Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Mission Trip to India: Kolkata Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Right after the 8:30 church service last Sunday, six slightly nervous but very excited folks left the church at 10:40am for the LA Airport.   Pastor Luther, Megan Symons, Mindy Bugaj, Joan Bohnstedt, Sonia Steen, and Dave Nichols (me) began the mission trip to India.

The traffic we experienced on the 405 to LAX wasn't bad until getting off the freeway and heading towards the Emirates Airlines terminal.  It took over half an hour to go the last two miles.  We were dropped off at curbside and then went into the terminal to check our bags.  As we entered we were met by a sea of people.  Lines were extremely long but they kept moving but we finally got our bags checked and to our gate by 3p.m.

We flew on the largest passenger plane in the world, and Airbus 380.  It has two decks which span the length of the aircraft's fuselage.  At take off, the captain of the aircraft said that with our fuel we were weighting in at 475 tons.  AMAZING!

Our route of flight took us North over Montana, Canada, and arched Northeast over Greenland, North of Iceland, down and across Finland, Norway and Sweden, and then over western Russia, and into Dubai.  This was a 16 hour flight crossing 11 time zones so when we landed it was Monday night.  The flight was very smooth.  We were seated in rows 67 and 68 among a dozen or more infants and toddlers.  Pastor Luther helped to babysit a pair of 18 month old twins whose mother was having a difficult time keeping them from crying for most of the flight.  Emirates Airlines was a great airline with good service and two delicious meals.

We had a 6 hour layover in Dubai where we strolled up and down the length of a beautiful, clean modern terminal with scores of "Duty Free" shops and small restaurants.  We were all exhausted and fighting off sleep.

The second leg of our trip took 4 hours and covered 1.5 time zones.  We flew over the Bay of Bengal and across India to Kolkata. Upon arrival, we all went through immigration easily, but slowly.  It was 8:30 a.m - we had had little to no sleep.

Our host, Kelsey Eaton, met us along with two other teachers.  We were given leis and then went on our way through the roads of Kolkata on our way to the hotel. Traffic here is quite an adventure with constant horns honking, no marked driving lanes, pedestrians and cows crossing anytime, and cars too close to each other for any comfort.

To Pastor Luther and me, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) had changed in that there's 45 kilometers of raised commuter rail lines begin built in the city and a hundred or more high rise buildings being built all at the same time.  Two major projects are being taken on simultaneously within the city.

At the hotel, we all had a light lunch and took some time off to freshen up before we met Kelsey to discuss our schedule for Wednesday.

Thanks to God for all of us arriving safely and not loosing any baggage.  Also, thanks to all of the folks at home who are praying for us and the success of this trip.
~~ Dave

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