India: Getting There

Until two weeks ago, the one and only time I had ever been out of the country was for my honeymoon to Mexico 7 1/2 years ago.  The flight from Houston to Mexico was about 2 1/2 hours, and back then didn't even require the use of a passport.  We stayed at an all-inclusive resort on a private beach and only ventured into a neighboring town for dinner one night.  Even then, we rode on a large bus full of other resort guests to our dinner destination.  We purchased our meal using US dollars, bought a few souvenirs, then boarded the bus back to our hotel.  Needless to say, it was not an authentic out-of-country experience.  

Flash forward to about five months ago when Brandon asked me to go with him to India, where he would be returning for the third year as part of the teaching team for the Vision Nationals Pastor's Conference.  The previous two years our children had been far too small for me to leave behind, but this time my apprehension was outweighed by curiosity and a desire to step out of the US and see what the Church looks like outside of the American Bible Belt.  

After 5 months of planning and support raising {thank you to everyone who supported us!!}, we left on November 2nd headed for Vizakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India.  A fifteen hour flight from Dallas landed us in Dubai, UAE for a 9 hour layover.  Thankfully, we have a sweet friend living there who graciously picked us up from the airport for a quick tour of the city and dinner at the Dubai Mall--home of any and every worldly expense you could imagine contained within it's 3.7 million square feet of retail space.  Dubai was a surreal experience--a city of extravagance in the middle of the desert, home to the tallest manmade structure in the world {the 160 floor Burj Khalifa}, and melting pot of people from all over the globe.

Our stop in Dubai was followed by three more flights before landing in Vizag--a total of about 44 hours of travel.  Many parts of the city and neighboring villages were flooded in the wake of Cyclone Nilam {a hurricane} that hit Andhra Pradesh just days before our arrival. 

There is much to say about our trip, stories to tell and photographs to share.  The following images were taken just during the travel portion of our trip.  Because I took so many pictures throughout the week and would like to share most of them, I've decided to break them down into multiple posts which I'll be sharing over the next couple of weeks.  This post contains photos from:  our very long Emirates flight, Dubai Airport, the Burj Khalifa, the fountain at Dubai Mall {set to theatrical music that plays every 30 minutes}, several airports {Dubai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Vizag and Mumbai}, and ariel shots of India.  The last several images were taken from the runway in Mumbai.  The Mumbai airport is surrounded by the city's slums, made famous by the movie "Slumdog Millionaire".  An interesting article about the slums of Mumbai can be found