Sunday, January 31, 2010

A recap of my week

This has been a crazy week...really. It seems like this week has been long and I am trying to remember when the week actually started. Seriously. Well, I actually was fortunate enough to be at the airport when friends of mine and my family brought there son home from Haiti. It was quite the experience...first, my good friend Kristi (the photographer) came to the airport because it was mentioned that they would probably want to document the moment. Kristi was spending the weekend with girlfriends and they came with her because they agreed that it would be great opportunity for Kristi. It turned out that her friends knew the wife of the teaching pastor's wife at Rockharbor from many many years ago when they all worked at a different church together. Anyway, the father of the boy in Haiti decided to fly to Orlando on Friday literally on a hope and a prayer that their son would be able to leave Haiti after his caretakers in Haiti went to the U.S. Embassy every day that week to get an emergency Visa or Humanitarian Parole. And miraculously he got Humanitarian Parole and Friday and left with several other orphans on Friday night on a military jet to Orlando. All this time (since the earthquake) the family has had such an amazingly strong prayer support and had so many people helping and advocating for them. It was just an example of the power of prayer and how good God is! Anyway, then my little sister left to go back to college after Christmas break. And I looked at about 5-6 places to move into (because I found out I did not to chosen to move into the place in CM I was hoping to move into). I looked at several other places and there was one that I really like but it was in Fountain Valley...and after much deliberation I decided it would be best to stay in CM. So, the day I decided that I shouldn't move to Fountain Valley (and was sort of stressing) I got an email from a friend who has a friend that is moving and needing to find someone to take her room. I called this friend of a friend and was able to look at the place..however it isn't available until this next weekend. So, I talked about my options with my dad (I love him!). He and I thought I'd see if my current roommates had anyone to occupy my room, and if they didn't to stay for an extra week and keep trying to look for places. They haven't found anyone and we compromised on a price for me to pay for rent for a week. So now I don't have to move to my parents (yet) and then to a new place in a matter of a week. God is sooooo good! Anyway, the place I looked at that was a referral actually has been the absolute best so far and I would be stoked to move in there (awesome location, amazing price, cute place and the girls seem pretty awesome too)!!! If you could all be praying about their decision to have me live there. I feel like the meeting with them went well but they also said they were going to meet with a few other girls and woudl decide on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. I just kind of don't want to look for places anymore because there aren't a whole lot on the RH classifieds that are in my league. But, I am also checking my heart and reminding myself that no matter what God will take care of me. I will always have somewhere to stay.
Anyway...that was a little diversion. This week I've also been able to babysit for the little boy who just came home from Haiti to be with his new family. He is such a sweetheart. And seems to be adjusting fairly well with all things of the craziest parts is that he left Haiti in such a hurry that he and his caretakers were fully done with preparing him for being with his new family (so he doesn't know much English at all, they never transitioned to a new English name and many other things). But he is doing well, is very smiley and his brother and sisters adore him. I've also done A LOT of babysitting this week! And I've gotten sick with a cold/cough.
But I'm going to get to bed early tonight because I have another busy week of babysitting and trying to get into a class I couldn't register for at OCC. So, if you guys could be praying for classes and that specific place I'd love to live in. Much love!


