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