Day One ~ Just Arrived

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ecuador

Well I made it!

My flights were great and I just had carry on, so no luggage worries.  Today four different groups arrived from around the US.  So far, I believe I am the only California person.  There are a total of 76 people which will split up into 7 teams.  I am on the purple team.  In total we will be visiting 29 locations and distributing about 5000 shoe boxes.  Its now 1am here and I am exhausted but also so pumped up about being here I doubt if I am going to get any sleep.

First Thoughts on Ecuador


  • I have been on mission trips to Mexico before but this doesn’t look like the Mexico I know.  For one, it is cleaner than Seattle.  The stores look like upscale Tijuana stores, so you get the Mexico feel but the streets don’t have an ounce of trash.  Even the airport is spotless.  The airport by the way looks just like the airport in India.

The People:

  • Height:  For one, the indigenous people are lucky if they get 5ft tall.  I took a picture with a cute older couple in the airport (photo below).  It doesn’t look like it but I am actually bending down a couple of inches!  Finally a place where my 5’8″ is tall!
  • Eyes: I don’t know how many of you have paid attention to the eye color of the actors on Smallville, but most of the actors have grey/blue eyes.  I am sure it adds to the mystique of the show.  Well, besides the dark brown eye color you would expect to see in people who live in this region, many also have very cool grey/blue eyes.


  • Active Volcano: They said there is an active volcano that I can see from my hotel room in the morning!  Sweet!
  • The Distributions:  We are heading to La Victoria and Dulce Regufio (which sounds like it translates to Sweet Refugies, but doubt it).  I was hoping for a tribal destination but it looks like the purple team will be working mainly in the outskirts of Quito.  At La Victoria I believe we will help work on the facility that helps serve the community in the area in addition to pass out the shoe boxes to the kids.  At Sweet Regufio I am thinking we are doing some type of program for the kids.  I brought some magic just in case.


Leaving for Ecuador Today

   Posted by: Dean White   in Ecuador

Today I will be leaving to Ecuador!  Heading to Quito, which is the capital.

I don’t know much about what I will experience but I do know this:


To deliver shoe boxes that are filled with toys, supplies and hard candy to children who live in primitive villages that are not accessible by plane.  The shoe boxes were part of a project that churches participated in throughout the country called Operation Christmas Child. During December each year, churches and other organizations pass out shoe boxes and people fill them and bring them back to the collection centers.  About 10 million shoe boxes are collected each year and then distributed throughout the world to about 100 countries.  Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse, one of the most successful relief organizations in the world.  The comment has been said many times, “You want to give to a trusted organization where your money will make a difference …then give to Samaritan’s Purse.”

Because Samaritan’s Purse has already made contacts in countries throughout the world through delivering ‘Christmas’ gifts, they are often one of the first organized in response when a natural disaster hits like the earthquake in Chile this past week or the earthquake in Haiti.  Here is a statement from the organizations website, “Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

What I know about Ecuador:

Ecuador is right on the equator and hence where it got its name.  The Galapagos Islands (of which I will not be going) are located in Ecuador and Quito was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the 1970s for having the best preserved and least altered historic center in Latin America. The country has many diverse species making Ecuador one of the seventeen mega-diverse countries in the world. The new constitution of 2008 is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights.  About 38.3% of the people live below the poverty line.

What may happen:

Here is a story of one of the previous trips:

“Many of the children we visit are in villages where airplanes cannot land. One such place is the Amazon rain-forest in Ecuador. Last year, Samaritan’s Purse workers traveled four hours up the Rio Napo River with a motor canoe loaded with gift-filled shoe boxes for children in a primitive tribe in the rain-forest. This tribe had once been savage warriors.

The river was flooded and swift, but the Samaritan’s Purse workers docked the canoe and began their work. While the workers where delivering the shoe boxes, the fierce current slammed a big floating log into their canoe and sank it –right after they had unloaded all the shoe boxes!”


Needless to say I am extremely excited about the adventure.  For some reason, I am not at all worried about the 9K+ elevation, high humidity, hard to breathe air, potential jungle fever, amazon forest, aftershocks from the Chile earthquake or the bird size mosquitoes I may encounter.  I am solely excited to see the smiles of the little children who will be overjoyed receiving their gift.  Day in and day out, they live in slums, forgotten streets, dirt villages, diseased filled garbage dumps … but for a moment they will feel like kings.


India Day Nine (last day)

   Posted by: Dean White   in India

  • Delhi Airport
  • London Airport
  • LAX Airport
  • Home

Purpose: Traveling Home

Tomorrow: Lots of Rest, excited to share all I have seen. 


  • Traveling
  • Reflections
  • Last thoughts
  • Some misc photos
  • Poems?

Quote of the day: “Home Sweet Home.” 

By the time I got to bed I hadn’t slept for 50 hours.  I am now writing this after sleeping 12 hours and still feel very groggy.  My mind spins at all that I have seen and felt.  I am excited to share with everyone my travels and yet I am also so glad that so many traveled with me through this blog.  The photos I posted were all formatted for the web but if you would like one of the shots in a higher resolution, please let me know and I will email it to you.  

Traveling Home 

We all flew British Airways and it was a 9 hour flight to London.  Then in London, some went to Texas and Raquel and I flew to LAX which was about 11 hours of flying.  The flights actually felt like they went much faster on the way back then there. One of my bags was lost on the flight there but they had it to me the next day.  On the way back everything went very smooth, except for the small water pour that fell on business class in front of us during the landing.  No one knew where it came from and it wasn’t any big deal, but some uppity types were a bit bitter.  It was funny to me.  The service was great and I watched many movies and tried to sleep. Most of the time I just thought about India and the kids at Santvana.  


