Welcome to India. Ok, so I have possibly already worn my welcome slightly...I have now been here for 15 days, if you don't count the time it took me to travel from the States. I feel as if I have already lived a legitimately lengthy lifetime since I have arrived in this mysterious place that is India. If you sense an air of sarcasm in my tone, you would be correct in assuming that adjusting to life here isn't all sitars, incense, and maharajahs. However, dear India, I must admit you have captured my heart in a way that surprised me, the result of a complex intertwining of ugly and beautiful, elegant and hideous, intoxicating and gag-worthy.
I would like to start from the beginning but alas, trying to completely describe my experiences here thus far would take days...if it's even a possibility at all. Suffice it to say that the last 2 weeks were filled with many wonderful moments and intense ministry as I built great relationships with 31 amazing individuals...while simultaneously overwhelming my senses with some of the most gruesome, stomach-churning, and gut-wrenching things I have ever laid eyes on.
India is so poor. "Poor" is a rather pathetic adjective in this case, it perhaps even wins the understatement of the year award. The living situations of the people I have encountered recently are more than mind-blowing, they are inconceivable...and I have even SEEN them. Spending two weeks in Tenali, India was merely embarking on the tip of the world's largest iceberg in the middle of the Arctic ocean wearing only a skimpy bikini. Translation: it would be completely impossible to solve every problem, clothe every child, and feed every empty tummy that exists in that city...and coming to that realization was a hard knock to my ever-lofty savior complex. What great humility I faced seeing the realities of the Third World. It was so heartbreaking that I initially shut off entirely, feeling nothing but...nothing. After a few days stuck in the abyss of nothingness, I had a total breakdown, finally feeling the overwhelming heaviness that is India itself. I figured all I could do was to love the few people I came in contact with, meet a few needs, and encourage a few souls toward the freedom found in the Lord...and then come to terms with the fact that change comes slowly but one soul touched is still a step in the right direction.
Fast-forward to today...I am now in Ludhiana, India, a city north of Delhi. How far north depends on the type of vehicle you take to get here...6 hours by car, 4 hours by express train, and 10 hours by cockroach infested slower-than-molasses-train, our personal favorite and preferred method of transportation. Cory and I arrived in Delhi this past Saturday. I ended up very ill from dehydration for the night but was well enough to travel by said bug-train on Sunday afternoon and evening. Let's just say I was NOT prepared for all that is India train travel and it's less than comfortable accommodations. It IS true what they say, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
I promise to start to blog more from here on out, I am finally settling in and starting to actually work. Until then let's take a moment to appreciate some new-found India-isms:
-Ludhiana. Population: 3.5 million. Stoplights: 1. You do the math.
-Indians eat ketchup on their pizza. Before you scoff, TRY IT.
-In India, speed bumps = speed breakers...this phenomenon not only takes the place of stoplights on the road, but in homes and buildings you will find that doorways are raised about 3/4 of an inch from room to room...and do dandy at breaking your speed via tripping you. Every time.
- Indians refer to surge protectors as spike busters. It's true. And for the last few days when an Indian person would refer to a spike buster, I was sure they were saying "spy buster" and wondered what fabulous video game, stun-gun shenanigans I was missing out on. Clever Indians.
- There is no such thing as trash day here. When your trash builds up to an impassible pile in front of your residence, you merely throw a lit match towards the general direction of the vile skyscraper...and the trash is officially taken out. Best chore in the world.
-Fact: your bathroom is where your behind is.
-Fact: it IS possible to get sick of Indian food.
-Fact: Indian people are incredibly hospitable.
-Fact: riding in an auto rickshaw in India is one of the great milestones in one's life.
More to come soon.
P.S. I am going to attempt to learn Hindi. I already know 3 words.