Two things I’m learning right off—grab sleep when you can, and grab food when you can. Got four hours of sleep last night after traveling 24 ½ hours straight from Minneapolis to Hyderabad, India. Then it was time to get up, enjoy what will probably be my last hot shower while here, and catch the train to our first Festival city, Challipalli.
I’m lucky. The four of us traveling companions have a 6-person sleeper berth, with air conditioning. Many others have neither for the 6-hour trip. I’m writing while rural India speeds past my cloudy train window. I can see outside, but not very well. A good bottle of Windex would go a long way on this train. We pass smoldering fires of garbage. Bright green rice patties in the countryside. Piles of rock from quarries lay strewn over the landscape. Men going to the bathroom wherever it’s convenient. Children dressed in uniforms going to school. This is India… my first impressions, anyway.
It’s an odd mixture of two coexisting cultures, 2007 and 1948 (the year before India gained its independence from the British). Much of the infrastructure has not been updated since then. But the world doesn’t wait. It’s a culture where guys who drive old rickshaw taxis operate cell phones.
We have a two-hour car ride after we get off the train before we arrive in Challipalli. Hopefully we’ll have some supper… or maybe later. You never know for sure. 7,000 people decided to follow Jesus last week in the Festival—the highest number ever since Tom started his ministry. Tom’s excited and the Spirit is moving. Night one is tonight. Tomorrow we begin the Christian Leadership Training seminar at 10:00 with lots of pastors from the villages, coming for encouragement, fellowship, and learning. It’s a joy to serve and be here. I look forward to bringing Good News to these people… and being Jesus among them.