india, part II

After nearly 24 hours of travel (and learning a few lessons, like how sitting next to a talkative stranger on an international flight is like an awkward first date you can't escape from), we arrived in Bangalore around 12:30 a.m. (India time) and waited to be picked up (and learned that an "Indian 5 minutes" is equivalent to an American hour).

After a very bumpy bus ride, which I remember very little of, we arrived at Campus Crusade for Christ, the first place we'd be staying. While the building had space for hundreds, our team of twenty were its only occupants.

The building was four levels and had an open top level. It was chilly when we rolled in at 4 a.m. and we only had thin blankets to cover up with. I slept in my jacket and sweats but we had to be up at 8 a.m. for breakfast so it's not like it mattered much anyway.

Our room

This toilet gives a whole new meaning to "pop a squat."

And this is the shower. And by shower I mean bucket.

Day 1
In order to keep us awake for the day and acclimated to India time, we had to go shopping. Friends, let me tell you, having to shop while being sleep deprived and supremely culture shocked is an experience. Thank goodness I had brown hair so I blended in. (I say that with only partial sarcasm. My mom has blonde hair and got stopped frequently for pictures or for kids that wanted to see her up close. Can't blame them, she's beautiful.)

Mom handing out stickers to kids

Day 2
these two women were very shy but smiled all the time
After breakfast and a time of prayer, we drove a short way down from our complex to the ACCEPT Center (an acronym for what they do: AIDS Counseling Care Education and Prevention Training). While most of the patients there are adults, they also had a children's home. Most of the kids were at school but four of the littlest ones were there. When we got there, they brought the residents outside so we could sing for them and pray with them. Here's what I wrote in my journal about our experience:

Got there and a group of about twenty residents came out, including four little kids. Sang in front of the group and my knees were shaking so I just closed my eyes and sang. So thankful the kids were there; when it was time to pray I went to them. We played with the guitar and sang Jesus Loves Me, which they knew in English. While singing with them, I couldn't help but cry. One of the little girls kept looking at me, obviously concerned, so I willed myself to stop, which only worked for brief periods.

As cliche as it is to say, smiling really is the universal language and music bridges so many gaps.

After singing we took a tour of the facility and afterward, one of the little girls came up to me, took my hand and led me to the cages of rabbits. She did not speak English but I taught her the names of colors by pointing to objects and saying the color, which she would repeat after me. I can't remember her name but I will never forget her face.

ETA: I originally published these posts in February. Shortly after that, we got an email saying our group was under intense watch by some people who were not so nice and Ravi's life was being threatened. (While it's not technically "illegal" to be a Christian in India, they often come under intense persecution.)  I took these posts down and made them slightly more vague. Now that some time has passed, I'm going to re-post them. Apologies if you're seeing them again in  Reader.


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