Monday, February 28, 2011
So, one that houses 200 girls, but only about 40 of them go to the school that IJM works with. That one is called Liluah. It's hard to explain honestly and I haven't even given it a ton of thought yet to even explain. It was about an hour away from our hotel in Calcutta. It was on a 'compound' of sorts in a few different buildings. We got there and met the two teachers and then began to set up our "craft". Julia brought an entire Michael's store with her essentially. We had the girls paint and decorate frames anyway they wanted and then we took polaroid type pictures of them that tomorrow we are going to paste on paper and put in the frame. They really did a great job. I was highly impressed with their artistic skills. I don't really know what to say about the girls..they were nice. They didn't really speak english, but they loved looking at Julia and I all the time. I assume that's because they don't hardly ever see Westerners. Some of the girls were actually older women and not all the girls were even there because they hadn't shown up for school that day and there are no consequences. It was a decent home and the school part looked nice, but I just can't imagine living there and not being able to leave ever. I would feel very trapped, like in a prison. We were only allowed to take pictures of them from behind because of rules about their pictures being taken. They liked the pictures a lot though and seemed to enjoy our being there and doing something a little different. We left there a little after noon and went and got some lunch at a place on the side of the road, and it had a security guard out front which means it was definitely going to be good! We got some chicken biriyani and butter nan. Ahh...love indian food!!! It was seriously so great!!!
Then we went on to the other home Mahima. This is a home that has been open for about a year and houses 20 girls. It's a christian home and its program director used to intern for IJM (Julia and she are great friends). We were doing the same thing with them with the frames. I don't know what specific variables caused this (probably many) but the girls at this home are just happier. They smile more and seem to be with it, and they are lovingly looked after and get more counseling and are cared for much better (so it seems from an outsiders perspective) The girls wanted to hold hands and hug and they all knew conversation english and wanted to practice saying, "hello, my name is...., how are you?, i'm fine...how are you? it was really cute. There are 2 children at the home. I know one is the result of the previous 'work' the girl did and apparently from what Julia said she didn't want to have the baby but after he was born she was a 'natural mother'. Cannot imagine! One cool thing we did at both homes since we couldn't take pictures of the girls faces was Julia and I did frames where we had the girls each do a thumb print on it and we are going to take them home and put pictures from the trip in there. They thought it was funny, but we loved it. It was getting dark and we needed to head back to the city so we all piled in the car. A lot of the girls were hugging and kissing on us before we left, it was sweet.
Julia and I got back to the hotel and had a brief meeting with Jay and James about our days and swapped stories. It was cool to hear about what they are doing, and they got to to go to one of the red light district's today and saw some Nepali girls "working". Ugh...that's one of the cases IJM is currently working on because they essentially have to prove that the girls are under age and since the majority of children are born at home without birth certificates and there is no national required identification card and the parents are not here and likely can't be found, its certainly an uphill battle. After that Julia and I went to see her friend Kushboo around the corner. Oh my, her families "home" is the size of Ash's bathroom and 5 people sleep there. The mother, father, brother, brother's wife, and kushboo. She was ECSTATIC to see Julia and had presents for here which were precious. And then the mom and dad came home from their store they work at and they brought us a Sprite and some lays chips and insisted we sit down and eat and chat. They don't know much english so chatting was difficult but we got pictures with them and it was so nice, made my heart happy. After we left there, I wanted some coffee so we went to the coffee shop on the block and decided to also have some dessert since we had yet to have dinner and it was 10pm. So we both had coffee and chocolate cake with ice cream for dinner. Only fitting I think, and it was truly delicious!! When we came back to the room we had to work on the crafts for tomorrow, which included glueing their pictures to pieces of paper so they would fit in the frames. We talked a lot about the girls, living here, living in the US, things that make us mad, sad, happy. Nice chat time for sure.
I haven't had an easy time expressing how I've been feeling about this...I was telling Julia about that earlier. I feel like you have standard answers to standard questions and I have yet to come up with one for India to say when I get back to people who ask. I could spill a bunch of word vomit about the mixed feelings I have about it. It's not something that I can definitively say I hate...though there are parts that I hate about it (the corruption, the poverty, the brokenness, the evil, the smog, the smells, the traffic); It's also not something I can say I love....though there are certainly parts that I love (IJM, the children, the sweet Indians I've met, the people from all over working for this cause, the small Christian population, the hope). Those type of answers don't necessarily fit in easy answers, but that's the answer I have for right now about how I feel about India. It's constant stimulation overload!!
