Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
in other news.....winter has come to kolkata which means ive seen some pretty interesting fashions statements in the last week. i started seeing goats wearing sweatshirts about 3 weeks ago and thought that would take the cake. not true. i have seen grown men wearing pink fuzzy sweater vests. women wear blankets (calling them shawls) everywhere they go. little kids are put into these snow suit looking things which restrict movement and make them look like walking blobs (think a christmas story). everyone (yes, everyone) wears socks with sandals and they sell socks designed to be worn with flip flops. this city never ceases to amaze me.
Monday, December 19, 2011
this week we will be celebrating Christmas with our sari bari family as well as saying goodbye to ladies we have come to love as they invited us to share life with them. please pray as for my team as we mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare to leave this city.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
the experience of walking hand in hand with my india sister helped me to put into perspective my journey in kolkata. when God first asked me to come to india i was confused and hesitant because india was never a place that was even on my radar. when i made the decision to come and submitted my application, i grabbed onto God with both hands knowing that He would guide me in the path He laid out for me. in the time leading up to my departure date, there were several things like support raising and saying goodbye that i put in God's hands. as we arrived, with one hand i clung to my Heavenly Father and with the other i clung to the mergi ma as she ushered us around the city. she taught us what we needed to know about this city like getting around and what to expect from men in a crowded metro. i was like a child being held up by two parents as i learned to walk in this city. as time has flown by i have learned to walk without the constant help of the mergi ma. God still has not let go of me in this time. this week i walked hand in hand with my sari bari sister. this place is home now.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:8
Monday, December 12, 2011
one other thing that i have learned is the importance of laughter. today at sari bari there was a song that came on the radio that immediately led to a spontaneous dance party. it was so much fun to see the ladies' walls come down as they circled around to watch a few of the ladies battle each other in a dance off. the laughter was contagious. it was in that moment that i realized how privileged i am to be a part of sari bari. these ladies i have taught me so much about laughter and the joy found in living without taking myself too seriously. i wonder what it would be like if spontaneous dance parties broke out in workplaces in america. how much joy would that bring? i mighty have to try it when i get back. look for a spontaneous dance party starting december 29. JOI JESU!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 corinthians 5:6-8
Saturday, December 3, 2011
tonight on the way home, we stopped and talked to our usual peeps. the cigarette lady talked about something (couldnt really understand what she talking about) for five minutes then told us we need to come sit and have sweets with her before we leave. she also wants a picture of us to keep when we leave so she can remember us when we go back to america. she also gave us some better cookies that she refused to accept any money for and said that if we gave her money she would throw it in the street. so humbling to know that these people count us as friends now and not just strangers that pass by. as we walked away, she said we have to come back before we leave. we see her every day but she is still afraid that we will leave without saying goodbye. we then stopped and talked to the cha (tea) lady who made us sit and eat at least a mishti. we shared the cookies from the cigarette lady with her. as we walked to the internet cafe, we ran into one of our neighborhood friends who said we looked so cute last night (we were dressed up from the Christmas party) and that we now have a indian attitude. he said we are no longer foreigners but we are indian. it is really humbling to hear that as our time to leave is rapidly approaching.
i look back and see how God has provided in amazing and humbling ways throughout my time in kolkata. at the beginning i thought december 29th would never come but He has provided motivation, strength, health, perseverance, and joy to thrive in this city. my God is bigger than this city and that is a truly humbling thought.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. james 1:27
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad. Psalm 126:2-3
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed 2 corinthians 4:7-9
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Saturday, November 26, 2011
as i was riding the metro to sari bari on thursday morning, i noticed along the way that there is a golf course (super nice and kept up) right across the street from a slum. i have noticed this before but thursday was the first time i saw people actually playing a round of golf. it was a scene out of any american golf course. people carrying around hundreds of dollars worth of clubs and wearing equally expensive clothes standing around and taking turns hitting a ball into a hole. i live next to a golf course back home so this is something i see all the time. this time is hit me so differently because seeing the slum community across the street brought to mind the story of lazarus and the rich man. (luke 16:19-31) this is a scene i see almost every day as the wealthy people of this city walk past the poor and broken people that make the streets their home. there is a very high wall that separates the golf course from the street. i see it as the rich trying to keep themselves sheltered from the harsh reality the majority of the population face on a daily basis. i know that this city has helped me to build some walls as a way to protect myself, but in other ways, this city has destroyed the wall that in the past has allowed me to walk past the poor without a second thought. i look into their eyes and give them a smile but my heart breaks because i cant do more. tonight as we were walking home, the local cha (tea) lady gave us (and would not accept any money) some misti (sweets) and cha. it is in moments like that i realize that these people who live on very little are willing to bless us by giving so much. i have noticed over the past couple years that those who have much money are often (not always) times the people who hold on the tightest to it. God is still teaching me what it looks like to be His hands, feet and mouth in this broken city but for now i am learning about how to be open handed. as i head into the final month of my time here, i see the ways God is providing through the people around me and the support and encouragement from friends and family. i can already see that a part of my heart will always be in kolkata. taylor explained it perfectly on the train today. she said that just like the women sew the blankets that they are now sown into our hearts. i see it as i am trading pieces of my heart with these ladies like a friendship necklace. either way, this experience will continue to shape the journey God has called me to. God is good. All the time.
