Discovering God’s calling on my life.
During a trip to Japan, Mizoram and Delhi in 2001 I videoed examples of God responding to three very different situations, each in a unique way. This video is called, “God is on the Move” and can be seen on https://youtu.be/KIqmG1hF8tQ
However there was one specific incident which I believe was a test, which was needed before I was lead to God’s main calling on my life.
I was in Mizoram on the way to Delhi, where I was to video the Dalit rally on November 4th 2001. I got an e-mail advising me that an evangelist in the US had stated, on the internet, that 20,000 Dalit would be baptized at this rally. The RSS, which is the Hindu equivalent of the Nazi youth movement, had responded that if 20,000 were baptized, they would kill 20,000. The e-mail went on to say that they were expecting extreme violence and asking if I was still willing to come.
I reasoned that if this actually happened they would make sure they got the guy with the camera. After much prayer I spent that evening writing my funeral then left the next day for Delhi. As it turned out tens of thousands Dalit converted from Hinduism to Buddhism that day and while there were some very tense moments there was no violence. This rally set the stage for later mass conversions, to Christianity, mainly in Orrisa and Gujarat. While this will not be part of my book anyone interested can contact me for an explanation.
In 2004 I went back to Mizoram with three women, from our church, and Grandson Trevor. We travelled down to Lunglei, which at that time took 10 hours of intense driving. One of the women, Hilary King, was a coordinator with Fraser Health, so we made a point of spending time at a Lunglei hospital.
Hilary has gone on to found a great ministry called Embrace Rwanda. If you google Embrace Rwanda you will see how God has used this grassroots ministry to make the difference in thousands of lives. I am always thrilled to see how God will multiply the efforts of a faithful servant.
We were shown a premature baby girl, weighing under 2 pounds, who had been found abandoned on a jungle path. Hilary was amazed that it was surviving as she had never heard of one this small making it in a Canadian hospital. Survive she did and I have had the privilege of watching her grow into an active child who will be a teen this year.
We had a long discussion with the hospital superintendent who shared my passion for Mizo farmers and farming methods. We drove back to Aizawl the next day. Three days later there was a knock on my door and I met Dawnga, who was to become my best friend and the inspiration to attempt things far out on my comfort zone.
Dawnga explained to me that he had met with the hospital superintendent after we had left Lunglei and had been told of my passion for the Mizo farmers. Wanting to meet me he volunteered to drive to Aizawl to attend the annual Baptist meeting in Aizawl.
Dawnga told me that he was the founder and manager of the Relief and Development branch of the Baptist church. His mandate was to improve farming and health care for rural communities. He had visited the Philippians 15 years before and had been working ever since to introduce an innovative farming system to Mizoram. This farming system called SALT (Sloped Agricultural Land Technology) was uniquely adaptable for the hills of Mizoram and was proving to produce three times the yield of the slash and burn method traditionally used in Mizoram.
We were about to leave Mizoram so there was no time to get immediately involved, however, I promised to come back to work with Dawnga to expand the use of SALT.
By this time there were about 250 SALT farms in southern Mizoram.
Our little group than flew to Delhi and made side trips to Dehradun and to the Taj Mahal in Agra. The rest went home and I took advantage of a fly anywhere in India for 15 days plan. I visited 9 cities in those 15 days and had many wonderful adventures, but these will be covered in the next chapter.
I began to correspond with Dawnga primarily about Mizo farming but he also mentioned that he was involved in building malaria clinics and was in need of microscopes.
I was back in Mizoram in 2006 this time primarily to cover the rat plague called Mautam and then spend more time with Dawnga, to learn more about the SALT farming. Every 49 to 50 years there is a bamboo which blooms and this produces a huge plague of rats. When this happened in the late 1950s more than 10,000 Mizos starved to death. It was also the trigger for a rebellion in Mizoram that lasted almost 25 years. If you google Mautam Mizoram you will find several videos on Mautam and it’s effect. The two our company, Norlynn Audio Visual Services, produced are” “Mautam in Mizoram” and “Mautam 2008 Update”.
