Saturday, 15 September 2007

Last Update

....Hello all....those who have decide to check one last time. dunno if anyone will be reading this so will keep it short as having no audience is not the most encouraging situation to be writing or speaking to!

back now a few weeks, enjoying the lack of responsibility, after a very good holiday across hundreds of miles of india.

i had planned to write some magnificant sermon here about what ive learnt, but i had a quite a late night last night and i am tired, and also no one is reading!

thanks for reading all this, hope its been enjoyable.


Saturday, 28 July 2007

Update 15...

Well, its been a week since my last update, and quite a busy week. we have 2 days left of work left before our holiday, which basically means one more trip to sm nagar and one english lesson left.

a quick summary of my week is travelling for 2 hours on buses to kk pettai, doing a very rowdy sm nagar visit on wednesday on my own, and generally feeling like india is home and that i dont notice the differences anymore. india is normallity for me now.

i feel now most of the stuff i have been doing now is pretty trivial, and the same as what ive written before, so im not going to write a huge blog about what ive been doing. while on holiday i will probably run over what ive been doing, but i dont have the motivation to write loads anymore! as its so near to me coming home, i feel that i can just tell you all about the last bits in person.

i am sad to be leaving, but looking forward to being home and the challenge of university. however, i have been feeling over the last week or so how i feel i could easily live in a country like this, away from the luxurys of england. i dont really know how to describe it.

anyway, we are of to a place which has a big garden in chennai, and i am holding us up, so this is it for now. check back in a week or so for news of our holiday.


Saturday, 21 July 2007

Update 13...

Hey all,

the keyboard im using is broken and therefore i cant use exclamation marks and brackets and so just imagien theyre there [exclamation mark]

the coming week is my last full week working in chennai![ha copy and paste works instead] had a long debreif session with becky, and came to realise that despite times of frustration with the workload, this has been a really productive and significant time, and i wouldnt change a moment of it. i have learnt so much here, about india, God and myself. i really hoped that i would get some of the inconsistencies of myself sorted out here, and i believe that God has really challenged me and changed me to be more sure of who i am and strong in that. anyway...i am actually quite sad to be leaving, it has begun to feel like home here, and i feel i could stay here indefinatly. i am tired however, and am really looking forward to getting back to english food, my family and to my friends. university is also an exciting challenge and becoming a very real prospect.

there are loads of random things that havehappened to me that i forgot to mention in my logs when they came about, so here are a fw which ive remembered over the past few days! on the day the girls came ages ago, it was also a bad day because someone from my middle class street nicked a bag from our doorstep containing a few books, my swimming trunks, a towel and a small football. this was just as we were leaving for the beach, and was pretty frustrating! we made some noise about it, and later when we returned.....the bag had returned to our door! thats not the end of the story though.....i havent been going on my runs a week since then, because a few days leter, someone nicked my trainers! yes my manky falling to bits trainers filled with sand from playinf footy on the beach and stained red from the mud where we run. nicked from outside my door where they were drying from the rain run we went on. honestly, i cant believe some indians! and these guys are our neighbours aswell. honestly. i plan today to buy a cheapy pair from a new reebok store up the road, where there are some very tempting cheap reebok cricket bats....i have decided to wait till mumbai to go buy myself one though, as i am slightly concerned about how much mobey i have left in my account.

other unusual incidents include a time when we went with the girls and the visiting tearfund boys to see pirates of the carribean. i was standing with rox lydia and jo, when a short and smart young indian chap came up to us. he very nervously and in perfect english -the best ive heard in india- asked me and the girls if we would be interested in doing dome modelling for him! he was deadly serious nd gave us a very smart and expensive styled card, and we all tried hard to keep staight faces. the advert in question was for some sort of lighting, and if we agreed, would simply have to be looking up at the lights made by the company. sadly, steve and luke werent very keen so we didnt give the guy a call. but it was, at the time, quite an amusing incident, to be asked to model for an indian advert!

