Thursday, March 31, 2011


So there are some things that just make you stop and remember a past time. Often it can be sights, smells, or sounds. Well one sound I heard tonight totally took me back (like I'm so old). Removing all cheese from anyone else's interpretation of said sound...because its irrelevant to me. So back to the thing I heard of the very best things ever, only made better when it's 500 meters in front of your face.

So now that it's out of the way...I can go on to why it's awesome and just the best thing ever...I'll begin with a short list of the places and people that made it so freakin great!

*Road tripping it to Nashville with the best to see said band sing said song live outside...and then road tripping it back the same night.

*Having a devastating event happen, in which the best comes over and we cry and listen to said song.

*Football season (UGA), fall, windows down, blasting song

*seeing said band on a rainy outdoor atlanta night with the best

*again seeing said band with floor seats in atlanta with the best

Are we seeing a pattern here? I think so. I mean it does have to do with the greatness of the song obviously, but it clearly has a TON to do with the people, places, and events that remind me of the song. Moving on though to the even better part...I just love when I can relate songs to Jesus...gosh, just so good!! So in the spirit of using lyrics...ill just share my fav part!

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

I think it's clear why I chose that part but just in case it's is a visual representation (pic I took while in Nazareth)

Ahh, Jesus. The greatest light of the world. Who is so good, all the time, I could go on and on. We spent some time together tonight and it was wonderful. I will stop there.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

as i lie in the sound

I need to blog...this is true.

You know what else is true? I have a lot going on. That could be true just in the school sense, but it's also true in the work, friendship/social sense. I have 2 best friends getting married this summer and am a part of both weddings. I have 2 other best friends who are pregnant and due early fall. I am starting an internship that I have wanted since I started this school in May. The next month is probably going to suck and be extremely fun at the same time. I also have only thought about my India trip in small chunks that I can handle at the time being. All that being said, I'm continuing with my self care even when I don't want to because, well, it's necessary lol. But instead of a long drawn out (what I might deem boring right now) post about my feelings, I am instead going to post lots of pictures in honor of one ELW . These things make me happy, so as I sit in San Fran on a dreary day "doing school work" I will think of these things :)

*a lil shout out thank you to my dear TB for providing constant entertainment whilst I study.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

final calcutta days...

So Thursday…the day to end all days…I hate to say what a favorite part of the trip was…but if I HAD to then this would be the day. It began like Wednesday and we went to the office to do devotions with the team and it was on a story in Matthew about preservation. I honestly needed to hear it, because it was about not giving away parts of yourself to fools or pigs (something like that) and it was saying to keep what is holy holy and to use discretion and discernment when opening yourself up to people. That is a hard lesson to learn for someone who wants to give to people all the time. It’s true though, because Jesus didn’t waste his time on people who weren’t ready to accept the gospel. It’s worth it but it's also worth it to be careful when you get berated all the time for what you believe. I think that could be especially true for the team in Calcutta. They are in a city that does not know the one true God and they are often ridiculed and not accepted for what they believe and try to express, so I think it was also good for them to hear. After that we sang “Amazing love” (another favorite of mine). We then headed off to meet with Badisha’s parents at our hotel.

A short back story on that… Julia works for an organization in Atlanta that deals with asylum cases and this woman who is from Calcutta but living in Atlanta because she married another Indian who has a work visa here. It was a very abusive relationship and she got out but now her visa expires in April and her parents and family all live in India still but she doesn’t want to go back because of the stigma associated with getting a divorce there and she would not have many opportunities if she went back. So it all just happened to work out that Julia needed some papers from the parents but it would take too long to ship them and we just happened to be going to Calcutta (God thing) so we could meet the family and get the papers from them in person. It was supposed to be just a quick drop off but ended up being an hour and a half of meeting over coffee. At first it was just a standard talk about how we were liking India and what kinds of things we were seeing or wanted to see. The family didn’t speak great English but it worked out fine. But at one point the mother grabbed Julia’s hand and started crying and was just saying that she had no idea what the man was like and that if they had any idea how crazy he was, they never would have sent her there, and just pleading with Julia to help her only daughter. Needless to say…Julia started crying too and then so did I. It was just really apparent (in a society where that’s not necessarily the norm) how much they cared for their daughter and how much it pained them that she was so far away and they couldn’t really do anything to help her. It was just really emotional and especially coming off of an entirely emotional trip that hadn’t been given any attention by me as of yet. I will say that after that point, it was downhill on the emotions.

