“India Travelogue 2011”

It has been six days since me and my two traveling companions made it back to Missouri, and I am feeling just enough adjusted back to Central Standard Time to attempt an overview of our 10 day trip to India. Before I begin, let me thank you for all of the prayers and support during my absence. My family and I felt greatly strengthened by them.


Wednesday, September 7: At 4:00 p.m. CST (FYI–India is 10 ½ hours ahead) Tim and Kelley Gray and I depart from Lambert Airport on British Airways en-route Cochin, India.


Friday, September 9: After layovers in Chicago, London and Mumbai, and a three hour car ride, we arrive at our host’s home in Tiruvalla, India, at about 9:30 a.m. (nearly 30 hours of travel in all). Staying with CV Vadavana is as good as it gets in India. His wife, Mary, gave us a chance to freshen up and then prepared us a traditional Indian breakfast—egg curry and all. Later, CV presented me with a copy of the book  I wrote over the summer. He strongly encouraged me to write and his publishing house printed the book.

We took a rest until about 2:00 p.m. and then ate lunch. Afterward, we briefly visited Sathyam Ministries headquarters and then took a drive around the city. The monsoon season, which is supposed to end in August, had extended into September, making the roads interesting. CV managed to get the vehicle stuck, so we enjoyed a leisurely walk back to his house. We all retired early.


Saturday, September 10: After breakfast, CV went to work. His family (Mary and their three sons; Sam, Isaac and Justin) took us sightseeing. The highlight was a boat tour of the world-famous Kerala backwaters; an expansive network of intra-coastal waterways that parallel the Arabian Sea. Before returning to CV’s home we did a little shopping.


Sunday, September 11: We rose at dawn and traveled four hours by car into theIndiaHighRangeMountains. The twisting roads led us over jagged peaks which ascended into the clouds, alongside expansive tea plantations, and adjacent to cascading waterfalls. Arriving at our destination at about 10:00 a.m., Kelley gave her testimony and both Tim and I spoke, at a nearly three hour Plymouth Brethren church service.


Lunch proved to be quite an experience. It was the weekend of the state of Kerala’s greatest Hindu festival. As a result, most of the restaurants and hotels were closed. The only restaurant open was less than ideal. We each ordered a chicken fried rice looking special and a coke. A bottle of coke and grimy glasses were dispatched to our table along with heaping plates of rice. Within a few bites Kelley found that one of her hard-boiled eggs had a bite taken out of it and Tim found an already eaten chicken bone in his. We ordered another coke.


As soon as “lunch” was over Tim and Kelley and I went for an afternoon elephant ride, leaving all of us saddle-sore.


Later, Kelley was driven back to CV’s home to spend time at the school for the differently abled. CV, Tim and I settled into our hotel rooms. Turning on the television, I realized that it was the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. How unsettling it was to see those who had lost loved ones shedding tears on Discovery Channel and just one click away, on Al Jazeera TV, observing the thousands across the Arab world cheering the anniversary of the attack.


After dinner, Tim and I took a walk along the busy street in front of our hotel. Finding an internet café, we both sent some emails and then watched The Bridge worship service on simulcast.


Monday, September 12: We ate breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and then drove an hour to the pastor’s conference. Once there, I taught a session on Bibliology, and then Tim and I teamed up to teach Inductive Bible Study. We had some great discussion during the Q & A session.


Following  a late lunch we spent an hour at the seminary, visiting with the students, and then we embarked upon our journey back to CV’s, arriving well after dark.


Tuesday, September 13: At 9:00 a.m. we met with the Sathyam (Truth) Ministries staff for worship, prayer and a Bible study (which I taught). We toured the bookstore, printing press, publication office, and Bible museum.  From mid-morning until mid-afternoon we spent time with the children at the school for the differently abled, and were given a tour of Justin’s Home; the new facility for the disabled that is still under construction.


At about 6:00 p.m. another team arrived  from California. We all had dinner together around CV’s table. The meal was highlighted by Indian ice cream.


Wednesday, September 14: We left CV’s house at 4:00 a.m. and drove 3 hours to the airport in Cochin, where we caught a 4 hour flight to Vizag. Upon arrival in Vizag, we were stalled in the airport for nearly an hour due to heavy rain. Once the weather cleared, we hired a taxi for the hour and a half drive toVisakhapatnam, and then took some rest at the VSN Lake Palace.


At 7:00 p.m. we drove to a primitive village, about 30 minutes away, where around 200 villagers  gathered and listened to us street preach.


Thursday, September 15: At 9:00 a.m. we visited wheelchair distribution center and theSathyamChristianSchool (where our team. last year conducted VBS in the rain). I had a ton of fun leading the kids in “I’ve Got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.” I loved hearing them to scream out, “WHERE!!!?” From 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Tim and I taught at a pastor’s conference that was attended by between 200-300 pastors and their wives. After lunch we repeated the process from 2:30 until 4:00. In the evening we all shared at a local church service.


Friday, September 16: We left the Lake Palace at 7:00 a.m., in order to make our flight out toHyderabad at 9:10. We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Café. CV did not know who Michael Jackson, The Beatles, or The Rolling Stones were. I’m not so sure how proud I am that we introduced him to them, but it had to be done, for at this point a double bacon cheeseburger and fries with copious amounts of ketchup was a need and not a want.


We toured the city all day and then attended an evening church meeting at a church pastored by one of the seminary graduates. I taught nearly my whole message with a large grasshopper on my shoulder. The people thought that was great stuff.


At 9:00 p.m. we went to theHyderabad international airport and said goodbye to CV. We grabbed some shut-eye in the airport hotel.


Saturday, September 17:  At 3:30 a.m. we rose to begin the process to catch our flight out at 6:45 a.m. After nearly 24 hours of travel, at 9:00 p.m. CST, we arrived in St. Louis and were promptly picked up by Eric Perret. We made a quick stop at Lions Choice on the way home. Back in Farmington by 11:30 p.m. Home sweet home!

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