since our slight bump with a car ages ago in an auto, we havent had any really dangerous moments, but a few days ago luke and i experienced another incident, much bigger than the previous one. we were heading to the cinema from SM Nagar to buy cinema tickets, and our aut driver jumped a red light, just as the otherside of the road was just moving [we were crossing the otherside of the road to get to the road on which the cinema is]. a singlew motorbike moved away quickly, and the auto driver dodged to the right to avoid him. this however, took us in line with a chap riding his bike acros the road where we were headed, and we smashed right into him, sending him flying and by the sound of the crash, decimated his bicycle. thiswas a bit of a shock to us all, but the auto driver just kept driving, looking very nervous. we saw the guy getting up, and then saw a police man on his motorbike pull up next to us. by now the the auto driver was really anicing, and dropped us off a little way from the cinema,andhad the audacity to ask "80 rupees", a lot more than we had agreed to. we still get so many auto drivers askign for ridiculous amounts of money because we a re white, and despite us wearing indian clothing and knowing exactly where ew are and where we are going. its either that or arriving back at the flat and having them demand more money because of "long distance long distance". its surprisingly frustrating!

anyway, thats a few funny/not funny incidents i can recall. since my last blog work has continued as normal, and luke has started making a grass garden out of a patch or dirt at the back of the office. today is saturday andi have lots of jobs to get donw, like buying Jacobs well new books and board game for the kids of sm nagar. therefore i think i need ot be going, as ive been here for almost 2 hours messing about on facebook! last night went with vijay to a evening service with all of the csf guys, and met a guy called paul moses who played international cricket for india, before quiting to do ministry. not sure how much of that vijay exaggerated, but he did play state against sunil gavaskar and other greats. that was mostly in tamil, and quite an experience!

thanks for keeping on reading, despite the increasing dullness of this blog! as i near the time coming home i feel less compelled to write as when i first arrived, though i will try and write again soon with a more interesting account of my last week and other things i have been up to.

bye bye

Monday, 16 July 2007

Update...cant remember! 12?

Hey all,

its 1:10 on monday, and our 3rd last monday in chennai. this weekend has been a busy one, as we travelled 6 hours on friday night to bangalore, slept on the girls' roof for a few hours, then 3 hours on a bus to a place called mysore, where all the marharajas (sp?) of the south used to live in luxury. i think a marharaja was a local king or ruler of sorts....there wasnt any info on display at the huuge palace so dont know much! the place they lived is pretty huge, and has lots of huge indian lions carved in stone looking very angry and ferocious. it would be a cool place to have a huge old-fashioned party or ball, as there are loads of interconnected rooms/halls/open 'quads' as i think sometimes their called. mysore itself is quite a chilled out place, by india standards! we arrived and paid 15 rupees (a bargin after 30 rupee minimum in chennai!) to get to a hotel, which we took 2 of the cheapest rooms, which resembled a prison! long corridor painted in two prison blue colours. metal doors, and 2 sades of brown painted walls in the room with rock hard but surprisingly coimfortable beds. the lonely planet guide had described "antique furnitiure"....but we found this to mean just 'old furniture'. had a decent indian meal in the evening, after steve decided he did not want to have western pizza, and after me talking about how much i wanted a pizza throughout the day! next morning we were planning to get up and walk 1000 steps up a hill, which is one of the main things to do in mysore. after waking myself up with a nice shower, tried to turn it off, to find the taps had lost all control over the shower. upon our return to the hotel later today we found the shower still running after the indian in charge had looked at it and promised to fix it. quite a waste of water! it was still running when we left i think....after 5 hours or so on!

after having a quick look at the big catholic cathedral there (another occasion of sad over-catholocism with a slight mix of hinduism resulting in a dead depressing cathedral) before heading back to bangalore, almost without out luke, who had sat down and not noticed us leaving to catch the bus! back in bangalore we went to the girls version of the fruit shop -a place called juggies which has bean bags and sells food and ice-cream.

