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Thursday, May 26, 2011

David's India Posts

Well, despite the stomach illness I've had for almost 2 weeks, I'm finally posting about our trip to Mumbai. It was definitely an adventure! Both good and bad moments, and lots of in-between. But before I post my own thoughts, I thought it would be insightful to post David's daily emails while we were there. So, here they are, for your reading pleasure!
~ May 11, 2011 ~ Good Morning from India
Good morning. In our second day here in India and I think the thing that is most overwhelming is the level of Poverty here. Its deafening, it so much part of the way they live. People constantly asking for money or grabbing for you, putting their hands to their mouth and rubbing their belly to let you know they are hungry. The thing is, you can tell some of them are not faking. This is the real deal man. Went out yesterday to walk the neighborhood and quickly realized were not in Kansas anymore toto. Feces and dead rats lying about. People lying in the street and in every crevice you could find. Imagine your the center of peoples attention. As were walking the street, it became evident very quickly that we are the outsiders, the minority so to speak. For those of you who have lived or gone to a third world nation, you know what i am talking about. For those of you who have never gone to another country....well there is no way to describe the desperateness of peoples lives here. We are in a dump of a hotel and yet we are living like kings compared to these people. Its mass chaos here to :) honking and noise like you would not believe. But its the poverty, as an American you have to steel yourself and keep walking. Give on dime to someone and you will be surrounded in moments. People are grabbing you, it can be unsettling at times. This is how the rest of the world lives I keep telling myself. I thought I saw poverty in America..HA!!! that poverty is like disneyland compared to what i am seeing here. The smells are overwhelming. Poop mixed with Urine mixed with the smell of cooking food mixed with sweat and body odor. The nasal senses are on overlaod while your ears are on overload while the colors and cars are coming after you like crazy. Oh and every tried to cross a street in America.....PIECE of cake. We crossed the road yesterday and it was like playing dodge ball except with cars and motorcycles and people zooming across you at speeds that should be illegal. LOL!!! This my Friends is India in a small nutshell. Crazy, loud and expressive. Like nothing I have ever experienced. Yet the people are so nice and so curios to talk to you. I feel safe.
~ May 12, 2011 ~ Black Market Steak
You guessed it. Got me a black market steak. Steak in India. LOL this place never ceases to amaze. Now I know what your thinking...steak in India. What does that taste like? Well not to great to be honest....Have you ever seen some of the cows here...Yeah, exactly. Not to pretty to look at. Meals are cheap here. Me and Heather are eating for about 9-12 dollars a day. And we are eating big meals and getting full. The 1.5 hour taxi ride from the airport cost 9 bucks. We have a cafe right outside the hotel. Real nice and real cheap. The heat here is unbelievable. The humidity even worse. Your wet the moment you walk out the door. Today we are going to try to get out to the other parts of the city. It has taken us this long to acclimate to the time difference. 12 hours does not sound like a lot but believe me, your body knows. As I said, people are very friendly and curious about us. We have had no problems so far.
~ May 13, 2011 ~ Calm...Whats That?
So we ventured out yesterday to Colaba Market, the Gateway of India and the Oberi Hotel.

There is no such thing as calm here. Everything is at a frenetic and frantic pace. We have had the adventure of riding several cabs yesterday. Lets just say, getting close in America while driving is nothing! These Indians have getting close down to a science. Never ever put your hand out the window it it might be taken off by a car going in the opposite direction. Thats how close they get and in high speed. The lights in the road mean nothing. Running red lights...no problem, dodging massive amounts of pedestrians who do not use sidewalks....no problem, dodging cows and chickens and dogs and goats....no problem. All done at high speed and plenty of horn honking. Horn honking here is an art form as well. All you hear, 24-7 is horns honking. Not sure what it really means as they honk just to honk. In America honking is for letting that driver know your not to happy or to get someones attention. Yet here, they just honk. No rhyme or reason that they do it. I watched one of the taxi drivers yesterday just honk...even when we were stopped in traffic. LOL and he was smiling the whole time. Excited to have an actual American in his cab. In fact we went to a restaurant yesterday and the guard wanted to shake my hand. People want to take pictures with you. Your the center of attention. Colaba Market was an experience. Basically a ton of stands comprising several blocks of little markets, fruit stands etc. I don't know how to describe it other than something you would see on National Geographic. Smoke filling the air, massive amounts of people. Animals everywhere and smells and sounds that just overwhelm you. Just an open vegetable market. I sat and watched a live chicken butchered. Whack and the head was gone and the chickens body going the opposite direction........ Funny the guy offered me the chicken for like 40 rupees. I thought...cool where am I gonna cook a dead chicken bought in Colaba. I didn't take the chicken obviously but they had live ones everywhere and that was tempting. LOL!!!! The Gateway of India and Oberi Hotel were amazing. Just simply amazing. I have pictures. Will share when I get back and can post..