Moving along though. After we left there we were off to Caligat to visit Sari Bari. That is an organization that employs ex ‘line workers’ and or their children to make things out of old sari’s. It started 5 years ago with 3 women and has grown to employing over 70 people. The woman Melissa who works there has been there about a year and has a commitment of 3 years to be in Calcutta. She was amazing. I say that in general for what she is doing and what she has given up to be there. But she is amazing because we spoke for an hour and a half and it was mostly her talking. Sometimes things like that could be boring, but I was held in constant attention because she is in love with what she does. She loves the work and believes in it and speaks with a passion about it that can keep you enthralled for hours. It was so inspiring to hear someone talk like that about their work. It’s what people say all the time that they want, a job that they love to do and enjoy doing. Don’t get me wrong. She told about the hard times and the struggle of being there and being away from her family all the time, but for the most part, what undescribable joy she experienced there. She said that it’s hard to talk to people at home sometimes because they don’t understand the gravity of the life that she has given up (she wasn’t sounding like “I’m so awesome for doing this”) but also the immense joy that she feels being there at the same time. It was just really great to be there and to see the women and to see the possibility of change and a flicker of light in an otherwise dark city. They have also opened up different locations in the region and even one prevention program near to try and combat the problem of trafficking in high risk areas.

We left there and went back to the office to meet up with Tricia (Vic’s wife) to go to Sonagachi to Love Calcutta arts. Biju’s wife Anna works there right now and she was going to be our tour guide. It is a very similar concept except they make different product but still out of old Sari’s. It was great to see a different place doing the same work, but also to see another side of the problem. We were lucky to be able to see the progression while we were there of what IJM does and the resulting work of other organizations from aftercare homes to the women having jobs afterwards.

After that we headed back to the office and met up with the men. They had a really great end to the training and the relationship building aspect of it was so key to the whole process. They weren’t eating dinner, and Julia and I had been invited to go over to Liz, Aimee, and Kari’s apt to hang out so we opted for that. Their cleaning woman was also making them dinner so we were going to get a home cooked meal that I was looking forward to very much. We had a truly amazing meal per usual, and then Liz made this chocolate sauce that we had on some ice cream to top it all off. We had such a great time at their place hanging out with them and just talking and getting to know each other more. I think I may have already mentioned this but I love getting to know people, and especially people who are ‘doing’ things for the kingdom. I think the coolest people I have ever met are the ones I have met abroad who are doing different kind of work but all have such a cool story of how they got there and what they want to do later. All that being said…I do love the people I know at home too ☺

We stayed there pretty late and then got a cab back to the hotel to get ready for our last day of touring. I wasn’t honestly looking forward to it very much but it ended up going really great and a nice way to end the trip.

Friday Mar 4

So Julia and I had high hopes for getting up at 530am and going to the flower market…but needless to say that didn’t happen. We had to get up at 7am anyway to go and see Khushboo before she went to school because we wouldn’t see her again. She was wonderful, and so sad to see us go, but we took lots of pics and gave lots of hugs as well. She is a precious girl that I have come to enjoy as much as I could in one week. We went to the office after that to do mastergame (essentially trivia) and devotion. Jay was doing devotion and had asked us to all say a little something about what our time had meant to us. He was speaking from Romans about Paul and the church in Rome being mutually encouraging to each other. Also, he was talking about how he was wanted to get to Spain but from all accounts we don’t think he ever made it there, but that perhaps God put Spain on his heart to make him write a letter to the Romans, which then ended up being an extremely important part of the New Testament. He made the connection that maybe some things are on our hearts, but that it’s for the purpose of getting something done in the present and not even about the actual thing. When it was my turn, I said that I had this image of India (having never been) that it was this dark and Godless place, but that being there and seeing the work IJM was doing in the city, and the flicker of light that it produced was extremely encouraging, as well as the individual people that were there and actually being the hands and feet of Jesus. I also referenced a devotion that I read the night before about a command that Jesus told Peter in John 21, to “feed my sheep”. These interns and employees are feeding the sheep in real and tangible ways and it was so great to witness that and to be able to pray with them and for them in all they are struggling with. We were told that there was going to be a mission that night to rescue a Nepali girl who was 16 and had been spotted in a brothel in Sonagachi. We got word when we touched down in Germany that the mission had been successful and they got that girl and one other and arrested 2 pimps. It’s so crazy. So after devotion and mastergame we went and packed up our stuff and headed off to explore the city. We went to the Victoria Memorial, New Market, and Hogg Market to do touristy things. It was a nice day with the guys and being able to be with them during the day since we hadn’t pretty much the whole week.

