That is “hello” in Bengali.  This week – I am starting my language lessons in earnest.  My goal in the 3 or so months before I leave is to understand and know the alphabet, know how to count, and know some helpful words and phrases.  If I’m looking at the romanized transliteration (like you see in the subject) I can do pretty well.  The alphabet is a definite challenge because it is sooooooooooo different.  I mean… I learned Russian and picked up the alphabet pretty quickly.  But this… God give me grace and wit to learn it!

We had a team meeting this week to go over the packing list and some useful information about customs, where we would be staying, and other cultural tips.  We plan to meet at Bombay Palace in a couple of weeks for lunch and an opportunity to get to know each other a bit better before the trip in a social setting.

Several of us have been watching this video series.

Matt and Bethany asked me to send out emails with some of the things that I’ve been learning about India.  So, I will be starting a series called Missions Monday.  Here is yesterday’s email:

Here are some online resources for learning basic Bengali words and phrases.  They aren’t showing you the Bengali script but if you want to learn to say hello (namakar) or water (jal) and the like, these are good places to go:

Learn Bengali words (this video is kind of annoying but there are more links to other Bengali language videos on the side.  The same user has a counting video which is a flashback to 1970’s Sesame Street)
Virtual Bangladesh – Learn Survival Bengali
Talking Bees – Learn Bengali (their promotional youtube clips nicely gathered in one place)

And your trivia note:
Bangladesh used to be East Pakistan, formed when the British partitioned India into secular/Hindu and Muslim countries in 1947.  The Indian state of Bengal was divided into Hindu and Muslim parts – West and East Bengal respectively.

In 1971, the Indian government supported a revolution in East Bengal/Pakistan to become its own country.  Pakistan didn’t recognize Bangladesh as a country until 1974, 3 years after the war.

Of course, I could go on and on about that 1971 war and its geopolitical impact… because that kind of stuff fascinates me.  I do have a major in that after all.  I remember Stacy, she was a year ahead of me, did her major paper in International Relations on India/Pakistan, their nuclear ambitions and the fight over Kashmir.  How the US got involved because Nixon believed it would be another way to stop the Soviet spread across Southeast Asia.  Or the 1947 partition of India and how we still feel its impact today on a global scale.

I still need and want your prayers and financial support.  Visit and select “Make a one-time donation.”  If you choose this method, please let me know the date so I may notify the bookkeeper to track the donation.

The Letter

Dear Friends,

I am writing to tell you about a place, a people, and a purpose that have been on my heart for months now.  Let me tell you about a particular part of the Grand Story that God is writing … and about how you might join in the telling.  The story takes us across the ocean and several time zones to India.

You probably know that India has a huge population—around 1 billion people.  Kolkata teems with over 11 million people.  How do you share the life-saving, freeing truth of Jesus Christ with so many?  One group, one church, cannot do all the work itself.  But one team could potentially “change the world” for 300 people in one neighborhood.

God has called me and my church to that mission.  In February 2011, Cross Point Community Church (CPCC) will make its first mission trip to Kolkata, India, and I will be serving as one of 11 team members.  We will work in the Khalpur Slum alongside a local organization called the S.E.E.D. Project.  Cross Point has been supporting this ministry for the last year, giving financial assistance to purchase a generator, to hire an additional staff member, to build a school, and to buy clothes for the neighborhood children.  (You can see photos of some of the Khalpur families here at my Flickr page: and read more about this journey at my blog:

While in country, we will lead a Vacation Bible School for the children of Khalpur, will help with community cleanup, and will lead events such as a talent show and canteen sale.  We will also visit local churches and will worship with fellow believers (in English and Bengali!).

I’m excited about the opportunities and experiences that lie ahead.  One of the reasons I am strongly committed to CPCC is that we take to heart Jesus’ call: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  God has called His people to help, love, and serve locally, regionally, and globally.  It has been my privilege to serve in Nashville with CPCC for God’s glory … and soon in India!

It is also my privilege to invite you to be part of our team through prayer support, financial support, or both!

• I need and desire your prayer support.  Prayer will keep us connected with the Father and will allow us to be successful as we follow His leading on the ground in India.

• As you can imagine, a trip like this is expensive, and financial support from a number of people makes it possible for the team members to go serve.  In order to go on this mission trip, each team member must raise $2,500 by January 15, 2011.  If you would like to sponsor me financially, I would be very grateful.

To be part of this mission through your financial support, you may send a check to Cross Point Community Church, 4301 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209, by January 15, 2011.  Please make your check payable to Cross Point Community Church.  I will be happy mail you a copy of this letter along with stamped/addressed envelope to you if needed.  All contributions are tax deductible if made payable to Cross Point.  In the memo field of your check, please write Jonnelle Rein – India so that it will be credited appropriately.

You may also donate online: and select “Make a one-time donation.”  If you choose this method, please let me know (email me – jonneller at yahoo dot com) the date so I may notify the bookkeeper to track the donation.

Thank you so much for prayerfully considering if this is something you’d like to participate in.  May God bless you for your time and support.