Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Well, I have sat here for an hour trying to get a video of the kids uploaded but it just doesn't seem to be cooperating tonight. Hopefully next time I can get it to work. Sorry about that!
In other not-so-fun news, last Saturday was really exciting. We spent the morning at the children's home doing a Bible Trivia competition. It was a little rocky at first because all of the kids were participating and screaming out answers, but as soon as we started to dwindle the numbers down, it was easier to control. They really enjoyed getting prizes and seeing the different things their friends got. We headed to dinner at Ashish and Divya's house that night. They live in a paddy village about 30 minutes away from the seminary. Their house was so nice and the food was wonderful! They knew we were sick of rice so Divya made vegetable sticky noodles and lots of sweets like banana fry and fruit custard. We also drank from coconuts they got in their front yard. It was nice to get out for a few hours!
I'll be spending the night at the Children's Home this Friday. I'm really excited because I'll be able to spend time with the older girls. I think I'll bring some candy and teach them how to make lanyards. I was going to show them a movie but it's against the children's home policy to watch movies or paint their nails...which I had also thought about doing. It's okay though, we'll still have a lot of fun and I know the girls are already looking forward to it. They've been asking me who I'll sit with at dinner! I'm pretty sure the boys are a little jealous.
I'll be giving two devotional sermons this week. The biggest one is for our Friday morning prayer meeting. Then I will give a shorter one Sunday night for the girl's prayer meeting. The topic is provided for the girl's meeting, but I've been planning all week for the sermon on Friday morning. I spoke once before and they asked if I would do it again before I leave on Monday. It's stressful to prepare for, but I think it has also grown me and taught me how to research and deliver a message. If only I didn't actually have to speak publicly to do so! Please keep these sermons in your prayers.
Well, Kim and I are missing Thanksgiving and we are pretty upset about it. It's one of my favorite holidays and I know I'm really going to be missing the food! Hopefully I can convince my mom to re-make some of it when I get home next week (hint hint). But it might help to think that we'll be sleeping while everyone in the US is enjoying their food, so maybe I won't miss it as much. Every Saturday the cooks here take a day off, so the students make the lunch. Kim and I talked to the boys who are in charge this week and I think we are going to be helping them make an American meal. If all goes according to plan and isn't too expensive at the market, we'll make pork, green beans, and mashed potatoes. They have all of that stuff here but it isn't widely used. We'll have to see how much it costs to make it in bulk! I'll probably update once more before I leave on Monday to head back to the states. I hope all is going well back home!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Yesterday we went for high tea at our Pastor, Victor Nathan’s, house. I was smart and decided not to eat beforehand! We had fresh coffee and then around 9 different snack items. They served us halwa, which is quickly becoming my favorite Indian sweet. It’s the same consistency as a fruit cake but it’s so much better. It is made from flour, sugar, and different kinds of fresh fruit. I asked someone if I could learn how to make it, but it takes an entire day to make 1 kilogram. I don’t think that will be happening!
Kim and I have also been invited to another faculty member’s house on Saturday for dinner. I am really looking forward to this because it’s a big deal to be invited for dinner. It takes a lot of preparation and all the stops are pulled out for any foreign guest…meaning I will probably have to stop eating after dinner on Friday!
Not too much else is happening. The bible trivia didn’t work out as planned, so I think we are going to try to do it on Saturday morning instead. We’ve had some trouble communicating our intentions with the children’s home supervisor. He doesn’t understand a whole lot of English and we’ve realized that when he says yes to something he doesn’t always mean yes. The children are also kept on a strict schedule and we aren’t allowed to deviate from it, even for bible trivia. I’ll update sometime next week to fill everyone in on the weekend!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Next week we are doing a Bible trivia contest. Everyday we will be handing out prizes and hopefully a few people will be left as the "winners" at the end of the week. Kim's friend sent some pretty cool stuff that we'll be handing out as prizes. I'll update about how that goes sometime next week.
I am scheduled to leave India on December 1st for a month long break back home. I'll be coming back the first week in January. I'm really excited about getting a break to relax and see my family over Christmas, but I'm also sad to be away from the kids for that long. I just hope they don't forget me!
Monday, November 10, 2008
This past weekend was a lot of fun. Friday was my last day of teaching at the Catholic College and the students put on a program to say goodbye. They gave me a few homemade presents and then rehearsed all the conversational techniques they had learned. It was nice to see that they had so much fun with it.
