9/12/08 - Friday
Up early to repack for the last time. JB drove us to the airport with Mom and Dad Wilson. Vance, Ryan, Emily and Brock and Taylee met us in the United area. After checking our bags, we all visited for quite awhile until the security line began to grow and it was time to go. It was an emotional goodbye as the reality of leaving everyone behind for 18 months began to hit home. I went to get in line and left Cindy to take as much time as she could with last hugs. While I was walking in the roped line area, I noticed a folded bill on the floor and picked it up. I asked those in line if anyone had lost some money, possibly pulling something from their pocket. A number checked, but no one claimed it. It was a $20 bill. The man immediately in front of me made the comment that it was good karma to try and return the money like I did. Karma? Isn’t that Hindu? And we talked about our mission to India as the line moved. Cindy finally caught up with me and we went through security and then Cindy went up the escalator to be able to see the family members as they left the building. We continued waving goodbyes until we lost sight of each other. It was really hard and an emotional time for both of us, but Cindy much more so than me.
We flew to Denver, then caught a Lufthansa flight to Frankfort and I’m not going to waste space here on my opinion of Lufthansa’s check-in process nor their row 40 D and E seats on the Airbus 340-600 that couldn’t qualify for economy for midgets. Uggghhhh. In Frankfort, we had a 2 hour wait for our flight to New Delhi which was a much better experience until we got there and were delayed an hour. President Ricks and his wife met us as we came out of customs and we headed to their home. Did I mention how hot and humid it was at 2:30 AM?
On the way, we found out there had been a series of bombings Saturday that killed a number of people and wounded a 100 or so. President Ricks wasn’t sure if the road would be open in the morning to go over to NOIDA where we would be living. We got to our bedroom and unpacked a few things to clean up a bit before bed and while Cindy was in the bathroom, I got out the laptop to see if I could pick up a Wi-Fi in the neighborhood and finally found one with a weak signal I could use. I managed to get an email off to the family that we had arrived and we were safe. I had no idea how long it might be before we had internet access again. We then had prayer and collapsed in the bed around 3:30 AM.
9/14/08 - Sunday
We were up at 7 AM to get ready to leave by 8 and the roads were open, so it was pack everything up again and head out to Noida to attend church and find our apartment. We got to the church, or rather the rented building it was held in, about 15 minutes before services started. Noida is a group dependent on the New Delhi 1st Branch, but an application to the Area is in to make it a branch. While we were in church, the driver and someone else took our luggage to our apartment that is within walking distance of the church building. The Noida group started out as a home group that met in the Smith family residence just down the street from where we live. The Smiths have 7 children and he works here for an American company that partners with an Indian company involved in printing complex legal docs.
The meeting was well attended with 42 people there and I think 12 or more of them investigators. Cindy and I were asked to speak briefly which we did. What a Sunday though. An older couple had been baptized the day before and were confirmed, a young man was sustained to receive the Aaronic priesthood. At District conference the week before, 4 men from the Noida group were sustained to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and be ordained Elders and that was going to be taken care of today. Definitely not your usual Sunday for a small group. One of the men had to leave early and he was ordained right after Sacrament meeting. As he sat in the chair, he looked at me and indicated he wanted me to ordain him. Ajit Pal Singh was my first ordinance in India. I had tears in my eyes just walking up to the circle. I am also glad I had my Line of Authority on the laptop, now I just need a printer. A group meets only 2 hours, sacrament and Sunday School with Primary concurrent, no priesthood or RS meetings, and when I realized this, I was really glad because Cindy and I both were dying. We got to our apartment around 1 PM and Sister Smith and one of her daughters brought us some dinner along with an invitation to eat dinner Monday at their home. We essentially collapsed after they left, totally and completely spent, physically and emotionally, and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the house.
We had seen enough on the drive over from Delhi to Noida to know we were not in a country that even came close to the standards we were used to. In fact, it didn’t come close to my memory of my mission experience in Argentina. I had seen things close in my Navy visits to Turkey, Greece, Jamaica and other countries, but I was not prepared for what I saw. Then in our home, which had been furnished, sheets and pillows were on the bed, some food thoughtfully provided in the fridge, but even with all that, I could tell Cindy was close to a melt down after seeing the condition of the kitchen and the bathroom we would be using. In fact, the more we looked, the worse the house seemed as far as being clean that is. We were in no emotional or mental condition to handle it and both of us were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.