~ May 15, 2011 ~ Fun in the Sun In India
The last two days have been amazing. Two nights ago we went to the Queens Necklace, Marine Drive. Basically you can see the whole city skyline. It was amazing. We have video and pictures. I got some real Chicken Tandoori. Wow, HOT!!!!! Burn in and burn out. Oh and real Mango Lassi. Yummy Yummy Yummy. That was fun but church was the most amazing experience yet. Yesterday we had the privelage of going to The Door Christian Center in Thane West. This is about 2 hours away from us in a Taxi. The cab ride was eye opening. The driver told us to lock our doors because we were going to be going through some real rough areas. Again abject poverty like you could not imagine. Tears came to my eyes. I can't describe it. Poverty like I have never seen before. I thought it was bad where I am staying but nothing compared to this.
After Arriving in a very interesting part of town, Pastor Sandheep met us before service and we had breakfast at Mcdonalds. This Pastor was very genuine and you could hear in his voice and mannerisms his desire to see the Nation of India won for Christ. He explained the deep need for investment in money and in people to see this harvest field won. Again this is the roughest neighborhood I have ever been in. He explained how he was discipled and became the Pastor of the church. We took a rickshaw to the church and a couple of his disciples automatically took interest in the "white guy from America" I did not want to be the center of attention but it became apparent really quickly that my wish was not going to be granted. Indians are very personal and ask very personal questions. Me and Heather have no problem with that and answered a host of questions. Everything from what we did for a living, to our church, our family and even about our children. What people were like in America etc. Everyone wanted to shack our hands and talk to us. I mean EVERYONE!!!! We prayed and it was the most amazing thing to hear the boom of prayer in Hindi and us in English. After prayer, more and more people came and more and more people wanted to talk to us. Remember, were in India so there is no Air Conditioning. Its extremely hot and very very humid. They did have fans but it was like being in an oven. Yet people, including us, were happy to be in Gods presence. We were all sweated out by the time song service began. Whoooo we what a song service we had. I had no Idea what was being sung other than when they did songs in English but boy we had us a time in Gods presence. Right before Pastor Sandheeps sermon, he asked me to give a testimony. I said yes. I gave a testimony and then off Pastor Sandheep went to peach. He translated my testimony to Hindi. It was a very amazing moment as I realized I better come to the pulpit was something good to say. By the way, I will never complain about wearing a tie in America. After you have worn one here, no amount of hottness or humidity will every bother you again. LOL. When I was testifying you could tell these people were listening. They leaned forward smiled and made lots of eye contact. These people were HAPPY to be in church. When I realized how far some of them walked or took a rickshaw taxi I realized we are whiners in America. These people gladly will walk miles in scorching heat and humidity just to come to church or go to outreach. And all dressed up to!!!!! They wanted to be in church people.... they wanted to be in Gods presence and were not embarrased to make some NOISE in song service. I have some video. It should be required watching to see how these people outdo us with so much less than us. Thats another thing. A dollar for these people is like a windfall. Now not all of India is poor, but I can tell you than looking around the church, I realized I was not in middle class America. A dollar was a lot for these people. The neighborhood was shacks and trash strewn about all over the place. The smell was nothing I can explain. Yet the presence of God was there. When offering time came as it was coming to me I could see people throwing in 5-10 rupees. Here were POOR shack dwelling apartment dwelling people giving in the offering!!!! All of them!!!!! Not one person did not give. I will not say how much I gave, but it was signifigant. I made sure both me and Heather outgave everyone combined. Were the Americans, were the ones suppose to be giving, were the ones with the resources. Why are we so stingy. Why are we so flipping arrogant? Why are we so selfish when you see these poor people giving, America, Church, we should feel the sting of shame. This is basically a self supported church in a poor nation. Anyway I digress..... I will make it a point to have something to give in EVERY offering. Pastor Sandheep preached in Hindi so I basically nodded my head and said amen when other people did. Oh by the way. Women sit on one side men on the other. So Heather sat on the right side of the church with the women and I sat on the left with men. After service we gave gifts both to the pastor and his wife. They both seemed intrigued by our Gifts. A tie for him and a pair of Gold earrings for her. Pastor Sandheep gave me a bible in Hind/English. Wow, I was humbled. What an amazing gift of kindness. He told me I might need it one day. Heather was gifted a chocolate candy bar. That is big time here. Chocolate gift is very prized here. I was invited to stay the day with a family but felt in my heart to decline. I was the one with money, so I took Pastor Sandheep and his wife Margaret and a disciple named moses to eat. I told them ANYWHERE they wanted to go. Well no joke they took me to a 4 star restaurant. Pastor Sandheep pulled me aside and said we could go to Mcdonalds instead. He told me the price per person and you could see a bit of worry in his face. I smiled and said no, were were going to eat at this restaurant, since he picked it and price was not an issue. The price... for a four star restaurant... 