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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: India (02/12/09)

TITLE: Adventuring
By Shirley McClay


Draped in a white robe, he knelt on a blanket, woven with rich reds and blues… a birch tree stretched its sheltering branches over him. A couple strolled nearby, hand in hand. Their attention was on the misty mountain peaks and on each other. Their voices drifted to the man and he raised his head to gaze at them.

“Oops, I think we interrupted his prayer time.” Shari’s voice was hushed.

“Not at all. I’m finished… just basking in the presence of God.” He stood and stretched. The couple exchanged looks. “Yep, I’m a fellow American living here in Himachal Pradesh. I speak Hindi and Pahari as well as English. Name’s Kevin.” Kevin peeled off the robe to reveal jeans and a fleece coat with a logo that matched their own jackets. The young woman covered her mouth to muffle a giggle. “The robe is to keep most of the dew off my clothes and to be less conspicuous among the locals during prayer.”

“Jeff and Shari.” Jeff stepped forward to shake Kevin’s hand. “Since you actually live here maybe you could give us some tips about local places to visit.”

Kevin’s brow quirked. “You don’t have your trip all planned out?”

“Just hotels and plane tickets. We decided to come and see what God had planned for us.”

“Interesting.” He eyed them with a twinkle. “How’d you like your own personal guide?”

They started off with a breakfast of Appam (pancakes made with rice and coconut) at a small restaurant. Kevin excused himself to bow his head and Jeff and Shari joined him in a silent prayer.

“May I ask a personal question?” Shari stirred sugar into her tea.

“Of course.” Kevin leaned back in his chair.

“Who do you pray to?”

The deep peace that seemed a part of Kevin transformed into a radiant joy. “Jesus. I pray to my Jesus.”

Kevin fumbled with his fork. “No way! I was sure it was the Dalai Lama or something.”

“My bride and I honeymooned here three years ago… like the two of you. Becky was so moved by what she saw here, the beauty of Creation shouting praise to the Creator… and grieved by the presence of the Dalai Lama and other false gods in the middle of it. So every morning we would get up at four and pray. Just like the D.L.“ Kevin’s eyes held a teasing twinkle. “Cept we pray to the real deal, of course.”

“Where is she... I’d love to meet her too!” Shari leaned forward, eyes glowing.

“She contracted Meningitis on our fifth day. I stayed here after she died to keep our tradition.” His hands picked up his mug and put it down again.

A tear slipped down Shari’s cheek. “Will you stay here always?”

“Not sure. I only know today. That’s enough for now.” A silence stretched between them. “Since you’re also believers, we should pray together. This country is beautiful but... we need His protection.”

Jeff’s gaze on his new wife was intense. “Yes... let’s pray.”

They drove through the Great Himalayan National Park in a beaten up truck. Jeff used his camera and filled several memory cards.”I got some awesome shots. Still can’t believe we got so close to musk deer, brown bear, and even a snow leopard!”

“That was God. You gotta know that!” Kevin was enjoying the trip as much as Jeff and Shari.

The following days were filled with exploring the area and they met at four every morning to pray against the false gods and lift the country of India to the One True God.

After a week it was time for the newlyweds to move on to Shimla. “Be sure to visit the hot water sulphur springs and Chadwick Falls. Sorry if I horned in on your together time.”

“I wouldn’t have changed a minute of it!” Shari wiped her eyes again.

Jeff tipped his ball cap back. “This wasn’t what I expected for my honeymoon, but we prayed that He would use this time to bond the three of us together… me, Shari and Him. Glad you were a part of that, brother!”

“God has a way of adjusting our plans. He did with my life and it hurt, but I’ve been blessed in it.” Kevin brushed away tears as he hugged them both. “He loves when we leave our lives open to His re-directions. You’ve set yourselves up for a life of adventure! Embrace it and find the joy in every day.”

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This article has been read 819 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 02/19/09
This is a well-written story. I liked the idea of seeing the beauty of God's creation in Himachal (truly a beautiful place). You included a lot of accurate details (such as the white robe and the Pahari language).

Since you asked for a critique...Appam would be eaten mainly in South India (although I suppose you could find it available up north). Also, Shimla is south of the park you mentioned. Most likely the tourists would have gone to Shimla first, but perhaps they took the long way. LOL. Too bad you didn't mention the beautiful Christ Church in Shimla. Would have added an extra detail to the piece.

Just as an aside, Shimla is the top Indian honeymoon destination. ;)

I really enjoyed reading this piece.
Mona Purvis02/22/09
Very believable, well-written story. It was easy to read. The characters were genuine. Loved it.
Karlene Jacobsen02/23/09
I enjoyed this story.
Joanne Sher 02/23/09
Such wonderful characters and dialogue especially. I was engaged so much in this delightful piece.
Connie Dixon02/23/09
I enjoyed this a lot. Would love to get Kevin back home, I bet his parents miss him. Great story.
Holly Westefeld02/24/09
Shirley, this was an enjoyable read.
The only red ink I might note is that it is short on conflict, but that may have been your intention.
Eliza Evans 02/24/09
I really, really like Kevin. Dang girl! You have a way with men. :P

Kevin fumbled with his fork. ... Isn't this supposed be Jeff?

> A tear slipped down Shari's cheek. <

How long has she known him? 15 minutes? Would she really have that reaction?
I can't imagine, unless it somehow triggered something for her. .. Like she had a recent death in the family or something.
Be careful with stuff like that because it feels like a "filler."

I like the names you chose. Jeff, Shari and Kevin. It suits them. :)

Angela M. Baker-Bridge02/24/09
Sweet story. Though I felt like the friendship moved too quickly. Very different approach.
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/24/09
I enjoyed accompanying your couple on their honeymoon--didn't even feel like I was bothering them. Good characterization as well as description