Mel’s blog

adventures in detroit and around the world


Today was a hard day.

We returned from Mamallapuram which is a tourist city on the beach about 50 km south of Chennai.  We visited an orphanage then stayed at a hotel on the beach.  I’m beginning to feel weary and broken.  It’s funny – visiting orphanges was one of the things I was most excited about.  It’s still one of the most enjoyable things for me, to play with the kids, but also the hardest. As each orphanage breaks me down, I find it harder to pour love into the orphans.  I find myself desperately needing to rely on Christ’s love and strength.  At the same time, the team we are working with is seriously awesome – especially the medical team.  Being around them after church today was a huge encouragement.

On another note – public transportation is always an adventure in India.  You have to be ready to jump off the bus at any moment, which requires close attention when you don’t know which stop your going to be called to get off.  The past couple days we have taken buses to and from our destinations – usually 3-4 each way.  I suppose this has contributed to the weariness.

We have a busy week ahead.  Tomorrow morning we leave for Kolli hills, about a 7 hour drive (thankfully, not public transportation).  We’ll be there till Saturday, doing 3 medical camps and visiting orphanages.  One of these orphanages is girls that were rescued from imminent death as infants.   We’re going to some tribal villages where people ask a witch doctor whether or not their child should live.  The pastor in this area has started rescuing the babies and started an orphanage.

Some pictures that didn’t make it into past posts due to battery restraints:

From the first orphanage.  I’ve never seen such sadness and fear in the eyes of a child.

7-up refresher in the scorching heat.

Liz teaching the kids how to do a high 5

Being in India constantly reminds me of Brooke Fraser’s words: now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead.


May 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Today we returned from our trip to a village about 4 hours from Chennai.  Yesterday we had our 2nd medical camp, and today went around and prayed with some of the believers of nearby villages.  First of all, when I say village, I mean mud huts, wells – no running water, sugarcane and rice fields, and electricity about 50% of the time.  I didn’t even know places like this still existed.  Seriously – check out this house.


The medical camp went great.  We saw a lot of older patients since the younger people were out in the field working.  Almost every older patient had some sort of eye problem – mostly cataracts.  One lady’s eye was completely filled with blood.   She attributed it to witchcraft and has recently become a believer.  We also saw something called “spontaneous keloids.”  This was the very first case Dr. Sheila has ever seen, and probably the last.  It is spontaneous scarring of the skin and can be very painful.


The church we were staying at was also the home of 5 orphans and 2 old ladies.  We had so much fun playing with the kids for hours last night and this morning.  It was my first time ever knowing orphans, and it broke my heart.  One was noticeably malnourished (most Indian food does not have much protein) with the distended stomach.   I can’t imagine growing up without parents.  It seems so unfair.


We all slept on the floor of the church.  They were a lot better at it than we were (including the 70 year old lady).

Tomorrow we head out to another orphanage to hang it with some kiddos.  I got woken up at 4:15 this morning to the pastor doing his morning prayer songs, so I am heading to bed.


Kristy and I sharing a baby


May 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment


First medical camp

pharmacy and BP/blood sugar station

I got swarmed

praying for a patient

the group with the local pastor and some of his kids

It’s amazing to see peoples willingness to be prayed for.  They truly believe in its power – whether or not they understand it or even understand Christ.  They truly expect healing and good things from prayer – something I think I don’t even expect all the time.  Maybe we can learn from them.

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A taste of Chennai

It’s hard to know where to begin with this post.  I think we’re all still trying to process all of the input here in India.  We’ve been here four full days now.  During that time, we have been oriented with the ministry here that we are working with, gone grocery shopping and mall shopping, visited two churches, and today toured some of the hot spots of Chennai (pun intended…today was a scorcher).  Tomorrow is our first day working – we are doing a medical camp.  We’re all getting a little ancy to start working, but the few days of rest have been nice, especially for jetlag.

It’s neat to see people overflowing with Joy for the Lord.  They have asked us to sing at every church we go to, which is a stretch out of our comfort zone considering none of us consider ourselves exhorbantly blessed in the singing department (this was my first time EVER singing in front of people), but turns out only using super talented singers for worship might just be an American thing.  People just want to worship – it doesn’t matter if your voice is perfect or not.

These are some pictures from our roundabouts in Chennai


Above: church.  Below: the group in front of an ambulance.


Marina beach – err desert.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Praise the Lord

Well, we are here in India. Over 24 hours of traveling (36 if you include the time change).  Here are some of my thoughts.

1) It’s humid.  Stepping outside from an air-conditioned car kind of feels like opening a dishwasher in the middle of the heat cycle as the steam rushes into your face.
2) All the bananas I’ve ever eaten in my whole life taste like chalk compared to the bananas here.
3) Indians bobble their heads instead of nodding for “yes”.  This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
4) “Praise the Lord” is equivalent to “Hey” and “See ya later.”  Pretty awesome.
The team we are going to be working with is awesome.  We’re here with a mission org called Faith Prayer Tract League.  The head couple is a pastor (husband) and doctor (wife).  We’re going to be doing 8 medical camps where we will be going to different villages and setting up clinic and seeing 75-100 patients.  We will also be using that time to evangelize to the villagers.  We will be staying over at several of these camps for further outreach the next day.  We are also visiting 3 or 4 different orphanages and just hanging out/singing/playing with the kids.

Praise the Lord.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hello Silas


Today I had the privilege of meeting little Silas – son to my good friends Mariah and Tony.  Lucky for me he was born 4 days before his May 20 due date so I could see him before I leave tomorrow.  Thanks, Silas!

May 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meet the team – mug shot style

kristy visaliz visachris visamel visawill visa

From left to right: Kristy, Liz, Chris, Melissa, Will.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment



Today I told over 100 kids (grades 2-4) about a running club we’re (Wayne State medical students)  starting next fall.

Because let’s face it.  Detroit is fat. Michigan is one of the fattest states in the country, and Detroit is probably one of the main contributors to that stat.  If a teenager is obese, there is a 96% chance he will be obese as an adult.

So we act.  I’ve started a student org called “RunDetroit,” and a group of med students will be going to this Detroit Public School every week, and running side by side the youth of Detroit –  providing a safe and fun environment for exercise and mentorship.

Why?  Because I love to run, and decided it was time to put that passion into service.  Because there is a need – to fight obesity, and to start mentoring relationships with the kids of Detroit, so that they can start believing in themselves, and stop the viscous cycles of drugs, alcohol, and crime.

Because we are called to help.

Wanna help?

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment