Here's my most recent India update. There's much to say, so I've tried to divide it by topic and day. Enjoy!
KateWednesday, July 11, 2007
A long ride....
What a day of blessings! It started out rather long and slow, but the end of the day was filled with great things! We left Chennai in the morning for an 8 hour bus ride up to Guntur (in Andhra Pradesh state) which is closer to the CLCI. The CLCI seminary and orphanage are actually located in the town of Nidubrolu which is, I think, about a 45 minute ride south of Guntur. The bus ride felt long, and it wasn't until after 2:30 that we had dinner at an "interesting" restaurant on the side of the road. We actually sat outside under little "hut" structures...I think the Indian people who were there were surprised to see 16 white people at the restaurant! We definitely stand out in a crowd -- I guess it's part of the experience! (more on that later)
What a sight!
The very end of the bus ride was actually the best part of the day! I had been napping, and awoke to some commotion and much honking (which actually isn't strange at all -- honking is a requirement for driving in India!). I sat up and Alison directed me to look toward the front of the bus. What I saw outside was the most delightful sight -- a white car with a banner that said "CLCI" was leading us to our hotel! And to top it off, Pastor Jyothi Benjamin later stepped out to direct us, and he was wearing a green Immanuel (ILC) t-shirt! It was so amazing! Joy and excitement filled my heart, to know that here -- halfway around the world in this vastly different country! -- were my brothers and sisters in Christ who share the same faith and worship the same true God! What an incredible blessing! I'm really looking forward to meeting more of the people in the CLCI, and to worship with them in the coming weeks!
Arriving in Guntur
One nice thing about arriving in Guntur is that I will not have to be travelling again until the end of the trip when we return to Chennai to go home. As I may have said before, I will be working with the orphans and congregations in the CLCI, which means Guntur is my home base. The hotel we are staying in is rather nice -- we actually have a bathtub, and the "boys" (the staff) will bring us coffee or tea in the morning and do our laundry for us!
In the evening, we walked around and found the Internet and phone shops, a place where we can buy bottled water (very important!), and a good restaurant -- the Palms (I think that's the name.). We ate there for dinner, and I discovered some more Indian food that I enjoy! Mmmm...gulab jamoon -- it's a delicious dessert that's similar to a donut hole covered in syrup...only better! I think I'm going to get used to being here! :)
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Today we saw a Buddhist temple that is being built and a Buddhist museum. It's so sad to see what the people do for these false gods. The artwork was carvings were very intricate, and the building itself was quite large, but it saddens me to think that they put all this time and effort into something that can do nothing for them. Someone said it would take them another two years to finish it! One entertaining part of the trip, however, was a gentleman who was laying on a bed of nails. He even had people walk across him! Yikes!
Visiting the CLCI --
Come, Now is the Time to Worship!
In the evening we went down to Nidobrulu to the CLCI compound (seminary and orphanage). We were welcomed like royalty! They had a welcome service, banners with all of our names, and even flower leis for us! Everything was so beautiful and filled with color! The worship here is different from the traditional American service that I'm sure you're all used to. First of all, we sat outside in the open air of the courtyard. Colorful lights hung down the outer walls, and many green plants filled the space. As with everything in India, color was everywhere! The service included much singing and dancing, and some clapping and waving of arms...all in praise for our Savior God! Pastor Jyothi Benjamin, Pastor Nireekshana Benjamin, Pastor Ohlmann, and Pastor Baker all spoke of God's blessings, as well. One thing that was definitely different was that most of the service was in Telegu! And when Pastor Ohlmann and Pastor Baker spoke, Brother Jyothi translated for them. :) Even though the language was different, it was still so evident that God was at the center of the worship and His name was being praised!
The joy of the children!
Probably the most entertaining part of the evening was the children! They are such a joy and filled with joy for the Lord! When we first arrived, there were not many in sight, but when the service began, there were probably 50 kids (30-35 orphans) sitting in the front, laughing and looking at all of us! They seemed even more excited to see us than we were to see them! As I was taking photos, one girl caught my eye, and I winked at her. She was excited, and she mimicked me by winking back! We actually ended up winking, waving, and smiling back and forth at each other for much of the night! Some of the other mission helpers also joined in on the fun...she would catch one person's attention and wink, and then see another person, and wink again, and then smile with delight! She even caught Pastor Ohlmann's eye, and I saw him wink at her, too!
Friday, July 13, 2007
Plans for today....
Today I get to go back to the orphanage to see the children again! In the evening, we'll be going to a village to teach our first VBS lesson. I'm excited to see another congregation and to tell the children about Christ, but I'm also somewhat nervous about teaching. My story is the Crucifixion and Resurrection, so it's incredibly important! I know that God will give me the words, but if you all could say an extra prayer for me and the other volunteers, that would be great. Thank you!
Love in Christ,