Sunday, December 16, 2012

4 weeks

In 4 weeks I will be embarking on the biggest journey of my life thus far.  To say that I am excited or nervous would be far too easy.  Like those fancy drinks you get at trendy eateries (Leon's), I am a complex mix of emotions that has such depth and layers.  Due to the fact that I am still processing through what those all are, I will leave them for a later post (maybe).  An interesting aspect about this time before I leave is that it is also the season of Advent.  The time of waiting in eager anticipation of the Lords birth.  I love Christmas.  I love the season of cooler weather, scarves, hanging with friends and family, and ultimately of the birth of our Savior.  It seems to be in perfect conjunction with what I am experiencing at this time in my life.  I am waiting and anticipating Christmas, as well as leaving for India...while at the same time trying to be as present as possible in my daily life.  To do these things with patience is a difficult thing.  There is a tension between wanting the time to slow down and expectantly wanting to be in India.  The Lord has, is, and will be preparing me and I am so thankful for that.  Everything is falling into place in ways that I could not have expected, but am also not surprised about.  During this waiting period I am trying, but mostly I am releasing.  I have given up trying to see everyone I want to before January 16.  I have given up things I think I deserve and clinging to the fact that all God promised me was his presence and love.  All the rest is a gift, so I will enjoy my gifts this Advent season.

More to come...  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Transition

Some stream of consciousness writing for hump day...

I have been reading things recently (let's be clear...I read things a lot), like this smart girl, from this great book, this beautiful mess, or this little gem.  I am fully cognizant of the humor that is my love of blogs/online articles...I get the joke and actually am in on it as well.  You know what my reading is at its core though is a love of people.  Whether that is faith, fashion, political, kid, woman, or adoption based...I just love being privy to how people think and conduct their lives.  I have no shortage of interesting people who bring such perspective to my life on a daily basis.  Why is any of this important you ask?  Well because hypothetically it is really easy to be in a place of lack of motivation when you have graduated from school and are in a transitional time in your life.  Of course I don't have any first hand knowledge of what that must be like, but I have just heard.  All kidding aside, I went on a walk today with a friend who is in a similar boat as I am and we were discussing how easy it is to get in a rut of the status quo and how to be able to step back and be more big picture minded.  Sometimes all it takes is going on a walk with a friend or reading something, and for that I am thankful.  I hope for it to always be that simple. The end.



"You were designed to feel this awkward because it drives you to find life."     

“When we learn to be aware of what is around us as well as in us, we begin to connect with the rest of the world in new ways. We become conscious of little things and their beauty. We come to see obscure things and their meaning. We are touched by quiet things and their power. When we learn to be where we are, we gain perspective on life. Yesterday loses its hold and tomorrow loses its allure. Where we are becomes the ground of our salvation, the reason for our joy and the acme of our achievement.” —Joan Chittister 

"Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people." ~George Bernard Shaw

Monday, July 2, 2012

C.S. Lewis

Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it — made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.
- from The Problem of Pain

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a little something

I saw this on pinterest and decided i could do it...though a little messier. Voila!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Audrey


For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

- Audrey Hepburn

Friday, April 13, 2012

life

“life is not easy for any of us. but what of that? we must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. we must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” – Marie Curie

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

that's where I belong...

Today was one of those days that was just great.  So much happened and there would just be so much to say but I want to focus it somewhat.  I will say that I seriously had the best time with my co-workers at Wellspring today and think they are some of the most fun people.

The point of this post, however, is about a graduation.  More like a double graduation actually.  I mean that we had a girl graduate not only the Victory program, but also she received her high school diploma!  Yes, not her GED, but her high school diploma!  What a freakin accomplishment (and in her own words she is the first person in her mothers family to get a high school education)!!  I truly love all the girls but it makes it all the more special when it's one of my girls graduating.  I have had 3 girls graduate the program and it really never gets old, they are just as special each time.  The day started out with her high school graduation in the chapel where she received her diploma, and that was followed by lunch and her graduation from the program.

If I had to choose a "best part" of the whole day, it would definitely be her speech.  She was not wordy but to the point, but also very open about her gratitude for absolutely everything and everyone who got her to where she is today.  This girl is 18 with her whole life in front of her and more 'stuff' in her past than so many people I know and to see how far she has come in the last 7 months just blows me away.  Blows me away I tell you!  Let's just say she was not filled with gratitude months ago.  Side note:  A preconceived notion I had before starting at Wellspring was that these girls who are victims of exploitation are sweet little girls who have been taken advantage of.  While that is partly true, they are also teenagers who have been used over and over again.  This definitely causes trust issues, anger, resentment, frustration, fear....I could go on.

So there were days I met with this particular girl and she walked out of therapy slamming the door, days where she cussed, not at me but to me about how unfair her whole life is, days where she refused to stay in session and she went and laid on the couch, days where she refused to talk and just stared at me, days where she said she didn't care about anyone or anything but herself...you get what I'm saying.  In this girl's defense, she had a right to be upset, angry, and resentful.  You know what else this girl had though was determination, strength, and a mighty severe reverence for the Lord.  And you know what changed all of the above mentioned negative stuff was the Lord, the real change agent at work in these girls lives.  It really never ceases to amaze me what kind of turn around can come in their hearts, and I get to witness that.  I witnessed it today as that beautiful young woman stood up to give her speech and thanked all those around her who were there for her, but mostly thanked the Lord for his provision in her life.  Who am I that I got to be a part of this girls life and share in that experience.  It really is just super humbling.  The end.    

Monday, April 9, 2012

too good


So I really have the best friends ever, who are supportive, precious, and loving.  Two such amazing friends wrote to me last night (whilst I was trying to finish writing a pesky paper) and I just wanted to highlight them.


From my dearest blond liz; good luck; you are awesome and will dominate and are sooooo close to finishing its not even funny!! and jesus rose today so there is LIFE and he will provide ALL that is needed for this paper ! you are his daughter who he wants to help and you are soo good and smart and pretty and kind and have a great heart!!!! and jeezy will do great things through you!! MOTIVATION!!!! KICK IT!!!!
BOOM TIME!!!

