OUR TRIP TO HAPPY HOME
by Naomi Witherick
We were sitting in Heathrow Airport, waiting for a flight to Bangalore when the topic of expectations came up. What were our expectations for this trip to Happy Home in India?
To be honest, I had no expectations. A combination of open mindedness and unfamiliarity had left me with no real framework by which to imagine the week that lay ahead.
Sure, I’d seen India on TV. I could imagine the busy roads and the crowded cities (though nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming reality of being among it). And as for Happy Home? Well, I knew there would be kids living there, but that was about it.
Josh, Sam, Scott and I arrived in Bangalore early the next morning, and within minutes we were immersed in chaos. After a blur of car horns, coconut stalls and loose cattle, we finally arrived in the grounds of Happy Home. And it was in complete contrast to the world outside.
With hanging baskets and fishponds, Happy Home was like an oasis in middle of the bustling town outside its walls. It was a place where chickens roamed freely and Hillsong music played softly in the background, with the scent of citronella incense burning in the air.
But the most captivating thing about this place was the presence of God. Right from our arrival – when the kids laid hands on us and prayed for us, filled with the Holy Spirit – I could feel God moving in a really powerful way.
And that’s when I realised – maybe I’d had some expectations after all. Maybe I’d expected this orphanage of 50 children and teenagers to simply be a place of charity and shelter. But in reality I found so much more than that.
I found a home that was saturated in the Holy Spirit. And I found a group of kids who – despite having Hindu or Muslim upbringings, severe disabilities or harrowing stories of abuse, poverty or abandonment – were simply full of God’s love.
I could see it in how they cared for each other, with the older children helping out the younger or less abled kids.
I could see it in how they cared for us as their visitors, pulling up a chair for us to sit on and making sure we were included in their games.
I could see it when they shared their stories of how they ended up at Happy Home and how they came to know Jesus, sometimes with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces.
We spent a week in this beautiful place, playing with the kids and spending time with Roshan who runs Happy Home, along with his wife, Rose and mum, Irene. We built a fence for a new goat pen and helped with some odd jobs around the grounds (I say ‘helped’ – we’re not exactly skilled tradespeople, but we did what we could under Roshan’s graceful instruction). And we spent time getting to know their way of life, hearing their stories and encouraging them in what God’s doing at Happy Home.
At the end of the week the kids put on a show for us with music, dancing and dramas. Watching them worship at the top of their lungs, I was reminded of the story of the lost sheep and how the shepherd left ninety-nine behind in search of the one that went missing.
Each of the children in front of me was that one missing sheep. I could feel the Father’s love for them in a deep and moving way; how he’d run after them to save them from loveless situations and welcome them into his fold. And I was simply reminded of how good God is – so much so it brought tears to my eyes and fullness to my heart.
And so Happy Home went way beyond any expectations I could have had. More than just an eye-opening experience of India. More than just a visit to an orphanage. This place had given me a deeper sense of God’s goodness and a rich encounter with his love. I can’t wait to share more about Happy Home with our church family at Re:Hope and I’m excited to pray for them and see what God has in store for their future.