Sam was right—we had a HUGE day yesterday! In fact, when he finally brought us to the hotel, we conked out before you could say "I love peanut butter sandwiches." Okay, so that is just a normal occurrence for me any given night, but still…
In spite of my wheat allergy, I have been experimenting with the various baked goods here in India, and it's been worth every bite! For breakfast at the hotel, we had fresh croissants and some kind of berry that the waiter called "gooseberries." They are one of the best fruits I've ever tasted! They are green-orange and just slightly bigger than grapes and they are both sweet and sour at the same time, my favorite!
We headed out of Agra toward Jaipur (pronounced Jaypoor). Sam jokes that everything in India is poor or bad—Hyderabad, Ahmadabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Manipur, etc.) This is where things got a bit shaky on our trip. We were helplessly imprisoned in a car with Sam Thomas for six hours! Shelley (Sam's wife) knows EXACTLY what I'm implying. He is like riding around with a mischievous ten year old boy (and I mean that in the nicest way). Watching him get so tickled by even his own so-so jokes and anecdotes is hysterically funny. Not only that, he IS a little brother and it is evident by the way he teases us from the time we get in the car until we desperately bail out at the next destination.
For instance, ever since he discovered Maria's abhorrence to camels, he constantly tries to push her buttons, pointing out every camel we see and offering to let her pet them. He calls them "India's Camelacs" (like Cadillacs for those of you who are a little slow).
The country side on our drive was so beautiful. Passing many of the massive brick kilns, Sam explained that they do now have child labor laws in place to protect the kids (I have read about how the children work ten+ hour days carrying and stacking bricks in the hot sun with little food or rest) but he also said that it still happens because the law enforcers are often corrupt and can always be bribed.
Today I learned a new efficient and fun practice I fondly dubbed, "drive-by evangelism!" Sam always brings along gospel tracts (little booklets that tell the good news of Jesus, His death on the cross, resurrection, and forgiveness of our sins) in his car. He explained to Maria and me that we had to dispense all two boxes of the tracts (probably about 1,000) before Jaipur or there would be a stiff penalty.
Basically, every place we came across people milling about by the road, whether town or country, we threw them little bundles of tracts. Watching from our rearview mirror, we saw them swarm the booklets like piranha, picking them up to read. Sam said that, even if they are illiterate, they are so curious they will find someone in their village to read them. When I asked as to the effectiveness of such a tactic, he said they have had many people contact their ministry and become believers as a result of drive-by evangelism. Some people have even called to tell them that, ever since they received the tract and read it, they have had "good luck" and it has made them want to know more about this unknown God.
When we are done, Sam smiles at us and says, "This is a way we can use every mile for God's glory. He provided this car for us and we can use the miles we drive it to give back to Him."
Now this is my kind of evangelism!
I have witnessed with great delight another way that Sam (and later I discover the same is true of his dad also) is very different than anyone I've met before. As a regular lifestyle, Sam gives so much away, yet I am amazed at how much God gives back to him. When I asked him about that, he said, "When you are taking care of God's children (orphans), God takes care of you." Almost nothing that comes through Sam's hands stays there because he gives it away, yet God keeps giving back so much that he almost can't give it away fast enough. And his gifts to people are always extravagant. He gives away the best of what he has, not the leftovers. This is very convicting for me, indeed.