In a week we saw a school/orphanage for the deaf, an orphanage for kids who were abandoned because of AIDS, a care facility for kids whose parents were in the sex trade, and a school for kids who live in the slums. In addition, we met people who reach out to the prostitutes and eunuchs who are in the sex trade.  It was a lot to take in and my heart was stretched in new directions and in depths I did not know it had.  I hope to return someday.  I also hope to find ways to support Santvana Orphanage. I deeply appreciate everyone’s ideas. And I trust more will come. But out of all the places, Santvana and the school for the deaf touched my heart the most.  I, of course, hurt for the kids of the night care in Hell’s Den and I am completely inspired by Grace Academy.  But it the end my heart falls on one little girl named Pooja living at Santvana.  

Last Thoughts 

India has many beautiful and devastating scenes.  At one moment you are caught up in the chaos of the sounds, smog, traffic and people and then when you don’t expect it, you see the beauty of how it all blends like Beethoven’s fifth.  The food, the traveling, the way of life is all an adventure.  You cannot even go to the bathroom without understanding the culture.  And yet, people are transparent, caring, go the extra mile, and make you feel valuable.  They have hope, faith and believe in something greater than themselves.  They value life.  

For the kids of Santvana who are dying of AIDS they are happy since they know true love.  For the kids of Grace Academy they are joyful for they are learning what many others take for granted.  For the deaf child who found a place where they fit in and for the children of the Night Care Crèche, they hear hope in Christ.  These are the ministries of Orphan Outreach.  What is done here in India is also done in Honduras, Russia, and Guatemala.  A new organization, collecting backpacks and providing funds to help children who would otherwise have little or no hope.  An organization I can say I can get 100% behind.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into before I went but I am so glad God did.  My heart hurts but it is in a good way. 

More Photos 

I have added a few last photos.  I wish I had the time to write about everything I saw and uploaded every picture.  Unfortunately, I did not have the time to write it all out and you probably didn’t have the time to read it all as well.  I am very honored that your eyes have fallen on these pages and you have traveled with heart in hand on this trip to India with me.  You time, your comments, your prayers have all been deeply appreciated.  I look forward again on taking another trip with you. 

Thought for the Day 

Have you ever let your heart really get stretched?  Have you ever put yourself in a place where you had to depend on God to come through?  Yes …it is scary.  Yes …it is uncomfortable.  And Yes …it will not feel secure.  It is when we stretch we grow.  It is through taking a chance that we discover that we are capable.  It is in the face of adversity we discover strength.  When we battle giants God is glorified.  God calls us to walk to the top of mountains and once we reach the pinnacle, He encourages us to jump; for it is only then we discover we were given wings to fly. 


P.S. I wrote some poetry while in India.  If you like that sort of thing scroll down past the pictures.





Walk with Me
Walk with me
Through the gate called loneliness
Hold my hand
For the path is treacherous
And we will share
Our thoughts … our hearts
Yet in the end
The path will split in two parts
You will choose one path
I will choose another
And miss we will
The friendship we discovered
For this is life
Such a peculiar thing
Where two people meet
And happiness it does bring
Yet in the end
Sadness does reign
Leaving our hearts wondering
Was it all in vain
So life goes on
And it seems it will always be
Travelers like me, meeting and asking
Will you walk with me?
(And something I am working on):
Drip Drip
Drip Drip
Goes the bleeding of my heart
How can I bare
Such a painful depart.
Cascades of memories
Flow easily through my hands
Why can’t I hold onto
These beautiful strands.
And yet I am grateful
For all I did see
And store in the fabric of my heart, I will
It is now a part of me.

Day Eight

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


·         Crown Royal

·         City of Agra

·         Airport

Purpose: Day of site seeing

Tomorrow: Flying home (22+ hours of travel)


  • Riding a Camel & an Elephant
  • Taj Mahal
  • Fort Agra

Quote of the day: “Love creates monuments.”

It has been an exhausting 36 hours since we left the hotel to travel to Agra.  I am currently writing this from the plane and hope to post it by 6pm tonight.  (Because of computer hold up and exhaustion, I was not able to post this until Monday afternoon). We left for Agra at 6am, traveled by bus for 4 hours until we reached our destination, visited the Taj Mahal and Fort Agra, went back on the bus for another 4 hours to the hotel where we grabbed our bags and headed to the airport to catch our 2am flight to London which took about 9 hours in the air.  After a quick layover we jumped on the next flight of which I am currently on.  This flight will be another 11+ hours, which will mean I will be up for approximately 2 complete days with little sleep (I barely sleep on busses and planes, regardless of the position or technique I try). But regardless of the lack of sleep I am inspired, encouraged, and contemplative.  I hope to take an ambient and sleep for about 10 hours and awaken restful to a great Monday.

Camels and Elephants …and snakes!

Driving to Agra (the home of the Taj Mahal) was painful.  I was hoping to type out my blog and download pictures but the bus needed shocks sooo badly that the bumping made it impossible for my fingers to find the keys on the laptop.  The highlight was when we had to stop to pay a toll and the street vendors would run up to the bus to sell us things.  We were shocked …and amused when we saw a monkey but we were even more when the snake charmers came up to the bus.  The driver opened the door and I jumped out!  I snake kept snapping at the handler and I asked if I touched the snake and it bit would it really hurt.  Found out that these snake’s fangs have been removed and there is no harm.  Sweet! 

A few more miles down the road and we arrived at the Crown Royal.  Here they had a camel and an elephant.  We all took turn riding them both.  Riding them was a ton of fun and actually a lot more smooth than riding on the bus. I especially liked the elephant.  She was extremely sweet and I enjoyed petting her ears and head.  There was also a man with his daughter who danced for us while he played on a strange stringed instrument while we rode. 

Taj Mahal

You ever have one of those moments where you see something is so beautiful that just being in its presence gives you goose bumps and everything around including the breeze itself …stops.  Welcome to the Taj.

