Friday, November 30, 2012

Visit to the Taj Mahal

You can't come to India (even as a missionary) and not go to the Taj Mahal. The Taj is located outside of Agra which is about a 3 hour drive south from New Delhi. We went on Tuesday with another couple who is being transferred to Cambodia. They came to Delhi in early February with a missionary visa, but could not get it renewed so they will finish their 18 month mission in Cambodia. They have become very good friends and we are sorry to see them leave. The Taj Mahal is just like what you see in postcards. In fact, some of the pictures we took look just like postcards, but to prove we were actually there, we got a few with us in them. While we were there we also went to Agra Fort, which is (I think) the largest red sandstone forts in the world. It is still a working fort housing about 500 soldiers, so we were only able to see about 1/3 of it. We hope you enjoy the pictures.

No we were not photoshopped into the picture.  It was
a perfect day - low traffic, sunny cool day and low smog.
With our friends Elder and Sister Capener from Perry
Utah.  They are transferring to Cambodia on Friday
(Gate leading into the Taj Mahal)
Entering into the above gate, you get a panoramic view
of the Taj Mahal.  It looks like throngs of people, but this
was actually a very light tourist day
Intricate stone inlays are found all around the outside
of the Taj Mahal.  The more impressive inlays are
inside where you are not allowed to take pictures
Carvings in the outside walls of the Taj.  The Taj is
built of marble found in India which is much
denser than Italian marble
Looking up into one of the arches of the Taj

Standard tourist shot, but it looks pretty real.
The Taj is a mausoleum that took 22 years to complete

Can you believe it! A Texas pine on the gounds of the
Taj Mahal (behind it)



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More of Jaipur and Pushkar

I was going through our pictures from our recent trip to Jaipur and Pushkar, and thought posting a few more would be good. 

King Jai Singh, built this for his first wife so she could see
see out.  It has 365 winddows and the whole building
is only 1 room deep. 

Sister Stevens at the Hotel Diggi Palace

Gypies that danced at dinner our first night in Jaipur

"Deluxe" Tents they booked for us at Pushkar -includes
a bathroom in the back.  We opted to stay in a real room
(no Boy Scouts among us)

Dry water color paints
Sunset at the man-made lake in Pushkar.  Earlier
that morning, 50,000 Hindus bathed in the lake
as part of a religious ceremony
Floor display as part of Diwali.  It's made of colored rice
Elder Stevens and President Sackley
arriving in Jaipur.  After the picture, we all
got rid of the flower leis because they were
causing us to sneeze

One of 500 churches in Pushkar, a city of 25,000 people


Out 6 months

Today we have been in the mission field for 6 months.  I wish I could say it has gone past quickly, but to be honest there are both days that whiz by and others that seem to go on forever.  Lately it's been more of the latter.  Angela has had a nagging cough that just won't go away that keeps her up at night so the next day she's dragging through.  She tries to put on a happy face, but I can tell it's getting to her after more than 3 weeks.  We've also had a series of problems with our living conditions.  It's either no water, no electricity, no internet, no gas, or a combination of them.  In India, a problem is never resolved, it's just temporarily in remission.  Not that we're complaining, just a fact of life.  Today we're in the Mission Office alone.  It's P-day for the missionaries and they are all playing the "Turkey Bowl" (football) at the park.  I told the APs that I wouldn't be there because I wanted to be able to walk the next day. 

We were blessed by a Hindu priest at Pushkar
(fortunately the paint on the forehead came off)
Tomorrow we are somewhat celebrating Thanksgiving.  It's obviously not an India Holiday (although it seems like they celebrate everything else, with over 20 official holidays).  We're going to Chili's (yes the American Chili's) at the Mall with all the Elders and Sisters after the transfer meeting.  We decided not to get turkey for dinner.  At $80 for a 12 lb turkey, we decided it was too rich for our budget.  A good buffalo burger at Chili's will have to do...  We wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Trip to Jaipur

Elephant ride to the Amber Fort
We finally took some time off from the office and mission life and went to Jaipur, which is about 200 miles southwest of New Delhi.  The city was built by a man named Jai Singh, and was called Jaipur ("pur" meaning city or settlement).  It was also know as the pink city, because he had all the buildings painted pink when one of the kings of Great Britian visited.    For you movie buffs, this is where hotel in the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was.  We didn't find the Marigold Hotel, but we found one like it called the Hotel Diggi Palace which has been in the Diggi family for over 100 years.  We spent a couple of days between Jaipur and a small out of the way town called PushKar (which interpreted means Lotus Hand).  Rather than running on about all that we saw, here's a lot of pictures you might enjoy.
Cobra dancing for snake charmer
Snake charmers (the one on the right is holding the snake)
Block Stamping - Used in making clothes and table cloths
Demonstration of block stamping
Largest sundial in the World (Guiness Record)
Elephant ride up mountain to Amber Fort

Vendor who followed us all the way up the mountain to
sell a hand-made bed spread.  He started at 4000 rupees ($80),
we settled at 1000 rupees at the top - and we probably still

Inside Amber Fort (lots of mirrors and reflective glass)
Elephant caught in traffic jam

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Recent Pictures of India

There are hundreds of baskets in the open market area, both empty and filled.  These baskets are given to family and friends as a part of the Diwali (sounds like "Da volley) festival in the middle of November.  It is the festival of lights for the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. 

As I might have mentioned previously, the Church has purchased a couple of 4 story houses.  One of the houses will include the church building in the basement and first 2 floors, the mission home on the 3rd floor and the misson office on the 4th.  The renovation of the church building has created massive piles of debris, from sheetrock and concrete that is hauled out one basket at a time on the heads of the workers.

This is the truck being loaded with the debris.  You might find the swaskita intersting.  Long before it became a symbol of Nazi Germany, it was a Buddist and Hindu symbol dating back all the way to the 3rd century A. D. 

Large cook pots
Large pots for cooking lunch and dinner in the streets

India's version of the Fuller Brush Man

Elephant 2 - The Sequel

Just when I think that seeing an elephant walking down the main road is a rarity, we see another one. We got our iPhones out in plenty of time to get some head shots. The man riding the elephant stops and offers us a ride (I'm sure for a price). We were headed to do some shopping for our visiting general authorities next week so we declined (it was a convenient excuse for not wanted to climb on an elephant in church clothes).  As we were standing there, the elephant swings his trunk over at me - I jump back a little and grab it - another "first" for me. Then he swings his trunk up in the tree and breaks off a branch of leaves and shoves it in his mouth. We didn't think about doing some video, but captured a couple of close ups. They seem much bigger when you are standing next to one, but it wasn't as scary as the cow that chased me - must be the horns...