Report from an intense journey to the state of Orissa and the city of Kolkata in India

      15 – 27 november 2017

This was my second journey to India and all in all it went according to the same patternas my first journey, two and a half years earlier. However, my travelling companion was new and some of the arrangements were different. Last time I travelled with Hans Sundberg, an experienced pastor and Bible teacher, This time I travelled with Håkan Gabrielsson, founder of the organization Touching Asia. Håkan has lived and worked with his family in Asia for several decades.

Some days in Kolkata (Calcutta)

After the journey and a complicated handling of our visas at the airport we arrived to our simple hotel in Kolkata (Calcutta). Thus our first day was a day of rest and gentle start of our visit. However, the second day Hkan had arranged a conference at the hotel witha group of co-workers who work with refugees on the borders of Bangladesh. They gave us many encouraging and inspiring reports. We had our meals together and there was also time for worship and Bible studies.

The following day we visited Maria Mondal Sandberg and her Indian husband Dev. They have a small scale social outreach in a part of Kolkata. We also took part in a gathering with them. It was rewarding to meet our dear friends Maria, Dev and their co-workers and to hear about their plans for the future.

The next day was Sunday and we took part in a service in a church, where a friend of Håkan Gabrielsson is a pastor. An uplifting service, in which Håkan preached. Afterwards we had dinner at the pastor´s home and when we came back to the hotel, our travelling companion for the rest of the journey to Orissa had arrived. His name is Tim Higgins anf he lives in Australia, but he has a lot of experience from developing work in India and Nepal. In the evening it was time to board the night train that would take us to our friends in Orissa.

Festive celebrational meetings in Orissa

The train journey went without any problems and at the station we were met by Bishop Pratap and his co-workers who drove us to our final destination. We were gathered for a few days to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the work that Håkan Gabrielsson had helped to start here. Just like us they often work under very hard conditions, but they are still positive and can see a steady development of the work. Quite a few things had happened at the conference site during the two and a half years since I was here last time. They had added an upper storey to the main building and a roof for outdoor meetings.

During the next three days the conference took place with hundreds of visitors from many places. Håkan had the main responsibility for the teaching, but Tim and I also had a few sessions. Lots of singing, music and dancing and joy and solomn celebrations. The weather was warm and pleasant but not intolerably hot and no rain. It was very encouraging to meet all these Indian Christians all dressed up and many wanted to have us in group photos and selfies. We were very comfortable staying in Bishop Pratap´s home, and his wife Shikah and her helpers served delicious food.

Teaching the Bible to pastors

On Thursday evening Håkan and Tim went back to Kolkata and my good friend Bishop Pratap was so kind to accompany me on my journey. It went without any problems and on Sunday we took part in the service in the simple place that Maria and Dev are renting in the area where they are working. The place was more than packed and many had to stand outside. The temperature inside as well as the one outside was high. We had a look att the piece of land that had been bought in Kolkata, where there will be built a centre to house many of the activities run by Dev and Maria. You are so welcome to support this very important and long term work!


Before I was driven to the airport, we were six Swedes gathered at Maria and Dev´s place: Myself, Maria and her parents and another Swedish couple who are responsible for a school project in another part of India. It was very festive and pleasant and almost felt like home. On Monday November 27th I was back at Arlanda again, where my wife met me giving me a big hug and warmer clothes.

Börje Norlén