It has been over a week since we left home and arrived in Shamshabad, a suburb of Hyderabad in the district of Telangana, India. The journey from West to East continues as we are continually adjusting to a new setting with much to see and soak in. At times it becomes easy to compare the things we see with things back home. Personally, I must remind myself I am living in a different country, in a new context where things are different- language, social scripts, the way traffic functions, smells, food and currency. Although we are 8, 516 miles (according to Google) from Fresno I feel a sense of familiarity, a homelike feeling amongst a different culture and people. However, I realize I am a foreigner in a foreign land and I am not an insider in the community around us because of the differences that separate us.
Yesterday, we travelled to Jadcherla, about an hour away from Shashabad, and visited the Mennonite Brethren Medical Center, Bethany Church of Jadcherla, and the MB Junior College for girls and boys ages 16-17. The Mennonite Brethren Medical Center was started in 1952 by Dr. Jake and Ruth Friesen and is still in operation by Dr. Arnold. Our visit was not only to see the M.B. Medical Center but also to see Dr. Ken Friesen’s home, next to it, where he grew up. Following this visit we headed to Bethany church in that same village. Church service was mainly in Telugu and after the team was presented to the church community we headed to the kid’s church. We lead the kid’s church service in English with some Telugu translation (most kids have some English understanding and can speak it) something the team was not expecting. We had loads of fun singing, bible story-telling and playing games. Spending time with these children was amazing and so much fun. After the church visit we headed to the M.B. Junior College where we were greeted warmly by the students and staff. Once we were properly presented we were surrounded by the students, mostly girls. The girls, very happy to see us, asked for our name, grabbed our hand and took us to their room. They were full of energy and as we sat on mats they all sang songs in Telugu; it was a beautiful and melodious sound. I noticed they had henna tattoos which were so intricate. A few minutes later they asked if it was okay for them so do henna on us, we agreed. It was absolutely beautiful to see these young ladies gathered around us, singing, laughing, joking around and showing us their artistic abilities. Our henna tattoos were done in a few minutes with quickness and delicacy; they even wrote their names on our hands so it would be easy for us to remember their names. We were instructed to wait 30 minutes for the henna to dry and did it not realize it would be troublesome when trying to eat and use our hands. After a long day we headed back to Shamshabad and on the way we stopped for chai. Believe it or not it was the fourth cup of chai we had that day. Chai tea seems to bring people together just like coffee does in the States, it is incredible.
Today has been a relaxed day; a day to catch up on rest and academics. There was a bit of rain fall but it stopped suddenly leaving behind a fresh breeze. I am excited and looking forward to the many more adventures, the challenges, the colors, sounds, smells, foods, insights, knowledge and the people we will meet. For now let’s keep the chai coming.