Monday, August 31, 2009

"So happy to love..."

"Yet so far to go
You lead me on to where I've never been before.
Sweet Jesus, You never let me go."

The Crazy Life of Kara Weitzel....

I have been on a non-stop train to crazyville since I've been back from India. It's crazy to think that this week it has been a month! And I still miss it so much...

Anyway here's an update of what has been happening...

I spent some time up north at the cottage with my family (and Diana - same thing). It was wonderful to be in northern Michigan. I absolutely love it there and I want to live there. Maybe someday... 

When I got back from that little trip is was right back into things. My Rush premier team started and it was stressful getting reoriented and getting everything organized but we've had a few practices and have had 2 games in the past 2 weeks. We're 0-2, but I still see potential and I still have hope. Life would be sad without it. This past weekend we were up in Traverse City. I made a team bonding weekend out of the deal and I think the girls (and their parents) really enjoyed themselves. It was fun, but crazy.

Next news flash... I'm a teacher! The week after I got back from India, Jackson Christian called me and offered me a teaching job. Crazy! I will be teaching 6th and 9th grade English as well as serving as a teacher aid/individual tutor for the 6th grade class. School starts tomorrow and I feel so under prepared but I'm taking the advice of one of my professors... "Teaching is like acting. All you have to do is act like you know what you're talking about and you'll be fine." Ok, so I don't take this literally all the time but it will do for the first week of school.

I'm also the new Middle School Boys Soccer coach.... if that doesn't scream crazy, I don't know what does! Especially since I have 25 boys out for the team. Pray for me. 

New Apartment!! Yay! I have a place to live! I had no plan for when I came back to the States and didn't really know where I was going to live. Thank you to Chris and Nikki for letting me crash at their house for a few nights... and to Korey and Jen and Kev for letting me stay with them for a night or two. I was quite the nomad for awhile. So in the midst of all this I checked out some apartements, was approved, and I've been gradually moving into my new apartment out at Trillium Pointe. I'm so excited that I'm not living out of a suitcase anymore... what a relief.

Needless to say it's been a crazy month...

P.S. I know I overused the word "crazy"... that was the point, sorry if it annoyed you.

"There must be complete reliance on the Lord, in other words, one must develop the discipline of surrender."

Charles Swindoll

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Your spirit falls on India and captured me in your embrace..."

"Father God, you have shed your tears for Mother India 
They have fallen to water ancient seeds 
That will grow into hands that touch the untouchable 
How blessed are the poor, the sick, the weak..."
-Caedmon's Call

more pictures coming...
A Glimpse of Traveling in India...

Monkeys Everywhere!!

Entrance to the Taj Mahal

Jama Masjid - Inside the Mosque in Old Delhi

Entrance to the Agra Fort

The Taj with Aimee
(I still can't believe I was actually there! Weird.)

The Red Fort in Delhi
(it was closed the day we went so I didn't get to explore it)

Jama Masjid - Inside the Largest Mosque in Delhi

The Lotus Temple in Delhi

"I hear you whispering my name, you say, my love for you will never change..."

"What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?"

I have only been abroad a few times but none as significant as my trip to India. My least favorite part is readjusting to life in the U.S. If I experience culture shock, it is always when I step foot on American soil again. I get so frustrated at myself and at the way society works here. Don't get me wrong, I am so blessed to live in such a well developed country, but why do I feel that everyone (including myself) takes everything for granted? Remembering India and the people that I met there is a good reminder of the blessings that I have here, but it is also a blessing to have those memories of how the Lord provides even in the smallest ways. Have you noticed... it is never through material things? It is through His love and the people that he places in your life. Things are not extravagant, He is. 

So, I have returned and I have this renewed mindset, but what if I forget? What if I lose it again? I don't want to but I know there will be days I stumble and fall away. Does that hinder my ability to be a light for Christ? It is my hope that no matter what I am dealing with in my own life, whether it is a time of doubt or a time of praise, that the light of Christ will always shine through. In the end, it's not about me anyway.  

"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
DC Talk

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Hollywood, Bollywood, London and Chicago... Lord, all the places you have placed us..."

"I was born in a small town, and I feel like a small man
Looking out the windows of this Bombay bus

The rain in Bombay falls on the righteous and the wrong
And there is no way for me to understand
Obscene idols, rickshaw cycles, cows on the highway
Honey, all the things that I have seen
But most amazing of them all is the grace that we believe in
That we are known and love, loved and known."

So here is the wrap up (It's a little long). I didn't have the internet my last few days so I just typed it on my computer and now that I am home I can post it. 

Thrusday, July 30th... Last Day in Dharamsala

Up early, I went to McLeod to run a couple errands. I had to do an exchange, buy a couple last minute parting gifts and say goodbye to all my favorite shop keepers. After seeing them at least twice a week and numerous cups of tea, you really do become friends with them. I got back with a little time to spare and it was off to my last day with the women's group. The tears were flowing before class even started. Our youngest student, came up to me with her huge beautiful brown eyes and said... "Kara, please don't go." Rip my heart out! I picked her up, put her in my lap and started scheming how I could pack her in my suitcase. After everyone had arrived and the emotions had settled down a little bit we started teaching the day's lesson: a review of past tense and articles (a, an, & the). We made it through the majority of class when Jetenter stopped us and said that we were going to have another cooking lesson in honor of my last day. We learned how to make momos! (Mitchell, I'll have to make them for you sometime!) It was so fun and by the way, onions are potent over there. I usually don't have too much of a problem cutting onions but I thought I was going to die. It's also amazing how my mind set changed during the time I was over there. Normally, I would be really conservative about what I ate but by the end it really didn't matter anymore. We finished cooking and soon it was time to leave. I hugged everyone goodbye as it had become a tradition after every class... but this time it was for good and it was really sad. Ekta, Rita, Jetender, Inder, Madu, Auman, and Jessie all walked the the end of the drive way and stood there waving until our car was out of sight.  Sad day.

Back to the house – 1 hour left. I walked in the door and went up to my room to finish packing. I couldn't stop crying. I was going to miss India so much! I fell in love when I was over there and I already long to go back. I spent my last few minutes talking with my friends before Jeetu and Mukesh finally came up to collect my luggage. More hugs, more goodbyes, more tears. What made it even worse was that I was leaving alone. I just had to make it to Delhi and wait for Aimee to arrive on the bus in the morning. 

I arrived at the CCS base in Delhi with 5 other volunteers from Palampur. Pete was there! Yay, I had a friend! However, after a long day of traveling, being emotionally and mentally exhausted and fighting a cold, I was ready for bed soon after we arrived. I managed to make it through dinner and a movie but then I passed out as soon as I hit the pillow.

P.S. In Delhi we had air conditioning... I almost forgot what that sweet little invention was. 

