Sorry this isn’t being posted at the usual time! I was writing it last night but then decided me sleeping was more important than me finishing on time. Buckle up, it’s a long post today!
Big things have come to pass since the last time we talked! As you may have picked up by the title, I went on a big adventure! In the last days of February, I (and several others from my church, including my family) departed from our local airport bound for Mumbai, India, with several connecting flights in between. It was an action packed week, and I want to share what happened and what I learned on the trip. 🙂
Our intent for this trip was to teach pastors and their wives about breaking the typical ideas of prayer, hearing the voice of God, and more in depth things about spiritual warfare. This idea was really special because women aren’t usually included in these things because of cultural beliefs/customs, so it was super cool that we were being intentional about this.
This was my first real international trip and that being said, I wasn’t too nervous. That must have been the Lord protecting my emotions because hoo I would have been a mess in any typical situation. We left our house and our dog behind on the 26th and headed to meet our team at the airport. My dear friend, Madeleine, and I made the wise decision that we should get Starbucks or some form of caffeination before the long day and a half ahead of us. (and yes, we are both named Madeleine. it’s how we became friends, actually.)
After two flights and several hours of layover, we found ourselves in New York City. Despite my best efforts to get my mom to leave the airport with me so we could go see the West Side Story revival
because Ben Tyler Cook, we boarded the big airplane for the Big Flight to Mumbai.
So yeah, you don’t realize how long 15 hours is until you are on a plane that is continually dark because “people are sleeping”
i’m not mad that i didn’t get to look at ireland when we flew over it… definitely not mad. It was rough, y’all. I slept a fair bit, but also, you still get the feeling that you just wanna claw your skin off because, you know, “oh God it won’t end and I feel disgusting.”
When we arrived in Mumbai, we were greeted with smoky air and what seemed like thousands of corona virus PSAs. (Hey kids, wash your hands, btw. Please and thank you.) We then had to go through customs/immigration. DUN DUN DUNNNN. Yeah, I didn’t like that part of the day. America is strict with immigration, but India is strict in different ways. Freaked me out.
It was not fun because I was the last of our group to get checked, and the guy who was doing mine was like older and he couldn’t really hear or speak English. I got really nervous for a while because my fingerprints weren’t working and he kept shaking his head that it wasn’t working. Even so, I had felt the Lord telling me to roll my shoulders back and I got the sense that there were two big angels behind me like bodyguards. I was set, boys and girls.
I got through eventually, and Danny, our church’s prayer pastor, gave me a hug and said, “Maddy, you got through that and now you can get through anything. Most importantly, we can go get your India Camel Driver’s Licence now!!” XD
From there, we met our host, Nish, and we all got in cars and headed to the hotel. The driver showed us a picture of his kid, for some reason. 😀 We passed a market that was in full swing despite being 11:45pm. Everything smelled like curry. It had finally hit me that “oh we really aren’t home anymore.”
In true Madeleine Owens fashion, I had one (1) of the two (2) breakdowns I had on this trip when I got to the hotel room. It’s okay, I was just tired, so I showered and went right to bed.
The next day, jetlag hit us full in the face when we had to be downstairs at 7:30. It was okay, however, because we were going to be touring the city and we were on a bus for a majority of the time.
We ended the day with getting dropped off at the second Mumbai airport. I had a little security scare but I did okay. XD We were just in time to wait for an hour longer than it was supposed to be. But that’s okay! We still ended up on the plane, screaming baby twins and all. Whoo boy, you ever just wanna slap a child? This desire was tested, let me tell you.
Arriving in Ahmedabad without complication, we met Nish’s wife, Pinky, and his mom, Aruna. They are lovely people and I fell in love with both of them as the week went on. Also there, Nish’s friend Ravi had come to pick us up and give us an extra car to use. You know those people who have faces of almost pure light? Ravi is one of those people. He runs a children’s ministry outside of the city in a less fortunate community.
We got to the hotel, and once again, I had a breakdown. That’s the second out of the two on this trip. Woo! We have them all out of the way now! XD
The next morning, several of us, including me, chose to sleep in and take it easy instead of going to an intricate well outside of town. I have since realized that not going was a mistake because the ones who went saw an elephant. It was my only goal for the trip and I didn’t see one. 😦 Oh well.
Later that day, we drove across the city to see Ravi’s children’s ministry in action. It was super cool to see all of the kiddos. Each of them had the sweetest face and they were infatuated with us; it was a little hilarious.
Smita, Ravi’s wife, made us tea
it was so freaking spicy it killed my throat but it was delicious and then surprised us with the news that we would be doing the kids lesson/worship today. The team kinda went into a small panic.
The ladies of the team volunteered to do “worship” while Arthur (team leader) prepared something to talk about really quickly. My mother, Madeleine, Meghan, and I got up and sang Zacchaeus and My God is So Big rather awkwardly to a room of forty kids who didn’t understand English. It was exhilarating because it felt like us being there far surpassed our weakness and touched each of the kids.
Arthur got up and talked about 2 Chronicles 20:1-30, which I found hilariously fitting because we all had done the same thing not fifteen minutes before. “Lord, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” It kind of became the cry of our trip.
After all that and when we were back in our hotel, I got some heckin spicy tacos. They were maybe 4/10. XD
The next morning, we headed out for our first day of teaching at the center. We got there during worship and it was so cool to be there for it. I have found in my limited knowledge of such subjects that worship transcends language. Jesus is there and He is glorified, even if your ears don’t understand it. I could feel it in the room and it was powerful. Also, Indians gete waaay more into worship vocally than we do. It was loud. We didn’t understand any of the songs, except for a couple hymns, but it was powerful.
