Please scroll down to find completed journal entries.
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
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
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
- 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
- Becky Taylor