Photographs do not give it justice.  It is absolutely breath taking.  It took 22 years of men working around the clock every day of the year to complete the masterpiece.  The marble they used is extremely rare.  It is 30 percent denser than most other marbles and therefore, does not stain or need to be sealed.  When light hits it the marble actually ‘glows’ since it absorbs the light.  This is visible on a full moon night when the moon light beams directly into it.  It is also located on a river and visible from Fort Agra.  The emperor and his wife are buried below the main floor of the Taj making it a mausoleum.  Taj Mahal translates to Crown Building.

On one side of the Taj is a mosque and on the other side is a building that looks exactly the same for symmetrical purposes was built for guest to stay.  The gardens, the gate you walk through, the towers, everything is designed with such precision and beauty, one has to wonder how in the world did anyone design such a masterpiece.

For more on the Taj check out http://www.angelfire.com/in/myindia/tajpics.html

Fort Agra

A fifteen minute ride from the Taj gets you to Fort Agra.  2/3rds is still used by the military and therefore, we were unable to see.  But the 1/3 we did see was amazing.  The whole fort is surrounded by a moat that they filled with alligators in the day.  Parrots and monkeys still own the walls, probably descendants from when the fort was occupied in the 17th century.  It was equally as impressive as the Taj just not as beautiful.  Here the 500+ concubines would live as well as many others who served the emperor.  And for his last 8 years of his life, the emperor himself was on house arrest at the fort.  His 3rd son killed his two older brothers and arrested his father so he could take over reign.  The 3rd son then reigned for 40 some years.


I had so much fun with the vendors who would follow, push and try to sell you things as you left the Taj and Fort Agra.  They would say, how about a t-shirt with a picture of the Taj on it, and I would say that I don’t like t-shirts, they chap my chest.  Then they would say, ok… what do you want I will get it.  I would say, how about some chocolate (it was hot so I didn’t think they could get it) and a strawberry sundae.  And would you know it …

Just kidding, they would just laugh and try to sell me more junk, until I was on the bus and the bus was moving, then the price would drop really low and I would buy.  I got a Taj book for $5 and postcards for $1.  But I would have busted out a twenty if they would have come up with that sundae. 

We left the fort to go to a place nearby where they make beautiful tables, plates, and other things out of the same marble used at the Taj.  Each design is handmade and most things take 18 + to create.  It was amazing to see how each one was created by hand and with such expertise.

Now it was back in the bumpy bus for 4 hours, to the hotel to grab out luggage and immediately to the airport for our 2am flight.  By now we are all exhausted and we have 22+ hours of travel ahead of us.

Thought of the Day

Seeing the Taj made me think how a man will go to great lengths for the one he loves.  It also made me think of how our love can leave a legacy for years and years.  For some it will be represented in a monument and for others in the lives of those they love.  No one is going to erect a monument for Dr. Edwards but her love will be seen in each of those children for years and years.  And it dawned on me … that written on my home computer, is a post it note that reads, “What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven in the lives of others.”  We can all leave a legacy that glows. A masterpiece, if you will, that speaks of the lives we lived.  It begins by stitching a piece of us in the lives of others …and letting God begin to weave.



Day Seven

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


·         Driving through Old Delhi

·         Grace Christian School

·         Slums of Delhi

Purpose: Bring supplies and visit children of Grace Christian Academy.

Tomorrow: The Taj Mahl.


  • New things to see in Delhi
  • School of hope in the slums
  • Uma’s family

Quote of the day: “India is not for the faint of heart.”

Today I really miss Pooja and Hassen.  Hassen will only have a few months and at most a few years to live.  His AIDS is pretty advanced and the way he says, “Thank you Uncle” each time I take his picture constantly echoes in my mind.  He is such a polite fun and intelligent boy.  He would be a blessing to any family.  I have to keep reminding myself that it will be no time at all and he will be in Heaven with no disease and a new body and love surrounding him.  “Thank you uncle,” he would most likely say to me if he could read this.

Driving through Delhi

As much as I can figure out Delhi is split in two areas, New Delhi that feels much like Mumbai, and Old Delhi that feels like Pune.  New Delhi had newer paved roads and a lot less traffic.  Old Delhi was packed.  We were driving about 10am which was their morning traffic time.  People going into town would drive on both sides of the roads.  We were driving out of town and had to drive on the shoulder in order for the opposite traffic to drive in ALL lanes.  On the sides of the road there were make shift tents where people lived, people getting a shave, people selling spices of exotic colors, cows, goats, sheep, chickens, a few children begging, and little shops selling all the things you could imagine.  The crack up was seeing men on bikes carrying large loads of merchandise and weaving through the maze of cars, rickshaws and motorcycles.

Grace Christian School

For some reason I thought we were going to see a school for orphans and then head to one of the many slums to visit children.  It wasn’t until breakfast that I discovered we were going to a school in the middle of a large slum. The slum we visited is in a Muslim community.  And the school is the heart of it.  Over 200 children attend this Christian school.   The kids all wear uniforms and they feel privilege to be there.  Part of the reason is because right outside of the large locked gate, kids stand wanting to come in. When we walked into the school, children greeted us with flowers.  I did about a 30 minute magic show for everyone.  You would have thought I was David Copperfield performing for the reception I got.  A large crowd grew at the around the gate, people climbed onto the roof and we even saw a person far off watching through binoculars.  It was my best show yet and it was a ton of fun. Robbie then told a story and we left a ton of school supplies and backpacks for the kids.

This was one of the larger slums in the area.  There were a few places that they pumped the ground for water and the school had electricity.  They also were drying colored clay that would then later be handmade into bricks.  It was its own little city with very meek stores and even a place to get a shave.  Homes were all built with random materials.  The homes all had a large whole dug in the front of it where sewage from inside would trickle down to and then absorbed into the ground.  Then down the dirt streets there would be streams of a mixture of urine from animals, water, and anything else you can imagine. 