For dinner that night Vic wanted to take us out to dinner to the Hyatt for our last meal. To say that was a change of scenery is an understatement. It was beautiful, even by American standards. We had a wonderful meal and it was the 4 of us, Vic, Tricia, Biju, Anna, Catherine, Aimee, and Kari. The time spent with them was great and really nice to get to kind of decompress a little bit. Everyone but Biju, Anna, and Catherine left after dinner and we hung out in the lounge of the hotel for a few more hours because our flight from Calcutta wasn’t leaving until 230am and we didn’t want to get to the airport that early. When we did finally tell everyone goodbye and head to the airport, I was exhausted. I hate goodbyes and especially in places that I have truly come to enjoy the time and people I am spending time with. We boarded the plane and I was asleep right as we took off. I slept for a good 4 hours and it was great. The sleep schedule never really got easy there so it was just more of when I’m tired, I take a quick nap. We flew 10 hours to Germany, and then had a 3 hour layover, and then boarded for another 10 hour flight to the states. I was really tired of sitting by the end of all that.

We arrived at 4pm Saturday and Ash came and picked me up and we spent the next 4 hours talking and catching up. I’m really fortunate that I have someone who genuinely asks how it was and wants to hear the long version. We went and had dinner with my mom and brother Chris. After that I needed to pack for Colorado and I was pretty much falling asleep so it was time to finally go to bed, in my bed!

I’m looking forward to the time away from home, but still home in the US to begin to process a little and be able to be MIA from “real life”.

I don’t know that I am ready to write or process, but I’m sure it will come.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In a zoo...

So this morning began the police training but as Julia and I heard more about it and realized that it wasn't at the IJM office we decided that we had other things that we wanted to get done here. We went downstairs and told the men good luck and that we would be praying for them and then we came back upstairs and got ready for our day. We went to the office for devotion and singing. We sang "In Christ Alone" (one of my favs) and then one of the Indian men in there told a devotion on the parable of the lost sheep. It was really nice. Since we didn't have any set plans we offered to help do anything around the office. Since there is a donor trip next week, we helped to clean the aftercare teams office and fill some bags that they give to the girls once rescued. We spent the entire morning doing that and then we went to get some lunch with some of the interns there. It was south indian food, and it was GREAT!!! Oh my...I will miss the food for sure. American food really is not even close. Indian food is just so tasty!! I could go on and on but I won't. After lunch we went to Anohki and to another place to get some gifts and things (did a little tourist type thing). I do have to say something else about food though. We went to this famous tea place called Dolly's and I wanted something iced but didn't really know what to order, so I just ordered something called ice tea with a dallop and cocoa. was pretty much an ice cream sundae but with chai tea instead of milk. It was the oddest and best tasting thing. I almost ordered a second one because it was so good. Not that I would try and do that at home but it sure was great. When in India....

We headed back to the office after that to meet up with Jay and James but they weren't there so we went to the hotel. We chatted with Jay about the police training some which was good to hear about. They said it went well and even though it wasn't as much instruction as it was relationship building, it was what was needed. I think that is one of the biggest things...they generally know a lot about what "should" be done but they just don't do it, so creating a stronger relationship with them and the higher ups is the key to making change happen. Anyways...they were also really impressed with James and asked him all sorts of questions like "why did 9/11 happen?", and "where is Bin Laden?" Clearly things he knows a lot about lol.

