Monthly Archives: June 2013

Post 86. New friends

Standard

While we were walking around the property, we discovered a small hall attached to our cottage.  We asked Julia about it and she said it had been used for revival meetings in the sixties.  It was miffy and dusty but it was equipped with chairs and a piano and it was perfect.  We managed to clean it up, buy an overhead projector from Dehra Dun and we were set.  We had met quite a few people from the language school who were interested in what we were wanting to do.   The Bartons were really excited.

Image

James (near overhead) Willi (in skirt) Sonam, Aman and Diane

We decided to start Sunday evening meetings and six people arrived for the first one.  At the end of six weeks there were about twenty people coming regularly. They were all from the international community including a Tibetan man, Sonam who was married to a German lady, Maria.   An Irish/Australian couple Stan and Gwen Hawthorne were also at our first meeting.  We were happy they were coming and we loved them,  but longed to get into the lives of the local people.  Lovely Lizzy Paul was the only local person who joined us.

Jason Shiels and Shaji Thomas

Jason Shiels and Shaji Thomas

Our friends at Woodstock invited us to their home group and we saw God doing some wonderful things in their lives.  I got on really well with an arty-art teacher, Diane Crawford.  She was a single mum with a gorgeous little girl Ashleigh.  We laughed a lot, especially when she told me about a flea infestation in her flat.  She was so animated and funny.  Then there was Shaji Thomas, who came with a young geography teacher, Jason Shiels.  The girls were convinced that  English teacher Liz Hart, was a real princess.  She told them the most amazing stories.

Image

Maria Bhutia and Pam Sardar (who comes in later in our story)

We started to look for a big house in an area where there weren’t any foreigners.   We felt it would be good to make it difficult for them to come.   It was important for us to know from the beginning who was really wanting to be with us.

While we were praying, God told Tony, “I am taking you to a place where you will put your feet in water.”   We were excited and thought it meant an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  One day when we were praying and looking across the Doon valley,  I imagined lots of little lights towards the lower part of Mussoorie.  We had a feeling God was going to show us exactly where to go.

Things were going well, but for no reason,  out of the blue,  every now and again, a heaviness and discouragement would came on us.  We really had to fight it off.   One reason could have been that we were constantly explaining ourselves.  A lot of time was spent trying to convince people that we weren’t part of a cult.  We couldn’t find any common denominator.  They were trying to figure us out and when they couldn’t, they wrote us off as a cult.  They had no idea what NCMI was and had never heard of Dudley Daniel.  Our vibrant worship, lack of hierarchy in leadership and teaching on new covenant life, was way out there as far as they could see.  There was nothing in common, except they HAD heard about Billy Graham which was helpful.

I wasn’t missing South Africa but I did miss Sue.  One night I sat at our table and wrote a song for her.

Song for Sue

When I close my eyes I see your face

Sometimes lost in time and space

Then so close I don’t dare to breathe

For fear you’ll go away again

Thats when I know that I’m missing you

Do you know how much I’m missing you

You’ll never how much I’m missing you

It’s sometimes too hard to bear

I long to be with you, touch your hair

See your face so clearly

How I wish you were here with me

To see the changes I’m going through

**********************************************************************************************************************

Tony’s album “Off the Edge” was recorded in Joe’s Garage studio in 1992.  It is a compilation of the things we were going through at the time.  Lyrics by Linda Johnson.  Music and vocals by Tony Johnson.  Arrangements and backing vocals by J.B.Arthur.

I am trying to get some of these songs on my blog.  Hopefully soon.

**********************************************************************************************************************

Post 85. Morning Glory

Standard

Image

At 6 am we heard the girls whispering, “What’s that noise?”  It was the sound of many monkeys on our tin roof.   It sounded like thunder.  We had already been woken up at 4 a.m by the Mullah calling the Muslims to pray. The town mosque must have had it’s speaker aimed right at Morning Glory.  It was loud.  The girls didn’t know what it was and we explained that it was the Muslim’s way of getting everyone up to pray to Allah.

