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Some earlier entries remain incomplete and will be filled in soon!

DAY 1 - Saturday, 8 July 2000 - Minneapolis, MN

DAY 2 - Sunday, 9 July 2000 - Minneapolis, MN

DAY 3 - Monday, 10 July 200 - Minneapolis, MN

DAY 4 - Tuesday, 11 July 2000 - Minneapolis, MN

Well, the big day has finally arrived! We had one more session on conflict resolution before the crews begin loading up to leave.  We did our last minute packing and did some sharing among crew members.  Everyone is very excited and acting very hyper!

Boarding procedures at MSP were hectic.  I can't believe so many people can fit onto one plane and it will actually lift off!  It is a Boeing 747 and it carries 451 passengers.  We have a full flight.  The flight has this cool trip mapping program which they display over the television monitors.  We can always see where we are in the world and how much longer it will take to get to our destination.

- Tracey Pollick

DAY 5 - Wednesday, 12 July 2000 - Amsterdam, the Netherlands

As a group, we decided that we would get organized and use our lay over in Amsterdam to do some tourism.  We took the train into the city and got to see lots of bikes, some canals, and a few really neat buildings.  We of course look like one of those typical tourist groups clicking pictures left and right.  We grabbed a quick danish---YUM!

Flying this long is really rough!  I have an aisle seat, which is good.  I am sitting between Shawn and Darren, which is also good.  They keep me quite entertained.  However, I wouldn't recommend waking either of them from a nap.   Not a pretty thing.  Darren actually scared me once!  (I LOVE YOU GUYS!)

The crew is in good spirits considering the uncomfortable conditions.  Some are taking great delight in taking pictures of each other in bizzare positions as we sleep on the plane.  Poor unsuspecting victims!  All is well.  We'll be in India before we know it!

- Tracey Pollick

DAY 6 - Thursday, 13 July 2000 - Mumbai (Bombay) and Hyderabad, India

DAY 7 - Friday, 14 July 2000 - Hyderabad, India

DAY 8 - Saturday, 15 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

DAY 9 - Sunday, 16 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

DAY 10 - Monday, 17 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today was our first day at the work site, and I've never seen more dirt.   The crew spent the day sweeping doors, walls, floors, and windows, and by the time we finished we were dirtier than the rooms had been.  We ate all our meals at the site and I must say we are all adjusting very well to the spicy food here.  Some are adjusting better than others, but we're all working on it.  The place we're working on used to be a women's Bible school, but it was shut down ten years ago due to lack of funds.  The people who live nearby are very excited to help work and there are too many kids to count.  They love helping us learn Telugu and play games.  Even though it's hard to concentrate on the work with all the kids around, we've managed to accomplish quite a bit.

- Casey Christiansen

DAY 11 - Tuesday, 18 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today our crew did a lot of painting and whitewashing.  We didn't actually get a lot of work done.  I think we worked ourselves to death yesterday and were too tired to do much.  We all learned a little more Telugu today.  Some of the Indian women that live nearby came and did henna (an intricately designed temporary hand "tattoo") for us.  Our hands and fingers are so detailed!  Today we ate a whole lot of rice, so some of us decided to binge on granola bars, Wheatables, animal crackers, and peanut butter when we got back to the Baptist church center.  A few people in the crew are dealing with some minor illness, but it's nothing to be worried about.  Those who needed it have seen a doctor for some medication and are on the road to a quick recovery.  I think everyone was feeling a little lower than usual, but hopefully by tomorrow everyone will be fine and ready to work.

- Holly Gold

DAY 12 - Wednesday, 19 July 2000 - Rajahmundry

Today, we arrived at the work site with new vigor and renewed purpose.  We started the day refocusing on our mission statement, which I believed played a part in our attitude for the day.  Just like God's promises, we need to be reminded of our covenant with each other!

Breakfast consisted of onion doughnuts and some sort of white bland spongy type thing, both of which could be dipped in two kinds of sauce.  We also had a group favorite, papaya--DELICIOUS!  Plus water and coffee, of course.

