I sit here thousands of miles from home on a mattress which offers little more comfort than a board (but, on the bright side, promotes outstanding posture) while Harry rides through the moonlit and crowded streets of Orissa on the back of Jyoti’s motorcycle to buy some items for the next few days. Based on my experience on those streets, start praying for Harry right now.
Today we had an early start, waking up at 7:30 (though jet lag woke had Harry going by 4:30) to make the hour long journey to the church we would speak at today. I could write a whole blog about that hour long car ride, the close calls, the animals, the sheer volume of people, any number of fascinating things which we encountered on our time riding that highway out of Orissa, Asia’s second most-travelled road (in case you wanted a bit of trivia knowledge for your next game night). We arrived at this church of about 90 people, and, after a bit of music, Harry delivered a sermon about the Madman of Gadara found in Mark 5. (Update: Harry just arrived back from his motorcycle ride. He has a wild look in his eye, his hair is all blown back, he is jittery. Honestly, he looks a lot like what I imagine the madman who encountered Jesus looked like.) Harry showed the people in attendance how this madman became one of the first ambassadors for Christ, someone who pleaded with people to be reconciled to God based on his life-changing encounter with Jesus. After this I got up and shared a testimony relaying some of the points and echoing the message that we all have had a life-changing encounter with Jesus which we need to share. We closed with a time of prayer and headed back on the road.
On the way back to the complex, we stopped by for a surprise visit at Jyoti’s sister’s house where we met many of his family members. These people welcomed us with open arms, thus continuing the trend that I have noticed: Indian Hospitality > Southern Hospitality. I’ll stop there in case I am offending anyone’s heritage.
With every passing minute we become more and more adjusted to the climate, culture, and time zone. The complex where we stay is shared by many families and Harry and I (mainly me), have become the main form of entertainment for these people. Oh no, we do not have to talk to them, perform for them, or put forth any effort to attain this role, they are fully content to sit there and stare at us as we go throughout the day (ironically, they just interrupted my writing of this to take pictures with me out on the porch). While I walk around this campus, they all smile and wave as the unfamiliar young American yells “hello” with a large grin. Without fail, in every conversation I have with these sweet people, they utter a broken sentence which evokes friendship, community, and warm feelings between us: “Have a mango.?!” (I added the extra punctuation because sometimes they state, sometimes they ask, and sometimes they force mangoes upon me). Though these people do not have much, they have an abundance of mangoes from the trees on these grounds and, even out of their lack, they give freely (and as a result I am rather tired of mangoes, but I dare not refuse their gifts).
Have a mango.?! This is what I hope to do for the people here in India while I am among them. Only, I have no mangoes. Silver and gold? I don’t have that either. However, what I do have is an everlasting and abundant life given to me through Jesus Christ. This life will be my mangoes which I will give freely. I give my mangoes. I give my life. I give His life.
Keep on keeping on in Him,