The air was crisp and the skies were clear.  It was beautiful.  We packed as much as we could fit into the tiny cupboard.  Tony went to get some supplies at the four shops which we discovered were called Chaar Dukhan, meaning “Four Shops.” Cute.  I pottered around while the girls played outside on the small lawn.

Before sunset the Mullah started up again and it really scared Asha and Zoe.  Zoe’s reaction was to put her fingers in the shape of a gun and shout out to Asha, “The Muslims are coming! The Muslims are coming!”  I realised then that she didn’t know they were people.  Her imagination had created an image that matched the voice. It obviously wasn’t human.  A few days later, when we were in the bazaar I was able to introduce her to an elderly Muslim man.  She liked him and happily put her finger gun away.

Image

We soon discovered that we had a water problem.  For days there was no running water.  At all.   We had bought two 50 litre buckets with us from Goa. Tony drove up the driveway to Chaar Dukhan to the only tap that produced water.  He queued up with container-laden ladies and children and waited his turn.  The buckets were big and it took a while.  He made friends while he waited.   He put the buckets in the back of the jeep and made his way home.  The drive was so steep, the water spilled out and ran down in front of the jeep.  By the time he got home he had lost almost half of the water.

Dish water was used to flush the toilet.  Someone would pour a small jug of water over our hands while we soaped them and rinsed them.  If that water was caught it also went down the loo.  We boiled water on our two plate gas stove and put it into a water filter which had filtering candles in it.  That was for cooking and drinking.  Any water was used sparingly.  Tony did not want to make that trip more times than was absolutely necessary.

Image

Zoe- holding onto the monkey mentioned in a previous post

One rainy day, Asha and Zoe were playing outside.  They had bottles and were trying to catch the rain.  Zoe was threatening to drink it and Asha shouted from outside, “Mom, is this boiled water?”   They were learning fast.

For some strange reason, within a few weeks of being in Mussoorie, Ash got the water mixed up.  She got really sick.  She had fevers of 104 degrees and all we could do was cool her down with cold towels.  While we were doing that, Tony and I both smelt a putrid smell around the bed.  We walked all around the house to see if there was a dead rat somewhere but it was only around the bed.  We realised that it was an unclean, smelly demon so we took it on and told it, in the name of Jesus, to leave the room.  It moved from the bed but stayed in the middle of the living room.  It was as if a person was standing there.  Tony got so angry, he opened the door and told it to get out and never come back.  The smell went and Asha got better almost immediately.  The fear she had been struggling with for months also left.

Image

We lived in Morning Glory for two months and during that time we joined the Landour Language School to learn Hindi.  It was within walking distance of our cottage.  Tony would do a morning session and I would walk with the girls to meet him half way.  He would take them home and I would go to Hindi lessons.

There was always lots to see on the way.  A big challenge was negotiating our steps around the donkey’s poos in the road.  One day Zoe stepped over a big one and said, “Naughty donkeys not pooing in the toilet.”

We managed to get 6 weeks of study in.  That wasn’t nearly enough for people who were going to stay forever.  In all of that time, we hadn’t heard a full conversation spoken in Hindi.  There were lots of foreigners living in that area.  Many of them worked at Woodstock International School and others were there to study Hindi.

Image

Tony and the girls outside “Morning Glory.”

We made some lovely friends in those six weeks and of course everyone wanted to know what we were doing there.  Some wondered why on earth we would want to plant ANOTHER Christian community in a place where there were so many.  We could see that.  There were four denominations just on our side of the mountain.  Others were excited that we were going to do something new and were keen to join us.  It seemed that things were happening quicker than what we had expected.  We were ready.

