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.