Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sisters in India

Happy Thursday!

The humidity has reared it's ugly, sweaty head here in New Jersey.  Just when I was embracing fall, it feels like sticky summer again.  Yuck.

I write to you today from a borrowed Microsoft Surface with a not quite normal keyboard.  This is due to the fact that my trusty (or so I thought) laptop burned out.  Literally.  CPU dead.  Revival, not worth it.

As much my computer dying upset and stressed me, I can't say I was totally surprised.  The poor thing had been running too hard and too hot for months since I refused to replace the battery, kept it plugged into 90% of the time, and multi-tasked like crazy.

What's ironic is that I had just been telling people how I felt total peace about the support raising process.  I was trusting God to provide and not worried about money.

Cue, computer death.

"Are you really trusting me Becky?"  -God.

"Yes... kind of... maybe... sort of... why did this happen?  I can't afford this."

That's how the thoughts flowed. 

Fortunately, God prompted me to ask for help instead of stubbornly trying to fix everything right away.  My awesome friends have prayed for me, loaned me a spare piece of technology (making this post possible), referred me to a nice computer repairman who recovered my data, and helped me pick out a new machine.

It's amazing how God does provide when you humble yourself and ask for help.

Anyway, now I am awaiting my new HP, which will hopefully last more than 4 years, which seems to be my limit with laptops.

Okay, enough rambling about my laptop troubles.  I promise this post has a purpose.

I am excited to share with you another journal entry from India.  This day was full of both delight and pain.  You'll see why.

8-19-14

Day 3: Sisters and Swelling
 
 
Today began with the eager expectation of seeing the teenage orphan girls from S's home, my Indian sisters.

It was an unusual and important day in Hyderabad because of the government census.  The state of Andrha Pradesh recently split into two states.  One retrained the name Andhra Pradesh.  The other was called Telangana.  As a result of the split, people were registering for government aid in both states.  The goal of the census was to resolve this problem by determining how many people there were in each state and where they could legally register for aid.
 
The impact of the census on us was that we could not leave the hotel until the evening, after the census.  This was the case for most of the people of Hyderabad.  No one was out on the streets.  Businesses were shut down.  Very few horn honks.  Eerie. 
 
Despite the restrictions, M had still planned an enjoyable day for us.  She promised to send some of girls over to the hotel around 10:00 a.m., when the census workers were done visiting their home.
 
10:00 came after a breakfast of dosas, daal, hard-boiled eggs, and decent quality chai.  Eager to see the girls, we all trooped out to meet them in front of the hotel.  It wasn't long though before the heat drove us back to the hotel lobby.  Not much cooler.
 
Half an hour passed and still no girls.  I began to wonder what was going on, but did not have an easy way to communicate with M and P.  Fortunately, one girl on our team volunteered her phone, which was equipped with T-Mobile international service.  I called P and found out that the census workers were late.  The girls were stuck home.
 
Disappointment.

New plan. 

Prayer time. 
 
M sent me a list of very serious requested and the team gathered in room 310.  Before we got down to business, there was some card playing and signing of photos.  I wrestled with when to begin because I wanted to give people time to chill, but not miss out on praying deeply.  My time concern came true as we were only able to pray for a few requests that morning.
 
I really couldn't complain about running out of time though because the prayers were POWERFUL.  IB is prayer warrior like none I've every heard before.  She claimed God's truth boldly and sent chills down my spine.  We later found out that a sick girl she had been praying for walked and ate for the first time in days!  Praise the Lord!
 
 Unexpectedly, a new prayer request arose in the midst of our prayer time.
 
At one point, I needed to leave the room to check on something.  On the way back, feet flying and eyes glued to a phone, I met a couch.
 
BAM!!!!
 
Toe meet couch.
 
Knee meet couch.
 
Pain meet Becky.
 
Sharp pain.  Breath caught.  Imminent collapse 

Adrenaline driven hopping.

Arrival in the room.

Collapse.
 
Of course, the team was immediately concerned, but I laughed it off saying that I had just made friends with a couch and would be fine.
 
We continued praying for M's concerns.  All the while, my toe was doubling in size.  Nothing to worry about.  :-)
 
When the girls arrived, the size of my toe was quickly forgotten.
 
P brought U, V, M, and H up to the room and then he and the boys snuck out to do manly things while the rest of us got covered in henna and girl-talked.  For me, it was great to catch up with the sisters, especially U who I had gotten close to last year.  As she decorated my forearms with intricate Arabic and Indian style designs, we talked about school, camp, life in America etc.
 



Phone call.  Time for lunch.  Urgent scramble to flake the dried henna off in the bathroom.
 
Arms red from scraping, but smiles wide, we begged the girls to eat with us.  Our pleas were met with hesitation.  Serving us is all they know.  Still, we insisted, declaring that if we are truly sisters, they should eat with us.
 