Mautam moved across Mizoram over a three year period starting in the east in 2006 and moving west until 2008 and even 2009. In 2006 I accompanied two rat experts, to Champhai, right on the Myanmar border. You can see the results on “Mautam in Mizoram”. However as I visited Champhai I realized it was a perfect place for SALT farming. This knowledge was to pay off the next year.
I then went to Lunglei and spent time with Dawnga and learned a great deal more about SALT farming and got the first information about his fight against Malaria. This was to become the major calling in my life.
Dawnga had been attending university in Ranchi, Jharkhand, studying social work, when his dad died from malaria and his mom suffered badly from it. He had to quit university to come home and look after his mom. For three years he got a doctor from Lunglei to run malaria clinics in his childhood village of Darzo and several surrounding villages. This cut the death rate down quite dramatically, however the doctor left and he could find no other doctor willing to take up this work. That year 9 people, in Darzo. died of malaria and Dawnga thought, “We have to try something else.”
He took a 15 year old boy from Darzo to Lunglei for three days and taught him how to recognize malaria parasites under a microscope. He gave him a microscope and some medicine. It was found that if malaria parasites were found and treatment started within 48 hours of the first symptoms on one died. That was more than 12 years ago and no one has died from malaria, in Darzo, since.
Nearby villages heard of this and he helped another four villages establish these simple clinics, which he called ZoClinics. His church saw these good works and hired Dawnga to establish a Relief and Development committee to build ZoClinics and to promote sustainable farming and to find innovative ways to improve rural life.
We visited several SALT farms and also ZoClincs and discussed ways to work together to extend his work. I told him that I had found the area around Champhai seemed ideal for SALT farming and we began to plan a SALT seminar, for Champhai, the next year
I came back a year later this time with grandson Kyle, a cousin Michelle and her husband Leon. The three of them went to Champhai. Dawnga sent two experienced SALT farmers and his son from the Lunglei area and they conducted a weekend seminar, on SALT farming. After working for 17 years to establish less than 300 SALT farms another 36 were formed that one weekend. This got the attention of both the media and the Department of Agriculture. This was to pay big dividends the following year.
In the meantime I had gone to Lunglei and met with Dawnga and Tim Morgan from Toronto. We discussed ways to improve ZoClinics and to open more. We came up with a plan to extend the treatment to both high blood pressure and diabetes, which were also prevalent in Mizoram. Tim promised to go back to Toronto to raise money and I promised to do the same in Vancouver, At that time there were already 25 ZoClinics established in Southern Mizoram.
Mautam had passed it’s worst in Lunglei but was rampant just to the west. My self and two Mizo guides took dehydrated food and rice into a very primitive Bru village north and west of Lunglei and found that the entire village were having to spend their entire days searching for food in the jungle. They had cleaned out almost every possible scrap of jungle food for a 5 kilometer radius. I was the first white person ever to visit this village. One village woman was over 100 years old and this was her third experience with Mautam, once as a small child, then in her fifties and now at 103.
When Tim and I arrived back in Canada we arranged to send a 40 foot container with 1,000,000 meals of dehydrated vegetables from Gleaners in Abbotsford. We enlisted the Mennonite Central Committee and World Vision to transport it to Mizoram.
I was back in 2008 and this time we held a SALT seminar in a village just north of Aizawl. Following the success in Champhai the year before it got lots of pre-publicity and we were swamped with applicants. Our plan was to limit it to 50 but finally accepted 75.
Again there was lots of good press and many more farmers came forward wanting the training. The department of agriculture responded to the need and ran 2 more seminars after ours.
From the publicity given these three seminars farmers from all over Mizoram saw the advantage of SALT farming and it is estimated that almost 10,000 farmers are now involved with this efficient and sustainable type of farming. This is making a huge economic difference in Mizoram.
We had also found sources in India for the equipment to economically equip and train ZoClinic technicians and this began to expand at an ever increasing rate.