Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Home!

After a long flight back, I am finally home! The trip was pretty uneventful and the Mumbai airport was fine, though the security was bumped up so much that our flight was delayed about an hour because of all the new measures taken. I head back on January 6th, but until then I can be reached by phone or e-mail. Thanks for all the prayers!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Laura's internet is down but we wanted to update everybody. Laura will still be coming home Dec 2, 2008 since the situation in Mumbai is under control and the airport has been declared a safe zone. Thanks for all your prayers!

David & Beckie

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mumbai Attacks

Thank you for all the prayers and concern about my safety the past few days. The Mumbai attacks have really devastated the Indian people. From what I have learned, foreigners are specifically being targeted in the attacks because the embassies are refusing to give out visas. I'm not sure how much of this is true, but I have been warned by the US Embassy not to travel to public places in Mumbai such as restaurants, rallies, etc. Unfortunately, I am scheduled to fly from Kochi to Mumbai on Monday night. I will have a layover in Mumbai for several hours. There has been some talk about postponing my flight, though I would really like to just get home. I will keep everyone updated on my schedule, but please keep my safety in your prayers. Thank you so much for everything.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sorry...no video today!

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

A Quick Update

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while, I actually tried to post something on Tuesday but the internet was down so I lost everything I had written! There isn’t really anything new and exciting to report, things have settled into a daily routine. On Sunday I visited the family down the street and talked with their daughter, Jinsy, for a few hours. Her mother showed me how to make banana chips and coffee from beans. She also made me two fresh dosas with chutney curry. I didn’t really feel like I could refuse the dosas, so of course I didn’t eat dinner again that night! I’ve come to realize that the life that women lead here is quite difficult and I don’t envy them in the least. Most women don’t work, even if they have been educated, but instead stay home taking care of the children or sending them off to school. Then they work in the yard, picking the vegetables and plants that they will use for dinner that day. Then they literally spend the entire day over a firepit preparing fish, chicken, vegetable curries, dosas, etc. To make a pot of coffee takes an hour of continuous stirring and tending to the fire beneath the pot. Most of the women here also make their own butter and pepper…which takes hours in itself. I don’t think I could ever manage as an Indian woman here, I don’t even know how to cook in America!

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

Weather Report in Kerala: Still Hot with no Plans to Cool off

Well, nothing too exciting has happened since I last updated. This week has gone pretty smoothly as far as the daily activities go. The kids made bracelets on Monday and Tuesday and then they watched an Elmo movie yesterday and today. The girls are going to finish the movie tomorrow and then we'll probably work on some puzzles or something for a little while until it's time for their prayer meeting. I'm hoping to do crafts with them next week but as of right now I have no glue, so I'll have to see if I can get some when I go into town on Saturday. I'm also planning on sleeping over at the Children's Home sometime in the next 2 weeks so I can spend some quality time with the older girls. The younger girls generally hang around me when I'm there so it's more difficult to get to know the older ones. I think a sleepover will be fun for them and a new experience for us both!

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

Weekend Fun



1. Firas with his new chain
2. The boys showing off their chains
3. Tea plantation
4. Early morning at the tea plantation
5. Coffee beans

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

He's got the Whole World in His Hands








1. A work elephant on the side of the rode
2. Fish tables in Kochi
3. The girls making beaded bracelets
4. The boys coloring with their new crayons
5. Me and my birthday cake
6. An Ancient Chinese fishing net in Kochi

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.
Tomorrow is my last day teaching at the Catholic College. They said that they want me to come back every once in a while for a one-time lecture to refresh their memories on English and the American accent. I think I'll miss having that constant interaction with them.
We leave for the tea plantations tomorrow after lunch. The Indian culture takes tea 3 times a day, so it is a big market here. The plantations are in the mountains and we've been told that it will be cooler, which will be a really nice change of pace! We'll stay one night at one of the faculty member's houses and then come back Saturday afternoon. It should be a good time. I'll try to get some more pictures posted next week sometime.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Past Few Days...

