Thursday, April 26, 2012

To India and Back - part 2

Part 1 focused on the difficulty of the actual trip to India.  Part 2 picks up with the first morning of actually being on the ground in our destination.

Day 4 - April 15
  • 8:30am - We walk down the street from our hotel to Santosh's home.  Stares are plenty as four white men, presumably Americans, navigate crossing the busy highway filled with busses, taxis, motorcycles, bicycles, and rickshaws.
  • After breakfast, Santosh gives us each a tradtional Indian shirt, call a Panjabi.  Mine is a little tight since I'm quite a bit larger than the average Indian man.  I feel like John Lennon.
  • We leave for a village called Agopara outside of Malda Town.  We will join them for their church service.  Thirty-five kilometers and one hour later, we arrive.  We are enthusiastically greeted by the villagers.  When it comes time for the offering, bowls of rice are dumped into a community bucket to help feed its pastor.
  • Lunch is wonderful.  No forks or spoons, just the right hand.  It is delicious, but I can't help but wonder what will happen in an hour or so after eating.
  • The village leader, once a drunkard but now a believer, escorts me to our car.  He holds my hand like we are dating.  I have learned that boys and men frequently hold hands if they are good friends.  Don't worry, someone got  a picture.  It will be posted later.
  • Back at the hotel, while taking a nap, I see a lizard at least one foot long crawling along the wall in my bathroom.  He scoots behind the water heater and hides.
  • 5:00pm - We head to Malda Christian Fellowship for church.  Another enthusiastic greeting. Towards the end of the service, one man is definitely in some sort of emotional/spiritual distress.  I can't tell if it is deep remorse and repentance, being overcome by the Holy Spirit, or even some type of exorcism.  After about ten-twelve minutes, Santosh lets us know the man keeps saying he doesn't want to serve God anymore.  Apparently, he is being ostracized and excluded from family and village life.  We surround him in prayer.  Another ten minutes or more and it becomes clear that peace has come to him.
  • 9:30pm - I get ready for bed and close the day in prayer.  I finally know why I'm here.  I'm here because God told me to come.  All that counts is that I was obedient to that call.  That's all that matters.
Day 5 - April 16
  • While taking my shower, I hear a strange clicking noise.  I realize it's my lizard friend, talking to me from behind my water heater.  I see that he is a gecko and only half as large as I thought initially.  He is gone when I return in the evening.  I never saw him again.
  • Today to head out to the village of town of Gazole for our first pastors conference.  For the next two days, we will lead village pastors and evangelists in discipleship training.
  • There are about 30-35 church leaders in attendance, representing over forty churches.  One of the attendees is a 15 year old boy who pastors two village churches.  He hopes to attend Bible college in a couple of years if he can find a sponsor.
  • I am amazed at the copious notes each person is taking.  They clearly are absorbing everything we are saying.
  • By bedtime, my stomach is a little rumbly.  I'm awakened in the middle of the night several times for trips to the bathroom.  I'm not too worried; it feels like I've always at home after eating food that might be too spicy.  I decide to take it easy the next day to be on the safe side.
Day 6 - April 17
  • Today we finish up in Gazole.  I've decided to eat as bland as possible so breakfast is bread and bananas.  At lunch I only take plain rice.  My servers don't speak English, but I rub my stomach and make a face.  They understand, nod, and make a sympathetic face.  I hate it because lunch smells really good.
  • In a lesson on service to one another, Tim leads them in a foot washing service.  The care and love these leaders show to one another as they take turns is moving.  They clearly are a tight group.
  • We finish up by 4:00pm then take a group shot.  I'm the really tall white guy in the back.
  • By dinner, I feel it is safe to eat regular Indian food.  I eat whatever I want for the rest of the week.
  • The biggest a-ha from these two days is the importance of what we taught these leaders.  They have nothing to guide them but the Bible and the Holy Spirit, which by the way is really all you need.  The handouts we gave them and the notes they took will comprise their entire library.  They know their people need to grow in Christ, but they had no idea how to help that along.It gives you a new understanding of why they were so appreciative.