Friday, July 31st (Jeetu’s Birthday)

Delhi. Aimee arrived just as we were heading down to breakfast. I was so excited to see her! She went right to bed as her bus ride was a little long and as she would put it.. she was knackered. After breakfast we had a feedback meeting with Bela and then it was off to sight see in the city. I know I have said it before but I am so thankful that I was in Dharamsala! However, it was good to do a little sightseeing in the city. We called our friend Jassie to take us around town. He picked us up around noon and we started our adventure by going to the Lotus temple (of the Baha'i faith), followed by the Red Fort, the India gate, a huge Mosque, and the streets of Old Delhi. In the temple and the mosque we were required to take off our shoes.. nothing new... but I thought my feet were going to blister it was so hot walking on the cement. Everything was very beautiful though and I'll explain more later with pictures. 

That night we ate dinner and Pete and I went and played soccer in the little courtyard outside our flat. It felt so good! I don't think I've ever gone that long without playing soccer! Pete plays for Union College and it was fun to play a little one on one and get some exercise. The bad thing was that we both felt really out of shape and we were both drenched in sweat by the time we were finished. It was time to hit the showers and get to bed. We had a big day ahead of us... starting at 2am we would be on our way to the TAJ MAHAL!!

Saturday, August 1 - Let the Travels Begin

2:30am –  Left for the Taj Mahal

4 hour drive in a taxi

No sleep, because you're always afraid that the next turn could be your last.

With all of that being said, seeing the sunrise at the Taj Mahal was worth every minute of not sleeping and the bumpy, crowded taxi ride. It was so pretty and the people-watching was phenomenal. Words can't describe the Taj Mahal and pictures will not do it justice but I will post the pictures in a picture blog later so you can all see it. It was wonderful! After we spent a couple hours walking around the mosque and the Taj, Jassie took us to breakfast. (Aimee did not feel well for the rest of the trip so she spent most of the time napping in the car. I felt so bad for her, especially since she had been looking forward to the trip for weeks.) The three of us enjoyed some breakfast and then it was off to explore the Agra Fort. I hung out with Pete most of the time because he was more adventurous and we went searching for hidden passageways and fun stuff like that. It was so huge! We spent nearly 2 1/2 hours there and we didn't even see everything! Crazy! The downside... there were bats. Yes, I screamed. And ran.  

(Just in case you were wondering here is the brief story behind the fort and Taj Mahal... The emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of one of his wives who died in childbirth. It is a tomb of sorts. Anyway he built it across the river from the fort where he ruled.. the Agra Fort. The view is amazing. The bad part is, he was overthrown and locked up in his own house. His cell is in what is called the Octagon tower. So this magnificent structure that he spent all his money and time on to honor his dead wife was just outside of his prison cell which was located in a fort that he used to rule... talk about depressing. There were also two different parts of the fort that were not open when we were there. These were his daughter's living quarters... both of them were the size of multi-million dollar houses complete with something called the "hall of mirrors." No big deal. This was used as a dressing quarters I believe for his daughters or one of them. Anyway it was lined with diamonds, so says the guard that tried to make us pay for looking through the window (we could only look in the window since it was closed to the public).  Also, there were huge beautiful courtyard gardens. I really wish I could have see it back in it's prime!)

It was a long buy very eventful day and the drive home took forever but we were able to catch up on some much needed sleep. I was super tired but I figured I had a long flight ahead of me so it might be a good thing. We were told to order pizza for dinner and nothing made us more excited than seeing a huge menu with a plethora of American style pizzas. Mmmm. It was amazing! 

After dinner, I packed the remainder of my stuff and it was off to the airport. Everything went smoothly, once again no problems... good deal. I arrived at my gate and pulled out my book. I had a couple hours so I was in for the long hall. When I looked up I saw Pete sitting across from me. He had left for the airport a couple hours earlier than I had and he was still waiting for his flight. We talked a bit, but it wasn't long before he was called to board. Back to my book. I read "Christian the Lion." I don't know if you all are familiar with the YouTube hit of the guys being reunited with the lion cub that they raised in London, but that is what the book was about. It was so interesting... and sentimental. I finished the 200+ page book to give you an idea of how long I waited in the airport. 

The time had come, 18 long hours and it was back to the USA.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

"I'm going to let my heart defeat my mind..."

"Let your love make me whole..

I don't want to go through the motions 
I don't want to go one more day
Without your all consuming passion inside of me."

Happy Birthday Craig!!

It's been awhile... 
The monsoons are here and the internet has been a little spotty. I've also been a little lazy when it comes to blogging. Sorry, please forgive me. 

I have a week left in India and, truthfully, I do not want to leave. I absolutely love it here! I have good friends here now and it's going to be hard to say goodbye. At the same time... I do miss everyone at home and I am looking forward to being back in the States. Have you ever played the silly question game? You ask questions like, "If you could be any vegetable what would you be?" I remember always being asked the magic power question and I never had a reply. It hasn't been until recently that I have figured out what my answer would be. If I could have any magic power, I would choose teleportation. This revelation first occurred while Diana and I were on the couch watching TV late at night and we didn't want to walk up the stairs to go to bed. Pathetic, I know. However, I would love to have this power even more now so I could return to India anytime I pleased. Even though my ideas of magic powers are a little far-fetched, I really want to come back some day.  

Since I last wrote... 

I have said goodbye to one of my best friends, Beth. She left last week and it was a sad day. I've only known her for 4 weeks but I couldn't stop the tears as she hugged me farewell and drove away. It was really sad this week to wake up and see her empty bed beside me. I miss her a lot. Caitlin, Mahathi, Maura, Luana, and Melody all left with her. 
And then there were five.

I've been working with my women's group, teaching English and learning more and more about the Indian culture. We drive about 20 minutes out into the country and actually teach in one of the woman's homes. I know I am looked upon as the one who is teaching and giving back to a community who would otherwise not have the opportunity, but I don't think these women realize what amazing people they are. I love them so much and I can only hope that one day I can achieve the compassion and sincerity that they have shown me as I work with them. Until then I will do my best...
Last week they dressed us up like Indian brides. I was a little nervous when they started painting my face and combing through my curly hair, but it was a fun experience. On another day they made us a picnic lunch and took us to the Kangra Fort. It was beautiful and amazing to see a piece of a culture that has been around for so long. The United States is just so young. It's hard to believe since it is all I've ever known but it's true. I have so much respect for the importance of tradition and preserving history here. On the schedule this week... they are going to teach us how to cook! I'm excited!! One of the things on the menu is Pakora. It is one of the best things I've had here. It's like french fries and onion rings put together in a bunch of delicious spices. I think of my father every time I have them, because he would love them. 

I am shedding my skin like a snake. Literally. That sunburn I got on the hike was/is a doozie. 

