Always a learner: You don't meet people by accident. There is always a reason. A lesson or blessing.

Jesu Vandana
11 min readMay 30, 2020

Ten years ago I took one daring confident step of going into a foreign land alone, never thought that one year would be the most amazing year of my life.

1) I always had a dream of living by the seaside never shared with any but only God my Father. little did I know that God would surprise me by giving me a placement in Thanet where every day I could see the sea. My first day of the view of the place was breathtaking.

2) It was wonderful to meet volunteers from all over the world and build friendships and learn from each other experiences. The person who came to pick me up from seminary was Stuart, first, he took me to their home had an intro chat with Stuart and carol and they took me to my new home Host family Amanda. The first instinct I felt was that I am not a stranger or a new person everyone looked so familiar and connected so well in a few minutes. Stuart, Amanda, and carol connected to me so well like a family. I never felt homesick with them around me and whenever I needed hugs Carol was always there to make me feel at home. especially I use to wait for Monday evening dinner with gay family.

3) When I went to church everyone already knew about me but I took nearly 2 weeks to remember all the names. Never imagined that they all will be so loving, caring and even today after ten years they are my family.

4) Today just want to share some things I learned and experienced during my stay.

5) For one month I was just observing and was taking part in all the activities happening at the church and building friendships, getting to know people, and Sunday afternoon meals with different families. All were excited to take me around and show different places. My Vicar asked me to take time and choose where I want to get involved in ministry work.

6) One question that was bothering as I was observing the ministry and while I was getting more opportunities to serve in kids ministry more than youth. Back in India, I was involved in youth ministry along with my friend Arun daniel as Youth President, I thought my call is for youth. I was in a dilemma about what is my call whether to serve youth or children?.

7) one important thing I have learned being away from family that when we are alone we depend on God for everything. So only way to get my answer was to pray so that is what I did but I didn’t get an answer immediately He made me wait. one night God gave me a dream Where He was sitting near the bed and saying Jesu feed my lambs. I felt it was a strange dream anyways I ignored but again I got the same dream twice. Then I said to myself maybe this the answer which God is giving me to take up children’s work. Since then I was involved in children’s ministry at Church and God has put that passion for kids.

8) So first I was involved in serving in Sunday school teaching pathfinder’s group along with Peter. Kool Kids in the evening and youth club on Mondays at my Vicar’s place.

9) Stuart gave me the freedom to explore other avenues and be part of things and activities happening in the community. So I started visiting community schools along with Stuart and use to spend time with children at school.

10) Along with Patrick, I was part of Scoop lunch clubs for children taking classes.

11) Then I had an opportunity to join Kidz Club along with Melody who was leading it. When I went for the first meeting and went to the altar to pray. Stuart my pastor saw a vision of me like a bird searching and picked up the small right grain.

And he was right I really fell in love with Kidz club and learned a lot of things and about leadership and melody was really blessing in giving me exposure to all the activities and giving freedom to lead without any hesitation and with much trust. Our visits to children’s homes, prayer walks around the community, morning breakfast with the team, and setups on Saturdays were good old days.

12) Another great learning happened at Fegans Along with Craig. Where I was part of Preschool Buttons and spending time with the teaching team and with kids was great. learned many things from the team . Parent counseling and student observations are some of the things that really caught my attention.

13) Apart from the above, I used to visit the elderly spend time with them, and got to hear many amazing stories from them. I am telling its really a blessing to have the elderly around. As kids, we were blessed to have our grandparents both Maternal and paternal staying with us back in India they truly are a Blessing.

14) I was part of All the Bible study groups happening at church which got me closer to all the families who are still in contact with me and also closer to God my father. I never imagined I would be taking cooking classes for ladies at church it was a night to remember with loved ones and laughter around. How can I forget for the first time I cooked for 40 men to raise funds for my organizations of course with the help of the church family who assisted me in cooking. I learned cooking is an art and a stressbuster. food is something that connects people, and back in India, people show love by cooking food for friends and well-wishers. I am a foodie and I love to taste everything I see. My dad nicknamed me “Akali Rajyam”. The secret of being a good cook is to keep tasting.

15) How can I forget the Knit and natter group who have helped me upskill my knitting skills and their amazing stories and laughter still reminds me of all the beautiful people in that room.

16) Oh, the number of meetings and conferences and events, carnivals, parties, get-togethers, everything taught me something. The new wine conference was one of the best.

17) Church camps, camping with family in tents, picnics, visiting volunteers, and family friends it was a year of adventure cant put all things in words.

18) One day while chatting on Facebook with Arun… My first innocent proposal: I asked if a girl like Jesu proposes to you what will you do. He said I don’t know. I was scared so I didn’t take it any further….. I kind of felt rejected but I was ok. after getting rejected I fell into futile temptation for a week. I fell into the temptation of pornography for a week but I have learned to overcome temptations with the help of Amanda and Stuart and of course prayer works. It was a struggle but with God’s help I did overcome temptation but I still needed to forgive myself and that time we went to New wine women conference in Feb. I was just crying out to God and all I wanted was someone to pray to show that God still loves me and use me to make difference and God used Amanda and Carol they came over to me and prayed as if it was directed by God that day in the train I slept like a baby winning the battle in my mind. That day I learned that its cross that brings conviction and grace that brings character. Forever I will be grateful to them for helping me to overcome things in my life it was battle and many life lessons I have learned. ( Maybe my next post I will write my one-sided roller coaster love story there I learned plenty of life lessons )

In the same month Mel invited to fulham christ church, London there God showed me a vision of me standing on the hill and God showing me the sea that His love is like an ocean. That moment I realized who I am in Christ my identity got changed in the faraway country. Always I was like I love you Ģod but God changed my perspective that I am loved by God. That changed my whole perspective of life.

