Please join us in thanking the Lord for safe travels and for His blessings upon our proclamation of the Gospel message. We are in Guntur tonight and will visit the CLCI orphanage and seminary tomorrow. They have a big welcome program all planned. Tonight I take the gang of 16 on a walking tour of the area of Guntur where we are staying and where the CLCI team will be located for the next three weeks. There are a few good restaurants, internet cafes, and shopping areas close by.
I will let Laura Hulke and Kate Friedrichs describe their initial impressions of the India...
Pastor Todd Ohlmann
First of all, I just wanted to thank everyone for your continued support and prayers. It is so reassuring to know that there are people back home praying for our efforts in India and for our safety. It has been an indescribable experience so far.
After what seemed like several days on a plane, we landed in Chennai this morning around 3:30am. It is now 5:45pm here in Chennai, which means that for most of you in the US, it's 6:15am. India has a 11.5 hour time difference because it's split between two time zones, so they just split the difference. There's not much to say about the flight except it was really long - Chicago to London was about 8 hours, and London to Chennai was about 10. However, we were flying on British Airways, so we got a whole bunch of fun stuff like eye masks and toothbrushes and individual TV screens.
It was absolutely surreal to step out of the airport and be in India. It is, of course, quite hot and muggy here, but the hotel we're currently staying in has AC. Our "shower" consists of a bucket and a cup, which makes for an interesting obstacle. this morning, we checked into our hotel and had some time to nap and freshen up after almost an entire day on the plane. Then our group got together in one room and had a brief devotion. We walked outside for a little bit, but we'll probably do more shopping when we come back to Chennai at the end of the trip. We took rickshaws to the mall this afternoon to have pizza with the Koenigs.
My initial impressions of India are that it's very hot and colorful. There are billboards everywhere in both English and another language (Tamil?) that I obviously can't read. People are very eager to get our business, whether it's in the mall, in the rickshaw, or in the street. There's a lot of dust, so I don't know how long I'll be able to wear my contacts without getting frustrated. I brought eye drops, but glasses might be easier. Traffic is crazy. There's no way I'd ever want to drive here. There are so many vehicles on the road, and it seems like they kind of just go wherever they want whenever they want.
Tomorrow we head to Nidibrolu (not sure of that spelling) to visit the CLCI. We'll be on the bus for about eight hours, so I'm hoping to get some more studying and reading done then. Not sure when I'll be able to update next. I would've liked to load some pictures for you all to see, but this computer isn't exactly speedy. Maybe next time.
I'm so excited to head to the villages and spread the Gospel! Thank you all again for your prayers and thoughts.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Hello friends, and greetings from Chennai, India!
Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 6:00 pm
We've arrived in India safe and well! It hasn't even been 24 hours, but it already feels like several days...probably because of all the travelling. We left Chicago on Sudnay evening, we were in London for about 3.5 hours on Monday midday (local time), and arried in Chennai around 3:30 am on Tuesday. With the time changes, it was the fastest Monday I've ever had! I'm still recovering from the 18 hours in an airplane, though! ;)
India is truly amazing! There's no way I could give a description that would give it justice, but if I had to pick one word, it would be "over-stimulation." It feels there is a lot of everything everwhere -- people, colorful clothing, dust, signs (in Hindi, English, and probably other languages I don't recognize!), traffic (more on that later....), heat, shops.... The hotel we are staying at seems to be nice for the area -- everyone has a bed and a working TV (although most of the channels are in Hindi or another language), and some of the rooms have AC! I took a shower with a bucket and cup for the first time...perhaps tonight we'll figure out how the showerhead works!
We went to the mall today and met with Misionary Koenig and his wife. They treated us to Pizza Hut! The mall had so many shops with beautiful Inidian clothing and souveniers. The most entertaining part thus far, though, has been the driving...well, riding -- there's no way I'd drive here! First of all, they drive on the left side of the road -- that was new to me! The traffic is crazy with vehicles passing on either side of each other (often within 12 inches!), crossing the "center line", cutting across traffic to turn, and honking at each other to let the next vehicle know they're coming! We rode in a "rickshaw" which is a small, yellow, open-air vehicle with 3 wheels...so it's got a tight turning radius! It fits 3 people in the back fairly comfortably and a driver in the front. (Although I've heard that Indians can fit 8 people in a rickshaw!) Our entire group (16 people) went to the mall in about 6 rickshaws, and it felt like the Amazing Race because we kept passing each other on the road. At one point Pastor O. was close enough to reach over and tap Rick N. in the rickshaw next to us!
Probably the saddest part so far is seeing all these people and knowing that only a handful of them know the true God and His Son Jesus. It's very humbling, and it make me incredibly thankful to have been raised in God's Wrd and with the knowledge of Christ's salvation. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Tomorrow we'll be heading up to the CLCI (an 8 hour bus ride), where I will be staying for pretty much the rest of my trip. (Visit www.LutheranMissions.com for more details on the CLCI.) I'll be working in the orphanage there, and going to nearby villages in the evenings to teach vacation bible school to children and tell them about Christ! What a blessed opportunity! This, of course, is the main purpose of our trip, and I'm really looking forward to seing how Chrsit will bless our work. I pray that He will give us strength and the words to say, so His name may be glorified!
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!
Love in Christ,