Yesterday was the start of our tour of the island. Ramanan got us up at 5am (with our driver Charmarra and his brother-in-law Udaya) so that we would miss the city traffic and head up into the hill country.
First stop was white-water rafting at Kithulgala. Sophie wasn’t feeling too great so John, Abi and Ramanan survived the elements – just as we arrived it started pouring with rain which, rather than spoiling it added to the experience (the rain and the river were not cold). It is a truly beautiful country.
The rain stopped afterwards and we were taken to Aberdeen Falls – where the girls swam under the waterfall. Spectacular scenery although the numerous leeches were not appreciated by all in our party.
Then up the windy roads towards Hatton and the tea plantations. Tea was first brought to Ceylon by James Taylor (the British imported it from China) in 1867. Since then Sri Lanka has been used to being in the top 3 for tea production worldwide. However, Kenya has recently overtaken them – 1. China. 2. India. 3. Kenya. 4. Sri Lanka.
Tea is still picked by hand everywhere. These pickers will work all day for about 350-450 rupees (about 2 pounds) – and only if they pick enough leaves. It is back breaking work. A Tamil Pastor (Matthew) arranged for us to look round the Tea factory at Tallawackelle – quite an experience!
Then the highlight was a visit to a remote village of tea pickers where a miraculous conversion has happened. The wife of a prominent Hindu in the village was healed and, through the evangelism of Pastor Matthews and Udaya, she and her husband became Christians – Mr. & Mrs. Muthukuma. As he was the treasurer of the local Hindu temple, the locals were not amused. Undeterred, he has started a small prayer meeting / service every Saturday – which we attended. There are now five Christian families in the village and they hope to plant a church soon. Please pray for these brave families – they face great opposition and yet are so generous and hospitable.