New volunteers arrived. Malcom, Ryan, Stephanie, Sarah, Angela, and Allie. Our original group of 14 is now outnumbered by the newbies. It's really weird and way too quiet. All the newbies are really nice but it's just not the same. I'm biased, but as a group we were way more fun. 

This weekend has been kind of a lazy one. I've done some last minute shopping and quite a bit of reading. I just finished a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. (Thank you Brittany for recommending it!) It was challenging and a good reminder of the fact that it is most important to love and to reflect Christ through that love. I took out a part in the book and substituted "I" for "person/people." (I like to do this from time to time to challenge myself.) Here's what it said... 
"I want to be characterized by committed, settled, passionate love for God, above and before every other thing and every other being. I want to be known as a giver, not a taker. I want to be more concerned with my character than my comfort. I know that true joy does not depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God."

For today, I think we might head out to some old stone temples. Other than that I'm just trying to enjoy my last few days here. 
I'm so thankful.

Love to all. 

"If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit."
Galations 5:25


Sunday, July 19, 2009

"There's something about the ocean, that makes me rise up and praise..."

"There's something about the heavens 
That makes me stand in awe again
There's something about the sunrise
Reminds me of your faithfulness
There's something about the ocean
And I'm lost in love again."

I have touched the snow line of the Himalayan Mountains.

This weekend was rigorous and exhausting, but it left us all with a great sense of accomplishment. Granted, we all thought we were going to die, whether it would have been from lack of oxygen or just sheer exhaustion. Plus, Beth and I woke up sick the day we were to leave for our little excursion. We pressed on.

Saturday morning we woke up a little less than 100% but we still called the cab to head up to McLeod Ganj where our guides told us they would meet us. K.B. and Katar (not how you spell them, I'm sure, but I didn't ask) were waiting for us. They called their company car since
we were going to drive the first kilometer and shortly thereafter we were officially on our way. Although surprised at the lift, we decided we were going to take all that we could get. It was going to be a long trip ahead of us. We were so naive...

The goal of the day was to make it to Triund, which is where we would spend the night before we trekked on to the snow line early the next morning. I think our guides were a little disappointed in the American girls (plus an English one) because we were struggling with the ascent and the slowly diminishing oxygen levels. We apologized for being lame and for having to stop for water breaks about every kilometer. A wave of the hand and a "No problem," was always their reply. They were gracious folk, but the looks on their faces were a little skeptical of us making it all the way to our destination. To tell you the truth, I was a little skeptical too. 

After making friends with a baby poisonous snake, scaling boulders, seeing a full circle rainbow around the sun, twisting a couple ankles, dodging cow, donkey & goat droppings, 3 bottles of water, feeling like I've done the stair machine for 4 hours straight, 2 lemon lime gatorades, and documenting some of the most astonishing views that I have ever seen in my life, we made it to Triund. We had completed 9 kilometers and we were all exhausted. They showed us our little "house" that we would be staying in and we all passed out and took a nap for about an hour. The locals just laughed at us and I think they thought we were weird. On the other hand, like always, they were extremely inviting and they served us some great soup and curry for dinner. They just like to make fun of us while they show their kindness (it's how it works around here... no big deal). We talked a little with our guides. K.B. is a student in Dharamsala and he spoke English really well. He was so fun and saved our lives on numerous occasions. He simply said that it was his job. What a nice guy. Katar kept to himself. He's been guiding for 18 years and he is a little intimidating. He's not so good in the English department either. We gave up on him and we started talking to the shop owner, Lalu (he lived and ran a shop out of the same building that we were staying in). He started talking about his dog Linda. Yes, this dog is a male. Yes, you heard me right. HIS name is Linda. He then started telling us that since it was monsoon season it was also about the time when all the black bears come out to play. However, we were not to worry because "Linda very powerful and he fights off many black bear." I was reassured, I think, until I didn't get more than 4 hours of sleep that night due to the barking dogs outside our feeble bedroom door. I was sure that a bear was going to break it down and eat me. Good news... we all made it through the night. 

Up at 7am! A little sore but not bad. Breakfast was delicious and consisted of fresh mango, bananas, and oatmeal with honey. We were fueled up and ready to conquer the next 7 kilometers to the snow line. We were all lacking confidence in our physical abilities to complete our goal but we all decided it was worth a try. The trekking was more of the same. We needed to stop often due to sickness and adjustments to altitude, but we kept going. We kept asking K.B. what the rest of the hike was like. Flashbacks of "Are we there yet?" moments in my childhood came to mind. I hope he didn't find us annoying. When he said that after the first 3 km there was a significant stretch that was flat, you should've seen the hope in our eyes. I never thought I would be so excited about flat land... coming from Huron County and all. I was ecstatic. We strolled along for awhile and we were all feeling great when we arrived at the Snowline Cafe. We took some pictures and had a little rest before K.B. pointed out the vertical incline that took us up to the glacier. Once again we were feeling a little defeated but we were too close to turn back. As we were leaving... I noticed a sign near the cafe that read... "This is the last cafe." I told the girls that it reminded me of the Splash Mountain ride at Disney World where you're about to go over the edge and there signs posted saying "This is your last chance."


After another hour of excruciating work, we made it to the snow line!! We spent about 45 minutes just taking in the incredible view and enjoying our accomplishment. K.B. and Katar surprised us with little juice boxes and Kit Kat bars and Beth even ate some snow! We made sure to document and after we felt rested we were on our way back down the mountain. It was 16 kilometers back home. We were hoping that the fact that it was downhill would make up for our already existing state of exhaustion. And it was a lot easier but let me tell you... I have been convinced for a number of years now that I will need knee replacement surgery at the age of 40, due to soccer. I think I just bumped that up a couple years. 
Oh well, it's all been worth it...

We finally made it back home... wet, sunburnt, rank and tired. But as Aimee (What a cute little English girl she is...) would put it... we are all "so pleased" that we did it.

Now that I am done reporting... the experience was unforgettable. It is so humbling to be in the midst of something so great. In the heart of such a vast creation. Being away from the sounds of civilization and hearing either the stillness of the mountains or the vibrant clicks and chatters of the wildlife, was so serene. It may be the country girl in me... but all I can say is that I'm a big fan. 

Faith can move mountains.
Matthew 17

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"I'm so thankful that I'm incapable of doing any good on my own..."

"It's by grace I have been saved 
Through faith that's not my own 
It is the gift of God and not by works 
Lest anyone should boast"

Well yesterday was my last day at school. It was sad but I am so thankful for the time that I was given there. Those kids are simply amazing and I will never forget the experience I had with them. We had a celebration at the school for the one year anniversary. The kids put on a dance performance and they all did great! I was so proud of them! My friends even took the day off from their placements to come watch. It was great.

