a passage to India: part 2

(check out part 1 here)

October 13

5:04 am: Up and at ‘em. I sure get a lot more reading done when I’m jet-lagged.

9:00 am: Morning service #1.

10:07 am: Break. It is approximately 980 degrees under the tent.

10:30 am: Morning service #2. I love taking communion with these thousands of brothers and sisters whose prayers I can’t understand. I also love that they have no problem with young women passing the offering plates. 🙂

12:00 pm: My stomach’s still acting up, so I skip lunch and take a nap.

2:33 pm: Wake up to pouring rain. Although it’s after the monsoon season in India, the cyclone hitting the east side of the country means we’re still getting showers—not great news considering that many of the kids attending the conference are sleeping outside.

4:31 pm: It’s time! I triple check my bag for the sermon notes and Matt and I head over for the evening session. On our way there, Drew tells us Tim, another member of our team, has gotten really sick and spiked a fever. “That’s terrible!” we say.

4:36 pm: Our van gets to the tent, stops, turns around, and heads for the chapel. Looks like the rain has relocated us.

4:40 pm: Despite the 90 degree heat, I notice Matt is shivering.

4:42 pm: I tell Matt to go back; he’s obviously very sick. He says no. He’s introducing me and he wants to hear my message.

4:46 pm: Ajai and his team ask if I would be willing to preach twice—they’re not sure they can fit everyone into the chapel for one service. I say of course, then tell Matt again that I want him to go back and rest. He again says no.

4:50 pm: He says ok. Visibly shaking and sweating, he walks back out to the van and our kind hosts whisk him back to his room where, I find out later, his hands shook so badly he could hardly get the key in the lock.

4:53 pm: Ajai notices I’m upset; I assure him it has nothing to do with the change of plans for the service and explain about Matt. His cell phone is out immediately and after a short conversation with his team he says a doctor will be with Matt in minutes.

4:58 pm: Decision is made to have one service, with the younger kids in a separate building. Crowds of teens begin pouring in and sitting knee to knee on the floor and in the balcony. The temperature and the noise level triple.

5:06 pm: Realize I need to sit near the stage or I will literally be climbing through people. I move closer to the front and sit quietly for a moment. It is time to GET IT TOGETHER.

5:19 pm: The service starts, with jubilant singing.

5:43 pm: I’m in a room packed to twice its capacity, I have stomach cramps from two days of ickyness, my husband is as sick as he’s ever been, and I’m about to preach my first-ever sermon to 1100 Indian people. Let’s do this.

6:38 pm: Loved it.

7:13 pm: Several young ladies come over to shake my hand and thank me for my message. One videoed the whole thing on her phone. It is all worth it if these beautiful girls realize there is a place in ministry for them.

7:19 pm: Rush back to our room, where Matt is shivering under four blankets. His first words? “Tell me about it.” He’s a rock star.

7:28 pm: Nurses come to take blood and give him IV antibiotics. Matt mentions he hates needles and the nurse strokes his arm softly, as he would a child, while he draws the blood. Matt smiles sheepishly but I think it does help. 🙂

8:23 pm: Ajai and Indu come to the room and pray with us.

8:58 pm: Matt eats a little jello, swallows all the pills they leave with him, and falls into a fitful sleep.

October 14

6:12 am: Matt’s awake and feeling well enough to eat some toast and take a short walk outside.

A suitcase and an IV--two things you never want to see together.

8:33 am: Our kind, kind nurse, who has spent the night taking care of Matt and the already-sick Tim, and who slept on a couch in the lobby, and who is absolutely the person you want caring for you in a crisis, comes up to administer more drugs and electrolytes in the IV.

11:19 am: Fever breaks. I make periodic visits to the kitchen where the incredible George and his staff keep us supplied with toast, jello, rice, and bottles of water.

12:46 pm: Doctor makes rounds; says it’s a “moderate” bacterial infection.

1:33 pm: Piling on the blankets again—Matt’s shaking with chills and his fever’s back up. He curls up on his side in the fetal position and I finally break down in tears.

1:56 pm: More blood drawn, more injections, meds for the fever. I’d hate to see the severe version of this.

2:28 pm: Sleep for Matt and a long afternoon of reading for me. Without TV or internet, I end up getting through a book and a half during this ordeal.

4:11 pm: Fever’s finally gone. Matt’s clothes and sheets are damp with sweat; George kindly gets me clean sheets and I change the bed.

5:02 pm: More antibiotics. Our nurse prays for us in Hindi.

7:07 pm: A small dinner of Indu’s apple muffins and peanut butter.

