When we stepped off the jetway in Chennai the night we arrived, we began to experience the new tourism slogan, “Incredible !ndia” all around us. The walls and dividers of the airport were covered with brightly colored posters of beautiful and exotic highlights of the Indian sub-continent. India is indeed incredible and although not all that I think is incredible would warrant a tourism poster, Susan and I are blessed to be here to experience “Incredible !ndia” first hand.
As we left Chennai, we may have thought we were on an extension of the I-635 expressway construction project in Dallas. The East Coast Road (ECR) from Chennai to Mahabalipuram is undergoing a major renovation and in addition to the asphalt resurfacing, large concrete barriers similar to those in the U.S. are being installed to create a divided highway. While we have seen such divided highways in some of the larger cities in India, these barriers are a wonderful addition to this region of rural
Another significant change for us this year is that we have new accommodations. Just prior to our departure from the states, we received a message that the owner of the house decided to raise our rent drastically. Fortunately for Susan and I, John and Carol Christian had just completed their delightfully comfortable guest quarters at their farm at “Freshwinds” and we were delighted to accept the Christians' gracious invitation to stay with them there. We love having John and Carol as our neighbors and especially enjoy the birds, turkeys, chickens, and cows in this peaceful country home. We do not miss the noise and dust from dozens of hammers and chisels banging away at the Hindu idol-carving factories across the street from our previous house.
Our first Monday morning here, we headed for school in the trusty Jeep. Amazingly enough, third gear was just where I had left it last year. It took me a few minutes to acclimate the first morning, but we made it down the drive to the ECR and we climbed the hill to the newly and greatly elevated highway, dodged a few vehicles coming this way and that, navigated our way through the opening of the new divided highway barrier, and were merrily on our way to Achiever Academy, about 7 km south. For those of you who have followed our adventures in the past, you will be proud of me for remembering to stop at the petrol station to fill up with diesel fuel. As we pulled away from the station we were delighted to discover a VERY welcome change, the fuel gauge is working this year! And that, indeed, is incredible! Sadly, the windshield wipers still remain motionless. We just have to watch for dark clouds coming and make a run for it.
There have been changes in our normal routine at school this year but on our 3rd day here, I was struck with a warm sensation of some things that haven't changed. Susan and I needed some office supplies and I took delight in the knowledge that I knew where to go to get these items without having to disturb anyone by asking where to go. Not only that but the clerk at the stationary store greeted me warmly and welcomed me back. We truly are back in our second home in Mahabalipuram, India. Life is good because God is good!
We are being spoiled by our hosts at Freshwinds as John Sir and Carol Mam keep a supply of fresh cows milk in the freezer of the refrigerator in our quarters. The refrigerator itself is a blessing, being at least twice the size of our previous models. And this one actually works! Carol also provided instruction on another rare convenience here: an electric clothes washer, also at our disposal. Yes, “rare.”, in Incredible India.
Freshwinds itself is a glorious statement of God's creation. The Fire in the Forest tree out side the front door of John and Carol's house is in full bloom, carpeting the drive with a fresh coating of bright orange petals each morning. Just across the drive the mango trees are sagging low with the weight of the abundant fruit. Just beside the drive is a small bush with a beautiful bloom of the shoe flower. Under the window of our bungalow is a plant that hid from me for the first couple of days but when I finally saw it, I was struck by the beauty of the pink orchid.
You might think that this was enough of God's incredible blessing and you would indeed be right. It is enough and more, but our God is an awesome God. Just to prove to me how awesome he is, He gives me a very special gift each morning. As I work in the kitchen preparing breakfast for my beautiful bride, God sends me a visitor. Just 12 inches from the kitchen window a little yellow-breasted sunbird is building a nest for my viewing pleasure. We meet each morning as she puts on her little show for me and I marvel at her delicate hanging nest that grows each day. This morning, she was interrupted by Naggapon, the Freshwinds watchman, as he worked for about an hour, opening the husks of a large pile of coconuts under our kitchen window, preparing to sell them for processing into coconut oil. !ncredible India awaits, just outside our window each morning. In this, our 7th summer in India, it brings me great pleasure to share this special place with the God of creation who meets me here in “Incredible !ndia.” We hope you will enjoy a slice of Incredible !ndia too.