After lunch we left for the tea plantations in the mountains. We stayed in the house of someone we know here. It was so pretty and several degrees cooler there. The tea plants were everywhere and there were rivers running in the valleys in between the mountains. It was so beautiful. We walked around the family’s plantation and we saw coffee trees, papaya trees, cardamom, black pepper vines, pineapple bushes, cocoa trees, and vanilla beans. I also got bitten by a leach, which I guess is common because they hang on to the tea plants. The workers have to wear plastic skirts and salt on their legs so they aren’t always getting bitten.
Sunday I went to visit the family down the street. I sat and talked with their 17 year old daughter, Jinsy, for several hours. They served me an entire plate of fresh pineapple and it was amazing, but I didn’t want to offend them by not eating it all so I finished the whole plate. Afterwards, Jinsy laughed at me and said she was surprised I finished the whole thing…now I know I don’t need to finish everything they give me! After the plate of pineapple, they served tea and sweet rice cakes. I didn’t eat dinner that night because I was so full.
Yesterday at the children’s home I made chains with the boys out of hemp string. They had a really good time with it and they all wanted to get their pictures taken with their new chains (which I was informed are not bracelets since they are for boys). Today is the girl’s day to make them.
Class at the seminary is going really well. My favorite one is my Marriage and Family Counseling course. I’ve already learned a lot about the Indian family and the problems that they face. For example, in Indian it is a national law that doctors are not allowed to reveal the gender of the baby before it is born. Since the dowry system is still really prominent here, sometimes the family will choose to abort the baby if it is a girl so they don’t have to face financial burden down the road.
I’ll try to update again later this week but the internet has been sporadic at the seminary.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The last few days with the kids have probably been some of my favorite times here. The girls got to experience making bracelets and necklaces with the beads and string my parents sent. They went through several hundred beads in just 2 days! I never have a problem getting them to do things, but the excitement with which they grab and pull at each other in order to get to the toys is a burden for all of us. Some of them don't get what they want and I end up trying not to fall over as they push at me. It's sad to think that for some of the kids, these are the only opportunities they have to experience material joys like crayons and colored string. The boys were jealous that the girls got to make bracelets, so on Monday I am bringing in hemp string for them.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday we went to Kochi and saw the Arabian Sea. It wasn’t really that impressive but we got to see Chinese fishing nets and dozens of different types of fresh fish being sold on the street. One vendor stuck a live lobster in my face to prove that his merchandise was fresh!
We had a “Halloween” party at the seminary on Saturday. The students really enjoyed carving pumpkins and bobbing for apples. Even the local pastor joined in and stuck his head all the way in the bucket to pull out an apple! They also got to enjoy some American candy my parents sent…which they loved and are still asking for more.
On Saturday I also went to the Children’s Home early in the morning and handed out some presents, like chalk, Frisbees, jump ropes, and slinkies. The kids were ridiculously excited. In fact I was pushed over more than once while handing out the toys.
I am also meeting several times a week with a girl down the street. She is studying to be a nurse and wants to learn to speak English fluently. We meet for about 20 minutes and just talk. She’s really interesting.
That’s all the fun details of the events that have happened recently. I’ll try to update later this week.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I started classes at the seminary yesterday. I am taking Marriage and Family Counseling, Counseling for the Mentally Challenged, Hospital Ministries, and Early Developmental Counseling. The topics are really interesting and I am excited to start getting into the material. I am still teaching at the Catholic College but I think my course there should be over within the next few weeks.
I am meeting with a family down the street this afternoon. They speak English well enough to carry on a conversation and they are really friendly people. Hopefully that will go well.
I have also been showing the kids some educational Elmo videos that my parents sent me. They really love them and even the teenagers have been laughing along with the little kids. They don't ever get to see movies, so this is a special treat for them. My Aunt and Uncle sent boxes of crayons for the kids, so tomorrow during our VBS lesson we will be handing those out. My grandma (Maneen) also helped to pay for extra boxes for the kids. They've never had their own set of crayons so I am really excited to be handing them out tomorrow! I'll take pictures and put them up sometime soon.
Other than that, all is going well. We will be going to Kochi (a city about 2 hours away) for a break this Friday. On Saturday we are having a "Halloween" party at the seminary. No one will be dressing up but we will watch a movie and bob for apples and maybe carve pumpkins if we can find them in town! Hopefully I can post some pictures of that too! Thanks for all the prayers!
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The children have been great. I really look forward to the time I spend with them because they help me to forget all my troubles and they always manage to make me smile or laugh. They are a really special blessing. In many ways, I think they are blessing me more than I am blessing them.
I have pictures to upload but I can't do it right now because the internet isn't strong enough. I will upload them within the next few days!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
A few days ago it rained a couple of minutes and then a huge rainbow came out. All the children came and grabbed my hand, taking me outside to see it. They were shouting "Jesus, Jesus" and pointing at the rainbow. It was so cute.