the most distinctive part of the day however was a day of more classic screw-ups from myself. earlier in the day i had left my bag in the auto, and only realised when the auto driver returned it 40 mins later! that was josh stupidity number 1. number 2 couldve been a lot worse also. having said our goodbyes, we lft to catch our 9 30 train. half way to the station it occured to me that i hadnt actually checked the time of our train at all......after sitting in terror fora few seconds i slowly reached into my pouch for the tickets.......i slowly looked for the time of our train, fearing that it had already gone of something similar, to find it left at 12:00 that night! stopped the auto driver and explained we wanted to go back to the place we had just come from, which brought a few chuckles from him. i was very annoyed with myself to say the least..but the josh stupidity had one more slight twist. got out of the rickshaw back at the girl's flat, proped my bag up on a post, paid the auto driver, and walked off without my bag again! it was a bad bad day for me....hehe

last week we had more huge tunderstorms, with a mix of incredible lightning and terrifyingly loud cracks of thunder. went to kk pettai with vijay again, and arrived to find that the boys' ball was punctured and being fixed. vijay not a happy bunny about this, so spent a hour doig abcd with a few kids we played with the pervious week. then another massive rainstorm hit, and we had to take shelter under an old ripped umbrella and a wall, which was fine, until the wind changed and the wall stopped protecting us from the downpour. waited ages for a bus, now without the umbrellas which vijay had sent back to the community with another boy who had come to the bus stop with us. another few hours on a wet bus back to the flat, where we were supposed to be taking ruth cox, the oasis international vocational training director (or something like that) to sparkys for the evening. met swamy who kindly informed me that she wouldnt actually be coming, and when this was told to luke and steve, they were not best pleased having cancelled previous plans for the evening and had been waiting for the Oasis person to turn up at any moment. went to sparky's anyway and had a very interesting debate with tom about monastisim and hermits and so on (luke is very interested in this!) and he again amazed with his knowledge and understanding with God. i overate again...ordering a large chips aswell as my meal. like the way we never learn to book cinema tickets in advance, i never learn that ordering an extra chips is too much and results in me feeling ill! hopefully next time i will remember this....

that is all for now, i need to get some lunch in before a visit to SM Nagar. i am pretty sick of the food here now, i have to admit it! or at least, our cooks cooking. it all has the same taste! and the meat always worries ne after getting a few more hearts and bit of liver in my meals.....

hope everyone is well and having fun in their countries (so many people travelling atm!) and are well,
thanks for reading,


Sunday, 8 July 2007

Update 12

hello all,

today is sunday, of which we have 4 i hope that i live to see them out, as at present i am suffering from an illness that is doing all the things malaria is supposed to do to one...though luckily nausea is not a malaria thing (says tom the creator/legend of sparky's restaurant). since my last blog, work has continued as normal, except my seconf visit to help run the kk pettai kids club/football club was cancelled due to vijay being too ill to go (source of my illness i believe). in classic india style, i wasnt informed of this until i politely asked why we hadnt left for kk petai yet (we need to leave at 3 to get there at 4/4 30, and it was approaching 4), and was told without any realisation i had been waiting for an hour to leave, it was off that day. ahh india......

today went to powerhouse as usual. and as usual, i though the guy jake gave an intelligent sermon, and as usual luke disagreed with most of it! the last few sundays the church has been meeting in sparkys itslf, as the cinema which it normally meets in had been reclaimed for extra "sivaji" showings. i mentioned this in another update. apparently it has got into the top 10 uk fims?! dont understand how this is! could someone please look about on thier travels to see if they come across any posters of cinema showings of it. if you do, go see it!

our holiday is nearly booked up now. we take a train to a place called cochin in kerala (ill describe this basically but with the place names so you geographers and map lovers like me can look it all up). then we get a houseboat for 3 days and cruise the backwaters south east of cochin. then we travel up to munnar and stay for a few days, then down to a place called Periyar widlife santuary...have i told you this before? im sure i have....oh well. then one night at this national park/sanctuary, then down to kollam, one night their or in kottayam (dont think we can make periyar-kollam in an afternoon) then from kollam down the road to varkala where i have booked us 2 bamboo huts on a cliff over looking a beach for 4 days. then from there we fly to delhi, via chennai, visit the taj mahal, then up to a place called manali waaay up north, and stay for 4 days and explore the himalayas a bit, then back to delhi and onto mumbai by plane to visit the oasis projects, including PB, and buy myself a few cricket bats. then back to the uk.

