Sunday, March 28, 2010

The mountain

So, I've lived in this town since July. There is a beautiful mountain(I live on the side of it) that I look up to every morning. This isn't a huge mountain but it's still REALLY pretty. When we moved here in July we took a taxi up to the top and then walked down. It took us about an hour I think to walk down. I've been wanting to walk up to the top for a long time now, but haven't because I knew it would take like a whole day! (well, maybe not a day, but it'd be a good walk up there) But yesterday I decided I'd do it. Partly because we had discovered the shortcut not too long ago. This shortcut is just for walking, cars cannot drive on it. However, it is REALLY steep! But it only takes about 15-20 minutes to get all the way to the top! That beats the hour it took to walk down on the road!!
It was beautiful up there. I took breakfast(grapes and one of the muffins I'd made the day before) with me along with my B!ble, journal and ipod and I had a very sweet time with Jes.s. From the one side you can see the Himalaya mountain range. I took a picture of it, but it didn't turn out real good.

If you look really close you can see the snow on the mountains. But you have to look REALLY close!!

I also sat and watched some monkeys for a while. They were on someones patio(how neat would that be to sit in your house and watch the monkeys on your patio?!?!) and were doing something that I couldn't figure out. Maybe they were eating bugs? It's the best I could come up with. It was fun to watch them though.

I am really glad I went up there. It was so pretty and such a relaxing time. If you ever come here I'll take you up there! :D

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Dad

Today I am missing my dad. So, I'd like to take a bit of time to tell you about him.

My dad is an amazing man. He's always been a very hard worker. When I was little he farmed and had a full-time job doing construction work. During the planting and harvesting season he would have to be to work at like 6:30 or 7, which meant that he had to get up UBBER early! He'd get home from work around 6pm, have some dinner and then head out to the field where he'd be on a tractor or combine till the early hours of the morning. He'd come in sometimes as late as 3am and sleep for just a couple of hours before getting up to go to work. When it wasn't planting/harvesting season he would be working on some kitchen/bathroom remodel jobs in the evenings and then work on our house when he got home.

My dad loves to have a fun time. He's always been one for practical jokes and if you know him very well at all I'm sure you've been on the receiving end at least once! One year he gave one of my cousins a lump of coal for Christmas. Another year he gave "airplane" rides to everyone in the family. And he makes the BEST King Ugga Bugga. My dad loves to laugh.

My dad is ALWAYS late! Growing up, Sundays were always very busy during the morning. There were seven of us in my family and we had only one bathroom. Our Sunday morning would go something like this. Mom would wake all us kids up and we'd eat breakfast, taking turns using the bathroom to shower, brush teeth/hair, do makeup...normal bathroom things. Every time the bathroom was free one of us would run upstairs to get Dad up. The first few attempts he'd just grunt and roll over. After three or four times he'd say he was getting up, though he wouldn't. Finally when all of us were ready he'd slowly make his way downstairs to the bathroom. He'd be in the shower while we were all sitting in the car. Waiting. Fifteen minutes later he'd come down to the car and blame the rest of us for being late because we were all using the bathroom and didn't give him a chance.

My dad cannot cook. Though he loves to try! I can remember times when my dad would try to make something, and he'd be really excited about it because he was trying something totally new. But it would be horrible because it was things that should not be put together. But you have to give him kuddo points for effort. However, I do need to say that he does make the VERY BEST hash browns!

My dad is the champ when it comes to games. I don't think I've ever beaten him at a game. He always wins. When we were kids we were convinced that my dad cheated at every game. But we would never prove it because we could never catch him. To this day he swears he never once cheated, but I'm still sure he did almost every game he played.

My dad is very creative. He was a construction worker so he has always been good with tools. One time when we were cutting wood for our wood stove he cut off a portion of a branch and saved. Later he cut it into small slices and shalaqued them, then somehow attached two of them together and made a butterfly out of it.

My dad is many things, and he is amazing at all of them. He is a great man, a wonderful husband and the best dad anyone could ask for. 

