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Journal, Travel

Day 25: Returning to Delhi

February 16, 2015

For someone who loves writing, I’ve had a surprisingly hard time writing consistently during our trip. For our time in Sri Lanka I can make use of Dengue as an excuse, but even that meant mostly that I had a ton of time to sit and write if I had so chosen. For India I could make the excuse that we’ve been on the move so much, that we haven’t had time or wi-fi, or that our schedule has been to full for me to write, but in reality there were plenty of gaps in time where I could have sketched out a quick outline of our day-to-day activities and the like.

As I think about it now, typing on our Ipad while we drive through the rich green of small farms, punctuated with huddles of grass huts and the occasional brick factory  on the road from Agra back to Delhi, I believe the bigger issue is that I’m not exactly sure what to write. Perhaps the best word for India is overwhelming. The word carries with it negative connotations, but I don’t mean it in exactly a negative way.

There’s just so much to take in when you travel through India. Even the smallest of villages is a world wildly different from the structured, glittering cleanness of the west. Drive though any city and there’s a thousand things that pile up to coat your senses. The crush of anything-goes traffic,  the smell of hundreds of spices being used by equally as many street food vendors, the sight of poverty expressed in fields of tents under overpasses and children clothed in only layers of dirt, the grandeur and beauty of mughal ruins and ancient temples; all of it and more piles up to overwhelm.

In the midst of it all Kelly and I have been driving (riding, to be more precise – we hired a driver who knows the area), walking, and attempting to take in all that we can and capture at least some of it for ourselves and for sharing in photographs and video. Somewhere along the way a day or two ago I realized I was thinking more about capturing the moment than the people in the moments I was capturing. To avoid the overwhelmingness I started to think of India and it’s sights and people in terms of photographs rather than in terms of people created in the image of God and in need of the love of Christ.

We’ve got two and a half days left here in this country. In a couple hours we’ll arrive back in Delhi, completing our tour of the classic “golden triangle” of northern India and seeing amazing historical places like the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and the others. So far I feel like we’ve been driving from one tourist attraction to the next. My hope for the next couple days in Delhi is to get my feet on the ground and walk the city streets to ineract with people, taste a tiny bit of what life is like for a normal Indian in the city, and embrace the overwhelmingness of a culture that’s so drastically different than ours.  I know that I’ll have much more to write as we return to normal life in the States and I have time to process and put together the pieces that have been given to me by this country.

Journal, Travel

Day 21: 10 Things Learned in Delhi

February 11, 2015
  1. It’s crazy dusty.
  2. Anywhere there’s shelter can be used as a house.
  3. One way streets? What one way streets?
  4. Delhi is the most polluted city in the world. Google it.
  5. Lunch for three people is less than $6.
  6. It’s completely possible to fit two adult males and a large pig in a tuk-tuk.
  7. Sometimes people want pictures with you just because you’re white.
  8. Chandni Chowk is crazy and has to be experienced if you’re in the city.
  9. Being able to ignore people is an essential skill for survival.
  10. Tuk-Tuks in Sri Lanka are a vast array of colors and each driver adds their own touch, identifying themselves as buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or just a bit of their own personality. In Delhi, Tuk-Tuks are all yellow and green and basically all plain.
Journal, Travel

Day Eight: Dengue

February 5, 2015

*Note: due to the fact that I was hospitalized, sick, and without internet for the majority of days 9-16, these posts are being published after-the-fact.

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Sometimes plans change. Sometimes you’re not prepared no matter how prepared you are. Sometimes you get bitten by the one mosquito out of ten thousand that is carrying Dengue Fever and end up having to be on bed rest for three days and in the hospital for two.

It started out with a rash on my knee that both Kelly and Emily were worried about and Danu and I both ignored. The rash spread across most of my body after a full day in the sun at the beach, and after a little research on the web we determined it was most likely prickly heat rash and that my Minnesota-bred body wasn’t thrilled about the heat. It wasn’t irritating or anything, so I ignored it.

A couple days later after a two hour ride on a packed bus to have lunch with some friend’s of Danu’s I began having a fever and pretty harsh headaches, which we chalked up to heat exhaustion. However, when things didn’t improve after a night’s sleep in an air conditioned room and plenty of fluids, Kelly insisted that we go to a doctor. Thus began my short tour of Sri Lanka’s medical system.