as for a few weeks back, there was probabaly a few good interesting bits of information, but now id not so, or at least i have forgotten it! it was rox's birthday so we bought loads of fancy fruits and stuff for breakfast, and in the evening took them to the park hotel for a meal (another place steves dad took us to. a most incredible hotel) the food there was incredible aswell, and they had some of the best puddings i have ever seen and taasted. just wait till you see the photos.

the july 4th celebrations were entertaining. sparky's was full of big americans strutting around feeling proud to be american (they were strutting!). there were fireworks outside later at night, launched from the roof of sparky's, some of which ended up exploding in the road, which we considered to be quite dangerous.

tried for the 6th time to get tickets to see pirates of the carribbean. only 2 tickets left this time! went to see mel gibson's apocolypto instead. good film. bit gory, but well directed and so on.

also, after falling behind 3-8 to luke in chess, i have come back to 8-6 after 3 wins on the trot, which is very nice for me!

this is very short but im going to leave it there. hopfully much interesting stuff will happen in the next few days which i can recount to you....

hope you are all well, thanks for reading again


Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Update 11

Hello everyone,

i am pressently suffering a cold, reading animal farm by george orwell (ive now run out of books to read having read lord of the rings and cs lewis' "the magician's nephew", the first in the narinia books) luke took 2 weeks or so to read it...i took an afternoon and the next morning! other books ive been reading are christian ones, like "prayer" by philip yancey, whch is pretty good, and one called "if you want to walk on water, youve got to get out of the boat" which is alos good. check them out. i find in so much easier to read fiction though, than reading for learning, so ive only got through these 2 books, and 3x as many fiction ones!anyway....thats quite dull....moving swiftly on:

Our busy schedule has now kicked off! were working quite hard now, though i was just reading an email from another oasis guy in uganda who has to entertain 2000 kids, feed them all on thier team budget, give an hour long talk, and this is from 9 am to 5pm!! (thankyou God for sending me to india....). so in comparison our work is pretty light, but much more than we had been doing before!

today luke is ill again and steve has to finish some card designs (to be sold in the uk, so buy them when they come out!!!) so i am going into SM Nagar by myself. a bit daunting, but as luke had prepared loads of coulouring things todo, hopefully i should have enough to do with them! yesterday was my first time helping running the football club at kk pettai (ragpickers). went with Vijay, who is being seconded to oasis from the christian sports fellowship, who ran the football camp which we 'helped' at. left the office at 3 and took a few packed buses to the far north of chennai, to the area where the seaport is, arriving at about 4 20. arrived and found the kids all running about happily (we had gone with the girls to visit and it was a dark gloomy day, and most kids were pretty joyless. more on that later) but all the older boys and thier fathers and mothers working at sorting the rubbish they had picked up that day. so now got to see what their work is like. there are flies everywhere, and they are sorting through massive white plastic bags, putting stuff in different piles at a fast pace. they are all silent, and looking pretty sad, or rather, just expressionless. so therefore the boys we would have played football with were still busy, so we took all the oyunger kids, maybe aged 5-8, and walked to a dirty sand area between the sea defences and the slum. this also doubled up as the community's toilet, so you had to be pretty careful as you entered. the way it is with these kids, they will grow up, and help thier fathers and mothers, then take over the work, then have thier own kids and continue the cycle. they will live in the same little square of houses for thier whole lives, and have no way of escaping, or have any knowledge of the are beyond where they can walk, to shops or school. the local school has however just closed down, and the kids now have no shool, as the nearest is to far to send kids under 10 years old, and the bus fares, though very cheap to us and the workers of oasis, and 90% of the population, is too much for them to pay each day. anyway, we played with these kids for an hour or so, then vijay sat them down (about 4 of them on the ground, 3 on myself and vijay!) and sung them a "jesus song", as kids say when the want you to sing, and taught them the actions. i knew these from doing it in the football camp, so was able to join in. then we went back to the little community and chatted with some of the adults and washed some of the kids we were with . oasis installed a pump there a few months back, but ew are unable to get the people there to wash consistently, so when ever we go, we tell them to wash themselves. the level of dirtyness that they are can be seen by ones clothes afterhaving themclimb over you- a grey polo shirt i was wearing now has a brown shade over it, ater just one session with them.