Post 84. Mussoorie

Standard

I was not prepared for the drive up to Mussoorie.  We wound around hundreds of hairpin bends and steep cliffs with no barriers.  It was high and the road was never-ending.   I was so taken in by the sights, I didn’t even think about how sick I should have been feeling.  It was early evening and we had been driving most of the day.  I hadn’t closed my eyes for a second in case I missed something.  We were exhausted but buzzing.

Image

When the lights of Mussoorie first came into view, they were far away.  My comment to Tony was, “When we get up there, just leave me there.  I’m not ever coming down again!”  We arrived on the mountain just after sunset.

It was dusk by the time we got up to 7,000 feet.  We took the wrong turn and ended up on the Library Side of Kulri Bazaar.  The bazaar was closed to traffic so we had to turn around and go all the way down and around the mountainside up to Picture Palace.

In many places the roads were just wide enough for one car and the tiny little houses and shops were fascinating.  It was so pretty and quaint.  It reminded me of a street scene from a Charles Dickens story.  There was an old, hundred year old feel to it.

Everything seemed so small.  Even the people looked small.  There were lots of little men carrying heavy things and many of them were sitting on the steps of shops along the road.  I asked Tony, “Who are all these little people?”  His reply was, “They are coolies from Nepal.”  For someone straight out of apartheid South Africa, that sounded weird.  They were a group of people?  Weren’t all Indians “coolies”?  Tony wearily explained that it was the name given to unskilled labourers or porters.   I felt so awful that I had been calling all Indians “coolies” all my life.

Image

We managed to get up the steep Mullingar Hill, revving all the way, hoping we wouldn’t have to stop for an oncoming car.  We decided to spend two nights at the Barton’s house even though they weren’t there.   Their niece was there to greet and host us.  She asked us what we were going to be doing in Mussoorie.  When we told her we were going to start  a community her response was, “Why would you want to do that?  There are so many churches here.”  That was our first night in Mussoorie.  “Encouraging,” we thought.

The next day was Sunday so Tony got his guitar and the girls and I sat around him in the lounge.  We worshipped, shared a bit and thanked God for getting us there safely.  Asha asked what we were doing and Tony said, “We’re having church.”   That was her first church meeting with no people.

On Monday we got back into the jeep and drove another 1000 feet to the top of the mountain.  We went past four little shops on the right hand side and drove around the final bends of our journey.  Down one very steep driveway later and we arrived at The Firs.  I knew then why it was called that.  We were in the middle of a thick forest of fir trees.  As we stepped out of the jeep, it felt as if we had left the “real” India behind.  It was so quiet and it was cold.  We were met by Canadian landlady, Julia Malik who spoke with an unusual accent and in a very high pitch.  While we were doing the formalities, Ash pulled me down to her level and whispered in my ear, “She sounds just like Mickey Mouse.”  It was hard to keep a straight face because it was true.     Julia was sweet and had been in India for about 40 years.  She was so far into the culture, it was hard to tell where she started and where it ended.  We couldn’t imagine her living anywhere else.

She showed us to our little cottage called “Morning Glory”.  It was fully furnished with one bedroom, one bathroom/toilet, a lounge and a small kitchen. It was musty  and dimly lit but we were just happy to be there.

We unpacked a few necessities and made up the small bed  for the girls.  All we could think of was a good sleep in a comfortable bed.  That wasn’t to be.  Our mattress was a lumpy cotton one, probably as old as the house itself and our pillows were like slabs of rock.  We lay on our backs and looked into the darkness.  No matter how uncomfortable things were, we were safe, together and on a beautiful mountain.  We had driven 2291 kilometers of crazy road from one end of India to the other and our journey had just begun.

Post 83. The big drive

Standard

Our last couple of weeks in Goa were excellent.  The friendships had developed so deeply and quickly and it was hard to say goodbye.

The night before we left, we packed our jeep until there was just enough space for the girls.  On the roof rack was a mattress, a metal trunk full of kitchen things, plastic buckets tied on, the girl’s little plastic table and chairs and our four different sized suitcases.  Inside there was a guitar, more boxes, pillows, a few snacks and us.

