Saturday, 25 January 2014

Martin's first impressions January 2014

A Quiet corner of Hyderabad
The Bishop of Nandyal and Me
I arrived in Nandyal on Saturday (18th January) after a couple of days ‘disorientation’ in Hyderabad. The journey a bizarre combination of 120kmph+ toll roads, to unmade up, heavily rutted dust tracks, to clogged up towns full of bikes and cars, motorbikes and tuk tuks, buses and trucks, cows, pigs, and dogs, and pedestrians, to driving down incomplete carriageways of new duelled sections where you beat the traffic on the open half but have to negotiate a scary, precipitous ramp to get off the end. At nearly 5 hours this is quite an eye opener.
January is a great time to visit this part of India; every morning is like the perfect English summer day - the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birds are singing. The nights are warm but not oppressive (the airco remains mute). The Indian welcome is warm and embracing, and yes, full of garlands. 
I was promised garlands, and I’ve had garlands; at the Bishop’s house on arrival, at the church on Sunday, at the church with no roof, at the Diocesan offices…..
Preaching with a translator
New Church - No Roof
Sunday was a full day; asked to preach at the church of the Resurrection in Nandikotkur (about an hour and a half from Nandyal and Bishop PushpaLalitha’s home church, with the school she first studied in next to it). The church was packed with more than 150 worshippers inside, segregated with the women on the left and the men on the right, and many more than this number outside. Microphone’s and amplification play a big role in Indian worship! Then on to the church in the same village where +Pushpa was confirming 45 people, then on to see a women’s centre -established by Sister Mary Kendsy, but only 3 women left, but great plans for a 30 women at a time for 6 months, to study, learn practical skills, and ‘sing songs’. Then to the church with no roof. One of the biggest problems here is church growth! Churches are too small but there is little money for the rebuilding of bigger ones. Along the way the Bishop is petitioned by those wanting a roof, wanting a new building, a wife of a pastor who’s husband wasn’t receiving the appropriate amount from his congregation, and so on, request, after request, after request.
Monday saw a visit to the Bishop’s office, the cathedral, and the PSG school - idyllic learning outside seems from another era. The evening saw the arrival of the first ten clergy for their ‘Pastor’s Refresher Course’; every one with a moustache, and every one with a motorbike! We’ve had a lot of fun looking at Old Testament characters, some parables, and lots of spoken (and sung English). I’ve also learned my first song in Telugu (the local language spoken throughout Andhra Pradesh): Ede Diman, Ede Diman….(This is the Day!). 

At the end end of each afternoon the children from the Oxford school come out to play, throw stones at the monkeys (they are bad and bite). They all want to know my name and tell me theirs, to shake hands, and to smile before heading home on bikes and tuk tuks; there seems to be a statuary minimum of 10 children per vehicle, although 12 or 14 is not unknown!
I have been looked after so well, tasty Indian food, I’ve managed to persuade then to give me black tea and no sugar (a very odd thing it seems), and my only risk to health so far is that I will put on weight! A highlight was a visit to the home of one of the clergy; seeing his two sons and their two Muslim friends performing their ‘Republic Day’ dance for me quite wonderful.

At the end of week one I am struck by the friendliness and the welcome, the still stratified society with cooks, and housekeepers, and cleaners and drivers, and the numbers. So many people, so much traffic, so many needs, but such vibrancy, it is infectious. 

1 comment:

  1. Martin: seems as if you are having a full, fun, rewarding and gifted time - quite jealous here in grey cold England. Traffic sounds like central London on a good day, hope you are being filled with God's love as well as great food and haven't bamboozled too many clergy (or grown a moustache). See you soon, you are missed. Mark.