Headlines from First Thoughts

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Welcome to India

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to see your name on a small white sign. It's like a welcome mat in a foreign country. After a huge sigh of relief from making it through customs in India, Kelly and I were then greeted by two welcome faces-- and our names appropriately scribbled on a white sign. Our friends, Sandy and Mercy, arranged for one of their friends to meet us at the Mumbai airport and escort us during our stay. We spent the night in a hotel in Mumbai and woke up the next morning bright and early. Neither one of us could sleep very long, so we waited for our new friend to arrive at breakfast, had a cup of coffee and some toast, and boarded the plane for Vizag.

On the way to the airport, we had our first lesson in driving in India. When in doubt, don't drive! I'm glad I was in the back seat, not the front. These people are crazy. I've never seen anything like it. If there are traffic rules, I don't think anyone abides by them. They just blow their horn and go. And yes, they drive on the other (left) side of the road. I guess that's one of the major things left over from colonialism.

We finally arrived in Vizag, on the southeast coast of India, around 2:00 p.m. We checked into the hotel and arrived at the conference around 5:00 p.m. The conference is being attended by people from Nigeria, Thailand, China, Burma, U.S.A., and of course, India. The 100 participants plus speakers are truly international in flavor. People are dealing with all sorts of issues-- from fighting AIDS in Africa to dealing with a Tsunami on the Bengal Sea. I sat across the table tonight from a pastor who dealt with the Tsnumai on the coastline of India. He has started about 10 churches along the beach.

In their own way, each person carries a sign with them back to their native land. The names are not inscribed yet, but they will be. They will be the names of future believers who will be touched by these people and who will have a church to attend because of this conference. What a welcome.

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