You will notice in a few pictures children with dark eye liner under their eyes.  Originally parents put eye liner on children to ward off the ‘evil eye.’ If the evil eye sees how beautiful your child is then it would hard your child with illness.  Today they put eye liner on their eyes since they think it is good for their eyes but the tradition started long ago with superstition.  This is also where we get the idea of bridesmaids.  The more beautiful the bride the more bridesmaids were needed so that the evil eye would not find the bride.  Funny how superstition falls into mainstream culture.  Back to the slums, there had to be 3000 people living in this community. And right in the middle of it all is a Christian school that teaches the kids English and the Bible.  Wow!  I can’t see anything more inspiring than such a phenomenal school giving children the opportunity of learning and potentially moving out of the community.

Uma & His Family

Later in the evening we had dinner with Uma and had the privilege of meeting his wife and his two wonderful kids.  Uma has been a great friend, leader, tour guide, and our protector on this trip.  He is from India and speaks fluent English as well as Hindi.  His personality reminds me of my friend Jim Gimeno. In fact they are the same age.  Uma and I instantly hit it off.  I would wander or disappear and he would find me.  He said that looking for me has become such a part of his day that he knows he will be looking for me just out of habit even after I leave.  Not once did he ever lose his cool, his compassion or his patience.  He works full time with Orphan Outreach and feels like his job of finding out which orphanages to connect with Orphan Outreach and how to help them develop is the perfect job. We are very grateful for the time he has spent away from his family and the many hours he took to organize everything here in India.

Thought of the Day

A few of us have really been reflecting on why we came on this trip and what we are going to do with the knowledge that we now process.  I have been thinking of ways we can raise money for Santvana by uploading the children’s songs to iTunes and then tell people to download the music.  The orphanage would get $1 for every song downloaded.  Santvana runs on about $800 a month.  They are hoping to get to $1000 a month so they can take in more children.  Any ideas?



Day Six

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


·         Santvana

·         Pune Airport

·         Dehli

Purpose: Spend time with the kids from Santvana, give them backpacks for school and say our goodbyes. 

Tomorrow: A very large orphanage/school in Delhi and visit children who live in slums


  • Walk around the block
  • Backpacks!
  • Frisking at the airport
  • A pretty sweet hotel

Quote of the day: “Indian’s are very spiritual people; prayer is our way of life.”

We arrived last night in Delhi. Once we got here we were ready for bed and the time was already late.  I skipped the meal on the plane so I had a quick bite in the restaurant and then headed to bed.  Didn’t sleep that well again last night.  Too much on my mind.

Walk around the block

I was the first one to breakfast today.  Our last meal at the YMCA.  I got two eggs and something that was similar to rice.  Found out that I could order just plain tea and wish I would have discovered that a few days ago.  They serve a complementary chai that is made with black tea, milk and sugar.  They knock at the door at 7am, if you are up or not, and pour you a small plastic cup in the morning, in addition to it being out at the breakfast table.  After breakfast I decided to talk a walk by myself around the block.  The craziness of the traffic had already began and children were being dropped off in the three wheeled rickshaws and/or walking to school.  Each one with their cute little uniforms (all kids wear uniforms to school and they all look similar, each school has a different color for the kids to wear). 

I decided to be daring and walk across the street just to see how many people honked at me.  And then I did it again.  And again. I even decided to walk down the center of the street for awhile and count the honks.  I think I made it to twenty before I gave in and walked to the side.  It was a fun game and no one really seemed to notice this weird American, except for the guy who was really honking at me.  I stopped to pet the cow that was lying on the side of street, and then noticed the gigantic cow pie just inches in front of him.  If only I could record the sound of this place.  But imagine for a moment 30 different types of vehicles, all their engines roaring, each of their different horns honking, some stringed music in the background in the far distance, and the humm of voices all around.  Sprinkle that with a pound dust.  And walla … you’re in India.

Leaving my heart at Santvana

When we got there all the kids yelled … Uncle … magic, …Uncle Magic (people from India refer to older people they respect as uncle and auntie). So I was glad that I saved a majority of my magic stuff for them.  They all quickly sat down and gave me the attention I would pay for.  Later, Robbie told a story and then we did the scrap book craft.  Each child was given a small 18 page 4×5 scrap books that they decorated with stickers and glued the photos we printed out for them.  The kids were broken into groups earlier in the week and my four little guys took to the project like a clean pig takes to warm mud.  The books turned out so well that all the adults were wishing that they made one for themselves.  We then cleaned up and played games with the kids. 

But the big surprise was a few minutes later when we presented them all with backpacks.  We each presented our group individually as an awards ceremony, just like we did on the first day at the School for the Deaf.  They were beaming!  Afterwards the kids prayed and thanked God for the backpacks.  The prayer from this 10 year old boy broke my heart, “Thank you Lord for these wonderful backpacks. Never could we have imagined such wonderful & beautiful gifts…”  It makes me cry just rethinking about it.  Not one of the kids traded, or was disappointed they didn’t get a backpack that someone else got. They were just happy to have one.  Each of the backpacks were donated and therefore, they come to Orphan Outreach in all different types.  Barbie, Elmo, GI Joe, flowers, there was even one that had a giant 6 inch zipper used to open it.   When each child finished their craft and when they received their backpack, they immediately had to go show Nani, who had pockets of joy and approval waiting to hand them.

Leaving was of course hard.  But we left a piece of our hearts and the desire to find ways to support and pray for the ministry of Santvana.  Sure makes the 20 hour plane trip seem like nothing …

Pune Airport

This place never ceases to surprise me.  The security is very thorough but done very different.  Women go to a ‘screening area’ which is a room where a curtain is pulled and then they stand with their hands stretched out and wand. Men go to the ‘gents frisking area’ which is a platform out in the open to stand on and then wand.   The bathrooms all have two different types of stalls, a squatter and a regular toilet.  And you hunt for trash cans!  I never can find a trash can in this place.  Once on the plane we were served a cool towel for our faces … I absolutely love when an airlines does that.  And we were served a meal.  I ate the dessert.  The cool thing is the after dinner mint package.  Once you tear the small bag open you discover a small ounce of a blend of sugar and spices you chew on until it dissolves.  Leaving your mouth refreshed.  Wish I could have rubbed some of it under the pits of the guy sitting in front of me.