Today when we went to the Children's Home, the younger children were being treated for lice, as they are once every month. So I sat with the older children and they were all laughing and telling me which girl was dating which boy and then the boy would laugh and say, "No, not me!" It reminded me of being in America and it was a lot of fun to hang out and laugh with them. Sometimes the kids will tell me long stories in Malayalum (the language of Kerala) and I will just nod and try to follow their expressions. They really like it when I try to understand and speak Malayalum, which is generally unproductive.
Teaching at the Catholic College is also a lot of fun. I teach 10 students and they all speak English very well. I focus on their pronunciation and how to stress words in everyday conversation. They are so different from an American class because you can tell they are grateful for their education and are genuinely happy to be there.
We are going into town this weekend for a Missions Convention for India Missionaries. It should be interesting to hear from people all over India. There will also be 2 baptisms at church on Sunday. There is no baptismal, so I am interested to see how they are going to do it.
Friday, October 3, 2008
2. Lunch: rice and curry, coconut fried chicken
3. Dinner: rice and curry, coconut fried fish, banana
4. My English class at the Children's Home
5. Divya, Queen, Rathika
6. Jonu and friend
7. Girls playing with a puzzle, Linu is the one standing
8. Elephant in the road!
Monday, September 29, 2008
After that, Kim and I headed to the Children's home where we started our first week of mini-Vacation Bible School. Every Monday we will do a different lesson from the VBS lessons we use at my church. Today we did the moral God is Real with the Bible verse, God is good to everyone. We passed out sheets with the moral on them and had them write the Bible verse. Then we did a sock puppet show with Negative Nancy (me) and Positive Peter (Kim). After we the puppet show we taught them a song and dance from the VBS cd. I think they had a lot of fun even though it was difficult for them to pick up the English in the song. We will teach it again next week with another lesson and puppet show!
Also, today at the Catholic school I was able to talk with a 26 year old faculty member. She told me all about how marriages work here in India. Even the Christians here believe in arranged marriages. Her marriage is being arranged within the next year. The parents control everything and put out ads in the newspaper and then take interviews. If they like the male, then they set up a meeting where the couple talks for 5 minutes only and then the male decides if he would like to marry her. If so, they don't see each other again until their engagement party. If the woman decides she can't go through with it, the family is shamed and it is hard for them to get over that reputation afterwards. Although the Indian culture is slowly becoming more westernized, arranged marriages are still very common. It was interesting to hear about the differences from our culture to theirs.
Please let me know if there is anything specific you want to hear about or for me to find out about!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Here is a new video. I tried to upload one that I took with my camera while we were on our way to town, but it was too big. I'll try to get one up sometime showing the driving in India. Things have been pretty good here lately. I had a rough week last week, with a migraine everyday, but it seems that maybe I got over the slump. I haven't had one in 3 days, so thanks for all your continued prayers! We were able to go into town on Saturday and I bought a white-board and Malayalum-English picture books for the Precious Children's home. This will help me to teach English a lot more effeciently. I will also start teaching English classes at a Catholic college this week. It will be on the American accent and the breakdown of sounds in our language. That should be interesting since I don't really feel qualified as a teacher. I will also be teaching at 4 other elementary schools. I will do one class a week for each school, so 5 classes in all on top of teaching at the children's home! That should keep me busy! Now here are a few things I have noticed about the Indian culture that I thought would be interesting to mention...
When an Indian person nods, they move their head from left to right exactly like an American person would if they are saying no. So I always get confused and think they are saying no when they are really saying yes!
The people here are really affectionate towards each other as a sign of friendship. Girls often hang on each other or put their hands in each other's laps. I am still trying to get used to this because in the US, this would make someone really uncomfortable. Boys also show affection by holding each other's hands or touching each other's shoulder. They aren't intimate with each other and it's completely normal here. This was a shock to see at first. But boys and girls cannot be affectionate towards each other. In fact, if a boy and girl are seen alone together, the worst is automatically assumed. That's why it is hard to get to know the guys at the seminary. Men here don't even walk on the same side of the street as women.
The mosquitos are pretty bad here but the worst thing is ants! They are everywhere and can easily invade your room. I have bites from the ants all over my legs.
The electricty goes out in the state of Kerala everynight for 30 minutes. There isn't a set time for it to go off, but the government is trying to preserve energy and shuts it off for the entire state. I have never experienced the dark like I have here!