Now filled with food, off we went to work.  And, boy, did we work!  We were on a mission as a crew, led by a devotion that spoke about working for the Lord and going where He wants us to.  What was great about working today was that we not only put a real dent in the project but also had fun doing it.  Our leader, Shawn, even started a paint slinging fight with at least six members of our crew.  Lots was done, we had fun, felt like one--PRAISE THE LORD!

Apart from all that happened today with respect to work, we also had two other wonderful celebrations and a sing-along with the local children.  Boy, do the Indian people love to celebrate!  It's just like what Jesus spoke about in Luke 15--all the friends and neighbors are invited.  Today was Darren's birthday--22 years--and my Anniversary--20 years!

Before breakfast, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Darren--all joined in!   After lunch the local children joined us for a sing-along of fun songs with hand actions.  Shawn taught them two songs, and it was really humorous when Darren taught them an exaggerated version--with hand actions and loud sounds--of "Jesus Loves Me".  It was appreciated by all.  Then we sang "Happy Birthday" again to Darren and had a cake with candles--YUMMY!  But, that's not all!  As we were spending some more time with the local Indians, some had more henna designs drawn on their hands.  We watched the preview of our Side By Side web site published by Nathan and Ian.  And, we sang more songs, including "Happy Birthday" again, along with two cakes and ice cream.  Everyone was there--the crew, the nationals working with us, and the neighboring village families.  Gifts were received, too.  Like I said, they love to celebrate!

What a day for all of us!  If we could celebrate each other like that more, then I believe we would better understand God!  PEACE!!

- Roy Heflin

DAY 13 - Thursday, 20 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

As a member of the outdoor crew, today we started working on the roof.  We hired a mason, who is actually the man who originally built the building.  He doesn't speak a word of English, so it sounds like all he does is yell.  With the help of the Indian crew, we can better understand him and realize that's just the way he talks.   In order to patch the roof, piles of leaves and dirt needed to be swept away to make the cracks visable.  Then, we filled the holes and cracks with concrete to seal them.  We finished a big section of the roof, but it will take a few more days to finish the whole thing.

A big highlight of the day was visiting a village right next to the work site.   Many children that visit us while we work live in the village.  It was very humbling to face the reality that they lived in huts made of only branches for walls, straw for the roof, and dirt for the floor, and yet seemed to be happy to be living like that.  They invited us into their homes and offered us all they have.  Some women made beautiful chalk drawings on the ground.  We sang some songs for them, but it seemed to be nothing in comparison to all they had given us.

- Jocelyn Johnston

DAY 14 - Friday, 21 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today was filled with a mixture of events.  We got up and dressed as usual, but at First Word (our morning meeting and devotion), our heroic leader, Shawn, told us that we would try to fit our entire fifteen plus group into the eight-passenger van.   This was not that uncomfortable, but I fear it will become a regular practice.   Once we got to the work site at 8:30am, we had breakfast.  Then, we worked in the scorching heat until lunch time.  When lunch was finished, we piled into the van and went shopping.  Many of the guys got traditional Indian outfits, and it makes me laugh because the clothing looks a lot like the girls' to me.  After the shopping was completed, we once again piled into the van and began our journey to an orphanage.   Our crew exchanged songs with the children there, and Darren did his infamous interpretation of "Jesus Loves Me".  So far, our trip has been a total blast!!

- Erica Lambart

DAY 15 - Saturday, 22 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today was a great day at our work site.  The heat here has been very intense, but our crew has truly exemplified the servant's heart that Christ has called us to.  We joined together to get some much needed masonry work done on the roof, and we also whitewashed and painted some rooms.  By the time that was finished, is was a real blessing to hear that we were all able to take the afternoon off to rest after a morning of hard work!  Many of us took the much needed time to relax, nap, read, and spend some time alone with God.  The schedule here can get pretty hectic, so it was wonderful to have a free evening.

We were then treated with a special meal that was ordered from a nearby restaurant.  The crew quickly devoured the delicious meal, followed by a Limca, the new favorite soda of our crew.

