In order to keep things in proper proportion, I offer another post to the kiddos (after all, they constitute a significant percentage of those filling the pews at GPC). If I had to guess, parents probably perk up when I address the children anyway, if posts are anything like sermons. Just do not label me a blogger or hurl other terms of derision at me (I speak, of course, tongue-in-cheek – no offense intended to the valuable contributions of some in the blogosphere).
And now, back to the children, most of whom want to know “what it is like” here.
What did you eat for breakfast? You may have to think for a second, unless you gobble up the same thing every morning. Well, food is one feature that distinguishes countries, people groups and even religions. You probably know that in Mexico (a country) they eat tacos and that Eskimos (a people group) eat fish and that Muslims and Jews (two religions) abstain from pork. Since I flew to India on a Middle-Eastern airline (think Muslims), I anticipated rightly that we would not be eating pork or shell fish over the Atlantic Ocean.
So what do they eat in Ahmedabad? Remember that 8 out every 10 people in India belong to Hinduism. Hindus believe that when you die your “soul” stays in this world and you become another creature (person, animal, insect). If you accomplished enough good deeds in this life, then you might proceed up the food-chain and become a robust Burmese cow, but if you were delinquent, then you might come back as a malaria-infested mosquito on the backside of a dog in the slums. Needless to say, that means Hindus do not eat meat – it may be their great-grandmother they are chewing! Not a pleasant thought. So vegetarians hold the majority in India. But do not worry, this does not confine everyone in India to a paltry diet. The Christians and Muslims strive to balance the scales by consuming more than their fair share of meat along with their vegetables, fruit and everything else.
Next, they enjoy a warm, arid climate, which determines the type of veggies and fruit they can grow and eat. During my time here the weather has been unseasonably cool with highs around 100 degrees (normally it is hotter). Unlike South Carolina, however, the humidity is low, which makes the heat far more bearable than I anticipated.
Enough on the background information. We eat our main meal at lunchtime with the pastors at the training facility. (For supper I munch on a snack or two that Mrs. McCurley packed in my luggage.) If your palate tolerates maximum flavor and a wide array of spices, then you will salivate over the tables in Ahmedabad. To top it off, they use food as medicine. So it tastes scrumptious and improves your health. You might actually suspect that God designed it so. While Mr. Taylor does not share my preference for hot spices (to put it mildly; sorry he loves puns), he would whole-heartedly concur with my assessment about the loads of yummy flavor, even when you insist on mild heat.
The typical main meal consists of several dishes, though I do not remember all the names: a thin flat bread, a meat dish in sauce, a vegetable dish in sauce, steamed rice usually with cumin or another spice, a soup poured over the rice, fried hot green peppers on the side, and fruit (like mango) for dessert. They use no utensils, providing for a tactile feeding experience. They do graciously provide forks and spoons for us Americans, and we put them to work. They pinch the food and soak up the juice with the flat bread and eat everything on their plate with the fingers of their right hand. Sometimes they bring a bowl of warm water with a slice of lemon in it for cleaning their very messy hand at the conclusion of the meal. Please look at the picture of a poor woman cooking the flat bread over an open fire.
Lunch break lasts two hours so that everyone can lie down to rest after the meal. I attached a picture of a man asleep at lunchtime. Many people just lie down on the ground under the shade of a small tree or bush. While they snooze, I compose posts for you, among other things.
They hold a brief tea break mid-morning (10:30 a.m.) and mid-afternoon (4:00 p.m.) every day of the week, at which they serve Masala Chai and a few crackers or chips. In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that while I love coffee, I have not met a cup of hot tea that I thoroughly enjoyed. Hopefully no one in Scotland reads these posts. Several of our ladies at GPC love their tea, and I am certain that my immature taste buds are at fault and that I am the looser for not having acquired refined taste for tea. But Indian tea (Masala Chai) stands in a league all by itself. Delicious, if not addictive. The addition of several spices and milk leaves no trace of the taste of tea.
In the next post I will return to describing the work here, highlighting especially some specific prayer requests for the men and their ministries. My bedtime is fast approaching now.
Hopefully, children, I have included enough information to satisfy your curiosity and to provide you with a window into the world here. Our gracious God has supplied many types of food to delight our tongues and to nourish our bodies in serving the Savior. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). But all of these temporal gifts serve as pointers to the surpassing pleasure of feeding upon Christ by faith. He is the bread that has come down from heaven, which satiates hungry souls. He is the fountain of living waters, from which, if we drink we shall never thirst.
God’s grace alone creates the spiritual appetite which is dissatisfied with anything less than Christ himself. When you think of India, pray that they will seek this heavenly feast. And pray the same for yourselves.
“And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined” (Isaiah 25:6).