We left Goa at 3.30 am on the 21 March 1992.  Our blue Gypsy was surrounded by lots of teary and blurry-eyed friends and neighbours who had come to say goodbye to us.   Rosey and Melvin were there and so was Melba.   Chuppa had been naughty once too many times and had been released into the trees. The girls missed saying goodbye to him.  There was no sign of Shorty.  It was too early for him.

Image

Goa-Nasik-Indore-Mau-Agra-Delhi-Mussoorie (Dehra Dun)

The plan was to leave before 4 am each day, which was the best way to avoid most of the traffic in the small towns and villages.  We would drive for 7-8 hours, spend the afternoon and evening in a hotel and do the same thing the next day, until we got to Mussoorie.  We worked out that it would take us under a week.  Our route was Goa, Nasik, Indore, Agra, Delhi and finally Mussoorie.

It took us 8 days.  We stayed in all kinds of places along the way and loved seeing more of India.  As we were entering a town called Mau, we came across young men who were covered in coloured paint.  They were obviously not in their right minds and were creating human road blocks along the way.  There was no way we were going to stop with our girls in the car.  Teenage Tony wasn’t nicknamed “Crash” for nothing.  He put his foot down and they flew in all directions.  They could see the blue Gypsy wasn’t going to stop for anyone.  We took the wrong road and ended up in the middle of the town of Mau.  We drove through the narrow street  surrounded by wild looking men who were hitting our car and shouting for us to get out.  That was our first experience of the Hindu festival called Holi or “The Festival of Colours.”   People throw coloured water and powder on each other.  It is a time to get full of Bhang (hash) no matter what your age.  All the way through the towns and villages we were confronted by drunk and “bhanged up” people trying to get into our car to cover us with colour.  The girls were quite scared and started a game called, “The Pinkys are coming!”

We stopped in Agra to see the Taj Mahal on the way.  We were so exhausted, we couldn’t really appreciate the beauty or romance of it.  Mussoorie was just one day away and we couldn’t wait to get there.

Image

Old Delhi was quite a place.  We stayed with a pastor who Tony had met on his survey trip.  Asha and Zoes had fun with his two little girls who were simliar ages.  It wasn’t long after, that we heard he had been put in prison for misappropriation of funds.  We were really sad.

Asha and Zoes were such excellent travellers and our days of making them sleep anywhere really paid off. They spent their time entertaining each other on their “bed” at the back, in between sleeping and eating.  We sung all the songs we could think of, teaching them harmonies and how to sing in rounds. We played I-spy and colours of cars.  They made up a game that nearly drove us crazy.  There were thousands of trucks we had to pass every day.  Whenever we were stuck behind one, they would chant, “Truck, truck let us go, truck truck let us go.”  They only stopped when we overtook and then started up with the next one.  When they got bored of that game, they made a “NeeeeEEEEOwwwwww” sound every time a car past us.  I wished I hadn’t taught them that one.

Post 82. Daughters of Kings

Standard
Image

Our first visitors- Phil Maxwell and Dudley Reed

We had some money, which was for setting up house, getting an overhead projector and other things we would need in the North.   God told us to give it to the church in Goa, which we did.  We stayed quietly in the background and within a few weeks there were deep apologies and wonderful forgiveness flowed in all directions.  Our relationships had been healed and it was more than we expected.  God had done an amazing thing and taught us that running away was not the answer when we were in the fire.  Fire was something to go through, not around.

In February 1992, Dudley Reed, Phil Maxwell and Rigby came to visit us.  They were our first visitors.  We were so excited.  Tony met them in Delhi.  God had talked to us about being in a place near to the source of the Ganga River.  Dehra Dun seemed to be the place so they thought they would look there first.  They met with some people and booked what seemed to be a good place for our family to stay.

