Everything is copasetic here in Andhra Pradesh and I just wanted to send a quick note to recap this amazing, slightly ridiculous journey. We've covered an incredible amount of miles (they call em kilometers here–which is a less-manly version of the mile) by plane, train, jeep, scooter, bus, and briefly camel, but our time is sadly coming to an end.
There've been many highlights, some lowlights, but overall this has been one of the most exhilarating, exhausting, and educational experiences of my life. Whereas on my last India trip, I was content just to dip my toes in, hesitant to do or try new things, this time I dove in head first–literally–into the Krishna River and Bay of Bengal, then figuratively into Indian culture itself.
At this point, I am completely unfazed by the notion of food items such as curry goat innards, water buffalo liver, unidentified crab-like objects, monkey brains, etc. Because of my tim here, I am much better prepared for aiding in the delivery of baby water buffaloes, leg elephantitis, riding on a small scooter (middle seat) with three grown men in Indian traffic, goat sacrifice ceremonies, wearing lungi skirts, and even public speaking. Our translators over here are so sharp and excellent; they can make even the worst speaker sound cool.
Except for last week when we inaugurated a local cricket tournament and they asked me to say a few words to open the festivities. Being the avid and knowledgeable cricket fan that I am, as well as a lover of speaking to and mingling with people I don't know, I was a natural fit. After a painful few minutes of something about how "life is like a cricket bat," I went for my sure-fire closer of "play ball!"
At this point I was greeted with blank stares from crowd and interpreter alike.
I also got to do the coin toss but had no idea if Mr. Gandhi was heads or tails. Thankfully, most of the lowlights of the trip ended up being very funny, albeit at my expense. Accidentally swallowing chili peppers, my lungi skirt falling off, the guys honking while I'm going to the bathroom on the side of the road, mispronouncing Telugu words–accidentally turning them into naughty phrases….everyone had a blast laughing at the white guy. And I had a blast laughing at my new Indian brothers as well.
In serious news, tomorrow I will watch 1,200 new graduates from our Bible colleges receive diplomas and head out into the field. It's so inspiring being with these folks who are sacrificing everything to serve the Lord and their fellow man. They will go out as pastors, nurses, orphanage leaders and teachers, and I have every confidence that they will help make India a much better place.
Honestly, I've met so many amazing, life-changing people here that it's overwhelming trying to relay any info about them at all. I could fill pages just about our guides, V, Emmu, SP and others. We've met so many like them along the way not to mention hundreds of awesome kids who will grow up to be doctors, teachers, scientists, engineers, pastors, etc., because someone gave them a second chance to survive…and succeed. I can't say enough about the work of the people here–it's something more than inspiring and incredible.
I'm scheduled to return home May 1, barring any unforeseen delays or monkey attacks. My monkey attack threat level is always at orange (is that the highest? Does anyone care?)
We drive back to Hyderabad on the 29th, then I go to Delhi and head back to the US on the 30th. I mention Hyderabad because I wanted to plug my new forthcoming invention called "Hydera-pants" that feature a sophisticated cooling system for the working man.
I know I feature a lot of silliness in my emails, but I want everyone to take to heart how serious the situation is over here and other places like this. Even if it's not through Hopegivers, I encourage everyone to help folks who are suffering. It's hard to even fathom the scope of the misery so many millions face, but I challenge you not to be discouraged by stats or by the sheer weight of the problem.
Thanks so much for all your correspondence, it's been wonderful and very encouraging hearing from you all.
If you ever have any questions regarding India: or would like to learn more about how you can help orphans, widows, sick people, pastors etc., please contact our ministry.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. " 2 Corinthians 4:16-18