From my sweet lil pep; I think you just have to recognize that this is the reality of where you're at. It's normal and to be expected. You know that you're ALMOST there and these last few papers don't matter THAT much in the big scheme of things so it would be easy to blow them off. But that being said...you also know that you just have to get them done. In whatever fashion you can. Allow yourself to walk away and play...but just get it done.

My professor talked today about grieving the loss of connections and friendships with the forthcoming graduation;  well I don't want to grieve or say goodbye, this just a continuation in a different way of relating.  I'll be done with school, and just have to be willing to make the effort to spend time with these people who I have adventured with for the last 2 years.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

In the gap

"Augustine of Hippo's understanding of the Christian faith; that human nature is fallen, wounded, and frail, standing in need of the healing and restoring grace of God.  The church, according to Augustine, is rather to be compared to a hospital than to a club of healthy people.  It is a place of healing for people who know that they stand in need of forgiveness and renewal.  The Christian life is a process of being healed from sin, rather than a life of sinlessness, as if the cure were completed and the patient restored to full health.  The church is an infirmary for the sick and for the convalescents.  It is only in heaven that we will finally be righteous and healthy."


<3

Friday, April 6, 2012

Freedom for all...

There were two blog posts this week by Wellspring that I just loved.  Yes, one of them was about me and my experience with getting to share my time in India with the girls, which is just a big ::sigh::

The other post though, was written by my supervisor and the clinical director at the girls home, and a woman who I admire in so many ways.  I can't express more than just sharing these two blog posts right now because I have yet to even process this whole experience for myself, and definitely am not able to adequately express it in words.  I wanted to post them anyway, and it just seemed fitting to do it on Good Friday.  It is easy to get wrapped up in ourselves with regard to Easter and how Jesus died for us (which is obviously true).  However, in thinking about these girls, I also whole heartedly know he died for them, and the girls in India, and the girls all over the world who are in in the grips of slavery.  Too good.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Kolkata loving

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” — Mother Teresa

Monday, March 19, 2012

"He takes no pleasure in making life hard"

-Lamentations 3:33

So I've been blatantly ignoring the pull/urge/need to write this blog.  It has been festering in my mind for over a week and yet I still have resisted.  The reason being is I have been happy.  I didn't want to sit in sadness or loss or pain.  I think that is pretty great reason because I don't actually know many people who enjoy feeling those things.  Honestly though, sometimes I don't mind feeling those things because it makes times where I feel happiness all the greater because I have experienced the other end of the spectrum.  This was not one of those times though.

Here in Atlanta Spring has sprung in its fullness and utter beauty that just makes me grin from ear to ear.  I don't have allergies so I welcome the onslaught of new life and new blooms with very few grumblings (limited to there being an endless supply of pollen on my car at ALL times).  This is, however, a different kind of spring that I do not recall ever having gone through so much all at one time.  I think I am in a sort of season of loss, which juxtaposes quite nicely with the new birth of all the beauty around me.  Hence the lack of desire to write this blog on loss because I am also overcome with joy and love for all that is going on around me and within me.

Maybe this is just a part of getting older, but I have been privy to a lot of people around me dealing with death/loss in one way or another.  I feel the need to compile a list...not because I want to complain, but because I want to actually do the opposite.  I want to name and give 'voice' to what has been bubbling beneath the surface.  So here goes...I lost my computer with all of my memories for the last 4 years on it; I had to put my dog down after 12 years;  had to let go of a situation; a friend's cousin is very ill; a female client lost one of her best friends to a freak hiking accident; a male client lost his father after many years of not speaking; a woman who worked at Sari Bari passed away after a long fight; a friend is getting a divorce; one of the girls from Wellspring left unexpectedly; a friend lost a baby; and another friend lost the hope of adopting a baby.

I could go on, but those are just the major things that are happening to people around me or to me personally.  There is so much hurt going around with the people that I deeply care for and that is just a fact of life, there is nothing that I can do to change those situations.  What I can do is pray, be present, listen, and hope...all things that I am good at (I could be much better at praying, but I'm trying).

In contrast to all of those things that are 'going wrong' though, I really could make a list that was 10 times as long of things that I am thankful for.  I understand, so much better than I used to, the promises God made us, and what he did not promise.  I read about that in Larry Crabb's book The Pressure's Off, and it significantly impacted the way I view 'bad' things and God.  With all that being said, what is a girl to do with all these contrasting feelings and emotions.  Part of me wants to sulk in the sadness of some of the events that have happened, while the other part of me just wants to go on walks in the park with friends and enjoy nature.

You know what I have realized though (through much help from my awesome therapist), is that I feel things very deeply, and it does not take away from my happiness to experience and sit with the sad feelings; just as it does not take away from the pain when I want to be present and live out my joy.  I am able to do both, it is just a matter of navigating and holding those deep emotions at the same time.  My therapist once told me that the ability to 'hold' and 'experience' many deep and contrasting emotions was a sign of maturity (brain wise) because younger people generally cannot juggle such vastly different emotions at the same time.  Well...if that's what getting older looks like, then sign me up.

As much as I run away from my less than awesome emotions, (which doesn't last long, because they find me) I can't imagine a life where I don't feel all the ranges of my emotions.  That is how God made me, and that is a big, huge, splendid thing.  This past year, and more specifically the last 4 months or so has been an unbelievably stretching experience, and yet if someone would have asked me a year ago if I could handle what I am currently juggling I would have said no.  God has filled in that gap and provided in ways that I could never have been prepared for.  "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done" Luke 22:42.  This world is drenched with joy and sorrow, and I'd rather have both than neither any day of the week.

So in the spirit of this year, I am surrendering.  Conscious effort daily.

