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 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.