on ourt way back, vijay began to say some really encouraging things. he pointed to a church, just the other side of the main road from the community, and said sopmehting along the lines of "look, there is a church, they are so close to this place, but they do nothing to help.(an 'upper class' style church it was) you and steve and luke come from hundreds of kilometres from your country, to help them...." and went on to say how encouraging and so on it was. it was really good to hear, as sometimes it does feel pointless being here, as we cannot speak the language and so on, but really, just being with these guys helps, showing them a bit of love and care, which so many indians dont bother to do. he went on for a while about this, and it was really encouraging.

then, waiting for the bus, hear some loud bangs coming slowly up the street, then saw a boy laying a large firework thing in the road and setting it off. it was extremely loud, now it was close to us, and vijay -having seemingly not noticed it before- pointed back down the road where there was a loud crowd dancing and chanting in the road. he then exlained htis was a hindu funeral, as daniel had acted out for me many times before in jest. a few drunken guys were dancing in front of a priest, behid whom was being carried the deceased. a very odd thing to see.

eventually got back to the flat at 7 30, after another long journey on packed buses. will be going again tomorow, but vijay does it everyday!

am running out of time to write this, as i need to be going to sm nagar soon. but i will start recounting my actions last week in the gaps when i wasnt writing any blogs. having arrived back in chennai form the methodist youth camp, we had a week of nothing to do except teaching and moving oasis to a new office 20 mins away. we were very thankful to get back after so long travelling about, and able to do whatever we wanted in our own time. on the camp, we had been put into groups and forced to memorise chunks of the bible do loads of pointless activities, was not much fun at all, and meant we had no time at all to relax and enjoy the scenery. the night we got back we treated ourselves to a sparkys and went to see pirates of the carribean, which was pretty good, but not half as good as the first. the res of that week is pretty boring, and we were just counting the days till the girls came to stay on the saturday. that saturday turned out to be a bit of a disaster! arrived at the station at 5 30 to pick up the girls, and found thier train was delayed until 7 30. then travelled to thier hotel, and checked in. at first they said no reservation had been made, and spent a while on the phone to becky trying to sort it out. finally got them a room with only two beds. they then called up to the room asking to see their passports. we had booked a car to take us to the same hotel as we went to with steve's dad a while back, and to go to the beach. i then turned out that the girls didnt actually have thier passports on them......and to cut a long tedious story short, we were kicked out! swamy arrived to try and rectify thesituation, as by now becky had been on the phone to the manager trying to let them stay until thier passports were sent on monday. still, they refused to let them stay with thier passports, so we managed to get the car to pick us up at the hotel, and take us to the flat, where we fudn a worried luke standing in the road, as we were meant to have been there 2 hours before! we had prepared a breakfast for them, so we ate that and heded to mahablipuram, to near where the SU camp is, and where we went to with steves dad. managed to hit the traffic, and it took ages to get there. the crazyness of the day continued over lunch, as it took 40 mins for the first bit of our meal to arrive, then another half an hour for my (and everyone elses food) to arrive! not a bunch of happy bunnies. instead of swimming in ther pool and playing it, we went straight to the beach, as the monsoon coming in slowly mean the weatehr was slightly overcast, protecting us mostly from the intense heat of the sun. returned later and hit the evenng traffic, which was aggravated by our driver taking the longest possible route back to the flat as he could (im reckon i know north east/central chennai as well as most autodrivers now!).

i will have to leave my dull narrative there for now, as i need to prepare for my visit to the community to run the kids club. will continue with the more interesting (well, sort of interesting!) bits of the week before last, and other random obervations, tomorow. hopefully. at least, not tonoght, as we are going to sparkys for the independance day celebrations. an evening of glorifying america...yay!

