Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day Twenty-Two: Varanasi

Well it's been exactly one week since my last post and boy, what a week it has been. We're taking another Sabbath today which is why I've finally found enough time to be able to get on the internet for a little while.
Praise God for a safe arrival in Varanasi. The two day journey went pretty well, all things considered. The border crossing at Sunaili was a real mess but we managed to get a bus down to Gorakhpur. Unfortunately we were unable to get the night train that we had been planning on so we crashed at a really grungy hotel near the train station for a couple hours sleep before the 5:30 train left the next morning. It literally took Gabriel and me all night to get the tickets for that train. We managed to sleep for a few hours here and there in between getting sent from counter to counter trying to find someone who spoke English and could get us the right tickets. Everyone gave us a different story about where we needed to go or what time we needed to get them by and what paperwork we needed to fill out and so on. It was a little bit frustrating but we did eventually manage to get them at about two or three in the morning.
So we arrived in Varanasi at about 11:00 am, took taxis down to one of the ghats (which are the stairs leading down to the Ganges) and let everyone hang out there while Petra, Kaison and I went in search of accomodation. As per usual, all of our first choices were booked up and we spent most of the first two hours trying to shake off an extremely persistent hotel tout who kept on following us everywhere. Kaison ended up chasing him down the street yelling and shaking his fist. Even with such violent tactics it still took a few minutes to get rid of him. That guy was the most persistent but there were dozens of others offering boat rides, hashish, temple tours, rickshaws, peanuts... anything you could possibly imagine. So after a few hours of that, and not finding anything available within our budget we returned to the group thoroughly exhausted and feeling rather hopeless about the whole situation. We decided to all keep walking further north up the ghats and see what we could find there. Almost immediately we passed a group of hippies who stopped and stared for a minute and then asked if we were a YWAM team from New Zealand. Long story short, we've met up with a worship DTS that's based out of the North Island. We had no idea that they were here but they had met up with another one of our teams that had been here a few days earlier so they knew our names and a little bit about us. They were able to hook us up with a sweet place to stay and show us good places to eat and exchange money and so on. It was just another example of God pouring out blessings on us when we least expected and most needed it. We haven't hung out with them too much since then, since the focuses of our ministry are quite different, but several nights ago all nineteen of us took a boat up and down the Ganges singing praise and praying together. Amid all the idol worship with incense and chanting and the clanging of bells there is such a lack of true worship in this place.
Hm... well that's a very brief description of our first few hours here... so I might try and update a little bit more later today. Thanks again for your prayers.

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