Saturday, June 28, 2008

food, demons, and toys.

I come back to the states in about 1 month, and when I do you will not recognize me for 3 reasons:
In a culture where no means yes and leaving food on your plate, no matter how much you started out with, is rude...I am stuffed and gaining weight. All the time. I am considering telling people I am fasting everyday and then sneaking food when I am alone. They believe in force feeding over here and guests get extra and no matter how long I stay, I am still considered a guest. So i try to stuff all the food in and then they give me more..
I will be covered in paint, or mendhi..the girls at the hostel love to put this traditional paint on me, on my hands and arms. They said it only lasts 10 days, but when I went to school the next day all the teachers said..oh no, it lasts 2 months. I hope its off in time for Jessica's wedding!!
I will be speaking about 95% less than before I left. I figure since I sit in silence so much here, I will get used to not speaking and become a "quiet person" OR (and more likely) I will talk about 95% more to make up for lost time.

No one really understands me here, they say I have a weird accent. I thought that once I left Denver the jokes about my weird accent would dissipate...however, they have gotten much worse since I have been in India. Yes, we are both speaking English, but their version is so different. They mumble and put emphasis on very different syllables. Wednesday is actually said "Wed-nes-deh" and Lunch is "Luns" (I thought they kept saying lungs...i was confused) and commented is coe-ment-ted, emphasis on the ment. It's like a game really, and when I speak you should see the look on people faces! Priceless! They have no idea what I'm saying. My favorite part is the ENGLISH teacher has no idea what I'm saying, he always says "I'm not getting you" So i try to think of other words to explain what I'm trying to say. You try to think of other words to explain denomination and let me know how you would explain it.

I have a lot of down time here, at least I will until Thursday. On the third I go to another orphanage to other work. Very different work, for a very different organization. But for now I am trying to appreciate the alone time and silence. I have been reading and praying a LOT. The things that always seem to work their way out of my busy schedule when I am at home. But reading become very interesting when there is no tv, cell phone, or computer at hand.

Prayer is something very sacred here, and I have had many conversation about it. Where as many see it as somewhat mystical in the states, or maybe they forget or don't have time to make a prayer meeting every week, here it is the first and last thing you do every day. No matter what religion. God is present and living here and it only seems normal to pray to him..since He is directing their lives. Some of the conversations I have had about it have also included spiritual warfare and things like that. One recent conversation I have to share. I was sitting at Satish's house with his entire family and they were talking about the times their father performed exorcisms. On legit demons.
When they asked me if I had ever seen a demon cast out and I said "no" they looked at me like I had been living under a rock my entire life. They had all seen numerous demons cast out - all on separate occasions. And then they went into detail..
They told a story of this girl, about 11, who had very long hair, down to her waist. One night she sat straight up and so did her hair. All the way up in the air, eyes rolled back in her head. Her parents called their father to cast the demons out, so he came and they said it looked like a furry animal crawling across the floor after it came out. Satish still shivers thinking about it. There were many other stories, and when they talked about the US and why I hadn't seen any I said perhaps it's because sin and Satan manifests itself differently according to the culture. Even the Bible itself says that Satan was crafty (see Gensis 3:1). In the US demons may be drugs, and alcohol..I'm not really sure...but I really think it depends on the culture, as long as it ruins lives and it is not of God, I think you could call it Satan. Anyway, it was all very interesting, if you want to hear the other stories, we'll talk. But I will warn you I didn't sleep at all the night we talked about it.

I am starting to get used to things here. The crazy, crazy driving with no traffic laws or lines in the road. People don't use turn signals, they use their horn. I have started enjoying bucket showers and eating with my hands! I have also started responding to "auntie" which is what the kids at the hostel call me and "sister" which is what the teachers call me since they can't pronounce Carolyn.
But there are things I just cannot get used to. The staring. People watch me do everything, to see if I do it differently or the same. I am honesty surprised they haven't invited themselves into the bathroom with me yet. Along with the staring comes royal treatment which I am not at all used to and don't really like. I was standing in a kitchenware shop today waiting for my house mom to buy some things and the guys all ran outside and got me a chair to sit down, and if I even lift a finger to help with the meals, sweeping, or laundry I get yelled at. Its so weird. I want to help, I want to work. I like cleaning. I appreciate the service and kindness but I try to find new and sneaky ways to help before I get caught and sent to my room to "rest". It's humbling to be waited on, but I hope they don't think I expect it, i always tell them I don't..but again, no one understands me so I doubt they know what I'm saying.