Madness and more madness is the trip from the airport to your car. Navigating through streams of traffic that appear to come from nowhere like veins in the body, with all the luggage and then from paved to unpaved road, squeezing through the mobs of people.  Of course, not only was I pushing a cart of luggage but I was also trying to upload pictures to the blog.  Why not maximize the excitement? 

We drove in two vehicles through Delhi and arrived to the new hotel.  I was excited not to see a YMCA sign in front of the building.  It is really dark by now so I didn’t get to see anything on the drive to report about yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  Ok… we go up the elevator and to much of our surprise (the outside area looked kinda sketchy) we enter a modern looking, really nice hotel.  I mean … really nice.  The rooms are small, for the most part just a big bed.  That works for me.  And Uma, my roommate, lives in this town so he went home.  I get a room all to myself and I don’t have to hear anyone snore, or the buzz the elevator made all night at the YMCA, and it has a really nice bathroom, and two chocolate covered cookies in my room, and free internet connection … is this the reward for those who do nice things.  I am changing my ways. 

Thought of the Day

There is a popular book out that you may have seen… ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is the title.  The author spent 4 months in Italy and ate, then 4 months in India to pray and then 4 months in Indonesia and fell in love. I have not read the book but someone on the team has brought a copy and from time to time shares excerpts from the author’s time in India, and what she discovered through prayer and the spiritual lives of the people. Spirituality is part of their life here.  There is said to be over 3 million Hindu gods.  I hear the prayers of the Muslim’s early in the morning, in the afternoon and at sunset throughout the city.  There is not spiritual persecution, but spiritual acceptance … and respect for your faith.  Even those in Hell’s Den pray and seek spiritual direction.  It begs to asks, do their gods hear them?



Day Five

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


· Empress Park with kids from Santvana

· Red Light District

· Barista

· Santvana Crèche

Purpose: Spend time with the kids from Santvana and the Night Care in the Red Light District. Understand the sex trade by visiting and meeting with those who are deeply involved.

Tomorrow: Santvana Orphanage during the day & flying to Delhi at night


  • Empress Park
  • Eunuch Ministry
  • Evening in Hell’s Den

Quote of the day: “You become what you worship.”

Eye opening is the only way to describe today. I don’t even know how to process it all … and I usually feel like I process things rather quickly, but my mind has not yet grasped what my heart has swallowed. It feels like my heart has just drunk an alcohol that burns all the way down and left me a bit disorientated. The only thing is that the burning and disorientation is lasting longer than any shot I have ever taken. How can feelings of confusion, conviction and joy all coexist at the same time? Bewildered.

Empress Park

Today we met the children from Santvana at Empress Park. They arrived is an extremely plain yellow bus that could have been drawn by Shultz the man who drew Snoopy and Charley Brown. They were all wearing the shirts we made with them the day before during their craft time. I wish you could have seen them waving and completely excited to see us. Dr. Edwards arrived with our team about 15 minutes before the kids arrived. As soon as the kids got off the bus … they walked right past all of us and right to Dr. Edwards who they call Nani (grandma). Then after they got a loving greeting and hug from her they came to greet us. The kids acted as if we were taking them to Disneyland and they were each going to have time with Mickey. Empress Park is a large play ground. One must pay to get in. Picture an abandoned lot that with a perimeter wall and gate, add a bunch of trees, a small stream, and play ground equipment from the 1950s that has not been maintained and you have Empress Park. Be careful of the sharp rusty metal where the equipment has broken; it’s all over.

We had a ton of fun with the kids as you can imagine. Pushing them on the swings, discovering small crabs and fish in the little pond, catching them as they came down the slides and eating popcorn with them towards the end of our time together. By now I am doing everything in my power not to grab about 10 of them and hide them in my carry on (they would fit) and bring them back home. Pooja has two sisters that are at the orphanage with her. Both are older. Her parents have both died of AIDS and she has only an uncle and a grandma. Both of them don’t want the girls. Her middle sister is extremely smart and was awarded a scholarship for her good grades which will allow her to continue her studies at a higher level. I am finding out how I can support all three girls since education in this area is private for orphaned children. I would do anything to just adopt all three. Pooja is 9, and her sisters are 10 and 14.

We have been taking a lot of photos of the kids; tomorrow we are putting together a small memory book as part of their craft time. Stacey brought a small printer along so last night I was printing out photos and not writing the blog (so you might be getting this a bit later than usual).

Afternoon with the Eunuchs (this part is rated R just in case you are reading the blog with kids)

From a playful park to Hell’s Den in the Red Light District (by the way, Hell’s Den is just my name I gave the place, but I am sure it will stick… they probably already have plans to erect a sign since the name fits so well). We walked down the Alley of Destruction, but first had to pass the Street of Despair and the Road of Disillusionment. They were tempting to walk down but luckily we had Dr. Edwards to guide us through the peril. The streets are packed with small apartments the size of most large bedrooms. The buildings are three stories high and the stairwells are only big enough for one person to walk up or down at a time. Usually 8 people live/work in each of the apartments. Usually just a sheet hanging from the ceiling separates one bed from another. There are almost a million sex workers in Pune, 600K women, 250k men, and about 40k eunuchs. About 10% of them work in Hell’s Den. And once you are in, it is hard to get out. Dr. Edwards and Panna (a eunuch that has found Christ and now helps other eunuchs) work in by providing the ‘night care’ facility and by coming along eunuchs & others, in hopes of getting them to leave the sex trade.