Basically my dad is the best and I love him very much!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 2010 News Letter

I wanted to put my news letter up, here it is!! I hope you enjoy reading it! :D

Saras Saga March '10                                                            

Response Card                                                            

Monday, March 22, 2010

A week away

When I'd finally decided what I was doing(going to midwifery school) I realized that I'd been here in India for almost a year and I still hadn't seen the Taj!! So, Suzy and I decided that we'd go on a trip to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and a small village close to Jaipur where there is a children's home. We looked at the calender and decided that the next week would be the best time to go. We packed our bags and headed down the mountain.
We stayed at Stephen and Amber's for a day first and then headed out the next day. It took our bus over an hour to get to the tunnel, which should only take 20 min! Traffic was BAD!! But, we finally made it to Delhi. We jumped onto the metro and headed to our hotel. Suzy and I stay at the same hotel every time we go to Delhi and we usually even get the same room every time. They know us pretty good by now. We got up at 4 the next morning so we could head to the ISBT and catch the 5 o'clock bus to Jaipur. We got off that bus about 40 km from Jaipur and found the jeep that was to take us to Urdayn, the children's home

Urdayn has just under 60 kids now, all who once used to live on the streets in Jaipur, Delhi and even all the way from Mumbai! It is a beautiful campus out in the desert and everything they need is right there. They have a garden where they grow almost all of their veggies, a school for the children, dorms, and even a small store that is open on Sundays for the kids to buy things from
with their allowance.

 The kids waiting for breakfast before school

We only had enough time to spend that day and night there and I so wish we would have had more time! The staff is wonderful and the kids are amazing!! They get volunteers in quite often and so there is plenty of people around to love on the kids.

Urdayn also does some work with the local village woman and goes into Jaipur to do some work in the slums. It was a lot of fun to see the kids and learn a bit more about all that Urdayn does! I hope to go back and visit for a longer time some day.

 The kids at the start of school. Their classrooms are 
underground so that it is cool during the heat.     

On Tuesday morning we headed into Jaipur in the jeep that was headed there from Urdayn. On the way Suzy asked the guy that was driving what his favorite movie was. He said his first favorite movie was Rab ne bana di Jodi. Then said that his second favorite was Dhoom 2, which he stated very proudly that he's seen 25 times!! It was really funny!!

In Jaipur we went to the Huva(meaning wind) Mahal. Below are a couple pictures.


Then we went to the Amber Fort.

This is one of the giant "pots" they used to cook in       
when people used to live in the fort.               

After we had lunch we went to the ISBT to get a bus to Agra. Suzy said that when she went with her host family in January it took them about four hours or so. But by bus it takes A LOT longer!! We were on the bus for about six hours I think. When we finally got to Agra we went to our hotel, had some dinner and went to bed. The next morning we headed to the Taj Mahal.

After lunch we headed back to Delhi. Again it too MUCH longer by bus than by car!! We got into the south ISBT this time so we had to get an auto since the metro isn't built out that way yet. It was pretty interesting(as usual) trying to talk the auto drivers down to a halfway reasonable price. And even then I know we got ripped off pretty bad. But on a lighter note our auto was pretty pimped out with an AWESOME sound system!! Although we only listened to one song all the way through.
We got to our hotel and there was a new guy there. He was going to show the rooms(even though we tried to tell him we didn't need to see them) when one of the regular guys came up and told him to just give us 301. Then he tried to charge us 450, but the other guy told him "no they get it for 400". It was kinda funny. ;)

