By Rosie Korfant
This is week three in my series about all the “Missionary Moments” I experienced in a recent trip to India, representing my church, The Family Church at Christian Retreat in Bradenton.
Traveling 169 miles north from Jaisalmer you will find yourself in the “Blue City” of Jodhpur where the history of Rajasthan’s most impressive Mehrangarh Fort and the Sadar Bazaar await visitors from all over the world. Each city bazaar is full of color, sights and vendors shouting their wares for sale. Founded over 500 years ago, the city, which has become a hotbed for the textile industry, is a sea of boxy indigo blue houses, stretching for more than six miles along the walls of this historic walled city. Blue pigment coating on a house once indicated that a Brahmin — a priest of the former Indian caste system — dwelled within. Over time, the color became a badge of identity for the non-Brahmin as well. The color is said to have insect repelling abilities, as well. Jodhpur is also known as the “Sun City,” named for its overwhelming number of bright and sunny days.
I guess my best “missionary moment” in this city was with our chauffeur, JaiPaul, who was like a protecting brother for my friend Pearl and myself. The “moment” occurred while I was with JaiPaul at a local watering hole to buy the ever-precious water. We had discussed his family and several events, which led me to explain the blessings of this Jesus I kept speaking about. JaiPaul’s kind demeanor left me wondering if he really “got it.” But I can only trust in the Holy Spirit to make something out of so little and make a difference in this man’s life even today.
Next, we were off to the desert capital of Jaipur, affectionately known as the “Pink City” because of the pink walls on the buildings in the Old City. In 1876, the Prince of Wales and Queen Victoria visited India. Since pink denotes hospitality, Maharaja Singh of Jaipur painted the whole city pink in order to welcome the royal guests. Since then, Lord Albert has designated Jaipur as the Pink City. The City Palace is comprised of palaces, pavilions, gardens and the Amer Fort. The most impressive site here is the Observatory Jantar Manta, which literally means “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens.” This site is connected to the nearby school of astrology where students learn the intricacies of the time instruments that measure India Standard Time, or IST, the only pure time zone in the country.
Our ride to Jaipur was filled with sights of half-built buildings of varied types. Every road on our travels seemed to be under construction — just like in the USA. Most motorcycles on these roads were filled with at least two riders, but often there were three, and, depending on the size of the child, even four riders, quite a sight and quite a feat. The only way to pass a vehicle in front of us was to “sneak peek” around it to measure the timing of the oncoming traffic and hurry past. If our driver made his move and then changed his mind, he backed off the accelerator and swerved to move our sedan behind the forward moving vehicle with only inches to spare. Usually, there was also a motorcycle whizzing by to the left of our vehicle in the “no lane zone.” Sometimes the motorcyclists were even going in opposite directions, making it difficult to navigate between two motorcycles in the “no lane zone.” Sometimes this necessitated some real live “off road” driving. Fortunately, we were blessed with a 16-year veteran of this chaotic driving!
Almost everywhere I went — visiting a fort or a palace or a site of any significance, not just in the city of Jaipur, but in every city — I was asked to pose for pictures with many people of all walks of life from a diversity of countries. It became almost comical – I felt a certain “celebrity status.” My red hair stood out in the crowd of so many millions of dark-haired females in the country. So, after posing with three adorable children, I was able to whisper short prayers in each of their ears (which they, of course, did not understand.) Even a group of young teenage boys asked me to pose with them in the palace of Maharaja Singh.
It was wonderful to know that just the sweet name of Jesus was enough to bless them, whether they understood or not. The power of “that name” promises strength, hope, joy, encouragement, healing and blessing, and that’s all that mattered. I used these opportunities to say to each of them “Jesus bless you.” Many recognized the difference in saying “God bless you” versus “Jesus bless you” and thanked me in a way that I knew they knew.
Continuing our open road trip, our day in Jaipur was exciting because we got stuck in a major hour-long traffic jam right in the middle of the center of the city. We got scrunched next to a motorcycle family with a lovely little boy and his “motorcycle mama” with a pink helmet. There was also a tuk tuk (an auto rickshaw) driver who was both colorful and humorous. After offering both the little boy and the driver a fruit bar snack, we enjoyed watching them eat them. Exhaust fumes finally caught up with us, so we had to close the “hospitality windows” of the sedan.
Finally, we arrived at our guest cottage at Laharu House, which was exceptionally soothing after a day of hustle and bustle. The morning found us following strutting peacocks throughout the nature center on the grounds and enjoying a sumptuous breakfast in an opulent turn of the century dining room, which was deliciously quiet.
Rosie Korfant is a resident of Parrish and well-known (now retired) activities coordinator at DaVita Health Care in Sun City Center.