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!