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing and spending some time with one another.  We are all getting to know more about each other and bonding closer together.  God has brought an amazing group of people here for this trip.  We are united in our purpose to serve God's people here in India, and to see that unity in our diverse group of servants is truly inspiring.

- Roberta Moore

DAY 16 - Sunday, 23 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

DAY 17 - Monday, 24 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

DAY 18 - Tuesday, 25 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today we started our day with a really awesome breakfast!  We had several types of sweet pastries, orange juice, and banana Crispix (not found in the US to my knowledge).  Interestingly enough we had to put hot waterbuffalo milk on the cereal.   As usual we worked until lunch on our various projects, whitewashing, bleaching the walls, masonry, painting,etc. It is really hot and humid hear so everyone works so diligently considering the conditions. 

At lunch we had a delicious meal sent out by our favorite restaurant.  They seem to have mastered the art of catering to our palate.  At lunch we met as a crew to make a decision which was difficult for us.  As you may have read already, the crew painted all of the doors and windows at a local Lutheran School.  They would like to have a huge assembly for us (1400 students) and give us all kinds of attention for our work.  However, we are torn.  We appreciate that they want to show us their thanks.  We also would like to consider what God directs us to do.  As it is written in Matthew 6:1-4:

Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from you Father in heaven.  So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that  your giving may be in secret.   (NIV)

I am very proud to say that the crew has decided unanimously to pass on the assembly and follow the scripture.  What an impressive group God has brought together.  We continued our work in the afternoon.  Toward the end of our work day some of our dear nationals, Richard, Samuel, Herold, and Sam thought it would be funny to dump water on my head from the roof.  So, Darren decided to help them out and do the honors.  Actually, I have to admit, it felt good.  It was only the beginning, our days seem to end with either a water, whitewash, or paint battle.  A good balance of work and fun.

In the evening, we hurried back to shower and eat.  We are going to see a Telugu movie!  I am so psyched!  Those of you who know me know that I love movies!  What an interesting experience.  First, you should know that the movie industry in India is bigger than in the US.  Bombay is often known as Bollywood.   They release a feature film daily.  The movie we saw, "Badhri, The Man In Love" was quite interesting.  It is tradition that Indian movies have 6-8 music videos incorporated into the plot of the movie.  So, needless to say, they average 3 hours in length.  We didn't understand most of the words with the exception of the occasional English phrases.  However, we were able to understand what was going on with a little help from our national friends.  It was a romance/action/comedy/drama/musical about a man who is a film director.  Our hero, Badhri, has a steady actress girlfriend who is planning to visit America.  His girlfriend is very non traditional, wears western clothing, and is a little "fast".  She challenges Badhri to see if he can capture the heart of a local "princess", who is very sweet, innocent, and traditional while she is away in America.   Well, I won't share how it ends...we all enjoyed it very much.   However, we seemed to laugh at all the wrong things.

I thank God every day that He has brought me here to be with all of these great people and to experience this mission.  It has changed my life dramatically and given me new perspective.  I pray that He will keep this freshly in my heart and mind.   This experience has strengthened my faith.

- Tracey Pollick

DAY 19 - Wednesday, 26 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Sniffle, sniffle, cough, cough!  This crazy congestion is driving me crazy today!!  Apart from that, it's been a good day.  After I did my best to clear my head this morning, I led the group in our First Word devotion centring around John 14:12.   That's where Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father".  Those are pretty powerful words to a group of prayerful servants!

When we arrived at the work site, I was amazed at how much had been completed up until now.  It looks like a different place to the one we started on, and it's to God's glory that we've been able to do so much.  I am confident that our service will be a real ministry to the Bible women who will fellowship there!

After organising the lunch menu for the crew, I spent the morning working on the web site by updating the crew journal and adding nearly 50 new photographs from previous days.  It's been a bit frustrating and tedious at times, but I'm very pleased with the way the web site is progressing overall.  I think that it will be a really powerful tool to share with others about our experiences here, and I pray that God will use it to glorify His work here in India.