The ‘night care’ called “Santvana Crèche” which translates to Home of Refuge Childcare, attracts about 40-50 children a night. The women who ‘work’ in the red light district take their kids with them and make their kids hide under the bed while they do their ‘work’. An option is for the women to drop their kids off at the Crèche where the children get fed, learn about Christ, play games and do crafts. It is free for the kids to come and they get protected for a few hours from the torment that must strip away from their souls.

We walked upstairs to Panna’s apartment and visited her neighbor’s places as well.  We took pictures and meet many who are full time sex workers (some people are part-time since they go to school during the day and come to Hell’s Den at night to work). And we met many eunuchs too. Eunuchs, for those who don’t know, are men who have been castrated and live as woman. Dr. Edwards wrote an article. Once I read it I will post a link on this blog if it suitable. People in India think eunuchs have special powers and so you might see eunuchs dancing at a wedding or at birthday celebration. Many of them work in the sex trade. In fact I saw more eunuchs in this area than females. We also met a MSM which is the India term for a gay man. Sameer is a MSM who use to work in the sex trade and became a Christian and now helps other MSMs. He has been HIV positive for 14 years and believes Christ has enabled him to live in order to reach other MSMs. He is very educated and articulate. I could write a book on the knowledge that was dropped on me in the short time we were there. And I don’t even know how to process it all.


We left and went to a small café called Barista. It was wonderful to drive to the crowded city and get something to drink. It is the end of the monsoon season here, so everyday has been hot and humid. Drinks usually don’t come with ice and when you do ask for it, the ice melts faster than the sugar. I had a wonderful tropical ice tea that was the best these lips have ever tasted. I also had a moracochino (pictured below). Amazing!

Santvana Crèche

Well, a couple hours later and we were back in Hell’s Den. They had already erected a sign. This time we just went to the Crèche and told the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. We also gave the kids bags with school supplies in them and did a craft with them. One boy, Akish, is very handsome and very intelligent. He is about 11 years old and the detail of which he does his work makes me think he would become a great architect. And a little girl named Mokal won me over. I am a sucker for pigtails. As we left, the eunuchs that saw us during the day all waved to us and said hello. I so wish I could pluck each of those kids out of there. Leaving and driving back to the YMCA was sobering. At this point, my heart is totally wrecked. I believe I have seen the worst in life, those with little hope, and I gave it a huge embrace. I am now completely exhausted. Even at dinner I didn’t talk much.

Thought of the Day

Where do those who are misunderstood go? Where are they accepted and shown love? Too often they congregate to the ugly places in the world. Here they find others who have not been accepted. Here amongst the refuse they find refuge. They are looking for hope. They want to have faith. Many pray on a regular basis. My heart is troubled. I want to help and yet I don’t want to return to such a place.



Day Four

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


· Santvana Orphanage

· Dinner with Dr. Samson Parekh

Purpose: Connect and tell the story of Zacchaeus to the children of Santvana Orphanage and do some key connections so to enhance the ministry of Orphan Outreach.

Tomorrow: Santvana Orphanage fieldtrip to Empress Park and the Red Light District


  • Santvana Orphanage & lunch with Dr. Edwards
  • Food & Accommodations
  • Videos
  • Our Team
  • Picture of that Crazy Monkey

Quote of the day: “In India we have a saying, ‘There is never room in the house but always in the heart.’”

Today was a very fun day. There is a festival in town today and many people are celebrating. It is a small festival for a person who helped write one of the holy books in the Hindi faith. Tonight there were fireworks, music blaring and even a stage where professional singers sang popular Hindi songs. And the moon looked almost completely full adding to the wonders of the night. There are not as many lights in the city as we have at home; therefore, the night sky is very brilliant as if you were in the mountains or the desert.

Santvana Orphanage & lunch with Dr. Edwards

Today was another great day at Santvana. We told stories, decorated t-shirts and played with the kids. We also were invited to Dr. Edward’s home for lunch. Her and her husband share a modest apartment with her daughter, her husband and their 3 kids. They gave us a wonderful meal and she said that in India there is not always room in the house but always room in the heart. Man… you gotta love this woman.


I thought I would catch you up a bit on food and accommodations and keep the blog today a bit on the lighter side. I know yesterday was a bit heavy and I am guessing tomorrow might be too. So … what’s for dinner? Well, last night we ate at … you won’t believe it … Pizza Hut! But it was unlike any Pizza Hut you have ever been to. The only thing that looked familiar was the sign on the door. Even my green, mango drink that looked refreshing on the menu turned out burning my tongue because of the chili pepper they added to it. This was the only meal since being in India that I did not like. I have enjoyed the flavor and the experience in the variety of places we have eaten. Below are a few photos of meals I have had. Do they remind you of anything?


Well there are many different things here. In our bathroom is also the shower. One room with a sink, toilet and the shower. The first time I used the shower, I got the toilet paper all wet … it ballooned up of course, didn’t know to turn the switch on the wall on for hot water … I know now!, and I still don’t know what the buckets are used for. To turn a light switch on you push it down, I can’t find a trash can anywhere and end up just carrying my trash for the entire day. There is trash everywhere, but I just can’t get myself to add to the mess. The toilet in my room is normal but many places have a squatter. See photos below. You don’t use your left hand for eating since it is your cleaning hand … I will let you figure that one out. Even at fancy restaurants people eat with their hands. At the end of the meal they bring you a little silver bowl with hot water and a lime slice in it to wash your finger tips. And that reminds me … napkins are not that common either. You use your finger, lick your fingers and then at the end of the meal they bring you a bowl to clean your fingers. It works.


I have uploaded a few videos for you to watch. One is driving through the city of Pune. I am literally sitting on the passenger’s seat and taking this footage. This was an extremely smooth day compared to some other drives which was just crazy. The kids of the Santvana danced for us today and I took video of that as well … please notice Pooja in the center of one of the videos.

