Archive for the ‘My India Experience’ Category

Sept. 21st, Sunday

Today our team met Pastor Raj and drove to his first church service which is in a village a good ways away from his home village.  All five of us were in the taxi driving and driving some more.  We passed acres of rice paddies and sugar cane fields. 

The road was getting bumpier and more narrow.  And then all of a sudden it ended.

At a river.

Yes, the road ended at the river where a boat was waiting for us. 

“How COOL! We’re going to church… In a boat!”   To me it looked much like something Jesus and the disciples would have used, but with a motor.  Well, if you could call it that.

I climbed in and sat next to an old man with a goat.

There was a pretty good current in this river, which was was wider than the Cumberland.  I had to laugh. It was the first time T, our interpreter, had ever been in a boat.  Once on the otherside, we walked another 15 minutes or so before arriving at the church.

As different as everything was, there are somethings that are apparently universal to all churches.  Here are some things I observed.

1.  The church is only half-full when the service begins.  People drift in one by one during the singing and some even after the sermon has started.

2.  The church is made up mostly of women and children with a few men sitting in the back.

3.  The kids like to sit together.  But the older girls don’t like for the younger ones to sit with them.  They push them aside.  Reminded me of my childhood friends and their little sisters.

4.   At least 3-4 will be asleep during the sermon.

5.  The offering is taken up – by one of the few elder men.

After the service we walked back to the river, hopped back in the boat where I sat with an older woman who insisted I take everyone’s picture.  But the one I took of her is one of my favorites.

****Updated photo from Steve.  My sweet friend wouldn’t let go of my hand.  She held my hand all the way back to the taxi.*****

The rest of the day consisted of visiting another church and then shopping w/ some of the girls back in Vij. and taking one of the motorized rickshaws back to the hotel.  We were supposed to get back before dark which happens promptly at 6:30pm. Dinner is at 7:30pm so I decided to just lay across the bed until time to eat.

It never happened.  All four of us girls fell asleep at 6:30pm.


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Sat. Sept. 20th morning.

So much has happened and there’s been so little opportunity to write it all down.  I’m thankful to be awake early so that I may try to capture it all.  I’ve adjusted to the time change very well.  Thank you Lord.

We spent the last two days in a little village about an hour outside of Vij.  My team consisted of our trip leader, our interpreter, and our taxi driver who would be with us all week. Our driver sleeps and reads in his car as we walk from house to house sharing the Good News.  We tell our story to the people but it is the National that asks the key question. 

The people are so friendly and welcoming.  The children are especially attentive.  It is obvious they are not used to seeing white faces.  They swarm us like flies on butter.  It is such a contrast to see such poor conditions and yet the women and children are wearing the most beautiful clothes.  I don’t know how they look so fresh with all the dirt around.

We were sharing with a group of ladies our first day. Some were believers, some were not.  We were almost through when we noticed an older gentleman standing off the to the side.  He was observing us intently.  we asked him to join us but he was hesitant.  His wife, a beautiful believer, urged him in. He sat with rapt attention as our team leader presented the Truth.  He readily accepted Christ in a most stoic and noble manner.  His wife had the biggest smile (see below) on her face as did he.  My eyes filled with tears as I listened to this man pray to receive Christ.  Afterwards we learned he was 80 years old.  Amazing.  

******update I now have a photo of this new brother in Christ.  He is the one sitting on the ground.******

Wednesday night (or was it Thursday, it’s hard to keep track.) we were eating dinner at the hotel when a police inspector came in with the coordinating local pastor.  He was asking why we were there and what we were doing.  He told the pastor he would need to come meet with him at his office the next day.  We all prayed hoping nothing would hinder us from accomplishing what we came to do.

What we didn’t realize was that the Indian Christians were staging a protest in Vijayawada.  There has been increasing persecution of Christians in the state of Orissa, just north of us.  The protest was in effort to overthrow the Orissa government.  This was apparently the cause of the inspector’s concerns, thinking we may be connected to that group.  Which we obviously were not.

The meeting never happened.  The inspector had another unexpected and urgent meeting come up.  There was another bombing in another city pretty far away and we assumed we were just now small fish.

We continued on with our plans which did include shopping. woohoo!  Later that night we found out the inspector had suddenly been transfered out of the city.

Hmmm.  Coincidence?  I think not.

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Sept. 18th 6:15am.

Wow.  I slept great!  Thank you, Lord!  I am analyzing my thoughts and feelings, asking the Lord to meet me here.  I am overwhelmed at the poverty, the smells and how EVERYTHING is different.  And I do mean everything.  Just going to the bathroom is an adventure.   As we learned in Cross-cultural training, it’s not wrong, just different.  

I woke up with the faces from the orphanage on my mind.  Such big smiles, such curiosity and excitement to see us.  It was as if we were celebrities.  And we are treated as such with the wreaths of flowers, smelling of jasmine, placed around our necks.

We made it here to Vijayawada around 7pm last night.  The lights in the building are extremely dim.  You insert your room key into the wall to power the electricity in the room.  So when you leave, everything goes off.  That’s how they conserve.  Everything is planned around conserving.  We actually could learn a thing or two from them.  We are staying in one of the nicest hotels in town.  We American’s are so blessed. 

