This is the true beauty of India…at least of south India. There are things of architectural beauty in the cities but the dirt and sheer mass of humanity mask something of that charm. There are the unique beauties, like the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, etc, but those are few and far between. It is south India’s rural countryside that can seduce both eye and heart. Mile after mile of brilliant green fields of rice and beans. The rice stacked into house-sized stacks. Coconut palms, date palms everywhere. Nature always looks peaceful and clean. It even smells clean!
The vistas are so very familiar. Memories and feelings begin to flood back. The Spirit moves my mind and heart to prayer… “Lord, give me a passion for these people! Make your name great this week. Be gracious and merciful to change hearts and save lost Indians. Use me as you see fit to reach your chosen ones.”
The outskirts of Repalle. I still recognize the route after five years. I’m stunned by a huge picture of myself smiling down from a gigantic billboard. There is Emmanuel Rebba on my left and Dave McMahon on my right. Where in the world did they ever find that picture?
Boys are lined up on both sides of the narrow street. The van drops us off and we are expected to run the gauntlet from here. Each boy has been armed with two handfuls of flower petals. They are supposed to toss them into the air over our heads like confetti. Indian boys are no different from American boys. We are soon pelted by sweet-smelling balls of crushed flower petals! We make the turn and head for the main gate! Huge banners! Hearty Welcome Rev. David Moorhead. There’s John Paul Rebba. There’s Evangeline. We’re through the gate and into the girls’ side where we receive a softer, gentler pelting from college girls all the way down to first years. The heavy floral garlands around my neck are getting very heavy. They’re very wet. I have been well and heartily welcomed yet again to IREF’s Gospel Fields.
Lydia Rebba, the matriarch who is now in her mid-nineties, rises from her chair to greet me. I lift my hands before my face as she does the same. I take her hands in mine and nearly shout over the din, “Lydia! It’s so good to see you! Thank you for having me back again. I love you!” The venerable old lady pulls me down and almost purrs my name into my ear… “Murrrrrrrhead!”