But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. Luke 16:25
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
today i realized how much these ladies have come to accept and allow us into the sari bari family. after the ladies eat lunch everyday, they will usually take naps until lunch hour is over. today was a lazy day so when the bell rang most of the women were slow to get up so i did the only thing i knew how to do.....i offered a helping hand. it was so cool in that moment to see their willingness to let me help them. it reminded me that sometimes we dont want to get up or move from something that is comfortable but God is offering us His hand to help us move. ill be the first to admit that kolkata was never on my top 5 list of destinations but i chose reach out and let God help me up and lead me where He wanted me to go. this experience hasnt been easy but i can see God's provision all around me. i know He wont let me go. this city has shown me God's love and joy.
"Joy is an anchor: it is heavy. It falls into the coldest, deepest darkest places, where the current and pressure are enough to crush bone, and it holds there. On the surface waves crash and roll, and we are not steady but we are held, and somehow that is beautifully enough." ~ Lisa Velthouse
Monday, November 21, 2011
“We know that Jesus is always coming into the world anew. Christmas is more than just an anniversary. It is a mystery. Each year, something happens, it is not just celebrated” ~Ranerio Cantalmessa
As you begin making shopping lists, and looking for that perfect gift for someone you love, we’d like to invite you to join in the Sari Bari Christmas celebration! India is a land with seemingly endless religious festivals, and Christmas is an opportunity for us to clearly communicate the amazing truth that God indeed became flesh and made his dwelling among us. At Sari Bari we have a culture of celebration – and we go all out for Christmas! Each of the women will receive a Sari (the perfect gift for every occasion here!), and we’ll share a celebration meal together, laughter, dancing and the truth of God with us. Already the anticipation for this year’s Christmas party is running high! A gift of $25 will sponsor Christmas for one member of the Sari Bari family.If you would like to celebrate with us, you can make a donation by check to WMF, PO Box 70, Omaha, NE 68101 (on a separate paper, please indicate that the gift is for Sari Bari Christmas) or at https://portal.ftnirdc.com/Checkout(there is a link to “donate” on the lower left side of the Word Made Flesh home page (www.wordmadeflesh.org). Please indicate the gift is for Sari Bari Christmas.
