hugs and great smiles from our dear friends, John & Carol Christian. What a
warm welcome home!
It had been a long trip covering 2.5 days, from Houston to Chennai, and we
were happy to finally be back in India. We purchased tickets at a great rate,
but when CheapOAirfare.com wanted to charge us $45 apiece for 3 seats together, we went “CheapO” ourselves. We decided to trust in God and the airline and opted out of the $135 expense. When we checked in at the airport, we were delighted to find our assigned seats were all together in the center of the second cabin, which seemed like an answered prayer. When we boarded, however, God demonstrated His abundance when we learned that the airplane was half-empty and we could choose our own seats and spread out over several rows. Quite a treat for a 14 hour flight to Dubai. After a layover in Dubai, the connecting flight on to Chennai was a little more crowded but we were all together and it was only
about four hours and quite acceptable.
When we arrived in Chennai, we were greeted with unusually cool temperatures - 73 degrees (although 3:00 AM) and quickly claimed our bags and cleared customs. There was no wait at the taxi stand and there was a currency exchange 30 feet away so within a half hour, we were headed to Mahabalipuram in an “A/C Taxi”.
A week before our departure from Texas, our Indian hosts, John and Carol Christian, had invited us “come home for breakfast” at their lovely farm home, Fresh Winds. What a joy to be greeted with those glorious smiles and welcome hearts. Soon we were enjoying fresh mangos and French Toast and best of all, fresh milk from the Fresh Winds dairy.
We enjoyed renewing our close friendship and after a short visit, John drove us to our rental home in the village, which is the same house we stayed in last year. We were excited to be moving into the house so soon in our visit, as we had previously stayed in a hotel for several nights as logistics were arranged. We got REALLY excited when we found that not only did the air conditioners in
both bedrooms turn on, they actually pumped cool air. The refrigerator was in place and yes, it seemed to be working, too. Was it too much to hope for the well pump to actually deliver running water as well? We were not disappointed as we settled our luggage and enjoyed a refreshing shower for the first time in 3 days. Still in awe of how easy and comfortable our arrival had been, we thanked God and settled in for a long nap to sleep away a bit of the jet lag.
We’ve accumulated a number of Indian household items through the years and we store them at the Acts of Mercy office between visits. Before leaving us at the house, John had arranged for Justin, the Acts of Mercy caretaker, driver, and jack-of-all trades, to pick us up in the afternoon so we could retrieve our home items and pick up the Acts of Mercy van, our main transportation during the month we will spend here. As I shook off the cobwebs from the nap, I heard the familiar honk of the school bus and was excited to see Justin and school bus full of children, all waving at us with great big smiles. Susan was still a little groggy and missed the bus, but Charlie (our mission partner this year) and I climbed aboard and enjoyed delivering each of the children home. Back at Achiever Academy, my focus switched to re-familiarizing myself with the van and I was glad I remembered that there is no working gas gauge in this near-ancient vehicle. After getting reassurance from Justin that there was plenty of petrol, we headed back to the house to pick up Susan and headed to our favorite restaurant for dinner.
We received a very warm welcome from the waiter at the restaurant and were honored when he remembered Susan’s and my favorite order and even how we preferred it prepared. Soon after we ordered, the owner of the restaurant, our friend Jacques, came by to give us a warm and familiar greeting and we enjoyed renewing our long friendship with him. How wonderful to have such good friends and relationships half a world away.
After a delicious dinner we dropped by the market to pick up a few staples to get us through the next day and once more, realized how good it felt to be “home“ again in Mahabalipuram. When we walked in the market we were greeted us with a squeal from Kavita, the gracious office manager of Acts of Mercy, and the one responsible for all our living arrangements. Kavita introduced us to the clerk at the market and a new friendship was formed. Susan had just been talking about how our relationships are similar to a spider web in that we have direct contacts with individuals, but there are also so many branches of people who know the same people we know. Our web of influence and blessing in India just keeps widening. No trip to the store is quick, as Susan frequently discovers a few more things we might need but it was not long before we were on our way with a 5 gallon bottle of drinking water, juice, cereal, bread and a flat of fresh eggs, and a generous supply of cleaning products.
As I wove the van through the traffic and pedestrians (both human and bovine) I was contrasting the ease of transition these three travel days to India had been - a stark contrast to previous trips here. Those who have followed our previous travels to India may remember that in years past, we have waited more than a day for air conditioning and sometimes longer for a refrigerator. Fresh, clean water was iffy at best. How could we have ever imagined just four years ago that we would be able to fly to India, be greeted by true Christian friends, easily move into a wonderful house for a much needed nap, have a vehicle provided, enjoy a
delicious dinner and shop on the way home. It was a blessing to be greeted as treasured friends and made so very welcome at every stop.
On the drive home, we marveled at all the blessings of our warm “Welcome Home”. Comfortable, spacious airplane seating. Unseasonable cool temperatures in India. Easy navigation of our airport arrival. Wonderful breakfast with dear friends on an Indian farm. (Did I mention the milk? ) Simple move-in process for our home for the next month - so simple we had time for a long nap. Delicious dinner and the renewal of friendships all across the village. Yes, it was a very comfortable and happy “Welcome Home”.
It reminds me of a favorite prayer: "God is good all the time. All the time, God is good. For such is the nature of God."
From our home in India to yours,