A while ago now we reached out asking people to send us some questions they had for us. And so we sat down and got our thinking caps on to produce this blog for you all. Feel free to probe us with any more questions you have in the comment section!
1. What’s one aspect of Indian culture you’d want to take home with you?
Their love for community.
We have been welcomed into the homes of so many people here especially within the church. We have also have been welcomed into the homes of the girls at school. Even strangers are always wanted to engage with us and invite us into their communities. This is particularly apparent on trains where we have had lengthy spiritual discussions with people, been given CDs and posters, been offered food and I even had my knitting taken over by an unknown lady.
I love the warm welcomes we have received from people who we don’t know. Whether it be a fellow Christian we met on a train during our holiday who talked with us and tried to teach us Indian songs or the families of the girls we teach who were so eager to feed and water us when we visited their homes, it seems everyone here is always willing to stop and chat.
I would have also said the love and community aspects of the Indian culture, especially there want to ensure all you needs are met. However, as this has already been taken by both Miriam and Naomi, I’d have to say how hard working they are. Their willingness to try everything, find innovative ways to fix problems and there want to help others is inspiring. They don’t complain and don’t kick up a fuss, they get on with even the toughest things and keep going.
2. What’s the thing you miss most from home?
Insulation. We were warned that Delhi, despite what we may have presumed, gets extremely cold in winter. But it took living here to truly appreciate just how cold it can get if you live in houses that have to be designed to lose heat for the sweltering summer months. Safe to say I’m very glad I heeded the advice of bringing a hot water bottle!
It would have to be my family and friends followed very closely by a nice thick mattress and a shower that stays hot for longer than three minutes and that you don’t have to worry about electrocuting you.
Home comforts are an obvious one! By home comforts I mean the comfort I feel knowing that I will not get electrocuted by pretty much everything I touch. From wherever I seem to touch on the fridge to plug sockets and Naomi attacking me with a fly swat. I can’t say I enjoy getting so many electronic shocks!
I also miss a nice duvet, and a shower with warm water that lasts longer than a few minutes!
3. What’s the best thing about living in Delhi?
It’s bustle. One of my favourite times in the day is our drive to school where you look out the window and can see so many different things going on from carpentry, people selling food, people cycling on bikes staked high with materials, a plethora of motorbikes, cows, dogs, metros wizzing past overhead on the raised tracks and so much more. The busyness of this city is signposted with the endless chorus of car horns. Each day brings new sights and sounds which means we can never accuse it of being boring.
There’s so much to do! When John and Abha don’t need us we can get on the metro and explore another part of the city. We have a list of places that we are gradually working through. The more we see and learn about Delhi and India the more I understand the culture and the people around me.
I love the amount of things there are to see and do. I’ve very much a person that loves to being doing stuff and going out exploring. It was very easy for us to feel at home here as there is just so much motivating us to get out and see things. The Delhi metro is so easy and gets us pretty much anywhere. We have had a great time visiting forts, gardens and temples. Delhi is so diverse and areas are all so different! I love the contrast of Old Delhi and New Delhi, one minute being in the busy hustle bustle of markets and narrow streets in Old Delhi to the big open spaces , parks and malls here in Dwarka, New Delhi. Tuk tuks and rickshaws are also a lot of fun, even when we get lost and have to direct drivers in our very broken Hindi!
4. What is a moment that the team found really difficult?
Not being able to speak Hindi is an ongoing theme that we as a team struggle with. Even though it’s by far not impossible to get on with daily life in Delhi whist speaking English, sometimes we find ourselves feeling slightly isolated from the world around us.
We were all very excited to help get our supervisors project in the mountains up and running, we all felt called there and like our talents could really be put to good use so learning that we wouldn’t be going there anymore was a tough pill to swallow. Looking back, however, it’s so clear how needed we are in Delhi now as the girls’ final exams at school are approaching. It’s amazing how God’s hand is truly in everything.
As a team we all really struggled with the uncertainty of the project work. Initially it was coming and not fully understanding our purpose and adjusting to the changes in the school. We then all felt quite passionate about a project in the mountains we had the opportunity to be a big part of. But unfortunately we could not go forward with this. Dealing with the uncertainty of plans and being unable to see how we are really being used has been a challenge but it’s encouraged us to really live by faith and trust God.
5. What’s your favourite Hindi word that you learnt?
Literally meaning ‘good’, we quickly learnt that this is not always used in response to something genuinely being good. We now understand that our supervisors didn’t in fact genuinely believe that our water filter breaking was ‘achchha’. Since then we have embraced the term to mean anything from ‘brilliant!’ to ‘I don’t really know how to respond’. This diverse word with ever-increasing definitions has definitely found a place in our hearts and vernacular.
Achchha – see Naomi’s paragraph. When I realised we had the same word all I could say was “achchha”.