see ya

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Update 10!

it had to happen sometime....that is, me falling behind on updating this thing. dont tell me yur surprised that i have done! hopefully some of you are still reading, and havent forgotten about me after taking so long to get updates up now.

but dont fear! all the backlog of emails that built up over the 3 weeks i was away have been sorted, and it is back to being just us three lads back in monsoon hit chennai. yes, i know, i spent all my time complaining about hot hot it is here.....and now i tell you its raining. constantly! a few nights ago, when we had thought the rains had passed after 3 days non stop rain, steve and i were walking back from the internet cafe, when we felt a few drops of rain. we thought nothing of it. seconds -yes seconds- later the biggest downpour weve had so far hit! within moments the roads were flooding as we ran back to the flat before we got soaked. we got soaked anyway however....and i got a few blisters from my new indian sandals -my previous blue fila ones, of trips to america and thailand, had snapped days before navigating a huge puddle by jumping from stone to stone, and resulting in me becomign very indian and walking about barefoot for 4 days. the story doesnt end there back to find we had been locked out! we lost our set of keys weeks back, and have been using the cook's who puts them back in the nearby jacobs well office (the old oasis office). usually we can get at them by using our jacobs well key to get the flat keys. however....the cook was in the flat when we left, took the keys with her and locked them in JW, and our JW keys in the flat. if you didnt understand means we have no key to get the key to get the key which is the key which locks our door, behind which is the key to open jacobs well. lol

we got back in eventually, after a few hours waiting for ranjith to turn up with his key, and one very deep and meaningful discussion, we were back inside the dryness of the flat. luke has bought a brilliant red carpet (the patterned posh kind, you know?) after we had seen a huuuge one in bangalore, and now that makes our main room much more welcoming and more of a place to sit and read etc.

the girls from bangalore left on monday morning, after our halfway retreat last weekend. catriona from Oasis uk came to visit us for it, which took place at a really nice beach resort. we left on the saturday morning, under the impression we would be going to the SU camp. this ha out me in quite a bad mood as becky had told us we would be ating where we did for the football camp. this is bad, because the food there was pretty poor, and he dinning hall was swarming with flies, attracted by the days old food swept onto the floor from indian's plates. guys in england.....if you think the london tube is dirty, or our streets in general.......check out india! youll learn england is pretty clean!

so when we turned up at this very fancy resort, it was a pretty good surprise! i was amazed that becky had though of leading us into thinking we were going to the SU camp, then taking us somewhere better, very impressed with her sense of humour! she is a very very nice person, and is very helpful and good to us. we had a few talks led by becky catriona, and leena from mumbai, who had also come down. the rest of the time we spent chilling out in the pool or just around the resort, where there was GRASS! there isnt much of it in chennai you see....

in the evening, there was live music, where a really good singer played loads of classic osngs, and did them really well. (apart from some hilarious pronunciation errors indians are prone to eg "i got too much life, running through my wiews....." robbie williams. they cant pronounce the 'v' sound). we requested loads of cheesy songs for each other, and finally all got up (except steve!) and danced in front of the whole restaurant to a westlife song. then we left and sat down very quickly! or should i say....wery quickly.

arriving back in chennai early on monday, found that swimming in the pool had made myself, lydia and rox ill, lydia especially so and myself pretty badly. for all those i tricked into thinking i had malaria....dont worry....i dont! hehe am now recovered completely, after 2 early nights and osme of the best sleep i have had in india so far. i woke up this morning thinking "it must b past 9, as i feel so refreshed..." looked at my watch.... 6 30! dont thenk thats happened in quite a while!

today, i booked the first step of our mammoth india holiday at the begining of august, us guys tickets to bangalore, then on with the girls from bangalore to cochin in kerala. takes about 12 hours. the next step is up to a place called munnar, way up in the western ghats (look it up!) - a cool amazingly scenic tea plantation. i will describe it to you more as i book it.

