Sunday was a packed day from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  We started with 8:30 worship at St John’s church in Secunderabad (the twin city of Hyderabad).  St John’s is from the Church of South India denomination which is one of the largest denominations in India and which has roots in the Anglican Church.  The congregation we worshiped with was established 200 years ago as an Anglican Church.  After India attained independence in the 1940’s it became Church of South India.  The worship service was very nice, highly liturgical, and well attended.  We had a baptism and communion, and a social hour with food afterwards.  The members were very friendly and welcoming.  We met a couple whose two sons graduated Calvin recently and another couple whose grand nephew is a student at Calvin right now. We also met the CEO of one of the companies where three students are doing an internship.  The church has about 550 families as members.  Below you can see the classic old church building.

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After church and socializing (3 hours later!) we drove to the main two historic sites in Hyderabad… Charminar and Golconda Fort.

Charminar literal means “four towers” and is a monument built by the Muslim ruler about 400 years ago upon the founding of modern Hyderabad.   Charminar is next to a large mosque and surrounded by markets.  We went up the monument and then we all shopped for bangles in the markets.  The monument and mosque are a reminder of the profound influence of Islam on this part of the world. This part of India, with Hyderabad as the capital, was ruled by Muslims (with a little help from England) for hundreds of years until independence in the 1940’s.

View from up inside Charminar.

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Group pic inside Charminar.

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Stephanie and Jeff in a bangle shop. There are a lot of bangles in Hyderabad!IMG_0931

John doing a good job smiling in a bangle shop, which is not an easy feat for most guys.

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Anne and Kari, big bangle buyers with big bangle budgets.

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The money part at the end.

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Next we went to Golconda Fort, which was built about 800 years ago.  About 500 years ago it was taken over by the Muslim rulers that ruled this part of India for many years.  It was also the center of the diamond trade which was very important here for many years.  Many world famous diamonds come from this area and were once in this fort (for example the Hope diamond and the Kohinoor diamond which is currently in Queen Elisabeth’s crown).

It is a very large fort on a hill.  Below is a view of part of it from the bottom entrance area.

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Kari, Stepanie, Jeff and Seth.

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The women posing with one father’s children.  We saw a lot of Muslim families today.  Muslims in India are allowed to have more than one wife.

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Calvin College capturing Golconda fort!  You can see how far up on the hill the fort extends.  The structure in the background is the main palace of the fort.

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In the evening we were kindly invited to a couple’s house where we met with three high school students and their parents who are interested in attending Calvin College.  This couple’s son just graduated Calvin.  We also had a delicious dinner and our host told us about their work among displace Christians in India. Christians are sometimes persecuted, displaced or killed in India by Hindu extremist.  Of course it is illegal, but it still happens and is not always fully prosecuted by the police.

Here we are with our host in her home.  It was a delightful and educational evening.  We are being blessed by many Christians in India.

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