The days passed quickly here in Chennai India. The humid hot weather makes you wonder how people live in it with out relief. We took our refuge in the bedroom with an air-conditioner to cool back down and rest. Our bodies are so turned around from an 11.5 hour time change, so we rest, pray and study for the next meeting. The first meeting was to begin at 9 AM it was close to 10:30 AM when we started with about 20 people straggling in the door. Transportation is by motorcycle, bike, foot or taxi. It is the rainy season and there is road construction on their small street outside the church.
The street has been dug up for drainage and the dirt was not compacted, so the rain washed it away leaving a huge hole which makes the road unusable by vehicles along with piles of dirt left down the center of the road. You must drive off the side of the piles to get to the house. Our first night arriving the cows that wander the streets freely found it a nice place to sleep and we had to wake one to move pass.
The meeting ends about 2:30 and lunch is served, Rice, chicken and gravy. We are given special food with less spices knowing we are not accustom to indian spices. They also had some vegetables, eggplant and drumsticks. I tried a taste and the spices are so hot I need water. They had a crispy bread, we asked to try; it was similar to a crispy tortilla but made from lentils. It had the consistency of a potato chip but the size of a tortilla. Then they serve a dessert, described as “sweet sweet”. That is their word when something is very sweet, there is no word in Tamil.
I found that there are many English words that are not in the Tamil language, they just use the English. So you hear them talking and there will be understandable (that is for me) words interjected. When I asked how to say please in Tamil they said “Please”! Thank you is “Nandree”.
The Pastor’s conference is three days, it rains hard with lightning and thunder each evening but it is keeping some of the heat away. The clock in the back of the church tells me it is 32 to 35 celsius which is 93 and 98 degrees farenheit. This is in the church during the meetings. Thank goodness for ceiling fans.
We offered the pastors a time for questions and comments so we could hear feedback. Are we getting the message through? What are they hearing, can it be applied in their life and ministry? These are important ingredients to a successful time together. They tell us “We have never heard teaching like this before; you are telling us the importance of stewardship”. They caught the challenge we are God’s mangers here on earth, do it well. They are encouraged and so many came to say “thank you, I learned so much”.
Pastors can carry a heavy load, burdened down with the concerns of life and working with others; these Pastor’s left refreshed, happy, with new energy to serve with gladness. We ended the meeting greeting, shaking hands and praying for some, we then retreat to our room to cool down once again.
Friday we take a taxi to the beach. We decide to walk in the water but the sand burns our bare feet so we walk in sand filled sandals the long journey back to the street where our taxi awaits.
I am saddened by all the trash thrown in the sand, It takes away so much of the beauty of the World when trash is left behind. It is a huge issue in Chennai.
We then head to a mall to have McDonald’s India style interestingly there are no hamburgers on the menu! Mc Chicken or Mc Veggie or Spicy! We went for the Mc Chicken. Then we were off to an ice cream shop for dessert . We have still had one more church service and a long plane ride home. We are thankful the taxi has air-conditioning and the windows can remain up.
We have our one last meeting with the church members who are gentle sweet people who are very shy. You have to reach out and make them feel secure in your presence. It was a special time as we sang and praised God and then they prayed for us. We had such precious moments together with our hard-working dedicated friends.
It was a great journey, a time of celebration of the progress of the church building. Just two years before it was concrete walls and the floor filled with sand. Today it has a roof, door, windows and lots of ceiling fans to try to keep it cool. It needs to have a permanent roof, then they can install air-conditioning. So there is opportunity to give towards the final completion. They also want to begin a bible school for training and then begin an orphanage, they have already registered for the orphanage but one step at a time. We walk together with them seeing progress and rejoicing.