coconut trees in the front yard.

It’s my last day alone (well, without a group).  I haven’t done much, to be honest, outside of porch reading and skyping with loved ones and eating.

Tons of eating, too much eating:
Chicken in green curry.
Rice.
Chicken in yellow curry.
Rice.
Green beans.
Chicken in red curry.
Omelets.
Toast and jam.
Rice.
Toast and cheese.
Cornflakes.
Vegetable curry (a).
Vegetable curry (b).
Gravy/soup with chicken leg and thigh.
Chicken drumstick.
Rice.
Chocolate (candy bars, cake, ice cream bars).
Nan.
Chapate.
Rice.
Prawns in vegetable curry.

I repeat tons of food, too much food. All of it challenging the spice endurance of my tongue and lips.

I’ve enjoyed a lot of quiet time with the Lord. And I’ve relished in hearing from the first group and seeing the pictures they’ve posted.  This has been a time of preparation and rest to assure the second team gets all they can from this trip.  I’ve heard this is largely a group of young women who are international traveling first-timers.  What fun and heartbreak it will be to experience this with them, to see this situation through new eyes.

People here treat Americans differently than they did in Uganda.  In Uganda, people would yell “mzungu” and reach out to touch you.  Here, people stop, ask to take your picture and want to shake your hand, which might be understandable if I did something of worth outside of just showing up to their country.  I was reading on the porch this morning and some kids in a yard across the street saw me and started waving and speaking their best English to get my attention.

I took their photo.

All the kids here make me miss the kids I met a little over a year ago so much.  We haven’t been anywhere long enough to establish the type of relationship I did with the Ugandan kids.  And it makes me want to go back to Uganda sometime soon to just say, “Hello. I still care about you, and think of you often.”

This will be my last update until I get back to the United States in just under 10 days.  So I’ll leave you with some more pictures taken with the first team.

Can’t wait to share stories and photos from the second team.  Oh, did I ever mention we celebrated the new year with some Kingfisher beer, on a rooftop, jazzericising to early 00’s pop music, watching fireworks in the distance?  Oh, 2010…what an interesting start.

A really photogenic boy.

Just some monkeys hanging in a field.

Recess!

Love you all, and miss you loads.  But no worries, I have mosquito weaponry.

an excerpt. of sorts. thank you, anne lamott.

You are so loved, and so chosen.

You are so loved, and so chosen.

porch swings, Jesus and stray dogs.

I get lost in the busyness of the world I’m used to, so much so that I forget less is more.  I forget the simplicity of God’s all-consuming love for me.

This is the second time in the past two years that I’ve been carried away to a culture which hand washes clothes, primarily uses public transportation, and plays games in dirt as opposed to Grand Theft Auto.  How lucky I am!  How fortunate I am to get these opportunities!

I heard some disappointing news about a good friend of mine yesterday.  My response was just that, disappointment followed by anger.  Primarily because I thought their actions were an extremely poor testament to the Lord they so lovingly believe in.

But who am I to speak?  Recently, I haven’t borne any witness to my God unless I was confronted with it by a guy on the last trip.

Being away from all that hullabaloo in the States drives me to follow earnestly after God.  I desire to live a life that exemplifies the majority of Ephesians 5.  When someone asks for prayer, I want to do it there, with them, out loud.  My words are being lifted to the ears of the Lord, and I don’t want my self-consciousness to jeopardize those heavenly moments.  Being in India, specifically, makes me long to become more involved with my own community.

Father, thank you for these intimate moments with you that catch me by surprise.  I haven’t sought you in reading or in prayer, but you still manage to be near to me.  I love you.

spice jetting away.

Wowza.

I don’t know how long it’s been, but I feel like I’ve been over here for ages…in a good way.  I don’t even know what’s happened in the past week and a half, but so much.

We were covered by three different news crews.  Once in a mall, once on the beach and once in a tribal community.  We met a circus elephant, and then became the main attraction as a crowd gathered to take our picture.  We met a community of previous and current workers in the “flesh trade.”  We were greeted with drums and saxophones and weird ritual dancing to a really great little hut community.

Frankly, I haven’t learned anything or witnessed anything about human trafficking that would shatter my heart as I was anticipating.  I’ve learned that Indian people are very pushy.  I’ve learned even if the food is setting my lips on fire, as long as it’s tasty I’ll still down it. I’ve learned to have discussions that go around in circles without getting irritated.  I’ve learned that situations such as this make 13 strangers suddenly become the best of friends.