Friday, January 22, 2010

The India trip

This is the post about my India's kind of in bullet/stream of conscious form. (note: it's not a short post...that's all I will say. But please remember this is about my 2 weeks in India) :) I hope it makes sense to y'all. If you'd like to hear more feel free to comment
  • our flight from LAX to London was delayed by 3 or 4 hours. But we still decided to get there 3 hours before our normal scheduled flight time. Amazingly, British Airways was able to put all 32 of us on a different flight to London that was leaving at our normal time! Needless to say this allowed for more time in London. Loved it!
  • a woman, Tracy, on the team needed some pretty important heart and blood thickening medication at home and realized at LAX when we were close to boarding the plane. Needless to say the plan was to try to get a pharmacy/doctor in London to refill her prescription if her doctor in the US faxed over the of the other leaders took her to the hospital (because that was the most logical place to take her, even though nothing was wrong...we just didn't know what other options we had a 6pm once we got there). They didn't ask for insurance info or her name in the ER, they just looked at the doctors fax and asked her how long she'd need the doses for. All this at no charge!
  • there were some political things happening in Hyderabad, India. This is the big city we flew into. But we were kept safe, and had an awesome driver who new the best ways to get us to Tenali. And it only took about 10 hours to drive there :) (and just in case you were counting, that was a 10 hour flight to London, then a 9 hour flight to India and then a 10 hour bus drive in India)
  • it was awesome to do an HIV/AIDS camp first humbling and I was reminded that a majority (if not almost all) of the people who came to the HIV/AIDS camp were Christians. And yet Harvest India serves then and gives them food and clothing at least once a month.
  • the warmest greetings we ever get in India would be when we arrive at the orphanage. Such high spirited, beautiful and brilliant kids! It brings tears to my eyes every time I go! I love them so much. And I got to see the adorable little 3 year old boy (who may be 4 now) I fell in love with at the Rockharbor (RH) orphanage.
  • I was absolutely THRILLED that all three of Suresh & Christina's children were able to be there together for a whole week. I got to see Mercy perform a beautiful Indian dance for us (while 3 year old Nancy stood close by mimicking her dance). And David is already 14 and such a man of God and such a helpful and sweet young man; he's full of knowledge and wisdom and funny too. Great to just hang around with...he and my little bro would get along smashingly (oh geez, I think London has rubbed off on me)
  • I got very few bug bites during the whole trip! And they were confined to my thankful!
  • during the whole trip I had extremely, extremely minimal feelings of sickness. I was so thankful for this because during the course of the trip (literally) half of our team was sick. Because of this I was able to help take care of the sickies and bring them back to health...which leads me to
  • I offered/was asked to stay overnight at Suresh's when 3 girls on our team were really very sick at the same time. They were throwing up (and had diarrhea) and were very dehydrated. At one point (before I was spending the night) one of the girls fainted two times. Then as I was getting ready to stay at Suresh's, a guy on our team got really sick and stayed at Suresh's too. Anyway, I was helping the doctor out with the females and he needed to give them a shot in their buttocks; and ( least to me) he asked me to pull their pants down. Perhaps it's a cultural thing where it's a little too personal and inappropriate to do that to a lady. Well, when the doctor came into the room almost right away I noticed how he had cotton in his ears. I just figured he's a doctor so maybe he but some medicinal drops in his ears or something...who knows. But then, after he asked me to pull the 1st girls drawers down, and gives them a vitamin shot...he puts cotton on the injection site to cover it and apply pressure, and the cotton came out of nowhere to me. Then I remembered about the cotton in his ears and thought "oh, so that's what it's for". Only in India...and I haven't told those girls that story...but I did tell other team members :) A few days later I was doing the same thing and he used newspaper to cover & apply pressure...again I say, "only in India"...anyway, the rest of the night I made sure they drank electolite water, and ate crackers (but only in very very small portions) and in the morning they were doing significantly better.
