Friday, November 11, brother Ricky Gootam and I left Kakinada, India by car, bound for Vishakhapatnam, India. We headed out late afternoon, and it was long past dark by the time we arrived at our hotel destination for the night. The driving was fierce and wild as we dodged and overtook or were ourselves passed along a national highway over about two to three hours. Everything was on the thoroughfare from pedestrians, animals, bicycles, motorcycles, 3-wheeled autos, cars, push carts, buses and heavy trucks. Driving in India is a lot of bluster and playing chicken with slalom-like darting around and between vehicles. Otherwise, it resembles taking a handful of sand and dropping it into a funnel. There is a reason that India maintains the highest highway fatalities of any nation on earth; the USA is third.
My Good Buddy in New Delhi
Friday night wasn’t as restful as I had hoped. Ricky and I had to share a bed, which was satisfactory as it was a very large bed – big enough for an entire family. The problem was the proverbial freight train in the room! Even trying to sleep with noise cancelling headphones on – which can nullify jet engines, and as excellent as the technology is, Ricky’s snoring bested them. I pondered trying to retreat to the bathroom or to the elevator lobby, but stuck it out – with little slumber.
Early Saturday, we both went to the Vishakhapatnam airport for our respective destinations. Brother Ricky was heading to Dubai, and I was flying to New Delhi. That night, I lodged with brother Vinay David and his wife Reshma and their 5-year-old son Aaron. That little boy is one of my biggest fans, and we played together.
Express Train Sleeper Car
Sunday morning, I worshipped with the local congregation, at which time I preached, “The Church in Prophecy” – with translation into Hindi, taking longer than anticipated. By 5 p.m. Sunday, Vinay David, his father Francis and I were aboard an express train for an 18+ hour excursion to Chhattisgarh State. We debarked on Monday in Bilaspur, India, and continued another three hours or so by car to Korba, India. Tuesday through Thursday we were principle speakers in a seminar for the Lord’s church in Balco, India.
Express Train Sleeper Car
I was essentially off the grid, deep inside India. Internet was not available at my hotel. I wasn’t able to find any international news this deeply inside India. Like last year, I didn’t see another white person the whole time I was there. I always know that when I arrive somewhere where English wording is absent from signs, no one expects me to be there. Such was the case for the most part here.
The seminar and hospitality extended to me was delightful. At times, attendance reached between 150 and 200. I was afforded the opportunity to speak from God’s Word 12 times in three days. There were some baptisms, attended to with discretion aside from public observation in view of India’s non-conversion law and the Hindu sentiments in this part of the country.
Our return to Delhi on Friday involved a 5½ hour jaunt along Indian roadways to Raipur, whereupon we boarded a plane for the nation’s capital. We were early at Raipur, and so we had to wait two hours before waddling up ground ramps to the plane door. Only two hours flight, we spent more time than that creeping through Delhi traffic.
As a sidebar, Prime Minister Modi made a late evening speech a few nights back whereupon he demonetized 500 and 1,000 rupee notes. The nation has been thrown into chaos. Long angry lines of folks are trying to exchange their now worthless money at banks and ATMs. People cannot buy or sell much of anything; shops are closed; farmers cannot sell their harvest; travel is impeded without fare money; rents cannot be paid; there is no change available for any purchases that can be made. This has impacted the seminar somewhat and threatens church work generally.
Today, one more all-day seminar in Delhi. Christians and non-Christian contacts as a result of the Hindi TV program will convene for lectures. Tomorrow, of course, is the Lord’s Day. That night, I will be deposited at the international airport for a 1:25 a.m. Monday departure to America (via Paris, Atlanta and Memphis). I am scheduled to leave on Monday and to arrive on Monday, with more hours crammed into a day than ordinary, owing to crossing nearly 12 time zones. Here and there, across the planet, I intend to be a servant of our Lord, and thank you for making that possible.