John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
Shortly after breakfast about 13 people piled into two taxis (along with 4 bikers) for the drive up to Abbot Mount in the mountains of India. We were told that the 80 km drive would take about 4-5 hours, but the beautiful drive into the Himalayan Mountains took over 9 hours because of the crazy construction on the mountain roads. Once we made it into the mountains we quickly realized that the entirety of the road was under construction. Apparently they are widening the one lane road, but instead of doing it in sections they tore the whole road apart at once. Here are some of our pictures during the long drive up and the several construction road blocks we encountered. Hopefully they give a little taste as to what we experienced driving today.
We were only planning on spending the day at Abbot Mount, but because the drive took so long it was decided that we would stay the night and then drive home in the morning. And since we were staying the night we needed to get items to make dinner, so we were tasked with stopping to pick up the chicken for dinner. Our driver, Gary, happily stopped at the best chicken shop in Champawat and proceeded to pick out the chicken for dinner tonight.
We later drove straight past the house at which we were staying and directly to the property that the Shipway family and the mission owns. Clifton showed us the old church, his family home where his sisters grew up (he was quite young when they left), and the boathouse where they host their GSAM Summer Games each year. This whole property is absolutely breathtaking (it is about 6600 ft above sea level–so breathtaking is meant very literally). The sky was not perfectly clear, but we were still able to see the snow capped Himalayas in the distance.
We were able to stay at the guest house of a friend of the Shipway and George families. Once we got settled at the house at about 6:00 I joined the women at the main residence to cook the dinner for our group and the family that welcomed us so warmly into their home. As I watched them start the fire that will cook our food, I sat on a small stool and started to peel and chop onions on the small plate with no more than a dull knifeand a curious puppy who insisted on nudging her noise in whenever possible. (I later discovered that Priscilla was going to be bringing the puppy back to the mission tomorrow, which was definitely not planned, but I think both she and Clifton were excited.) I watched these women cook this entire meal, for about 20 people, in one large pot over a small fire in a little more than an hour. While I helped Priscilla prepare the subji, which is a mixture of vegetables with curry seasonings, Philly was busy making chapati for the whole group, which is a lot of chipati. Dinner was amazing. We all huddled in the small area where the meal was cooked and as I looked around I realized how different these nice people lived. They were secluded up in the mountains of India, with no hot water and very few amenities. Their kitchen consisted of a small room and a double burning gas stove. No refrigerator or freezer, no oven, and only a few pots and pans. Dinner appeared to be regularly cooked over an open fire by the women, who sat on tiny wood stools so they didn’t have to sit on the cold concrete. This whole situation was amazing to experience. These women were making dinner for 20 people in such a primitive way, that it left me in awe. The process of preparing, cooking, and then eating was so intimate and peaceful. There was conversation and laughter, granted much of it was in Hindi, but I was able experience the moment with them, and it was beautiful.
As I worked alongside these women I became acutely aware of the incredible challenges they face, especially as it relates to water. This generous and kind family lived a very different life than I do back home and this realization made me admire them for their kind and loving heart even more. I experienced nothing but warm smiles from these people, who spoke no English, who allowed us to invade their guest house. I am so grateful to Clifton and Priscilla for taking us to this place. The peaceful serenity I feel while I am here helps me to feel very close to God. I can feel his presence way up in the mountains without the distractions of life in the city. I took as many opportunities as I could to just record these moments into my memory. I never want to forget the feeling of sharing these 2 days up in the Himalayas with those around me.