  • With that said, I didn't get a full nights sleep every night. And even though most days we had down time at the hotel before dinner I was usually busy and couldn't nap. However, God kept me tired only when I was not doing ministry. When we were out and about or required to do be doing something somehow I wasn't tired anymore. But then right afterwards, I'd be dead tired and fall asleep on the busy/crazy car ride back to the hotel. :)
  • spending New Years with the RH orphans was such a treat and delight. I've told a little of that story about the bread that was overflowing and having 7-8 middle school girls hugging me as we watched home-made fireworks on the orphanage campus. And we talked a good amount because they knew English...and one of them asked me if I was a housewife...I kid you not, those exact words.
  • it was extremely cool and such a blessing to be playing one of 2 main characters in the skit we did for the night outreaches. So impact full and powerful. It reminded me of when I've done some acting before and that I do like it. I seriously was nervous beforehand, but once the skit and music started I really got into my character and somehow was really focused on it...and I think it went really well both nights we performed :)
  • we did a flood relief camp at a village one day where 1,000 people came (on behalf of their family) to receive food, clothing and kitchen supplies. Honestly, it was total chaos. I use the phrase "India chaos" because there are so many people in a small space, and people are not organized in any manor. But, we tried our best to assemble all the care packages and hand them out. For a while we had problems separating bowls that we were suppose to pass out. They were metal bowls that were packaged in bulk and we only gave one to each family. And let me tell you, these bowls did not want to come apart. Everyone who tried would end up getting a finger (or figers) cut because they had a metal edge. Then, the thing that worked was having two guys (including the local village men) on each side of the clumped and stuck together bowls and pull really really hard. Even then it was difficult, and it would only separate the 20 bowls into two sets of 10 (or what have you) and they'd have to separate those too. :) The beauty of teamwork, cross-cultural bonding.
  • our first Friday, New Years Day, we got to go to a church service in the biggest church that I've seen in India. Probably a good 600-800 people. Anyway, we performed songs for them and gave a sermon. Then they presented a "New Years cake"...because New Years is actually quite important, meaningful and symbolic to Indians. However, they served us by asking kids to come up and feed us cake with their hands. Again, this created some of the infamous "India choas". And the whole time I was thinking, oh gosh, these kids haven't washed their hands in how long. And it's too late for me now to get my hand sanitizer so I could offer to take the pieces of cake from them to eat myself, but using hand sanitizer and not getting fed by them would be extremely rude. I literally said a prayer "Lord, please keep me healthy from any germs" as the first kid came up to me and in slow motion stuffed my face with cake. Then 9 other kids followed in line giving me tons of cake. Towards the end my mouth was literally stuffed and I had to take pieces of cake in my hands because otherwise they would not leave until I got more cake. But then I remembered that when we were greeted and walked into the church, I shook tons of peoples hands and still had not used hand my hands were really germy too! But, on the plus side, the cake tasted good (and I tried to stay focused on that :)
  • during that New Years church service there was this 2-3 year old Indian boy who was dressed in khakis and this metallic blue shirt and he had nail polish on (which, a number of boys did). He would follow me and a couple other team members around on stage during times we weren't doing the service. It was funny. And Kjerstine had an admirer...a young Indian man (probably about 20 years old or so) who had designer glasses on and hair kind of like the middle Jonas brothers...I thought he was cute :) He kept staring at her the whole time we were there, and even made sure that he fed her a piece of cake (in her defense though he fed me one as well, but I think we were the only ones)...but I told her, hey he's obviously a member of the congregation so he's Christian :)
