Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy 20th Birthday Kor!

Today is my little sisters birthday. I miss her, because she's away at college. As part of her gift, I got her a Chipotle gift card...because I know that's what she loves. And because she's a college student who needs to eat! I love you Kori! I can't believe that you are 20. I remember thCheck Spellinge day you were born. Cristina, Grandma and I made peanut butter cookies and visited you in the hospital. Cristina and I were worried the doctors would her (Cristina) in the hospital because she stepped on a nail and was limping. I remember you always being moms sidekick driving us to school, and you telling us it was time to leave. Then, you started at the same school as Cristina & me. You had cute little friends and were always smiling. You loved doing cheer and gymnastics. In high school you did well and stayed with cheer, and got into you first choice of college. I'm proud of what at hard worker you are, and what a strong person you are.

she can bowl
she's goofy

She's a good mommy to Peanut :)

she brings on the dance moves

Father daughter picture...with Kori doing a cheerleader pose.


I'm beyond thankful for a loving God who is the mark I'm aiming for (for the reason that I don't want to be far from Him). I'm thankful for Jesus, who's the only perfect example of what it's like to follow the Father. And that the Lord fills me with His love, peace and joy so that I can live wholly and be a light to others. I've felt this in my soul today :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Razzle Dazzle

Things are in a very interesting spot for me. But in a good way. I've been having a little more down time, which has taken some getting use to for me. This has also been a big time of learning for me. Mostly learning about myself and refining things in my life. I've also had a desire to tap into things that I love. For example, playing a musical instrument & reading for pleasure. I will also try to write on the 'ole blog more. I really do enjoy writing. However, lately I've felt a little lacking in the inspiration department. But, I feel like it is coming back. Anyway, I want to leave y'all with some lyrics that hae struck me lately. Please read them. They are powerful!

Mercy's War: by Jon Foreman

I was looking for excuses
And you offered me my soul
In the name of all my weakness
In the name of rock ‘n roll

By His sickness I am healed
Cause they broke you I am whole
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

I went looking for the fig leaves
And you asked me what they’re for
I was building up a wall
And you offered me a door

I was hoping for silver spoons
But you handed me a sword
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

Maker is unmade
Love succumbs to hate
Life Himself is slain
Is death the only way?
Is death the only way?

I went looking for religion
Absolutely not a friend
I went looking for ways out
And you showed me the way in

I went looking for a ghost
And instead I found a man
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

Felt like I was at the end
Felt like giving up on life
I talked about your mother
And denied you once or twice

Yeah I plucked out your beard
Put a sword into your side
Oh the wonderful of Jesus

Life and love are torn
By the blades of earthly swords
We cut the final cord
This is mercy’s war
It’s mercy’s war

I was just chasing after safety
When my world went up in flames
I saw my defenses
Washed my ashes down the drain

I thought mercy was a stranger
But you called me out by name
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

Your wounds are gaping open
Couldn’t recognize you at first
And all I had to offer you
Was an insult or a curse

Blood dripped down like poison
On the nauseated earth
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

This is mercy’s war
This is mercy’s war
Oh the wonderful blood of Jesus

Sunday, February 20, 2011

wrapping it up...but don't worry, I won't rap

Here's the second half of my writing about the trip to India. I'm sorry it's taken me so long. It's been one of those things that has gotten put on the back burner a little bit. But, here it is...finally! :)