Friday, November 18, 2011
this week we went on a mini-retreat to rest before the calendar gets crazy with Christmas parties and saying goodbye. it was in the hotel room that i looked at my foot and noticed a scar that i got in spain when i dropped a knife in my foot while washing dishes. it reminded me that our scars are like tattoos of our life experiences. they can remind us of our past but most of the time we try to ignore or cover up our scars especially if we see them as ugly. i must confess that i am a scab picker so i am full of ugly scars but they all have a story and remind me of things in my past. the scars are evidence that our wound has healed. i was thinking about this in terms of things that happen in our past that we allow to define us. for so long we like to try to cover up certain life experiences as if it were an ugly scar or blemish on our heart. the longer we pick at it and reopen that wound the longer it will take to heal. these scars can no longer define us if we allow God to heal them. i do not mean to say that everything will be perfect again because we will always have the scar as a reminder but the scar is evidence that our hearts are healed. in kolkata i feel like my heart is torn apart daily by things i have no control over but i have to believe that God is in those circumstances and will begin the healing process as soon as i ask for His healing hand. these experiences will always be a part of me. i see God in the ways He has surrounded me with people that care about me and help walk along side me in those moments.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
"Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” " 1 kings 19:11-13
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
there are also somethings that i will never get used to. men staring at me like a piece of meat and the threat of them reaching out to touch me. the constant sounds of pujas which seem like happen every day. people pooping or peeing on the street. women and children being sold and abused. these are the things that make this place hard to live in. something i always have to remember is that God is here and God loves these people. my prayer this week is that God's love will flow through me to these people. at the end of the day, God wins.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
on wednesday, sari bari was closed for diwali/kali puja which meant that we got to spend the entire day with our host family. we had planned to make dinner that night because we would have all day to prepare. it was fun because the family made us puri for breakfast and pakora for lunch because they wanted it to be a full day of special meals. it was so much fun to sit and listen to our mom's nuggets of wisdom and pieces of her story. she also let us watch over her shoulder to learn her recipes. i will hopefully be making rice and dal when i get home. one of my roommates had an amazing recipe for no-back cookies which the family LOVED so we ended up making 2 batches. when it came our turn to cook, it was a 3 hour cooking marathon filled with lots of garlic, onions, cheese (which bengalis dont really like) and roti. we made quesadillas, rice, beans, and chips all from scratch. the kitchen looked like a disaster area after we were done but it was all worth it to see the joy on our family's faces. it was so cool to see what a blessing our cooking was to give them a night off. they were so happy even if dinner was an hour and a half later than usual. this is what the Kingdom of God is all about on earth. caring and sharing with one another. as we all sat on the floor enjoying our mexican (with an indian twist) meal, i could feel the joy that filled the room. we are meant to share with one another not hoard things. i also see this at sari bari. on monday i gave away my last 4 red vines and yesterday i was able to share gummy bears. all that i have is not mine so why hold on to it when it is so much fun to share a piece of my home with the ladies. this is one of the ways i am able to be a part of God's Kingdom here in Kolkata.
Monday, October 24, 2011
today at lunch time i got to share my lunch with the ladies at sari bari. they always try to share their rice with me but they never take anything i offer. today that changed. i was able to give my four last red vines to the ladies to try and two of the women shared my peanut butter sandwich with me. it was so cool to see their willingness to share life with me. God continues to give me glimpses of His kingdom here in kolkata.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
that being said, yesterday and today i found joy in the malls of kolkata. in my travels, i have found that i feel at home in malls because i see it as a place i can simple exist without having to fight or be asked for smaller bills when paying for something. yesterday me and the roomies went to get lunch at the food court (i had a kfc veggie burger, fries and a large pepsi) then went to see the three musketeers (the only movies playing in english). i bought myself some awesome blue puffy pants from fabindia. for dinner, my awesome family here made me puri (think sopapillas but not sweet) and my awesome roomies made me the indian version of strawberry shortcake (butter cake, vanilla ice cream and imported strawberry jelly). it was a memorable day to start off my 26th year. today we got to celebrate with melissa and beth at coffee bean which was such a treat to find. they have an awesome veggie lasagne. it is so cool to feel loved when im so far away from everything familiar. im looking forward to my 26th year and how God will use me this year.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Saturday, October 8, 2011
it has been such an awesome time getting to know the wmf thailand staff and seeing the cool stuff God is doing here. coming from kolkata, bangkok seems like disneyland because there is starbucks, burger king and jif peanut butter. there is also a 7-11 on ever corner with ice for fountain drinks. we all felt a little bit of culture shock walking around and not being constantly stared at by the men. it has been a very restful time to recharge as i head into the next three months in kolkata. i was also able to meet up with my friend who is teaching english here and she made me funfetti cupcakes for my birthday. it was such a treat and i am so grateful for her generosity and thoughtfulness. i think i am ready to go back to kolkata with a fresh perspective on that city and the people in it. i want to start diving into learning bengali so i can invest in the women. time has gone by so fast and i know that i dont have a lot of time to waste. im a looking forward to getting back to my normal life and our family in kolkata. i am taking jif peanut butter, sour punch straws, gummy bears, and pretz back to kolkata with me. thanks for having all that stuff 7-11.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
i am looking forward to a break. this week we go to thailand.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