From there they travelled to Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas.  It was a small town perched on a mountain, thirty-five kilometres North of Dehra Dun and 7,000 feet above sea level.  While they were there, they visited an Irish couple, James and Willi Barton, who we had met when they were on holiday in Goa.  They had invited us to visit them at Woodstock International School where James was principal.  While it was a Christian School, there were 60% Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and children of businessmen.   35% were nominal Christians.  It seemed that God was at work.  They also hinted that there was a need for a new vibrant Christian community there.  Over a meal, Willi mentioned that two princesses had become believers and Priyanka Gandhi (Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi’s daughter) had recently visited the school.

Years before arriving in India, Tony had been praying for “Daughters of Kings” while reading Psalm 45.  He prayed and cried for Rajiv Gandhi’s daughter not even knowing that he had one.  Now he knew her name was Priyanka. *

It had been along day.  Tony was reading through the Bible in a year so he quickly opened it up to the chapter he was on just before going to sleep.  Now, years later, he read the same Psalm;  Psalm 45.  He knew we had to be in Mussoorie.  The other men felt the same.  The next day they booked “Morning Glory.”  It was a small one roomed, furnished cottage at The Firs, near Chaar Dukhaan.  We were so glad that this huge decision wasn’t made independently and so grateful that Dudley, Phil and Rigby were there with us.

While Tony was in Mussoorie, I stayed in Goa with the girls.  The ladies on their verandas couldn’t understand why I was missing my husband so much.

During that time I read, “God Meant it for Good” by R.T. Kendall.   Something he said was, “Home is not a where but a when.  It is when you find yourself in the perfect will of God.  You can be in a place that can hardly be regarded as home and feel totally at home. You can be somewhere that is regarded as “home” and feel homesick and lost.  So, home is God’s will.  Home is where you are at ease and completely happy. It is an internal condition.”  It was the perfect book for that season in our lives; quite profound actually.

Image

Rig in our big bed with Tony and our girls

Rigby, Phil and Dudley came to Goa with Tony and we had such fun showing them around.  The girls loved Rig’s “Sydney the Slimy Snake” stories.  They didn’t give him much rest the whole time he was with us.

Our six-month visas had run out.  On the 1st March we flew out to Dhaka, Bangladesh to renew them.   How many weeks or months the Indian Embassy would give us was something we wondered a lot about.   Dhaka was difficult.  Riding along on a cycle rickshaw, face-to-face with badly deformed beggars was very hard.  They were very aggressive and persistent and pulled on us and shouted when we didn’t give them money.  Seeing so many people with huge goitres and growths was sad and disturbing.  We couldn’t protect Ash and Zoe from the pain, no matter how much we wanted to.

We didn’t have any contacts in Dhaka, so after looking at some very derelict budget hotels, we made the decision to stay in a five-star hotel.  There was no way we could afford it but we felt we had no option. We felt vulnerable with our girls.   It was a frustrating time.  After three days of being pulled and pushed in all directions, we couldn’t wait to get back to India.

We arrived back in Goa with one-month entry visas.  That meant we had one month to convince Home Affairs in Delhi that they should give us minimum one to maximum five-year visas.  If they refused, we were out.  We needed a miracle.

* See Post 74

Post 81. Bed of nails

Standard

We were almost completely un-contactable.  The shop down the road had a phone and we gave our family and friends that number to get in touch with us.  If anyone did phone, we never got the message. There were no fax machines, no cell phones and the postal system was chronic.  Letters started coming in the mail very slowly and there was an occasional call home.  We started to feel cut off and realised soon afterwards that it was just the beginning of our “bed of nails” experience.

“First Sunday morning: 

I feel like everything of home has gone.  I am undone and needy.  Seems that the past is so far way.  I need to start all over again.  I need to fellowship with God.  Oh Lord, I am desperate for you and I really need encouragement.”

