Tuesday, September 29, 2009

couldn't help it -- here's another post.

I was watching one of the greatest movies ever with my mom the other night... Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. These beautiful words Frodo says at the end when he's writing his story have stuck with me ever since.

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back?"

I can't explain how I felt when I heard these words. There's no denying it, my life and my heart have been changed forever. India, the handicapped babies, the starving filthy children dressed in rags, the dying women of kalighat who were found all alone, the lepers, the people sleeping on cardboard in the street consume my thoughts every day, and from there they wander to thoughts of other countries full of suffering people, all the way to thoughts of those around me here at home that are hurting. Eventually, I think of them all together and the weight nearly brings me to my knees, crushes me, steals my breath. There is no going back.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Some "snaps" as the Indians call them.

For Now.

I haven't been blogging on either this blog or my own because I don't know which to write on. My thoughts are still consumed by India, but there are other things too. So for now, I am going to resume writing on my old blog http://lifeisbeautiful171.blogspot.com and let this one rest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Nepal and Coming HOME!

Sorry I haven't written in so long. Internet was more expensive in Nepal, and by that I mean a little over a dollar an hour as opposed to fifty cents. Anyway, we got there and returned safely by train. God was seriously taking care of us, nothing got stolen and we were able to build relationships with really nice families and other people both ways. And here is what happened in Nepal:

First, we went to Kathmandu. Traveling anywhere here is cheap, but it takes a very long time, so this was a stop along the way. They have a very serious drug issue there. It is serious in Kolkata too, but they keep it at least a little more secret here. In Kathmandu, children sniff glue out of paper bags all over the place. Gangs of young men walk around offering hashish to all of the tourists, which is tobacco laced with weed I'm pretty sure. It was pretty scary walking after dark with all of that going on.

From Kathmandu, we went to Pokhara, which was amazingly beautiful. During a less cloudy season, you can see the Himalayas from there. We were very close to a lake and to Nepal's World Peace Pagoda. Something I loved about Nepal was that they were very aware of health and the environment and world issues, specifically Tibet. It was so cool to see a nation so united in the idea of peace. From there, we caught a bus that took us about an hour into the Anapurna mountains to a little village called Nayapul. From there, we went on the most difficult and most beautiful backpacking trip of my life. The first day, we were extremely blessed. We stayed the night in a tiny village I don't know the name of up in the mountains. This family let us pitch our tents in what was basically their front yard. We then played with all of the village children for a couple hours and it was amazing! What started as a group of about ten turned into at least thirty children very quickly as the word spread. Smiling parents stood by watching as we played tag and swung the children around and danced and taught them duck, duck, goose. We actually substituted goose for goat and used the local language, so we played something like coocoor, coocoor, bachri! We drummed on pipes and garbage cans and they taught us traditional dances. It was amazing :)

After playing, the woman of the family, who we started calling Oma for Momma, cooked dinner for us. We helped her cook and visited with her son and husband. She doesn't know lots of English, but she did say "The seven of you, I really like." I helped her wash dishes afterward and we all went to bed. The next morning we bandaged wounds of many of the village people, ate porridge, and continued on our way.

Hardest day ever. We hiked up thousands of stone steps for hours. I can't imagine how long it took the mountain people to build them all! And it's crazy to think about how the people in the deep villages have to hike for a few days just to get somewhere they can catch a bus to go to a real city. Even if someone is sick. That day we also had an experience with... leeches. Fortunately for Grant and I, we couldn't feel them biting us. The only sign that we'd definitely been attacked was all the blood soaking through our socks... Gross. But honestly, I would have taken more leeches to more of those steep stairs. We stayed with very nice people in another village that night, and spent a lot of time sharing our testimonies with each other and praying. It was beautiful :)

And... I would love to tell you more, but seeing as I'm flying home tomorrow evening there is a lot to do today! Plus my time on the computer is pretty much up. It's ok though, that just means I'll have things to tell you when I get home. Pray for safe travels!

Love <3

Friday, July 24, 2009

Eclipses and the Dying.

Pray for us! We leave on one of those crazy overnight trains to Nepal tomorrow afternoon. It'll take about 13 hours to reach the border where we will then have to take a bus for a good 6 hours. We're going to be as safe as possible, but the trains sound a little scary. They'll steal everything you have while you're sleeping, so one of us will be awake and watching at all times. We are so excited to get out of this crazy city, as much as we love (and don't love) it here. We are going to either work in an orphanage or with the people of a small village while we are there. Mostly, it will be a chance for us to calm down and think and pray and digest. I don't know if you've noticed, but I sure have... I feel my blogs are getting less clear. As I see and experience more and more it gets more difficult to write and explain. I hope to sort out everything before I get back so that I will be able to effectively share with you all everything I have learned, seen, experienced.

We saw a solar eclipse Wednesday morning! Who knew we were going to be so lucky :) I guess it happens in India every 3 years, but apparently this will be the biggest for about 100 years or so. It was truly amazing. I feel so blessed too even though it was kind of cloudy here (like always, due to monsoons and smog), because the clouds provided a makeshift filter so that I was able to take photos! I wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

I had an opportunity to go to Kalighat on Wednesday afternoon. It's the first home Mother Teresa started I believe, the home of the destitute and dying. It was so intense... I saw a tiny woman bent into the shape of a box who constantly babbled things no one could understand. I saw women drag themselves across the floor to get to the bathroom. I saw women who had lost their minds. I saw young women, and wondered why they were dying. I saw women with wounds and sores. I washed their beds and helped them walk and massaged them and fed them. I know Grant did the same things on the men side. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking experience.

