Thursday, January 31, 2013

Feet washing

I am so thankful to arrive when I did.  It just so happened that two teams were in town, one from the states and one from the UK.  That also meant I really had no direction for the first week but it was ok because I was able to go to aftercare homes for 3 days in the week.  On Tuesday I went to one home I had been to before with one of the teams.  I love getting to see the girls and even just see more of the city in the process.  So initially I was just going to observe and see what they were doing and spend time with the girls.  However, there was a slight change in plans and because one of the team members wasn't there I was asked if I would help out with one of their projects.  The project happened to be was feet washing, followed by doing a pedicure.  I definitely love the imagery of Jesus washing his disciples feet and think it carries along with it some powerful lessons.  It was a very interesting thing to be a part of cross culturally though, and many of the girls were very uncomfortable with it and did not want to take part in it.  I definitely don't blame them and if they didn't want their feet done then we would wash their hands and paint their nails.  I have to think that in some ways the girls were feeling some of the same things that the disciples were when Jesus said he wanted to wash their feet.  It is such a tangible way of serving someone that makes much more of an impact than just speaking things.  There were certainly some awkward parts, but those happen all the time in India.  During the process, as I am continuing to try and be as present as possible in what I do, I kept thinking how grateful I was to be in India and being able to serve a population of girls that I love so much.  As much as I have gone back and forth about the implications and repercussions of the feet washing, I am left with the thought that it did no harm, and there is great potential for good out of it.  The experience was enriching for me and I was thankfully able to process it with my boss on the way back to the office.  For better or worse, I appreciate experiences to learn, be aware, and discern from.

Journey to India

So this is what happened…I had it all planned out and it was seemingly going to work out really well timing and cost wise.  When I was waiting at the airport for my flight on Thursday, I was noticing that they weren’t clearing people from the standby list.  They kept calling for last and final warnings and yet no filling of the 21 seats left on the plane.  At long last the gate agent comes on the intercom and says that they are not adding any non revenue passengers because of weight restrictions and they were going to leave with those 21 open seats.  Welp…that wasn’t what I was expecting, the flight looked so good and I was pretty confident I would get on.  I didn’t take into account anything about weight.  So on to plan B I went.  There was a flight leaving later in the afternoon for Amsterdam and on to Mumbai that I could list myself for, and that is exactly what I did.  I waited around at the airport and the flight wasn’t looking great but they were clearing people for the flight.  So they cleared 5 names and guess which one I was on the list?  If you guessed number 6 then you would be correct.  That was a highly unfortunate series of events that left me not on the flight.   At that point I had been speaking to my brother for over an hour about my options that at the very minimum looked anything like me flying from a variety of US cities.  I told him to just look up flights and see how much they were if I were to buy one.  Surprisingly they were only about $500 more than what I paid for the buddy pass…so I made the split second decision that I would buy a flight on delta for the following day from Atlanta to Paris to New Delhi.  From New Delhi I would do the same thing I was planning on doing from Thailand.  So I went home Thursday night knowing that I would not be doing the same the next day. What a tease that was.  It was an emotionally charged morning of dropping me off at the airport on Thursday and I felt extremely loved for all the words, cards, and encouragement from my family and friends.  The following day, however, was just my mom dropping me off to send me on my way.  Much more low key and tear free (almost). 

So I made my flight to Paris with no problem and it was short and I had an aisle seat.  A win-win if you ask me!  Also, it was snowy in Paris and oh so pretty!  So I was there for about 4 hours and I indulged myself in a chocolate croissant, cappuccino, and fruit juice, because when in Paris right?  We got on the plane headed for Delhi and I had a window seat (not my preference on long flights) and it was a 3 person row.  Additionally, there was a baby that was crying from the very beginning 2 seats away from me.  So here we are at the gate and the Captain comes on and says that we are going to have a slight delay due to the weather (oh snowy goodness you forsake me!)  A slight delay turned into an hour sitting at the gate…and let me mention that this child is screaming and crying pretty much half of the time.  Once we are cleared to taxi, the captain comes on again and says we will have another slight delay while we get our wings de-iced.  Well if there is anything to makes one feel solid about the upcoming flight, it’s when there is ice on the wings.  Of course we all know I make it out alive off that flight so don’t worry!  So that is going on outside my window and the baby is still crying and at this point has made himself cry and scream so much that he is vomiting all over his seat and tray table, not to mention making some really lovely gagging noises.  The girl who was sitting on the aisle next to him was seriously grossed out and holding her nose and let me tell you that part of the cabin REEKED!  She asked to be moved seats but there were no more open seats on the plane, and it was a full house in there!  Oh my word…I don’t even know what more there is to say about that except the flight attendant was awesome and was trying so hard to clean up and spray stuff to make it smell better, which we all know is just a cover up of vomit smell.  So after all this we taxi and take off.  The flight seemed to take forever and for some reason I wasn’t all that tired.  I slept for the last half of the flight because I knew I was going to be so dead when I got to Delhi. 

Bum-ba-ba-bum….arrival in India!  How joyous to be welcomed back to India the only way India knows how.  Mass chaos…lost bags…and a “line” concept that is foreign.  So I went through customs and onward to find my bag.  Low and behold neither one of them are there.  Initially I was freaked that someone had taken my bags by accident or on purpose.  However when I asked someone and they told me to go to the “baggage inquiry” counter and there were about a hundred other people over there from a variety of flights including my own, I realized that it wasn’t the most likely case.  Apparently there were 39 bags that were not put on the flight from Paris and my 2 were some of the lucky ones.  It took over an hour of standing in line at 2am Delhi time to get a form, filling out form, taking form back to counter only to be told to take it to get it signed by a customs official, only to come back and have them tell you you need to write your name out a little better and you should just start a new sheet (to which Kimberlie said absolutely not in the most polite way possible)  to lastly being assured that I would be getting my bag back before 2 days and they would deliver them to my flat.  The flight from Paris was admittedly a disaster, but it was so ridiculous that I just laughed at all the craziness.  I knew there would be bumps and I appreciate them for what they teach me (hello patience).

My flight from Delhi to Kolkata was seamless and we made it there in good time.  I was happy to at least have no bags to worry about when I got there.  My roommate and another intern came and picked me up from the airport.

It was around 8 in the morning and I was wide awake somehow.  I totally believe the Lord had sustained me throughout that process and even up until now because I have been running on fumes!  From the airport we went to the flat…my new home…and dropped my things off.  From there we got ready for church at KCF (Kolkata Christian Fellowship).  I was able to meet a lot of the other staff of IJM and intern/fellows.  Post church we went to eat at the mall and go shopping some so I could get some things.  We were really out and about all day which was definitely tiring but I was glad to be out rather than just sitting at the flat because I wanted to try and stay up all day and just go to bed that night.  

I was able to stay up until 9pm and skype with my mom.  I was not required to go to the office the next day but I woke up ready to go at 7am so I decided I would rather go and meet people and start my time there.  It was a bit overwhelming because of meeting so many people at once but I like everyone in the office and it’s such a fun environment.  I was able to go to lunch with two of my coworkers in aftercare and get an initial feel for what that department needs and what its strengths are at the current time.  That really wrapped up my first day in the office.  I appreciate all the prayers and support I have gotten since being here!  I will try and update this more!