Day 7 : The team I was on went to a Mercy Camp, that was literally down the street from where our house was. We served the homeless, poor and people in the lowest caste. But we had such an amazing time! The mercy camp was held outside a Harvest India medical center, which we got to see as well. We also did a quick visit with nursing students at the nursing school next to the medical center. I just love those women. The give me so much inspiration and joy. Then, we visited the red-light district as the entire team. It was interesting to see the same faces and people. And difficult. Each time I've gone, I've seen the same women and men who are the main pimps. But, I know that God is still working in the lives of people living there. God has put it on the hearts of Suresh and his wife and staff to continue helping people there and being used by God there. After this we visited the Hope Home. This is a home for people suffering with HIV/AIDS. Just a year ago, it was getting finished being built, and now it is in full force. At this point, I was beginning to fade out & feel beyond tired. The only way I could describe is it that I couldn't keep my eyes open and I felt like an infant who could could not stay awake. But we had to press on to an elderly home. That was a little challenging for me because of the tiredness, but also because I had hoped to go to an elderly home I've visited each time before. But it was a new one that Harvest India built. It was lovely though, and the people were beautiful and so welcoming. And we all prayed together. We went home after this and I just wanted to sleep! BAD! I couldn't. We were having dinner and then I had to get ready to go the the other house and get ready for our first night of outreach, and due to another team member being sick I had to step in and play one of the main roles. I got the news we'd have about an hour of down time. Score! I slept for that sweet hour. I woke up, and felt great. But then 5 minutes later I felt tired again and nauseous. I hBoldad a few women on the team pray for me. I took some Tylenol. But as a lovely India women was helping put my sari on, I was holding onto the wall for dear life to hold myself up, and I was having hot sweats. I decided to ride in the air conditioned car to the outreach, and I listened to Jon Foreman's solo music and drank water. Two songs in and I felt like God had lifted it all! And the outreach was amazing! A women was even healed of back and hip problems.
Day 8 I actually stayed home to take care of some sick people on the team. I got to spend time journaling and talking with John Brokenshire when I wasn't taking care of anyone. The team, however, did a clean water well dedication and visited the village and school where the water well was being dedicated. Then we had another outreach that evening where I played the main character of our skit.
Day 9 First, our team did a water well dedication. We also went to a medical camp, which was crazy chaotic. People were pushy to get needed medicine. I got to take pictures because a team member was sick. But I loved taking the pictures! :) We also ate lunch at the Harvest India electrician's house. I know it sounds random, but people are so hospitable there and want to have the opportunity for us to be in their home and fellowship with them. We feel the same way! In the evening, we went to a village close to the water well we dedicated earlier in the day to pass out Gospel tracks and go "hut to hut" to the people of the village. It was encouraging for both the people there and for our team. It was a crazy time though to be in this remote village with bats flying around and snakes coming out of the ground that the men smash and tell us not to go near. You find out what you are afraid of quickly, and also realized that only God and prayer are the things that will save you of anything unsafe!
Day 10 We got up bright and early to go on a field trip with the three oldest classes at the Rockharbor orphanage. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to take them on their first field trip ever. We were all ecstatic. We drove four hours to get to a dam that had an island. On that island was an Indian history museum. So cool. And much bonding with the kids and the staff of Harvest India was had. There was even a little dance party on the boat ride back. The India boys can dance :) Right next to the dam, was a Harvest India orphanage. They took us in for a quick dinner. But I would honestly have to say it was one of the most precious moments. One that brought me to tears. As we were eating our meal outside, the 20 orphans who live there sang songs in English to us. They were like angels. I cried, because of the sweetness and innocence of it and how I felt so much love for the kids. We reciprocated by singing to them after. We got in to the hotel in Hyderabad late, but what a day!
Day 11 We debriefed as a team and bonded even more in the morning, after an American breakfast buffet! Afterwards, we spent time shopping at the Charminar Bizarre. Fun times were had all around buying fun Indian gifts and trinkets. We had an early night in because we had to be at the airport at 4:30AM.
Day 12 Wake up call at 2:45AM...eating KFC in India for breakfast, all before 7:30AM. But I slept so well on the way home and we had no delays coming home.

