by Barbara Ann Oliver
After a month of being in India, we have finally run into some rain. Funny how something so simple can bring such a feeling of normalcy, of all’s-right-with-the-worldness.
Bangalore is a city of about six million people, near the middle of India. Swamy and Saroja live in a rented house in a nice area of the city. They will have to move because they are struggling with the rent, but for us, it is perfect!
Don and Beverly Norwood are here, and we are having a great time visiting, eating, shopping, and most importantly, worshipping and fellowshipping with the brethren in Bangalore. The Sunday worship was four hours long! I must admit that I was getting very tired of sitting. J.C. spoke for an hour. Then Don spoke for another hour. Then Swamy introduced all the preachers who had spent the last week at the school, gave three of them an opportunity to tell their story, then presented each one with a gift.
Afterwards, Swamy, Saroja, Sheila (their daughter-in-law), the Norwoods, Choates, and I went to a Chinese restaurant. Because of the rain, we did not travel to another congregation that night, but just visited at home. If you have never visited with Don Norwood, I highly recommend it. He can tell stories all night long, and you would never get tired of hearing them!
It started raining last night. I turned off the fan and let the rain lull me to sleep. I wouldn’t say that I have been homesick in India, but I will not deny that the strangeness of the food, living conditions, travel, etc., takes its toll, and weariness sets in. But then something as commonplace as rain happens. And, as I look out the window and see it dripping off the trees, I feel a comfort, a settled-ness.
I think back over the last month and recall those moments which, though seemingly insignificant, have brought that feeling of connection: The sweet burst of citrusy juice from an orange, the smell of soap, the burn of a long swallow of that occasional Coke, the yellow blossoms on the trees across the road, the old dog in the street scratching fleas. And those more significant moments: the hug of a sister or brother in Christ, seeing a scripture reference, and not recognizing the words, or even the alphabet – but the chapter and verse look familiar!
I recognize the truth that God’s world is basically the same, as are the people who inhabit it. The differences in culture and language and food are the spices that jazz it up a bit. And wherever you are, however strange those customs, there are things that keep us connected, things that keep us from losing our footing on the earth; things from the small and insignificant to the great miracle of God’s grace.
It has stopped raining. Time to get busy again.