Namaste. Yes, learned another way of saying, “Hello”! from Kalimpong India. Updating you from an internet cafe! I hope that this posting finds you all doing extremely well and tremendously blessed. Thank you for your prayers and support and encouragement! You are such a blessing to have on this journey.
The Southeast Asia team, that I am so delighted to be a part of, and I have safely arrived at the YWAM base in Kalimpong India where we will be staying for the next (almost) three weeks. The six of us (Anna, Nelson, Noelle, Sara, Rachel, and myself) began our journey a few days ago. On Friday night we took a songtao (pickup that has a roof and two bench seats on either side in the bed of the truck) from the YWAM base in Bangkok Thailand to the airport. Moving anywhere with six people and their day bags AND their massive hiking back packs is quite an undertaking! We flew into Kolkatta India after a refreshing two hour flight. I even got to eat a vegetarian-indian-curry-dish! YUM!
Then we landed in Kolkotta. This city is SO big, busy, colorful, smelly, and… a little overwhemling. On the taxi ride from the airport to find a guesthouse to stay the streets where fascinating. The taxis are old– each one is BRIGHT yellow and makes me think of the taxis on the movie ‘who framed roger rabitt’ ! THe streets are covered in litter and debris. Rats run along the sidewalks, people were sleeping everywhere on the ground. In cars. On top of cars. Garbage, rats, and people, everywhere. So much poverty. I had a 500 ruppee note (which is about $US11) and had trouble finding people to break this amount. Kolkatta is where Mother Teresa’s ministry was, and after walking on the streets here? I have a much clearer idea of her passion, fire, and strength. Or, more acurately, the Lord’s strength. I’m such a romantic, and my tendency is to romanticize situations.There isn’t anything light or easy about the streets of Kolkatta. The people are more loud, and seem to enjoy arguing. This makes me step back, but God has put many gentle people in my path. We stayed two nights in Kolkotta because Sara had gotten sick. She is better now, PRAISE GOD! and so we continued on our way after two nights.
We traveled by train to get to northern India. We were in a sleeper car. You could sit on the two facing bench seats OR flip the backs up to create six sleeping spaces. Six of us, and somehow we accidentally and somehow had only five tickets. You could sit anywhere that was open until the ticket-checking-guy came by. We spent twelve hours on the train. SO interesting: all day people would come by selling little coffees and chai teas, trinkets, gadgets, music, blessings, snacks (both recognizable and unrecognizable), fruit, ice cream, water… it was a smorsgaborg! We all got serenaded by and Indian man. This was all fun and smiles until the singer demanded payment. We learned, finally, to tell people ‘no’ before they did a ‘service’ for us.
Gorgeous people, such striking features. There were two young boys at a stop who walked back and forth by my window. I waived and smiled back at them during the stop until we pulled away. There were a handful of travelers keeping an eye on us, and helping us not pay too much for the snacks, and having simple converstaions. This was so much fun. We all really enjoyed this part of the transit! After the twelve hour train ride, we hired a taxi to take us the last three hours of our journey. There was a sweet, sweet little boy with only one eye here. He pointed at Sara and she gave him her coffee she had just bought. And her museli in her purse. This seven year old (ish) little boy proceeded to pour the cereal into his coffee and ENJOY it. He was so sweet! Instead of nodding their heads for ‘yes’ Indians here do a circular motion and it is so much fun. He shook our hands and smiled at us, and I am pretty sure when I go to heaven Jesus is going to say, “Yes. That was me.”
The road we traveled on was VERY CURVY. Let me say this one more time VERY CURVY. Three hours going from extreme lefts to extreme rights weaving back and forth, at night, in the rain. We were so glad to get to our location! We had a full day of traveling, and after arriving at the YWAM base, I was so ready for a shower and sleep. I have to tell you that God has blessed me with the ability to sleep anywhere, and anytime. On the three hour taxi ride? I did fall asleep– several times! I was sitting between Anna and Sara and whenever I would fall asleep my head would CRACK on Sara or Anna’s shoulders. Haha!
What an adventure. As we looked out of the train and saw the India landscape go by, I think back to what I was doing a year ago, and just praise God. He has such incredible plans for all of us! Today the DTS team here in Kalimpong graduated! Seeing their ceremony and hearing there stories of their lectures and outreach in Nepal was a huge treat. God is doing so many similar and exciting things all over the world and the differences in cultures makes them each unique.
I think of and pray for you guys often. Seeing certain things, and smelling different smells reminds of me of home, family, and friends.
Thank you for journeying with me. I am SO blessed to have you in my life.
Big blessings, HUGS, and love,
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