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Seeing home through fresh eyes

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Jimmy Tyrie, Pastor Nissh, Michael Tillman and Pastor Emmanuel before the IndyCar test drive. Eight pastors from India recently visited Johnson County. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Jimmy Tyrie, Pastor Nissh, Michael Tillman and Pastor Emmanuel before the IndyCar test drive. Eight pastors from India recently visited Johnson County. SUBMITTED PHOTO

There is no other way to say it, but I confess I have never walked out of Walmart and been as thankful nor said what my new friend said to me: “Miss Janet, you are so blessed in this country. This Walmart has many things.”

Eight new faces visited Johnson County last week. It was their first time in America — in Indiana — in Johnson County — for four of the eight pastors from India.

When I asked Emmanuel what his first impression of the United States was, he succinctly answered in his Hindi-accented English, “There are much less people, many more cars — and many greens.” Emmanuel pastors a church in a tourist city with a population of 1.7 million.

It was refreshing to see my hometown through the eyes of friends who were seeing Johnson County for the first time.

I commented, “I can’t believe it’s been raining so much lately. Last year we were in the middle of the drought.”

Emmanuel asked, “Is this your monsoon season?”

I explained we usually just have sporadic rain but not the heavy annual landslide monsoon rain that northern India is experiencing, which has killed more than 60,000 people.

After attending a pastoral teaching conference in Louisville, the eight men traveled to Greenwood to visit for four days before flying home. Mount Pleasant Christian Church set up their activities to allow them to experience the city. They attended an Indianapolis Indians game, visited the Indianapolis Zoo and watched “Man of Steel,” the new Superman movie, which was a first American movie theater experience for Emmanuel, Ajeet, Jyotish and Papou.

Of course, my husband Steve wanted to show our two house guests, Emmanuel and Nissh, his favorite things, so he set up a ride in Dallara’s street-legal Indy car. Greenwood resident Michael Tillman and Jimmy Tyrie gave the men a tour of the Dallara Indycar Factory and an Indy car ride.

Nissh and Emmanuel also received the true American Fourth of July experience, when we took them to Duane and Kim Debaun’s annual party, where friends played beanbag, watched the Greenwood fireworks display from the comfort of their front yard and enjoyed a bowl of Debaun’s special, hand-churned homemade ice cream.

In our living room, the night before they flew back to India, Kristine Shaub, Katie and Todd Brown, daughter Aly, Steve and I had the opportunity to pray with eight passionate pastors who are thankful. Each pastor had specific prayer requests for the people in their areas, and they asked to pray for our country and for us personally.

One comment keeps resounding in my mind. After asking and thanking us for praying for the two orphanages and schools that they are building for the 96 special needs children and another for more than 100 blind children, Papou added. “If God sent them, they should live.”

After church on Sunday when the rain stopped for a few minutes, Steve, a 4-H shooting sports instructor, wanted to share another of his favorite things with all eight pastors and set up the archery target in the backyard with our array of long and recurve bows. The pastors took turns shooting arrows at the target.

If the target was a life of loving and serving others with thankfulness, there wasn’t an arrow that missed.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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