"But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand" Psalm 10:14   

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"she has on my shoes"


Our last day in Kolkata we had to get up earlier than the other days because we were supposed to be leaving at 830 to go to Mahima home.  We were all also moving into one hotel room because we had to check out of the other ones but we wanted to keep one to be able to get ready in that night.  Our driver was running late but it all ended up working out fine.  Mahdu was coming with us again and I was really happy about getting to spend some more time with her.  She is really so awesome.  Chris got to come with us to Mahima because they allow men to come and volunteer.  We were not going to the same home as last year but the transition home instead and all the girls from the girl home were being brought over.  It took about an hour to get there from our hotel because of traffic and the small roads.  There were some of the same girls that were there last year and a few of them remembered Julia and I. 

Julia’s friend Kari who used to live in Kolkata and work at Mahima had made a quilt that she sent back with us, along with a card.  Julia showed the quilt and read the card for all the girls.  Julia didn’t know what the card said or anything but it turned out that it was a total tear-jerker and almost all the girls were crying or tearing up because they love and miss her being there. 

We started by doing the quilt squares, which they seemed to really enjoy.  They were all so talented and almost all of them were stitching and doing beading that was really just so impressive.  It was really so cool to watch and be a part of.  Because we had some left over, the 5 of us got to do a square as well.  I had never sewn before but I decided that I wanted to do my initials and it was really so much harder than I imagined it would be.  The attitude and atmosphere in the home is just so much different than Sanlaap.  I knew that Mahima was better than any of the other homes but it is just really shocking seeing it again.  Mahima would be more like Wellspring than any of the other ones.  The girls were sharing their beads and not hoarding them all, and they could more so be trusted with the needles and voluntarily came up to us and gave them back.  It was just a totally different experience for sure. 

We had some lunch at the home after the quilt squares.  I can honestly say it was the best meal I had while in India.  It was just really tasty but not super spicy (my favorite kind of Indian food)…and in addition to that we had some Indian style French fries.  The hospitality that we were shown not only at this home but everywhere that we went was just so much more than needed but so kind.

The next craft we did was the dream catchers and some of the dreams that the girls put were really cool to read.  One girl put that she wanted to work for the IJM office when she was an adult.  I thought that so really moving and another different between those girls and the girls at the other home.  They are given so much more attention and not as starved for love as it seems Sanlaap is.  I think they really liked the dream catchers…and really both activities that we did with them.  

When we had finished them both we decided to go ahead and tie the quilt together and do a reveal for the girls.  They seemed to really love getting to see it all together and it looked so awesome to see all their work in the quilt.  We had them do 2 squares each so that they could keep one and we could take one back to the states to make a quilt. 

Probably my favorite part of the day involved being able to give the things that the girls at Wellspring had done for them and being able to share some of what I do with those girls there.  I didn’t hand out the things, but just read through the poster that one of the girls made and the girls really seemed to love it.  The poster just said some things about how even though they didn’t know them how they understood and were going through the same thing.  A few of the girls were crying and it was just such an amazing time.  The girls told me to tell the girls in Atlanta that they loved them too and to try and keep in touch.  I loved being able to link together the issue in a domestic and international sense because it definitely combines my passions for the issue.  They asked me questions about Wellspring and it was nice to be able to share some of my knowledge with them about what I do and why I love it.  I obviously had a translator for the whole thing because the girls only know a small amount of English, and I wanted to make sure they understood what it was that they were getting.  We decided also that the quilt that we were taking back to the states was going to be given to the girls at Wellspring because they wanted to be able to do something for them and that turned out to be a perfect way.  It really all just made my heart so happy, and it was all such a sweet moment. 

After all of that we were all pretty spent and just really so thankful for the day and really humbled for being able to be there with those girls and hang out with them for some time.  We left and headed towards a place that Mahdu wanted to show us, that was another place for shopping near where she lived.  So we went to this local place called Sienna that is all locally made.  From there we parted ways with Mahdu until later in the night and we headed to Anohki for our last “event” of the trip.  It was one of my favorite places to go in the mall for things last year and it is just such a cute store.  We spent some time in there and then got some coffee…I actually got an iced chai latte, which was amazing (though not as good as the sundae).  We headed to dinner from there because it was right across the street.  We went to this place called Kewpies.  I hadn’t been there before but we essentially got this feast of a meal that consisted of about a million small little bowls that had all sorts of things in it and of course we had rice and poori and it was really a great end to the trip both location and food wise. 

From dinner we got our driver to bring us back to the hotel and we all took turns taking showers and finishing up packing.  Julia and I went first because she had wanted to go get henna and see Khushboo.  So we went to her house and she was there with her family and she was so sweet…she gave both Julia and I presents and of course some food.  She was mad that we hadn’t come the previous day, which we both felt really bad about but time had run out and we had not been able to make it happen.  I had written her a note with my number on it so that she could keep in touch if she wanted.  We asked her if she wanted to go to get henna with us and we were meeting Kelly and Leslie so we could all go together.  The 5 of us went to get a cab and we went to ghariahut to get it done and they were closed but they said they would do it for 400 rupees for just one hand…well clearly Khushboo was having none of that so she was just talking and we were walking away and then after much bargaining by our awesome friend, she got them to do all 4 of our palms for just 400 rupees total.  Even then Khushboo was unhappy that we were paying that much for it all.  She does not like that Indians always try so much to rip off westerners and she definitely tries to let that not happen when we are with her.  It was a fun experience to be with her again though, especially because we had to leave shortly after that.  

When we got back to the hotel we had to say goodbye to her and then get all our stuff ready to go to the airport.  It was a relatively quite trip to the airport as well as waiting for our flight.  I was really hyper before we got on the plane but once we got in our seat (Julia and I were in the very last row on that flight) I was asleep before we even took off and I slept for about 4 hours and then on and off for the next 2.  I was clearly in need of sleep. 

We had about a 4 hour layover in Germany where we did some picture swapping, and ate at Mcdonalds.  We were all pretty tired and ready to get back.  The flights were not bad though and they went by relatively quickly (most likely because there was so much sleeping going on).