Hindi is a language I love and wish I was better at picking up! However, I have learnt a few odd words from the girls I teach at school, one of these being the word thank you. In Hindi this is ‘dhanyavaad’. The girls had great fun trying to teach me how to pronounce dhanyavaad, we would always joke at how I attempted to get the right sound and one girl and I would always repeat to each other my new pronunciation of it and laugh.
6. What are you answers to prayer/ thankfulness?
There is so much to be thankful for living in Delhi. Particularly for the girls who we teach at school. I have mentioned how difficult it can be living in a place where you don’t speak the language and this is particularly apparent in school since the girls do not speak English. Despite this we have been able to bond with them so much and have seen the progress in character and in their studies. It’s been such a privilege to get to know them all and we truly feel like we have become their didi (big sister).
In terms of answered prayer God has not been stingy! It seems that every time we are facing difficulties and pray over it God comes up trumps and sorts the situation out for us. Recently the thought of going back to school after our holiday had been rather daunting as we so desperately wanted to be as helpful as possible. And so we prayed over the situation and when we returned we found out that the girls really needed help with their maths as their finial exams were fast approaching. It’s been incredible to help them and watch them grasp concepts they previously haven’t understood.
Where to start? I’m so beyond thankful for Megan and Naomi. They are both wonderful and inspiring in so many ways and having them on my team has been a massive blessing. I am also thankful for our supervisors who are constantly checking in on us and care so much about our wellbeing. I am also in awe of how hard they work and how many different projects they are either setting up or involved in. I am also thankful for all the amazing food that we have discovered since being in India. Perhaps most of all though, I am thankful for the girls who I have the privilege of teaching. They are so full of joy and getting to watch them form friendships and learn new things is amazing.
As for answers to prayer it will be too long if I listed them all. God has so clearly been at work in my life recently. Being in a team with two wonderful supportive girls has been a massive answer to prayer. Additionally, God has answered all our prayers about our project – even if they weren’t the answers we originally hoped for – time has allowed us to see that God’s way is the right way.
Where do I start? The blessings I’ve had over these past months of being in India are ones I will never forget. My team, Naomi and Miriam, have been my rock and have helped me though so much since being here. I’m always learning so much from them and living with them has been so much fun! I’m super thankful for our supervisors and all their hard work and love. I’m so thankful for all the support I have had from family and friends back home, encouraging me to keep going. I’m also so thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to meet some incredible people and have some incredible experiences. One of these including getting to know a man who lives in the desert while we were on holiday. Learning about his life and culture was inspiring. I’ve been able to travel around some of India with some amazing people and I have been able to be part of the community here in Delhi. Visiting homes, carol singing, being part of a Christmas function where we danced with the youth of the church and sang worship songs in both English and Hindi! We have even gone to an Indian wedding which meant we all got to wear saris. I’m so thankful for all the ups and downs we have had here in India as they continue to teach me so much.
Answer to prayers of protection, peace and joy. Finding peace in the work we are doing was a prayer of mine for a while and daily I feel more at peace in this and am continuing to find joy in each day, no matter how tough. More recently we are feeling more valuable in the work we are doing and are having opportunities to share more about Jesus with those we meet, which is great and we pray that it continues.
7. What’s the funniest moment where culture clashes?
This isn’t so much a clash but a difference.
Apparently Delhi being 5 1/2 hours ahead of the UK isn’t the only time difference. ‘Indian time’, as we have dubbed it, is highly unpredictable. Simply put it involves many hours delay, from leaving for school an hour later than scheduled, to starting a wedding 2 hours late, to a train journey suddenly extending itself by 5 hours whilst we were on board making it a 21 hour rather than a 16 hour journey.
We haven’t had one massive incident that I can think of, however, there have been several minor moments that have made us laugh. We have discovered that most suggestions we make are taken very seriously. This has resulted in accidentally inviting someone on holiday with us and someone being taken aback by what they thought was a confession of love from Megan. It’s made us much more conscious of what we say, although, someone thinking Naomi had a daughter may be my favourite moment so far.
One funny moment for me was when we were having a dance practice with the youth from church at someone’s house and we sat down together for a quick food break. All 3 of us decided to be closer to the table and everyone else, and sat down on the floor. Instantly a couple of the youth jumped up and screamed in horror and insisted we sat on chairs. They seemed confused that we were very happy to sit on the bare floor. It was a funny moment as we were not expecting that response at all! We then did not sit on the floor but found some chairs to sit on instead!
Thank you so much for all your continued support and prayers. As we have said, we truly feel incredibly upheld and supported by God and have an ever-increasing appreciation for the power of prayer. Here are some things we would really love prayer for:
- That the maths we are teaching the girls will be useful
- That we can continue sharing Bible stories with the girls at school and that we can start becoming bolder in what we share
- That we can continue to get involved in the church family