First we went to a government hospital since it was the closest. We stood in line for 15 minutes and then were directed to stand in line at the door to the OPD office. Lines are treated much like traffic here. First come doesn’t necessarily mean first serve; it’s the person who is the most aggresive in asserting themselves that gets the right of way. Eventually we pushed through and sat down at a small square table in the small square room for about a minute while the doctor asked several questions, checked my pulse, said that she thought I might have viral fever, and motioned for us to leave, handing us an illegible prescription. It ended up being for 5 different drugs, all thoroughly non-descript and generic. The total cost, 500 rupees (about $4)

We left the government hospital feeling none too confident about the diagnosis and the drugs, so later that evening we drove to one of the private hospitals in Galle city and were able to see one of their doctors after only a 10 minute wait. The contrast was drastic. We spent about 15 minutes talking, he checked me over, and said that I most likely had viral fever but that we should do a blood test to make sure it wasn’t Dengue. He prescribed two drugs, one for the for the fever and one for the headaches. Total cost, 3200 rupees ($25).

Turns out it’s a very good thing that the blood tests were done. The results came back Dengue positive.

Dengue’s no fun and can have potentially deadly complications if you’re unlucky enough to get one of the worse strains like Dengue Hemmorhagic Fever, nick-named breakbone fever due to the intense muscle and joint pain accompanying the fever. A couple patients I read online talked about feeling like their legs were broken. Apparently the nick-name is serious.

Thankfully the more serious forms of Dengue are fairly rare, and even they are only rarely fatal. So far all I’ve had is some splitting headaches, dizziness, and overwhelming tiredness that’s made me sleep probably 16 hours a day for the last couple days. No fun when you’re supposed to be out enjoying the beaches and local markets.

Tomorrow we’ll go back to the hospital to get a doctor’s advice on what to do. Hopefully I’ll be healed soon enough that we can continue on with our trip around the island.

Journal, Travel

Day Seven: Salt Water and Sunburns

January 28, 2015

It’s almost been a full week of life here in Sri Lanka. We’ve had a taste of the vibrant chaos of Colombo and now a few days in the calmer ocean-side wor

ld of Galle swimming at the array of beaches, enjoying air-conditioned rooms at Danu’s brother’s guest house, and getting some decent sunburns no matter how much sunscreen is applied.

Galle is the epitomy of a tropical paradise, and our place is not even 50 feet from one of the many ocean inlets.  At the moment Kelly and I are sitting in the guest house’s backyard looking out over coconut and palm trees onto the rolling waves of the oce

A tuk-tuk parked in the jungle

A tuk-tuk parked in the jungle

an. Across the bay is a long peninsula which ends with the stony, over four hundred year old Galle Fort, built originally by the Portuguese and further developed by the Dutch. To our right there’s a stretch of beach, along which Sri Lankan fishermen are doing the slow and laborous work of paddling their surprisingly narrow boats out from shore with its massive nets and then slowly, by hand with about 15 men, pulling the boat and the nets back in to drag whatever fish have been trapped ashore.

Seafood is, of course, a staple here. Danu’s mom flew in from France at the same time that we arrived to see him and to cook for us, and cook she has! Last night we had amazingly delicious fresh-caught tuna curry, rice, another kind of fish that was deep-fried addictive, and a coconut curry. Whereas “fresh caught” in a Fargo grocery store means something along the lines of “caught and frozen while fresh and then shipped at least a few thousand miles,” here it means that it was caught an hour or two ago and you rode in a tuk-tuk maybe a quarter mile to buy the fish from the fisherman’s stand on the beach.

We’ll enjoy more fresh seafood, fruit, and sunshine in the next several days as we leave Galle and make our way up the west coast to Batticaloa, then inland to the mountainous region of Nuwara Eliya and Kandy before returning to Colombo. I’ll do my best to keep updating on an almost-daily basis so people can follow along with our adventures.

The sunset from our guest house

The sunset from our guest house

 

 

 

Culture, Journal, Travel

Day Three: Jesus People

January 26, 2015

God brings people along amazing paths. Take, for example, Roger and Therese. Roger has pastored Colombo Gospel Tabernacle for over 25 years, and both him and his wife have also been the adoptive parents of dozens of orphaned children from around the city over the years. Their spacious, peaceful house is mostly empty now since their children are almost all adults, many married with children and doing ministries of their own, but the house is full of pictures and stories of how God has moved in and through them throughout the years.

Thesere came to Sri Lanka from Seattle in the late 80s after some supernatural prompting and as a single woman with the help of a few locals, began caring for orphan children. Her and Roger met a few years later and were married. They make aimagen amazing team and have impacted a huge array of lives through the ministry to their children and to the congregation at the Tab.

What resonated with me most as we attended the Tab and, later that evening, WoW, a radical charismatic church, was that regardless of where in the world you are God’s people are still the same people. It’s not without reason that the apostle Peter calls the physically separated, ethnic and racially diverse believers in Pontius, Galatia, Cappadocia, etc “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) and the apostle Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” to the church in Galatia (‭Galatians‬ ‭3‬:‭28‬ NIV).

