If you want to get somewhere fast in India, you won’t. The 5am drive to the airport went quickly given there were fewer cars and we were going down the mountain. And check-in was also quick given we were the only flight out of the airport that day. Yep. That day. One gate. One flight and a staff of 15-20 to help our group of 21.
With everything going so well it should come as no surprise that our flight was delayed due to inclement weather – by just over three hours, long enough for us to get to know India’s version on the TSA and long enough to force the cancellation of our time with the kids in one of the slums we were to visit.
By the time we settled back into Delhi, we had time to check out the malls adjacent to our hotel and grab dinner. It’s fair to say you wouldn’t really notice any difference between Delhi and Grand Rapids shopping except for the fact there were as many people as you might find just before Christmas, and interesting enough there were security checks and officers at all the mall entrances and several stationed the mall.
It’s not every day you get to see one of seven modern wonders of the world, so the thought of a five-hour bus ride didn’t sway us from the adventure to see the Taj Mahal. Throw in a stop to pet monkeys and have a king cobra charmed on our bus – it’s true – and the ride was even more a buzz, or in this case, a hiss and some flute music for a moment. On to the Taj.
Words fall short of trying to describe the awesomeness of the Taj Mahal (Crown Palace). The mausoleum complex located in Agra is absolutely stunning, with the main attraction made from the best marble and complete with in-laid onyx, agate, and other colorful rock. The craftsmanship is unmatched. Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal (or Mogul) Emperor, built it as a loving memorial to his deceased wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died during childbirth. It took more than 20,000 laborers 22 years to complete.
Such a beautiful building sets in stark contrast to its surroundings. So much of India – and we’ve certainly seen enough given our travels – is impoverished, physically and spiritually. And the people – so many people – to think that God loves each and every one so much that He sent His most beautiful Son to rescue our impoverished souls. There is no greater sacrifice of love to rival His gift, and there is no greater thing that will ever be built, than what God is building in us, a Church where the even the gates of Hell will not prevail against us. How awesome is that!