Father God surprised us once again with a challenge of which we had only recently dreamed. A three hour flight followed by a 2 hour layover followed by a 8.5 hour flight followed by a 3 hour layover followed by a 9 hour flight definitely set the experience in motion. Whew! I’m a professional sitter and it was still one of the longest days of my life. Dallas to DC to Frankfurt, GE to Chennai, India. We started at noon CST on Tuesday and made it to Paul’s car at 2:00 AM Thursday morning IST (India Standard Time). There are few things that leave me in more natural awe than to get on a plane in Texas and get off a plane in 2 different foreign countries in one day. Well, 3 if you count DC. It will explode your mind if you think about it too long. We did lose about 10.5 hours in the process. No one has yet been able to explain where the extra 30 minutes comes from. Paul met us in the receiving line outside the baggage claim area and led us to the parking lot where a driver loaded up the car and transported us through the winding, noisy, overcrowded streets of Chennai to the YWCA for safe keeping.
Thursday: It seems like any day but Thursday as we awake from our sleep into our grog. We have lost 10.5 hours and our bodies are feeling it as well as our brains. Breakfast is an interesting combination of white toast with jelly of some sort; rice cakes that remind us of To in Dano, Burkina Faso; hard spicy donuts and brewed coffee with cream. The coffee is amazing and Charlie indulged himself with three cups. We had two more cups of the wonderful stuff while out and about today along with a piece of apple pie while we waited for the music store to open. The music store was small but stocked with a good selection of guitars and we had no trouble finding one that would work. We loaded up in the car and made our way to the beach from there. Let I just suffice to say that driving and passengering is absolutely terrifying here. It is reminiscent of several other places I have been although it does feel that the horn is used even more here than any other country in which I have been. It is ludicrous and serves to raise the blood pressure until you finally just give up and accept that the fact that you have not wrecked is simply miraculous. Life speeds along here in cars, three wheeled taxis and on a variety of both motorized and pedaled two wheel vehicles. In all of this is mixed wandering cattle. Go figure.
The Beach: It was huge. Massive. The second longest beach in the world I believe. It was also well stocked with beach vendors and visitors. We stood at the edge of the Bay of Bengal for quite a while and Paul, Laura and Charlie all waded in the surf being warned by a policeman with nothing better to do to stay up out of the surf. His warning was heeded for only a very short time. We were the source of fascination for many. Staring must not be rude here. (It was a first for me, trust me.) I spoke with one man on the beach who instantly asked if he could take my picture with him. I agreed and before long his 4 friends joined us and took several pics eventually swapping me for Charlie. It was a bit crazy and they laughed openly at the situation. I’m pretty sure it is the first time someone other than family has ever asked to have me join a photo.
After the beach our driver carted us to our favorite stop of the day. A boarding house operated by Brother Pauls’s ministry filled with about 30 of the most beautiful, smart, friendly brown boys you have ever seen. Several were still at school and a few had just arrived very recently. We were all three instantly in love with all who were there including the staff. It was amazing. They sang for us at the top of their lungs familiar hymns and we promptly joined in the singing. They showed us their Tae Kwon Do and Western Dance moves also. It was inspiring. Their attitudes and determination moved us deeply. Plus, they were simply adorable as you can see. We then pulled out the guitar and sang for them. Most were very attentive and seemed to enjoy the music greatly. A couple of the new little ones yawned and dozed and I can’t say that I blamed them. It was warm, dry and Laura’s lovely voice was serenading them. Beautiful. Leaving the orphanage, Paul showed us another facility being built right now that will eventually house these boys so that they can use the current structure to house girls. In faith, he simply took out a loan and began to build the new facility. He is looking for folks now who can help purchase the new building. I have no doubt that God will provide givers. He has been so faithful to this ministry and Father God is glorified at every turn.
Godson School: From the orphanage we headed to Godson School auditorium where our concert will take place Saturday night. It is a private, Christian school in which 1000 students are taught. Once again we were flabbergasted with the amazing success. Charlie simply could not believe that this one Indian man had accomplished so much for Lord Jesus and continues to oversee it all. He is truly an entrepreneur for Christ. Each work he establishes is centered firmly on bringing attention to Father God. As we entered the parking lot we came face to face with a life sized poster announcing the event. It made us laugh with joy and also just made us laugh to see ourselves postered on a huge sign in the middle of Chennai India. Never in our wildest dreams…Charlie ran out and snapped a picture of the billboard sized poster which is at the top of this page. There was a very similar one at the back of the stage where we are playing. We practiced and checked the sound with the assistance of a top notch sound crew of two Indian boys. Charlie on the cajon drum. Laura on the keyboard and me hammering away on the new guitar. I almost had to pinch myself. We were deeply humbled by it all and by how graciously we were treated by every single person we met. The people at the orphanage and the school were amazing and kind. They went out of their way to treat us like royalty. We were overwhelmed after only one day…