We packed up everything and checked out of the hotel, and then went to Jakkumpudi for worship with the saints and the children at Elnora Children’s Home. Even though everyone was tired from a late night, they were eager to hear messages from God’s Word.
Tyler gave the first lesson, then a lesson from Josh, and then a lesson from Raja. Being with the family in Jakkumpudi is always one of my favorite places to be in India, and this being my 2nd trip, it was amazing to see how the children have grown, both physically & spiritually. After the lessons were done and we finished visiting with everyone, the meeting room cleared out, and we were joined by several children. We talked for awhile and then we gave them a soccer ball we had brought. Timothy took charge of pumping it up, but was not impressed by the small pump I had brought. After several attempts/failures, I went to help them and began pumping it up with the pump I had brought…when they saw it was working so well, they took over and did a fine job. We were told that we should have brought 2 because the girls play with one and the boys another, and the boys always seem to take the best one:). Josh tossed the ball back and forth between the boys and then the girls. Kumari was off preparing lunch for us, so we took a self guided tour of the construction. I will post the video in the comments section of this blog post on Facebook because I am only able to post photo’s in the actual blog. It became obvious that there was a game going on in the meeting room. The girls had wisely left and the boys were playing a rough game of keep away. It was fun to watch. If I find the video of that, I will also post it in the comment section.
After a delicious lunch from Kumari, we said our goodbye’s and started traveling.
First we stopped to bless and open a hospital. One of Raja’s cousins is a doctor, and his brother is a lab tech. Tyler offered a prayer of blessing, and I did the ribbon cutting. We sat and visited for a short time and had some refreshments, then back in the van.
We dropped Sinduja off at college and then began our 6 hour drive to Visakhapatanam(from here on, it will be referred to as Visag–as the locals call it). We arrived at our hotel, The Dolphin, around 10:30 p.m. We made our plans for the next day and went to our rooms. We were anxious for daylight to see the city.
After breakfast at the hotel, Raja & Kumari picked us up and we went to a village about 45 minutes from the hotel. Josh was speaking to the youth, then Tyler presented a lesson to the combined group, and then I presented a lesson the the ladies. While I was presenting my lesson, Tyler & Josh were outside with the men and boys. They really liked shaking hands.
Then we returned to the hotel to rest up for New Years Eve at Jakkumpudi. This was Josh’s first visit to Jakkumpudi, and he completely enjoyed it. We were greeted by the children and the workers from the home, along with the members of the church that meets at Elnora Home. After some singing, Josh presented a lesson, and then after prayer, we celebrated with a New Years Cake and some other sweet treats. We also shared some candy canes we had brought with us. The adults seemed to enjoy them as much as the children. Everyone greeted each other with “Happy New Year” and then we went outside for fireworks. Josh joined in the fun, lit some fireworks, and then got carried away with dancing on the volleyball court. The boys really enjoyed him participating with them.
The drive back to the hotel was even more wild than the normal driving. The streets were packed with people and traffic. People were hanging our of their cars shouting “Happy New Year”, and once we reached our hotel, we had great difficulty getting into the driveway. The traffic was the heaviest I have ever seen there, and we had to actually pull into the other lane that was going the opposite direction we were driving(that is not the unusual part as it happens all of the time), and back up in the direction the traffic was going, but cross a few lanes of traffic and finally into the driveway exit of the hotel. I thought with all of the commotion outside I would have difficulty sleeping, but I think we all slept quite well.
I decided I should back track a little bit to our preparations for our trip. Once we all had our passports and visa’s and the tickets were purchased, the main thing we had to do was prepare lessons. We all prepare a little differently. Tyler studies and types up & prints all of his lessons, nice and neat, and makes only small changes while speaking in India. I study and type, but usually just put mine on my tablet, and I use most of what I prepare, but I frequently add/skip on the fly as I am speaking. Josh had some lessons prepared ahead of time, but on the flight over, he created a couple more, and then once we got there, his notebook seldom left his side because he was often writing lessons and reading scripture while driving to a meeting. Even what he had written out, what he was speaking was often not found anywhere in his notes, so it made it difficult for interpreters who were trying to follow him on his notes. Josh is going to try to have his lessons typed out and printed next time, and I am going to try to do the same, but I don’t know that either of us will be able to just stick to what is on paper without adding or skipping as we feel appropriate at the moment.
One of the things we tried to stress to Josh was the “always have a lesson ready” reasoning. Things are always subject to change, and Raja has new opportunities come up all of the time, so even though he may say that one or the other of us is not speaking, if he can find a way for all of us to speak, and has enough interpreters, he will. Case in point, on our ride from Hyderabad to Vijayawada, Raja asked “Sister, would it be ok for you to speak at a Woman’s Conference for 2 days, only 300 women each day”. Now, having spoken at a woman’s conference the last time, I knew these women are travling 2-4 hours, so it would require ore than what I had planned for my normal lessons, those were only 30 -45 minutes. And since Kumari & I would be the only speakers, and Kumari would have to pick up any time I was short, I knew I had to either edit what I had and add to it, or create completely new lessons for the conference. I opted to do a little of both, but the point is, I hadn’t planned on speaking to that many women at one time who had traveled such distances, but Raja saw the opportunity and God provided. Now Raja has already told me that next year when I return, we will have another Woman’s conference, and there will be even more women, so I have plenty of time to prepare 🙂
Friday was our first day of meetings. We went to a congregation that was in a town past Jakkumpudi (which is where Elnora Children’s Home is located). We were again warmly welcomed. While I spoke with the ladies inside the church building, Josh went to a nearby home and spoke with the youth. They were all very attentive to the messages we were sharing. After both of our meetings, everyone came into the building and Tyler shared a message with everyone.