This is Abhinandan dancing at the 1 year anniversary party for the school (a.k.a. the last day of school before break). He was one of my students that I worked with one on one, and although he could be a real stinker some days, he was an awesome little man. Now, I say he was a stinker because I think he was the only one that eventually figured out that I didn't speak much Hindi and he took advantage of it. Grrr. Frustrating, but I couldn't help but laugh. You have to give the kid some credit for being so clever. 
Now here are possibly the two cutest little boys I will ever meet. Pratiech and Ansul. 
Pratiech's nickname was Shiva. This is the name of the Hindu god of destruction. I think that is explanation enough. It was his way or no way at all. And then when it's all done, he clapped just to rub it in. But once again, so irresistible. Ansul is a sweetheart through and through and I am convinced that he is going to be a professional break dancer when he grows up. He also loves to be tickled and to give you high fives. It's the coolest thing EVER. (Randi, Ansul has a broken wing too.. this may or may not be one of the reasons why I was partial to him.) 
Bottom line, I've known them for only 3 weeks but I love these boys.

This is Anchal. She was also one of my students and possibly my favorite. She is so joyful... all the time. She loves to dance but she gets a little stage fright (there were tears shed). She loves to learn. Her smile is to die for.. not to mention her hugs and she loves the book "Brown Bear Brown Bear What do you See?" by Eric Carle, which automatically puts her on my good list. The words I use to describe her don't do any justice to who she is and how big her heart is. I really wish all of you could meet her. 

Mission accomplished. We found the waterfall. Aimee, Beth, Hillela and I all went back up to McLeod Ganj to take the right road and complete what we had hoped to earlier this week. The hike was beautiful and the views left us speechless. We found another little shopping/cafe area that was fun to look around and apparently we were the source of entertainment for a group of old men who wanted pictures taken with the four white girls. We asked them to return the favor and take a picture of us... one of the men proceeded to take a picture with Beth's camera. All we saw was his enlarged eyeball in the viewing screen as he held the camera backward. It took everything in me not to start laughing hysterically at the poor guy. We decided that getting our picture at that point was a lost cause and continued on our hike. After about a 3k walk up the mountain we reached the waterfall, took some pictures, and spent some time with a few locals who ran a cafe at the water's edge. We did all of this just in time for it to start pouring. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed hiking down the mountain in the pouring rain. I was soaked but I loved every minute of it. It's always so great to come back home and get all cozy for the night too. Mmmm. Love it.

Today, I went with Beth to her daycare just to check it out. I don't know for sure where I am going to be working for the rest of my time here but I thought I would use some of the time to see what other people are doing. The kids at the day care were so cute and full of energy! I pulled out the claw and they went crazy! It was fabulous! I'm not sure who had more fun... the kids, the teacher watching us, or me. We made newspaper hats with them which were destroyed soon after and some were even used as mid-afternoon snacks. Kids... 
We arrived back to Chamba Cottage and everyone was riled up about something. We asked what was going on and apparently somewhere in our front yard there was a 6 foot black snake that decided to drop in for a visit this afternoon. How kind, I know. Normally, I would be freaked out and go in the house, but I was feeling a tad adventurous and decided to go on a snake hunt today. To our disappointment we did not find the snake. Better luck next time. 

This evening we went on another hike to "St. Johns in the Wilderness" and the Tibetan Children's village. The church was nice and I might try to attend a service on Sunday. I figured it might be kind of neat. Then there was the Tibetan Children's Village... we just kind of wandered in. I don't know if we were allowed but we did it anyway. This is a community and school that has been set up for Tibetan children that have fled Tibet without their parents. Basically, they are orphans. However, they have been provided a place to stay and an education in upper Dharamsala. The main focus here is to preserve the values and tradition of the Tibetan culture. It's a really cool idea but I feel bad for all the children that have no idea where their parents are or if they'll be able to see them again. I can't imagine going through what the Tibetan people have been going through over the past 50 years. Lastly, this was our third significant hike of the trip... the first 2 times it rained. We got soaked. This time wasn't any different. We were in the middle of the rainstorm up on top of the mountain and could see the cloud moving in to surround us. I was IN a cloud today!

Everyone went to a band performance tonight but a couple of us decided to hang back and chill at home tonight. I'll have to catch the band again some other night...
Love to all.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim 
the work of his hands. 
Day after day they pour forth speech; 
night after night they display knowledge. 
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."
Psalm 19: 1-4

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"From wherever you are, wherever you've been, he's been there..."

"Praise him under open skies
Everything breathing praising God
In the company, of all who love the King.

And it's so wonderful to be here now..."

And I'm back...

It was an eventful weekend. Some good. Some bad. Here's how it turned out...

We started out on  our journey at about noon on Saturday afternoon. Beth, Aimee, Hillela and I shared one of the cabs, and let me tell you our taxi driver was quite the disc jockey. We had some spanish flare, some good ol' American rap, Hindi pop...we covered it all. My favorite was when Celine Dion came on... yes, Jen our girl is topping the charts over in India too. The scenery was also amazing and I've decided that I am going to try to harvest some rice while I'm over here. It looks fun. As we drove away from the Himalayan range, the foothills had a very different type of vegetation and the tree lines were odd-looking. Beth described them as being straight out of a Dr. Suess book. I liked this analogy and we agreed that all we needed was to find some hinkle-horn honkers and Horton the elephant. Then, life would be complete.

We were headed for the Pakistan border to watch the famous border ceremony. Now, I was told that it would be somewhat like the D.C. changing of the guards. Not quite. I got a message from Mitch and he said to expect it to be much more boisterous. I agree with his diction.  
It was a little more accurate. It was awesome to see the pride that the Indian people take in their country. It was just a border closing ceremony but you'd think you were at the Olympics and India just won the 100 meter relay (or any other popular event for that matter). It's a big deal and people travel from all over to come see it. There was singing, dancing, chanting... it made me wish I spoke more Hindi so I could understand more of what was going on. However, 
you didn't need to know the language to see the passion of the Indian citizens. The guards were also quite the sight and way more flexible than yours truly. They basically did the splits standing up. Crazy. The heat was also crazy... we got out of the mountain region where we are in Dharamsala and about died.  
P.S. I was like 5o feet from Pakistan! Can we say awesome?!?

The Golden Temple. When we got to Amritsar after the border ceremony we went and got some Dominos pizza and went exploring. We decided to walk to the temple, even though the plan was to go at sunrise. Plus, going twice wouldn't be a bad deal.  This is actually a Sikh temple which is still part of the Hindu religion but a smaller sect of it with different emphases in their beliefs. You know the people with the beards, strapped daggers, and turbans? Chances are they are probably Sikh. 

