Delhi has been an absolute rollercoaster so far. From highs to lows to ‘we just don’t knows’ it’s safe to say God has put us on a wild ride.
We apologise that this blog is so late. We only just got access to the website. We promise many more will follow in the near future and we are looking forward to reading all the other team’s posts.
Our first few days lulled is into a false sense of security. We cruised through customs and rocked up to our cosy little apartment near our supervisors house. We decorated it with photos and fairy lights; making it feel like home. It’s so nice having a safe/familiar space to come back to after quite different environments outside! We fell in love with the Hindi church and, other than a hiccup getting mobile data, felt life in Delhi was all smooth sailing.
Our first day of school, however, was a shock. Our project was completely different to what we had been briefed on and spent time preparing for. We also started to realise that we were living in Delhi, not just visiting for a couple of weeks and reality set in. Learning to be an adult when you’re also adapting to a completely different culture is hard. We especially struggled as we didn’t understand what our role in Delhi was. The school we are working at had a sudden move. This meant that the project downsized massively. It’s now a single room above a shop, has no boys and the women’s work that we were all excited to get involved in is non existent. We spent a long time feeling as though we weren’t doing anything our supervisors couldn’t do by themselves and really praying to God that he would reveal his plan to us.
Eventually we had a bible study where we vowed to pay particular attention to making sure we are living by faith not by sight. That very same morning our supervisor brought up the mountain project. Last years Delhi team had spent a week at this project and our supervisor had told us that we would be going there in “February/ March”. However the morning we decided to really start trusting God with this year our supervisor brought up the mountain project and we realised that she was actually saying we are going there for February AND March and that we are going to be setting up a school that has been 4 years in the making and we would be opening it. We were even described as ‘pioneers’ by her.
It was a massive answer to prayer and helped us start to put everything in perspective. We have realised that our role at our current project in Delhi is invaluable. We are acting as role models for a rapidly increasing group of young girls who adore us. Even though we can’t openly talk about Christianity, sharing Jesus love with these young girls through our words and actions has helped us to form incredible bonds with them.
We were recently blessed to be invited to some of the girls homes. It was a very eye opening experience to see how little these girls have and how valuable us just being there to play and laugh with them was, to give them the childhood they may be missing out on. It was really encouraging for us and for the work we are doing to also see them so excited and blessed to have us visit their homes. Their mothers told us how much they talk about us and how their English is improving. Getting to see how we are making an impact was also a massive answer to prayer: that we do have a God given purpose here in Delhi.
Our Hindi lessons have already stopped. We were taught the colours, fruit and veg and some body parts and well as the script and some numbers. Safe to say we are far from fluent and it is something we are definitely finding frustrating. As time has progressed we are finding constantly being a beat behind or just not knowing what’s going on at all incredibly challenging and disheartening. Sitting through Hindi sermons and bible studies is no longer a new and exciting experience – it’s now (for lack of a better word) boring. We would really appreciate prayer about this.
Our time in Delhi has not been all work though. There seems to be at least one religious festival a week and school closes every time as the girls are needed at home to help with preparations for the festivities. We have taken advantage of these free days to blossom into tourists ( or on some occasions tourist attractions). We have visited the India Gate, the Red Fort, the Lotus Temple and Akshardham to name a few. We are very grateful to be based in such a vibrant city with so much to see and do.
Our next few blog posts will consist of short stories from our time in India so far so stay tuned!
We are forever thankful for all the support that we are being shown by everyone back home.
Love from Team Delhi
P.S. We are including a small passage that Naomi wrote about India. We think it has some really interesting insights – so please give it a read.
– That we continue to find joy in everything we do.
– For us to learn from the girls we teach and the experiences we have here.
– For wisdom and strength as we tackle our various projects.
– For language learning
India is a very human country. At first the each-to-his-own driving, modesty rules and shrine-orientated society may seem extremely foreign to you and I. Like a version of life you almost recognise but seems somewhat warped. But underneath this novelty lies a tradition interlaced with humanity. What one feels they say. The cars flying past are not automated machines but are real people meandering the roads in the same way people dance around each other on pavements. Rubbish is not hidden away to lull us into a false sense of cleanliness and a care for the planet. They stare if they want to stare. They are assertive without the conversational twisting we opt for to get what we want in the UK. If a structure works, no matter how disheveled it may appear- use it. Indian life is simple and honest yet beautiful. The extravagant sarees, bejewelled jewellery and vibrant colours are proof enough of this.
As with any place, it’s not without its difficulties. The beautifully brutally honest society extends to the underbelly of life. Many will warn you about the poverty in India. In the UK, however, you can avoid it but here I have experienced a new type of poverty- interactive. Many will come up to you and ask for money. They tap on the car windows at red lights or half stand in rickshaws whilst you have come to a stop. But the hardest part isn’t observing it but having to ignore it. I have been in this country for 16 days now and, in a way that is healthy and normal, I have not yet gotten used to it all. The locals that have taken me under their wing are the most loving of the human species but they know that helping these people won’t be helping them because of the backstreet systems operating here. As heart-breaking, guilt tripping and counterintuitive as it feels we must ignore. Equally, the animals living side by side with the clockwork- like hectic life of Delhi provides another topic of conversation- for better of for worse. Dogs aren’t hidden away- they participate in a citizen’s everyday as they run alongside rickshaws and bicycles or fishes through heaps of rubbish lying on the side of the deafening beep-filled roads. The presence of cows provides another point of comparison between the UK and India- namely that we do not keep cows in cities. Firstly they are different cows. They have horns which can protrude quite dramatically from their heads. What hits you though is the ribs that are chiselling their sides. They all have a hot and withered look about them. Even the young show years of aging through hardship.
It goes without saying that the things unseen gets forgotten first. Namely- the air. I was prepared for possibly of it seeing the sun for a good few months. I was prepared as I flew here with breathing mask in toe. It is not, however, until you arrive in this bustling metropolis that that reality of pollution sinks in. The concept of ‘fresh air’ is one that I’m yet to experience here. Your lungs never fully feel satisfied with your inhales.
Perhaps I was too hasty with my judgement on things unseen for smell is not a visual concept. Yet, it is far from easily forgotten. The ‘Delhi smell’ is musty and infected by the rubbish lying by the roadsides. It’s potency is unlike any city smell I have yet experienced. Strong and seemingly ever-present.
India is a human country. Humans are not perfect to assert the least. India, therefore, is not perfect. Like any cultural change, if you have not before experienced a certain variety of flaws then they will be most notable to you. Indeed, much of India’s charm derives from these differences. It fuels the honesty that is so present within this society.