 Our henna

The quilt Kari made for the girls at Mahima

Our awesome quilt squares

Delicious food

letters for the girls at the home

The finished quilt the girls made

Our final indian meal

"that tasted like alka seltzer"



So today we had a bit of a touristy day...we had our breakfast and then went to the IJM office for master game and devotion.  Julia made the master game and separated the teams and of course my team won.  Kelly led the devotion in the office and that was really good to spend that time in prayer with the office and to continue sharing experiences with them.  After we left there we went to the mother house (the sisters of charity where mother Theresa lived. We went there last year as well but it was still really nice to go there and its just such a peaceful place within the city.  Also when we went there last year it was really crowded because there was a mass going on so it pretty empty there this year and easier to walk around and experience the place. 

From there we went to see the Victoria Memorial and St. Johns cathedral just to take some pictures.  I’m not exactly a “touristy” person, it was cool to see all the things but definitely not a highlight of the trip.  Julia and I wanted to have some sweet lime soda from the street so we got this man to make us some.  Let’s just say that it was not up to par with any of the places that we had previously had it.  It had some masala spices in it and it kind of tasted like spicy alka seltzer.  It was really bad and although I was trying to be nice and drink most of it, I really just couldn’t handle it.  Julia was smarter and tried to pour some out behind a tree but she ended up pouring a lot of it on her feet so they were sticky for a while after we left.     

We headed back to the hotel after that and then went to meet Rupa for lunch at Udipi.  Rupa is Nepali and does ministry work with professional people about leadership as Christians.  She also does aftercare things with girls from Nepal and working to do prevention work in Nepal.  She is such an amazing woman and has an incredible story of her faith journey.   It was really nice to get to visit with her and hear about what she has been doing and keep up with her life. 

When we left lunch we went to fabindia to do some shopping, followed by going to Dakshinapan.  Last year we went to this team room called Dolly’s and I had this chai tea sundae essentially.  It was so delicious and I had been looking forward to getting another one in this year.  I had not hyped it up and it was just as delicious as I remembered.  I really like chai, even though I used to think that it tasted like insence in my mouth. 

Biju and Ana invited us to dinner at their house that night and so after we left there we went for dinner with them and some of the interns.  They got take out from Tamarind (a place we had eaten at a few days before) and it was delicious.  It was nice to get to hang out and spend more time with the interns and converse with them some about life and all that.   We had the idea to do a prank on Mahdu while we were there because we heard that she really liked pranks and so we had a faux group photo op and had Gabriel pick her up (because she is tiny) like she was simba in the Lion King.  It was hilarious and she was so mad about it.  Well she wasn’t really mad but only kind of mad. 

It was pretty late at that point so Biju walked us to the cab and was telling us about an operation that had just happened that was successful and how the girl had run away to the police station and the man at the police station had been at the training that James did when he was in India.  To be able to see something that was tangible and evident of how important it is for the training and just seeing an example of how it really is working was awesome.  After we left we pretty much all just crashed after our devotion time.  


Last day in the office


Mother Theresa's tomb

Victoria memorial

Our "yummy" sweet lime soda

My delish chai float

Thursday, March 1, 2012

"have my baby"

Well today was no different from yesterday in terms of being totally pooped.  We continued our morning routine, and at this point its like we're in the movie groundhog day.  The only bad thing is that they don't like to bring the coffee until the end of the meal and because we are usually running late I never get to finish it and it is so delicious...but that is neither here nor there.

We left the office and headed to Sanlaap again today and we had one of the aftercare workers from the office coming along as well as Mahdu.  When we got there we set up right away and we were in the same setup as yesterday because we wanted to be with the same girls.  Since 2 of the groups had already gotten to do the dreamcatchers, they just did the beading and then did finger painting before lunch.  My group and another group needed to do the dreamcatchers so we did that and the beading before lunch.  It was really neat because Mahdu stayed in my group for most of the day and after we finished them she explained what they were and we handed out slips of paper and asked the girls to write down what their goal or dream in life was.  Some of the girls could not write, so Mahdu wrote for them.  It was just a really cool experience to see what these girls had envisioned for their lives and what dreams they wanted for themselves.  I feel that it gave us a better picture of the girls personalities for sure.  Also, yes I realize we changed what a dreamcatcher was originally used for but that is beside the point.

After that we had some lunch and I got to talk to Mahdu about Wellspring and we talked about similarities and differences between the girls and how they act and respond to things in their lives.  It was a really good conversation and she is just so very awesome.  She is from Chennai and has been in Kolkata for about 4 months working with IJM on the aftercare team.  

Our next activity after lunch was to decorate fabric squares that were meant to be tied together to make a community quilt.  We had paint, fabric markers, beads and thread for them to use.  It was a little bit difficult because Mahdu was going to help Julia with the project and so she gave the instructions but then left so I was left for a little bit trying to sign language with the girls (which always turns out to be funny).  The girls were not exactly understanding the concept of sharing, although I don't blame them because it is not that often that they get to do crafts like this so I understand why they want the most beads or colors or paint.  I am always amazed by how crafty the girls are, and am just in awe of how they are able to do all the creative things they come up with.  One of my girls who I found out she was just 10, drew a picture with my name on it that was so sweet.  She put her name beside my name with our ages next to it as well. 

I also had this woman ask me to hold her new baby which was awesome but I also think she just wanted to not hold her for a few minutes because she would not let me give her back and my arms were sweating from holding her for so long.  

After they finished with those, it was time to set up for their "exhibition"...we moved tables and hung some string around the outdoor pavilion and hung their work on it.  Because we can't take pictures of the girls, we knew we wanted to have some pictures of the work that they did and it was just amazing seeing it all there together and completed.  They seriously did such a great job with all of it and I was so impressed.  That lasted a little bit of time but then it was time to say good bye.  We gave the girls hugs and thanked the staff for allowing us to come and experience the home and do that stuff with the girls.  It is such a touching experience to only be with some kids for a short amount of time and to see some of them begin to attach to you and want to hug you or touch you.  It makes my heart so happy, I could just do that all day long.  I know there is so much that can be communicated just by attitude and body language.  It was sad to go but we were all very tired after being there all day.