Anyway... we decided to go in and I couldn't believe all the people. I believe most of them were pilgrims coming to see one of the five temples of religious authority in the Sikh faith. We took our shoes to the foot locker and proceeded. You walk through a shallow moat to cleanse your feet before entering and we all had scarfs to cover our heads. The temple was really beautiful and had numerous marble courtyards inside. The temple itself sat in the midst of a large pool which is considered to be holy water. People travel tremendous distances just to wade in the water and some come to bathe in it. It's amazing what you can learn and how you can be so moved by other people's faith, even if they don't share the same beliefs as your own. 

The hotel had cockroaches in it. Once again, flashback to Cambodia and I laughed at my roommates that were freaking out. Then I laughed at myself for being OK with cockroaches in my room. 

Last stop...  Jallianwala Bagh Memorial. 

This is a memorial dedicated to the approximately 2000 Indians who were shot and killed during a peaceful protest against British tyranny. It was a movement for independence and on April 13, 1919 the massacre occurred under General Dyer of the British-Indian Army. The open fire lasted for a total of 10-15 minutes and nearly 2000 lives of innocent men, women, and children were lost. These kind of things fascinate me but at the same time make me really sad in realizing the devastation that we, as humans, are capable of. What's even more disturbing is the mentality behind all of it and where it comes from. 

Now the bad part... as we were touring the memorial a few of us had to deal with our first encounter of harassment. Caitlin, Beth and I were all approached by the same man and had to physically fight him off. It was a little terrifying. I think mostly because we were all taken off guard. Back home, I feel like I wouldn't hesitate to punch the guy in the face but when you're in a different culture you're always worried about being sensitive to their way of life. The worst thing about it is, that the majority of Indians are so hospitable, compassionate and truly respectful people... but there is always the exception that taints the good reputation and we just happened to run into him. Not to worry. We are all fine. Just a little shaken up. Plus, a group of guys nearby helped us out by putting the creeper in his place. They came to check on us after they had chased him out of the memorial park and we told them thank you for doing their part to protect us. We left soon after and were on our way back to home to Dharamsala. 
So, don't freak out Mom & Dad. I'm home safe. 

When we pulled into home base, we paid our taxi drivers. Beth and I marched right up stairs, and without stopping to do anything else, dropped all our bags at the foot of our beds and collapsed. We were out for a good three hour nap.

So now, here I sit, typing away and I think I will finish my book tonight. (By the way, I highly recommend Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski!) Yes, I am being anti-social. After traveling with seven people this weekend, I'm in need of some alone time. 

"We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, 
and no one will find fault with our ministry.
In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God.
We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 
We have been beaten, been put in prison, 
faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights,
and gone without food.
We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, 
our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
We faithfully preach the truth.
God's power is working in us.
We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack
and the left hand for defense. 
We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.
We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. 
We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.
Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.
We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10

(This is one of my favorites...)

Friday, July 10, 2009

"There's only one that never fails to beckon the morning light..."

"There's only one 
who sets loose the gales and ties the trees down tight
When all around my soul gives way
He is all my hope and stay
There's only one, only one
Holy One."

I've become a huge fan of getting up to see the sunrise. It's so peaceful and it's a wonderful way to start the day with a feeling of gratitude. I'm such a morning person now. I never used to be when I was younger except on Saturday mornings when I got up to watch Steve Irwin, Saved by the Bell and Hang Time. Now I can't get enough of the scenery and solitude. 
Times have changed. 

Well I've decided to add a few more pictures for y'all. 
Today is Friday and the beginning of our free weekends. Beth, Aimee, and I all went for a hike this afternoon. We were aiming for a little trek to Bhagsu waterfall but unfortunately picked the wrong prong when we came to the fork in the road. We decided to keep going and made it to a little Israeli town, Dharamkot. Beth and Aimee did a little shopping, we took some pictures and played in the rain as it started to downpour. We also came across some giant slugs that were quite intriguing. It was fun and I enjoyed being adventurous... or taking the road less travelled, if you will. 

A view from our hike up the mountain, Singing in the rain, 
and Giant slugs!

This weekend it is off to Amristar which is near the India/Pakistan border. We are going to see the golden temple and the border closing ceremony. From what I've heard it could be compared to something like the changing of the guards in Washington D.C... only it is opening and closing the border between the two countries. If that makes any sense.... Anyway I'm excited to go traveling. So I'll fill you in when I get back. 

I played some cricket for the first time last night with a bunch of the staff, mainly our cooks. They are so fun and so is cricket. I like to be the bowler, which would be the equivalent to the pitcher in baseball. Anyway... Lalu, Rakesh, and Mukesh explained the rules and we were off. I forget who was up first but their ball came right to me in the field.  All the rules were racing through my mind... "if it bounces I can only catch it with one hand but if it doesn't bounce I can catch it with two"... I was focused but apparently a little overwhelmed because I went to catch it with two hands after a bounce. The ball was coming to me... Lalu saw what was happening and he went crazy. All of a sudden he starts running at me shouting, "ONE HAND! ONE HAND!" Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to have a heart attack! I was so scared. I screamed, jumped back, and missed the ball completely. Everyone started laughing hysterically, including myself. I must explain something about Lalu here... He is a small Indian man, I would say about 30-35 and about my height (maybe shorter, he's just a little guy). He is always scurrying around and has very, almost spastic mannerisms. He's so cute, but apparently he gets a little intense when it comes to a friendly game of cricket. 

Good times at Chamba Cottage.

"The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the person that seeks him."
Lamentations 3:25

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"Your will above all else, my purpose remains, the art of losing myself in bringing you praise..."

"Everlasting, your light will shine when all else fades..
Never-ending, your glory goes beyond all fame
And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise
From the inside out..."

I can't get over how beautiful it is here. I'm sitting here on the balcony outside my room just taking in how big the world is and how big our God is. To create all of this... I can't even imagine but I love being a part of it. 

I was thinking this week.. "Why am I here?" Not in a regretful sense but in more of a contemplative sense. Yes, I love to travel and see different parts of the world, meeting new people is always great too... but that's not it. I just want to give. I want to serve. I want to encourage. I want to be used. I pray that God uses me in whatever way he needs no matter how frustrating or challenging it may be for me. If just one person is changed or feels the love of Christ it is all worth it. Every morning I ask that God prepares my heart for the day ahead...

"Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me."
Psalm 51
(Thanks to Bri for this... :) )
On to the everyday happenings...
It's been pretty hot the past few days. Monsoon season was thinking about getting underway, but then retreated. Today is looking kind of hazy though so hopefully it will rain. I love it when it rains here. It's a warm refreshing rain and the kids go crazy! I taught them how to run their hand under the roof and fling water at each other last week. That may or may not have been a good idea.