Ok...well that was supposed to be a short synopsis cause I don't even feel like I've written all of my feelings about all these things...another time :)
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Here are the highlights:
"The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet— that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God. It was Paul’s delight to spend his life for God’s interests in other people, and he did not care what it cost. But before we will serve, we stop to ponder our personal and financial concerns— “What if God wants me to go over there? And what about my salary? What is the climate like there? Who will take care of me? A person must consider all these things.” All that is an indication that we have reservations about serving God. But the apostle Paul had no conditions or reservations. Paul focused his life on Jesus Christ’s idea of a New Testament saint; that is, not one who merely proclaims the gospel, but one who becomes broken bread and poured-out wine in the hands of Jesus Christ for the sake of others.
Ahh, to be broken bread and poured out wine in the hands of Jesus
Here's to today :)
"Ok so as I speak it is 5am your time on the 26th...and 11am here in Frankfurt...so why are we still in Germany you ask....let's take it back to a day ago...
So we arrived in Frankfurt at 7am yesterday morning. I was feeling great because I got to sleep on the plane and because I sat next to the nicest woman from Russia (totally random story of how she lives in Tennessee now)
Anyways...we were told what gate to go to and that our flight to Calcutta was at 1135am. So we go have breakfast at Mcdonalds (yes I know) and then go sit at our gate and wait...and wait...and wait. I will say that Julia got her ticket at the counter (no one said anything) and it said Calcutta when we got to the gate. Also, we saw a plane pull up around 10am and figured that it was late and that is what we were going to be going on. On top of everything else, there were a TON of Indians at the gate with us. SO...we go up to the gate around 12 when there are finally people at the counter and say is our flight about ready to board or what? I actually stayed seated while Julia did this but she said the lady looked at her like she was retarded and said that our flight left 30 min ago. Turns out it had changed gates with the only other flight to India that was going to Delhi in a few minutes (hence all the Indians at the gate). I will also note that there was no announcement made, and they informed us that even if we had checked the screen, it doesn't give gate numbers so how were we supposed to know? exactly :) So we were pretty much sol. We went to the help counter (another experience that deserves telling later) and the lady was very nice but here were our options...to fly direct to Calcutta on Monday (the next direct flight) or to fly to Delhi (or another Indian city) today and then we would have to book a ticket to Calcutta (because Lufthansa only pays for the next direct flight or the next leg of the journey) So...we had missed all the flights to India that day ( we weren't allowed to get on that Delhi flight because our bags wouldn't have time to be transferred and they can't fly without us (though that happens all the time). So we were left with staying in Frankfurt for the night (which there are other worse things that can happen by far). My flip flops in 30 degree weather was not optimal but other than that it was a-ok. We stayed at a very nice hotel last night. We went to bed at 3pm and woke up at 7am this morning. I am FRESH and ready to go. The men however, were apparently not as tired as we were and only slept around 7 hours. Amateurs I say. We had been up over 30 hours...
So we are at the airport again...with a confirmed seat to Delhi. Our flight leaves at 1235pm Frankfurt time (on Lufthansa 747-very excited...except for my middle seat) and gets in around 1am (sunday morning) in Delhi. We are flying on a shorter 2 hour flight from there to Calcutta at 635am and gets in around 9am. (it is 11 hours ahead so do the math--I've changed my phone to Germany time and my watch is on Atlanta time so its sometime on Saturday for you I think...10pm?)
So we are all safe and sound and have enjoyed our time in the airport here in Frankfurt....AND I got my passport stamped after all in Germany! I'm not easily frustrated and I really find that people's character begins to show in times of "stress/things not going right"...so you will all be happy to know that I'm with 3 other character-ful people. And really...none of this was not supposed to happen and we will get to Calcutta, even though the devil has tried to make it not so."
Day 4 on the trip:
We arrived in Delhi this morning 1am and then rested at the airport until around 630am when our flight to Calcutta was leaving. I slept for about 30 minutes in the terminal (my sleeping ability anywhere is so handy). We got into Calcutta around 830 this morning and we rode 7 deep in a 5 passenger car to the hotel. I was nauseous to say the least. The driving and roads are worse than Africa and Costa Rica. We made a plan at the hotel to meet around 1pm and venture on with our day. Julia and I talked for about an hour and then we both passed out for about 2 hours. We went and got a snack and then Vic (who works for IJM) came and picked us up and took the 4 of us back to his flat on the other side of town. We met his wife (Julia knew them already) and found out that she was preparing us a very mexican meal of tortillas, beans, salsa, rice, and cheese (I was pumped lol).