“Do you want anything else?”
“Is there any cake left?”

He’s feeling better.

8:13 pm: Matt borrows my hat to hide his bed head and takes a short walk down the hall to get some air.

8:36 pm: “Can you hand me my sermon outline? I want to get ready.”

October 15

6:59 am: Wake to an empty room and this note: “The doctor will take out my IV at 8:00. All is well. I feel well. XO”  Deep breath.

8:34 am: Doctor arrives to take out butterfly IV and administer oral antibiotics. Before leaving he tells Matt to “stay away from dust and people.” We wait until he’s gone to laugh.

8:56 am: Medical procedures finally done, we head to the tent for the closing service with four minutes to spare. Matt’s preaching and I get to introduce him!

9:43 am: He does great.

11:06 am: Service is over and we head to the cricket field to watch a few minutes of the final game. Some cheerleaders kick things off.

11:59 am: Lunch with the group and time with Ajai and Indu. They report that 1100 teens made decisions of some kind at the conference—to become a Christian, to be a pastor or ministry worker, to rededicate their life, etc.

12:44 pm: Free afternoon! I sleep for two hours and wake up a new person.

5:12 pm: Head downstairs to play with the little kids and watch Matt play basketball with the older ones.

7:35 pm: Relaxed last dinner with the team all together. Nice to be schedule-free and to feel good about what we did together the last few days—although we all agree we’ve been served and ministered to much more than we’ve helped others.

8:48 pm: Indu and Lashi arrange for two women from the village to come over and paint the ladies with henna. Such fun!

October 16

5:37 am: Wake up to sheets full of dried, flaked-off henna. My hand and foot look awesome, though.

8:00 am: Breakfast and relaxed chat with several of the Lalls and our team.

11:15 am: Distribute new saris, bags of lentils, and bags of rice to dozens of widows who are living on only $2 or $3 a month. The best part is how much dignity and respect Ajai and Indu give to them–Ajai says something that makes them laugh, and Indu has chosen beautiful, rich-looking fabric for the saris.

12:27 pm: Quick lunch and bags to the van.

1:19 pm. On our way out of town, we stop by a plot of land where CICM is building small brick homes where the widows of martyred pastors can come to regroup and possibly learn a trade. Kudos to College Heights Christian Church who funded this project!

1:38 pm: Hugs all around as we say goodbye to this team. A week ago we were strangers, and now we’re united in a shared experience that we’ll struggle to explain to others.

1:46 pm: Head to Jabalpur with our intrepid guide Nishan who was our helper and interpreter during Matt’s illness and knows way more about Matt’s digestive tract than he ever wanted to. We’re going to Delhi for a day of moments that should be a lot more fun.

5:15 pm: Arrive at the airport and get ready for the 90-minute flight to Delhi.

8:15 pm: Arrive Delhi and meet our driver who takes us to a wonderful resort hotel for a finale to the trip. The place is lovely but after a walk around to check it out and see the shops, we crash without even eating dinner.

October 17-18

9:13 am: Breakfast buffet! As Nina would say, it’s gihugic.

10:58 am: Meet Nish in the lobby for a day in Delhi. First stop: Gandhi museum.

12:30 pm: Street market shopping and lunch.

3:53 pm: Back to chill before heading to the airport for our late flight. We read, nap, check email in the business center and make up our own dialogue, Mystery Science Theater style, for the Indian TV shows.

8:03 pm: Dinner in a Chinese restaurant—you haven’t had Chinese food until you’ve had it in India.

10:30 pm: Nish leaves us at the airport; we give him big hugs and even bigger thanks. He’s gracious to the end, but probably glad to be done taking care of us. 🙂

10:45 pm: Stand in line for where the information desk promises British Airways will eventually be.

12:00 am: British Airways check-in line opens.

12:29 am: Security; they confiscate my Swiss Army mini-knife and write my name on an official-looking piece of paper. I may never get back into India.

12:44 am: We stake out a spot at the Coffee Bean and Matt falls asleep. I walk through all the shops and buy candy bars we can’t get in the US.

2:20 am: Goodbye, India.

6:45 am (local): Hello, London. Six-hour layover that we spend reading, wandering shops, and eating our first raw fruit in 10 days.

12:35 pm: Just one flight between us and home. Fabulous lunch and binge viewing of “House of Cards.” I heart British Airways.

3:25 pm: Land on time, through customs, through baggage claim, through traffic, through Philadelphia.

5:43 pm: Nikki’s so excited to see us that he pees in the living room. We’re home.


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