Monday, January 26, 2009

Melinda Chisholm Brings Her Indian Story Back to IUSB

I've had the privilege of traveling to India with Melinda twice in the last year. Last summer I had a blog post on how well she adapted and even excelled on the first trip. Her second trip revealed even more of her heart for the poor.

One of the things we try to ask our team members to do is not to leave their experience in India or put it away once they come home.

Melinda took that step last week when asked to tell her story that would be published in IUSB's Preface. Here it is. Enjoy. Be encouraged.

Student builds houses and hope in India
Shaun Christensen

Small in stature at 5'3", Melinda Chisholm is not the largest person attending IU South Bend, but she has travelled large distances to make big differences in the lives of others.

Chisholm, who will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree in psychology, has travelled to Tamil Nadu, India twice in the past year on mission trips through the Granger Community Church (GCC).

"My first trip to India was in July 2008, and I taught conversational English in both government and private schools." Chisholm said, "I had an amazing experience the first time, so I decided to sign up for another trip if the chance came up."

Chisholm was confronted by the opportunity to return to India when she read about an Indian mission trip in a GCC bulletin. She was eager to sign up for the trip, and was able to cover its expenses through fund raising.

In December 2008, Chisholm joined the GCC construction team on their trip to Tamil Nadu to help them accomplish their goal of knocking down and rebuilding as many faulty houses as possible.

"The houses that we rebuilt were government houses that were built with an inferior mortar consisting of too much sand and not enough concrete," Chisholm explained. "The houses were crumbling and needed a lot of attention. So, we had to get the right mixture and rebuild the houses from scratch."

The Construction Team of six members worked tirelessly for four days from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with only primitive tools. They succeeded in tearing down four houses and rebuilding three.

The locals were grateful to the team, and welcomed them in their village while they worked. They even hung up plaques with the team members' names on the houses they built.

The trip, which lasted from December 27 to January 6, was not all work though, as the team got to spend their free time being tourists and soaking up Indian culture.

"The trip was great! I slept in tents, ate wonderfully made Indian food, interacted with the villagers, swam in a well, got bit by mosquitoes, held and ate a rat, dressed up in a saree, and got henna tattoos," Chisholm said excitedly. "But the most important part of the trip was serving God and the people of India, and I cannot wait to go back!"

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