I didn't quite finish everything I wanted to do before it was time to pack up for lunch, but a lot had been accomplished.  The others in the crew completed quite a bit of work this morning as well.  Today, we returned to the Baptist Centre to eat our lunch because we were singing there directly afterwards.  And, what an experience that was!

After lunch, we were all led upstairs into this room.  There was a heck of a lot of equipment in there, and it was just like a little recording studio, complete with a 16-track digital hard disk recorder and mixing console!  It was enough to make this audio techie drool.  There was also this hired back-up band...two keyboards, a digital drum kit, an electric bass, and two Indian tabla drummers.  And, that's not the end of it.  There was tonnes of video equipment, too...three camera, a few monitors, and a video switcher thingy.  Impressive.  Oh, yeah...I forgot about the loads of high-intensity lights hung from the ceiling.  Holy freakin' cow was it hot in there!  Anyhoo, after several attempts to make the band play along with us, we proceded to record "You Are the Light of the World" and "Humble Thyself/Awesome God" without the band, accompanied only by my guitar, in the sweltering heat of the intense lights.  Sweat was flying everywhere, but in the end, we managed to pull it off.  Whoohoo!!  We even did a bonus track of "Happy Anniversary" to the "Bible Hour".  Oh yeah, did I mention that the recording was for broadcast on Indian television?  CRAZY!!

After we finished our little recording session, we went outside to sing some songs for the school children.  We did "Blessed Be", "Jesus Loves Me" (Darren style), and "You Are the Light of the World".  The kids loved it, and it was a real blessing to see the smiles on their faces and to hear their laughter.

Now, I'm here in the computer room typing this out and being attacked by these huge flying red ants.  SO, I think that's about all I have to say here.  I'm about to have some "get to know you" time with Jocelyn, and then it will be supper time.  YUM!  Tata for now!!

- Nathan Roemer

DAY 20 - Thursday, 27 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today was long, but great!  You should have seen the faces of the group as they saw our breakfast--Fruit Loops!  They went from excitement to confusion to apprehension and back to excitement as they realized it wasn't like the Fruit Loops in the U.S., and then that it didn't matter because it was still cereal.  So, we each poured a bowl of cereal and some steaming hot milk, grabbed some bread, and chowed down!

The outdoor crew whacked more weeds and managed to move the cement pillars for the gate.  Others of us moved all of the trash to a spot to burn it and then moved on to painting doors and windows green.

Lunch was good, and afterwards it was time for our cultural exchange.  We pulled out all of the toys and sports equipment and played with the kids from the neighboring village as well as the guys we worked with.  They had a blast, and so did we!  One of the most impressive sights had to be Richard throwing a football.   They don't play American football here, but he has the most powerful throwing arm I've ever seen.  Our crew was tired but happy from our games of Frisbee, volleyball, and catch.

We set back to work in the afternoon with more doors and windows to paint.   In my case, I ended up with more paint on me than most of the doors did.   Samuel, one of the Indian nationals, reached through the window I was painting and painted my arm.  So, I went and got Holly and Casey to help me get revenge.  We went up and painted his back and neck.  Then, he turned around and used his huge paintbrush to paint a green stripe right down my face!  Holly and I were covered in green paint!  I got cleaned up, much to the amusement of all of the children, and went back to painting.

That evening, we went out to dinner at Green Park restaurant with our host and his wife.  It was delicious--especially the ice cream!  When we got back to the Baptist Center, we sat in the courtyard and watched the local news.  Imagine that--all of us were on television singing to the Baptist Center school children during our mission trip!

The night ended with a good devotion, and then the girls sat around and chatted for awhile.  We have such a wonderful group, and I thank God for all of the opportunities we've had here.  It's amazing!

- Heather Rose

DAY 21 - Friday, 28 July 2000 - Rajahmundry, India

Today's been such an awesome day!  I can't even begin to explain to you the ways that God has touched my heart!  I've been able to feel the Spirit and see it in everyone here.  This feeling is something that I want to hold on to forever!