There is another transportation strike going on. It seems they will protest or have strikes about anything here, which can be a little scary and inconvenient. Mostly it hinders our daily transportation to work. Grant was stuck on a bus for 3 hours on Tuesday due to a huge rally, and because we don't have cell phones or anything here, I had no idea where he was. I'm a little nervous about how we'll get to the train station tomorrow if this strike is still going, but I know God can handle it.

Today has been hard. I started thinking about leaving, and I just don't know how I am supposed to leave these children and never see them, feed them, hold them again. How can I leave them here to do the same thing everyday, hardly progressing and seeing new faces every couple of weeks to go on and live my life like before? Impossible.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In Kolkata.

You see ravens flying over the city and perched on every surface, and you can hear their loud, loud caws.

You hear the call to pray ever few hours. A strong, somewhat eerie voice chanting words in another language from several points in the city.

You smell millions of different smells as you walk down the streets, many of them vomit worthy... garbage, urine, feces, rancid meat, blood, more garbage, and several others I don't know the source of.

You see men bathing on the side of the road.

You see men going to the bathroom on the side of the road.

You see children holding each other on a piece of cardboard sleeping on the side of the road.

You struggle to not get hit by a taxi, bus, rickshaw, bicycle, other people.

You see disturbing things like chopped off animal tails and dead rats on the ground.

Monsoons cause muddy floods full of leeches.

You have some sort of stomach ache daily.

You have to ignore about every third person or they will try to cheat you out of money.

You can find chai every few feet.

You sweat until it's dripping from your face, coating your arms, or soaking through your clothes.

You hear people crying.

You hear people laughing.

You see children playing and dancing.

The clouds move very quickly.

Your heart swells.

Your heart breaks.

I've never felt such an oddly peaceful combination of like and dislike.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Moving Mountains.

Hello! So, so much has happened the past few days, but I'm going to try my hardest not to overload you. First, our original plan for our last week here was to go to Darjeeling to work in an orphanage. However, they are not allowing tourists in anymore because of angry, possibly violent strikes going on. Peace talks on that won't even start until mid-August, so that won't work. Instead... we're going to Nepal! We will spend time in small villages there so that we can digest everything we have done and seen and I'm so excited!! I can't wait for the change of setting either, for it to be cool and calm.

At work on Saturday, they had a birthday party for all of the July birthdays and it was so wonderful! There was so much joy and excitement. The children that they usually keep separated were allowed to be together, and all of the girls wore sparkly pink dresses. After breakfast, instead of exercising the children, we sat them all on the other side of the room with the older, not so severely handicapped children. The birthday girls' faces were painted and they got pink flower crowns for their heads. The rest of us got white dots on our foreheads and birthday hats. Then the music was turned on and we celebrated! The children that could move jumped and ran and danced their hearts out, and the children that couldn't were lifted into our arms and spun and bounced around. We were laughing and dripping in sweat and it was just beautiful. That's the only way I can describe it. And they each got a candy! Quite the treat for them. I worked with the other girl without eyes, Rahki, and she is so sweet :) She can't speak, but she could clap perfectly on beat to the music. She loves music; I sing to her all the time.

Yesterday, I got to go to Grant's home where he works with him. Usually, only men are allowed, but on Sundays, ten other volunteers can go to wash the street children. As we walked up, children ran into our arms screaming "Auntie, auntie!" It was an interesting experience... I had fun, but I was also deeply discouraged :( The thing is, I just wanted to love these children and play with them and wash them and feed them, but they were raised in a way that made that very difficult. While we were playing with them, they just tried to steal everything we had on us. They pulled a girl's earrings from her ears and yanked hair clips and ties from all of the female volunteers' hair. One girl wanted me to pick her up and spin her like I was doing to the other children, but as I started to spin her, I felt her fingers slowly pulling at my hair tie. I had to set her right down and tell her it's not ok. Another girl actually yanked it from my hair and ran while I was cuddling another child in my lap and I had to chase her down. I'm just so sad about the whole situation. They have been so robbed of their childhood that they couldn't enjoy being spun around or juggled for. They just waited for Grant to drop a ball while juggling so they could snatch it and run. I know it isn't their fault; it is how they were raised, but it makes me so incredibly sad to think about it. India has a bigger problem than I realized before I came. I thought I was ready to describe it, but now I feel that it won't come out right. Let's just say that there is intense poverty, but there is also a spirit of trickery and greed that plagues the streets of Kolkata, deep in the hearts and traditions of many, many, many of the people here. It's impossible to describe.

On that note... Some things we've been discussing in our group meetings recently are the power of prayer, faith, miracles, and all sorts of things like that. We read specifically the part in Matthew where Jesus drives a demon out of a boy when the disciples couldn't. When they ask why, Jesus says something along the lines of "you have such little faith... if you had even faith the size of a mustard seed you could move mountains!" What does that say about Jesus' followers that we aren't seeing more mountains moving? Is our faith really so small? Why do I get so caught up in the work that I don't take the time to lay my hand on the head of each of those children and pray with all my heart that Jesus would heal them? So many questions like that have been coming up for me. It seems that India is a place of joy and misery, wisdom and ignorance, answers and a lot more questions.

Anyway, sorry if that didn't make sense. That's what I get for waiting to share so much information. As always, my heart is with all of you just as it is with everyone here. I miss you, my family and friends, so much everyday. Can't wait to see your smiling faces and feel your arms wrapped around me.




Another world is possible.