When we arrived in Calcutta I wasn’t sure that I liked India. The people were aggressive, yelling to one another. The traffic is intense, not slowing for people or others. The smells—both good and bad are a little overwhelming. We stayed in Calcutta for 2 nights while Sara had some time to heal, she was extremely constipated and needed to be in a place where she could take her medicine, relax, and rest. We prayed over her, and were so extremely thankful to God for hearing our prayers for movement in her system. It is easy to joke about matters of digestion, but when it comes right down to it, this is a very serious aspect to everyday health. We got tickets for the train after Sara was feeling better.
Now, these were third class tickets which meant that we were not set apart from anyone, nor was there air conditioning. This turned out to be quite, quite fabulous! All throughout our travels Nelson wandered in and out due to a ticketing error resulting in five tickets when we were supposed to be holding six. Noelle, Sara, Rachel, Anna, and I spent the time visiting with one another. Talking about life, dreams, God, hopes, heartaches. Usually in periods of transition we tune out—spending the time listening to music, journaling, reading our bibles, independent time. This time we spent it all very present with one another, which was a special time of connecting. Throughout the twelve hours we spent on the train there were passengers getting on and off checking out what we were doing. Very open stares, and some Indian men even took pictures of us! There were also people selling things. This was the most fun part of the trip! There was a smorgasbord of foreign delicacies marching by us: eggs with special seasoning, pineapples, chai coffees, ice cream, water, and other Indian foods—all day! This was fun to try new foods and interact with the culture in a small way.
Whenever the train would pass through stations you would see people sleeping all over—on the ground, and on benches. Garbage, rats, people—EVERYWHERE. The clothing is very colorful and traditional. Hindi women have red painted on top of their heads along their part line and a red dot in between their eyebrows. Beauty and grime. Wonderful spice smells and filth. People would look into our car with MUCH curiosity. One of the benefits of being in this group is that we can do things that foreigners don’t traditionally do, and more safely because we are all looking out for one another.
After twelve hours on the train it was time to get off and find a taxi to take us the remaining three hours to Kalimpong, which is where the YWAM base and our contacts were located. The road was wickedly wavy. I have a super power. I do. It is that I can sleep anywhere at anytime. While we were driving, it was dark, it was raining, and the six of us (plus the driver and his friend and ALL our bags) were in this SUV type vehicle. The roads were going from extreme right to extreme left with locations sporadically spaced where recent mudslides had occurred, and sweet little waterfalls were peppered throughout the drive. I kept falling asleep! I would wake up only when my head, as I was sitting in the middle, would CRACK against either Sara’s (on my left) or Anna’s (on my right) shoulders! We got to the location and then needed to walk down a series of man-made stairs to the base door. It was a miracle that none of us slipped in the rain as we got in! WOW!
I’ve been pretty sick with the flu the last two days, so I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping, reading, listening to music, and reflecting about the coming end of outreach. I am wondering if I am stepping out enough, being a willing servant for God, doing enough? Being open enough with everyone, spending time with God. My biggest prayer is that the things that I am learning wouldn’t be just for a season, but that I would be learning a lifestyle. A way of intentionally living with God as the focus of my life.
The people here are incredible. As soon as we walked into the YWAM base I felt this warmth, home, hospitality energy. I did ministry with the team on Tuesday. We went to a nearby village and interacted with the children that live there. The mercy ministry team on base teach at two villages 5 days a week, and the children are SO smart, animated, beautiful, sweet, charming…. I could go on and on. We taught them a few songs and read them a bible story. Afterwards we helped them with their English homework (practicing writing the number 16 and making ‘S’s).
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