Just in case you thought this stuff might be glamorous, let me recap the last roughly 72 hours for you:
I have done a lot of flying. In that flying, I have gotten nauseous from the altitude and turbulence, been slept on by a man from Bali, listened to two screaming babies, and watched the first five minutes of two films.
Not only was I the only, and I do mean only, white woman traveling on any of my aircrafts, I was also the only woman traveling alone. That got me some strange looks. In one of the terminals, a man across from me locked eyes with me, and then started waving and gesturing while angrily talking to his wife. Thank you Jesus, that I did not speak his language. I smiled and stared him down until he clearly felt uncomfortable and stopped.
I have accidentally paid eight dollars for a cup of airport coffee.
I’ve been detained by Indian customs and “questioned” by four different custom officials. I swear to you, I thought I was coming home then. They asked every question except for "Are you a Christian?" I prepared in my heart not to lie if that question was asked, for I am no Peter. I still have no clue why they let me go. My answers were awful. Seriously, straight up awful.
I have spent nine hours delayed at a terminal in Hyderabad because of flooding in Rajahmundry.It is here that I met another American who has travelled to over 15 countries in the last six years, sponsors 20-some children in India, makes several hundred thousand a year working for a Saudi oil company, and is looking for medical personnel to help him start a compound with a school, medical facility, orphanage, and more…. Our flight delay was spent talking, mostly as I listened to him dream and talk about the importance of having purpose. Funny how those people just “coincidentally” happen upon your path, no?
I have burned my esophagus with the spiciest food on the planet, offered to me as a complimentary meal for my flight delay.
I have taken a two-hour car ride through India with Miriam, the most personable woman I know. Bless my soul, that car ride….
I have seen seven men peeing on the side of the road & one woman with her skirt around her knees. Heaven help me, I have no idea why.
Even though my hair was a greasy mess, I stunk, and I looked like death-warmed over, I was showered with flowers and welcomed like royalty to a beautiful guesthouse in the middle of the slums.
I have slept on and off for over 12 hours and been awaken by some strange Indian music that blared throughout the town from 5:00 to 6:00 AM. I have since learned that it was worship. Why people were worshipping at 5:00 AM, while it was still dark out, I have yet to understand.
I have showered in the most freezing water known to man before realizing that you can only use one handle at a time, and that the hot water doesn’t work when the cold water is on. I promptly turned the cold water off and was then greeted with the most scalding water known to man. Cold showers it is.
The power has shut off twice. Apparently there are power outages for about 8 hours each day. Good times!
I have blown my phone charger, because us white people don't remember that you need both a converter and an adapter for the voltage differences.
I have met the kindest and sweetest Dr. Annie and her mother (still unsure of her name….everyone just refers to her as Annie’s mother?) Her first question to me was, “What do you need to do for your studies?”
When I told her that this wasn’t a part of my studies she said,
“Well then why did you come? How did you hear about us?”
I explained very briefly the process of me coming and she said, “Oh you are very kind. Everyone is so afraid. We never get visitors! They are afraid of infection, but by God’s grace it is very good here.”
This morning we went to church. As we walked in, every head turned and gawked at the white woman in a skirt. Dr. Annie sat me in the front row, and everyone stared.
Then when the service- or was it worship?- began, the women all covered there heads. Me? No. I had forgotten to bring a headscarf. Oy.
I swear, I understood not one. single. word. of that sermon, or of the worship. I prayed so hard that it would be like they were speaking in tongues, and I would have the gift of interpretation. Real Pentecostal stuff, ya know?
It did not work.
They walked the offering bag around, and everyone, including the children, had something to put in it. Me? Nope. I had not brought my purse. Nor do I know the conversion rate, yet. With my luck, I would have put 200 dollars in and not realized it.
We walked back to the guesthouse & everyone gathered in rows as we walked through. I just wanted to hang out with them and play with the children, but I already sensed the divide that exists in their minds. We are sick. We are untouchable.
Today I’ll let it slide, as I’m still getting used to everything, but get ready my Indian friends, because you are touchable to Jesus and you are touchable me.
And now I sit writing. A breeze is blowing. There’s a cow (or maybe it’s a bison...or was it a buffalo?) off to my right next to a huge mound of straw that I see absolutely no purpose for.
Today we will have a day of rest, which is wonderful, because, lets be honest, I feel a little bit like I’ve been hit by a bus and don’t know which way is up, but tomorrow we will begin work (I still have no idea what work I’ll be doing…) at 7:30AM.
It’s going well, folks. It’s going well.
Welcome to India!
Clearly, I have no idea what I'm doing and while it’s not glamorous, I’m enjoying every single minute. I swear, a part of me that was dead has come alive. Jesus is good like that.
Like Dr. Annie said, “It is very good here.”