India Diary, Days 8 & 9
We stayed another night and day in S. so the stomach virus could settle down. Friday started with lots of rain, thunder, and lightening. We were glad we did not travel with such a storm. It stopped raining by mid morning and the sun came out. Everyone but Carolyn felt like getting out so we walked to a coffee shop and had coffee together. A young man nick named Sonny was there again. We had talked with him briefly before. As we were leaving, he wanted to talk more and went outside with us to continue. There seemed to be no entrance to share the gospel with him. We told him his brother could ride to D. with us on Saturday, and if he wanted to do so to let us know by contacting the hotel where we were staying. So later that evening, Sonny and a friend came to our rooms. Liz, Ron, Jo and Carolyn talked with them and Ron shared the gospel with the others adding to the presentation. They didn’t want to receive Christ, but we planted the seed. Perhaps this was their first time to hear the message of God’s grace.
A couple of our party began to feel ill again and returned to the hotel. Jo, A. and Ron wanted to go see the old Viceroy of India house. So we walked around the shopping area. While resting, Charlie and Ron were sitting in a look-out area when two young women approached them. They were trying to sell books written by an Indian Guru they follow. After their “ask”, Ron began to question them about their beliefs. As the discussion ensued their beliefs and Christianity were compared. The woman who was spokesman for the two women seemed to be very open. After a few minutes, Ron asked her if he could share his religious beliefs. She agreed to hear, so Ron proceeded with a talk on the gospel beginning at Genesis 2. When he finished, she replied, “That is such a beautiful story. I’m going to go home and read the New Testament I have from start to finish and find the story for myself.” We were grateful for the opportunity. Now we know at least two good things about not travelling on Friday- the rain and the opportunity to share Jesus with four young adults in India.
A., Jo, and Ron went to the former home of the Viceroy of India. When England ruled India, the monarch would appoint someone to rule India on his or her behalf. This person was the Viceroy of India. The large English style house is situated on a Ridge in Shimla with beautiful views and grounds. It is somewhat reminiscent of the Biltmore House in NC but not kept as well. It was nice. We’re glad we went. We probably not go again.
Saturday morning dawned beautiful. We all felt good or great. Our travel host arranged for us to have an 18 passenger van to take us to D. It is an 8 hour road trip over pretty bad roads in the mountains. With the extra seats we could put our luggage in the van instead of on top. That kept dust and dirt off our things. The trip was bumpy, dusty and harrowing. It also frightened us many times. Traffic here is a matter of who gets to the intersection first. On the road, it is who is fastest and biggest. There were no three or four lane roads. Two lanes only and sometimes there was only one lane paved and that was in the middle. Our driver, like others on the road passed slower vehicles on curves, in traffic, and sometimes without being able to see around the front vehicle. Also, the mountains we went over were steep and high. The narrowness of the road made it impossible to pass. A couple of times our driver had to stop to let the oncoming vehicle pass. The van did not have AC. We had a lot of sweat to add to the dust. God answered our prayers- no one got sick on the road and we had no accidents.
Finally we arrived. D. is a very pretty city on a mountain with houses on every spot imaginable and some spots unimaginable. A few miles up the road is another city, perhaps a suburb, which is a hip place for Indians, Europeans, and Americans. We went there for supper since there are some good restaurants there. We had a variety of Indian, Chinese, and Tibetan food. This is the city where the Dali Lama lives. Many tourists come here as well as S. Though there is a majority of Hindus here, there are many more Buddhists than most any place in India.
We met Pastor E. and his family here when we arrived. Liz knew him from when she was in India before. We had corresponded with him in the USA before we left. He is a self supporting church planter. He was a pastor in South India where there is a large Christian community. God led him to come to North India to start churches. He starts a church and trains the people, then appoints a leader for the church. Pastor E. then leaves to start another church. He returns regularly to continue training and supervising the appointed leader. Wow! He receives no denominational support or outside support. God provides.
We plan to go to worship with Pastor E. at the church he started here in D. It is a house church. He told me after supper that Ron was going to preach. That was news to Ron but not the first time such a thing has happened to him.
India Diary, Day 10
Today, Sunday the Lord’s Day, was perhaps our best day yet, though every day has been a good day. (One possible exception was the 8 hour drive yesterday.) We arose to a bright sunny sky. After breakfast we walked about 4-5 km to church. This is a house church which Pastor Emmanuel started several years ago when he first came to Himachal Pradesh state. The service started at about 10:30 and ended about 12:30 or 12:45. There was much singing and praying. There were testimonies. There was a lengthy devotional on Psalm 100 by the pastor, a young Nepalese man whom Emmanuel trained. There was a short sermon (can you believe Ron preached a short sermon?). However the sermon was more than doubled in length when Emmanuel translated it into Hindi. Somehow his translation was longer than what Ron said. Maybe he corrected Ron’s theology? After the sermon there was an offering. Then the rest of the team members were asked to share something. Each one did, and the service ended with a benediction. Several people came to Ron and Emmanuel and asked for prayer for different things from illness to jobs to give praise for blessings.
Sometime after 1:00, the church served lunch to our team, Emmanuel and his family, and the pastor. The food was great. They served white rice, curried veggies cooked together (I recognized only potatoes.), chicken in a sauce, a plate of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, radishes and peppers, and a delicious fried bread. For dessert we had sweet rice that had anise seeds and coconut pieces in it. All was delicious. We even enjoyed the curry flavor. We ate our meal in the worship space sitting in chairs around a small, short serving table.
The room where the service and our meal were held was approximately 10 ft. by 10 ft. The floor was covered with rugs. The walls were painted yellow with some appropriate decorations. A ceiling fan made it bearable. All of us sat on the floor (It was hard for the Americans.). There were about 31 or 32 in the room! There were several others outside and more who cooked the meal. When we were finished eating we prepared to leave. There were several hugs. We made pictures (promise, we’ll post pictures), and called for a taxi. Though we walked to church, it was all downhill. We were not in shape to walk back up since it was very steep and very warm. While we were waiting for the taxi, food was served to the rest of the people. That is their custom- guests are served first. While we waited, the people sang songs mainly for their own enjoyment, but we also enjoyed it.
We rested in the afternoon. At 5:00, we went up the mountain to the town of McLeod. This is the site of the Dali Lama’s residence and the “government in exile” of Tibet. We went to meet an “m” couple who work for our company. They have been here about 2 ½ years. Their work is exclusively with Tibetans who live in India. K and M have three beautiful daughters- 13 mos., 3 and 5 years. All of us had a good time sharing and eating together. After the meal, Ron and Liz met with Emmanuel over coffee while the others shopped. Liz took notes as Emmanuel shared the details of his work. He has started 10 churches, over 20 house Bible studies, appointed leaders for each one, and trained leaders in how to be a pastor. He continues to oversee each pastor and leader. Liz and Ron will make a report to the Missions Council about how we believe God would have us join in Emmanuel’s work. It was very encouraging for our team to see God’s hand in today. To God be glory forever.
Tomorrow morning, Emmanuel and his wife and two daughters will depart for their home. The team will visit in McLeod and see the Buddhist temples there. We have seen many monks there already. Also there are many westerners there apparently seeking a spiritual enlightenment. We will leave the hotel at about 2:30 for the airport and hopefully fly to Delhi for the night.
We saw one of the most beautiful sites we have ever seen today. The clouds on the Himalaya Mountains cleared for a while and we saw the majestic peaks with snow on them very clearly. D. is high in elevation and McLeod is even higher. The mountains we have been in at S. and here are the foothills of the Himalayas. God is good.