When you enter into the body of Christ you don’t lose your ethnicity, culture, race, language, or identity. Instead those pieces of you are elevated by the beautiful tying-together that takes place as you are united with tens of thousands of others through the blood of Christ. Ignore the language barrier. You’re brothers and sisters with the same daddy. Delight in the cultural differences; your family is an amazing array displaying God’s creativity. Gather together around your savior and king Jesus and you’ll discovery the unity of the faith.

As we sat and shared lunch with Roger and Therese and several others, as we walked Galle Face the night before with Steffan and Sharon, as we worshipped with the people at WoW, I heard the same questions, the same Gospel, and the same praise for the same savior.

I can’t encourage you, reader, highly enough. If you have a chance to step out of your city, state, or nation and engaging with Christians from another culture (even just across denominational lines within your own city) do so! There’s an abundance of joy in meeting family you didn’t know you had.

 

Culture, Journal, Travel

Day Two: Around Colombo

January 25, 2015

Here’s a photographic glimpse of day three of our time in Colombo.  Meeting Danu’s old friends, visiting Galle Face to try out Kothu, and a whole bunch more!

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Journal, Travel

Day One: Landing

January 23, 2015

It’s 6:30 AM here in Sri Lanka, with  an impressive array of birds chirping and singing outside of the screenless windows of the AirBnB that has provided us the two-bedroom upstairs of a house in Colombo, complete with balcony, kitchen, shower, living room, and everything else that we could need for our first few days of the trip. Not bad for less than $40 a night.

Ceiling fans take the place of air conditioning, and thankfully it gets decently cool (upper 70s) after dark. One or two of the places we’ve been thus far has air conditioning, but it seems like that’s out of the norm. Even the airport didn’t have it.

Stepping off the plane into the Sri Lankan airport was stepping from one world into another – new scents, sights,  tastes, and experiences. You can reDowntown Colomboad articles and blogs, see photos and videos,  and hear stories of another country, but you don’t really know anything about it until you’ve been there and driven (or at least ridden) through it’s streets, eaten it’s food, sat down and talked with it’s people, and spent even a short few hours there. Even in the barely 24 hours that we’ve been here, I love this country for how different it is from mine.

It’s strange, thinking back on the mixed reactions people would have as Kelly or I told them that we were taking a trip to Sri Lanka and India. Probably the most common response was “Why would you want to go there?” asked in an incredulous tone that clearly implied that no one in their right mind would go to countries like Sri Lanka and India for vacation. Even the people who were excited for us to go seemed to keep assuming that we were going for some sort of “missions” trip – as if the primary reason for going could only be to do service or be a missionary of some sort.

We so often make judgments about cultures, countries, and even people based on what we’ve seen, read, or heard from afar. Thanks to social media and the internet we have access to tens of thousands of opinions and facts about different political parties, theological camps, cultural groups, and social classes. I know I read plenty of travel blogs and watched plenty of videos about Sri Lanka and India before we left.   It all makes us feel like we know something about those people. We don’t.

Hold off on your judgment calls and opinions until you’ve experienced and known. Jesus made a habit of engaging with people that everyone else assumed they knew because of what they’d heard or seen from afar. The Samaratins. The woman at the well. The woman caught in adultry. The children that his disciples tried to keep from bothering him. He invited all of them in, talked with them, engaged and experienced the world from their perspective. Even though he had the absolute right to pronounce just judgment from heaven, he stepped out into the opposition’s camp, walked the streets, sat down at the campfire, shared meals, and slept in the same houses and on the same ground as them.

The world’s opinion of Christians would change drastically if we lived like that rather than tossing out our judgments and opinions in conversation and social media. Our lives would change if we lived like that, and my guess is that we’d get to have some amazing learning experiences and a whole lot of fun. I know I have so far.

It’s now almost 7AM. The temperature is rising and the birds aren’t anywhere close to finished singing. Let’s see what this day brings!

 

 

Journal, Travel

Back again, off again

January 21, 2015

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written here at theeverlastingfallout. Not for lack of interest, by any means. The last twelve months have been full of working full time, developing things within Threshingfloor, and learning a lot about myself and about Jesus.

After a year off, I’m back again. And I’m off again. Kelly and our friends Danu and Emily, are currently sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting for the first flight in our journey to Sri Lanka and India. It’s going to be an amazing time, and I plan on using some of our open time as we travel from city to city, enjoy the island’s beaches, and get to soak in new cultures to put flesh on the numerous notes and ideas that I’ve had since I took my un-official hiatus from blogging here.
Track with us as we travel here on the blog, on Instagram (#VPadventures), and on Facebook to hear stories, see photos and videos, and to get further details about a couple other big changes that are coming for Kelly and I.