From Indiana to India

<em>“The street was filled with people, pushing their way through the crowd, children sitting in piles of trash begging for a few rupees. People everywhere were impoverished and packed together, yet their faces were bright. The people in India were content — happier than many of the people I’ve seen in my lifetime. If they can be so happy with what I see to be little, how are we unhappy with so much? I’ve been able to see that with God, we can learn to be content with as little or as much as we’ve been given.”</em>

<em>— Kaija Herndon, 15.</em>

Pushing through a bit of jetlag from our 15-hour flight back home from India, in addition to the two-hour delay with the two-hour jog from Newark, my head is still processing the whirlwind of the last 12 days.

Traveling with five exceptional high-school students and four pastors, we packed in a tremendous magnitude of adventure visiting:

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India Gate, the monument built as a memorial for the Indian soldiers who died in World War I.

Rajpath, the main parade route that leads from Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s residence) to India Gate, with many grassy lawns along the way.

The Parliament House.

Qutub complex including the Qutub Minar. The 237.8-foot minaret was the tallest rubble “skyscraper” in the world when built 1192. It was constructed on the orders of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. Delicately carved, it has been astonishingly well-preserved and has 379 circular stair steps inside to the top. Also in the complex is the Iron Pillar of Delhi, a 24-foot, 98 percent wrought iron piece that weighs more than six tons. Forged 1,600 years ago, sometime in the 300’s, it has not rusted.

We took SpiceJet Airlines to Jabalpur to visit the Marble Rocks – taking a cable car across the gorge and then boating the river gorge of carved soft marble.

Bandhavgarh National Forest and Tiger Jungle Reserve jeeping through three safaris, which included a safari at 5:30 a.m., safari breakfast and lunch. We spotted black eagles, gray mongoose, wild boars, herds of spotted deer, herds of Nilgai antelope, hords of Black-face langur monkeys and something our guides called a moose/gaur with round ears.

We didn’t spot the two Bengal tigers until we were out of the National Forest and on our way home — they were laying in a grassy area about a football field from the bridge we were crossing.

Agra by overnight train, spending a morning at the Taj Mahal and briefly drove around the Red (sandstone) Fort.

A 250-year-old Hindu temple ceremony.

We also visited a medical campus where a few of our students got the opportunity to get hands-on and take blood pressures and temperatures of patients. I sat next to a doctor who filled me in on the variety of ailments and what he was prescribing. After he playfully shook his finger at an 80-year-old woman, I inquired what her symptoms were. He answered “headaches” and added that “she will not take my warnings and has been chewing tobacco for over 30 years.

Now I may not be trained medically, but I did suggest that if she’s been chewing that long and she only has headaches — maybe she should keep chewing. The doctor laughed, explained what I said in Hindi to the nurse and patient, who laughed and nodded.

Worshipping, sharing devotions and life stories through translators was my favorite part of the adventure — although I am still processing the onerous ones.

Chad Monahan, youth pastor at The Creek, summed up the trip by noting his greatest takeaway: “If Jesus is at all part of your story, then you have a powerful story to tell.”

<em>Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to [email protected]</em>