By Madeline Troyer
Our first day at the Menno Clinic was started off with Indian coffee, which is more like cream and sugar with a slight coffee flavor and some other spices. Besides the coffee, our morning at the clinic consisted of watching Latha, Jhansi and Mercy prepare coconut chutney for breakfast, and helping them cut up okra for our lunch.
The morning consisted of lots of talking, breakfast, and then staff devotions and prayer at 9. Then before the hottest part of the day, we went on a walk around the town and visited Bashu, a dear friend of John's father. As we talked with Bashu, it became very clear that he is passionate about promoting understanding between the different faith traditions, and to view them through our similarities rather then our differences.
Bashu and his family are very devout Muslims and they are currently observing the holy month of Ramadan so we learned some more about that from him. He also wanted us to know that there is good and evil in this world and all the scriptures from Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (he was well studied in all of them) are teaching many of the same good values and trying to fight evil. He reminded us that a majority of Muslims around the world are more similar to us then different. They recognize Jesus as a prophet and are very peaceful people. We all left Bashu's house wiser.
We then walked around the town more and John told us some stories about things that happened as Menno Clinic was starting up and the background story of how it began. It's all a good reminder that God just needs us to be willing to do his will and he will touch more people then we could imagine.
The meals have been something that I personally am growing to love. All the spices work together for something wonderful and then eating all the rice mixed with the curries and sides for flavor is a lot of fun and makes the eating experience better. After lunch a few of us went to get fresh coconut water before laying down for the mid day nap that everyone takes during the heat of the day here. I think we could all get used to this laid back village life and it is a good reminder that we need to find time to take breaks in our own busy lives we live at home.
Overall, I personally have fallen in love with India and the culture. There is such a verity of colors, smells and religions all right next to each other and they all work together. I find it fascinating that we can be in a Mennonite clinic, sitting up after a supper that we thanked God for, which is right beside a Hindu temple, all while hearing the Muslim call to prayer. In the culture we live in and the news we hear from around the world it is refreshing to know that this can all still exist side by side.
The more we learn about the culture, such as what plants in the area are used for, how the food is made, something new about one of the religions, or when we here a story of one of the workers at the clinic or stories of India's history, I am learning to love it all the more.