On a more serious note, I found out today that two of the children at the orphanage lost their parents recently in Orissa. One of the boy's father was beaten to death and the other boy's parents were murdered. The supervisor told me that they are not going to tell the boys about their parents. Please continue to pray for the situation in Orissa.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
- sunset out my window
- lizard on my bathroom wall, this is good because they eat the bugs
- cultural night at the seminary where students are seperated into tribes and then do a dance or song representing their tribe
- the street in town, Kottayam
- me and a cow on the side of the road
- at the Precious Children's home
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Yesterday I got to eat a "Kerala Special," a friend banana. I found out that they have around 60 different types of bananas here! I am starting to like the food a little better. I was thinking about American food the other day and realized that I had stopped craving it so much. But that's not to say I crave rice!
Yesterday on the way to the Prison Fellowship Office we passed a funeral for some popular guy here. It was a few miles long and the cars and motorcyles had black flags and pictures of him taped to the vehicle. And the casket was carried in a huge wagon with a bunch of decorations. It was a glass casket, so that was interesting to see. Several of the cars carried speakers on them and played music as they drove.
I also saw a man riding an elephant in the middle of the street yesterday. All the cars were honking and passing it. It was chained up and looked pretty pitiful. I didn't have my camera unfortunetly!
I also wanted to note that I have seen 4 people riding on a single person motorcycle. It's crazy how they fit so many people on it! And Dr. Chacko made a comment yesterday about how in India you don't need brakes, you just need a horn. This is pretty much true because they use the horn here to let you know they are passing you or coming up on a corner. No one really slows down, they just go faster.
There was a scorpion outside of our room the other day. It was huge and some guy down the hall caught it and was playing with it, which baffles me. I just keep telling myself that nothing is going to get in my room!
I also wanted to mention that Christians here need a lot of prayer. I am not sure if US News is reporting it, but there has been a lot of persecution of Christians in neighboring states, especially Orissa (which is in the Northeast part of India). There are some kids at the orphanage and seminary that haven't heard from their parents who live there because all the Christians are having to hide in fields from the Hindu people. I don't know the whole story, but a Hindu man was killed and for some reason the authorities blamed a Christian man, which seems to be false at this point. A couple of churches in states around us have been burned as a result. There's no need to worry about Kerala though because this state is around 70% Christian and there isn't really persecution for us here.
I am introduced at the Catholic school tomorrow as the new English teacher. I will write later to let you know how that is going!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Yesterday, someone down the street from the seminary got married and there was a big parade in the street with lots of music. The couple was carried in some sort of wagon. We all watched from our balconies.
Unfortunately, I have gotten a migraine everyday for the past 3 days. They haven't been too bad, but they are still discouraging. It's been really hot here so that is probably why I get them. I feel fine so far today, so hopefully I won't get one!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Sorry I haven't updated in awhile. There has been no internet for a few days. It has finally started to weigh on me these past few days that I will be living here for awhile, and even though it really isn't that long, I have had a difficult time adjusting to the culture shock. I am getting used to the food, but the way that people spend their time here is very different. People take multiple naps and generally have nothing to do for hours on end. It is these hours that I start thinking about America and missing home! Next week I will start teaching English in a Catholic College. They have a textbook that I can base my lessons off of, so it shouldn't be too difficult. I am excited about having something to do! Also, today was the festival of Onam. The legend is that a king used to come here every year on this day and the town would fancy itself up and live in a prosperous state for the weekend. Everything is closed and there is no school and there is a huge feast with 90 different helpings. We had a feast yesterday with 12 different helpings. It is served on banana leaves and we had to eat with our fingers, even the liquid dessert! It wasn't as bad as I expected though and the desert was made with sugar cane and coconut so it was amazing. Tonight they served us whole fish with the head and tails still on. It wasn't bad as long as you didn't look at it, but it was definetly hot! I will try to update soon about how teaching is going!
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Over the weekend, I had this idea about meeting with one child for 30 minutes each day until I met with all of them (there are 148). But I was really hesitant to bring it up with the director at the home because I was afraid he would say it was a bad idea since some children can't speak English. I got up the courage and mentioned it to him and he loved it! Today I met with Tekmatei, a 10 year old girl who speaks almost fluent English. She is quickly becoming my favorite person to be around! I wasn't sure what we would do for 30 minutes but we went to a quiet place alone and she just began talking. I didn't even say a word for the whole 30 minutes except to nod and pray for her at the end. It was such a blessing to feel like I was really helping her and she was excited to be with me. Tomorrow I meet with another young girl, so hopefully that will go as well as today did!
Kim and I begin teaching English classes to the seminary students tomorrow. We will be starting with nouns and then having the students write a conversational paragraph and analyze mistakes that they may have made. I'll write soon about how it is going!