A couple nights ago, a few of us went exploring at this "amusement park" down the mountain from our house. I was a little apprehensive but a couple of the guys bought a full package for all the rides. Beth and I stood on the side, like parents do at the fair when their children are on the carousel... and they wave every time you go around.. yeah, that was us. All the while fearing for their lives and planning what we would do if we had to rush them to the hospital. Everything turned out fine though... and Himalayan Wonder World was good for some really good laughs.

Last night we had a presentation from a traditional dancing instructor and her students. They are known world wide and are really amazing at what they do. I had no idea that every hand motion had a different meaning and the dance is a type of sign language telling a story. The two girls that performed for us have been training for 15 years and have all of the motions memorized. Just one hand position can have 42 different meanings depending on what motion they use... and that's just one position. Another group joined us for this presentation at the house. They are from Palampur. We ended up playing musical chairs (mostly to entertain the staff, I'm convinced) that turned into some bitter group rivalry. It was a tad uncomfortable and caused a lot of tension between some people. It was awkward and it has scarred the game of musical chairs for the rest of my life... all I could do was laugh. 

Off to placement today.. the president of the school is going to be there. That's a little intimidating. I've been really frustrated with the whole placement thing, mostly because of the language barrier, but yesterday was a really good day and I hope that it just keeps getting better. I only have another week at this school before I change placements. I believe I am going to be working with college aged women when I am finished at Harmony school. But I guess we'll see where I end up...

That's all for now..
Good morning India, Good night America!

"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else
is the greatest accomplishment."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"He's the remedy, Let us be the remedy, Let us bring the remedy..."

Time for a picture blog...

Flying to Dharamsala from Delhi.
(Me, Beth, Aimee, Hillela, Melody)

This is my house. My room is on the very right hand side with the little balcony attached.

Dharamsala, India
(Mitchell, I totally understand why this was your favorite... I love it here!)

Hiking in flip flops down to the river by our house.

Some of our group in the river by the Hindu temple we went to see. 
These are the people I hang out with (mostly).
Caitlin, Hillela, Mike, Aimee, Beth, & Luis

The staff put on a 4th of July party for us. It was so great! They grilled up some chicken, bought us a cake (above), and shot off some fireworks. It was a little terrifying since they were lighting them about 10 feet away, but very thoughtful and very fun. Here's a quote from my friend Aimee at the dinner table.. She's from Northern England...

Aimee: Wait so who did you get your independence from again?
Mike: Ummm... you.
Aimee: That was embarrassing.

Dressing up in Saris for our traditional dinner night. They are pretty complicated to get on!

Aimee and I walking the streets of McLeod Ganj
(Where the Dalai Lama lives)

Tibet in exile... 50 years (1959-2009)
This whole situation fascinates me... I want to learn more about it. 
We were able to talk to a Tibetan lama who gave us a brief background and even described his family's experience fleeing from the Chinese into India. This banner was being hung outside the temple across from the Dalai lama's house.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"And I'll try, yes I'll try, to touch the world, like you've touched my life.."

"You can have everything I am
and perfect everything I'm not
I am willing 
I'm not afraid
You give me strength when I say
I want to be your hands
I want to be your feet
I'll go where you send me."

Happy 4th of July!

It's been a pretty good week so far... except for yesterday. India decided to initiate me along with 6 other people with what we have nicknamed "the locomotions". I was up all night with an upset stomach (we'll leave it at that) and I didn't leave my bed for more than 2 hours combined yesterday. It sucked, but hopefully the worst is over. I'm going to take a little break from the Indian cuisine though. The thought of it right now almost puts me in a relapse. The good news is that I woke up this morning feeling pretty good besides a minor headache. No big. 

Work this week has gone well but it has also been very challenging. I have three students that I am assigned to work with. 
1. Surbhi - (pronounced Soo bee) she is my most challenging. I'm working with her to recognize her name and identify colors. She has very limited speech, if any and it is difficult for her to concentrate. Not to mention she is very stubborn. The other day she coughed in my face and wiped a thick juicy booger on my shirt during our lesson time. It's frustrating but there's still hope. 

2. Anchal - this little girl is adorable. I'm working with her on numbers and colors. She is eight years old and she loves to dance! Seriously the joy in this little girl's heart brings tears to my eyes. And her laugh...  I love her. 

3. Abhinandan - (I'm not even going to try to teach you how to say this on here) Abhinandan has Down Syndrome and he is so fun to work with. He is also a dancer and we were breaking it down during dance time the other day. He's got moves! I'm working with him on writing skills.  I've only just started working with him so I do not have all the goals for him yet but I'm sure he'll do great. 

The thing about the school here is that physical discipline is regularly used and it makes me really uncomfortable. It's hard for me to get used to and it's hard not to say anything. I have to remember that I'm in a totally different culture.. but still. It's hard to watch. I'm all about the positive reinforcement and I'm going to suggest a few ideas that will hopefully be taken into consideration. 

Today we have a picnic with all the kids and their parents. It should be fun and they are putting on their dance for everyone. I can't wait. I don't really have a lesson planned for today since I was on a life hiatus yesterday so I'm hoping I don't have to teach today. 

Moving on..
I am sooo hungry. I think I am going to compile a list of food that I crave while I am over here. I know it is only the 6th day but still I would do anything for a fresh salad. I also miss running! I feel so lazy without doing any type of exercise. I'm pretty sure that it has thrown my body for a loop too. I don't go too many days without a good run or playing soccer. I might have to join in a game of cricket with the staff one of these nights. 

We also made a trip up to McLeod to meet with a Tibetan lama. It was supposed to be a lecture but we got there, he sat down and said "I don't know what to say, any questions?" I wasn't prepared for that but it turned out alright. He explained the situation of exile and even told of his own story when he fled to India with his parents when he was very young. It was quite interesting. We took a little time to explore and went to see the Dalai Lama lives. I think we're going to head back up there today to do a little more exploring since we were on limited time. 

I really miss my family. It's family weekend up at the cottage right now and I'm so sad that I can't be there with them. It is the first year I've ever missed it and I wish I could teleport myself home for the weekend. Plus, most of you have heard me talk about the Young Americans. It's the dinner theater that we got to every year up there. It is seriously one of my favorite things ever. I hope they all have a great time though. I'll just have to wait until next year... 

"Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you."
Psalm 143

Monday, June 29, 2009

In the morning when I rise...

So I woke up at 5am because of jet lag and well I looked out the patio door and couldn't fall back asleep... here's why...

My friend Beth and I went on a picture escapade and watched the sunrise (we even heard the beckoning of the roosters) ... in the Himalayas... 
I can't believe I live here!

(I took pictures with my real camera but I just used photobooth for a quick upload.. these don't do it justice but I'll add the other ones later.)

"Every next step is an extraordinary scene..."