The next morning we got up and headed to take care of some business. Then we had lunch and looked for an auto so we could do the tourist thing. We finally found an auto that said he would use the meter!! They are by law supposed to use the meter, but not once have we found an auto who would because their meters are always "broken". We got in and headed to Qutab Minar. But once we got down the road a ways the auto driver pulls over and begins telling us that it's going to be 350 rupees to go to Qutab Minar, Lotus Temple and then back to Canaught Place. We argued with him saying that he said he'd use the meter. But he would have none of it. We finally told him we'd pay 300 if he took us to those two places and then brought us back. But he kept saying 350 as he was driving. He pulled into a gas station and asked for the 300 rupees so he could fill his tank. We gave it to him, but then thought after wards that that was a dumb thing to do. He tried to get us to get out of the auto and stand in front of the station till he was done, but we wouldn't. So, when it was his turn he had us just stand to the side. I'm pretty sure he didn't even get gas because he was only there for maybe 30 seconds. But we got back in and continued on.
When we finally got to Qutab Minar he tried to get us to give him 50 rupees so he could park in the parking lot otherwise he'd get a ticket for parking on the street. We argued with him for a while saying that we'd already giving him 300 rupees and that he could use it to pay for parking. But he said he spent it on gas. Finally I told Suzy that we should go with him to the parking lot and just pay it, cause I knew it wouldn't be 50 rupees. He pulled up to the gate and it ended up only being 10 rupees. He followed us to the ticket booth and I bought a super sized forigener ticket for the two of us for 250 rupees each. Then our auto driver wanted a ticket!! But I was so sick of arguing with him at this point that I just gave him the 10 rupees it would cost for his ticket. We went and saw the big tower that is Qutab Minar, took some pictures and left. We were there for all of maybe 5-10 min.

Then we headed to the Lotus Temple. I had our auto driver pull over at one point so Suzy and I could get some water. And then of all things he wanted us to buy him a Coke!!! For 30 rupees!!! He was bound and determined to get that extra 50 rupees one way or another!
We got to Lotus Temple looked around and took some pictures. We didn't go inside because there was a prayer service going on at the time so we would have had to be inside for 15 min. and because of our auto I was at the point where I just wanted to be done sight seeing. So we left and headed back to Canaught Place.

Our auto driver asked us if we wanted to see India Gate for an extra 50 rupees. We both said no MANY times and thought we'd finally gotten through to him because he quit asking. Besides the fact that India Gate is on the way back. When we passed it he pointed it out and made sure we looked at it, but didn't stop. Then when we were close to the inner circle of Canaught Place he stopped and said we were there. We were both like, "um, no we're not. We want to go to Canaught Place, not just near it, thank you." So we just sat there till he started going again. Finally we got there and got out of the auto. And then he tried to get us to give him 50 rupees cause he showed us India Gate!! HA! You've got to be kidding me!! We just walked away.

We got an overnight bus back to D.D. that night and got there really early in the morning. We spent a couple days at the Clover's house before heading back home yesterday. All in all it was a good trip.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The next few steps

The other day I wrote an entry called Being Unsettled. Today I feel a bit more settled. Let me give you a little background.

When we came to !nd!a back in May, we came on tourist visas. We got a multiple entry ten year visa, and on it we could stay for up to 180 days before we had to leave for just a day and then come back. In December the rules changed. We can still stay for 180 days, but now we have to leave for two months before we can come back. So since December we have all been thinking about what our plan with this is. The thing that had made the most sense was switching to a student visa. I began doing some research about universities here in !nd!a but was very discouraged because there is almost nothing on the internet. So, it seemed that this door was closing.

While I was gone in January, Stephen called and asked me what I thought about becoming a midwife. At the time I hadn't thought much about it, but I said I would talk with Dad about it. The more I talked to Him about it the more it seemed that this was the direction I was to go.

There is a big need for midwives in this area and especially out in the villages. I have a little bit of a medical background from being a C.N.A. (Certified Nurses Aid) for many years, and being a midwife is something that I think I would really enjoy. 

Now, let me tell you a bit about the midwifery training. The training I was looking into is called New Life International School of Midwifery. It is a two year training located in the Philippians and is specifically for m!ss!onar!es. There have been a couple other girls with HGM that have gone through this training and have said it is very good.

Stephen talked with our M director last week about some of the different options we each have. Eric thought my going to midwifery school was a great idea and gave me the go-ahead to apply to go in August. So, since last week I've known what the next step in my career here is. That isn't what I've been unsettled about. The part I've been unsettled about is the steps between here and there.