The day started out, as usual, with a cup of yummy coffee from the pastor's wife (at the Baptist center where we've been staying), first word, and then prayer partners.   This morning everyone seemed in a particularly cheery and positive mood, since it was our last day in Rajahmundry.  Our group headed out to the work site around 8:00am for a half day of finishing what was left to be done.  Becky, Zac, and I worked on whitewashing and panting (just touch-ups, though).  I had an opportunity later that morning to just stand back and look at all that God did through us.  It's amazing what God can accomplish when you're willing to step aside and let Him use you in His work!

As soon as we had finished the work, we ate lunch and headed back to the Baptist center to change into nicer clothes.  We then went to an all girls High School and were able to serve our Lord in singing for the students.  Some of the girls at the school were dressed up in beautiful, brightly colored costumes, and they danced for us.  It was so neat to see the differences between our cultures in that sense!  The people here are so genuinely nice!  Compared to us it seems like they have so little, but they're happy.  Their love for God and each other is so much more important than possessions (that's something I struggle with).  They gave us beautiful flower necklaces that had fragrant lilies, bright green leaves, and florescent pink roses strung together.   They also offered us coconut juice, Limca, fruit bread, and crackers.  Before we left, the principal of the school asked us to keep the school in our prayers, and also if we had time to help with a flooding problem they have in the school.  The flooding had been so bad that many of the families have taken their kids to other schools (when possible), so the majority of the kids left at the school are unable to get an education anywhere else.  Unfortunately we couldn't do anything since it was our last night in Rajahmundry.  However, we said we'd be praying for them, and it might be a possibility for another work crew to help the school another year.

From the High School, our group went back to the women's bible college for an "opening ceremony."  Many of the old bible women were there, and we had a chance to hear a few of their stories.  You could see the joy in their eyes at how happy they were that the college would be open again.  I was able to talk with one of the ladies who was staying at the college (and had been with us the past weeks).  She told me that she had been praying every day since 1986 that God may find a way to open up the women's bible college again.  She also said that it wasn't a mistake we were there; God had used us to answer her prayers.  What she said just blew me away, and it will echo in my heart forever!  After the bible women had put on a small presentation for us, we ate dinner and then had a brief worship service.  I can't even put into words the way that the loving Spirit surrounded me at the service.  We sat in a circle on the floor and sang worship songs.  I had Deepdee (an Indian girl that I had made friends with) sitting on my lap, and some other little Indian girls holding my hands as we sang.  After we finished singing, we were able to have communion.  We went around the circle and gave the communion to each other.   Communion was something that I had really missed, and the words "This is my body, broken for you," and "This is my blood shed for you," took on a new fullness.

When the service ended, the hardest part came...our "good-byes."  As I said goodbye to Suneela, she gave me Her bracelet to remember her by (I had also given her a guitar string cross necklace that I had made).  Deepdee and I exchanged butterfly clips, and then she gave me a pair of earrings and bracelets.  Deepdee had another bracelet that was identical to the one of the ones she had given me, and she pointed to them and said "See, best friends."  I told her I'd pray for her, and that I'd never forget her.  Finally, I said goodbye to Cecelia (who looked out for me the whole time we were there).

We soon got our whole group piled into the van, and we waved goodbye for the last time.   The rest of the evening was spent at the Baptist center finishing up last minute packing, since we have a fairly early train ride tomorrow.  As I'm sure you've been able to gather, it was truly a wonderful day that I'll never forget!

- Wendy Schelper

DAY 22 - Saturday, 29 July 2000 - Rajahmundry and Bapatala, India

DAY 23 - Sunday, 30 July 2000 - Bapatala, India

The majority of the day was spent at the orphanage.  After we all woke up and had our morning devotion, we listened to a presentation by Kusama, Victor Paul's wife (who runs the orphanage), about how God inspired her to begin a ministry to orphans.  After her interesting testimony, we had yet another presentation by the kids there.  They sang for us, and we sang for them in exchange.  After the presentation, the mood shifted up a few gears as they started to play some more upbeat music.  The one hundred and three kids at the orphanage sure now how to party!   Unfortunately, it ended after about an hour, so we ate lunch.  And when we finished lunch, we thought a trip to the beach (the Bay of Bengal) might not be a bad idea.  While there, we played with the crabs, played with the waves, and played with the sand.  We all had a great time, and it was well worth it.  After dinner, we went to the train station for our final train back to Hyderabad.  Though we waited a little longer than expected, we sang a few songs and finally got on the train.  The train ride should take us through the night until about 5:30 a.m. tomorrow, "Indian Standard Time."

