Wednesday, February 29, 2012


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 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 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 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.



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


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 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.


Monday, February 20, 2012


“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


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, 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


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.

Wahoo India!!


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.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

here comes the sun

So...I know there are those out there that are complaining about the weather being way too warm and all that other nonsense but I will not be one of them.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some cold weather.  Snow, boots, hats, scarves, seeing your name it, I like it.  That being said...I just like the weather.  I mean that in general.  Call me crazy, but I am just content.  Freezing in February, bring it on.  65 in February, I'm good with that too.  Whatever.  The only time I can really say I am just over the weather is those excruciating days in the middle of summer that are immediately sweating when you walk out the door.  I DO NOT like that!  Anyway...I digress.  Today was a beautiful day.  Because of said beautifulness I led groups outside at Wellspring so I got to sit outside with the girls for 2 hours and it was just perfection.  Also, I didn't have clients tonight at our Hope Center so I got to come home from work and actually go for an hour walk.  It was just squeal worthy honestly.  Those 3 hours of time outside today really just gave me such a happy high for reals!  I love the sun. The end.