We were so busy our last two weeks in India I didn’t have the opportunity to blog! I’m home now in Tennessee working on a presentation of our journey and experiences working with the Rajahmundry church. The last weeks were busy and I have a lot to tell you about, so I will keep adding to the blog as long as I have something to say. Everyone who knows me will tell you I am seldom at a loss for words! LOL!!
My last report was about the building dedication in Seetanagaram on Monday, February 15. With everyone back in the game there was a revival of me going to Agra and Delhi for a few days to see some of the sights in India.
Harry had encouraged me from our first meeting about the mission to take a few days on the train and see the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, India Gate, etc… He argued that if for some reason I was not able to return to India, I would regret not seeing one of the greatest wonders of the world. With everyone displaced and Raja, who was going to accompany me on the trip, sick with strep throat, I had pretty much written off the idea. I was the only one there to preach the meetings that Sudarsana had scheduled in the villages and those were my first responsibility. However, Harry and Sudarsana were back, Raja needed to rest, and Bobby and Swetha decided on Tuesday morning they would like to go with me, so the trip was on!
Our train was supposed to leave at 6:18 pm that night and arrive at 1 am in Agra on Thursday; however, the trains there run on Indian time. Indian time is much slower than normal time, much as the people themselves, they are not very punctual. For instance, church services are supposed to begin at 10 am on Sunday and that’s about when Sudarsana begins to dress for services, and he’s the preacher! A few people will be in the meeting hall when the singing starts, and by the time you are ready to preach, it will be full. When you finish your sermon the hall is packed all the way out the door and it’s noon! Except for the airline, nothing I participated in while I was there for nearly five weeks started or finished when it was scheduled. Starting times are merely a suggestion.
Being educated and from the north of India, Jonathon spoke very good English and we had a couple of conversations that lasted over an hour. I thoroughly enjoyed his company and conversation. He helped me to understand a little better how the Indian people think and the political winds that are beginning to change about Christianity in India.
I’m glad I was able to travel by train in India because trains are so much of what has made India the country it is today. I met several interesting Indians and saw many characters along the way. The sights along the tracks were beautiful, sad, funny and sometimes familiar. The strangest thing I saw, and would have loved to have a picture of, was a large group of shacks in a garbage dump with corrugated metal roofs held down by big rocks, all with satellite dishes! Such a contrast of poverty and technology is everywhere. China dumps all their phones with manufacturing problems in India. Usually it is nothing more than a software glitch or something that doesn’t affect the phones intended use, to make phone calls. An Indian can pay just a few rupees a month for basic phone service, so nearly everyone there has a phone. Kids on old broken down bicycles living on the street have cell phones!
Our trip was pleasant but long. Even when you are able to sleep you have to be aware if there is anyone unexpected in your space because of theft. Some passengers use chains and padlocks to secure their luggage under their seats. It’s not unheard of a passenger arriving in Delhi not able to find their shoes and find them for sell on a cart outside of the train station as they are leaving. Usually the price isn’t much to purchase your own shoes back! LOL!!