also today, we planned our schedule for the comming weeks....and we are paying for our lack of activity previously! we will, from monday, be helping at 3 different football clubs, one near to us, one in the far north (kk pettai), and one in the south (sm nagar, our community). then, we will be running a after school club for the sm nagar kids, 3 times a week. then, 2 more lessons a week for the local boys who failed thier 10th standard (gcse level) and cannot get a decent job because of it. ranjith is included in this group. there is a possibility, if we can handle it, of another lesson somewhere up the road doing hobbies and lifeskills. AND we have 3 lessons of proper hardcore teaching each to do with the jacobs well girls. i ahve done 2 lessons with the new lot now, which have gone well, btu have found even with a detailed syllabus, teaching is soooooooo complex. its not just about being passionate about it, you need to understand what to teach in what order, when,what is important, what isnt, how to teach it and so on.

random info: phil colins/genesis has broken the tamil music dominance in the internet very its eye of the tiger! lol this is surreal!

talking of tamil stuff......there is the a HUGE tamil film out at the moment, the biggest ever, bigger than any bollywood one (in terms of screen resolution, hwich it breaks indian records) and is breaking all sorts of records. its called "sivaji: the boss". never before in the world have i found a place where an overwieght middle aged man with a big moustache is the heartthrob, and admired by young and old joke! in th same way say, brad pitt is idolised in the is the middle aged large guy in sivaji! look it up on the interent, tamil films are HILARIOUS! i plan to bu a copy of sivaji when it comes out, and show it to you all!

some of you have mentioned in emails the attitudes of the the other guys, luke and steve. i fear i have misrepresented them in my emphasis of the enjoyment of the bangalore girls company. here is what i wrote in an email about them both (but i have added bits!): "as for steve and luke, they are both good guys. steve is just as fired up as me for this trip, and is an extremely focused and evangelically minded christian, and is just as enthusiastic as me about it. he is very intelligent, and is a brilliant debator! he is just as desperate to have things to do as i am. luke is also a good guy. whereas steve and i talk about God stuff, we normally discuss how we feel and so on. he has some intersting ideas and attitudes to things. i will be able to explain these more efficiently when return, as som,e of them are difficult for me to describe here. but basically he is very very very reflective, (much into his henri nouwen and thomas merton books), and he has the attitude it is all about his own spiritual journey, himself and how he feels. looking back at that sentence, he seems perfectly justitified i guess, as a lot of our trip is about that, but i cannot explain it correctly. he is not to bothered if there is a lack of work, and is not in the habit of what we might call "making the effort". i like to make the effort with most things i do and the people i meet, however distant or random, but luke doesnt really tend to follow the same though. i will explain him better in person hopeflly! having him aorund has been good for me however, as he has influenced me to be more thoughful of my opinions and arguments and so on. and many other things im sure!

we are now starting to become good friends, and i feel we can spend time with each other just for the sake of enjoying each others company, not because we are stuck together so we have to!!! we see to all be very at ease with each other now, which is really good, as we are all so different in many ways, but so similar in others. id be hard pressed to find a bunch of people that are so similar, but at the same time, so different! hope thi is understandable! dont worry friends back home and across the are not being replaced! you are all too good to replace, no joke.

sadly, there is so much good blog material to include, that has passed from memory while i have been busy, and now i have got most inportant news out of the way, i can continue recounting these things!

