Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our final days in India

The Beines camping at 13,000 feet in Northern India (June 25, 2012)
Help!  American life has swallowed us up!  Kimberly says that it feels like we have gone from 20 mph (South Asian speed) to 120 mph (American speed).  We arrived back to Spokane on July 03 and I have been intending for weeks to update the blog and fill you in on our final weeks in South Asia.  But as we have alluded to, life here has a way of getting busy- too busy.  Well, today I plan to get this done...

Joshua enjoys the train to Shimla
Following our departure from Nepal (an adventure in itself), we arrived to VERY HOT New Delhi (111 Fahrenheit).  After a day enjoying a hamburger at Hard Rock Cafe and a few niceties of urban India we boarded a northward-bound train to the visit the Pahari people where I had conducted linguistic survey work 22 years ago.  
Dave among the Pahari in 1990
After a nine hour train journey (which included 6 hours on a narrow gauge train that passes through 102 tunnels and over 800 bridges) we arrived at Shimla, in the Northern Indian state of Himachael Pradesh ( ).  At 7200 feet the climate was much nicer than Delhi, and the pine-covered hillsides were a welcomed change.   This beautiful Indian hill station- affectionately known as "Queen of the Hills"- is the former summer capital of India from the British Raj days and it has such a sense of history, including where the partition of India and Pakistan was devised.  It was nice to be able to show my family around the many historical places along with many places from my personal history.  
A Pahari woman greets us in local fashion
A day later we climbed in a jeep along with our hosts and drove 11 hours to reach the 13,000 foot Chanshal Pass where we would be camping with a small band of Pahari believers.  It is only about 110 miles from Shimla so that tells you about the conditions of the road (that is why we are used to 20 mph speeds).  Arriving after dark we were tasked with setting up our tents in a cloud, complete with 40 mph winds.  It was a cold, damp night.  But in the morning the clouds lifted and so did our spirits as we worshiped with like minded,but culturally different believers.  I shared a short message (using local metaphors) in which I encouraged them to love and follow Jesus in the Pahari way.  The next day we returned to a nearby town and joined the local church where I was able to preach.  I focused on the role that suffering (something they know much about) plays in our maturing process as Christians.  The idea of suffering as a spiritual discipline is something we have pretty much lost in the West. 

Camping in the clouds
Dave preaches to the crowd
Wild horses roam the alpine ridges over Chanshal Pass

Following the service we joined three congregations for a baptism service in which over 70 people were baptized by local pastors.  Our children had spent the morning playing in the stream and constructing the pool that would later serve as the baptismal.  It was inspiring to watch these people publicly declare that they belong to Jesus.  There has been much persecution against believers in this area so confessing one's faith openly has a true cost for these people.  All of the pastors conducting the baptism have been beaten for their faith. 

A Pahari woman receives baptism

After the baptism we were again in the jeeps and on our way back to Shimla, arriving late during the night.  After a day of rest I then spoke to a leaders and pastors conference sponsored by our freinds who have been working in the area for many years. God has been doing many amazing things among people here;  the church is growing rapidly and people are willing to suffer greatly for their Lord.  I spoke on the various kinds of seed from Mark chapter 4. 

Dave teaching on Mark 4
We had one more free day in Shimla, travelled the same route back to Delhi and had one day there before boarding a plane bound for London, changing planes in London and arriving in Seatlle some 21 hours later on the evening of June 30.  We then spent two days decompressing with friends in Seatlle and then arrived back to Spokane on the afternoon of July 03. 

Celebrating the Space Needle's 50th Birthday
For more observations on our journey write us and ask to be added to our newsletter list.  The coming newsletter will offer more personal reflections inspired by our recent days in South Asia.

Lastly, our re-entry from a 20 MPH arterial (South Asia) on to the fast-paced 120MPH American lifestyle highway has us experiencing a bit of re-entry culture shock.  We have gotten ourselves too busy and are finding ourselves having to make concious decisions to slow down to keep our focus.  Please be patient with us. And for those interested in knowing more about our experiences from our kid's eyes, check out the various albums posted by nick at along with several short films made by all the boys together during their time in Nepal.
The Epic Ninja Movie:
The watch of Time (2 parts):
Pine Needle Sledding:
More Pine Needle Sledding:
Tansen Mela:
 Something Awesome:

Until next time...

The Beines