To me, India is very shocking. I have thought about the best way to describe it and that is the word that I think does it best for me. Where we have been in India is so different from all the other countries we have visited and dramatically different from the U.S. It is very loud, there is lots of trash in the streets, cows all over the roads, and the roads are crazy (they make Hanoi look calm and tame).
But through all this chaos, we have found refuge and great experiences through faith in Jesus. The first day we arrived in Jaipur was a Sunday and we went to the Cross Bible Church, which was suggested to us by friends at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta. This church has completely adopted us into their family. After church, the congregation welcomed us and started including us in their activities. They are doing a special small group study during Lent that meets four nights per week in people’s homes around town. Sanjiv and Archana Luke and their two kids have been picking us up and taking us to all of these meetings so we can be part of their program. It has been the perfect opportunity to experience real, local culture. We can’t understand most of the night because it is in Hindi but we all pray together, sing together (some songs in English) and then eat together. Each family prepares a meal for the group. So we have gotten great, home-cooked Indian food. It has been a unique experience. It is somewhat comical that seven people and a guitar ride in our friends’ Tata Nano (see below) around town through the chaotic streets of Jaipur and we come home each night a little rattled but thankful for the experience.
One of the members of the church asked us to speak to the school where he works, Paramount Public School, about the importance of knowing English in the world. We didn’t know what to expect, but when we arrived at the school, they were so welcoming to us and Suzanne, Luke and I all spoke to the entire student body for 30 minutes. It was a K-10 school with about 1,000 students. All the students stand at attention during a morning assembly that they have every day. Six days a week. They welcomed us with a traditional ceremony (note the red paint and wreaths around our necks). It was such an honor to speak to them and to spend time in the school. We ended up seeing four different schools and speaking to smaller groups at the other schools during our visit. It really gave us an opportunity to spend some time with Indian kids and locals to understand more about their daily lives.
If we had not made this connection through the church, we would have really had a rough time in Jaipur. Thank the Lord for leading us to loving friends who can help us through the shock of India. Our faith has saved us again in this world that now regularly takes us to the ledge.