Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hyderabad Before Home

By the time you get this last blog, some of the team members will be home already! Never mind--I want to finish what I started! We drove almost 5 hours from Miryalguda (through horrific traffic related to a big exhibition) to the big city of Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh. After the intense pace of the meetings, it was great to relax, have the first real shower with hot water in almost 3 weeks, and do a little sightseeing and shopping. We hit the food courts at the Big Bazaar, tooled around the town in autocabs, and saw some of the most famous tourist draws. (We also spent a considerable amount of time trying to get from place to place, as our driver didn't know his way around the city!)Golconda Fort was first on the list of places to see. It was built by the Mogul rulers of this part of India about 500 years ago. In it's heyday, it had walls inlaid with precious stones; diamonds in the ceiling to reflect light; an advance warning system; natural air conditioning; a hand pumped water system that carried water from 4 resevoirs to the highest level; numerous escape tunnels up to 7 km long; a swimming pool; stables for elephants, camels and horses; a jail; a mosque; a Hindu temple; a judgement hall; and a double-walled plan where 4000 people lived outside the inner wall, and 3000 in the inner area!
The Chaminar and market area were great for browsing, but you had to watch out for aggressive beggars. You take your life in your hands trying to cross the street!
After much searching, we finally found a camel for the new team members to ride. No elephants, unfortunately!
Next stop for the team is Mumbai, Amsterdam, Boston, then HOME!!

Picture Key: 1-Riding a camel, 2- at the Chaminar, 3-Golconda Fort, 4-the team at the Bala Hisar Gate at Golconda Fort, 5-Riding the autocabs


I wish I had some pictures to add to this post, but they are all on Brenda's camera. You would simply not believe the outpouring of love from the villages at the final meeting. We were literally buried in garlands of jasmine, marigolds, and roses. We all got to say a few words to the crowd of about 500. As usual, it was a very emotional time with lots of final prayers, tears, and hugs. I am always overcome by how fast you can become attached to people who live in a different world, and speak a different language! Our mission in India is over for another year , but the memories will last forever.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Our Last Days

It doesn't seem possible we will be having our last meeting tonight! It will be so hard to say goodbye to those we have come to love over the past 2 1/2 weeks. Yesterday we had a baptism in the most inhospitable place yet! Because we and the native Indian pastors can hold meetings, but are not supposed to convert people, they have to find a non-public sight for our baptisms. (Our South Andhra Section president, Pastor P.J., actually got arrested one year!) Well, this place was certainly off the beaten path! We crossed a field to a big construction site for major irrigation pipes. They chose the first of several pits about 20 feet deep to the waterline. The edges were loose gravel and sand, and the water was scummy and muddy. They had to have pastors and Bible workers help the villagers down the steep grade of make-shift stairs of rock! 14 people, including Yellamma, our sweet little, young, Hindu mother with metastatic cancer, were baptized, and began a new life in Christ. It was wonderful to see!
Afterwards, while we were getting pictures of the group with their new Bibles, Yellamma almost fainted. In her weakened condition, the exertion and heat were too much for her. Workers carried her to our van, then into her fathers courtyard where we laid her on a cot in the shade. I honestly thought she had stopped breathing in the van! She rallied with water and rest, and we prayed for her. She even was able to attend the meeting last night! The subject was heaven, where there will never be pain, sickness, or death. She knows that unless the Lord performs a miracle, she will die soon, but I wish you could see her beautiful smile and the peace on her face. If we all came to India just so she alone could learn of Jesus, it was well worth it! Please pray for her earnestly that God's will be done in her life, whether to be healed, or sleep till she is raised healthy at Christ's coming. She has placed herself in His hands. We are sponsoring her 7 year old boy to our new school in Miryalguda. Her 4 year old girl is too young, yet.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Day at Nagar Juno Sagar

Since the big Hindu festival prevented us from being able to visit in the villages in the morning, on Monday, February 9th, we drove 1 1/2 hours past endless, lush rice paddies to the huge dams and resevoir lake that supply the entire area with water--Nagar Juno Sagar. There are 2 earthen dams on each side of a concrete one that collect the water from the river and store it in a man-made lake that supplies the water for the giant canal system in this part of Andhra Pradesh. It took 10 years to fill it for the first time! It was low now in the dry season--down 40 feet, but in the rainy season it fills right up. The view was lovely, and we tried some fresh squeezed "lorange" (don't know what else you'd call a green orange!) juice from a street vendor. (Yes we know it may have been a bit risky, but was it ever good!) We had missed the ferry to the small island and museum, so we walked along the shore, did a little bird-watching, and got a very unique boat ride! They have these large, round, woven bamboo baskets about the size of a full bed. They cover the bottom with a tarp and then tar over it--instant open boat! You sit in the bottom and the driver rows you about with a wooden paddle. It was great going around in circles, too! Worth every bit of the 30 rupees a head (about 60 cents) for the experience! On the ride back, we stopped at the side of the road to watch monkeys, and fed them the rest of our loaf of bread and bag of chips!