Day 2: Into the Slum

Chris' Journal

India: Day Two

We are in India!

It was waaaay past my bedtime when we landed in Mumbai at 2 a.m. It's a 9 1/2 hour difference between here and back home. So for my family and friends in the United States it is 4:30 p.m. yesterday.

Interesting, huh? And the reason for the weird 9 1/2 hour difference is because India is technically in two different time zones, but the government decided that it was better to have just one time zone in India and they split the difference by a half hour.

By the way - remember when I told you I contracted pink eye? Well, today we stopped at a chemist's shop (what we would call a pharmacy) to get some medicine. The first interesting thing I discovered was that we didn't need a doctor to prescribe the medicine first! We just walked in and asked for it! The second interesting thing I discovered was that it only cost me 30 rupees - that's just 70 cents! I like India better already...

I can't believe the number of people everywhere! Even at 2 a.m. the streets are alive - beeping car horns, people, and excitement. India is a country that apparently never sleeps!

I noticed right away that I am the biggest human person in India - both in height and width! I am big in America ... in India I am a giant. I can barely fit into any of the spaces in India.

As a matter of fact, we had a funny experience on the elevator at the hotel. I was with two other people from our video crew in the elevator. An Indian was about to get on but the elevator beeped and lit up a sign that said, "over capacity." It could not have possibly have been me that did this - it must have been the skinny Indian fellow. LOL.

I grabbed a few hours of sleep and then we were off to visit the slums of Mumbai. It is like nothing I have ever seen before.

In Mumbai there are only 17 toilets for every 1 million people. One third of the people do not have access to clean drinking water. I couldn't escape the smell of sewage and garbage ... it permeates the air. We saw rats the size of cats! And worst of all, India's slum population has doubled in the past 20 years.

And yet, God is doing amazing things.

First we got to see how women in literacy classes are being trained to make soaps, perfumes, and cleaning agents in order to sell to make a living. They were also making food to sell.

After the literacy class, barefoot slum children literally poured into the tiny one-room church for their Children's Bible Club. Some of them have moms in the literacy class. The children were being taught Christian values and songs by their club leader - a local Christian who is volunteering her time.

Incredibly, despite the poverty that is in your face here every single second, each person that I have met today has a smile on his or her face. I wonder how often I have a smile like that when things get tough...