Our Team

I also wanted you to see who is in our team. Robbie and Stacey Halleen who have been friends of mine for years. Stacey works for Orphan Outreach and has been our leader/ organizer. Uma, an Indian gentleman who lives in Delhi and works for Orphan Outreach as an ambassador and connects to all the orphanages in India for Orphan Outreach, Raquel Johnson, another friend of mine for many years, Tawaina, a occupational therapist from Montana, Mary, a retired high school math teacher from Texas, Amber, a manager at Olive Garden in Indiana, and me. We have gotten along remarkably well and yet we are all very different. They call me the wanderer of the group since I will see something down a street interesting and go check it out. Just today I found a really cool dessert place where they put actual silver on top of the dessert you eat. Pretty good stuff. And, not so much as wandering, but I had our car stopped today so we could see these baby sheep. Picture below. We had them for dinner later. J/K

Thought of the Day

Indian people enjoy having company. They don’t feel like their home has to be perfect. Their home is not there to impress, it is the interest they take in you that is important. They want to talk about US politics, your hobbies and they take an interest in what you consider important. They are engaging people. How much do I obsess about my stuff? Don’t answer that. And all along I really just want to engage in the lives of others. For my mind to be challenged. For my life to full fuller not by material things but by lives of others.


p.s. Dr. Samson Parekh is the President of a very well known university here in Pune. He has now agreed to come aboard with Orphan Outreach and serve as an advisor and network specialist. He was the one who knew about Santvana and connected Uma with Dr. Edwards. This was great news since he is very well connected and knows which orphanages run well and truly help the children.

I was not able to upload the videos.  So bummed.  They will have to wait until I get back where I have a faster internet connection.  But here are the photos.


Day Three

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


·         Santvana Orphanage

·         Day Care located in the Red Light District

Purpose: Connect and tell the story of the Lost Sheep to the children of Santvana Orphanage and the children in the Day Care located in the Red Light District. 

Tomorrow: Santvana Orphanage and a very important dinner with Dr. Samson Parekh


  • Santvana Orphanage for HIV kids
  • Dr. Lalita Edwards
  • The Children of Santvana
  • Day Care in the Red Light District

Quote of the day: “Never have I seen children live in such depravity who smile with such abundance.”

Every day is so full that it is difficult to choose only a few things to write about.  I take about 150 photos as well and I want to share all of them and every experience with you.  I am so thankful for your comments!  I know I haven’t responded to them but please know I read each one and welcome them like a refreshing glass of cold water on a hot day.  It tells me people are actually reading my blog and the time I take has been worth it.  So thank you again.  I know your day is also packed and it means tons to me that I get to share my day with you.   

Santvana “House of Refuge” Orphanage

Santvana started about 31/2  years ago by a female doctor who had a heart for children who had the HIV virus and had nowhere to go for good care.  The government wants to begin harsh treatment when kids get HIV and it dramatically shortens their life.  So they either die quickly with government help or they die slower with progressively weakened health.  Dr. Lalita Edwards studied for years alternative care that allows children to live happy, productive lives until the very end.  She founded Santvana with 6 children and now has 22 with 6 more coming in the next month.  The orphanage is funded solely by donations, of which Orphan Outreach provides 70% (Orphan Outreach is the organization that put my trip to India together, your support and my coming to India is helps them support orphanages like Santvana).

Dr. Lalita Edwards

Dr. Edwards is truly amazing.  The children call her Nani, which means grandmother.  The children look at her as if she walked on water and held riches or famine in her hands.  She is the king, a loving mother, a protective father, a wise grandmother and friend to all of them.  When we played a game the winner could not wait to run to her and show her how well he did, in order to gain her approval.  She loves them and they know it.  Her testimony, her faith in God, her willingness to risk it all for the betterment of others was both convicting and inspiring to all of us.  I wonder what it is about India that produces such amazing humanitarians.  Mother Theresa, Gandhi, two more right off the top of my head. We have a dinner meeting with Dr. Samson Parekh tomorrow who has another amazing ministry and we are hoping Orphan Outreach can also partner with him. This meeting is very important so I appreciate your prayers.

The Children of Santvana

Ok … I fell in love with them all.  I know … you knew I would.  They sang and danced for us when we arrived.  They had such joy in their faces you would have thought we were Santa’s helpers bringing gifts.  We told the story of the Lost Sheep from Luke 15 in the Bible. We did a game where we hid a small sheep and the kids had to find it and we also did a craft where the kids were able to make a sheep puppet.  One kid, Robin, found the hidden sheep 5 out of 7 times we played, it was like he had a 6th sense and walked to the hidden spot like he was walking towards a beacon.  We also played other games with them and ate with them.  Their meal always consists of rice with some type of curry sauce poured over it and once a day an egg.  My meal had peas in it since I was a guest.  We ate with our hands as accustomed and there is even a specific technique so that you don’t get your whole had covered.  One little girl, who has to weigh 15 lbs, could out eat us all.  If they let her, she would go back 5 times for 2nds.  Her photo is below.

Many of the children are very ill, though you would not know it from the smiles on their faces.  Often when a HIV child is sick their immune system breaks down so much that even the smallest bite develops harsh scabs on their scalp that look like small calcifications. See photo below. The kids do not touch them but flies constantly land on them much like flies around horse’s eyes.   Children die each year that live at Santvana but at least they live very happy lives and feel great love … and they hear about the saving knowledge of Christ.  One of our team members said it is important that we not look at their life here on Earth but how they will get to spend eternity. Amen.

The little girl I would love to bring home is Pooja.  Her smile won me over instantly.  There are few photos of her below too.  India makes it very hard, almost impossible, to actually adopt children out of the country.  If you are from India and of Indian race then you have a chance but foreigners are not allowed.  India also has a caste system, which signifies your importance in the society.  There are 7 main castes and then many divisions within each caste.  Those in the highest caste (Brahman which is the priest level) get special treatment.  Most people do not regard this on a daily basis but it is still a thread that is woven in this culture. For instance, just 3 weeks ago a father killed his son for marrying a woman who was in a lower caste.  The caste system makes is also hard to adopt since those who could afford adoption would not adopt a child from a lower caste.