"I know that I’ve been,
Given more than beyond measure,
I come alive when,
I see beyond my fears
I know that I’ve been given more than earthly treasure,
I come alive when
I’ve broken down and given you control."


I made it to Dharamsala!... and oh what a journey it has been. I'm exhausted from traveling and our stay in Delhi was alright... but the moment I arrived this afternoon in Dharamsala, I fell in love! It is so beautiful here and I've only been here for a few hours. But, before I go into any of that let me catch you up to speed... you might need a helmet for this ride (I know I could've used one)...

First of all, I'm so confused on what day it is and what time it is but the best thing about India is that time means nothing... just my style. I love how everything is so laid back here.  

So, my parents, brother and aunt and uncle dropped me off at the airport and I have to admit I was freaking out a little bit. International travel... alone? It's a little nerve-wreaking. The Amsterdam airport was pretty sweet.. no VIP lounge though. However, it was great to see the little kiosks in the airport selling bulbs of tulips in bulk! Awesome. After my second 8 hour flight, I arrived in New Delhi. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened in the flying process, then I got to customs. I was standing in line and I recognized two younger girls, who were sisters, that had been on my flight. They were traveling with their mom and were both between the ages of 8 and 13, I'd say. They were messing around like sisters do, but the younger one started backing up and getting closer to me. Encroachment! Before I knew it, she was swinging her little travel bag up in the air by her head and I took a blow right in the schnoz (this is where that helmet would've came in handy). Anyway, I passed customs with flying colors.. and a broken nose. Next stop: luggage. I sat at the baggage claim waiting for my luggage. I waited some more. The baggage stopped coming. I was convinced that I was stranded without any luggage. Then one of the attendants was nice enough to show me (I felt like I was playing charades) to where they had pulled bags off the belt when no one claimed them. I spotted mine... 
Crisis evaded. 
The CCS staff was waiting for me as I walked out of the airport. Come to find out one of the volunteers that I am working with was sitting in the same row as me on the flight only on the other side of the aisle. Weird. We gathered our stuff and we were on our way...
Wow, it was hot! It was 12am and I'm guessing it was around 80 degrees. I was extremely thankful when our driver carried my luggage up to my flat on the third story and turned on that glorious air conditioning. Time for bed!

The next couple days we attended lectures at the CCS offices and they were very informative. We had a professor come and talk to us about politics and religion. I was surprised at how interested I was. Usually it takes quite a bit to get me into that kind of thing but he and the info were fascinating. He was also very wise, at lease I thought so. He was brought in to sensitize us to the culture but a lot of the things that he said were so appropriate for everyone.. everywhere. One thing that stuck with me was, "Don't dismiss the unfamiliar as irrational." Think about it. That's a pretty powerful statement if you ask me.  

The food has been great, besides the airplane food that I refuse to eat. The smell and my gag reflex is enough to turn me away. By far, my favorite thing so far is the chai tea. There is nothing like it and I am determined to learn how to make my own before I leave. I'll definitely be buying some authentic spices. Don't worry, I'll share with all of you too! 

My group is simply amazing! I've already met some people that are going to be good friends, I can feel it. Here's a run down..
Mike from OH (Ohio State; he's a runner! yay!)
Beth from TN (Wake Forrest; reminds me SO much of you Bob) 
Melody from NY (masters in Special Edu... hope to learn a lot from her)
Luis from VT (Middlebury; he plays quidditch)
Hillela from Seattle (goes to school in MA; going to be doing some trekking with her)
Aimee from England (studying fine art; has the coolest accent ever; going w/ to the Taj Mahal)
It's always a little awkward feeling people out at first but so far so good! I like everyone and we all seem to get along really well. Bonus!

The final destination...
We arrived in Dharmsala this afternoon.  Don't get me wrong Delhi was cool but I'm a country girl and I was suffering from a bad case of the city blues. I needed to see green trees and wide open spaces. Plus, being in the mountain region, it is at least 20 degrees cooler with a breeze. Perfecto. When we landed and stepped off the plane, it smelled like fresh flowers instead of smog, it was green instead of brown, and there was just an overall sense of serenity instead of the constant bustle of the city. This is my kind of place and I'm so glad I chose Dharamsala (Thanks Mitchell!). I can't wait to go exploring! 

Welp, I have my first day at Harmony school tomorrow and I need to get some rest. Hopefully this jet lag will have run its course by then. I can't wait to meet the kids!! :)
Love to all. 

"To me, every hour of the day & night is an unspeakably perfect miracle."
  - Walt Whitman

Monday, June 22, 2009

"I won't give up on giving you the chance to blow my mind."

Over the past week... lots of things have been happening in the life of me.

I got my placement!! Officially, here is what I will be doing in India...

I will be working with an organization called Harmony Through Education. Here is the description that was sent to me... I'm so pumped!

Harmony Through Education seeks to establish schools in underserved developing rural communities to give impoverished children and young adults the education and life skills necessary to improve their lives and contribute  to the well being of their communities. Education can be lifesaving and life-affirming., and allow young minds to better harmonize with the body and community. This integration helps to ensure a more purposeful life. The school in Dharamsala deals with special needs children.

I am SO EXCITED for this!!
And who knows this may help me decide if I want to get my  masters in Special Education... 
We'll see.
I was telling Shari the other day how while I was doing my undergrad I didn't want anything to do with the special education program. I had a few teammates tell me that I would be really good at it but I just didn't think I could handle it. It is a totally different story now. It's where my heart is. My favorite thing to do in teaching is to help students who are struggling. To give them hope and the belief that they can do it!

My wonderful friends and I went out to eat at an Indian restaurant in Ann Arbor as a last hurrah. It was soooo good and I loved sharing some of what I will be experiencing with some of my favorite people. We all ordered different dishes so we could pass them around and try a little bit of each. For those of you who are scared of Indian food because of the spice. Don't be. You can order any dish in mild spice and it is worth it!

I was able to meet with an Indian family for a few language and cultural tips. It was wonderful and I'm pretty sure she made the best chai tea I've ever tasted! It was homemade and delicious! I'll be drinking a lot of that in the next month for sure. Sangita is her name and her daughter's name is Mehr. They are so amazing and I've actually taught her daughter before. I am so grateful that they invited me into their house and shared with me! She even called her relatives in New Delhi to tell them I was coming and that if I needed anything I could contact them. I don't care what some people say... this world is full of some pretty great people. 

Diana and I moved out of our apartment. The nightmare is over. Well, kind of. It just moved over to my Grandma Weitzel's house. I guess we'll just deal with that later. I have to say I was a little sad to leave the place. I really did like that apartment and I've lived with many good friends there... Jen, Amber, Shelby, Randi, and Di. I'm not totally sure what I will be doing once I get back from the other side of the world but I'm trusting that the Lord will take care of that plan. Plus worrying and stressing about what comes next is not my style. 