  • one evening the women of the team got to have dinner with the women of the Ashraya House. The Ashraya House is a home for women who were formerly in prostitution and they've gotten out of it or Harvest India has paid (their pimp) to get them out of prostitution; once they are in the house they learn how to sew purses and pajamas for a living. Anyway, the women were really shy to tell any of their stories (which, Suresh has told us before that in India the past is not dwelled on/talked about...especially if it's a difficult one). But, two women on our team who have very difficult stories to tell that relate very well to the Ashraya women mustered up the courage and told their stories. After that, six women living in the Ashraya House got up to tell there stories. We were all crying together and also recognizing how good our God is. Then we had dinner together and the women drew henna on us and we painted nails. Such a bonding experience. I sat with an Indian woman who was 26. She had polio and was on crutches and one of her feet were noticeable paralyzed/limp and actually was at a slight angle. I had Suresh's son David translate so I could talk to her and she told me that she is 26 and has a 14 year old daughter who is now married. And I was able to have David tell her that I am going to be praying for her and her daughter and that even though she can't use her leg I am so glad that she can still walk using crutches...I mean what else do I say to this beautiful woman who has had a rough life? And she's only 4 years older than me...
  • we went to the Red-Light district one day. It was actually the same place that I visited last March. Craig pointed out this heavier set woman and said he remembers her for years and she's the pimp. And I also remembered a tall and skinny younger man there and Craig said he was probably the "vice pimp" or something to that effect (I made the "vice pimp" title up myself). But the service we held was powerful...2 women on our team told stories about their past that were also very relatable to the women there. At the end of the service when we passed out saree's to the women the main pimp (the female) was bossing the other women around telling them who would go next in line. And it was sad...their spirits just seemed so empty and sad and hopeless and hardened. But I continue to pray for them! And am thankful that Harvest India has a church there and they go back frequently to help the women there...and I know God is not finished working in the Red-Light District and in those women's hearts and lives
  • on a Sunday during our stay, we broke into 3 separate teams to attend churches at 3 different villages. The church I went to was small, but man was it packed. The people there seriously seemed like an Acts community. And the pastor of the church asked us to come into his home after the service. There we met his mom, wife and 2 kids. He told us about how his dad was a pastor and was passed away (there was a picture of him hanging in their hut) and how his mom is such a prayer warrior for their church. He just seemed enfuego for God. I also enjoyed this experience because our teams were different and I was able to spend more time with other people on our team that weren't always on my team.
  • on our bus ride back to Hyderabad, we got a flat tire. But miraculously it was fixed in a matter of 15-20 minutes. About 8-10 guys from our team and Suresh's Harvest India staff and the bus driver got out of the bus and figured things out... while the women stayed in the bus. It was one of those guy moments were I felt like they should have gone "arr, arr, arr" like Tim "the toolman" Taylor after they fixed it. It's a guy thing I guess. Just get out there and do something manly.
  • also on the bus ride, my roomie Kjerstine got pretty anxious and unsettled/restless. My first thought was "she needs to listen to Jon Foreman" I told her I had his amazing CD on my iPod and I'd love for her to hear it...she fell asleep for the next 4 hours and was peaceful :)
  • obviously, you all know that we had travel problems because of the blizzards in Europe (and around the world for that matter). But I was amazed at how it allowed for more time to process and rest and be together as a team. And God provided so amazingly. We found out at 1pm on Sunday the 10th that we all had tickets and the 1st group to leave was at 9pm that night. And at one point Dennie didn't have a ticket, but somehow Heather M. was able to get Dennie on with the last group leaving India.
  • I remember that Saturday when Suresh & Christina left Hyderabad to go back home. We were all sad to see them go and I saw Christina wipe tears from her face. And I was the last to hold Nancy before Suresh took her;when Suresh went to take her from me, Nancy arched her back and locked up...that cheecky girl. She didn't wanna leave us. Love you Nancy!!!!!!
  • I'll always remember the giggly conversations in our room at the Goutham with Kjerstine, Melanie & Christine.
  • I'll always remember taking Melissa to the airport "hospital" our last day in Hyderabad...and then taking care of her at the airports traveling home...thanks Melissa for the upgrade :) And I'm glad that your foot is finally getting better!!!!!
  • sharing a room with Chrissie at the Novetel was so fun! Memories of a Bon Jovi concert playing on the India TV...working out at the hotel gym...our beds being so squished together :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So much to do, and so little time! :)