we have officially been in kolkata for 4 weeks. i cant believe time has gone by so fast. i was talking to my host mom and she said in a little while the time will be all gone. my goal is not to dwell on that sad thought but to make the most of the time i have left here. i am feeling more comfortable with the language but still need to work on basic conversation. the best way to describe time in kolkata is that the days go slow but the weeks fly by. i can see how that has been true of my time here. i am looking forward to the next 3 months and enjoying every moment.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
now on to more entertaining things. i absolutely love family time here. the family i am living with has been a huge blessing to us. it is so comforting to come home to smiling faces and people that serve God in such an amazing way. i know i have said this before but seriously we are one big happy indian-american family. we eat dinner together every night and then just talk and laugh together after. on sunday night, the family asked us to sing a song that we all knew. i figured i would start with j. biebs "baby" which they got a kick out of. we then transitioned to the national anthem. it was hilarious having 3 white girls singing america's national anthem in the living room of our kolkata host family. that is a small world my friends. we then proceeded to have a dance party to glee's version of "dont stop believing" at which point our indian dad just left the room laughing. these are the times i forget im not back in america with my family. God has given me a wonderful indian family that truly treats me as their own. i am so blessed. one thing we do in our weekly meetings with our team is 4-1+2. we have to say 4 things we are grateful for, one thing that was tough in our week, and two things we are looking forward to. i am always so grateful for the people God has giving me in this city. im off to another awesome family dinner (which will probably be rice & dal which i love) filled with love and laughter.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
in other news, today we had a man stare into our room as we were sitting around talking this morning. its one of those things that makes me remember we are in india. im perfecting my death glare and it might be permanently on my face when i come back home. it comes in handy when the groups of men just stare at us when we walk down the street each day and in the metro when guys walk past in hopes of grazing a butt check or the chest region. this is life here.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
now on to one of the more challenging things about this city. kolkata is very proud of their metro because, as i understand it, they were the first city in india to have one. its one line and it gets me to all the places i need to be in a rather efficient manner. when the train pulls into the station, i can always tell if this will be an uneventful ride or bring chaos to my little world based on how many people are smashed into a car. during rush hour (9-11 am & 6-8 pm) it takes skill, agility and determination to get on the train. there are also bodies pushed and pulled in all different directions. there is a women's section in each car that most women claw and fight to get as to avoid getting harassed, touched and bothered by men. one important thing to take into consideration is where you are getting off. this plays a HUGE role in your location in the car. for example, this morning we got on the train at 930 and wanted to go 4 stops. we got in one door and when straight to the door on the opposite side of the train so we would be able to get off on that side once our stop came. this, in theory, is an excellent move but the stop before i had to get down, there was a swarm of people that pushed us into the middle of the train again. when i say pushed, i mean like a tsunami wave of people pushing into the train. so then the dancing part comes in. there is a series of nods, elbows, legs and shouts just to let everyone around you know you are getting off at the next station. most of the time it results in some real uncomfortable positions. today my face was smashed against the window. once the doors opened for our stop, i pretty much fell out. its all in a days work here in kolkata. its starting to be my reality.
along with that, i also get to play frogger with my life on a daily basis. im getting real good and timing it just right between autos, buses, cabs and bikes.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
yesterday was someone's birthday at sari bari and there was an amazing sense of joy and happiness that permeated everyone's attitude. it was so much fun watching them give the gift of a beautiful sari with such pride. their faces lit up with such joy as the birthday girl walked in the room. it was followed by cake and an awesome dance party. when it is someone's birthday here, people put frosting on the birthday person's cheeks. yesterday i felt like part of the sari bari family when one of the women put frosting on my face. it is so much fun being able to practice bangla with them, even though its usually an epic failure on my part. i am looking forward to being able to have meaningful conversations with these women and speaking truth and love to them. God sustains me by showing me joy and beauty in the little things each day.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
this is life in kolkata.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
today was a day committed to exploring this crazy city. our target destination: south city mall. we looked up directions last night on google so we set out with our directions around noon today. our house is pretty much at the south end of the city so originally i thought we would be pretty close to the south city mall. based on the directions i got this thought was completely false. the google directions take us pretty far north so we get off and start following the directions. we ask someone on the street where it was and they kinda laughed at us then told us to get in a cab because we were so far off. we asked someone else and they gave us directions from the metro so we head back to get on the metro again. we asked another person just in case and it turns out the new directions we had were also wrong. at this point it had taken us 2 hours and a bunch of rupees to get lost but we were determined to find this mall that was like an american mall. we get the correct directions from a super helpful girl. then we squeeze onto the metro like sardines. what you have to understand is that on the metro there is a ladies only section so women do have to be touched and harassed by men while riding the metro but during rush hour you pack in and cant really move. this guy was totally looking out for me and made a way so i could get into the ladies section. we got off and made it to the mall. it was such a strange feeling walking from the chaos and poverty of the streets of kolkata into a nice, newly built, air conditioned mall. we just walked around for an hour because we needed a taste of home. we found a coffee shop and read then ate pizza hut and went to the equivalent of a super walmart. it made me forget if only for brief moments that i was in kolkata. i am now refreshed and ready to start another week.
