Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pondicherry

I know now is probably the worst possible time to be daydreaming of visiting India (and I do pray for the victims of the terrorist attack and for peace to come into the midst of this horrible tragedy) but about two weeks ago I heard the most unbelievably amazing story of how, years ago, the hand of God led a then thirty-something year old English man, who is half Indian and half African, and had been adopted into an English family as an infant, to Pondicherry, India in the most inexplicable set of circumstances, to meet his birthmother. I probably don't remember all the details of the story as it was told on that Sunday at church (he was testifying to God's goodness and faithfulness in answering a long standing prayer that he find his birthmother) but the story went something like: As a piano player he'd been hired on a few cruiseship gigs, and this particular cruise was going to three destinations in India, one being Pondicherry. He thought it interesting that he was going to India, since he was half Indian and had never been, but also thought it was a strange coincidence that he was going to the area of Pondicherry, which is where he was told his mother was from. Though this was a wonderful "coincidence" he didn't get too excited about it, especially because he'd been trying to find her for years past. As the cruise tour got underway, it turned out that some type of major inclement weather was imminent and the cruise ship captain decided that they would have to dock at a city a few hours away from Pondicherry but they would not be able to continue on to the city itself. In his disappointment of having come so close, he mentioned the story of how his birthmother is believed to be in or from Pondicherry and that he couldn't believe he was so close and would not be able to see where she is from. After hearing this, the cruise director arranged for the guy to get ground transportation from the city where the ship docked into Pondicherry, which was only three or four hours away by motorcoach. The guy couldn't believe that he was being allowed (given favor) to go afterall, and got a few friends together for the day trip. Once they got into the city, he mentioned that there was no sight of the threatening storm that curtailed the cruise trip at all and remarked on the beautiful landscaping, architecture, and people were so vibrantly dressed and full of color from the array of silk saris. He got out of the motorcoach and decided to meander through the middle of the town by himself, content that he was in the land where his birthmother had been born. Because Pondicherry is one of India's few French territories, he didn't really speak to anyone but just walked around to soak in the gorgeous sunlit city. He found himself in front of a school and "curiosity" urged him to go in. Once inside the main foyer of the school and inquiring if the matron spoke English he decided to inquire about records of former students, thinking perhaps there was a chance his mother had studied there. He asked about a former student, just for fun I'll call Genevieve La'Vie. And as it turned out that not only did the matron know of a former student by the name of Genevieve La'Vie, but she was currently a professor there at the school and teaching a class in session that very moment! His heart almost stopped as he asked if he'd be able to go up to her classroom to see her. The matron responded that visitors were not allowed while class was in session, but once the session ended he would be able to go up. So for the next half hour or so, here he stood with the possibility that, at age 31 in the middle of a cruise gig to Pondicherry, he could possibly be standing within a few feet from the woman who had given him life. Finally the class ended and as the students filed out of the room he found a way to put one foot in front of the other until he was standing at the doorway of her classroom. But, he didn't go right in; he stood for a little while longer and watched the woman before deciding that he was actually going to go in and speak to her. As he entered the room she didn't notice him straightaway, and he sat at a desk when she finally looked up and asked in French if she could help him. He answered asking if her name was Genevieve La'Vie and if she spoke English and she did. She asked if he was a British student visiting the university, he said that he was not. "Then why are you here?" she asked, "How may I help you." "I think you are my mother," he anwered. She looked at him. "Why would you think that?" And he went on to tell her that he was a pianist working on a cruise ship from England and how he was adopted into an English family as an infant though he is half African and half Indian with his birthmother named Genevieve La'Vie from Pondicherry. She looked at him for a minute, and said "I think you are my son." And when he stood up they embraced for what seemed like an eternity though it was probably more like ten minutes. With tears in her eyes she said, "This is the Lord's doing, the Lord has brought you back to me so that I can ask that you forgive me. I've never gotten over having given you up and I've only had the Lord to lean on in my grief. He has done this, he has brought us together!" He said that up until that point, he'd been raised in a Christian home but never really came to know and understand Christ as Lord, as a gracious, merciful God that would answer any prayer in the most unpredictable, phenomenal way. But at that moment, with his mother, whom he'd never met, standing there with tears in her eyes asking his forgiveness and testifying of the love of God and his grace in bringing them together, there was no way he could turn a blind eye to goodness and faithfulness of God... So, his story basically ended at that scene there in the classroom and how it led directly to his belief and salvation in Christ, which is a beautiful story through and through. But ever since hearing it, I cannot stop thinking about this place in India called PONDICHERRY. It just sounds like a delicious place where dreams come true! So I finally researched it a bit and found this INTERESTING ARTICLE and these BEAUTIFUL PHOTOGRAPHS both published earlier this year. So maybe one day with God's help I'll make it to Pondicherry myself and have a wonderful life-changing blessing of a trip!

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