9 bucks a person. If that does not humble you...wow your pretty cold. If you could have seen the look on the face of this pastor and his wife and disciple, man it was priceless. The amazing thing is every time it came to pay for anything, you literally had to fight people to pay the bill first. Everyone wanted to pay, but I would not let them. I doubt any of them could have afforded such a high extravagent price. Now what pastor case tells me when we go out to eat makes sense. These people have NOTHING and yet they want to pay because your the guest. Wow I am ashamed at how we act in the states. Bill comes and we all dash for the bathroom. Funny, that happens during the offering to. Anyway I digress again. Walking in Rural India with women dressed in Saris and men in dress clothes was an experience. Taking a rickshaw was a crazy experience. Dodging traffic, going head on with traffic. It was a crazy crazy experience. We were the outsiders yet accepted in the the church. It was like being in a fellowship church in the states. Nothing different except the language. Again. Walking in rural India will make you realize, we have more than enough in the states. In fact I would go so far to say we have to much. We need to start giving till it hurts people. When you see small children eating off of of the dirt and people cooking in open dirt pits...yeah we have it good Americans. One last thought. The people here are so poor and yet they sacrifice everything to serve God in a country that is primarily Hindu / Muslim. They are not ashamed to be saved and are proud to be the Church of Christ. We could learn something from their sacrifice in giving and going into all the world.
~ May 16, 2011 ~ It finally Happened....
It finally happened... some big hairy crawly thing bit me on my left leg yesterday and drew blood. Could not tell you what it was, but the hotel owner assured me not to be concerned to much. I thought yeah right...some hairy looking thing just bit me and I have no idea what it was. Heather saw the blood and was some what concerned. I found it funny that I have avoided dogs, cows, chickens, mosquitos and spiders and crazy cab drivers and yet the first blood drawn is by some creepy crawly I cant even describe to you. Funny enough, I had seen the stupid thing the day before crawl by, but he didn't seem concerned with me nor I with him. Should have known the little sucker was gonna nail me in the leg. My leg where the wound is, is scabbed over and itchy but nothing of alarm. So that is how my day started yesterday.  Initially all we wanted to do was go to Colaba Causeway, a sort of 16th street mall, except much more packed and much bigger length wise. We had met a driver a couple of days ago who had taken us to Thane West for church. We liked him so we called him and he picked us up. Because of a translation error the driver thought we were hiring him for the day. LOL!!! So it turned out we had a driver for the entire day to take us anywhere and everywhere. So off we went to all the sights of Mumbai. The funny thing is that he took us to all the Bollywood actors houses. We had no idea who most of these people are, just smiled and nodded as if we knew. He even drove us by the Prime Ministers house and the Police Chiefs house. On Recomendation of Pastor Dodds wife, we went to a place called Luckys in an area called Bandra. Since we had the cab driver all day, it is customary to take the cab driver to lunch and pay for his meal. It was an interesting thing to watch this guy eat. He was very helpful getting us a table and asking for the things we needed. I was still trying to figure out how to eat with just my right hand. No easy feat for a guy who has eaten with both hands all his life. The driver was laughing at me, people were watching this American fumble around trying to figure out stuff. What an adventure. At Colaba Causeway we bought some gifts and learned the art of haggle. Everything for the most part is able to be haggled here.  We got some great footage of even more traffic than you can imagine. Crazy crazy crazy traffic. Other than my furry little friend who decided to take a taste of me, it was a rather interesting day. Before I close, I wanted to clarify my statements yesterday. I did not want to come off as judgemental and condescending. I guess it might have come off that way. A Pastor who I respect very much and have a great deal of admiration for pointed out to me that the United States is in fact the biggest giver to the Missionary in history. And he is right. America has given a lot for Pastors to go overseas and do the work that they do. As he also pointed out, Stinginess is everywhere, even in India and again I could not agree more. My words did not exactly come out as I had hoped. So if I offended or came off as rude I apologize. I think the thing I was trying to say is we can never outgive God and in a way I was projecting my own shortcomings in giving. So really it was a call to my heart to sacrifice and give more to the local church and World Missions.  Below is a note from Heather since someone asked why you had not heard from Heather. I promise, I did not lock her up with key and I am giving her freedom to say whatever she wishes...........