So Vic wanted to take us to a village nearby to see what a large majority of the 20 million in Calcutta live in. It was essentially a shanty town with bamboo houses. It was about a 2 mile walk from his place. I walked with him the whole way and just asked questions about IJM and how he got involved with them, as well as things about India that were interesting to me. He goes to this village about once a week to give out candy to the kids there and so they knew him and what he was coming for and all that. The kids were amazing, as they generally are. So innocent and sweet. Of course they attached onto us and just wanted to walk around and hold hands and take pictures. Ahh...it was so sweet, but it just hurt my heart. There was nothing to be done except to be there and experience it and to pray for them, so that's what I did. That's what is hardest I think, is that the city is just so broken...I can see it and feel it and its draining. It's exactly what I asked for though. It's been one day, and I've yet to wrap my head around everything that is swirling through it but that is where it's at now.
After that we went back to Vic's house and his wife had dinner almost ready (one thing that I loved was that they were like ok you can help with this or this...people that usually have you in their home are like no, I have everything under control, but I loved that they were letting us do things.) A couple from the IJM office (the husband is the director of the field office and his wife teaches bengali and also directs an organization here for former and current families of sex workers to do other work) also joined us for dinner. They had a really interesting story; he is Indian and grew up in America and she is American and grew up in India...I actually don't know how they met though.
So on the agenda for this week. Tomorrow and Tuesday we are going to 2 different aftercare homes ( I have heard that one of them is like flying Kingfisher and one of them is like flying Air India- though I have little knowledge as to the true meaning of that statement). We are doing activities with the girls and we will have a translator with us the whole time which is good. Wednesday and Thursday we are helping out with the police training that James and Vic will be heading up. Friday we have a "free" day in which we are going to ride around the red light district and to see more of the city and where these things are happening.
So that is just a recap of life so far here...I haven't really had a chance to process...that can be done on the journey back to the hotel tomorrow I suppose.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
This will likely be short because there are still many things to do but....I woke up feeling great and ready (emotionally) to go. I love flying so that is also very exciting. It's been a whole 6 months since I have flown somewhere and I will spend my next 2 nights of sleep on a plane! That's not the great part, but alas...what can ya do?
So in regards to my title...I heard the Tenth Avenue North song 'by your side' the other night and knew that my next blog would be about it. I mean, the whole song is just filled with "ahh, so true" statements so I will just go ahead and put the lyrics on here:
Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away
Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run
And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life
So...the song made me think of this as well..."I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" John 10:10. All this talk of life does have to do with going to India. God gave me life, and a great one at that, and he also told me to GO! So who am I to not listen? I think I am ready, but in reality I don't even need to be. I just need to lean on Him because He is more sufficient than I could ever imagine. So that is kind of it. ELW...I'm taking blankie with me for times of stress, don't worry! This is going to be great...even if it's not. As my dear friend wrote to me that "you will be covered in prayer everyday", I know I need not stress. Ok, quite a busy day until I leave. Thanks for the prayers and for the constant encouragement!
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15: 5-6
Saturday, February 19, 2011
So, the intensive...well it's not the best honestly. Though, insert my heart lighting up when the video we watched at the end of the day was none other than a tour of the Holy Land. Also, insert a deep sigh! The things that we were talking about was not being adequate and the question of "How badly do we want to follow Jesus?". If I took that question back to the me that was in Israel in 2007, I would have done absolutely anything, it was a zeal and fire for the Lord that was and is unlike any I had ever experienced. Since then, the closest I have come to that feeling is Africa this past summer. I KNOW that God is everywhere, and in everything, but why don't I always feel that way? I don't know. As boring as some parts of this intensive are, I have thoroughly enjoyed my Christ focused time. I wouldn't change having to be here and do this. I know that God is using this and using me and not knowing his point yet is fine with me. From a few weeks ago, I am still able to rely on his timing and not mine. He is still providing me patience. That is all I can ask for.
A favorite of mine, Larry Crabb, was on a video and here are some little nuggets of knowledge that he had to say:
~The doubt I'm having might not be an enemy of faith, but an avenue for deepening faith
~We really think we are talking to Someone
~ I'm dry and there is supposed to be water in me, God wants to feed/fill my soul
~ We have become a community of pretenders who then are required to be distant to maintain the pretense
For better or worse I am here. And I will use my time appropriately (yes, I consider blogging appropriate) On to other things...
