Saturday morning we met with some of Libby's faithful friends who had been prepping and praying for this special weekend and the women God would bring to this conference. We met some American girls who are my age raising houses full of children just like mine. God's called their families there to India to be the Salt and Light. Their faith is like nothing I've ever seen. Bathing their babies in water that will make them sick if it gets in their mouth. Watching their kids play outside with the risk that a simple bug bite could cause all kinds of physical havoc on their sweet little bodies. Just driving in Delhi with my kids would keep me on my knees. I will never forget what I learned from Libby and the young moms I was blessed by. They were real and their fears were the same as mine but they trust the Lord in a whole different way.
We prayed for each lady who was on the list to attend the conference and were blown away with the diversity and faces He brought to hear His word spoken fresh from Gena. I will never take for granted the ease at which Godly wisdom and teaching can be found when you live in America, especially the South. Living in Doha has made me appreciate resources, teachers, ministries, etc. But just the simple act of putting a Bible conference together in a place like India literally takes an act of God. And of course He showed up and used Gena. She taught on Biblical tools we can use in life as an expat and simply living your life to bring glory to God wherever you are.
These are serious Rock Stars for Jesus. They aren't living in Kentucky, Louisiana or Colorado anymore, that's for sure!
Later that night we went with the Beaty family and enjoyed the most amazing India food! Since moving to Doha, Nick and I have realized we love good Indian food. Don't knock til you try the good stuff.
The next morning we set our alarms and rushed off in the darkness with a special driver and minivan with A/C headed for what some consider one of the 7 wonders of the world....
The Taj Mahal
Gena and I slept most of the 3 hour drive which could be good and bad for sight seeing. Our driver said we missed a lot! Here's one sight we'll not soon forget...
The Taj is located smack dam in the middle of the poor and dirty. Literally just outside the beautiful grounds its back to the heartbreaking reality of India. While it was disturbing and shocking to witness such poverty and filth it was once again humbling to see the joy people have in such harsh circumstances.
Our driver took us as close as he could. Then we could choose to take a camel, horse or tuk-tuk to the gates of the Taj Mahal. We opted out of our desert friend the camel and went for the horse.
Unbelievable detail! The Taj Mahal (translated: Crown of Palaces) is really famous for its white marble mausoleum built by an emperor in memory of his 3rd wife when he was devastated by her death during childbirth. Her tomb is in the middle of the famous white dome. The construction lasted more than 20 years. Once up close and personal to the white marble and details it was very obvious why it took decades to build such a montrosity. Another amazing feature is that the Taj Mahal is symmetrical in every way. Pretty amazing!
Walking through the main entrance and first glimpse.
Apparently we were there during the low season and "no one was there".
Amazing...each piece painted and sculpted perfectly inlaid to make the design.
Looking back at the entrance
Back behind the horse again! Sweating just a little...
We were so hungry for lunch and dying for some A/C but made a few stops first...
This was a place where they make replica pieces identical to the Taj Mahal marble design.
Also happens to be the place where I got suckered and bought a beautiful piece of white marble with the inlay stone to keep forever as a memory of our trip and seeing the Taj. Gena has a way with her fellow shoppers. Not sure if I would call it a good or bad influence. She's persuasive and I'm glad she was that day! We both have something!
Next up...Agra Fort. Wasn't on our list to see but our guide insisted and it was pretty fascinating. Double walled RED fort and surrounded by a mote. It also served as a palace.
View of the Taj from Agra Fort
I couldn't help but take their picture. The most beautiful thing about India is the color. Everywhere! The people and women wearing the most vibrant colors.
These two took my breath away. I stopped in my tracks and turned around to take their picture.
Seriously...I could have taken her with me.
Finally food!! We had plans of going to the only 5 star hotel for lunch, just to be on the safe and cool side. You can't play around with raw food or water in India. BUT our driver insisted on a certain place for lunch and told us it could be trusted. Gena had teaching behind her and we were just hours away from flying back to Doha so we went for it. We took the risk to enjoy the experience. The food was absolutely amazing and the restaurant was full of tourists.
Not totally sure but I believe we had fennel seeds and sugar after our spicy lunch. Apparently it helps with fresh breath and digestion...which was much needed after all we consumed!
Next up was a stop where a man (well entire crew) were making rugs from start to finish. Really interesting because he was tying each and every knot by hand.
And hello cows in the middle of the road. I was little nervous about the standing water...eek!
We drove home and arrived back in Delhi just before sunset. Our driver was so excited to show us the bats on our way! No seriously look at the stinkin bats!!! NO THANKS!
We drove straight back to Libby and David's house which is located basically on the school campus and the American Embassy. And just outside the gate, we're talking about a totally different world from what's beyond that property. And by that I mean slums. The real deal...slums of India. Unlike anything I've ever seen or probably will see. I am standing the parking lot of school taking a picture of what's across a small street.
And these little precious faces were waiting just outside the car when we drove up. Looking so similar to the family I had back in Doha. 2 boys and sweet little girl. Never to be forgotten. Changed forever from what we witnessed.
The Beatys! What incredible hosts. Gena and I were pampered by staying with them. The Beaty Hotel rocked and would get all kinds of great traveladvisor reviews! Amazing food, private bedrooms and personal tour guides!
We finished up our long day with a girls dinner out to eat at the restaurant at the American Embassy. Good ol American food but not without our last tuk-tuk ride! Home again home again...with cobras of course!
The trip to Indian was unlike anything I've ever experienced. I've never been so overwhelmed. All of my senses were in over-drive. It took days to process what we saw and witnessed as friends, tourists, Americans and Christians. I'm still asking God what I am to do with all of it. It was just so much. Too much dirt, too much poverty and too many people living in the most awful conditions imaginable. Not to mention what we didn't see that goes on behind closed doors with children and women being sold into prostitution.
I'll never forget it. I am ever so thankful for the blessing of my time with Gena and Libby and what God's continuing to teach me since being in Delhi. May I never forget it. Please pray for the people of India and those that are there to Love them.