On the way home from there we were talking in the car and we found out that Mahdu had been kicked out of her home because she was a Christian.  She was talking about how it was so nice that our families let us come and take a week off and things like that, and I was thinking well of course they let me come because I'm doing something kingdom related.  I know that there a probably many different people with stories like that but this is the first one that is so severe that I have heard and it just made me so thankful and grateful for being a part of a family of Christians and that we are so close and love and support one another.  Knowing that they are a kind of safety net is very comforting, especially being far away.  

When we got back to the hotel we did a quick freshen up and then went off to dinner with some of the IJM interns at a place right near our hotel.  It was nice to have a chill dinner and laugh with them about our day and just life.  Chris came back from his day with the investigative intern and it sounded like he had a productive day as well so that was good to hear.  We had 'chinese' although it seemed more like thai food and it was really good.  After dinner we went to see Khushboo and her family for a little bit.  We came back to the hotel and did our debrief time and then just all came to our own rooms cause we were so tired.  We are doing some touring around tomorrow so I can't wait to write about all that tomorrow night!

me with the random baby :)

All of their great work

My little friends piece with my name on it

the girls with Mahdu

visiting with Khushboo and teaching Julia how to make chapati
  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sanlaap

So today was the first day that we were going to the aftercare home.  We had our usual morning (breakfast, devo time, IJM office morning routine) and then we were off to Sanlaap (which is one of the homes-we didn't go there last year).  It is a little bit outside the city and so we had our same driver from a few days before so he was determined to get us there as quickly as possible.

We arrived a little after 11 and started to get set up.  The director of the home told us that we were going to be split up into 4 groups, one for each of us (Julia, me, Leslie, and Kelly), which is not what we were expecting at all.  In fact, none of us really knew what we were supposed to be doing exactly besides Julia so the fact that we were all going to be split up was a bit of a surprise.  Julia and Madhu (an IJM worker) were going to be in the receiving house where the girls who have just come into the home are and they are essentially locked in the house and are like pad locked into this half outdoor/ half indoor area that is just really sad.  I was with a group of 19 girls in an outdoor 'pavilion' of sorts, Leslie was in a room with oriental rugs (random), and Kelly was in a makeshift classroom.  We did painting of picture frames, which is a huge hit with the girls and their frames are just so awesome and colorful.  I am always surprised when I see them because they are so great!  After that we had some lunch of rice and potatoes and a hard boiled egg.  I thought it was good, but then we were told that the girls eat the same thing twice a day every day which I can imagine gets very old.  After lunch we worked on having the girls do self portraits, that actually turned out to be just the girls making an oil pastel picture of whatever they wanted, which is obviously fine.  They seemed to really enjoy making pictures though and used up every bit of our paper.

After that we realized that we didn't bring all the materials for doing our dreamcatchers so we decided to have 2 groups do them and 2 groups just play games for about an hour.  My group decided to play games, which turned out to be quite the hot mess.  At the beginning of the day I had a girl with me who spoke English but after lunch she was no where to be found, so I essentially used sign language to try and tell how to play some games.  Turns out they did not like the idea of human knot, or this other game where you criss cross hands and slap them on the ground.  Then this man who works there came over and the girls told him that my games were boring :)  and so I needed to come up with something else.  It was the man who actually thought of "speak fast" aka telephone.  I thought that was a great idea, except that I wasn't really thinking I would be playing but turns out I played the entire time.  We started playing in Bangali and I messed up the word almost every time, and so much so that the girl next to me started saying it 3 times in my ear...it was hilarious.   Then they tried to start playing in English but I still thought it was Bangali so I even messed up English words.  It was a really funny experience and nice to laugh and joke around with the girls.

Julia's and Leslie's group made the craft and Kelly played games with her group as well.  They all have really funny stories about trying to do all of that and we had a funny time explaining it all to each other on the ride home.

Post playing those games we were served some tea and chips (usual) and we headed back to the hotel.  On our ride back our trusty driver was driving crazy per usual and was talking to Madhu about how traffic laws did not apply to him because he wasn't from here ( I was unaware of that rule), but that really explains how he was running red lights past cops and driving on the wrong side of the road to beat some traffic.  I will hand it to him though because he does get us where we want to go in rapid time.  Its totally crazy that we haven't hit anyone/ been hit.

When we got back to the hotel we decided on dinner and headed straight there because we were all tired. We had another great Indian meal and talked all about our day with Chris and shared stories and such.  We came back to the hotel and realized that we didn't have enough dreamcatchers for the craft tomorrow so we spent the next few hours working on a way to make that situation work out. So after all that...it was finally time for shower/blog/email time.

We are going back to the same home tomorrow so I will follow up tomorrow!  Some pictures from our day.

At the home they have this black lab as a pet...needless to say I made fast friends.

Some of the girls frames


The sign that clearly our driver pays no mind to


Our late night crafting 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

cabin fever

So today like I said we had to stay inside all day but the day went by surprisingly fast.  We went to breakfast a little later this morning.  Then we just did our own thing till after lunch.  We decided to go ahead and make our video that is going to be shown at church on Sunday and that was a fiasco to set up a tripod camera on the sidewalk outside our hotel.  At that point Khushboo had come to meet us and she watched the whole thing and it was really hilarious.  After many takes we finally got a good one.  Our bloopers were pretty great though.

Chris setting things up with Khushboo 



After that we all came back upstairs and started working on getting organized with all the crafts and going ahead and cutting some things out so that we wouldn't have to the following days.  Khushboo stayed with us and helped us do all that.  It was really fun time to just hang out and get some things done as well.  I think Khushboo liked helping us and we got to show her pictures of our families and skype with people back home some so that was nice.  For the rest of the afternoon we just hung out and did some other things and decided where to go to dinner.  We ended up going to this great Indian restaurant and omg it was just the best thing ever...we had such great food!  I really love Indian food.  Some more pictures from our day.




