How on earth do you sum up 5 months that has exposed you to a completely different view of the world that can’t really be described in words. ‘Culture’ doesn’t mean much till you can really comprehend that whole groups of people do, say and see things in a completely different prespective. It’s hard to explain without be submerged in it, you can think you understand but it’s unlikely…after months it still surprises you. I’m told even after years it’s still revealing itself.
Sat eating my homecoming breakfast with my family it felt like I hadn’t been done and India felt like a distant blurr. Not knowing what to say I’ll explain how I spent my time…
December 6th I got on a plane for just over 2months in India. Having no idea what was coming or what to expect. And early on the 7th December I arrived. My first reaction was that I loved it and never wanted to leave the instant I saw it from the window of my taxi and at exactly the same time I almost cried thinking about how I actually wasn’t going to see my family for 2months including Christmas. But as broken as it looked it was beautiful.
I spent my first 3 or so weeks in Lonavala with Sarah McColler staying in her house and hanging around the YWAM base where she teaches in The School of Biblical Studies. I was really welcomed by the members of the base and it gave me very gentle introduction to India which was a complete blessing to prepare me for my rest of my time in India. I joined the base local outreach and got to visit local slums and the people living there. Before I left Lonavala Sarah left to go on her visa run (on a tourist visa you can only stay 6months at one time and if or when you’ve stayed as long as you can you have to leave for 2months before you can come back.) and Merete arrived. With Merete I went on more local outreach and also got one of my most speical memeories. There is an old Aunty who Merete always used to visit on outreach and she invited her to dinner and I came along. She had so little but still she opened up her heart and home to us. She said that normally even people who come on outreach won’t it their food or drink their water and that it was very special that we had dinner with her. I decided then that even if I got sick I would eat and drink when offered with the people I visited. I didn’t want to my actions to give the impression that people weren’t precious instead to show how much people are worth.
After being in Lonavala i went to Delhi for Christmas, spending Christmas day with Russel, Nuno and Evelyn. It was a special and fun day which was a relief as it was my first Christmas away from my family. Russel, Nuno and I visited the Taj Mahal which is truely beautiful. Delhi was suprisingly cold but it was fun to explore espeically made easy by the metro there which made me very happy to wander around on my own…and my ipod turned up lload delt with the ridiculously persistant touts who just wanted to ‘practise’ English. On news eve I got on to the train to head to Bangalore, my home for the next 33hours and where I spent new years…the new year came in with a porter down the train somewhere yelling ‘happy new year’ and then I turned over and went to sleep…haha hopefully this year it will be more eventful.
In Bangalore I stayed with Janet who founded and runs http://www.viadesign.org/ Apart from the most amazing belated news years with wonderful food and my first pedicure, it was good to see how Janet was working with women through craft to help change their lives. And it was fun teaching the women how to knit and hang out with I also got to see a medical centre in the process of being built and see the first water come up as they drilled a bore well, so local people can have safe drinking water. Also in the middle of my time there i visited Chennai and stayed with Chloe. I got to visit the beach and also hilariously asked by a 10yr old boy if I’d give him a kiss ‘just one’…ha no!
From Bangalore I came back to Lonavala to the base for the Arts Gathering, which is a conference for ‘astists’ to come together and meet with their creator. It was a really good time of creation and inspiration. I also met Joel and Veta from Pause Productions who have set up a production unit to teach women to stitch and make products. Through meeting them I went to stay with Joel and his wife Ellie and his sister in-law Rebecca and their hilariously funny daughter Mira, who re-christened my Aunty Moew Moew (what she calls pussy cats) to do some product development and teach some knitting in Pune.
I also was sitting in on ywam’s school of biblical studies lessons (SBS) which helped me to actually feel I was capable of understanding the Old Testament so I ended up with a new excitment for the Old Testament that was a nice unexpeced extra. It also addressed some of the big questions about understanding Gods character which no one before then had any answers to.
I also started teaching women to knit through the local outreach of the base and out of the Another Way seems to be coming! I also visited Joel and the team a number of times before I left and plan to continue to work with them in the future…especailly as a large part of my bag coming home was full of their lovely approns and cushion covers. I also went with Sarah, returned from her visa run, to Mysore to meet Romel and go to his SBS graudation, with a bit of compulsory sight seeing. And also managed a trip to Nagaland to join a ywam team on outreach their who were running another Arts Gathering there and did a workshop on creativity.
And I guess I missed lots out yet still written an essay and not really talked much about what it was like but I’m not sure I know how to. There were many things I saw that I don’t know how I feel about and I’m not so sure I’m ready to think too much about it either. Part of me is too scared to open that door as I’m not sure what would come out. But I guess I do know that I’ve changed I can’t exactly say how but I know that I’m more comfortable in myself and God has reminded me that I have got something to say thats worth listening to which I had been really crushed by before I left to visit India. And now there is the future a exciting terrifying unkown adventure! At least I know that I am going back in September to keep working with the women I’ve already met and to met more. And in the process of doing that set up my own project and business called Another Way. And then to go to India again in January to do a 3ish month imersion Hindi course as one of my greatist fraustrations is not being able to communicate with the women I’ve met. And hopefully I’ll get to travel to other countries as well to find other opportunities to bring hope through trade to open the door to transform peoples lives.