Today was my birthday and I definitely wasn’t disappointed! First I woke up to a room full of balloons and a sign on my door that the seminary boys had made. I got a few presents from some of the guys, like a fake flower bouquet and a flashing globe. Then at lunch, everyone sang happy birthday and we all ate a cake that I bought. At the Children’s Home, one of the girls gave me a necklace and another girl made me a picture out of stickers. They all shook my hand and said “Many Blessings.” They were really excited about my birthday, especially because we handed out boxes of crayons and candy today. They loved the crayons and started using them right away. Overall, it was a great birthday and I was really happy to be here.

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

The end of October

The past week has gone by relatively fast! Although, because it is the second monsoon season in India, it has been raining everyday so my migraines have been worse. At least the days haven't been unbearably hot!

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

Pictures and Updates








1. Drinking from a coconut on the backwaters
2. Autorickshaw ride to town.
3. The boys with the VBS pictures they colored
4. The littlest boys eating dinner (with their right hand of course!)
5. The girls with their VBS pictures
6. Hannah and her umbrella
7. Jonu and me
Here are a couple pictures of things that have happened in the past few weeks. Sorry for the delay, but things have been rather hectic around here! Classes just started at the seminary and our chairmen's mother just died on Sunday. The funeral is taking place tomorrow and classes are cancelled so that everyone can attend.
Two guys from Switzerland were here the past weekend. One was a pastor and one a photographer. We got to hang out with them and we had a lot of fun getting to know them. I was sad to see them leave this morning. The pastor introduced me to a family he has been in contact with down the street. The family makes rubber from the trees in their yard. They are a Hindi family and I think I will try to get to know them a little better and spend some more time there.
We also got to go on the backwaters again, but this time we stopped at a food place along the river and they gave us a fish and king prawn. Both things were looking up at me with their eyes and we had to break apart the shell and just bite into the whole fish. It was gross at first but it actually tasted wonderful. The picture of me drinking the coconut was taken at the same time. We ate right next to the river so we got to see exactly what our meal looked like while it was alive and swimming in the water.
I got a box of stuff for the kids from my mom today and the girls and I colored together from the coloring books! There is a lot of stuff we can do now that I got the box. Tomorrow I might make friendship bracelets with them!
I also thought it might be interesting to note that it was exactly a year ago today that I knew God was calling me to do mission work. Even though I first thought I was supposed to go to Africa, it's interesting to see where the last year has taken me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Well, nothing too exciting has been going on here the past few days. I have been teaching English everyday at the Catholic College. They seem to be picking up the American accent quickly. One kid even noticed when I accidentally stressed the wrong word! Next week, second semester classes at the seminary start so I will be taking a few days off at the Catholic school to be taking some classes here. I will probably take a few on pastoral care or family counseling.

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 Rainbow in India

I feel like I am finally starting to really get to know the children and their personalities. It baffles me that they are always so happy. The little ones will run up to me and hold on to my legs and they all try to hold my hand at once. The other day after teaching an English class, I let them play with a ball and one girl named Rathika just sat with her head in my lap the whole time. There is no where else I would rather have been.

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

Some Pictures of Daily Life in India!

1. Breakfast: dosa and egg with potato curry
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

Monday

Today was a very encouraging day! I taught an English class at the Bethany English Catholic College. We focused on vowel sounds, syllables, and stresses. I was really nervous about it but the students are great and seemed to really understand. After the class, the English Department Head pulled me aside and said that she learned so much from me and that I was really a blessing and had been given the gift of teaching. This was probably the most shocking thing she could have said because I have always said I never wanted to teach with my English degree and I hate speaking publicly. I know that God must have given me comfort and words to speak because I am definitly not a teacher. I am just really glad that I could be of some help to them. Next time we are going to focus on conversational pieces. That will be fun and interactive. I am still not sure when I start teaching at the Elementary schools, but I'll let you know.

