Today was a travel day. We were all up at 5am for so we could catch the 8am train to Chennai. This meant leaving Bijoy's home by seven in case we ran into traffic. Being as I hardly slept last night, I was a bit overwhelmed by all that I saw. Stray dogs everywhere. And I mean everywhere! I have never seen that many dogs before. Blessy and I have a deal. I will protect her from the dogs and she will protect me from the bugs. Yeah! God Help US! One thing that is harsh is the tightness of space. Everything is so close together. Next, that struck me was dirt and trash. Everywhere! And this was all just to the train station.
Once we arrived, we hauled our luggage off the bus and into the waiting porter's buggy. That is when we realized that Abe and Blessy had left one of their bags behind. The one with all their meds and supplements. A quick call to Blessy's brother Benji, and they where on their way to our first train stop for an intercept. It worked! Barely.
Next up was the train ride. Our idea of first class and their idea of first class = way different. But it was comfortable enough and I did manage to catch a few Zzzzz's on the ride. It was hard not to just peer at the countryside though. At one point I looked out and saw a hill of rock formations. Most of the rocks were rounded and were at least 10 feet in circumference. The ones lower to the ground had sayings on them. Sayings like, “Jesus Saves, and John 3:16.” This along with others that depicted Jesus life on earth in picture form. The verse that popped into my head was – If you do not worship me, even the rocks will cry out and praise me. (Esther translation.) What a beautiful picture of that verse that is burned in my head.
Other train notables. There are constantly vendors going back and forth selling everything you could possibly want. Lay's Potato Chips, Masala Dosa, Water bottles, Tea, Chai and many more. We didn't partake, since we were not sure how the food was prepared or if the water was clean. But interesting nonetheless. The guy sitting next to Ed and I ordered a plate of Masala Dosa. Once he finished we were curious as to where he was going to put his plate. He walked up to the door of the train and threw it right outside. Hmmmm – no wonder this country is so dirty. And I don't even want to know if he washed his hands. On to Bathrooms. Yes, they have them. Not funky seats either. But flush and watch it go right on down to the train tracks. Oh My – YUCK! And we watched numerous people walking said tracks. Just Gross!
Arriving in Chennai was also fun. The first thing that assails your senses is the smell. Think outhouse. The next thing that hits you is heat. It is hot here. Not nearly as hot as June and July, but still between 85 and 90. I guess in the summer – the heat is so intense it takes your breath away. Around 110-120. And believe me, you are not going to jump in a local lake or water hole. I just won't even go there for you.
We checked into our hotel. It is really, really nice. But costly by Indian standards. Our snack lunch was around $30USD. For a snack? We went out and bought vegetable and egg pastry puffs for dinner. Enough to feed all 10 of us for 125 rupees (roughly $2.50) and this filled us up. Go figure. Bottled water in the hotel is 60 rupees ($1.20) for 1 liter. While Aquafina at the local grocery was 196 rupees ($4) for 9 two liter bottles. Needless to say – the grocery store wins.
We met with Sheila for awhile this afternoon just planning out our upcoming week. For now – I will tell you that tomorrow is a rest day and for sure shopping is on tap. That is all I am going to say for now. We have a great week in store. Pray that God will use us in a mighty way to show the love of Christ to others.