Monday morning we (the US portion of the Saltshaker team) gathered in Wichita for a day of orientation. It was a long day filled with lots of information such as the history of India and Bhutan and common customs and practices. One thing we learned was that in India they have tea 4-5 times a day. We also learned to look at things not necessarily as right or wrong rather different. Orientation day was successful and enlightening to the entire team.
We left the Wichita airport at 6am Tuesday morning and arrived in Kolkata around 9pm Wednesday. The flights were long, but uneventful, and God gave us smooth, peaceful travel. Customs in the Kolkata airport was an interesting experience full of many questions. They reminded me of how blessed we are in the US to have religious freedom.
After DK and Choity picked us up from the airport, we were immediately thrown into the Indian way of life. From the crowded streets to the chaos of traffic to the dogs roaming free, it was all new to most of us. One interesting fact about Indian culture, they honk at EVERYTHING. Everyone found it really funny, and we had quite a few laughs on the way to our hotel. At the hotel we met up with David from Bhutan, the final member of our team.
Tuesday morning started out with a breakfast of boiled eggs, bread, bananas, and some sort of spicy soup. We then took a public bus (a very crowded and laughter filled experience) to the Friends office of Kolkata. Hallie said, “That bus ride alone made all the flights worth it.” At the office we were able to cool off from the immense heat outside. There, we met Manti, Esther, and Biplap. Manti, Esther, and David helped to teach us all some songs in various languages and dances to go with them.
For lunch we had Jack fruit and butter and jelly sandwiches. Chai tea was served before and after lunch, which we all enjoyed. We then took off for a three hour bus trip to the island of Nazzat. There, we had the amazing opportunity to worship with the church. Parker, Hallie, and Zack all shared messages and we all participated in some skits. At the end, we each had a chance to bless and pray over some of the people in the church.
In one day we utilized a public bus, our own two feet, a private bus, a river barge, and bike-drawn carts.
Our first day was an awesome experience, one I don’t think any of us will forget. The team is healthy, please pray it continues that way for the entirety of the trip.
Bethel Friends Church