- 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 prescription...one 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 thing...so 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 feet...so 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 (oddly...at 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 sanitizer...so 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"...so 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 :)
Friday, January 22, 2010
The India trip
This is the post about my India trip...it'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