After dinner since it was really quiet out because of the whole strike thing, we decided to all take a ride in an auto rickshaw.  Well we rode in separate ones but it was a really funny little adventure.  Chris, Leslie, and Kelly loved it and Chris said that he wanted to do it again tomorrow :)

We did our devo/debriefing time and then decided to call it a night so Julia and I have just been hanging since then and are about to go to bed.  We're going to one of the girls homes tomorrow to do the crafts with them and I'm really looking forward to that.  Its outside the city a little ways so that will be nice to see some more of Kolkata.


"there is restoration in producing a product & getting paid for it"

Picking up where I left off...

We left Sari Bari and went back to the office and had some lunch around there at this place called Biscotti.  After that we were going to Freeset, which is another organization that women who have been rescued from trafficking are given work and they make bags and shirts.  It is in another red light district and it is slightly north of the city so it took about an hour ride to get there.  We had such a fun time in the car ride because we have a hilarious driver who literally was crossing onto the other side of the road to get us there faster, it was insane!  The driving here is so out of control but it just is what it is and you just have to laugh about it.  Once we got there we met the head of the organization, we'll call him john (my title is something he said that stuck out to me).  He talked to us a bit about freeset and what they are, how they started, and that sort of thing.  I was really excited to get to hear about another company doing such great things for the community.  After that we went on a tour of the site, which is huge, and so much bigger than sari bari.  It is like 4 floors of working and they employ approximately 300 women who are former exploited women.  It is such a huge production and they get so much work done...it is really amazing.

We spent about 3 hours there talking and touring the place and seeing the women.  At both places we are not allowed to take pictures for obvious reasons so my description will just have to suffice.  We bought some shirts and bags there as well (cause you know we all love supporting good causes).  We needed to leave and go get some dinner after that so we had our ride take us somewhere close since our hotel was an hour away.  We went to this pizza place nearby and it was delicious!

When we got back to the hotel we did our debriefing time and just processed through everything that we had seen and heard that day.  It took a long time because of everything that was going on but it was such a nice time to reflect and hear about what other peoples experiences are of places.

Following all that we decided to go see Khushboo and her family.  All 5 of us went to her home and we (of course) had some orange soda and chips.  It was such a great time to talk and laugh with her family and to see the baby again.  It was really awesome to have the other 3 be able to meet all of them and see where they live.  They are seriously the most kind people and insist on feeding us something while we are there.  We took lots of pictures and had some good laughs as well.  We stayed there for almost an hour and then decided we need to come back to the hotel.  However, on the way back to the hotel we saw Leah on the street.  She is this 3-5 year old girl who lives on the street with her family and last year James had quite the connection with her.  She was so happy to see us and we got some good pictures with her too.

This was the longest day ever (yet all the rest of the days are going to be long as well!!)  We came back and decided to stay up a little while longer doing some things around the room and then finally went to sleep.  I will use another post to discuss what we have done today, but we are about to go to dinner now!

Leah and I


Kelly and Chris with Khushboo, her sister & baby, and her mom


"there is such freedom in commitment"

Well it is Tuesday morning here and I am just now writing the blog post for our day Monday for 2 reasons: 1. So much happens in one day spent here that I was so exhausted last night to write it and 2. We are forced to stay in our hotel for the day (I will get to that in a minute) that I knew I would essentially have the day to write as much as I wanted with a clear head and a full nights rest under my belt.  So back to the first thing...because we are here for such a short amount of time we have to fit a lot into everyday and I love that on the one hand but at the same time it is just so much to process!  Back to the 2nd reason...there is a strike (bandh) here today that is nation wide and we were instructed to stay in our hotel. While I heard it is very unlikely that anything will happen, it is just best that we don't go out.  That being said, we have a lot of time on our hands today.  We got to sleep in (to 9am) and we had some breakfast and devotion time before coming back to our perspective rooms to do different things.  Julia is working on a paper, I am writing a blog/reading, and everyone else is either watching some TV/reading/writing or something of that sort.  We plan to meet at lunch in the hotel and then work on getting stuff ready to go to the aftercare homes for the rest of the week.  Preparation is key!

Back to the devotional thing, I had been wanting to write about this for a few days.  Kelly had these devotions made for us everyday with a scripture reading and some questions, and it is just great.  We have started the day after breakfast with reading our scripture and then taking time to pray for one person at a time and anything else that may be on our heart to pray for.  I will say that I usually am not a lover of 'corporate prayer', however, I have really enjoyed that time and getting to speak truth about the group and thank God for the things each of us bring to the group.  It has turned into a great time to process what we have experienced through the lens of God's word and our knowledge of His desire for justice.

Devotional 


So...Monday

We started the day off by going to the IJM office and doing quiet time and devotional with them in the office.  I love that every morning they take time to reflect and do devotion and prayer.  It just goes to show how vital it is to stay in constant contact with God and that they know where their strength, courage, and help comes from.  Nothing that IJM or any other organization here that is working with trafficking and injustice would be possible without God empowering it.  Anyone who has been to Kolkata can tell you (and even everyone who lives here would tell you) that everything here is just so hard, never mind the fact that virtually all sides are working against the freedom of these girls and women.   I think the resistance to discouragement is only made possible by a constant faith and trust in God to rescue and redeem things in this city.

After we had our time in the office it was time to go to Sari Bari and do a tour and spend some time there.  Julia and I had been there, just the two of us, last year but I was so excited to go back.  We went back to the same unit and we weren't supposed to be given the tour by the same woman (we'll call her "amy") but it turned out that last minute something had come up with the other woman and so we did get to spend some time with "amy" from last year.  I keep up with her blog and prayer letters and so I was really excited to get to be with her again.  Just a bit of background...Sari Bari was started by 2 women who about 6 years ago were here and living in Kolkata and saw a need for an organization to assist in giving a job to a woman who wanted out of the sex trade, but did not really have any options in doing so.  That was born this amazing company which is under the umbrella of another organization called word made flesh  that has offices all over the world doing different work but essentially providing restoration, community, and jobs to the 'least of these' in areas of the world that need it the most.  I can't say enough great things about both of these companies.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time that we had at Sari Bari.  Its in a red light district of Kolkata and literally I would never be able to find it again.  If someone were giving directions it would say something like take a left after the 8th stall (selling all the same things the other stalls are selling so there is no distinction), take a left, a right, another right, and keep going.  The unit is so peaceful though, and you would never know how much was going on outside because it is so quiet back in there.  It is 3 small rooms where women sit on the floor and stitch most of the day.  They talk to each other and laugh and just go about their day as we were sitting in the "hall".  The 5 of us plus our 'tour guide' sat legs crossed on the ground talking for almost 2 hours about the company, God, and what He was doing in this city.