Our plan was to be involved with the church for six months, learning and serving and then make our way up North.  We were helping out at the training centre with meals and loved spending time with the young people.  We thought we had spelt out our plans very clearly but things got a bit tense with some of the leaders and it all came to a head.   We had only been there a couple of months and we had no idea where it was coming from or what had set it off.

It was a tough day and many things were said to us in anger.  God kept encouraging us, “ When you are in the fire, listen for anything that I may be saying.”   Tony kept hearing God saying,  “Just close your mouth.  I don’t want you to say a word to defend yourself.”  A tough call.  We tried to listen for anything that may have been true; hiding behind the unnecessary words.  Well, we did hear things and we wanted to run, but that night, Tony and I both knew that running wasn’t an option. There was nowhere to go.  We had to stay, humble ourselves, serve and keep giving everything we had.

While we were lying in bed, holding on to each other more tightly than we had ever done, the question He asked us was, “If you never heard from another friend ever again, would you still be totally happy with me?  I want you to get to a place of not depending on anyone or anything that should be found in me.  I have everything you need.  You can find all your heart’s desires in me.  I am taking you through these things so you can begin to find me and all that I am. There is a lot about me that you still have no idea about.  If you don’t go through everything joyfully and teachably they will remain hidden.”

We both felt that our answer was yes.  If we never heard from another friend or family member, we would be ok.   We were there for and with God and that would have to be enough.

We had come from a full, busy life in Johannesburg.  The Holy Spirit was moving and doing amazing things.  Now we had been told we weren’t allowed to pray for people or minister in anyway.  As we lay there He dropped another one.  “ If you never did another day of ministry would you be happy just with me?”  Our answer was, “Yes.”

We realised then how much of our security had come from what we did.  If all that went, what would be left of “us”?  He showed us areas of spiritual pride and started to deal with some deep things.

“Oh Lord, all this humility is killing me.  I feel like I know nothing.  Do I need to die to all the words, the dreams the visions that you have given to me?  So you can raise them to life? I am fragile and weepy, weak and humbled.  I want to learn quickly so that this can be over soon.”

“Such discouragement and hopelessness; Weeping on and off.  Missing fellowship, friends and family.  So despairing.“ 

“In a land far away from all shelter and care, I find you there.”

We knew that our “bed of nails” experience had just begun.  We were devastated and wanted to get up, but there was more.  Isobel Kuhn, a missionary to China was told by a returning missionary that, “When your feet touch the shores of China, the scum of your nature will come to the surface.”

Things in South Africa were so good.  Everyone who knew us loved us.  We had never had a clash with anyone.  We were broken and not sure how or when we would mend.  A few things we determined before we fell asleep that night:

No matter how difficult things got, there was no way we were going to run away.  We would stay, love, serve and give until the time came for us to leave.  We would paint the house any colour anyone wanted it coloured.  One day we would have our own house and we would paint it any colour we wanted to.  That was exciting.  That was something to look forward to.

Post 80. Wheels

Standard

Image

Asha:  Hello.  I like my new bedroom.  Daddy made us a swing.  There are lots of beggars here.  At first I was scared of them, but now I look at them.  Daddy and I took some food to town and we gave some to a lady and her baby and a man with no feet.  I felt sad because he had no money to buy more.  I got scared when I saw a man whipping himself in the street.  He doesn’t know Jesus.  I have also started to get scared of Hindu music.  Outside our house in Bombay, a mommy left her baby in a plastic bag in the gutter.  Everyone was looking.  I didn’t.  I felt very sad and mommy had a pain in her heart.  I like school and I like to write.  I also like to sing this song, “Love is a flag flown high on the castle of my heart, there are flies in the sky let the whole world know.”  I like doing concerts for mom and dad and Zoë.  We have fun.  We can also walk to the shop.  Our children’s church is nice but it’s so hot and I get thirsty.  I miss all my friends and I’m getting bored at home.  I went to sleep the other night and Zoë was tickling my face.  When I woke up I had blue pen all over it. 