They gave us flower wreath/necklace things as we introduced ourselves. They had marigolds and special roses on them, and it was such a sweet gesture. I introduced myself awkwardly and Nish translated for the group. I did my best but I didn’t want to do it again.
Later that afternoon, we did listening prayer for the couples there and that was powerful for them. Several of the people broke down crying because they had never heard the Lord speak directly through someone with words for them. The women, specifically, were touched by it. Many said after that they didn’t know that they were allowed to hear God like that. It was so beautiful watching people suddenly waking up to the reality that God really does speak and that He really does love them. You are loved, valued, treasured, and He is singing love songs over you.
These are just some of the pictures I took on the trip. I really like them and wanted to share them, so I hope it isn’t annoying. 😉
Teaching at the center went really well all four of the days we were there. However, it was not with an incident or two. My parents wrote a really great email to our prayer team about what happened, so I’m gonna copy paste a little bit. They explained it really well.
“Arthur was teaching on warfare and specifically discussing how the devil can attack us and about our authority to tell the demons to leave. All of the sudden, we hear strange noises in the middle of the room and then a lady stands up and is shaking all over! We lay her down and she was still shaking and foaming slightly at the mouth. We spoke with her husband and also conferred briefly with the team. We had them take her to another room while we prayed together about how to proceed and asked Jesus what to do. Then several of the team went in and we prayed over her, for freedom and deliverance if this was demonic and also for healing if it was medical or spiritual or both.
“Our overall sense as we continued to pray was that this was not clearly a demonic manifestation directly but that the devil was specifically attacking this young lady at that moment in particular in a previous area of physical weakness (as we learned she had also had seizures in the past) to bring distraction and disruption just as [a prayer team member] had heard earlier.
“And Jesus did flip this for good in many ways. First, we were able to pray for her for healing of an issue we would not have known about otherwise. We also were able to pray for her husband (of only one month) who was highly emotional about what he was seeing. Additionally, we were quite sure everyone was listening even more intently as Arthur continued his teaching on warfare!! And it was amazing for our team (and in particular our kids) to watch God do his thing and exert his power over the situation in such a definite way. There was no question who was in control in the room.”
It was a startling experience to be sure, but it quickly became my favorite moment of the trip. I’ll explain.
When it happened, I didn’t know what to do. This was my first encounter with a physical manifestation like this one, and I am reeeeeally sensitive the spiritual side of things, so this really got me. There was an overwhelming sense of fear that had fallen, so I just began interceding on behalf of the room. It was the only thing I knew how to do. I fought back with truth. I don’t actually said anything in particular but I do remember just whispering “Jesus” over and over again.
We moved her to a different room, and the team met in the room over. Four of them decided to go in and see what they could do, Arthur went back to teaching with Meghan interceding in that room, and Madeleine and I had a sweet time of intercession and worship for the woman in the room next door to where the team was. That was my favorite time.
There is something so real about being a little spooked by something and then running to Abba and letting Him use you in the moment. Gotta be honest here, I cried the moment everyone else left. I handled the situation well as long as I needed and then cried with Jesus. It was a beautiful time.
Before we knew it, the week was over and it was time to go home. We were all going to miss the people there, but we were ready to leave. There is only so much curry and lentil soup you can eat each day before you reach a limit. XD
We spent our final afternoon walking around the center. It was beautiful to see the whole city from the roof.
Leaving at five pm, we spent the next day and a half in airports and airplanes. One 1hr flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, we had to recheck luggage because we were changing airlines, a 15hr flight from Mumbai to NYC, immigration then rechecking luggage, then getting Shake Shack at 7:30am because any food is real food a 15hr flight, 2.5hr flight to Atlanta, then an hour flight back home.
My favorite part about the later part of the trip was the man in FULL ON STEAM PUNK GEAR.
To sum it all up, I learned so much on this trip. I don’t even think I could really describe what I learned. You know the kind of learning that you can’t quite put a finger on what it fully was but you know it happened? Yeah, that was this trip. The only thing I can describe it as is “a stretching for new people and opportunities”. It felt like God was aligning new things in my trajectory, and because I was obedient in going, there are blessings that are coming out of it.
Another one of the things I learned was the fact that on big trips like this, you can’t think too far ahead or far behind. You get overwhelmed really easily, or at least I do. I asked the Lord to center me and refocus me more than I ever have on this trip. You can’t think even next hour. Being/staying in the moment saved my butt. Apologies to loved ones who I didn’t respond to, but I literally couldn’t focus on that until later in the day back in our room. (also shout out to mom the greatest room buddy ever)
Madeleine’s roommate picked us up from the airport which was a nice little surprise
because we love her lots. From there, we went and got Chick-Fil-A because it wasn’t Sunday (praise the Lord for that). I got home, ate my food, said goodbye to Madeleine, took a shower because I felt disgusting, and then made futile attempts to stay awake. I decided to take a nap around 4pm MISTAKE MISTAKE MISTAKE and woke up the next morning at 7. XD
Anyways, after a few days, I am finally starting to feel like a productive human again. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken and I would do it again. Thank you to those of you who were praying for our trip. ❤
3,000 words later and we have reached the end of this post. Congrats if you made it this far. 😀 I am not sorry.
Now go forth, mis amigos and amigas, and smile. Your day is just beginning. Make the best of it. Don’t procrastinate. Work hard. Make me proud. 🙂
Love you all,