At first I thought I'd have to go back to the States to apply for a visa to the Philippians, but after doing a bit of research on New Life's website I found out that I really don't. Then I was thinking that maybe I'd go to Kosova to help my parents with their camp until August. But, after doing some more research I began thinking that it might be good to go back to the States in order to raise the funds that I'll need to attend the school. So, for the past week I've been going back and forth between these two options, pr@ying about it and trying to figure out which the best one was.

Today Stephen and Amber came to our house. We talked over what all our M Director had to say about each of our options. I asked them what they thought about the steps between here and there for me. We talked over it for a bit and finally decided that me going back to the States to raise the funds for New Life is the best option.

So, it looks like at the end of April (in time for Nomads) I will be going back to the States for a couple months. While I am home I need to raise about $10,000. This isn't the complete cost of the training, but includes the first semester, fees, books, supplies, and visa. After all the one time costs are paid, it'll only be $4725 for each of the three following semesters (about $1200 per month). If you would like to see the complete list of what all this covers or you would like to know more about New Life, feel free to visit the website!

I am really excited about this next step and about what Dad will be teaching me through it. If you would like to have me share with your ch-rch or small group about my time here, the midwifery training, and how this pertains to our future work here in !nd!a, please send me an email. I look forward to telling you more about this with you in person!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Holi - the festival of colors

Holi is the festival of colors. It's a very exciting day filled with colors of course!! Suzy and I were excited to be able to experience this festival. All the people on our routes had invited us to their homes for Holi and one guy(Rashib, he runs a shoe/umbrella store) invited us to his house for lunch today. Yesterday he took us to the bonfire sight to see puja(w0rship) and explain the history of Holi.

Holi comes from a legend involving King Hiranyakashipu. Because Hiranyakashipu wanted to avenge the death of his brother who was killed by Vishnu he performed severe penance and pr@yer for many years to gain enough power. Finally he was granted a boon and with this boon he thought he had become invincible. This made him very proud and he forced all those in his kingdom to w0rship him instead of Vishnu.

However, he had a very young son, Prahalad, who refused to w0rship him and continued to w0rship only Vishnu. Angry,  Hiranyakashipu asked his sister, Holika, to help him kill the boy. They tried many times to kill him but each time little Prahalad escaped death.

Holika was believed to be immune to fire and would never be burnt. So, it was decided that Holika would hold little Prahalad on her lap ontop of a pyre until the boy died. However, when the plan was carried out it was not Prahalad who died, but Holika. Prahalad came from the fire unscathed and thus it is believed that good won over evil.

Each year H!ndus celebrate this festival with colors remembering the victory and believe that what ever they pr@y for will come true. The colors themselves come from a time when Krishna(believed to be a reincarnation of Vishnu) used to play pranks on the girls in the villages. He would throw water and color on them and soon many of the other boys joined in this fun and so the tradition was carried on.

That is the history of Holi. Now for some pictures of Holi 2010!!

During puja the ladies tie a string around the wood to make sure the fire doesn't burn anything good. 

This is Suzy and I with one of the ladies on my route. You'll see more color as our day went on. 

 Suzy and her didis(elder sisters)


This is Aprit, one of the boys on my language route.


This is Arti, a little girl on my route.

Some boys on the street that colored our faces. This boys was coming at me with two handfuls of color right as I was taking the picture!!

Here is Suzy with some of the ladies from her route.

These two girls tried to get us to drink some bong(an alcoholic drink they make for Holi) but we declined the offer.

This man is standing right inside the temple giving out bong and pakoris(fried snack). 

Even the dogs join in on the fun! :D

Can you find Suzy? She's really in this picture, I promise!! 
At first I wondered why they were using black color, but then I realized it didn't start black. It's just all the colors mixed together.

This is Kishan, one of the shoemakers that works across the street from my house.

 This is another tradition of Holi. A pot is tied above the street filled with butter, milk and money. Men then stand on top of each other trying to break the pot with a rock(or in the case this year, a stick)

This little boy was really camera shy, but I did get a couple good ones of him. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed these pictures. I've got a few more on facebook, so you'll have to check those out too!! Have a good day, and HAPPY HOLI!!!