I had the best Thursday night this week. Ash, Chris, and I drove to Athens to have dinner with Chris and Daryn and it was just such a great time. I shall only relay 2 of the best parts of the night on this medium. 1st being that Chris (BIL) was talking about something and essentially says, "I mean we are the coolest people I know, and it's unfortunate how many uncool people there are out there." He did have some choice words that don't need to be written, but it was hilarious, and yet so true. I love that the coolest people I know, I'm related to. My siblings and I are so different and yet in some ways we are the same people in different ages and genders. It's really the coolest thing in my life (besides JC). It also extends beyond me and into my precious dog, cause she is really cool too, just sayin.
My sweet family
The 2nd thing was a conversation I was having with Chris (brother) and he was recalling a conversation with our aunt and how they were talking about me and my aunt said THE nicest thing anyone has ever said about me and it made me so humbled. So they were talking and she said that she had enjoyed getting to know me more than anyone she has ever known in her life, and that I was such a complicated person with depth. WOW! Like whole life? Me? Hmm...I don't know what to think about this. Well, I'm still thinking on it. My first thought was that's not really true and she was just trying to be nice. My second thought was that I need to not think things like the first thought and to take for what it was, a compliment. Side note: I think the huh factor of the comment is that she REALLY knows me, I know this. She knows things that the majority of people don't, things that I try to hide from others, and yet she still said it. Anyways...I used to have a really really hard time taking compliments and my mom called me out on it. She told me that no matter what I think about what was said, I need to be able to receive them from other people and to just say thank you, because if nothing else then I am grateful that someone thinks whatever they said. I digress into a tangent. That was my Thursday night, but let me get to my Thursday afternoon.
Thursday is therapy day. A day that I love, and that I look forward to. At the same time though, it is hard work and I don't always enjoy working hard (there, I said it). Sometimes I think there is no need for me to go because I'm fine and I could live in this state I am in for my entire life and be FINE. Yes, that is true. What is also true is that I don't want to be just fine. I want to be more than that. What is 'more than that', you ask? I don't know, but just go with it. So alas, I always go to therapy even when I don't necessarily want to. So I kinda went in with a few things from the previous week that I had been thinking about, and one of them being my boundaries with friends. Something that A told me was that it didn't seem to be as much about my boundaries of keeping other people in their right place, but having appropriate boundaries with my internal self. I have this urge to always tell people everything. I want to be an authentic person and sometimes that translates into letting too many people know too many things. Don't get me wrong, I think transparency is great, but I don't protect my stuff. Through the hour and 15 minutes (because we ran over per usual) we met, it also became obvious how hard I work at keeping relationships in the way that I want them, and more times than not I take on other people's unhappy feelings towards me. And if someone is the least bit unhappy with me (through no wrong doing on my part) I work at making sure it doesn't stay that way. It just so happens there was an example that day of my doing that, so it figured that it would come up. These things are not to be complaints or needing a pat on the back, but more so just observations, and the question of why? Well obviously there wasn't enough time to tackle the major why in my life, but A gave me some advice on watching myself and noticing my need to give myself and any anxiety that comes prior or post to said giving. So there! Therapy Thursday. I know that I didn't really expand on much, and that is on purpose. It's an experiment. Go with it.
Last but not least...
I am leaving in 5 days...me just writing that gave me butterflies in the tum! The good kind, the excited, nervous kind that I love. I am ready (not in the packing, done with school work sense), but in the mental, internal sense. I have been praying that God would prepare my heart and that I would be willing and able to do what I need/want to there. So there it is...I'm ready. There are parts of me that are scared (not for my safety) for what will be seen, heard, and experienced there. I think that is all I should write for now, I have more to say but this post is long enough already. Our trip is being commissioned tomorrow at Church, happy about that.
So, I'm done now.
"He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Day O' Love Uno:
So here is my thought...I am not a vday fan, never have been. Single, coupled, young, younger...just never got it. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely sentimental and full of love, and I think that is what I find least appealing about this day, the lack of sentiment. Bring it out in the mundane, not when places charge more for a set menu, chocolate, and roses. However, in my ever growing love of life I knew I would be just as loving on said love day. I preemptively struck with an early valentine of my precious ELW, as well as my first love G (going on 11 years together). HA.
Ok....moving on. Being that I am so overwhelmingly filled with love for others, as well as receiving love from others, I should be all about love day. So this year I was. I received a hand made card from my valentine, as well as just general good fellowship with my lovely school mates. Since this would be the time to do it, I can be mushy and just say that I feel as if I am just wrapped up in love. Not as in consumed by it, but as in an image of being in a cozy fleece blanket or snuggie if you will. And, the right kind of love at that. The kind that looks internally, and cares about what is really going on, and can speak the truth with love. And to go even further on that note...the whole premise of love was set in stone by none other than JC. That's what I call LOVE! Dying for someone who didn't earn it, doesn't deserve it...all in the name of LOVE! I'm not sold on a day of love, I'm sold on a life of it, and nothing less.