so instead i will give this a more spiritual turn and atempt to recount some of the things i have learnt thus far about God and so on. i chose india for a number of reasons, one of them being that it was the biggest challenge i could find. i had heard so much about the poverty here, and how i would be mobbed with street children in mumbai and so on. however, this didnt happen, (the point of mumbai isnt to be over considered, it is just an example of a pre concieved idea about india) as we had little work to do upon our arrival in chennai. there wasnt the huge amount of work which i had expected and was relying upon to oost me back to where i had been upon my return from thailand. this was my first lesson learnt, and i recount it here in an email sent a few weeks back: "The inconsistent schedule of work has been an unusual source of spiritual development for me, though it is still a tough part of my time here. Before I came, I had built up certain expectations of how much work I would be doing here, and looked at the trip as a time of rushing around doing God's work and making big steps each day. I was relying on this trip to bring me back to a place of focus on God which I had reached after my recent trip to Thailand. So when we arrived and found our schedule to be quite light, I was forced to realise that I need to be focused 110% on God all of the time, when there is no concrete work to be done, and not just relying on the times when I am out working for Him, to be the person He wants me to be and to live the life of service to Him that I have chosen to follow. Another example of this can be seen in my expectations of my team's own evening devotion sessions, which we had done in Thailand and had been extremely beneficial to me. I again was relying on this trip to bring me back to the place I had been after my Thailand trip in terms of worship, and not trying too hard to acheive it during normal life back in England, due to my expectations of this trip. When we arrived, due to some team members preferences (one member being a Quaker), we have not been able to do a devotion session which fitted my pre-concieved ideas, and that I was relying on to bring me closer to God.
I tell you all this because it has taught me not to rely on particular experinces to bring me closer to God, an I have come to understand the importance of having a strong foundation in God and being just as commited and focused on living for Him when I am not doing specific work for Him as when I am out working for Him. I am now trying to spend much more time in prayer and focus on God, and more effective studying of the Bible, so that I am living 110% for God all of the time, not just when I feel I am achieving something.
I hope this is all clear and you understand what I am trying to explain! I feel it is quite hard to explain without me sounding like I had no focus on God at all before I came here! There are other things God is slowly teaching me, but this is probably the clearest example so far."

well thats one, the other main one is back on the subject of india being the biggest challenge i could find. in past weeks i have wondered and asked God where this big challenge has gone, and what i will have achieved. then it dawned on me, if i had been doing tonnes of work with the extremelypoor and underprivialged, this would not have challenged me massivly, i would have enjoyed it, got on with it and so on. ive now realised that God has in fact given me an even bigger challenge.....not doing very much at all! as mentioned in the above account, i have learnt that you need to be 110% on fire for God all of the time, not just in the brief periods when you are working for him. im not talking about being a commited christian all of the time, thats different. living 110% is living every moment for God and his will for us, and considering his will for each situation etc, which is very easy to do when you are in concretework for him, and not so easy to be just as fired up when you are sitting on your bed with nothing at all to do that day.

i find it hard to make this clear, and i will no doubt explain better in person when i return. God has basically, given me exactly what he knew i would find hardest, in more ways that one. he has honoured my prayers of being challenged and pushed, and i have learnt that what i think to be the hardest thing, or the way to brig me closer to God and so on, God has a much better idea. when i prayed for a challenge, i was thinking poverty and hard work. God has shown me that he answers my prayers, but that doesnt mean they will be answered the way i want them to. mnay time before i have, and im sure many of us have, considered a prayer unanswered just because it hasnt turned out our way. CS lewis says somethhing like, "all prayers are answered, just sometimes the answer is 'no'", and i that is something i have learnt, and am happy to have learnt.

ricky martin is now playing, and has distracted me! im sure you people reading who dont have a clue what im on about with all this God stuff are relieved! you really should check it out not ricky martin....God stuff.

there are plennnnnty of other things im being taught, some i am aware of, some im not, so hopefully ill share these when they become more clear. i hope you appreciate me sharing all this, andi ask that you dont take it very very seriously, as i my descriptive skills at the narration of my experiences is somewhat lacking, and im sure i have missed various points out, making it hard to understnad, trivial, or just "didnt he know that before?". to that i say, we know most things, we read about them each day i the bible, but do we follow them? paul says that somewhere i think...anyway, my point is, we know plenty of things, and we think we stick to them, but sometimes God can point out to us that really, were not feeling it properly, its just theory. again, ive probably stuffed this little sermon up good and proper. its the thought that counts though!

the final countdown is now playing, so i better sign off! adam, this always reminds me of you, and driving in your yaris, and your families likeing of 80s music! lol issign you buddy, and all of you friends, family, and everyone who is kind enough to read this!

thanks to everyone prayig for me, keep it up! you need it riding in the auto rickshaws aroud here!!

next blog will detail the girls visit, the week before that, and other random observations....

see ya