India Mission Part One

I realized that I never really explained what my mission trip to India with Trinity was like to all you that read my blog. Because of this I saw that it was fitting that I write a few blog posts about it over the next few weeks. Here is part one of the trip, mainly about cultural impressions and travel. I hope you are encouraged by some of the things that Trinity has been doing through short term mission trips.

Travel to India

The trip for me started early on the 28th of December. The mission team met up at my college to go over final ministry preparations and to pack food for the trip. After this we left for the airport around 5 pm and our flight left for Abu Dubai in the middle-east around 8 pm. The flight to Abu Dubai was over 13 hours—this was by far the longest plane ride I ever had. We flew using Etihad Airlines which much like the city of Abu Dubai, was a surprising mix of Western and Islamic values. For instance the airplane had everything in both English and Arabic and had movies from America, Europe, Arabia, and India. From Abu Dubai we had another 4 and a half hour flight before finally landing in Chennai, India on December 30th.

Road construction and people were abundant in India!

Right after we landed into Chennai, I was immediately bombarded with new cultural experiences. The first one I noticed when the doors of the plane opened. India has a scent of its own. It smells like a mix of spices, garbage, and urine. Most of the time it is not a very strong smell, but nevertheless an unpleasant smell. The airport itself was large, but somewhat run down. Not like what you would expect at a Western Airport. In the airport we had to go through customs who enjoyed pestering us about what we were doing in India. This was a somewhat nerve-racking experience especially for the mission team trying to enter into a country that is somewhat hostile to Christians.

Cultural Impressions in Chennai

When we got out of the airport I had to get used to India traffic. The team of 13 packed into a small bus and entered onto the highway. Indians drive on the left side of the road in a chaotic fashion. Motorcycles and large trucks swerve around each other and horns are constantly blazing, reminding cars that there are large vehicles present. Red lights are often not followed. Along the roads are posters of political figures, movie stars, and local businessmen. All Indians know who their leaders are.

This is a road in Chennai by the hotel we stayed in.

The bus took us to the hotel we would temporary be staying at. It was morning when we got to the hotel. The team all slept a few hours. After some much needed rest, the team decided to go see some of the tourist attractions before we left Chennai. We went to the beach at Chennai. At the beach there was a lot of booths set up selling things. There were so many people at the beach. Garbage was everywhere and in the water. It turns out we were an attraction at the beach as Chennai often does not get that many foreigners. Next we visited Spencer Mall in Chennai where we learned how to negotiate like Indians do (which I never got good at). This whole time I was slowly picking up on the culture.

Travel to Repalle

The rest of the day the team got prepared to head off to our next location, the town of Repalle to the North of Chennai. To get to Repalle we got up early the next day and took a train. The train ride was a culture lesson in itself. Everyone uses the train because it is the fastest way around India as the roads are pretty bad. The trains are packed with people especially in the lower classes. People walk back and forth between the cars selling things like at a baseball game. On the train, a small cup of chai tea cost 5 rupees which is about 8 cents in American dollars—money goes much farther in India.

This is a photo of me when I was catching some fresh air on the train.

The train ride took over 6 hours to go from Chennai to Guntur. From Guntur to Repalle we had to take a bus for another hour and a half. As you can imagine, by the time we got to Repalle the team was sick of traveling. I was also beginning to get anxious to start doing some ministry. When we got to IREF in Repalle were we would be doing our ministry at, we were welcomed by thousands of students from the mission that were lined up to greet us. They threw flowers at us and gave us giant flower lei necklaces. It was really overwhelming. This was just the beginning of this awesome journey!

My New Geek Greek Book

Hey look what I got in the mail!

I got a new New Testament interlinear Greek book. Right now I can only kinda read Greek. That is why I bought an interlinear Bible that has the English translation underneath the Greek. Now when I read for my morning devotionals I can read it in Greek and start to pick up on things I learned in class. It really does bring my Bible Geek out of me.

Back on Campus

Last Wednesday was the first day of classes. It is crazy for me to think that school started so quickly. My first class was less than 48 hours from the time my plane touched down from India. Now it is hard to believe that I was in such a foreign land about one week ago.

I must say however, once you get over the culture shock it is good to be back. I think I am going to learn a lot of new things this semester. My classes are really different than in the past. For instance I am writing major research papers in three of my classes. I have only done this in one other class. Being back in America for another semester certainly is a new adventure, but I know my God has all things in his hands! I am ready to see what God has for me during my final undergrad semester.

A picture I took of Trinity’s campus walking back to my dorm from classes.

Mission Trip Description

I wanted to update you all on what I will be doing in India. I leave on the 28th of December and will be there for two weeks, coming back on January 12th. I am excited by the thought that I will be leaving in a week! In India we will be working with a mission called India Rural Evangelical Fellowship (IREF). IREF is located in Southeast India in a town called Repalle in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It is located about 250 miles north of Chennai, which is the city we will be flying into. In this region the primary language is Telugu.

The largest component of IREF is its school. IREF’s school has about 5,000 students that range from kindergarten to college aged. Many of the students at the school are orphans. The rest of the students come from poor families that are hoping to improve their children’s lives by giving them an education. Most of the students come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the school. In addition to the ministries in the school, IREF has also planted many of the local churches in the area. You can find more out about IREF by going to their website: irefusa.org.

During the time my missional team spends in at IREF, we will be having two days of vacation Bible school. On one of the days I will be teaching over two hundred students about Jesus’ love for us. I will be teaching them based off the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11:1-44). We will be performing a skit on this story before I teach. The other day of VBS someone else from the team will be teaching about our need to love others based off the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).

Another thing we will be doing at the school is helping to teach English to the students. Knowing English helps ensure better job opportunities for the students in the future. We will also be doing some things outside of the school. Our team is hoping to go around to some of the churches in the region and be mutually encouraged by our visit. IREF also will be having an evangelism conference, which we will be sharing testimonies at.

The Christmas Story

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

 

Merry Christmas everyone!