I had my last violin lesson for the semester. Clyde made me promise to have fun in India but to come back. It made me laugh. He's great. I was actually thinking the other day while I was practicing that I've learned so much from him. He's a great teacher and I'm so glad that he has the patience to work with me. The violin definitely is not one of those instruments that you can pick up and start playing.. let's say... Nickel Creek bluegrass. I'll get there someday.

I've been home for the past few days but I will update about that another time. And I'll try to add some pictures later... as soon as I find my camera cord in this mess. :)

" strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."

1 Corinthians 15:58

It's not about me...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"You said, Ask and I'll give the nations to you..."

"Oh Lord, that's the cry of my heart...
Distant shores and the islands will see your light
as it rises on earth."

Back to my roots....

This is actually a blog that I have been wanting to write for awhile... but just could not find the right words. However, some great conversation with some really cool friends back home has inspired me. Thank you Bri and Korey.

Love as I have loved you. 
I remind myself of this everyday, and there is no way I could ever do it on my own, but through Him there is only room for more love. There always will be. No matter what the circumstance. Of course it is hard living for the sake of the Lord and for the
sake of others. Maybe even one of the hardest things in life, but I cannot imagine living for
anything else. 

To be an encouragement to others... to be devoted to one another... to love people... to see Him in every face I meet. I'm weak and I'm not very good at it, but I do my best. It's something to strive for. It's one of my biggest passions. It's something I want to take with me everywhere I go. To work, to practice with my girls, to the grocery store, to India! 
They'll know we belong to Him by our love.

So, with that being said, I headed back to the thumb this past weekend and it was wonderful. I really do enjoy going home and I am so grateful that I grew up in the community that I did. Even if it was annoying to drive an hour to the nearest ANYTHING. But really, Pigeon is a great place. If you haven't been there, y'all should come visit sometime (eh hem...JEN MOL RANDI!! I mean, what kind of roommates are you!!) but make it in the summer. Winters are a little on the depressing side. Anyway.. I had a lovely dinner with the grandparents and family. I love my grandparents. They're so cool. It's so intriguing to listen to their stories.. I'm sure most of you have experienced the same with your own grandparents. I wonder what it would've been like to live back then.. sometimes I wish I could travel back in time and see what it was like during different time periods. 

Wow. I am a little all over the place today. But moving on... I had the best time with Korey and Briana this weekend! Bri and I hopped in the car and drove to Korey's apt. in Bay City and had a little chat with some chocolate fondue and fresh strawberries. Mmmmm. It was some great conversation... from politics to pop rocks (we like to cover a wide range). On the way home Bri and I drove through Rose Island and took some great pictures. She's super fun and I love her and the infamous road trip conversations that we have. I also really like driving through Rose Island because of the bay and the old docks. It's really pretty especially at sunset. I highly 
recommend it!

Then it was back to the homestead for dinner and to play a little fetch with Abigail. She's my baby and I love her. You would too... some of you probably have already fallen under her little spell. 

P.S. I love my yard at home. My parents work really hard and it shows. It's beautiful! See above.

I may have put this in here before.. but it fits and it is always worth a second helping....

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
-Mother Teresa

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Rain down, all around the world we're singing..."

"Rain down, can you hear the Earth is singing
Rain down, my heart is dry but still I'm singing
Rain down, rain it down on me.

Back to the start, my heart is heavy
Feels like it's time, to dream again
I see the clouds and yes I'm ready
To dance upon this barren land
Hope in my hands."

It has been raining most of the day and I sit here on the couch listening to the padder on the canopy, looking out my patio window, watching the rain fall to the Earth. Personally I can't think of anything better. There is something so peaceful and refreshing about a summer rain. If I hadn't just showered I would be really tempted to splash around in the puddles like when I was a kid. Mom and Dad would always get so annoyed when we would come in after the rain and leave grass clippings on the kitchen floor... whoopsie! Sorry about that.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all I have to do in the next couple weeks. That includes moving out of this apartment. Disaster. I know I mentioned this in my last blog but it is haunting me... I can't get away from it and yet I sit here.... listening to the rain.

"My sun sets to raise again."
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Monday, June 8, 2009

"This road that we travel..."

"For God's mercy holds us and we are his own
This road that we travel 
May it be the straight and narrow
God give us peace and strength from you
All the day through."


I have my VISA!!!! 
There is no turning back now. I'm 2 1/2 weeks away from my big adventure. India here I come! 

Ok, with all that excitement out... I am also getting a little nervous. But that is perfectly normal right? At least that's what I keep telling myself. The unknown is a little invigorating though. Hearing about my brother's trip to Egypt and Mike's trip to Japan also gets me going. I'm so glad that they are both having a great experience and I can't wait to see what the Lord has for me when I arrive in Dharamsala. Just waiting on that placement... hopefully it will be emailed this week!

This past week we were all sent an email/survey to fill out for the people that we will be working with during the weeks that we will be in India, aka our housemates. Another thing that I am super excited about. I love meeting knew people and making new friends! It sounds like there will be a lot of people my age there too and most of them are up for some hiking in the himalayas! (I just had the lyric from that Ricky Martin song pop in my head...weird.) I will be working with people from ALL over... Canada, Australia, Europe, and various parts of the U.S. How sweet is that?!?

Still struggling with the whole Hindi thing... I need a private tutor. 

On to other things... 

My girls won the district championship this year! Woot woot! It was great and they deserved it. I was so proud of them. Regionals was a hard fought battle and it was sad to say goodbye to the 11 seniors on the team, but new journeys await them as they move on to the college years. I was so blessed to have been able to coach such a great group of girls though... I really was. 

The flower shop is officially closed. BUT they are still doing fresh flowers... so if you ever need anything of the sort give J.Alexander's a call! The lines are open for business!

I was home over the weekend for a little while but it was so much fun. First of all, I got to see Tressa and Curt!! It was one of those days that seeing good friends was exactly what we all needed. THEN.. we were fortunate enough to see and experience the beginnings of the city slicker migration to the "north," as they call it.. when in reality we all know that the thumb is geographically along the midline of the state of Michigan. 

I'm starting to pack up my stuff in the apartment. Can we say nightmare? I wish I had magic powers... 

Rush tryouts are this week and next week.. I can't wait to see my girls. They're so great! 

Tonight I'm going to Mongolian BBQ with Di Di!! SO, SO EXCITED! She just got home and told me that we have a tornado watch... maybe we can storm chase... 
Welp, off we go!

I've decided to end each post with an inspirational quote for y'all... here's today's gift..

"Keep your face always towards the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you."
-Walt Whitman 

P.S. As pointed out by Diana today... We graduated from high school 6 years ago today.. June 8th. Now, that's crazy.