Sunday, 3 November 2013

Multiply India Retrospect

"when can we get together?" Nathan and Sam both pressed me.  We found a free Thursday evening, and booked in at Kings for tea.  Nathan and Sam had heard very little about Steve being in South India and then Myanmar and UAE.  I hadn't got their full story from Cuttack, Odisha, either. "Come on, Steve." Nathan encouraged.

Steve reminded us that we'd ruined his attempt at snatching some rest before flying south to Kerala, when we discovered Nathan's laptop was missing at Bangalore airport.  His flight was uneventful, but Daniel, who was due to follow an hour later, found his service was cancelled.  Steve waited several hours in the inhospitable airport until Daniel finally arrived on the last scheduled flight of the day.  Their time spent with Daniel's friend, Dennis, has been a delight.  But later, in Thrissur, the hotel was dingy and the delegates attending the conference not the promising catchment they'd hoped for.  Checking in for the onward flight to Myanmar, Daniel found out that visas aren't available for Indian nationals on arrival.  Steve was left to head for Kuala Lumpur on his own, as so grateful to find me waiting in Yangon airport.

Nathan took up his account of the Church on the Streets staged in Aizawl, Mizoram.  The young people's group that had promised to support the scene had been brave and spontaneous.  Next day, Colney took Nathan and Sam to the Jesus Army rehab out of the city.  They'd immediately clicked with the team there, working in very sparse conditions.  "What do you need?" Nathan had asked.  "A carpenter to build us more furniture here, and then teach the guys some skills, so they can move on from their addictions to something constructive."  Nathan asked him to put a figure on this.  Something like £5,000 would see it sorted.  Back at Colney's home, Nathan put out a Facebook page, and within hours netted some hundreds of pounds of pledges.  That's now been passed over to one of our veteran church members, who has the business experience and time to see it comes to fruition.

"Cuttack was something else," Sam chipped in.  "We arrived in the middle of a Hindu festival.  I found it quite intimidating. This group of young guys came up to me and were trying to get me to dance. 'C'mon, dance for the god!' they pushed me about."  Hannah, Sam's missus nodded vigorously.  Sam had experienced a few scary moments on the trip, including the road accident in Bangalore when his autorickshow had run into a van.  However, the visit to the boys home/orphanage had melted his heart, and been more than compensation.  "They all lined up yo welcome us, in red cross teeshirts.  Oh, the enthusiasm in their worship!".  "Yea, that's what got me in Mizoram, too." Nathan added.  "I wanna do a video that will inspire us to get into worship like that."  Sam and Nathan rounded off with their comedy-film routine of getting through security at Mumbai airport.

"I was chewed up about some of the things that went wrong," I confided.  "We had these big misunderstandings about what Steve's described about Thrissur; Butch arriving in Myanmar and how the whole budget for Yangon got out of schedule.  I'm trying to pick my way through it all."  I wasn't sure whether to go into detail.  "We've always said that every new Multiply activity we embark on stretches our leadership relationships more."

Nathan got us back to a more positive note.  "Who are we going to follow up?"   "Ah, the MILC conference in May/June next year is going to have three tracks."  I explained,  "One for the existing AMEN guys, then two each invitees that they see as key players either in their home scene or for a new place; then a J Gen track for younger folks, or leaders working with them like we do at RAW - again, about two each."  "Wow, that's great!"  Nathan and Sam were excited.  They fired off a load of names they're in contact with on Facebook.  "And don't forget the Intern scheme," I added.

"While we're on follow up," Steve joined in, "Greatheart, you really must get someone to take on some of the admin side.  I watched you dealing with the travel, the finances, the conference equipment - and after you'd done all the planning...  It was too much."  "Well, it was first time for you guys, so I wanted to smooth the way."  I explained.  "Yeah, but you're going to tell me the same about Zambia next year," he persisted.  He's right, there's still lots to work on.

Dave stuck his head round the door and offered us all tea and flapjack.  "Tell the others about the train home," I nodded at Steve.  "From Manchester airport, I fell asleep and went right past Crewe, so I had to double back from Sandbach," Steve explained.  "I did 20,000 miles in 15 days on eight flights, like clockwork, then missed my train connection!  The whole household turned out at Rugby station - with flags.  The other passengers were gobsmacked!"   "C'mon Greatheart, when are we going again?"  Nathan spoke for all of us.  "I think next it's got to be Delhi, to try to cover the northern third of India.  Who knows?"   It was way past 11.00pm, and I had to drive back to Sheffield.  It had been special. 

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