Phew! I hope you all enjoyed! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coming soon

I know it's been a while since my last post. I have been so busy the last week and a half, that even my weekends are packed! But, tonight and tomorrow night I promise to have the 2nd half of the India trip post.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

India: Recap/Week One

I had such an amazing experience this trip to India. It's always a little bit of a challenge to describe these trips in a precise way and in a matter of one sentence, while doing it justice all at the same time. It almost can't be done. This trip was so life changing, eye opening and literally a once in a lifetime opportunity to go. I can't believe that I've had the privilege and blessing to go three times. WOW! There are several ways that I would describe this trip. I feel deeply connected with India, and love it so much! Even more than before. The people of India, Harvest India, the ministries they do and how big & at work God is. During this trip, I got so much clarity. I want to go back so badly, but the clarity that I got was I specifically want to be able to help out with the nursing school Harvest India has started, and also be able to help with the pregnancy center that is in the works. Something interesting about this trip is that I felt like I was attacked mentally; I was in a bit of a funk when I was in India and felt like in my own mind I had few issues and a hard time fitting in with the team while I was there. But I also felt that God was so near and sustaining me during the same time. And I have learned so much about myself along the way. I also really feel like India has sunk deep into the depths of my heart...really, it takes so much time to really be able to soak it in, get to know India and have it sink in. Even after going three times, I'm just beginning to scratch the surface.

Anyway, on to the details of the trip...I've decided to break it down into 2 posts, for my own writing to be broken up, and to also allow for anyone to read in two parts for ease:

Day one: we arrive to India at 4:30am. We wait for out luggage and find the Harvest India staff at the airport. At 6:30am we leave the airport after filling the bus to the brim with our luggage. We drove from Hyderabad to Tenali. Normally about an 8 hour bus ride. But we got caught in traffic and we didn't arrive in Tenali until about 5/5:15pm. That was after 22 hours of flying! But, all the tiredness and grumpiness was lifted when we had a orphans at the Harvest India public school give us such an amazing welcome. It felt like a welcoming back home, seeing Suresh and Christina and their family, and the staff I've gotten to know, and to see John Brokenshire again. I found out that the kids were also at the school so late because they get tutored until about 5. I was very blessed to also get to sit next to Tracy on the team during the long bus ride. I feel like we had good conversations and I got to know her a little better.

Day Two: Vacation Bible School with 800-1000 orphans. Beautiful chaos. I was helping with "Bible Verse Memory", which I had done last year. But was having a hard time getting in a grove with teaching the kids. A lot of things in the way we were teaching had been changed up from last year, and it wasn't easier and it threw me off. We also got to attend the wedding of one of Suresh's foster daughters, Kumari. This was a first for me. I knew Kumari. A young and beautiful woman of 20 years old. But there is a big amount of celebrating before the wedding. I got to see the exchanging of bridal gifts between families. Which is a big thing in the culture, and was so fun to see how Suresh and his "men" received gifts on behalf of the grooms family. Its a big deal. And then all the girls got turmeric on their feet. (Which sort of turned into a turmeric fight, started by the Indian women.) The wedding was such a unique experience. To give y'all an idea of what it was like, the bride and groom sat in these big thrown like chairs on the VBS stage. The Rockharbor team sat on stage with them. The couple had met each other before and talked, but had never touched. It was an "arranged" married between Kumari and the son of a Harvest India pastor. During the ceremony, the grooms friends kept coming up to tell the groom something. The ceremony was beautiful, and some of the big parts of the ceremony were when the fathers placed the bride and grooms hands together to hold hands for the first time. They had such innocence, and also peace about them both. The thing that must be known though, is that Indian weddings are taken very seriously. Both the bride and groom keep a straight face the whole time. Now Kumari lives with her husband, about 3 hours away from Tenali.

