Notes from India

An "auto-rickshaw" on the streets of Bangaluru
An “auto-rickshaw” on the streets of Bangaluru

It’s super late for me (10:17 pm on a weeknight!) and I should really be getting to bed, but it’s been over a week since we got back from India, and I want to make sure I write down some of my thoughts from that wonderful, exhausting, whirlwind of a trip.

First of all, everyone thought we were crazy for taking a toddler on a trip that had about 34 hours of transit time. Well, I have something to say to you guys: you were right :). It does take a little bit of insanity to take on a challenge like that, but I had two things going for me: 1) I am a little insane, and 2) my wife is even more insane. Between the two of us, we had enough crazy to cover it just fine. Amber did a fantastic job, and I can honestly say that while it wasn’t miserable like many predicted, it certainly was challenging and tiring.

India itself is beautiful, messy, disturbing, dirty, rich, scary country that reminds me a lot of my African home, yet it’s also completely different. The people are wonderful, the food is spicy, the clothing is colorful. The collision between the old and new is evident in explosions of culture that sometimes result in very real casualties.

I was shocked to hear of women committing suicide as result of arranged marriages by their parents. The new generation looks to the West and wants to marry for love—perhaps even across social class boundaries—and who can blame them? Yet this isn’t how it’s been done. It’s still not how it’s done for many, many people…and this idea brings so much conflict to families that some women decide it’s just better to leave their life all together.  Weddings in this developing country are also becoming more and more expensive due to influences from the west, and traditionally the bride’s family pays for the celebration. Because of the massive financial burden that this could bring, and the shame that would result in not being able to pay for the wedding, people are now killing their female babies! These are just some of life-and-death struggles this country is engaged in as it seeks to simultaneously join the global village and retain is unique cultural character and way of life.

There are anti-conversion laws there, so you’re not allowed to openly attempt to convince someone of the truth-claims of your religion. It’s difficult to be a missional Christian in India. I have been reminded once again that we enjoy liberties and comforts here in the United States are truly are rare worldwide. Yet, I live a shallow, ungrateful life—rarely exercising my freedom to share what Christ has done for me. I was reminded that the rest of the world has time for tea and spends time with family. I’d often rather work an extra hour than build a Lego tower with my one and half year old or relax for thirty minutes over coffee with my wife. I’d rather blog than take ten minutes to thank God for plenty to eat, relative security, and total access to Scripture and so many helpful resources to understand it.

I had forgotten what it means to see beggars on the corner. Elderly women, with no place to sleep except cement covered in cow crap. Chances are none of them have heard the Gospel. And it’s not just adults on the street, but children playing in filth, eating who knows what and with no clean water. I walked by a child in this condition, with a Diet Coke in my pack and homemade brownies in my stomach. I gave them a dollar. Didn’t even think to give them the bottle of water in my pocket or prayer from my heart. Sure didn’t mention the name of Jesus. The memory makes me want to weep. What kind of person am I? Not the kind that deserves what I have, that’s for sure.

My family is wonderful. It was absolutely worth the whole trip to see little Jensen enjoy his Ama, Apa, and Uncle (who he called Adoo), and to see them enjoy his antics, smiles, hugs.

God was good to us by providing the opportunity to make this journey. He surely spoke to me about being grateful, about loving my family, loving him, and loving everybody else.

I hope I take it to heart.