when my current reality consists of so much brokeness, poverty and chaos, is it bad that we find comfort in the familiarity of the mall?
Thursday, September 8, 2011
now on to the positive things in my daily life here. it was really cool yesterday working at mama T's (that's what we call mother teresa's here) because i worked with a kid that is physically and mentally handicapped. part of his physical therapy is to help him walk around the room. i had to hold him up but he would take steps to move forward. it was a really awesome image of the way God holds us up when we are too weak to support our own weight but we can still move forward. the other bright spot was today during morning devotions with the women. they start their day with a devotion and worship every day. today i was sitting there surrounded by women i dont know and they were speaking a language i can only hope one day i will understand. once they started signing it was so cool to see their faces light up with the joy and hope they have in Jesus. it was such an awesome image of God's power to transform people.
one of my friends made me notes for each day i am in kolkata. some are words of encouragement. some are bible verses. some are challenges for the day. today's note said "say 10 things you are grateful for" which may not seem like a big deal but in a chaotic city the things that are frustrating or annoying or difficult often come to the surface. i wanted to share my list with you and in turn challenge you to say 10 things you are grateful for. here is mine:
1. God gives me the strength to get through each day
2. the peace of the metro ride to work
3. melissa, our team lead, who has graciously taken us under her wings
4. the glimpses of joy and hope within the chaos of the city
6. my home stay family
7. running water and electricity
8. words of encouragement in the form of notes from home
9. all the people praying for me as i journey through kolkata
10. clouds which provide a beautiful backdrop for this chaotic city
this is real life now.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
on the train today one of the crazy/funny/frustrating things that happened was that i said "bangla jani na" (i dont speak bengali) they started asking more questions and told so many things i just dont understand. cant wait till i can actually have a semi-normal conversation.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
i have been in kolkata for a week now and i am starting to feel like a real person in this city of what seems to be constant chaos. we moved to our home stay today and it is beginning to feel real. this is what my life will be for the next four months. tomorrow we start working at sari bari and exploring the city on our own. there are sights and smells that will take time to get used to but God is good and God is faithful and i trust that He will provide for my every need. i see the beauty in the little things around the city like an amazing sky full of billowy, white clouds. children laughing as they play in the water fountains. the laughing of women as they talk about life. so far the city has welcomed me with open arms and piercing stares. tomorrow starts real life.
Friday, September 2, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
here are things to pray for:
-i need to keep perspective that God is in control
-mental preparation for living in india
-the remainder of my financial support will come in before i leave
-peace and comfort for my high schoolers
Sunday, July 31, 2011
in other news, i leave in less than a month for india. please pray as i apply for my visa and begin to pack and mentally prepare for life in kolkata. i am still short of my financial support goal so pray that God will provide the rest of the support.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
i love this song. it is one that i can listen to multiple times and still stand in awe of my Heavenly Father. in the daily grind of life i often feel like things are out of control and i lose focus of a God who loves me. God will provide for my every need according to His will not my own. that is a really humbling thought. i hope today i can let go of all my hopes and dreams and let God work through me and provide for today. why do i worry about things such as money and time and how i never seems to have enough of either when in reality it belongs to an Almighty God that will provide.
those are my random thoughts for today. enjoy this beautiful tuesday and give someone a hug.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us.
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against.
What could stand against.