19) I have learned what is true love from the lives of Stuart and carol- Amanda, and terry, John & Glyn, Peter & Hillary, and Melody and Pedro want to show that same love to my future husband. Especially the way Carol stood by Stuart even after knowing his infertility and how they chose kids for adoption never seen such commitment, loyalty, and faithful God-fearing and loving couple. we often think its only women who go through a lot of trauma and emotional stress believe me I learned that men are vulnerable too and emotional.

20) I never really wanted to come back to India with the learnings and experiences, love, and freedom Stuart gave to work. I still remember how I cried while boarding the plane and while landing the plane.

I had only one regret that was Peter Harvey who always invited me to lunch date of Fish and chips, because of my schedule, I kept putting off for days till he went to America. But I did promise him to have lunch with him once he is back from his trip. little did I know that after returning he would become sick and die without having a meal with me. Never Ever procrastinate to give time to people.

21) After coming to India Oh the joy of seeing my Niece and spending time with family after a long time was amazing.

22) After a month of relaxing, I started to apply for jobs. I wanted to work in the NGO sector so I got selected for Cancer NGO by Laxmi Narayan. I took an appointment letter and fell ill as my immunity was low as I returned from the UK. As work required a lot of fieldwork, I could not join. Just for time pass, I attended Google interview. Unlike others who went through many rounds of interview written tests and GD sessions, I was moved directly to Hr round and manager round and was selected. I never liked the corporate job but thought let me work for time pass till find the right one. In that time pass, I spent 4 1/2 years working there. every month I would plan to put down my papers but never took that step.

23) I faced many challenges at the office, but God was with me leading me and protecting me. Many times because of management change many were terminated I also had the doubt maybe one day they will terminate me. That year at Sunday school picnic I was sharing what was happening at work with Viana Akka lying on her lap. The words she said still echoes in my ears and heart. She said, “Jesu you are a child of God, and Unless God instructs no one will terminate you and no one will dare to come near the child of God.”. What Akka said was really true many experienced people were out of office but God was guiding me in every step. learned a lot working under different team leads, and then I became a mentor and policy POC and back up team lead, things were going pretty well in that monotonous highly paid job, found good friends. But I really didn’t enjoy my work as I was climbing the success ladder of the so-called Corporate world.

24) In 2016 I started to pray and asked God to guide me to put down my papers. for 3 months I prayed finally I felt peace in my heart. one specific reason that led me to put down my papers was when my manager was terminated because he fought for justice. I too took a stand fought with the management settled things without fear because I had overcome the fear of rejection with the help of my dear friend years back in the UK and I couldn’t stand the corruption, politics and manipulating reports just for the reputation of a company my values were getting destroyed so I resigned.

Never liked the corporate world too much of money and comfort always wanted to work to make a difference in the lives of people.

I knew my passion is different but that life became my comfort zone.

Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even Amoeba that demands challenge. we require change, adaptation, and challenge the way we require food and air. Comfort alone kills us.

25) Finally, In 2016 I resigned I just thanked God on my last day of work for guiding me, protecting me in every step. He always gave me the best, though things were not clear about my future I was grateful for the opportunity God gave to work for Google maps in midst of challenges, struggles even in the midst of hopeless situations he gave me the confidence to face people, situations and many giant problems fell down with prayer. Many times I traveled alone in-cab I was amazed the way God protected me from accidents and harm. I am thankful to the Google security team who use to escort me till home and also my Street dogs who wouldn’t let any stranger walk along if I walk in my street and they use to be my guardian angels till I step into the gate.

26) I took nearly 2 years of break taking care of my mom and little nephew. In 2018 December had three options of work one offer letter to join in Genpact corporate again which I never liked and join Environmental Ngo work and there was this internship in the education field. In one of the Christmas group dinner, one of my Cousin Mr. Sandeep and few other friends were talking about the literacy rate in India and how children are getting affected. something triggered by that conversation. I did my research there are 3 main services as a person can be a blessing to others 1) agriculture 2) Politics 3) Education and social work. Also, My trips with Uncle Lee to different parts of India and tribal places, visiting schools and the work done through education and how organizations are blessing towards children through education inspired me.

Anyways I had the joining letter of Genpact in hand and friend reference for Environmental work but I never liked recommendations. anyways I applied for the internship in the education field. though the pay was less thought let me just try. I was skeptical because they wanted someone who worked in the education field and teaching experience. On the day of the interview, I just went without any hope of getting selected. When they asked questions I shared only my experience of working with children at church and my work in the Uk. I still wonder Because I didn’t meet any of the criteria they mentioned for that post but they selected me. Initially, it was not easy had challenges but as someone said no one has to motivate what you love to do. Today after working for nearly 2 years the place where I stand makes me feel worth taking the risk of leaving Job because finally, I am doing what I love to do among teachers and children.

As someone said we will never grow in our comfort zone that is 100% true. Yes, there were times I doubted my self but am thankful to God for faithful friends who were my courage and strength. they encouraged me and reminded me of my potential, zeal for children’s work. Always foster relationships that build the courage to take steps. Every day I learn something new and some of my learnings in Uk and Sunday school at church in India are coming alive as I work with schools, teachers, and children. most of all I enjoy and love what I do. learned to be a blessing ❤❤❤

How can I forget my greater strength Phil 4: 16 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

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