If the two days of traveling to get to Mumbai wasn’t enough, we also traveled between cities in India. On this particular day we moved from Mumbai to Hyderabad. We bombarded the small airport with our large group and overwhelming amount of bags. We were starred down by the people there because of our light skin and matching clothes but we were able to get to our small plane with out any problems.
For the first time in all my many travels, I was able to walk into the plane from the stairs that connect to the outside. Simple entertainment, I know, but I have always wanted to do it. However exciting that may have been, that feeling was soon changed to being uncomfortable as I was squished between the much to close seats. It was also extra warm in the plane, making the close proximity to each other quite uncomfortable. To top it off, our take off was delayed about a half an hour which means we had to stay in that uncomfortable state. It was bad enough that at one point Pat exclaimed, “I’m going to die!” quite loudly. We didn’t help his case by laughing response.
Upon arrival at the next airport in Hyderabad, we waited for our luggage. Once again we were lucky, it all got there. We made our way to our bus and truck as efficiently as we could but were delayed when we realized that the truck was too small to handle our bags. We tried to pack as much as possible into the back of the bus and truck. The rest we pile into the front seats of the bus and then squished in back for the drive. It felt kind of like being in a clown car that has so many of them packed in.
Hyderabad is a more culturally diverse city than Mumbai. A good chunk of the people are Muslim and their temples can be seen all over the city. The city itself looks like it is more poor, but its streets have less trash and seem to be kept up better. The weather, as we immediately noticed, was cooler and dry. After the heat of Mumbai, it was a welcome change.
We soon arrived at our hotel, one of the strangest and most exciting sleeping accommodations for our tour. It was a Best Western like we have in the states, but it was built in the style of a Medieval castle. The decor inside was also in the style of the middle ages in Europe, including stairways and rooms. The other dancers and I joked about being in India but going to Hogwarts. Interesting combination…
We were not able to stay at the hotel longer than a few minutes we change into our Sunday best and then hopped back on the bus. We were going to visit the first LDS stake in India, and also perform a fireside for them. We felt rushed, frazzled, and slightly unprepared as we were driving. People were giving suggestions, we ran through our music, and we all tried to prepare emotionally. The traffic in the city was the cause of another slow down and stress because we were already late. Finally, we arrived at the stake center and quickly rushed in.
Peace. Safety. Calm. I’m home. These were my thoughts as we entered through the doors. Then we walked into the chapel and saw all the people who had waited for us. An overwhelming feeling overtook me. I could feel their strength. I could sense their dedication to the gospel. I realized immediately that they should be the ones to share their testimonies with us.
This was not the case, however, we had come to perform for them. We took the stand and began our program. Pat, Evan and Annie introduced us and our theme scriptures for the year, 2 Nephi 9:20-22. We then sang a variety of children’s songs and hymns centered on Jesus Christ. Kyle and Amber gave short talks on the theme scripture and Micah and Ally were prompted to bear their testimonies. Through it all, the holy Spirit was so strong. It brought many of us to tears. What an amazing experience to be a part of. My spirit seemed to be flying high, soaring with happiness.
After we finished with a prayer, we were able to meet and talk with the people. They were so sweet and complimentary to our performance. One man asked if any of us are in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When I told him no he said that we must be angels then, because that is what we sounded like. That was one of the sweetest compliments we could have received.
After a while we were told we needed to go. We stepped back onto the bus and were taxied away. Mark, our photographer told us that even though he has seen many performing groups do firesides before, ours stood out above them all. Our message was so clear: we believe in Christ and we know that he knoweth all things.
With that special feeling in our hearts we went back to the hotel. At this point a feeling of sickness swept across Kyle and he got to bed as soon as possible. I did a bit of laundry in the sink and followed his lead. Our room was frigid but that didn’t stop me from falling into one of the best sleeps of the whole trip.
* Photos from my camera, iPhone, and Mark Philbrick.