Nervously, they joined us at the buffet and immediately took their places at the back of the line.  I refused to accept this and sent them ahead.  I told them I needed their advice about the food.  They informed me about the spiciest foods and warned me not put the dessert sweets on my plate.  A separate bowl was required to allow for ice cream on top!  YUM!!!
 
Back in the room, we transitioned to painting the girls' nails and giving them glitter tattoos.  I also began to pay attention to my toe, which I had been hobbling around on all morning.  Upon seeing that there was no space left between my big toe and second toe, I freaked out a bit until S, a dancer and expert in foot injuries, took over.  She carefully taped my big toe to the rest of my foot and arranged some towels for elevation.  Many team members asked the hotel for ice, but returned empty handed.
 
 

 
Soon the girls had to leave, so we had some downtime before going to see them at the pastor's house later.  I took the time to journal and rest.
 
Soon, it was time to leave.  Half of us crammed into the little van and left the rest behind for a second trip.  Apparently taking the big van would have been too conspicuous on a day like today.
 
At the pastor's house, we began with ice breakers since all 15 of the girls were there and we had not met them all yet.  The rest of the evening was spent with singing, dancing, and laughing.  We ate delicious curry and sweet bananas. 




While "icing" my foot with a bag of milk, I talked with U, M, V, and one of the new girls.  V, U's sister shared that before I came last year, U spent her time alone, rather than engaging with the group.  After meeting me, she connects with everyone.  Not sure how I affected that, but then, she, herself, told me "When you a re here, I never feel alone." 

Tears and concern welled up.  I was beyond touched that I mean that much to her.  However, I fear that she is too connected to someone who cannot be with her more than once a year at most.  I love her to death and pray for her daily.  I just hope that she can continue to connect with her sisters in India and her amazing mother and father figures, S and V.  I am so thankful that she has a family with a mother and father who show Christ's love, provide for her needs, and equip her for the future.   I am so thankful that all the girls and the orphans at the other homes have this as well.

Under the light of hope and love, U is studying to become a nurse.  Her goal is to offer free services to those in need because her mother died of a heart condition when no one could afford her treatment.  The transformation of ashes into beauty.  The heart of orphan work.

 



Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Currently, India, and a Giveaway


It's Thursday!  October 2nd.  Crazy.

My days have all blended together now that I am no longer teaching.  It's been weird to realize that school is going on without me and that I don't even think about it that much.  I miss my students and colleagues a lot, but teaching seems like it happened a lifetime ago.  I am living a totally different life now, so I do not even focus on missing the classroom very often.

That does not mean though that I do not think of other teachers and pray for them.  I know that the beginning of the year is super stressful, so I pray that all is going as smoothly as possible.

Though I am not still teaching I still want to link up with Farley's Currently.  I hope that's allowed.  After that, stay tuned for a brief entry from my India journal.


Listening

Over the past year, I have begun to learn the power of silence.  Well, not always total silence, but less noise.  Instead of turning on music or the TV right away in the morning, I take sometime to enjoy the relative quiet of the morning.  A lawn mower.  A plane flying overhead.  Birds chirping.  Crickets finishing up their nightly chirping.

Loving

I know I'm way behind the times, but I finally discovered the amazingness that is farmers' markets!  I never felt the motivation or had the time to go to them before.  Now, however, I am a farmers' market maven.  I went to a new one the other day and stocked up on tons of great local produce including: collard greens, kale, romaine, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, apples, local honey etc.  I was in heaven!  Now, I just have to make sure to cook/use all of it before it goes bad!

Thinking

Part of my motivation to go to the farmers' market came from my nutritionist.  I signed up for a few meetings with the one at my gym because I wanted to be sure that my attempts to eat healthily were actually right for my body and activity level.  Turns out, I was not too wildly far off, but there are some things to tweak.  Lemon water every morning to help tame my sweet tooth.  TONS and TONS of leafy greens with every meal, not just once a day.  Limiting intake of grains. 

All good stuff so far.  I like that the adjustments are not too extreme and that they are prompting me to try new foods and to add variety to my diet.  I already ate some leafy greens like spinach and romaine.  Now, I have become a kale-addict.  Yes, I am one of those people.  Plus, the farmers' market inspired me to try collard greens.
Any recipes ideas for healthy collard greens?  

I don't think Paula Deen's bacon infused ones will do the trick.

Wanting

Pinterest is all about pumpkin!!!  I drool every time I scroll through my home page.  Pumpkin Coffee Cake, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, Pumpkin Granola.  Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!!!

Pumpkin Cheesecake BarsPumpkin Pie Crumb Bars - these are always a hit!

For all my drooling and pinning, I have yet to make anything pumpkin this season!  It's a disgrace.

I must make something pumpkin and soon.  How I will choose which recipe to try?  I have no idea.