Well, hello there all, hope you are all doing well back in our beloved USA! Let's just say, I finally realized how blessed I truly am to have been born in "Umrica" lol! I can finally say that I have faced culture shock! All the preparations a person could make in 3 years (books, movies, news, online blogs and such) cannot ever truly prepare a person for coming to India! And Mumbai has a lot of western influence even. It all started with the extremely LONG plane ride from Newark, NJ to Mumbai! We lost all track of time during that 15 hours. When we finally arrived here, it was near 11pm I think, and then we had to go through immigration, wait for our bags at baggage check, go through customs, then on to exchange our money and get the prepaid taxi. And this was just all in Mumbai airport! So, I thought, "ok, I can handle this India thing..." LOL!!!! Major misconception! As soon as we walked out the doors of the airport, it hit me! There was a huge crowd of people waiting for arrivals, and a whole host of taxiwallahs wanting our business. With the help of one nice Indian lady, we got to where the prepaid taxis were, but were still a bit skeptical. We got in our cab, and then proceeded through the city to our hotel. Remember, it's around midnight now, so it's pitch black, and Indian are very energy conservationist, and thus not too many street lights...actually, I don't think I've seen many at all! So we are basically in another country, with an unknown taxi driver, and it's pitch black!!! After a drive, we made it to the neighborhood, but the taxidriver didn't know where our hotel was, so in the dark of night, he had to pull over and ask a stranger to direct us. But you know, it seems that most of the people here in India are very happy and willing to give directions to places. We finally made it to the hotel, which was decent enough thankfully. I was worried about the various negative reviews of most of the cheaper/budget hotels. But we have been in a safe, mostly clean place. Anyway, we slept pretty good I think that first night. The rest of the week have just been a series of ups and downs, especially for me. David is easy-going, and I'm the cautious one. So, I think this trip was harder on me than I could have imagined, but all in all, it has been a very good experience for both of us. Despite lots of tummy issues (me) and bug bites (David), we are well, and have gotten a bit more comfortable with things. I still have my moments of worry, but not as much as the beginning. My favorite part of this whole trip was going to the Thane church, which was about an hour away. It doesn't matter where on this earth you are, our fellowship churches all have the same wonderful spirit! Even though this church is located in a very rural area, I felt more at peace and welcome than anywhere else. As soon as I saw the fellowship "globe on fire", I just broke down inside, and thanked God for this fellowship! Praise God for Indian brothers and sisters as well. They were so friendly and happy, despite their poverty. I knew these people loved Jesus. They even sing most of their songs in Hindi and English both. That was great for us! But the sad thing is....they are the only church in this area now. So my heart was thouroughly touched by the need here. How many others could know Jesus if only given the opportunity? Despite my original feelings of fear and hate for being here on arrival, God touched my heart again. I immediately thought of the Las Vegas, NM church, and how everyone says that the church is the only thing there. That's how I felt about the Thane church. Nothing else to live for but Jesus and church.  Well, I guess I better close my novel for now...I'll have more thoughts that will surface from my heart and mind when I get back, and plan to put them on my blog. God bless you all, and please keep us, and the Thane church in your prayers! We'll see most of you soon.
~ May 17, 2011 ~ Final Day in India
Well its finally here. The last day in India. We are broke, tired and ready to come home. Our flight leaves real late tonight so we have to either hang out at the airport all day or find something to do since we have to check out of the hotel at noon. Its been an experience. One that I am glad to have experienced. So many images are burnt in my mind of things here. So many experiences and thoughts and things that will stay with me forever.To be honest, the highlight was being in church. That experience alone was worth coming. In leaving, in one sense I am very very sad because this is a great place to be, and in another I am glad to leave to come back to my church and my people and the things that are familiar to me. LOl I have gotten use to no wash cloths, weird toilets and no sense of personal space or hygeine. I have almost gotten used to massive amounts of people and chaos in the streets. I think I might have actually figured out the whole honking scheme. Constant honking but there is a method to the madness. It will be nice to come back to America where I am not the center of peoples attention. I am not use to being photographed so much. Random people wanting photos with the Americans. Random Handshakes and constant stares :) We went to Mcdonalds yesterday and saw all the youth hanging out. We were stirred by the massive need here. Yes we traveled 10,297 miles to go to a Mcdonalds. Definately different. No Beef but hey, Chicken is cool. Mostly went to Mcdonalds because were stinking broke. Yes even in India, you can chow down on a cheap meal. Not cheap by their standards but about 7 bucks for two full meals for us. Today the meal was egg omeletes and chai. I want to thank you all for your prayers. We have felt them. We are excited to get back to life and to ministry and work etc. For those of you in the Denver Area, at my house a coffee fellowship at 7 PM on Friday. Bring games if you wish and lets have a party!!!!!

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