Day Care in the Red Light District

I will write more on this in two days.  But let me just say that this is the hardest part of the trip.  Woman and men going to work have a choice, do they take their kids to work with them or do they drop them off at a day care while they work.  Dr. Edwards and a lady named Puni started a day care … I should actually call it a ‘Night Care’ for children who have parents that work in the Red Light District.  Tonight we got to spend time with these wonderful children.  These kids are not as fortune as those at Santvana.  We told the story of the Lost Sheep again and did the same craft too.  And I had the privilege of doing a few magic tricks for them.  Leaving the small flat and walking down stairs out to the streets to wait for our ride to pick us up felt like walking into a cloud of desperation, fear, loneliness, confusion, and hopelessness.  Mixed with 4 times more people than any other area I have yet to see.  It was important for us to walk through there relaxed and confident, as to not show fear or we would have attracted confrontation.  We will be returning to Hell’s den in two days.

Thought of the Day

What takes away sorrow? What brings about a smile? What gives such great hope to the hopeless?  Simply … Love.  These children have nothing.  But they shine, they smile, they are happy.  It is because of the love from one person, Lalita Edwards.  One person does make a difference in the lives of others.  One person who has love and is willing to give their love to others in a selfless, sacrificial way.  


p.s. Tomorrow’s blog will me much lighter emotionally (driving in a rickshaw for instance).


Day Two

   Posted by: Dean White   in India


·         City of Pune

·         Maharashtre Fellowship for the Deaf (school for deaf children)

Purpose: Minister to the deaf children: bring them backpacks, magic show and crafts

Tomorrow: Santvana Orphanage and Red Light District


  • Drive to Pune
  • City of Pune
  • School for the Deaf Children
  • Food of India

Quote of the day: “Pune has many students who have a lot of time and money and is the reason why AIDS has spread so rapid.”

I try to write my blog in the evening about 10pm (9:30am your time) but I was so exhausted last night I went straight to bed and I am writing instead this morning (8:30am my time, 8pm night before your time).  The night before I didn’t sleep at all.  So I wrote the outline for a book on the rights of passages every boy takes as he travels on his journey to become a man.  I know… it is just how my brain works.  We will see if I ever get it written and published. 

Drive to Pune

Pune was about a 4 hour drive from Mumbai.  I took a ton of photos of the country side that was laced with tall vacant old buildings, factories, slums, and large billboards.  About 2 hours outside of Pune the countryside changed and out of nowhere this deep green and beautiful landscape appeared as if God dipped his paint brush and began painting a masterpiece.  The richness of the green shades as they deepened and lightened from the valleys to the hills was breath taking.  We drove through tunnels of which I know I have seen in a Mission Impossible or Indiana Jones movie.   


Pune (pronounced Poo Ney) is the education hub for India.  There are many people, tons of traffic and a vast difference in the economical status of the people.  Right next to a very nice coffee house you might see what would appear as a trash dump and is actually a place someone lives.  Cows walk the streets freely and cars, bikes, buses, 3 wheeled rickshaws all try to weave around them.  In addition, there are goats, pigs and wild boars scavenging through piles of garbage alongside the poor who are also looking for a meal.  Pune also has the highest HIV positive concentration of individuals in India.  I know I have just began to discover this city, for tonight I will visit the red light district where the sex trade lives and grows and my eyes will be opened in ways my heart is not prepared.

School for the Deaf

Around 2pm, we arrived to see 31 beautiful deaf students all ready to perform for us.  We sat in plastic chairs as they danced and danced … and performed stunts to our delight.  Each one of them had huge smiles and gestured their arms and hands in ways to communicate their appreciation of us coming to see them.  After their performance, it was my turn. I was a bit nervous.  I rely so heavily on my words to win a crowd over that much of my magic is done with explaining what I am doing or what I want the volunteer to do.  They were a great audience as you would imagine … even when one of my tricks did not work, … so I tried it again, … and it didn’t work again!  After the magic show we did a craft and played a few games with them. 

The school actually houses and teaches 116 children ranging from 3 to 18 years old.  There live in dormitories and only go home for holidays.  The children are all very sweet, well behaved and grateful.  Orphan Outreach collects backpacks from throughout the country and we were able to give each child a backpack.  They were ecstatic!  We passed them out as if it was an awards ceremony with each volunteer taking turns as the kids stood up and received their gift.  At the end we said our goodbyes and one child gave me his craft signing that he would miss me. 


The food here is colorful and not only because of appearance but also in taste. The spices are so unique.  They are spicy but not too hot.  Full of flavor and in some ways I feel my pallet has been awakened for the first time.  Luckily my stomach has been able to handle the new experience as well.  So far so good.  I cannot say this is the same for the whole team.  But most are doing well.  As you know, there is no beef, and in fact, very little meat period.  Most menus are mainly vegetarian and then in the back you will see a very small section that says, ‘non-vegetarian.’ Last night we ate at a Mughlai India restaurant.  We ate three types of curry sauces with our Nan bread.  The bugs on the wall and table were just part of the atmosphere. I think I saw one large bug eat another one.  Hey why not … it’s dinner time.

Thought of the Day

I walked down the street late last night by myself, looking for a place I could walk in and use their restroom.  I asked stranger and he pointed to a business that was called Myrumi and under the sign it read ‘Ultimate Pleasures.’ The glass doors were smoked and it looked like a nice place compared to other establishments around it.  Plus I really had to go.  So … I walked in.  Luckily for me it was a restaurant!  But it made me think how often we make an assumption before finding the truth.  India has caused me to rethink many things, and what I first assumed I would discover here is much different.  In India they embrace life, accept differences and find ways to blend together. 


p.s. we are now staying at the YMCA in Pune.  Not bad & not the Ramada.