- Ian Somerville

DAY 21 - Monday, 31 July 2000 - Hyderabad, India

We arrived in Hyderabad at 6:00 A.M. this morning by train.  I am so happy to have successfully endured my last Indian train ride without any surprises!  We got to exit the train while it was stopped this time, and I consider that a good thing!   Upon our arrival we were met with vans by Reggie, who took us back to the same guest house that we stayed at when we first arrived in India.  I must say that I'm glad to be here in this house.  Comparatively speaking this place is like the Ritz in India, but maybe more like a Motel 8 at home.  The Ritz or not, we are excited about the clean bathrooms, showers, and beds.  These beds actually have mosquito nets that we don't have to fight with!  We won't be eaten alive tonight!

After we got settled into the guest house, we ate some breakfast.  The meal consisted of cereal, yummy pastries, and bananas.  What more could we ask for?   The crew decided to rest for a few hours and get going around noon or so for some shopping.  We all have family and friends to buy gifts for, and we certainly wouldn't want to go home empty handed!

Noon came and went, and eventually we ate our lunch.  After lunch, it was off into the great city!  Our first stop was the bank so that we could exchange our money.  Most of us were running a bit low on the good old rupees.  I just have to say that I love to exchange money here.  You get a big old stack of colorful rupee bills for your American dollars!  Gotta love that!

While people took turns exchanging their money in the bank, the rest of the crew shopped at a neat little store across the street.  The store had jewelled elephants, which turned out to be a popular gift, as well as some neat carvings and pictures.  I, for one, did quite well at that little store.  Or maybe I should say that my family did quite well at that store, seeing as most of the stuff is for them! 

After everyone was done exchanging their money, Reggie and his wife took the group over to a shopping area in town.  We grabbed a cold soda and faced the ever-so-wonderful Indian drivers as we attempted to cross the street.  On the other side we visited some neat little shops where people bought bangles, henna, material, you name it!   Then the group split up and some of us went back across the lovely street to a pearl shop.  Let me tell you something, shopping for pearls is not exactly a stress-free activity.  The salespeople don't know perfect English, which is fine, but what they do know I can't understand!  I tried to tell the lady what I wanted but she just kept on babbling and showing me everything else!  Yikes!  In the end it was all good, and all of us "happy pearl shoppers" left and went back to the guest house.

No sooner were we back and we decided to leave again!  We all had more shopping to do and decided to go on foot to the stores that were "just around the corner."   Well a dozen of prayers, countless beeping horns, a couple of scared screams, and about ten blocks later we reached the stores that were "just around the corner."   We only had a little time to shop, so we went at it, and Erica bought her beloved Michael Jackson backpack.  To get back to the guest house we decided to take the autos.  Autos are the Indian version of taxies and are these itty bitty yellow vehicles that can hold three people.  I'm not sure which was more exciting, running through the traffic on foot or weaving through it at top speed in a little auto.   Nonetheless, we all made it back the the guest house safely and with another fun story to tell. 

From there, it was right on to dinner.  Dinner was to be at Hai King tonight (a favorite Chinese restaurant of previous Side By Side crews), so Wendy and I decided to dress up in our Sarees.  It was so fun to look pretty for a night!  As it turned out, we were glad to be dressed up because Hai King was a beautiful and fancy restaurant.   There were mirrors, flowers, staircases...the whole bit!  The food was awesome.  I had Honey Fried Chicken and Chicken Noodles.  Yum Yum Yum!  To top it all off I had ice cream with chocolate sauce for dessert...heaven! 

When we got back to the guest house I pretty much passed out on my bed.  It was a long day!!

- Becky Taylor

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