Saturday, October 13, 2018

The India Trip - Learning to Trust God - Part 2

In my last post about my trip to India I mentioned the fact that often God works in us as much as He works through us on short-term missions trips.  I also referred to how, from an early age, I'd get anxious about getting to places on time.

It was an early morning in  mid-October when our plane landed in New Delhi.  We caught a taxi to a guest house in Jangpura where we would stay for the first week.  We were warned not to eat food from street vendors - this was rather hard to do and it wasn't long before we ignored that advice and just ate naturally.  Within 24 hours, our tummies were feeling out of sorts.  We prayed about this and that was the last of our gastronomic troubles for rest of the trip.  And boy, is that Indian food tasty!
The Red Fort in Delhi
The Red Fort in Delhi

Our second week found us staying on an outdoor conference grounds in Delhi, close to Humayun's Tomb.  We were tasked with looking after the kids of missionaries while they were attending a conference for the week.  The dormitories we were housed in were made out of bricks and looked like large igloos.  The door frames on these structures were rather low - I had to duck to walk through them.  One day, someone asked me to run an errand that required I duck into one of these dorms.  In my enthusiasm, I ran and forgot to duck.  That doorframe wasn't moving, and I hit it hard.  It knocked me flat on my back and gave me a large gash above my hairline.  This was a concern, given the general state of cleanliness everywhere.  A nurse in attendance at the conference told me not to go to the hospital, and instead she cleaned the wound herself and tied my hair overtop of it to keep it closed.  We prayed that it wouldn't get infected... and it didn't.  I wore a hat for the next 3 weeks.

After the conference, we were due to leave New Delhi for Lahore, Pakistan.  We caught a rickshaw to the train station and pretty much immediately got stuck in traffic.  Lots of horns and small, loud, poorly carbureted motorcycle engines.  As we inched along I could feel the old anxiety rise inside of me, afraid we're going to miss our train.  It felt like we were stuck in traffic for an hour, and my fear of missing the train gnawed at me the whole time.  Finally getting through that, we arrived at the station with - as it turned out - time to spare to catch our train.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  God was encouraging me that He was in control.  Would I continue to trust Him?

It was an overnight trip to Amritsar on the train (Amritsar was as far as you can go towards Pakistan by train back then), and we had a lot of friendly attention - people curious about us and wanting to share their supper with us.  We tried everything and it was yummy.  When we laid down to sleep that night in our open berth, I was keen to ensure that our packs wouldn't get stolen so I slept 'with one eye open.'  Somewhere around 3am, a figure walked into our room and reached for my pack which was hanging on the wall.  In a quick motion I grabbed their outstretched arm.  They didn't seem too startled and reached behind my pack with their other arm and turned the light on.  The light revealed this person was a soldier with a gun - it turns out a group of them were checking the entire train in a security sweep.  I went back to bed and tried to sleep.

Joanne and I on the roof of the bus in Amritsar,  heading to the Pakistani border
Joanne and I on the roof of the bus in Amritsar,
heading to the Pakistani border
At 6am the next morning we arrived in Amritsar.  We caught a bus which was full, so we rode on the roof to the demilitarized zone between India and Pakistan.  The border crossing itself didn't open until later in the morning, so we waited.

Once the border opened we walked across.  As we entered Pakistan, the two border officials we dealt with were pleasant enough, and very interested in David's pen as we signed the visa documentation.  They were so interested, in fact, that they asked if they could keep it.  David smiled and declined, taking the pen back.  They weren't very busy so we chatted with them a bit, and they gave us some advice on the best way to get to Lahore.  We followed their advice and caught an absolutely packed Toyota van 32 kilometres into the city.

Checking into our hotel in Lahore, we discovered we didn't have our passports and return plane tickets. They had been forgotten in a bag somewhere at the border!  We desperately hoped and prayed that the bag would be there - we didn't know where else it would be.  These were the days before cell phones, so we immediately caught a van back to the border and discovered that the two border officials that were interested in David's pen had saved our bag for us.  We gratefully accepted the bag, and David sensitively turned down another request for his pen.  God was continuing to watch over us, and protect us from ourselves.

We stayed a night in Lahore, and then several nights with some Australian missionaries in Islamabad. Our last stop in Pakistan was in Peshawar - a city notoriously known as a smuggling route between Pakistan and Afghanistan.  We were, in fact, staying with an American family that worked with a federal US Drug Enforcement department there.  We were rather naive to the political and religious climate when we arrived in Peshawar.  Our hosts were late picking us up from the bus stop.  The locals there, seeing we were traveling with a guitar, asked us to play.  I pulled the guitar out and played some songs from church.  They seemed to enjoy this.  However, when our hosts arrived and saw what we were doing, they quickly ushered us into their car and drove us to their house.  In the next 2 decades, I became acutely aware of what kind of place Peshawar was, seeing it on the news quite a bit during the Afghan war with the Taliban.  God was certainly protecting us the few days we were there.

A road with elaborately decorated rickshaws in Islamabad, Pakistan (on the way to Peshawar)
A road with elaborately decorated rickshaws
in Islamabad, Pakistan (on the way to Peshawar)

Click here for more true stories of God working in my life
The India Trip - Learning to Trust God - Part 1
The India Trip - Learning to Trust God - Part 3

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