Afterwards, we were able to stay and visit. Every woman came up to me and said “My name is” as clear as could be, they had obviously been practicing for us. Unfortunately, once they got to their names they said them so quickly that I wasn’t able to understand them.
As we were meeting people, we were privileged to be asked to pray for many.
After this meeting, we returned to the hotel to rest. Then that evening, Josh went out with Raja, Kumari, and their nephew to another meeting.There are so many opportunities. I wish the trip wasn’t so long that it tired us out so much when we get there. Raja is very kind and allows us time to rest, but also schedules meetings very efficiently. The numbers who show up to listen to God’s Word, and the distances they travel are amazing!
I have decided the easiest way to update everyone is to just add entries as I would have if we could have posted freely while in India, so, we start at the beginning.
As Josh put it, we had a sleep over on Monday, December 26th in Chicago. Trevor drove us to the hotel, and Josh’s parents brought him later. It was nice to be able to spend time getting organized and making more detailed last minute plans. The hotel provided a free shuttle to the airport, and dropped us right at the international gate 5 of O’hare International Airport on Tuesday 12/27.
Our check in process went very well, the security. As much as we try to be prepared and make security easier, there are always some changes, and although the lines were fairly long, and some of us were given mixed messages(Josh) ranging from “Come forward” to someone else telling him “Sir, stay with your bags”. We finally all made it through without any extra scrutiny and found our gate where we sat to wait. Thankfully the plane departed only a few minutes late, and we were on our way to Paris. Now this trip was very different from our first one, we had extra stops. We thought we would be better with shorter flights, but it took us much longer to get to India. Unless there is a significant price difference, I don’t think we will take this route again. Our flight left Chicago just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday for Paris(approx 8 hour flight). We arrived in Paris early morning on Wednesday. We had about a 2 hour layover in Paris, but it ended up being just about perfect time to get to our gate and have a little time to relax before the flight to Mumbai left just before noon(approx 8 hour flight). Our first flight was Delta, this flight was Air France. Delta flight was much more comfortable and seemed to have more space.
Waiting at the gate in Paris
Flight plan 🙂
Deicing before leaving for Mumbai
We arrived in Mumbai just before midnight of Wednesday 12/28. Now we had a 6 hour layover. We had to collect our baggage, and luckily were able to check it back in right away and head through security again towards our gate. Then we decided to get something to eat. We didn’t have any Rupees, so we were using US $. Tyler and Josh opted for KFC because very little was open at that hour. The airport was quite nice, and once we finished eating, we went to our gate to wait and nap. Our flight from Mumbai to Hyderabad left at 6:15 a.m. Thursday 12/29. We arrived in Hyderabad at 7:35, and were able to get our luggage quite quickly and then head to the meeting area where we were greated by Raja, Kumari, Chris Wells, Vandan & his wife, Raja & Vandan’s nephew Abhilash, and their father Solomon. There were others whose names I didn’t know. We decided to give Josh the honor of riding shotgun with Raja driving us to the hotel. We were able to sleep for a few hours and get a shower before meeting everyone back in the lobby to leave for the drive to Vijayawada. We arrived in at our hotel in Vijayawada around 5 p.m. Thursday 12/29. End of travel for a few days. Time to sleep for the night so we can get started tomorrow.
Wow! We are home from our trip to India. This was Tyler’s 3rd trip, my 2nd trip, and Josh’s 1st trip. Things have changed a lot since our trip 2 years ago. There has been a lot of construction in Vijayawada. It is the new capitol of Andhra Pradesh, so there has been a complete renovation of the airport–which was needed. Lot’s of new and improved roads, and many buildings constructed or under construction. The government has also gone through changes, which is in large part responsible for our lack of communication while in country. The Prime Minister is not only pro-Hindu, but is anti-Christian. We were going on with our daily activities, and had posted a few pictures and updates on facebook, and suddenly a call was received inquiring about the 3 of us. It was a government official, and we are not sure what triggered the call, but from then on we decided to take extra precautions which included removing our facebook posts and basically staying quiet about our events. Honestly, I was a little concerned about going through customs as we left India, but everything went off without a hitch. It was a wonderful trip despite the extra scrutiny. We will have numbers in about a week or so. I am working on getting our photos uploaded and once I do, I will post some on here and write more. We also took a video camera with us this year, and I recorded some of the singing with my phone, so I hope to be able to share a lot more this time than I was able to last time. We are trying to get acclimated back to this time zone before we have to return to work on Monday, and we are again having internet issues at home, so with all of that, and the volume of pictures, I am not sure when I will get finished. Thank you all for your prayers and interest!
Just to update everyone. Tyler and I will be returning to India. We leave December 27 and this year, Joshua Hanyard will be joining us. He is an amazing young man, and it is exciting to get to introduce him to India. I will post some pictures later, and hopefully updates on here as internet allows.
Please pray for safe travels for us, and for those who will travel to the Gospel Meetings that will be conducted.