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India – Part V

Jeff Scurlock —  April 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

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Please Read Parts 1 – 4 First

Boarding an Air India 747 was quite an experience.  Smoking was allowed on these flights so we made sure to purchase seats in the non-smoking area.  Three things stand out in my memory about boarding the aircraft. The sights; mostly Indian people who seemed to be right at home on this airplane. The sounds; chatter in the Hindi language, some english and The smell: not to be disrespectful but one thing I’ve learned about Indian people is that they love to cook with strong smelling spices and the aroma of those spices stay with them, on their breath, in their clothes.

We found our seats just three rows from the very back of the aircraft. I would be in seat A which was by a window. Felicia was in B the middle seat and in the isle seat was a young Indian who was a student at New York University. His name was Naresh.

It was late and our decent would be into the dark skies over the Atlantic ocean. I couldn’t help but think about the TWA flight that had gone down over these same waters at about this same time of night. I was still a bit nervous about flying and to make it worse I was on an Air Indian flight, leaving New York in the dark for a thirteen hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  I knew the flight would go by fast because I was exhausted and ready for some sleep.

Something wasn’t right. I could smell cigarette smoke. I looked around the cabin and there were several passengers who lit up as soon as the no smoking light was extinguished.  This can’t be right because we purchased seats in the non smoking area.  I was not very happy when I discovered that not only were we in the smoking area but we were in the rear of the aircraft, the place where passengers from non-smoking came to smoke.

My eyes searched the cabin as far as I could see. Looking for empty seats. Somewhere Felicia and I could move to escape the stifling smoke that had already formed a  thick cloud.  No luck. This 747 is packed. I didn’t see an empty seat anywhere.  I asked the flight attendant who was not compassionate about our situation. “There are no other seats,” she said.

This flight would be long.  Thirteen hours to London with a short layover.  Ten hours from London to Bombay (now Mumbai) with a short lay over.  Two and a half hours from Bombay to Bangalore for a total  time including flying from Pensacola to JFK with layovers  of nearly fifty hours.  The seat was tight the smoke was thick and there was a long way to go. Felicia and I agreed the best thing to do was try and relax and get some sleep.

India – Part II

Jeff Scurlock —  March 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

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This is part two of the India series. Please make sure you have read part one first.

 

 

We lived at least fifteen minutes from the nearest restaurant and Sunday lunches in one of them were not the norm. Felicia was home long before me that Sunday preparing lunch.  I must have had a look of shock on my face because she immediately knew something was up. When she asked I told her that Betty had given us a donation for our trip to India.

“How much is it?”  I handed her the check.  She looked at it for what seemed like eternity then looked up at me and said with a twinkle in her eyes, “we’re going to India.”

We needed three thousand dollars for the tickets and the check as you have already guessed by now was three thousand dollars.

I stayed in a state of shock and awe for several hours.  Where did Betty get that much money?  My shock and awe was followed by shame. I hadn’t really trusted that God would provide. He did it in spite of my lack of faith.  Why is it so hard to believe that God will make a way? Not only did God make a way for us to get the tickets purchase He used the most unlikely source.  There were people in our church who had lived well and planned well. They drove luxury vehicles and lived in nice homes.   It wasn’t them. It was Betty, the widow who lived in the small house and drove an old car.  It taught be a valuable lesson. A lesson I’ve had to learn again and again. I keep forgetting but God keeps reminding me that He chooses who He will use and it’s not usually the one with the most money, talent or pedigree.  God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise.

The date was set, the airline tickets with Air India purchased and preparation was in full swing.  There was so much to do. We would be gone for fifteen days. We had to make arrangements for our kids. That was the easy part. Our moms agreed to take turns staying with them at our house so they wouldn’t miss school.  There was more money to raise the cost of the airline tickets was half of what we needed for the trip.  I had faith now. I knew God had provided for the tickets. Now I was sure everything else would be ok.

Everything was not okay.  Arvind came by to see me one day to inform me that he would not be going to India with us. “Pastor Scurlock,” he said. “God has something else for me to do. I will not be going to India with you but there will be people who will greet you and take you to places to preach.”

“Hold on just one minute. You invited us to go to India with you. We have spent three thousand dollars on tickets, made plans and now your telling me this?”

“It will be fine pastor Scurlock. You don’t need me. God will go with you.”

In the years since going to India I have traveled and made many missions trips. Now I know how it works. You hook up with an American missionary. He or she makes your arrangements in country and you spend your time with them.  That would not be the case on our first trip out of the country.  We would arrive in Bangalore India at 3 am local  be greeted by an Indian man whom we had never met, and he would take us to our hotel. After that we were to be greeted by T.c. George who was the General Superintendent of the southern India Assemblies of God.  He would make our preaching arrangements. It brought some comfort that an Assembly of God brother would be with us but it was still our first trip out of the country and it was India and we had no American contacts there.

In the 90’s  you could check in two large suitcases per passenger and take a carry on bag.  Arvind asked us to smuggle some Christmas decorations in to some of his family. “Smuggle?” I asked.

“Pastor Scurlock the authorities will frown upon you if they find you have these decorations but it will be fine because God will get you through customs.”  Ok, now I’m worried.  This man of God is suggesting to me that I do something that would be frowned upon and that I should trust that God would get me through.