Image

Zoë: Hello.  I am very happy and I laugh and play all the time.  I have also been a bit naughty.  It doesn’t matter ‘cause I little.  I got a wooden spoon called a “Bum Woody” and it can be sore but sometimes I laugh.  I love to play with onions and garlic.  The paper comes off nicely.  I’m “itsy” all over from sweating.  I’m a good girl now.  I don’t cry at children’s church.  The people pinch my cheeks all the time in the street. Sometimes it hurts.   I just shout and say, “No! Don’t tuts me!”  In Bombay a little girl in the street bit me and another one smacked me.  When mommy blew my nose it was black because the cars smoke.  It is very hard for me not to do naughty things.  I look and look and it looks so nice and I have to do it.  I am trying to be good.  Sometimes my monkey does things, but mommy says he doesn’t.”

Ash and Zoe with their Goan friends

Ash and Zoe with their Goan friends

We thought we would see how Ash would do at school.  We put her into the one that was attached to the church.  She looked so cute in her red, white and blue uniform.  It was shocking to learn how much 3½ year olds needed to know just to get into the school system.  They knew the alphabet, how to write it and numbers 1- at least 20, as well as the names of plants, animals, parts of the body and Indian festivals.  They also did exams, which put a lot of pressure on them and their families. We spoke to the headmistress and they agreed that Asha could do what she was comfortable with.  Within a few weeks of her attending school I wrote: “Asha is becoming sort of ‘wild’.  The Goan kids are very much like that so she’s probably copying them.  It is hard to cope with. She’s teasing Zoë all the time.  They are squabbling constantly.  They are driving me mad!!”

We got a bit of conjunctivitis, which was going around the community.  One in thirty people had it in Goa.  They called it “sore eyes” which was an appropriate description.   Apart from that we were all very healthy and got plenty of exercise walking around the town and market. It was like a gym circuit and we were exhausted by the time we got home.  Zoë put on 2kgs in a month, which was amazing for her!  The girl’s favourite was going on taxi motorbikes.  Tony would go on one with Ash and I would go on the other with Zoë.

One day we were in a shop and a funeral went past.  The music was so loud and so sad.  Everyone stopped and stood still in respect of the dead person.  When the music stopped, Zoë went to the door and shouted, “Don’t do that again!”  We had a quiet laugh.

After three months we made another twenty-hour train trip. This time it was to Bombay to pick up our second-hand, blue and grey, four-wheel drive, Gypsy jeep. We were so excited.   It took us sixteen hours to drive 670kms back to Goa.  We did an average of 40km per hour. The National Highways were a nightmare; hairpin bends, potholes, demonised bus drivers and fatalistic truck drivers all added to the chaos.

Visiting friends in Goa

Visiting friends in Goa

We were happy that we would be able to visit our Goan friends in their villages and not have to worry about trying to get a bus back in the middle of the night with two sleeping children.  Once we had waited for an hour to get a bus.  There was only standing room on the steps but I managed to force my way in to the second row holding onto Zoe.  There was only room for one foot so I leant against all the bodies around me as I balanced on one leg.   Zoë let everyone know that they were “skossing” her.  The driver was obviously on a mission to get home and so were we.

When the Watkinson kids, John, Esther and Grace, came home for the holidays we had lots of fun.  We would pile all the kids into the jeep and head down to the beach.   Tony loved being able to drive along the sand and in and out of the waves while the kids screamed their heads off in the back.   Once, while we were all relaxing and getting some sun, a fighter jet flew really low and started firing blanks into the sand as if we were it’s targets.  All the kids fell to the ground as if they had been hit.  They lay dead still until the plane disappeared.  Just like that and just another day on the beach in Goa.

Lying on our bed one night, after a particularly nice day in Goa, Ash made a comment.  “God has worked so hard for us hey?  God has done all the work”.   With happy hearts, we all totally agreed.