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

The Children




I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you about exactly how we are working with the children. It has taken a while to get settled into a routine, but things are starting to become normal now.


We go to the children's home everyday around 4:oo-4:30. This is when they shower and have free time. We play with them at first and do things like read with them, puzzles, singing, or we just sit and hold them. Most of them don't know how to react to being touched, so we focus on doing this often. Around 5:00 I try to meet with a single child and talk about whatever they want to talk about. Some of the kids aren't comfortable doing this, so it doesn't happen everyday. Today I met with an older girl who didn't speak English, but conveyed that she was having trouble with math. I helped her solve a problem and tomorrow we are meeting again to do more. She was really happy that I knew how to do math...thanks Dad (I never thought I would say that)!


At 5:30 Kim and I hold English classes for the younger children. I teach about 20 girls and Kiim teaches around 25 boys. I give them conversation lines and make them practice and then I give them a spelling test on 6 words each week. The girls love the extra attention they are getting and they always yell out "EXAM, EXAM" to remind me we have a spelling test.


At 6:15 all the children gather for a prayer meeting, which is like a short youth group. They pray, read the Psalms, sing, and then someone talks. Kim and I talk once a week. We are going to start teaching a lesson based on a kid's English praise song and then we will teach them the song. I just got a cd of songs that we use in sunday school back home, so we will use this. Kim and I also plan on having a week-long Bible Triathalon with prizes and games. We'll do this within the next couple of weeks once we plan it out.


We have discovered that our ministry here is more focused on showing the children love than anything else. Most of them have come to the home not because they are orphans, but because their family can no longer support them so they send them away. This stems out of situations like the 2004 Tsunami and recent persecution in Orissa. Some of the children are also victims of crime, meaning that one or both of their parents are in prison. Even with their circumstances, it is amazing how happy they are.


The Children's home is also planning on having a mini-Bible school in March and April. This is always fun for the kids and they get to meet Americans and do all kinds of crafts they would never have access to here. There are two groups going, one in March and one in April. If anyone wants to join a group, please contact me or my parents and we can get you in touch with the leaders.


It is also an option to sponsor one of the children here at the home. As of right now, there are around 40 children that are not sponsored. It costs a dollar a day for sponsorship and the money can be sent whenever it is convenient. This money goes to buy the child's clothes, school books, food, and for the aunties who help care for them full-time at the home. I can also pick out a child personally for you and convey to him/her who is sponsoring them.


That is a little glimpse into the Children's home. If you have any questions or want any more information, just e-mail me at ltuteral@alumni.iu.edu.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some random facts

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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I can finally upload pictures and video!...even though it takes forever!

  • 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

Warning: Long Entry!

I have been feeling a lot better about being here, even though I have been plagued with migraines the past several days. I haven't quite figured out what is causing them! This entry is going to be about some random things I have seen in the past few days.

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

A New Week

Our internet access is down at the seminary. Someone is supposed to be coming to fix it, but I am not sure how soon that will be. "Indian time" is quite relaxed. I am updating from Dr. Chacko's Prison Fellowship office, where I have been working in the mornings. It has been a lot of fun for me to work here. I write e-mails for Dr. Chacko and today I wrote two response letters to Indians in prison. I asked if I could go with him one day to the prison to meet with inmates, but he said that foreigners weren't allowed in unless they broke the law, which is actually rather easy to do here! Hopefully, that won't be happening.

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

Back to the Children

Today was a really great day. I am just starting to get over my flu, so I still wasn't able to eat much until dinner time. But at dinner, I ate my whole plate. We had wet rice with lentils and nan. Of course, I also ate the customary banana! We were finally able to go to the children's home again today since the conference has ended and we weren't needed at the seminary.

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

The Weekend is Almost Over!