Again, I feel the need to start out a post with a sorry because I haven't been able to finish a post about India. I will say that this week has not been the easiest week for me to get blogging done because I got sick (as in throwing up several times) after eating sushi earlier in the week. And it wasn't like a "okay, I've thrown up once or twice and now I feel so much better"...rather, I threw up maybe two times but the feeling of nuasia and a headache lingered for more than a day after I stopped throwing up. I didn't eat anything except a few french fries during that day because that was one of the only things that didn't make me feel like throwing up by thinking about it. But thankfully, I'm better now. And I have vowed never to eat sushi again...EVER! Because, literally, the only other time I've eaten sushi in my life I have gotten sick as well. I'm going to stick to Mexican food, chicken sandwiches/cheeseburgers/turkey burgers & fries, Chinese food, Italian food, and sandwiches. Sorry sushi, you didn't make my cut. Another thing that has been on my plate lately is having to move in 10 days and I have not found a place to live yet. Yep, that's right. I'm hoping that moving out will work out smoothly for me and I'll be able to find a place for all my junk...I mean stuff. If you could also be praying for work for me. I need some more babysitting jobs, ASAP (especially with having to move too). Well, I am promising that I will finalize a post about India tomorrow!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

This blog post would make for my 3rd one in three days. I think that may be a record in my book on "brittani nichole's blog". I have wonderful news about the friends that I mentioned in my blog a few days ago. All three family members (the wife, the three year old son & the 9 month old baby girl) are all safe. And on Friday night, the wife and the 9 month old landed back home in California after surviving the earthquake in Haiti, and being stuck in Haiti for several days after the earthquake. However, (and extremely sadly) by law they were not able to bring their 3 year old son who they were in the final few months of adopting. And now the building in Haiti that their paperwork was held did not withstand the earthquake and they don't know when and if their files will ever be recovered. So, they are campaigning for something called Humanitarian Parole to be able to adopt their son, and also be able to get the other children in Haiti who have families that were in the adoption process that is now halted because of the earthquake. They've been interviewed on CNN, ABC, FOX News, and CBS. I had the blessing and privilege to be at their house watching their kids for 3 out of the 4 interviews and I am truly amazed at the love they have for their son, and how deeply they care for him and all the sweet children in Haiti waiting to be adopted but the process is now at a standstill. This was already such an emotional & difficult journey, and now it is even more-so. They are also needing so much help advocating for their son and other orphans in Haiti. This would be something as simple as writing an email or letter to your local congressmen. They have already explained all the many things that everyone can do to help! So here's a like to the blog post about it "Operation Get Him Home" . And, after you read that post visit their home page and Kristen (the wife/mama) has posted her experience about the earthquake & at least one of their interviews at this point. Thank y'all and I am almost done writing the India post! Promise!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

more pictures! yay!!!!

The 1st picture is me sharing scripture before we passed out food to a very poor village in India. I shared about how the "good Samaritan" helped the man who was hurt...and how Jesus said "it's the sick who need a doctor". And I told them we are their neighbors from America (because in the good Samaritan story Jesus said to "love thy neighbor". I know it sounds cheesy but I wanted to show we care and that we are connected. Then a picture of the whole team (32 of us). And orphans doing crafts at VBS. Hena (and yes, that's my hand...I know it's so difficult to tell whether or not it's an Indian womans hand...haha :) The orphans in their uniforms. The elderly women. Passing out food to the poor. And also me blessing a clean water well before I cut the ribbon off. ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

ok, it is!!!

Here are some pictures from the India trip...still in process of writing a wonderful and lovely post about the rest of the trip...and I promise my mind hasn't faded and I haven't forgotten the details about the please don't bail on me once you've just checked out the photos :) xoxo

The picture on the left are 2 boys from a village where we dedicated a clean water well. And on the right is a Harvest India orphan & me walking into the main part of Tenali (note:almost none of these pics are cute of me, but hey, my flat iron broke while in India)

These are more boy from the village we dedicated a water well at. They wanted me to keep taking pictures of them :)

This was our hotel while we stayed in Tenali...and this is a meal from a village were we did flood relief

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Praying, praying, praying!

Hey everyone. I know this is a bit divergent from posting about India, but would you all join me in prayer? A family that I and my family are close with need prayer while in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This family I know is adopting a sweet 3 year old boy from Haiti. They've been trying to adopt him for at least 2 years now and have visited him several times a year. The wife/mom of this family flew to Haiti last week with their 10 month old daughter to visit their little boy. The good news is that all 3 of them are okay. The wife/mom and the 10 month old were staying in Port-au-Prince at the house of a family who are missionaries that they've become close with through the adoption process, and amazingly their house survived the earthquake without destruction. The husband/dad has been in contact with his wife up until about 9am this morning--she & the family she's staying with seem to have lost phone and internet connection. Can you please pray that they restore contact, and that somehow the wife gets the news that her husband has schedule it so she can fly home with MFI Missionary Flights tomorrow at 4pm. (He's been trying to spread the news in everyway and with anyone who she might get in contact with...but at this point he doesn't know if she is aware of this and where she's at). But the good news is they are okay. Also, if you feel inclined to do more than pray, please give to the orphanage their son will have to stay's suffered damage and they need supplies. Here's info. xoxo!