Due to my overwhelmed senses, I’m afraid I’m not as tuned-in spiritually.  I want to be sensitive to His calling and His direction.  Lord, I beg you to meet me here and use me.  I’m a little overwhelmed and not sure where to start on telling my own testimony.  I’ve been more like Martha lately, and now I’m wishing I were more like Mary.  Lord, give me a burden for these souls.  Help me think clearly why I am here.  And Lord, if it be your will, please bring my luggage to me today.  I’d really like the food, the clothes and especially the gifts for the kids.  Sharon gave money for those gifts and I want to send her a picture of the people receiving her gifts.

I love You, Lord. Please take care of my family back home.  Use me here.  Change me and show me your plans for here and beyond.

View from our hotel window.

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Wed. Sept. 17th 3:10pm

We arrived at the hotel in Hyderabad about 3am and I did not sleep one wink.  It makes New York City sound like a quiet prairie.  I joined Missi, Gary & Betty for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  We shared a grilled cheese sandwich which was really good.    Three young men were loading our luggage back onto the bus and while we waited, young mothers came begging for food or money.  Each had a little on in tow and another on their hip.  I had to just walk away and go back into the hotel.  We were given strict instructions not to hand them anything lest a riot break out.  It is just so sad.  I wonder what the unemployment rate is here.  Everyone seems to just be standing around all day.  Lord, it is sad.

The Road to Vijayawada.

We are now on the way to Vijayawada via a bus.  It’s wild to watch the three young Indian men load our heavy bags onto the top of the bus back in Hyderabad.  Well, they have one less bag to load as my smaller checked bag didn’t make it here.  It had all the gifts for the locals, all my food and most of my clothes.  But everyone is so gracious to share their food with me.  I haven’t suffered one bit.  I just wanted to have the gifts to hand out before too late in the trip.   You just roll with things, knowing God is sovereign and He would get that bag to me when He wanted me to have it.  I’m afraid I’ve not always been so accepting of airline issues.  This was an opportunity for me to not just redeem myself from previous fits & demands, but realize the change God can work in me, when I truly walk with Him.

We have stopped in Suryapet to visit an Orphanage.  What gorgeous children!  So well-mannered and behaved!  They were beside themselves to welcome us.  I’ll not soon forget those big brown/black eyes.

-continued 9:50p

We’re finally in Vijayawada. The trip took about 9 hours with us stopping for lunch and bathroom breaks (ie squatty potties)  It is a full 9 hour game of chicken with the other vehicle of all shapes and sizes.  We’re at our hotel which is a little nicer than the previous one.  I’m getting sleepy and having a hard time with my pen sliding down the page every few minutes.

Good night.

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There were 16 of us.  16 White Americans making the long trek to Southeastern India.  This is what lay ahead of us as we gathered at the Nashville Airport: approximately 20 hours in the air plus another 6-7 hours on a bus, to reach our final destination.

September 15th (or 16th, 12:40am CST)

Well we made it from Nashville to Detroit where we grabbed our last American meal with joy.  God has been amazingly gracious to give me a window seat from Detroit to Amsterdam as well as from Amsterdam to Hyderabad.  I typically can’t sleep on a plane unless I’m at a window seat where I can lean over a bit.  I took an Ambien in Detroit to help me sleep and apparently it really took as I have no memory of the Amsterdam Airport.  I mean NO memory whatsoever!  I remember feeling dizzy but I have no visuals of what the airport looked like or what we did in our transfer to the other plane.  I am just thankful I am with good Christian folk who didn’t let me wander off or embarrass myself in my impaired state.  At least, not that I know of.

We’re now on the KLM flight to Hyderabad and they don’t have individual movie screens where I can track our flight pattern.  I really wanted to watch us fly over all the mid-eastern countries.  Coming from Detroit to Amsterdam we flew over Greenland, Northern Ireland and England.

I can see the plane’s engine right outside my window and it’s massive.  Glowing in the moonlight it looks like something out of a movie.  As if on cue, the large TV screens have started showing our route.  It’s not in English, but it looks like we have already flown over Tehran and are about to pass Kabul.

There are several VERY unhappy babies on the flight.  Apparently these parents don’t know about baby benedryl.  argh.

Physically I feel pretty good.  I slept pretty soundly and am ready to go.  But we still have a few more hours on this flight and then to the hotel for a few hours of sleep and a shower.  I think I’m going to read now.  Certainly no sleeping with that poor screaming child nearby.

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It has been a long-time dream of mine to go on a foreign mission trip.  And finally it has happened.  Last month, I had the honor of visiting the wonderful people of India.  It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever.  But, Lord have mercy, I’m thrilled to be back in the good ole United States of America.

I plan to spend the next few days posting my journal entries from the trip.  Due to culture shock and simple exhaustion, my writings were pretty rough.  I hope to use this forum to polish those entries in an effort to appropriately convey this amazing experience. 

I had never shared the gospel in the way this trip would call for.  I was more nervous about that than the long flights and scary, unidentifiable foods I would be offered.

I am still amazed and honored that anyone would stop and read anything I have to say.  But it is my prayer these simple entries will spur a new perspective and passion to change our world for Eternity.

Stay tuned.

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