BETA

Serving the children

BANGALORE, India — Service at the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity facility for handicapped children demonstrates the love and compassion of missionaries and local Church members who volunteer their time in this city in southern India.

We accompanied nine missionaries and three volunteers from the Bangalore 3rd Branch — Sister Asha Prasad, Sister Jhansi Mohanrao and Brother Charles Thangaraj — on their weekly service project.

The 30 severely handicapped children we observed were bedridden, unable to speak and may never see any progress out of their beds. But many of the children did express recognition and delight in seeing "their" missionary. The missionaries sang to the children, blessing them with music and deed.

Members of the Church have assisted at this facility for the past two years.

One of the missionaries, after his assigned responsibilities were finished, went to those children who had been sleeping when they arrived and offered his time, love and concern for the welfare of each one.

Another missionary attended to his responsibilities and then spent the remainder of the time entertaining and attending to a child with cerebral palsy. He pushed the small child up and down the hall in his wheelchair. He would stop momentarily and try to teach the young child to clap and express other motor skills. When the child became restless, the missionary would start pushing again. This process was repeated over and over until we left.

"I love doing service for these wonderful children because it makes me feel good," said Elder Jay Sanders, who is one of 10 children in his family from Redlands, Calif. "I know that every one of these children is very special to our Heavenly Father. As I have served these children I have learned special lessons about life that I couldn't learn other places. I have felt special feelings I will never forget."

A phrase written on a wall in the facility seemed to express the feelings of the 12 volunteers we accompanied this particular Friday: "Faith in action is love, love in action is service."

In their service, the volunteers shed the self-centered attitude of many youth who are motivated primarily by immediate gratification.

Sister Shirley Peter said, "I love His innocent children."

"These children are very special in the eyes of God," said Elder John Moses from Chennai, India, the only member of the Church in his family of four. "I thank God that He has given me this chance to serve these wonderful children. I see their love for us missionaries every Friday when we arrive."

These missionaries and members perform their service with enthusiasm and take their assignments very seriously. One of the volunteers, Sister Prasad, said: "Today I was really surprised to see all these wonderful and innocent children. It is the first time that I had seen this type of disabled children. I pray to God to keep them happy and healthy always. And always I pray that there will be someone to look after them."

Some of the children served by the missionaries and members are literally throw-away children. When they were born, their natural mothers discarded them. On occasion, a baby is brought straight to the orphanage from the hospital by the police. There are three Mother Teresa care facilities in Bangalore as well as others throughout India.

As we left, Elder Ravi Kumar Nalla said: "When I am here, I feel I am with good people, and learning patience. By being with these children, I feel how great the calling of a father is. I feel it is a great privilege and helps me to be stronger in the gospel. I love to do this."