Also, if anyone is planning on sending something over here, we have come up with a few minor things the kids need. We need about 90 glow stick bracelets. We have 60 but we don't want to only give a few kids some. The seminary students could use iron supplements because they are not served any meat here. We could aslo use plastic string like the kind used for making keychains or bracelets for the kids. Also, any sort of paper, coloring books, crayons, markers, small toys, etc. would be helpful for the afternoons with the kids.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
We weren't able to go to the wedding today because I was still feeling very weak and Kim was worried about the car ride also. The other day we went into town, about 15 minutes away, and we both got car sick. The roads are very bumpy and the cars constantly stop and go, considering that they are swerving in and out of traffic, often driving on the shoulder to avoid a collision. Looking out the window doesn't help car sickness because you just see how close you are to hitting a bus and then you get even more sick! I have learned to trust the person driving and the people walking on the side of the road. If they live in India, they must be used to the roads and know what they are doing, right? Haha
Friday, September 5, 2008
- hot water/showers
- air conditioning
- cleaning supplies
- any food that is not rice
- washer and dryer
- purified water
- easy travel across the country (i.e. we don't get stopped by the police and asked for our passport)
- hospital within 5 minutes distance
- the right to chose our own husband and wife
- supermarkets or a mall in general
- cleanly standards of food and household
- no loud cows or roosters
- Coca Cola (there is no diet coke here either)
- Beef in general
- Chocolate and items that melt in daily India climate
- the ability to wear make-up without it sliding off your face in 30 minutes
- Hair that is not frizzy due to humidity
That's all I can think of right now, but some of those are funny and very true!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The children have started to open up to us. They love having their pictures taken and then looking at them afterwards. They looked at pictures of my family for about an hour. They play lots of hand games because there are no materials for them to work with. They have no crayons, scratch paper, cards, toys, children’s books…nothing that American children take advantage of. They are able to play soccer and cricket. Other than that, they merely entertain themselves with jokes and hiding games. I have noticed that several of the children are sick or have lice. I am not sure if they are treated for anything at the moment.
Today is the start of the youth conference for India Baptists. It is being held here at the seminary. It goes on for the whole week, so no one attends classes. Kim and I were able to walk down the street this morning and buy tapioca potato chips and cream cookies at a stand. After we came back I tried to take a nap but the cow in the backyard was mooing. I never knew they were so loud!
Friday, August 29, 2008
The people of India are amazing. They are so humble and accepting. We are waited on hand and foot here. Everyone wants to stop and greet us in the streets and there is a wonderful seminary student who is "assigned" to our needs. Her name is Mercy and she is such good company. She cleans our plates, takes out our trash, and today she even offered to hold an umbrella over my head! I love getting to know her but I hope she doesn't do this forever because I feel like I am being a burden on her! We are also allowed to have tea time with the faculty members. We sleep in the guy's dorm because they wanted us to have our own room and not have to share with each other. We are the only girls allowed to be at the dorm! They also cook us special meals. I hope that we are not a burden on them, but I also know that this how they show their appreciation, so I don't want to be rude.
I have learned that the lights go out every night at 7:30 and remain off for an hour. It also lightenings at night but it doesn't rain or thunder. Today it was ridiculously hot. It was 90 degrees in just my room.
Kim and I have been asked to teach 8 Beginning English classes a week to the seminary students. I am excited to be able to give back to them in this way. We also met with the children at the orphanage today and they are so sweet. They call us "Auntie" as a sign of respect. We will be with them everyday starting tomorrow.
I will try to write again soon. Thanks for everything back home.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
To tell you the truth, it is rather depressing to be here. It is so much different than the US and the language barrier is pretty evident. Thank God, I haven't gotten a migraine yet (although I have taken a lot of tylenol to prevent one). However, I have already gotten sick from the food and travel. I haven't eaten in a while because it seems to be a fight to get it down my throat. It's also very hot during the middle of the day and the electricty frequently goes out at night. It is pitch black without any lights! It's a good think my mom bought me a flashlight. The time change is difficult to adjust to so far. Tomorrow, Dr. Chacko is taking Kim and I to meet the kids at the orphanage. So far we have only met and hung around the seminary students. We live in the same dorm as they do so it is interesting. The food is also a challenge because it's nothing that I would ever volunteer to eat in the US.
Please pray that God gives me strength and the desire to be here and do his work. Also, that my stomach adjusts to the food and timezone here! Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. I don't know what I'd do if I wasn't supported by my friends and family.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Anyway, we won't arrive in India until Wednesday and I'm not sure when I will be able to get on the computer. Hopefully it won't take long to settle in and get accustomed to the time change.
Thanks for reading and all the thoughts and prayers! Until next time...