed that people with rank and education were willing to tackle any job, no matter how menial or dirty, to help the hospital.
The first overnight stop was in Bombay (now called “Mumbai”). The team stayed at a local Indian Hotel after being met by the Mahrs, late at night at the airport. The team was very aware of the prayers of many friends back home when they cleared customs without any difficulty.
The first full day in Mumbai was a Sunday, so the team divided into two brigades and conducted services in two slum corps. The smells, the poverty and the decay were very evident everywhere, but the officers and soldiers at the little corps we visited were warm and friendly and the spirit of God was very evident in each of the meetings. Later, the group toured many of the extensive Social Service programs. Poverty in India is overwhelming, but The Salvation Army is housing and feeding many hundreds of people every day.
After a hair-raising eight-hour trip from Mumbai, the group arrived at Ahmednagar. We were given a quick tour of the hospital before being billeted for the night. The scope of work to be done was overwhelming! The main electric panel in the hospital had experienced several fires and needed to be replaced with modern circuit breaker service. A newly purchased computer system, contributed by the Western Territory, needed to be set up and the staff trained in its use. Rooms in the wards were in terrible shape; furniture was rusty and needed paint. The Bori ward, built in 1903, had great gaping holes in the cow dung walls. The lab needed new cupboard doors. The operating theater doors were falling off the hinges, the door to the labor room was damaged, and many of the roofs leaked!
The group set out the next day to develop a materials list. Dick Davenport was appointed the lead for the jobs to be done and each of the team members took on assignments as needed.
Team members were involved in painting, plastering, welding, repairing, roof patching…myriad work projects! Dr. Victor Lim, a dentist, was able to conduct dental hygiene classes for the student nurses and faculty. Major Cindy Lowcock taught counseling skills to the nurses and students. Captain Dawn Trueblood taught classes in substance abuse counseling and treatment. Clarence Ing taught the maintenance crew how to use the new welder purchased for the hospital. Others conducted Bible Classes. Major Lowcock and Captain Trueblood accompanied the AIDS team to a village where they presented an AIDS awareness program to over 300 villagers.
The team was provided housing on the hospital compound and the boarding school. They learned to eat the local Indian foods, even eating without utensils! Showers were taken the traditional Indian way, with a bucket and ladle.
The team will never be quite the same! The Indian people captured the hearts of each of the team members with their love and friendship.
Envoy Michael Nute of Sitka, Alaska reflects: “Who I am way deep down inside has been touched by India. As I look back, I think I have learned something of value. It might seem too simple, but God has taught me priorities…in the scheme of life, what is important!”
The team left after only three weeks, with nearly all of the work projects completed. They conducted a Spiritual Day at the Training College, a one-day Officers Councils, many Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and village corps meetings. Everyone gained a new appreciation for the missionary officers, and the national officers and soldiers of the West India Territory.
The team has not completed its work, since each member has promised to make five presentations on the trip to corps and institutions. The Office of Media Ministries accompanied the group and will be producing a 30 minute video for Salvationists of the USA Western Territory to see how their Self Denial contributions are making a difference in overseas countries and to encourage greater sacrificial giving to meet the needs of our third-world comrades.