Monday, June 22, 2015

22 June 2015

India itself is very exciting and different. However, the trip to get there was even more so, so far. I spent all of Tuesday packing and getting ready to go, then woke up early on Wednesday to get to the airport. The mission president dropped me off, and talked a lot about how different things would be and how diligent I needed to be. Then, at the airport, things went smoothly. Everything worked like clockwork, and I got on the plane with absolutely no problems. The flight to Chicago was fairly normal, just a 4 hour trip. It felt like forever, but really wasn't that long. Then, I got on the flight to London, with no problems. Everything was normal and going well, except for an hour delay, until 15 minutes before boarding, when I started to feel sick. That got gradually worse and worse until the plane was about to move, when I got sick all over. That took a lot of cleanup, followed by an 8 hour flight. I spent nearly the whole flight being sick over and over, until they moved me to a seat by the bathroom. That completely cured me, and I got an hour or two of sleep. In London, I had a long layover, 4 hours. I spent most of it staring at the wall. Finally, we boarded, and had a 10 hour flight to Bangalore. I didn't get sick again, thank goodness, but it was still a very long flight, where I got basically no sleep. Finally, I arrived in India, and had to go through Immigration. That was an experience. The guy at the station spoke horrible English, and neither of us could understand each other very well. I ended up just giving him all my papers, and he sorted through them and cleared me. Coming out of the airport, President Berret picked me up, and said that I had made it through immigration in record time. Apparently, not being able to speak Hindi really speeds things up! President Berret explained a lot of things about India on the ride to the mission home. Over here, missionaries have three main ways of getting around, besides walking. They have the choice of riding these ancient, indestructible one-gear bikes, auto-rickshaws (basically a motor, a front seat, and a back seat, and very little else), or buses. But, the buses are super expensive, so we avoid those. Very few people here have cars, too. Besides the previously mentioned transportation, they ride bikes, but here it means motorbikes. There are a thousand of those on the road, and there are basically no rules-of-the-road. You'll find anything there, including your normal Indian pests, like stray dogs, occasional rats and snakes, but mostly cows. Those are everywhere. They can get enormous just by eating all the garbage people throw in the streets. Also, you can't drink the water here. 65% of it is contaminated, and so every missionary apartment comes with a water filter system. We also have to be careful with what we eat. Eventually, we arrived at the mission home, which was attached to the mission office. There, I sort of unpacked, and then went out with the APs for a while. We ended up doing nothing, though, because one of them was also sick.

After those very long three days that were mostly spent on a plane, it was Saturday, and I had to take another plane to my area, Rajamundry. What's more, that was the only area that you couldn't fly directly to, and had an important government official on the flight. Oh, and I very nearly showed up too late for the flight because security triple-checked everyone, and once we arrived at the layover at Hyderabad, there was a 2 hour delay because of rain at Rajamundry. Finally, after passing through security again, we were on our way. On arrival, I very quickly met with the elders there, Thompson and Willis. They're good guys! Then, I got all my stuff unpacked, and went out to get some stuff to eat. Indian stores are very, very different. You can't take any bags in, and they have security guards who check your receipts and your bags, searching through them to make sure you aren't stealing anything. It's an experience. Finally though, we finished that and went back to the apartment to finish unpacking and put away my food. We tried visiting a few people, and they were all home! Unfortunately, I don't remember anyone's name, because I can't even begin to pronounce them. 

Sunday was also an experience. At church, everyone is supposed to speak English. They don't, but instead give talks in Teleglish- a combination of Telegu and English. They will be talking in a thick accent, then lapse into Telegu. The whole meeting, I wasn't sure what language they were speaking. That was fun! After church, we went out to visit a family that had a daughter about to come home from a mission to the Philippines. That was pretty good, but only half the family spoke English, and so we had to pause for translation every now and again. That's apparently a big problem here. We aren't allowed to teach most people in Telegu unless we are native speakers, but none of us here are. We can teach part member families and some other exceptions, but that's mostly it. Sunday night, we had a dinner appointment. Those are pretty rare in India. Even better, this was with an investigator family! The lesson went well, on the Plan of Salvation. Something that I very quickly learned is that even the people who do speak English prefer that you speak in second-grade terms, and act like you are talking to a child. Go with whatever works, I guess. The food there was, according to my companion, very good. I'm still not used enough to it to be any sort of judge. 

Some final differences between India and the US: They don't use toilet paper. Instead, they have a sprayer, just like the ones you see on kitchen sinks. Also, they don't use silverware often, instead eating with their hands. That takes some skill, and I'm still not good with it. They have a special method, shoveling with the fingers and pushing with the thumb.

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