India: Day One
That's what today was like. Hurry to the airport. Hurry to get your tickets. Hurry through security [and then get frisked by security!] And then wait for the airplane...wait to get on the plane...wait while on the plane...wait.
We land first in Amsterdam. Then...we wait. Then we have to go through the line in Amsterdam to India...so we wait. Over 25 hours of plane and airport waiting! Sheesh. But I guess this is what it takes to go halfway around the world!
Then, when I finally arrived in Mumbai, I still had more traveling to do! At the airport, I caught a ride in an auto-rickshaw to get to my hotel. I was thinking it was a pretty tight fit for a big guy like me - until I saw an entire family squeezed into the back of one!
On top of all that, I was limping all day. I got into a wrestling match with my 7-year-old daughter on our last night together before I left for the trip. I think I sprained my toe. I can barely walk! This only proves that I am weaker than a 7-year-old girl...hmmm....
Also, on the plane I developed pink eye - gross! I was sleeping on the plane and all of a sudden my eyelids were crusted together. Tomorrow we have to go see a chemist [an Indian pharmacist] for me to get some medicine. Exciting!
All of these things can't ruin my excitement about the trip we are taking. We are going to get to see the Lord work in miraculous ways.
The waiting, the hours in the plane, and even the pink eye is worth it to see this beautiful country, to meet some amazing people, and to see what God is doing on the other side of the world!
The children's song, "He's got the whole world in his hands" comes to my mind, as well as the Scripture, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150)
Check out these fun behind-the-scenes photos from Chris' first day traveling to India!
The Journey Begins
Today's memory verse: "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go..." (Genesis 28:15a, NIV)
It is exciting to travel - and a little scary. Your neighborhood is familiar, but the place you are going to will be strange:
- People dress differently
- Eat different food
- What other things are different?
When you take a trip, you leave the familiar things behind... or maybe not. Some people pack a lot of their favorite things in their suitcase:
- Favorite shoes
- Snacks to eat
- Video games and music
- What favorite things did you take along the last time you traveled?
"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
In Bible times, some people were afraid to travel because they thought they would have to leave their gods behind. Their gods lived on a mountain or in the sea. People made images of their gods and put them in the house for protection. But when a person traveled to another country, their god either stayed behind or was stuffed into the baggage and tied to the camel.
Talk about it: Can you imagine traveling with a god in a suitcase? What do you think of a god that has to be carried along like an iPod? Can you leave God behind?
What if you were going on a journey to a new place? If you could only pack a small suitcase, what would you bring?
Activity: Have your parents help you find a small box and then pack it for an imaginary journey around the world.
- If you could only choose 4 things for your suitcase, what would you take?
- If you could only pack 1 thing?
- Talk with your family about what you chose and why.
Explore on your own: Time zones
- What is the history?
- How are they used?
- What would the world be like without them?
Did you know...?
The Indian city of Kolkata (Calcutta) is the last place on earth where hand-pulled rickshaws are still commonly used.
Hand-pulled rickshaws are used mainly for short trips - women going to the market; businesses making deliveries; even children going to school.
Rickshaws are especially useful during the monsoon season, when torrential rains turn the roads into rivers. Often rickshaws are the only way to get through on flooded streets where motorized vehicles are unable to pass.
It is hard to know exactly how many of these human-powered rickshaws are in Kolkata, since rickshaw pulling is technically illegal - no licenses have been given in India since 1945. Some estimate as many as 20,000 are still in use.
However, thousands of poor laborers (mostly immigrants from the impoverished neighboring state of Bihar) rely on the income from pulling rickshaws and the tradition continues.
Most people in India don't own a car. Rickshaws give families an inexpensive way to get around. It costs about 20 rupees (50 cents) to take a short ride to the market, doctor's office, or the local bazaar.
In India, there are three main kinds of rickshaws:
Auto rickshaws are used everywhere in India, especially in large cities. These are small motorized three-wheelers. You will often see an entire family crammed into this small vehicle! Indians call these "tuk tuks" because of the sound their engines make. There are an estimated 55,000 registered auto rickshaws just in the capital city of New Delhi.
Bicycle rickshaws are also seen in smaller cities and towns, and even villages. They are sometimes ornately decorated.
Hand-pulled rickshaws are outlawed in India, but are still used in some areas. A person (usually barefoot) runs in front holding a metal bar while pulling the rickshaw passengers to their destination.
Rickshaws were first seen in Japan in the 1860s and were introduced in India in the 1880s. At first they were used mainly to transport goods, but in the 1900s India's rickshaws became a popular way for people to travel.
What other ways do people get around in India? Bicycles, small motorcycles, and buses are common. In large cities, people also use local trains to go from one neighborhood to another.
What would your life be like if your family didn't have a car? How would it make things easier? Harder?
Explore on your own:
NationalGeographic.com: Kolkata's Rickshaws. Features a 2008 article on rickshaws in Kolkata, a photo slideshow, and a short video.
City of Joy by Dominique LaPierre. A searing look at life for a rickshaw puller in a Calcutta slum: the struggle for survival, the violence, and the social and cultural practices. (Recommended for older readers)
Activity: To imitate the rickshaw, have an adult drive your kids around in a wheelbarrow for a few minutes and then have them try to be the driver. Then discuss the difficulty level of this job and what life must be like for rickshaw drivers in India.
My name is Lamal, and I live in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
My dad is a rickshaw puller. My mom left when I was young, so he has to take care of us all alone. He works hard to provide for me and my two brothers.
Before sunrise each morning, Dad cooks us some food, then he goes straight to work. No matter if it is hot, rainy, or cold, Dad never misses a single day!
Dad rents his rickshaw, so some of the money he earns every day has to be given to the rickshaw's owner.
Someday, Dad hopes he'll earn enough money to send all three of us kids to school.
After Dad leaves for work in the morning, my brothers and I play with other kids on the streets. I had fun jumping and playing in the deep heap of smelly garbage on the side of the road. I even collected junk from the garbage and sold it at the scrap shop to earn a little money. Sometimes we stole stuff when no one was looking.
One day, a nice lady from our area noticed us playing in the garbage. She was shocked at how dirty we were. Our faces were smeared with slimy mud and rotten garbage.
The lady was nice to us even though we smelled bad. She invited us to a Children's Bible Club. She said there would be games and a snack and other kids to play with. We were so excited!
We wanted the lady and the other kids to like us, so we did our best to dress neatly the next day when we went to the Club. The Club leader let us pick where we wanted to sit, and she taught us how to be clean and have good manners. We take baths now, and my brothers and I always come to the Club on time.
I learned how to pray, recite memory verses, and sing worship songs. I really love listening to the stories about Jesus - that is one of my favorite parts about the Club!
NOTE: Lamal and his siblings are continuing to learn about Jesus, but they have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior yet. Will you pray for them?