So we came back to our room after and decided to head out to dinner. We needed to go and see Kushboo again, who was very excited as usual that we were there to see her. Then we went to dinner at Banana Leaf and got the same thing that we got for lunch, except it tasted much different. Not better or worse, but just different good. It was a good thing we walked both ways because I was stuffed and needed to walk some to get not so full!!! It was quite amusing though because we were sitting in this room and we were the only white people there (shocking) and literally every person in the room was staring at us. Like was like we were in a zoo and we were the main attraction. Moving along...we headed back to the hotel after dinner...and about a block away from the hotel this dog started following us. The dogs here are majority not domesticated and really just sleep all day, but then apparently form packs at night and get vicious. So I was like wouldn't that be great if we got attacked by a dog in we stopped to see if he would continue on and he didn't, he stopped right beside us. And he was a bigger dog than most of the other ones that I think I could take in a fight. (family...these are not ga dogs, they would kill her; i know this because i saw a domesticated dog on a leash and 2 street dogs started after it and the owner was carrying a stick and turned around and went the other way). Crazy. Anyways...we thankfully did not get attacked and then referred to the dog as our security escort. No rabies for me. We are back at the hotel and tired from our walk heavy day.

Tomorrow we are going to Kalighat (another red light area) tomorrow to Sari bari, and then to Sonagachi again to go to Love Calcutta. Both of those organizations are formed for either ex 'line workers' or their children to make money a different way. The director Biju's wife, Anna works with Love Calcutta so she will be taking us there. I'm excited to go back and see them on foot. Anyways...that is all for now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Sin dulls our senses"


Last day with the girls at the homes, which was sad but also a really great day. We went to Liluah again first and spent the morning and early afternoon there. At first we handed out their pictures that we had cut and pasted on paper to fit the frame. They were so excited about them, and lined them up and just looked at them. I don't know that they ever have had a picture of themselves before and it was just such a small thing that could even be done for them. After that we did some more stuff with them. They split up and one group worked on making cards and one group made bracelets with beads. It was nice to get to just sit down with them and work on something together. I guess it shouldn't have been all that surprising but they were so good at both of the crafts. They were still doing them when we left...and we left all the stuff that we had taken there. They probably had enough beads and string to make jewelry for a year. From there we went straight to Mahima. We had a shorter time there because Vic called us on the way and asked if we wanted to ride down to Sonagachi with them. I definitely wanted to do that and so that meant we had to cut out time short at the other home. Once we got there we ate lunch (excellent indian again) and then made journals with the girls. It's humbling to see how much joy they get from doing something that I would find just ordinary. Such is life I suppose. We left the pictures there for the girls to put them in the frames and headed back to the office so we could meet the others.

Once we arrived back to the office we piled 9 people into an SUV (driver, James, Jay, Julia, Vic, John, Voratida, Catherine, and I) and headed on our way. I was in the very back, like in the trunk part lol. I got to talk to some of the other interns who were super nice and it's always so intriguing to me to meet other people and to hear their stories and how they got to be in Calcutta, especially from all over. I could go on about that for days though. The Sonagachi area is the red light district and is about a 500 meter stretch of road off the main road where approximately 6000-10000 sex workers are at any given time. Vic stopped the car before we turned on the street and put a camera in the headlight of the car to do some investigative work. We weren't stopping or getting out of the car or taking pictures. He showed us where 2 main Nepali brothels are and then there were girls standing outside of the other brothels as well. There looked to be some girls who were underage or borderline. There wasn't a single one smiling or looking happy to be there (for obvious reasons). When we slowed down and got to look inside of some of the alleyways, we saw a man paying a girl. It's weird because there were few differences between that street and any other in terms of people standing around and a lot of noise and loitering, yet the presence of the girls and their clothes were a big giveaway. It's also one of those things where you don't really want to think about it, but something that I made myself do...for purposes of this trip, and for my own interest. I want to remember the girls faces and not have it be something that is just abstract or a statistic. So that was pretty much it on the street and we headed back to the office.

Once there we walked back to the hotel and debriefed in our room. It was good to hear about the men's day and to tell them about our day and just share how we are feeling and what we have been experiencing. Then Julia and I went to see her friend Kushboo at her house. Julia had gotten her some presents from the states and needed to give them to her. She was beyond excited!! We went to their "other home" which was essentially a larger able to be locked room like the other one. So very crazy how people live!! She was so excited about her presents and of course her parents were there and gave us some mango soda and then some coffee. They offered chips but we turned them down because we felt bad about it. After that little adventure we came back to the hotel for the night. Since we stayed up till 2am last night we are trying to go to bed earlier tonight!!

Tomorrow the training starts and Julia and I have some things that we need to get done around town so we will be heading that up! More to come...3 more days!!!