Becky again...I promise I am almost done reminiscing! There is another Telugu word that popped into my memory "Chalu!" which Pastor Peter taught me means "Enough!" You might be thinking that at this point... :)
Friday, July 22, was beach day for the CLCI team! Some of the area pastors and their wives also came along with us, which was a lot of fun! Two of the women squeezed into the backseat of the Scorpio next to Raven and me for our drive to the beach. Raven and I both wished we knew Telugu so we could join in the conversations that the women were having with each other and our driver Solomon...they were all laughing so hard the whole way there, and we could tell they all have a wonderful sense of humor!
Despite not being able to communicate much through words, Raven and I were still able to bond with our new friends as we enjoyed the Bay of Bengal together. The men went out into the waves to go swimming and body surfing, but our CLCI friends did not want Raven and I to go out too far by ourselves. The women grabbed our hands and had us form a chain so that we could all brace ourselves against the waves. The women went in the water in their colorful saris, which I thought made them still look so beautiful and elegant even when the waves crashed into all of us and drenched us in salt water! There were lots of laughs as the waves sometimes took us by surprise and would knock one of us women over and under, and the rest of the group would hurriedly work together to pull that sister back up on to her feet. We walked back onto the sand completely soaked and sandy, but super happy!
The song with the phrase "I've got love like an ocean in my soul..." was one that played on the mix CD in the CLCI vehicle, and that kept going through my head that day during our wonderful time with our friends at the ocean!
When we got back to the hotel, we were asked to have the women come up to our room to wash up and change their clothes. The Indian women insisted that Raven and I use the bathroom first, but we insisted that they go in first. This continued back and forth for quite awhile, with all of us saying "Please!" and gesturing for the others to go into the bathroom. :) I laughed and said, "Well someone has to go in, otherwise we'll be standing here all day!" Eventually one of the Indian women gave up and went in first. Raven commented on how beautiful their long, thick hair is as we watched them brush out and braid their hair, and they laughed when we commented on how much work it is to put on a sari. We were able to watch one of the women very carefully and precisely fold, pleat, wrap, and pin the sari fabric until she had it just right. I am thankful that we had the opportunity to spend these moments with our new friends and get a glimpse of their lives and personalities outside of the regular VBS settings.
That night at VBS, the children seemed to be sitting extra close to me, right up to my feet. And they had extra big smiles during our singing of "I've Got the Joy." I just wanted to cuddle all of them! On the car ride back to the hotel that night, Pastor Jyothi said, "We are feeling sad, sisters. One more day." I had just been thinking the exact same thing! I couldn't believe we only had one more day of teaching, and I was feeling sad that I would soon have to say goodbye to Pastor Jyothi and the rest of my CLCI friends! I joked that I was just going to stay in India, and I told Pastor Jyothi "You can find me a job here, right? You can find me a job and a husband and I'll be all set!" He laughed, and then reminded me that there are many people at home who are interested in the trip and are waiting to hear my reports. So here I am back at home, with just a few more stories to tell before I say goodbye to the blog as well... :)