Heartline Ministries (click the link)

and here's their family blog if you're feeling more invested in hearing updates

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

35 hours later & 4 airports later...I'm back in CA

Hi everyone! Sorry for the absence. I got into L.A. last night at about 8:45. We traveled for about 35 hours because we had to take weird connections to Dubai and then Munich, Germany to get back because of the chaos of London being frozen (and a lot of Europe). Anyway, it's just so nice to be back. I was on cloud 9 when we got news on Sunday that we had tickets booked to leave! It was really interesting to be in a hotel not knowing when you'll check out. But it was actually a really nice hotel. We had a buffet breakfast and dinner every day. I got to work out at the gym. And we got to go into Hyderabad for a few hours 1 day to shop at what I can best explain as a swap meet. Our team help up pretty well being in the hotel if you ask me. On Sunday we held our own church service and sang songs at the hotel in their courtyard in the back. We made friends with a good amount of the staff there. And contributed to the hotels funds because I bought gifts at their gift shop, as did many people on the team, and many people got massages and other spa treatments. (For the record, I wanted to get a pedicure because my feet we're in their best condition after walking in dirt with sandals for almost two weeks but I resisted because pedicures were $20--I now know that nice hotels in India have the same prices as the US). Well, I am going to write a continuation blog soon about the rest of the trip. I promise for a post soon and pictures.

Friday, January 8, 2010

updates while I'm here in India still....

Hey everyone! So, right now I'm stuck in India until at least tomorrow (Sunday) and looks more like Monday. Because of major blizzards in the UK our flight has gotten cancelled and we aren't sure yet when we're going to be able to leave. And we're stuck in our hotel because we can't go into the city because of political things happening. Don't worry though, we are perfectly safe here in the hotel and the accomodations are good and we are all together just hanging and praying on the Lord. Can you keep us in your prayers about the weather and our flight and our travel agent being able to work out miracles to get us home and soon! Since I have a lot of free time expect another post soon about the last part of the trip, as well as any updates!
India love!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!!! (and more about India)

Sorry I haven't written on my blog in a while. It's been busy but I've had an amazing trip so far! London town was great! We weren't there for long but I was able to see Trafulgar Square and I also had authentic fish and chips...anyway, onto my (second) journey to India.
We got to India late because our flight was delayed...then we drove by charter bus for a little over 8 hours to get to Harvest India (HI). Right off the bus (literally) we met David Trotter and his family who were visiting HI at an HIV/AIDS camp. There we gave food to to those with HIV/AIDS. Then we visited the RH orphans and they danced and sang for us. Then we went to Suresh's for diner and then we went to out hotel to sleep.
The next day we did a leper camp where we gave food to lepers. Then we went to a flood relief camp where there was total India chaos distributing clothing and kitchen supplies. We were there for a while, and it was amazing to give these people much needed necessities,as well as see how the village is being restored and working together and connect with the people (they were happy were there and showed us their roosters and then made 2 of them fight.) The flood was visably really bad. We then did an outreach that night where I played one of the main characters in a drama. Some of the kids laughed when i pretended to be drunk in the drama. There were a lot of people who decided to follow the Lord that night.
The next day was New Years Eve. We visited the construction site of a HIV/AIDS home HI is building called Hope House. It will house 50-100 people with HIV/AIDS in their last days. It was sort of emotional to me because of the implication of the project and my heart for those living with the condition (because who would want to suffer from that ?). Anyway, we then went to one of HI's eldely homes I visited last year. I was amazed again at the hutspa of these women spirits and faith. Truly amzing women...and they remembered me and told us all kinds of stories and songs and wanted to take lots of photos. Then we did a medical camp where some people gave kids and adults medication for things like cholera and the same time some team members did that I actually got to play with some of the villiage children and teach them songs and they talked to me and also taught me how to count to 10 in Telagu. Then we rested for a little bit at the hotel until we got ready at Suresh's house to wear our sari's to the New Years Eve celebration with the orphan children. We performed the Lifehouse "Everything" skit for them and then webt outside to watch homemade Indian fireworks. What an experience! Having six kids surrounding and wrapped around me talking to me and admiring the fireworks together. One girl asked me if I was a housewife? Yes that's right. Afer that we served them New Years communion. An amazing experience where the bread just kept flowing to pass out.
I know that this is a long post so I'll end it here and perhaps tomorrow post again the rest of the trip so far. XoxO