My most memorable, and longest, travel experience was when I went on a mission’s trip with my parents to Vijayawada, India. The year was 2012, ’twas two days before Christmas when we boarded our plane, not entirely ready for the 19-hour fight that awaited us. We were in contact with Raja, a minister at a Christian Church in Vijayawada, and overseer of the construction of an orphanage near there. My parents and I were going to speak to some of the churches in Hyderabad and Vijayawada, which, by the way, are on opposite sides of the country. We traveled across Washington to get to the SEA-TAC airport. Our first flight was uneventful, so it’s not really worth mentioning, just as unmentionable was our second flight out of Germany to India. The action really started right after we left the Hyderabad International Airport, because Raja and his whole family greeted us and presented us with flower leis. They weren’t like the fake leighs that you can get for a dollar at the store in the States, these ones had actual flowers!
We stayed in a nice hotel in Hyderabad for the first night. The main lobby was small, but very decorative, it had small tiles for the floor and there was a lattice wall made of treated wood around the reception desk. It wasn’t super fancy, but a respectable amount of fanciness. The rooms were nice too, the only difference that they had from hotel rooms in the States is that we weren’t in the States, and that it was very hard to sleep because of the people in traffic communicating with each other using their car’s horns. Speaking of the traffic, People were seemingly ignoring the street signs and lines, but strangely not the traffic lights. If you were a pedestrian, all I have to say to you is: good luck and try not to get hit. The next morning, we left our hotel immediately to go encourage the Christian churches in the area. One of the cool things about it was that we first spoke about the love of God and Jesus’ sacrifice to a group of people on Christmas Day! Mom spoke to the women there, and 7 wanted to know more about Jesus! Afterwards, my dad gave his speech to 300 people! The state officials present there donated land for the town to construct a church building for their worship and fellowship meetings! And that was only night one!
The next day, we set off for Vijayawada. We greatly appreciated the fact that Raja was there to guide us through the crazy traffic, since he knew the driving laws, we were safe. We saw a lot of different sights during our travels. The biggest surprise to me was that most of the shop signs and posters were in English! The ones in Hindu were the important political or religious ones. We were saddened and amazed by the idols and temples that dotted the landscape. Some were so intricate and detailed, I thought it would have taken years to carve them. There were also some quite insane things that we saw too, such as three people perched precariously the back of a Jeep going about 120km/hour on the autobahn! We also witnessed a man saddling a scooter that had plastic boxes hanging off the edges of it. Driving around the cities were three-wheeled vehicles that looked kind of like a rickshaw, crossed with a taxi, crossed with a smart car. The locals called them rickshaw-autos, or “sharing rickshaws” because you could fit a total of 15 people into one. That sounds like quite a tight squeeze! It was also common to see water buffalo and goat herders crossing the autobahn! Jaywalking to the extreme happens every day in India!
When we got to Vijayawada, which is approximately four hours away from Hyderabad, we came to Raja’s home. It was small, but nicely decorated, with a big archway separating the kitchen/dining room from the hallway to the bedrooms. When we got there we got a warm welcome reception. We had dinner, fruit, bread, and curry and a lot of other really good Indian traditional food, and Raja’s son, Timothy, showed me how to solve a Rubik’s Cube. I give all my credit to him for that! After dinner we had coffee; Raja’s wife, Kumari makes the best coffee in the world, hands down, no argument. The reason why: it’s the only coffee I want to drink. She and my mom laughed about establishing the K&K (Kayla and Kumari) Coffee Shop, where Kumari makes the coffee and my mom, Kayla, makes the desserts! We slept in a hotel for the majority of our stay in India. That Sunday, mom taught a ladies class at Raja’s house in a traditional Indian dress that Kumari bought her. Everywhere we went, we were gifted flower leighs as a greeting and preached encouragement to the churches.
The highlight of our trip was visiting the orphanage. All the kids were so happy to see us! I was able to give my testimony about how Jesus helps me through my struggles in life, and Timothy translated for me, it was a great experience for both of us! While playing cricket with the kids, we glimpsed a few native primates around the premises. We saw a lot of wonderful sights and explored a many monuments and ancient constructions, such as the Golconda Fort, which our tour guide explained that the guy who built the place was a bit paranoid, and therefore designed the fort to have amazing acoustics, so he could hear if his subjects were plotting against him from the tallest tower! We also went to the Night Market where we saw many homemade accessories that the merchants were selling. Last but not least, we wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to dip our toes in the Indian Ocean! All in all, our trip to India was an unforgettable and enlightening experience!
By Levi W.