Thursday, September 4, 2014

Out of India!

Sorry for the delay on posting. We've had no access to Wi-Fi for three days. I'll try to get pictures up as I can (check back if there are just a few showing).
We left the city of Kalimpong and jeeped about six hours to Jaigaon. It was quite a journey. There were several places where landslides (a frequent occurrence here) had taken whole sections of the road out. This is not like the US, where the authorities will shut the whole interstate down to repair it well. No, the traffic just pushes a way through while the shoddy-looking roadworks goes on. All with 1000-feet drops just a step away. And it's no interstate, let me tell you. It is one or two lanes the whole way. There are times three vehicles will squeeze by going full speed paying no mind to any traffic rules.
There is little regard for signs or people directing traffic. Sometimes (many times) I just close my eyes and pray.
That was three days ago.
 As I write now we are leaving the Indian border city of Jaigaon. It is the nastiest city I've been in since Port Au Prince, Haiti in 2009. Trash everywhere, crazy muffler-less smoke-belching cars and trucks--all blaring horns, beggars begging (especially when they see a white man--let alone three), large animals roaming around crapping on the streets, trash burning, people yelling. It stinks when it rains and you have to walk through the toxic mud and puddles, and it is dusty when it is dry...It's just a beautiful place. I am glad to leave. We did not see another westerner the three days we were there.

 We did have air-conditioning (which exhausted into the bathroom), but that's about it. No Wi-Fi (even though they advertised it), it was musty, dirty, and loud. Whenever the power went off, the room became hot. Jesse and Madison shared a bed and graciously gave me the other (there are advantages to being the old, fat guy). The mattresses we have had in India are two to four inches thick and have no springs. They lay flat on the floor or a wooden platform. There was no toilet paper, the showers are in the bathroom with no curtain, tub, or anything separating it from the rest of the bathroom. The water just falls on the floor.  Oh and the towels...supposed to be white, they are dingy brown with stains on them. They are great for scratching your back due to their roughness. Words don't describe adequately!
The target country is right across the border. We peered through the fence and it seems much cleaner and calmer. Our guide and our driver went to the other side (they are not questioned by border guards because they look like they belong) and confirmed what we saw.
The entrance to our target country can be
seen from our hotel.
They said that the stores are neat and streets are more orderly. They brought us some indigenous food from the country we are targeting. Very interesting and good. The meat was like beef jerky stir fried with peppers. It was very spicy. They make momo different than the Nepalese. They are round pouches containing the same beef jerky. They have a hot sauce that tastes a bit like salsa from a Mexican restaurant, only hotter.
In short, here's how God has worked. We saw a bookstore there near the border that had some ESV Bibles and other Christian literature in it. When we went inside we asked the owner if he was a Christian. He was. He was also from the same tribal village as our guide. Amazing. We told him why we were there and asked if there was anyone working with people from our target country. This man told us he knew someone we should meet. We got in the jeep and he got in with us and led us to a community right on the border, and we walked to a house which was a stone's throw from the border wall (I say a stone's throw, but Madison made a pitiful attempt and hurt his shoulder).

We entered a home that was being worked on and had lots of children running around.  There were three women and one man (not counting the carpenter who was installing a ceiling). After greetings we sat down and it started pouring rain outside. They served us freshly-sliced apples and coffee (if you know me you know that I don't like coffee, and it is never a good idea to eat fruit with peeling if you want to keep from getting sick). We all ate and drank (yes, I choked down most of the coffee). The man's name is Zama. He is a deeply committed Christian who takes in women and children from our target country who are Buddhist and teaches them about Christ, and shows them the love of Christ. He is a wise man who had much good advice for us, again bringing up the idea of teaching if one wants to legitimately get inside the target country to stay and do ministry. He was telling us what he thought would be a good strategy for starting a church: make true disciples who make more disciples. Sound familiar?! After speaking at length with Zama, he called all the children and they sang a song for us about Jesus. He told us of some of their stories. Some had been rescue from slavery and human trafficking. Amazing.
After praying with them we walked about 1/4 mile further down the road where it runs beside the border wall (which is made of stone) and hopped on it for pictures. Nearby some boys were washing clothes at a place in the wall where a creek crosses from the target country. Interesting, it is crystal clear at the border and gets trashed within a few feet of being in India.
We have thus far been protected by God from sickness or other incidents. This is a pretty big deal if you understood how insanely people drive and how dirty things are. Another of our party (unnamed) is having some of the same digestive struggles, but nothing bad. We've been eating pretty much nothing but spicy meat, rice (bot), noodles, lentils (dal), and bread (nam). It's really good, but not very healthy.

Ahhh! We just crossed the border back to Nepal. I'm so happy to be back. We just got a "taxi" from the border (a completely junked car like a Geo Metro that has a wheel about to fall off). Madison had to stop at the border town to buy a knife for his dad.
Madison is just a little bit obsessed with
knives. These are famous knives of Gurkha
warriors, and are made in this town.

Here are some pictures from Jaigaon. They do not do this place justice.


Anonymous said...

The only word I can think of is "Wow."

Anonymous said...

Wow is right! Thank you for the detailed words and descriptions and pictures Chad. My heart is full as I read about those children and women that your new friend ministers to. Whew. So exciting! Blessings to you and Jesse and Madison!