This summer Steve is participating in Maclin Training, the annual teaching in cross cultural ministry sponsored by The Mission Society. For those who have been with us a while, you will remember we did ours in Peru. This year its India.
[Steve and the most of the congregation at Bowen Methodist Church]
So why not go a few weeks early and see a bit more of the country, I thought to myself.
You see I was raised in a family that never took vacations unless they were tacked on to my Dad’s annual professional meeting, the ASAE, or American Society of Agricultural Engineers. Event today those initials, ASAE, elicit a Pavlovian response to excitement; they still mean adventure, and vacation to me.
For a while Suzanne and I also followed that model, if something was taking us somewhere, no matter where, we would try to add on some adventure. It took Suzanne several years to convince me that vacations could be taken where that was the whole point, and we didn’t always have to stay (or only go to places) with friends or relatives. My sisters and brother still shake their collective heads at us, marveling at our frivolity. I get that guys, it would never have occurred to me either.
I was still wondering why more people from The Mission Society didn’t come early as the plane landed in Mumbai, and kept on wondering right up to the point when the monsoon rains began pouring into the airport taxi area. Then it all clicked TMSers have learned not to do this because TMS only goes places when its off season…when the rates are low…when the weather is terrible… Then it all came back to me, Peru, 10,000 ft and the wet 24-7 damp cold. No heat in the hotel, no heat in the conference room, no heat in the restaurant (where we snuck out to eat). It wasn’t a freezing cold, just a wet, slow, relentless chill that drained the warmth from our bones. Three weeks of cold and altitude sick cross cultural training. That why, splash!
Now I’m outside the airport, waiting for the taxi I had arranged to the hotel; except it didn’t come… the monsoon rains.
An hour later, I’m still standing in line for the prepaid (shared) taxi line, but since no taxis were coming in, no taxis were going out… the monsoon rains.
Finally the guy running the place asks if I would be interested in a private taxi. Are you kidding, YES! Then I asked the price,–about $12.50–still YES, and 2 minutes later I was off into those monsoon rains.
[All Hopes Sink in Mumbai? Really? Don’t you think you’re getting a little over dramatic?]
The next day the papers tell us it was the heaviest downpour in a decade.
Since my stay in Mumbai was over a Sunday, I decided to go to church and found a hotel near a local Methodist Church. Turns out there are actually two nearby, but the other one, now a Wesleyan Church, didn’t greet you with a welcome sign, but unfriendly No Photography, and No Video Showing sign. I guess they had a problem with people showing videos? So I’m going to Bowen Methodist Church.
[Bowen Methodist Church entrance]
[the sanctuary of Bowen Methodist Church]
It was a wonderful worship service. Apparently the church was started by an American in the 1870s, and judging by the pictures in the fellowship hall (where we had chai after service), the church had been mostly pastored by Americans , or American looking men. However on this day the pastor couldn’t make it… the monsoon rains. So we heard a thoughtful Father’s Day sermon, and sang hymns from the previous Methodist Hymnal, and I felt right at home.
In general India feels much like Ghana, especially the friendly people and crazy traffic. Here they say a good car takes a good horn, good breaks and good luck. I see breaks and luck are important but its really the horn that make the driver.
[Taxis in the Rain]
I came expecting India to move at a faster pace and one gets the feeling it wants to move at faster, but realistically can’t. For example the airport for-ex, exchanging $200 took about 15 minutes, and they acted as if they had never done this before though I would think they do just this kind of thing all day long. Still the electricity has not gone off once.