Honestly my favorite part of the whole thing was hearing amy talking about her job and what she loves about work and everything that comes along with it.  I think there are 3 kinds of people in regards to work 1. those that don't like what they do 2. those that are apathetic to what they do (it's just a job) and 3. those that love what they do and it emanates from every word they speak.  Amy is number 3 on that list.  When the group was discussing later in the day about our trip to Sari Bari, we all had a comment about how it was just so obvious that she loved what she does and that she has totally found her 'sweet spot' for working with survivors of this awful issue.  It literally just comes out of everything that she has to say about it, the company, and the women.  Moreover, it makes me want to be a part of it because it activates my heart and mind for the mission.  It is a beautiful thing to have found your passion and be truly living that out every day, and even when the days are rough and you are living so far away from family you love, that you know you are in the exact place that God wants you.

In addition to that, I just love Sari Bari and their model of doing community and living life with the people they are working with on a daily basis.  Amy was saying that one of their 'problems' is that they cannot make enough to keep up with demand (a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless) and that they are in need of prayers with regard to that problem.  Because of how they want to do the business, it is difficult to make enough to keep up with the demand for the product.  I know that's true first hand because every time I get an email saying they have a new shipment in, I will get online and everything is already sold out!  They are looking at ways to expand while keeping the original goal and mindset the same within the organization.  They really do life with the women in who work there and it is not just a "work" environment.  They take the women on vacations with their entire families and do rest and relaxation time with them.

I could go on and on about how much of a great experience it was to be there, but I will stop because this has been forever long!  We did get to buy some bags from there though and I love being able to literally support sari bari while we are here, but also that I can carry something around that is a conversation starter in so many ways.  From there we went back to the IJM office but I will leave that for another post!  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

India-take 2

So we are here!  After what seemed like a week of traveling we are finally here in Kolkata!  Well we actually arrived at around 12am and got to the hotel at 230am where we slept till about 730.

We got ready to go to church and had some breakfast.  We met an intern with IJM, Miriam, at our hotel and rode with her to the church.  Church was really great, it was a lot of worshipping in English and then a message that was said first in English and then translated to Bangla.  It was an interesting experience for sure!  The sermon was on how to really be a witness about Christ and how if our walk and our work are not giving glory to God then neither will our witness.  It was just a good thing to hear at the beginning of our time here and realizing that while we are not doing overt witnessing, we are always a witness for who Christ is and showing his love to everyone.  Having said that, I realize how often I fall short of that calling to show Christ's love and be a 'good' witness to others.

This morning we started the day with a devotion on Psalm 10 and one thing that I kept coming back to in my mind is just thinking of God's call for justice and defending the weak.  We are getting a small glimpse into that by being here and working with IJM.  That is what drew me to their organization in the first place was understanding how much God loves justice and when his children fight for it out of their love for him.  Such a beautiful thing.

After church we went to lunch and came back to the hotel to rest for a little bit, however, Julia and I had an impromptu meeting with Kushboo and met with her whole family as well.  It was really so great to see her again and she is such a sweet and sassy (just like me) 15 year old.  We decided that she would act as our tour guide and take us to the market so that we could look around and get some things.  I think everyone really like walking around and getting to see people actually living.  When we discussed it later at dinner, that was what most people said was a favorite part.  Walking around and interacting in that type of way with people is such an experience and especially here because there is just so much to take in and process.  We ended up walking to this park as well that was actually really pretty and kind of peaceful in the midst of this city.  After all that walking we were totally worn out so we headed back to the hotel and said bye to Kushboo (only until tomorrow though because she insists on seeing us everyday before we leave).  We decided to walk some more to a nearby restaurant that has traditional southern Indian food, and they have the best dosa's ever, I had a onion masala dosa and it was amazing!  Post dinner we came straight back to the hotel and debriefed a little from our day and decided to just call it a night because we were all so exhausted!  It's just a little after 9pm and I think I am about done for the day!

We are going to Sari Bari tomorrow and I can't wait to go back there and visit.  It was my best day of the trip last year, being able to do that so I do have some high hopes.  Until then...I am done! I will leave some pics of the trip thus far!

The group of us

Kushboo and I


Julia and Kushboo and her brother


Delicious dosa's

     

Thursday, February 23, 2012

surprised

So I really have so much that I am thankful for that I just think I'm going to write more than one post today.  I need to knock this one out before I forget it though.  So this actually happened last Thursday but at that time I wanted to write about Georgia so I knew I could find another time to write this.  Back story...at supervision last Tuesday my supervisor and I were discussing me going to India and she was saying how I could/should use that trip to do my community education project that I need to get done for school (great idea), and that I could present it to the girls during one of my groups that I do with them (double great idea).  Obviously I had not been thinking much about that and I was putting it off until the last minute but I would love to do it with the girls because I love them and I know them well so I wouldn't be as nervous.  Anywho...she also told me that I could have the girls do something for me to take (another great idea!)

So I decided that last Thursday during my group I would use the time to have them make things (if they wanted of course because we love to give them options and have some sort of control over their lives).  To my utter surprise and I could just cry about it out of happiness but the girls were SO INTO IT!  They wanted to know a lot about what I was going to be doing and who the girls were and things like that and I was just so pleased with how they were being so empathetic towards these girls.  More than one of them wrote things like "I know I don't know you, but we have been through the same thing, and you can overcome."  It really was just such an amazing and fun moment to interact with the girls in a slightly different way and be more real with them than I usually can about my life and things that are so close to my heart.  It just made me so thankful.