Day Three: Right after breakfast, we had a "Leprosy Camp" where we ministered to and prayed for people suffering from leprosy, and we provide them with food and clothing. This is a very beautiful ministry. At the same time it's a bit challenging for me because I feel like ikt's so hard to be there for only 10 minutes and then have to leave. I really need more time to grasp what we are doing and really see the people I am suppose to be ministering to. We are reaching out to these people who are outcasts in their own country because of their illness! But, I will never for the people who came. Especially a man named Israel, who is one of the most joyful people I've met. Right after that we literally hopped into cars to VBS. Again, beautiful chaos. I had been praying a lot because I hadn't been seeing or recognizing any of the kids from the last 2 years. It was a much better day of teaching the Bible verses...I wasn't in as much of a funk. Was starting to connect with the kids again, and loved singing their songs with them when we were all in the tent together.

Day Four: Last day of VBS. I had a sense of joy this day. And, I had a prayer answered. I saw several kids that I knew from previous years! Especially the little boy who was the youngest orphan Harvest India has taken in. And a friend of mine, who I met because we were both suppose to go on the December 2008 trip, sponsors a little girl that I spent a lot of time with. Her name is Nagassari, and she's gotten to meet her sponsor Erinn several times and they have a pretty special closeness and bond. I saw her in Bible Verse memory, and when I told her I was Erinn's friend she got so excited and we connected. During our lunch break, we had the priviledge of visiting with the women who live in the Ashraya house at HI. They are women who were once living in prostitution, and have be taken out of it and live at the Ashraya house making a living by sewing beautiful bags and pajamas (they call them punjammies). It was a very sweet time getting to see their work and talk with them and just be with them, knowing that God is so big and cares so much for us and does free and gives worth to people. Then, we finished VBS with a great time singing with the kids. Afterwards, we took ALL the orphans from VBS and went on a parade through the town of Tenali. I've done it before, but it seemed different this time. I just remember being struck with, "wow! We are walking in the roads of India. With real Indian people staring at us, and real India dirt and smells. And I'm holding hands with sweet Indian children who are so excited to be doing this with us." There were Harvest India signs with Suresh's picture on them and the kids would point and say "dad". And to be able to show the town that we are treating these children as loved and not by their cast; and the children got to feel apart of something so big (as did I) and watch as Daniel from our team preached the Gospel to the town of Hindus. The excitement was so big, you couldn't contain it.
Seeing as this was December 31st, we had a big New Years celebration that evening. The girls got dressed in their sari's, and we celebrated! We went back to the Harvest India campus in the tent that was set up for VBS. Before I could walk into the tent, Nagassari found me and handed me a letter to give to "Sister Erinn". The kids performed dances they had learned and some of the Harvest India staff and orphans shared what they were thankful for. Then it was time for the big firework show. As we got up from our seats to go outside, Nagassari and I found each other and stayed hip to hip the entire time. The men from the HI staff go all out crazy with homemade fireworks. It's the craziest thing to experience as these grown men are playing with fireworks and keep them in their hands as they are going off. To be holding hands with more orphans than you can fit around you, all talking and then watching the fireworks up in the air at the same time when they go off all saying "ahh" or "wow" together. We then broke bread all together to celebrate 2011! It was a late night, but seriously there is no other way to celebrate New Years.

Day Five: New Years Day! We held a clothing distribution camp for the poor. That's always a little hectic with so many people grabbing for clothes and also wanting to be close to the team. Then, we divided into 3 groups and went to New Years church services. The group I was in got had the privilege of attending church at John Babu's church. John Babu is a Harvest India pastor who also helped translate from English to Telugu during VBS. It was such a small church, but it was packed. And John Babu has such a beautiful family we were blessed to meet. We had some time to rest, and then we all ate dinner together as a team.

Day Six: We slit into two groups and went to Sunday church services. The village and church we visited was very welcoming. We got there early (a rare occurrence in India - haha) and got to walk around the village. It was a pretty big village, and they had a Hindu temple we walked to juts to see. One thing that stuck out to me were the one or two faces painted on the building that are scary faces painted red to scare away evil spirits. And no one was really in it or walking to it...which I am pretty sure is because the village has a good amount of Christ followers. Anyway, the church congregation was so ernest and powerful in their worship.