I love the kids at the hostel where I am staying. Everyday after school we play fun games and they have kind of taught me how to play cricket. Last night I gave them some toys like cars for the boys and hair barrettes for the girls and coloring books. They absolutely went crazy over them. They appreciated such a small toy so much, they didn't put it down all night and we all colored until it was time for prayer at 9. They bring me so much joy and I love being around them. If i could just stay here and play with them all the time I would be happy. But they always want me to sing. They love my singing and eveynight at prayer they say "AUNTIE! You sing now! sing!" and i can't resist. So now Victor said i had to sing at church on front of everyone. ay ay ay.

okay...I think this post is long enough. I feel like i have so many other stories and things to write! But I hope this will be god enough reading material for the next several days. I miss everyone a lot! Only 27 more days here...crazy! For now I leave you with this amazing compliments of Andrea Swatski :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

No one said it would be easy.... one ever said it would be this hard. Things in India are nothing like I expected! I have been here 10 days and I feel like I have learned so much about the culture and about myself that I feel like I have been here for 10 years. In a good way of course...I have been teaching for the past week which is so hard. I didn't really know what to expect when I came, but I didn't think they would place me in front of a class and say "teach". Well thats what happened. Day 1 at the school in front of 70 7th graders and told to teach was kind of humorous what I came up with and then I had to do the same thing for 8th, 9th, and 10th...all at very different levels, but me teaching the same thing: American greetings. The next day I taught verbs and nouns etc...they really have no clue what I'm saying. They know English, but my accent is so different from theirs that they are often confused and stare at me very blankly before they begin to talk amongst themselves...
Living at the girls home is so good though, everyday after school I get to play games like duck, duck, goose and red rover..they LOVE it! It is so much fun for me to play with them and get to know them. At night we have prayer and eat dinner around 930...late meals here.
Things are going really well and I haven't been too terribly homesick, although it's hard having so much free time,but it's good and I am doing a LOT of reading, writing, and praying. Somethings I haven't had time to do in the US...I miss everyone a lot though and can't wait to see everyone and tell my crazy stories in person...which you know I will have tons, complete with hand motions and all.
In 2 weeks, I switch to another orphanage and will get to do some traveling around the country! Maybe even out of the country to Cambodia! :) I am so excited about this adventure!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Day 1

Well, I am here. In India. Getting here was half the battle I feel like. My plane ticket said I would be arriving on Friday June 13. That was just a lie. I actually arrived on Saturday June 14 in Bangalore at 4:30 in the morning all alone. I did not have Victor's phone number or address, and so I was stranded, because he was not at the airport. By the time I figured that out, I was outside of the airport, with all of my luggage. I did not know that you cannot get back in once you are out. I had only american money and no phone. But I was persistent. I showed the security guards that I had a boarding pass and I had just arrived and that I just needed to use the phone. They didn't understand my hand motion for they got their chief. It was all very dramatic when you haven't slept in 2 days and you are in another country with no phone number or address or access to a computer. I managed to get back in and found Satish's number, a guy I met in Denver and knew he lived here in Bangalore. He was literally a God send! My first weekend in India was nothing like I expected. I went to a local pub, the movies, had Subway and pizza hut, and slept in as late as I wanted. This was a really nice welcome. Satish and his family are amazing and they didn't want to culture shock me too much so I have only had a couple Indian dishes and they were all made "bland" which is funny because they weren't bland at all. His family is great and I have my own room there and am planning on working at his mission the last 3 weeks I am here, and he has welcomed me to stay there on weekends.
I am at the first orphanage I was supposed to work at the whole time, but I am only planning on being here the first 3 weeks. I thought I would break it up a bit. It is so huge! 800 kids....I have my own room at the orphanage and it is huge as well. It is so strange being here, but I am honestly trying to soak up the experience and not think about missing home and the comforts of America too much.
Feel free to write me emails and if you are planning on sending me any mail the address has changed from the original I first me if you want it.
i miss everyone a lot but am enjoying my time here! I still kind of can't believe I am here.