Alright, now that our group has moved on to a new city and I have wifi, we can share what we did in Bangalore. So we landed at 2 am or something on Dec. 30th, India time, but we didn't actually leave the airport until 6 more or less because of customs, baggage claim, finding our bus, etc. Also, some people's bags got lost so that took a little while. We stayed at the United Theological Fellowship, a seminary campus. It was surprisingly green, with trees and flowers and grass. It feels like so long since I have seen the color green.
I'm rooming with Riley, an amazing girl from Rochester. I had heard of her before because she's friends with some of my friends from South Africa, so it's nice to finally meet her! Anyways, we ate breakfast (chai tea is so good here!) and then went upstairs and slept until lunch. We began orientation after that: talking about what our purpose is, getting to know each other, discussing the concept of shalom, etc. The boring stuff, basically.
After just a little of that, we got on the bus and went to a church in the city where we met with young people of the church. Well, young being relative. Whereas in my church "youth group" means just high schoolers, in India it can refer to anyone from 5 to 30 years old. We sang some songs together and then broke into smaller groups so we could talk more comfortably. One man in my group shared that his family was and has always been Hindu, but a friend invited him to a VBS one year and he converted because the music was so much more interesting and engaging than the "boring Hindu prayers." They gave us chai as we were sitting there and yellow flowers on our way out.
At maybe 5:30 (or 17:30 I guess) we drove a few minutes to the Baldwin's Girls Academy, a methodist girls-only school. There, we gathered in their auditorium and admired the stage with a huge white cardboard castle set. MOPers sat in the audience but the bishops got to sit on the stage, in fancy chairs. The service, a "welcome to India" service, began shortly. It was mostly the reader and some others giving each member of the bishops' group traditional gifts: a cloth hat made with shiny and metallic fabric, a colorful silk shawl, and a neck garland made of sandalwood. And we all got a cute white mug with the school's crest on it.
Then, students from the school performed a variety of songs and dances, which I probably would have appreciated more if I hadn't been running on like 8 hours of sleep in the last three days. That's an exaggeration but still, I was tired. Sitting in a dark room and pretty comfortable chairs listening to music was not energy-inducing, let's just say that. Once it was over we moved into the school's cafeteria for dinner. It was a mix of foods: vegetable soup in a thickish broth, rice that was spicy but really good, several different kinds of meat and vegetables, and rice pudding for dessert that was really yummy.
After the dinner and service we went back to UTC, did evening worship, and SLEPT. Ah, it was nice. Alright, that was Day 1. Lots of activities, not a lot of breaks, which is pretty much standard on MOP. More on Day 2 later.
Some photos of the streets... Sorry if I already posted one of these, I can't remember.