I’ve also learned about the community in this country.  People care for each other and I think really, truly grasp how to live in a community.  Not like 27 people living in one house, but making your neighbors become your friends.  Celebrating special occasions together.  This is how we were created to be.  Not only borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor, but bake cookies and share them over a cup of chai tea.  The next few days, I’ll be spending with Vijay and Anu.  Anu speaks very little English, but is so adorable.  She gives you a side hug and pats your belly.  And Vijay, always one to accommodate.

I’m a bit envious of the group that flew home today.  However, I am excited at becoming a temporary, small piece of this Indian community.

I love and miss you all. Photo time!

Cruising along in the train.

We were greeted with homemade real flower necklaces.

A man.

A mother and child.

Trying to get her to maintain a smile as I was holding the camera was a riot.

Chase and I with some kiddos.

Just some boats on the beach.

mumbai, bombay, calcutta, kolkata.

I’m standing up at a complimentary internet service computer with a terribly sticky keyboard.  As in the keys get stuck, not my fingers feel like they’ve been dipped in honey.  I haven’t showered since Christmas day, and feel sort of disgusting, oh well.

After my dear, sweet boyfriend dropped me off at the Newark airport, we had a day of orientation that ended with a 7ish hour flight to Brussels.  We had two hours in Brussels that was mainly spent going through security.  From Brussels, we hopped onto our 9ish hour flight to Mumbai.  We went through customs and it’s currently 3am here.  Awesome.

Shortly before 7am, we’ll take off on our final flight segment to Kolkata and this adventure will really take off.  I don’t promise many updates as I’m completely unsure of internet access, but I’ll do my best.

Loads of love.

awake thou that sleepest.

Eight months ago, when I stopped writing, I thought it would be much harder than it was.

However, after a couple of not so fun years, I felt like the Lord was leading me to a season of joyfulness, happiness and contentment.  And for some reason, in the midst of following after that feeling, I also felt I needed to stop writing in a public forum about issues that had been chaining me to valley of depression and discontent.

The short of my life over the past eight months: moved back to Nashville, started living in a house with 6 other people, managed the summer Christian festival circuit for a magazine, found myself a ridiculous boyfriend, visited Ohio a lot, toured the east and midwest selling merch for some lovely CCM artists, and (the reason I’m breathing a new life into this blog) was asked by my dear friend, Sarah, to lead two trips to India for Faceless International.

She asked me to pray about it.  I did.  I didn’t get any audible word from the Lord saying “don’t go,” so I’ll take that as his stamp of approval.  I leave two days after Christmas with the first group and will return on January 19th with the second.

The main purpose of this trip is to raise awareness about human trafficking, how it affects the Indian culture and learn what we can do from a practical standpoint in the US.  We’ll be doing a few community projects while we’re there, as well as walking through some red light districts.

I want to be excited about this trip.  I am excited about this trip.  But I know as hard as I try, that I cannot fathom the heartache that will come in witnessing young girls being sold and not having the resources to do anything about it. I look forward to coming back home with a different perspective on the seriousness today’s slave trade towards which so many of us turn a blind eye.

However, I am thankful for this opportunity.  And in the spirit of Advent, I am thankful for the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the coming of very good things.

full stop. and an excerpt.

“First,” said she, “I learned that I must accept with joy all that you allowed to happen to me on the way and everything to which the path led me! That I was never to try to evade it but to accept it and lay down my own will on the altar and say, ‘Behold me, I am thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy.'”

“Then I learned that I must bear all that others were allowed to do against me and to forgive with no trace of bitterness and to say to thee, ‘Behold me – I am thy little handmaiden Bearing-with-Love,’ that I may receive power to bring good out of this evil.”

“The third thing that I learned was that you, my Lord, never regarded me as I actually was, lame and weak and crooked and cowardly. You saw me as I would be when you had done what you promised and had brought me to the High Places, when it could be truly said, ‘There is none that walks with such a queenly ease, nor with such grace, as she.’ You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much-Afraid.” Then she looked up into his face for a little time and could say no more, but at last she added, “My Lord, I cannot tell you how greatly I want to regard others in the same way.”

“The fourth thing,” said she with a radiant face, “was really the first I learned up here.  Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to in love and forgiveness and obedience to your will can be transformed.”

“Therefore I begin to think, my Lord, you purposefully allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things you want changed.  Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world, where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound, so that we may let you teach us so to react to them, that out of them we can create lovely qualities to live forever…”

It’s no secret the past couple of years have been one heck of a rollercoaster for me.  I appreciate that you read along with me during my last few months in Nashville and my time in Uganda.  I miss the children more everyday.  As for this blog, I think I’m wrapping it up.   I’m thankful I had this place to vent and that somehow I was able to be so candid in some of my posts.  However, there was always a vague ulterior motive in my writing in a public forum.  Jesus has silently and distantly been doing some work in my heart and helping me overcome things.

This chapter is closing.  Love you loads.