It started several months ago, when Kavita John asked if I would be interested in officiating at her wedding in Bangalore. Kavita is the cousin of Veena Kapadia, whose wedding I did in Washington, DC, back in 2005. Veena’s whole family came for the event. I loved seeing the church filled with all those gorgeous saris, and the idea of doing a wedding in India sounded even better. So, when Kavita asked I didn’t have to think twice: I said yes.
It’s a long way from here to there—just about 24 hours of travel—and when I got to Bangalore at 3:00 a.m. I was exhausted. But after a few hours sleep I got up ready for a full day of adventure that included walking a few blocks from where I was staying to an open air market where people were selling flowers and food and everything else you can imagine under a canopy of huge trees with twisting limbs. The colors were incredible, and the smells delicious. Yes, I did pass a few cud-chewing sacred cows along the way, and a dozen stray dogs sniffing around for something to eat, but there were also all those beautiful people, and little children looking up at me with huge brown eyes like melted chocolate.
The wedding rehearsal was that afternoon, and somehow I managed to stay awake for it. I was back at St. John’s church the next day for the wedding itself, feeling much more rested, in fact, rested enough to go to the reception afterward and dance until midnight. But the wedding wasn’t over yet. There were events afterward that included a trip to the Nandi Hills (where a monkey stole my lunch!) to the Maharajah’s palace in Mysore, and a New Year’s Eve party with fireworks exploding everywhere around us in the neighborhood. On New Year’s Day I got up and accompanied my host family to church where I was invited to come back the next day (Sunday) and preach. Well, I wasn’t expecting that, but I’ve been preaching for years now—surely I could think of something to say before Sunday morning.
I did, and although I don’t think it was my best sermon ever it seemed to meet the needs of the day.
The trip ended with a visit to the family “farm” on the outskirts of Bangalore (actually a beautifully landscaped garden, with a manicured lawn that was perfect for a pick-up game of cricket). I sat under a coconut palm, sipping coconut water right out of the shell with a straw, marveling at the beauty of the place and—again—the people: this large, loud, laughing Indian family that had taken me in as if I were one of their own. Being with them was like being in a week-long group hug.
I’m back now (well, mostly) and gradually finding my way back into the right time zone, but grateful to God for the experience and wondering how he might use it for the good of his Kingdom.
Mission trip, anyone?