Kim and I have learned that we don't very much like the weekends. We have absolutely nothing to do and today I finished a book and a book on tape! We are supposed to start teaching English to the seminary students on Monday, but we are not sure if this will happen. We have heard 2 different stories, one saying we will teach on Monday and one saying we won't start teaching until next semester (January). One thing that I have learned about Indians is that they run on no schedule. They are very relaxed about everything and we often have no idea what is going on until 5 minutes before it happens. For example, lunch is set for 1pm but it may not start until 1:10 or it may come earlier at 12:40. Sometimes this is difficult to deal with because I want to get on Skype or the internet but no one is really in a rush to get the internet hooked up. This is something that I, as an American, need to get used to.
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

Unfortunetly, I did get a migraine a few days ago. It lingered for a while but is finally gone. Today, however, I am suffereing from the flu and have not been able to eat anything. Tomorrow we are supposed to go to a wedding of one of the faculty members here at the seminary. It is being held in the tea plantations about 4 hours from here. If I am still sick, I won't be able to attend. Kim and I were excited about seeing the plantations and wearing our new Churridas, which is the Indian pant and long shirt dress that they wear here. They are actually quite hot and uncomfortable. I like my clothes better. I thought it might be interesting to briefly list all the things I have noticed we take advantage of in America, and a lot of stuff I miss! Here is goes...
- 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

September!

It has been very evident that I have received a lot of prayer. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am! I have not had a migraine the entire time that I have been here. I get minor headaches but they go away after taking Excedrin. I pray that this continues. I am also feeling much better and often enjoying the food. I’ve discovered that I can like a lot of different foods if I just stop thinking about what they look like or are made out of! Yesterday we were able to go into town with the Chairman. He bought us lunch at a restaurant and it was amazing food. It was much more like Chinese, but the best I have ever had. Between 3 of us, we ate 4 individual meals. Then he took us to Baskin Robbins! I couldn’t believe they had one here. I haven’t seen any other American style food though.
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

A New Life

Thank you so much for all your prayers and thoughts! I have been feeling much better these past two days. I was finally able to eat until I was full today! Yesterday we had water buffalo for lunch and that was interesting, but better than I expected.
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

India

Well, we finally arrived earlier this morning in India. It was a long journey and a very long car ride after all the plane trips. I though DC drivers were crazy, but in fact the people here are much scarier! They use two lane roads as four lane roads with no order. Drivers honk whenever they come up on a curve and whenever they want to pass someone, which is generally on the wrong side of the road. The only time we slowed down was when there was a cow in the road!
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

Grandpa


My mom and I found out that my grandfather died this morning. I am sad that he is gone and that I will be missing his funeral, but I know that he is in a much better place than the state he has been in for the past three years. He'll be watching over me today as I leave and the whole time I am in India, so I guess I better make him proud!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

The day before...

After much thought and discussion, Kim and I will be taking off tomorrow for India as planned. We were originally going to delay the flight because my grandfather is dying. I would love to be able to go to the funeral, but my grandpa is holding on. I think that he would really like me to go ahead and go. He would be proud of me and would want me to go.

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...

Monday, August 11, 2008

It's official! The tickets have finally been purchased for our flight to India. Kim and I will be leaving on August 25th from Dulles Airport at 6:53pm. We will fly to Frankfurt, Germany and then on to Mumbai, India and then we will take a short flight to Kochi, India. We will arrive in Kochi at 7:35am on August 27th. I believe that this includes the time changes. The area we will be in is 9 1/2 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time in the USA. I am still getting ready to leave. There are a lot of little things to buy, such as stomach medicines, head scarves, and convertors. I am really excited about leaving, but at the same time I need a lot of prayer concerning my migraines. They are spiritually and physically difficult to deal with. I am most worried that my migraines will get in the way of accomplishing God's will.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Introduction

Hello! This will be my official space for updating my adventures in mission work in India. Please feel free to post responses and comments...also news about what's happening in the USA! Thanks for reading and please keep me in your prayers,
Laura