The Long and Winding Road

Dispatch India 2013:

I traveled for 3 days to reach the far northeast corner of India (north of Burma and east of Nepal), just below the Himalayas on the Chinese border. Grueling, I tell you, grueling. I left Houston at 2:45pm on Saturday afternoon and arrived here in Tuli (sounds like Julie) on Monday night at 9:30pm, making connections through Newark, Mumbai (Bombay), and Kolkata (Calcutta), finally landing in Dimapur (sort of rhymes with “we assure”). From Dimapur to Tuli, the four of us (a driver, two escorts, and me) then drove nearly 5 hours packed air tight into a stifling, tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact over what could best be described as the surface of the moon. Crater-sized potholes littered the sometimes rocky, sometimes muddy, sometimes paved (excuse me while I choke on the word) “road.” After three days of travel, I was exhausted to the point that I could not maintain consciousness, sleeping fitfully while sitting upright, head bobbing, with knees in the dashboard of the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact as it meandered through the countryside beyond sunset and into the eerie night.

Two icky armed border crossings (each state here thinks it is its own country), a near miss in the pitch-blackness with the rear end of an elephant, and our journey ended when our driver suddenly veered off the so-called “road” into the darkness of the jungle and floored it up an impossibly steep dirt path, heavily rutted and slippery from the rains. We only got about 30 feet up the path when the itty-bitty wheels started to lose traction and slip and spin. The engine sputtered and died as the vehicle slid sideways toward the embankment. Not good, and I had had enough. I shook myself fully awake, gathered up my energy, and escaped the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact, in one smooth, twisting, flailing, spastic, Spider-Man kind of move, with that Bruce Lee howling screech thing at the end, just in time before the driver let the vehicle free-fall back down the path, nearly squashing a fellow passenger who had also exited, and smashing a parked motor bike. It came to a stop out in the middle of the, ahem, “road.” Since I was already halfway up the path, I preferred climbing the rest of the way up on foot, where at least if I died, I would go down swinging on my own wits. At last, we had reached our home base on the remote jungle hilltop. SLEEP!

You say there was a time change in there somewhere, so it wasn’t really as bad as all that. Oh yeah? That right? Well, huh, who cares what you think? I suffered miserably…for the Savior. And, I’d do it again in a heartbeat (but only in winter). See my entourage below in the tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact. (click to enlarge)

Like it? Don’t like it? Leave me a comment!

The tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact death trap.

The tiny Suzuki super mini sub-compact death trap.

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23 comments on “The Long and Winding Road

  1. I have not been on a Luftansa flight from Frankfort. But we may have met at the World Hope event last September when Amenla was in Houston and we hosted her.

  2. Noel…This is better reading than some of the adventures in Field & Stream Magazine…HAHAHA.
    Love and prayers for a safe return.

    • Hudty Hayne, thanks for your comment, little brother! But, don’t cancel your subscription to Field & Stream yet! Noel

  3. My husband Dave and I spent about 2 weeks teaching in Tuli in May-June 2006. And Dave returned in 2007 with computers for WHBC. When questioning Dwight Davis about the travel, he assured us that travel in India was fine but that we might need to walk the last 100 yards. Mentally, I was thinking “football field”, I can do that.. What Dwight didn’t say was that the last 100 yards were verticle not horizontal. Thus, my report on the trip was called “The Last Hundred Yards,” which was an expanded version of yours. We have had a lot of fun remembering that time, the trip, the teaching and interacting with students, and the precious time we spent with Amenla and Imti. It was a wonderful time in the Lord.

    • Norma, thanks for your comment. Wish I’d known Imti. Amenla is getting along well. She has good support around her. On the travel to northeast India, I’ll be wiser next time. 🙂 Didn’t I meet you on the Lufthansa flight from Frankfort? Noel

  4. I loved your post. I can just visualize you in this tiny sub compact car. Sounds dangerous!!! The places you visit must be very remote. Be careful and stay safe! Love you and praying for you.

  5. Sounds like you are having a great time!

  6. I see you are having fun already…. !!!!! (:-). That’s my Boÿ!!!!!!!! Xoxo. I love you,
    Your Mama

  7. Noel Ray you sure do know how to live it up!!! Can’t wait to hear how you return 🙂 We love you, be safe and calm down on the fun ………. 🙂

  8. Noel, I am really sorry, but I am lauging so hard that I am crying. Is that mean? The way you wrote the story provided such a visual that I cannot help myself. So your misery, for the Lord’s glory, has provided me with hysterical laughter, which I’m not sure is very Christian. Then again…… May God bless your journey. May many lives be touched by the work that you do. I have been and will continue to pray for you. Thank you for making my day a little brighter!

    • Dee, thanks for your comment and your prayers. Laughter and prayer make the whole thing work. Traveling for the Bible Institute is both ridiculous and sublime. Keep laughing and praying, and I’ll keep going! Press on, Noel

  9. I felt every jerk, bump and slide along with the heat making up that car journey, God bless you! Most importantly, I sensed the steadying hand and presence of the Lord and know He is ready to burst forth through you to hungry hearts. The Lord bless you in all you do in His name, and may the harvest be rich for Him in the hearts of all your hearers of His message of love through you. Looking forward to more of your spell-binding and oh, so descriptive blogs!! While I feel it for you and pray for you, I cannot say you’ve written a dull report. In fact, I find it refreshing compared to some of what passes for English on our airways! Luv, and His blessings, Enid

  10. Oh Noel! I could picture the whole scene. Glad you escaped! Goodness, what a journey. I’ll be praying for your safety and look forward to another story (although hoping for a less stressful one). Press on brother! Love, Sandy

    • Sis, thanks for taking the time to comment. We miss your family here. We’ll catch up next time we’re in Indiana! Noel

  11. DADDY!!!!! I think it’d be a brilliant Idea if you traded in all of the trucks for a mini when you get home just for joyridin’ with the clients ;p CL

  12. Oh my goodness, Noel! That sounds like it was beyond dreadful, but your colorful writing skills brought it to life in such a way that I felt like I was there, watching it all happen! We have been praying for you and will certainly continue to do so. I pray that you have been able to find some resemblance of rest. I have no doubt that God has great plans to use the training that you are bringing to these dear pastors and leaders to spread His great light throughout that area. I ask His blessings on you as you faithfully serve Him in such dire circumstances and also upon your precious family as they pray and await your safe return. Thank you for the Post. Always eager to read that next one. God bless.

    • Kitty, glad you’re in my corner praying and encouraging. Thanks for holding down the fort while we cornballs get to have all the fun scurrying around the globe! You are terrific! Noel

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