I’m in India! On Monday afternoon, I flew from Manila to Bangkok on Thai Airways. In the Bangkok airport, I met Dr. and Mrs. Paul Turner, the Asia area directors for Global Partners. We flew on from Bangkok to Mumbai, arriving around 10:30 p.m. India time. After a long wait at the baggage carousel and a stop at the currency exchange to buy some rupees, we were greeted by Dr. Samuel Justin and his son Linus. For many years, Dr. Justin was the regional superintendent for the West India conference of the Wesleyan Church; his son Joel now holds that office. We got into their vehicle and immediately headed for the village of Pardi in Gujarat State. It was raining (this is monsoon season), so it took a little more than three hours for us to reach our destination. The time here is 2 ½ hours earlier than in Manila, so we had basically been up all night, although I did doze off and on along the way. When we arrived in Pardi, the Justins showed us to our apartment. It’s a two-bedroom apartment in a building consisting of a chapel, classrooms, etc. The accommodations are a little primitive by Western standards but very satisfactory for our needs. I put up my mosquito net, climbed into bed and fell asleep immediately.
Tuesday was, more or less, a day of rest and preparation. After we were all up and around and had a very late breakfast, we headed to Vapi, a nearby industrial center. We went to a grocery store and picked up some supplies—breakfast items, snacks, etc. While there, we were privileged to meet Linus’ wife Seema, who is the headmistress of the Wesleyan English Medium School, as well as one of their computer teachers. The school has just added the tenth standard and has about 700 students. I was given a very attractive school magazine with lots of color photos, student artwork, poems, etc. We also stopped at a local pharmacy, where Mrs. Turner ordered some medicine, available here at nearly ¼ of U.S. prices. We spent most of the rest of the day in rest and preparation for classes. We are taking our lunch and supper with the Justins. I can’t easily describe the food, except to say that it is very agreeable. We usually have rice of some variety, although it is different from what we eat in the Philippines. There is always chapatti—bread made by grinding grain into flour and adding water to make dough, which is then kneaded, rolled, and baked flat. There is also some kind of similar bread that is fried in oil. The main protein dish is usually some kind of meat or lentil stew, flavored with curry and/or other spices.