Ok...phew. Got that out
Here's to my life of love :)
(i stole the picture from here )
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing with which to feed them. The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely— to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.
Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, “O Lord, I am so exhausted.” He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. “All my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7).
So, also on this day I went for a run. I have thankfully been running more and I think it is totally helping any anxiety I might have or been having. I prayed for pretty much everyone in my life, and not just generally, but specifically to things that I knew they were going through. It made the 45 minutes I was running (up and down hills) go by so much faster. It's just amazing what being outside (I won't say in nature because I was running through a neighborhood-though it is my neighborhood) can do, and obviously the added benefit of one on one time with God. Seriously, people who don't talk to God are missing out. It doesn't have to be in a church (though it certainly can) but just taking the time to talk to the one that created you and to listen...it's priceless.
Picture from my run :)
I suppose the point of this post was to be that I was exhausted spiritually, but that is ok, and even necessary...because I know where to go to replenish my supply. There is more that I want to write about but alas, I'm spent for the day.
On a happy note: I was reunited with my sweet pup! I went and go her from my mom tonight and it was a splendid reunion to say the least!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
While to others it will not seem this way, and that is fine, I can accept it...God rocked my world yesterday. Let that set in for a second...we good? Ok moving on.
Let's rewind back to the prayer retreat when I had my awesome 2 hour quiet time with God and got some things sorted out. I pretty much was being impatient and He was like you aren't ready for what I'm doing and I am preparing your heart for what is to come. Fast forward to Monday...I didn't have to work so I stayed after school to hang out with some friends and ELW pretty much called me out and was like you seem dissatisfied. Truth. I haven't been acting like myself. Yet it was probably most disturbing because I didn't know why. Everything seemed off and I wasn't sure why. I was so dissatisfied in fact that I pretty much cried the whole way to small group. I hate that. (And no I haven't gotten over the crying thing in therapy yet. Still working on it.) I felt uneasy about the state of many things and it all really felt like a mess in my head of unhappiness. Now...I don't know that most people would even have known such things because in general I think I can hide things well. Call it a gift, or call it most peoples lack of truly taking the time to see other people. But alas...Tuesday comes. So, you will have to forgive me for being vague and ambiguous for the time being but something happened. That is all I will say for now. God showed me what he had been preparing my heart for big time. The type of reaction I expected to have was not the one I was having and that can only be because God was right and I wasn't ready until now to know. While everything I'm being prepared for hasn't been made known and that is not to say everything in my world is A-ok, but the fact is, I now know where my uneasy feelings were coming from and I have a tangible example of what God was doing in me. He is just SO good, all the time. Things just happen seemingly out of nowhere and yet you look and there are all these signs that are leading up to it and yet I am still oblivious until the time where I am being retrospective. So there it is...I am no longer dissatisfied. Not about everything, but about the most important things.
I have been reading many blogs lately and two of my very favorite ones (here and here ) have been talking a lot about relationships and the path of them and what they are made of and besides making me look at all of the people in my life and their relationship to me... it makes me think of those people and their relationships with other people as well. Just how interconnected we are and how that helps to form us as people. Just for the sake of reading awesome-ness you should check out the blogs. But more importantly, I will copy something I read the other day from the 2nd one that was just wonderful and it made me think about someone I know, and the obvious (to me) missing link in their life.
"Guess what relationship requires?
that we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable.
that we are willing to need someone else.
that we are willing to say so.
that we are willing to be hurt.
because the willingness to be vulnerable is where relationship lives.
the question is: are you willing?"
And what a question that is...are we willing? I feel like most people would say yes, but then retract when it came down to certain parts. Because the fact is that we don't want to be hurt, or admit that we need others. That doesn't come easily or naturally, and it really only works out well every time with one person (Jesus). People hurt us. Most of the time they don't intend to, but it happens. Yet as much as it sucks sometimes, I would have it no other way. I would be in a very sad place if I had no deep, meaningful, loving relationships. I'm glad that I have down times (valleys if you will) to know the good times.
On to another note of worth: I can't believe it is already the 2nd month of the year and in 22 days I will be somewhere over the Atlantic en route to India via Frankfort. I can only imagine what kind of heart preparation God is doing for that but I know it is great per usual.
I can't wait.