Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Sri Lanka, 3rd - 9th October

From Chennai I flew to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to join London District Chair, Jenny Impey and London District Synod Secretary Bala Gnanapragasam for a few days with the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka. One of the first things we did was to visit families settling into a new (post-tsunami) housing organised by the City Mission and then an almost complete MRDF funded project into which families hope to move within the next few weeks. These are important pieces of work and we were hugely impressed with how the Sri Lankan Methodist Church has responded to the situation caused by the tsunami.

On the Monday I had been invited to present the prizes at the Wesley College prizegiving. We processed in, preceded by a band dressed in traditional costume. The whole occasion was a reminder of the Methodist Church's tremendous commitment and contribution to education.

There are now just two traditional Methodist schools in Sri Lanka, but we also visited quite a number of nursery schools during our stay, including one known as the 'Peace School', because it has been set up for Tamil and Muslim children together in an area where the communities have known conflict.
During our all too brief stay, we visited various parts of the country and, again and again, were very impressed and profoundly moved by how the Methodist Church is seeking to work with individuals and communities as they rebuild their lives after the tsunami and the tragic conflict through which they have lived for so many years. We visited a Methodist church that had been destroyed during the conflict - the hope is to rebuild it as a 'Peace chapel' for use by people of all faiths.

The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka has some important stories to tell and the wider church could learn many important lessons. Throughout our visit we were made wonderfully welcome.
As we came to the end of our stay we visited the elephant orphanage, near Kandy, whefre it is possible to sit and eat your lunch overlooking around 50 elephants enjoying their midday bath and cool-off in the river. So, of course, we did this - as do many people who visit Sri Lanka as tourists. But our lasting memories will be of people and of Christian hope expressed in the most tangible of ways, offering new and transformed life to individuals and communities.
Thank you, Sri Lanka.

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