During the course of the 2 hours we were doing this one girl was really upset because it was almost her mom's birthday (her mom committed suicide) and she was just talking about having kids and how was she going to be able to tell them about her life and all the things that she had done.  We talked a lot about sin, forgiveness, and grace and it was just one of those 'in awe' sort of times where I am just overwhelmed by the love and grace of God and the sacrifice of Jesus, along with the knowledge that he died on that cross for me and for this girl who is working to change her life.  Gosh, I just love Jesus...

In addition, one of the other girls was in a foul mood and didn't really want to participate and then when I told her (and the group) what it was for and all that, she goes "da**, I have to make things for children in India."  I couldn't help but laugh at that.  She wanted to be tough and not participate and yet she wanted to and wanted to do this for someone else.  She actually ended up staying over an hour after group to make even more things than I had even asked for from them.

me=thankful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

prayer






“Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person. Prayer in the sense of petition, asking for things, is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctu­ary, the presence and vision and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us. That He answers prayers is a corollary—not necessarily the most important one—from that revelation. What He does is learned from what He is.” —C.S. Lewis, on prayer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Georgia

So it's not yet been a week and I decided that I wanted to write a post about being thankful for Georgia and her life and time with me and my family.  While I have been a lot better this week, it's still really weird that she isn't here anymore.  I am thankful that I don't live with my sister because every time I have been over at her house I get really sad about Georgia not being outside in the back yard, and I expect to see her out on the deck.  It's just really hard to go from seeing something every day and then just never again.  I understand that is how death works but it still just really sucks.  I miss the way she would go get her bowl and bring it up to me or just carry it around at all times like a security blanket.

I remember the day we got her and I was holding this sweet little puppy that was sleeping in my arms and I wanted that puppy.  My mom was holding another puppy who could not stay still and was super rambunctious.  Mom told me that we didn't want a puppy who didn't do anything (i.e. the puppy in my arms) so we got the one she was "holding" and I'm so glad we did.  That out of control puppy became Georgia and at 13 weeks she became my first dog.  We had always had dogs but never one that was 'mine', and I was finally getting my own dog at 15.  In all honesty, we called her devil dog for quite some time because she was SO bad!  She would get into EVERYTHING!  Blankets, pens, water bottles, silverware...you name it and she probably tried to chew it or run around with it.  It's really funny now but it wasn't so much then.  I remember she would stay inside when it was cold out and she would sleep in my room and when she was ready to get up in the morning she would sigh really loud and sit at my door until I got up to take her outside.

Being the crazy puppy she was, she ran away when she was 2 and was gone for over a month.  We didn't think she was ever coming back but then someone in our neighborhood found her and she came back pregnant (prodigal son anyone?)  Unfortunately we had no idea what dog had gotten her pregnant so we didn't keep the babies.  Also, in that crazy year, she would get out of the house a lot and chase cars (terrible) and she got hit by a car and left on the road.  Thankfully, one of my brothers friends found her and took her to the vet, who said that she would never walk again normally.  She pretty much showed them and due to swim therapy (in our backyard pool that she swam in everyday-my mom and I called it "therapy") she was walking and running around within 6 months.  She loved to swim...she would get on the diving board and jump off and get out at the ladder like a person, it was seriously great!  She would also "dive" for things too and swim down to retrieve things.  Quite the little fish she was.

When I was home my first summer after college and my mom sold the house we had had since I was born, Georgia and I sat on the front porch and I cried about moving and about how she wasn't going to have a pool to swim in anymore.  It wasn't long after that that Georgia came to live with me in Atlanta with Jeanette and her 2 puppies.  Georgia was the best of them clearly and but she tolerated their bad behavior.  I tried to let her sleep on my bed once or twice but she was completely sprawled out and I got no sleep.  Those were some good times.

When I moved out of my apartment and in with my sister and brother in law, Georgia became the family dog of the household.  We went on runs, went to the park, the river, the lake (anywhere with water essentially).  We had such a good 4 years there, and Ash and Chris learned to love her just as much (almost) as I did.  It was such a sweet time, both the living there and especially with Georgia.

So that was a really long story...but essentially I am just so thankful that I had 11 years with my sweet girl and she was always there for me to rub her ears, lay with, talk to and she loved her little life more than anything (well she loved her bowl and food more than anything but that's neither here nor there).  I'm still sad but I am very joyful and happy at the same time for being able to relish the good times that I had with her and thankful that she wasn't in pain for a long time.

Additionally, I got the sweetest present from Elizabeth and Keelin and a thoughtful note that I'll post here.


Monday, February 13, 2012

India

Two posts in one day...isn't this just crazy!?!

I have three short little things that I want to share...

1. I'm going to India in 11 days and so stoked!!!

2. Although I was going to do this anyway, I have been appointed by the group (because of my stated love for blogging and writing and things of that nature) to blog everyday while we are there and I am really excited to be able to share with even more people about our time there! woot!!

3. I haven't reached my goal yet for the trip and since Peachtree just added something on their website that you can donate online and so while this is not really my style I figured I would just post it anyway.
http://peachtreepres.org/Mission_GlobalTrips.aspx

Wahoo India!!


lateee

So I had/have what I want to write about being thankful about but I can't seem to write it yet so I will just wait on that topic.  I was late with this for a few reasons (because I couldn't write it yet) and because I had, in all honesty, quite a bad weekend.  However, with all of that being said...I'm thankful for the coming together of my fam, how well they know me, and how alike we all are.  To be able to sit around this weekend and cry together about the passing of our sweet pup, and for every other member who wasn't there that called and just knew how devastating it was, I'm thankful.  My family is seriously the best...with all the crazy comes just total love and I wouldn't be me without all of that.  Specifically my siblings and mom who are just my favs.  Totally cheesy but I'm just super blessed and I know it.

In addition, my friends were a close second to the awesomeness.  It's really humbling to be loved for and cared for by people who choose to love and care for you.  It's really too much sometimes (in a good way) to be surrounded by that.  It creates quite a standard of care and ignites a passion to strive to be better in all areas.  So for them I am thankful as well.  And just cause I wanted to post a pic of my sweet girl and I.