Our first experience in India entailed meeting a team from a seminary working with IREF. They had just finished their stay and we met up with them at the YWCA we stayed at as they we leaving and we were going. We hopped right into relationship with them! It was so amazing to see how our Maker planted them right in front of us to learn and see Him in them starting off this time in India. As we had dinner with this group of 8 or so, we broke into smaller discussions. The Almighty drove all this in directions He wanted. We don't know the significance of this encounter with the team, but we sure are happy we met them. We have decided that we love to meet other missionaries and learn from them. Our few hour hang out time ended with a guy named tony lifting us up to the Almighty for our time in India. This guy also has possible hook-ups for Andrew in Belmont, and me (evan) with bible college. He also asked Him when my luggage would show up.
So we got in a tight van, went to the train station and prepared for a 4 hour long train ride to Repalle from Chennai (formerly Madras). As we entered the train i cannot even find the words to describe this. If I had the camera at the specific moment i would have followed on what Steve Leigh said prior to departure, "If you want to remember something or want to describe something to someone- TAKE A PICTURE!" We entered into a wobbling train half-filled with sleeping Indians, trying to find sleeper bunks. This was one time i was glad i didn't have a back pack. We crammed in tight in separate bunks about the size of coffins throughout this one train car. Shortly after getting comfortable and some asleep- an employee asked me for my ticket. Discombobulated and exhausted, I answered with, "check another bunk with a man who has my ticket." There were probably 50 people or so in this train car, and i had no idea where they were sleeping because we were spread apart. So the man named Michael who had picked us up and was taking care of our transportation apparently handled it all. Because he walked away after my response.
We got to this place here, IREF. It is a beautiful complex. To see what has been done is amazing. We we're greeted with breakfast and a warm welcome by an american professor from the seminary team we met earlier named Greg Carlson. He was staying later to finish the youth conference. We sat down with Dee and Emmanuel Rebba and it was so great just to be with these wise people.
We hopped right into it!!! We were escorted to the youth conference across the street IREF was holding similar to Dare 2 Share. We had no idea what we were in for. We entered this huge tent holding 5,000 children. As we were the last ones in- all 10,000 eyes stared at us as we walked to the front. We had the pleasure and opportunity to share our trip testimony, play music and I got to give my own testimony. We listened to the beautiful Indian worship music that is indescribable. With the sitar and unique drums and synthesizers we had that impacting moment of, "we are definitely in India." We finished out listening to testimonies of some children (ages 7-23ish) about what had happened with them in their walk with the Father during the conference.
The second day (which was the last day of the conference) was very unique. After ending we served water for the kids eating, then commenced in a raving mad game of destructo-ball. We ran around with a violent group of a few hundred boys kicking, punching, heading and spiking this soccer ball. Interesting though- the children (most of them) weren't very interested in the game or anything but relationship. They would run up repeatedly asking "what's your name? how are you?" but it never was hackneyed. They would just crowd around you (20-40 of them) holding your arms and hands asking these questions and other things in Telegu. But this hour long event held a few foot-races, tag, hand stands, volley ball (red-rover style) basket ball. Real quick, (and i don't know how i am going to do a good job explaining this) but as we were playing basketball i ran up to one of the older ones who was very aggressive in his style of playing. I ran up shuffling my feet waving my arms- very uncoordinated and loony. His reaction was kinda one of those "you had to have been there kinda things." He hunched over and tried to nearly go through my legs. Enough said.
We are looking forward to the upcoming tent meetings where 15,000 people come and hear about the Almighty. We are also excited about the future interaction of deeper relationship with the guys. India is hot or cold. It is an oppressed place- and few have found the hope that our Creator has given us as a gift. We are looking forward to learning from and serving our brothers and sister and loving the cold as best we can in this month.