Needing

Oh, the art of budgeting.  One I have yet to master or even try.  I need to learn to be more careful in limiting my spending, especially because I don't currently have a salary.  I am in the process of raising support for my new job and only have one tutoring client once a week, so my savings is taking a hit.  I am considering getting a part time job, but even with that, I need to be more careful about budgeting. 

Fortunately, a good friend of mine is a Dave Ramesy pro, so she is teaching me the tricks of the trade.

Treat

Here's my treat for you.  I just heard about an exciting school-related giveaway that you can enter.

Panel 0

Big Event Fundraising is giving away $1,000 worth of student prizes!!  "These incentives are perfect for school stores, academic awards, fairs, carnivals, or special school events. Prizes include an assortment of handheld games, travel ping pong sets, Frisbees, magic trick kits, plastic inflatable chairs and much more!"

Enter by clicking the picture above.  That will take you to the Rafflecopter, where you can earn up to 20 entries!

That's a fun treat!


8-18-14
Day 3: Girls’ Home

Morning came with the sounds of horns honking and motors zooming.  K. and I dressed quickly before going down to breakfast.  As soon as we arrived, we discovered that she and T. were dressed as twins!  Teal shirts and black skirts.  Exactly the same.  Very funny.  I got some bad chai at the hotel and was disappointed again..  Hopefully there will be better later.
We met to catch the bus at 10:00, took a few extra trips upstairs for missing items, signed photos for the kids, and loaded up supplies.  I chatted with my co-leader, A., about what I should say to the whole groups when asked to speak and introduce the team.  He explained that both he and Pastor S. wanted to give me the chance to shine.  Very humbling.  He also gave me some ideas for what to say.
When the vans arrived, I opted for the smaller one to be with P.  What actually happened was that P. went in the big van and a university student named S. came with us. No one in our van knew the way, so the 45 minute drive became an hour and a half of frustrating and fun adventures.  I felt irritated that I would miss out on greeting the kids first.  Still, I felt like God might have been answering my prayer about getting out of the way, so the team could connect.  I will admit that it was fun to see Ch. react to the scenes of Hyderabad.  Both Aa. and I had been there before, so we were not surprised by the naked man, the cows, people urinating in public, and crazy driving.  Ch., on the other hand, was very amused, shocked, and perhaps slightly traumatized. 



When we did arrive at the church/orphan home, a birthday celebration for a little girl in a green dress was going on.  She had cotton in her ears and a buzzed haircut.  I don’t know why.  Still, she was beautiful.  Her smile revealed how delighted she was to be the center of attention. 
Cake and chocolates were passed out and enjoyed.  Then, the girls got up to sing and dance.  M., D., H., V. and S. were all there.  They smiled when I called them by name, pleased to be remembered. 
It was strange to see only girls at the site and to realize that siblings had been separated.  This is due to the new government regulation that says that boys and girls must live separately.  It made me realize that these families may not be as permanent as I thought.  Also, it makes a stronger case for home-based care, so that siblings can stay together. 
After the singing and dancing came a full day of indoor and outdoor fun:
  •          Hot Potato- You had to dance in the middle if you got caught with the ball.  

  •          Lion, David, Governor Game- A biblical version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
  •          S. told the story of Daniel and the Lion’s Den..
  •          Everyone made lion masks.
  •          Spicy curry!!!!  Though others struggled with it, I loved the burn!
  •          Listening to the pastor’s testimony and prayer needs for his church, children, and community.
  •          S. dancing to “Beautiful Things” by Gungor.  The pastor's wife cried.
  •          Time talking with J., the pastor’s daughter, about her accounting work.

Eventually the day wrapped up and it was time to head out.  I told the pastor about the gifts we had for the kids and gave the signed pictures to J. to pass out after we left.  Goodbyes took a long time as usual with lots of photos.  Finally, we were off. 
It was hard to leave, but not like last year when I felt like it was totally not okay to leave.  One day is sad, but it makes it easier to say goodbye.
Dinner was a bucket of KFC split between Ki., M., and myself.  Yummy and spicy.  Lots of tasty dipping sauces.
Back at the hostel, we debriefed and then had chill time.  I had a tough heart to heart with T.  She told me that I am saying too much about last year and that I need to let this year be different.  I understood mostly, but it still hurt to hear.  I tried to take the truth and leave the rest.
The blessing was that S. came and joined the conversation.  She told me that if being too excited is my biggest problem, I am in good shape.  Then, she gave me a back massage, which felt amazing.  The three of us continued to hang out for a while and then I went up to my room. 
My roomie, K., and I spent the next 2.5 hours (2:00 a.m.-4:30 a.m.) talking about learning to give ourselves grace and realizing that God can work through our failures.  Once the seriousness was finished, we disintegrated into hilarium. 

Though things were challenging earlier, God blessed me with the three sisters with the three words I needed.  Praise Him.