Monday, October 31, 2011


this week marks the halfway point in this awesome adventure in kolkata. there have been high points and low points all along the way. i have learned to love this city and now it feels like home. today at our team's weekly meeting we were talking about the next two months and all the celebrations (such as thanksgiving and Christmas) as well as all the goodbyes that we are going to have to say. it is hard to know that december 29th is quickly approaching while still soaking in every moment we spend with our famliy and the ladies. one thing that multiple people have said to me in the last month is that there is freedom in commitment. i always saw commitment as something scary because it meant that i had to be in one place for an extended period of time. i have decided to commit to going back to school to get my certificate to teach english abroad and probably follow that with a masters in special education. im not sure how i will use those in the future but God has given me a passion for traveling and a desire to work with kids. the next few months will be filled with working on my application as trying to find a way to pay for this new chapter in my life. i am looking forward to where God will lead me next. i never thought that november would come so fast but i am loving every minute of the time God gives me in kolkata.

Friday, October 28, 2011

diwali means family time

this week was diwali/kali puja. it is celebrated with fireworks (so my brother would have LOVED being here) and lights all over the city. we were originally told it was only one day but so far we have had fireworks going off all night for the last 3 nights. i think that it is interesting that kali, the goddess of destruction, is celebrated by light. this is something that i am still trying to figure out.

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

this is not my fight

so many times it seems like everyday in this city is a fight. in the past i have tried to take on this city on my own. on sunday the pastor spoke from 2 chronicles and verse 15 says: "Thus saith Jehovah unto you, Fear not ye, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's." it is such a comfort knowing that i am not in this alone. as long as i continue to praise God with my life that He will continue to fight my battles with me. this makes life easier here.

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

familiar faces

kolkata feels like home. the streets are becoming so familiar that i dont really have to remember landmarks to get places anymore. the walks to and from the metro seem shorter and less tedious. the people along our street are beginning to realize that we are going to be here for awhile and dont stare as much. the little old lady that runs the dokan on our walk home every night always asks us what we ate and are going to eat today. she is always trying to ask us if we ate rice today. the man we had a conversation with at the "grocery store" dokan was such a refreshing experience. the faces are starting to be more familiar. i have started smiling at the women on the streets and it is fun to see their face change and smile back. it is the little things that make this easier to call this place home. i am seeing God at work in this city and it so cool. God has opened my eyes to see people as He sees them. next week marks the half way point.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

allergic reactions

for the last couple of weeks there has been a rash that has slowly spread to my entire body. im hoping that it is because i am allergic to the detergent we started using just before we went to thailand. that being said, i spent close to four hours rewashing everything i own in tide detergent hoping that will make this rash go away. i am beginning to think that it is just my body's external reaction to this city. it could also be bed bugs. who knows. i will say this again: i am going to be so much more grateful for my washer and dryer when i get home.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

my birthday....indian style

let me start by saying that it is the little things in life that make me smile. one way that we release is by sometimes being ridiculous on the metro. last monday that looked like 3 white girls lip syncing and dancing on the metro all to different songs. in the last few days it has looked like smiling at women and kids on the street. yesterday the little old lady that works the dokon (store) on the corner has a conversation with me (in my broken bangla) about what food i was bringing home. it is these little interactions that redeem this city. i spent the first part of my time here trying to fight my way through each day but now i see that instead of fighting, i need to go with the flow and find joy in the little things.

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

returning to kolkata

i will be the first to admit that coming back to kolkata from thailand was a terrifying thought because i was leaving behind all the comforts of the western world like starbucks and 7-11 to head back to the streets of kolkata where everything is a fight. at the beginning of this week i was just out of fight so the thought of staying another three months in this city was almost unbearable. i will confess that tuesday i spent a good majority of the day at the mall reading and getting groceries in a non stressful environment in preparation of the week ahead. wednesday morning we got back to our routine and the week has gone a lot smoother than i could have anticipated with the exception of the heat. we were told that it would cool down after durga puja (which was last week) so my roommate erin was holding on with differed hope that after thailand we might not sweat as much. that is not the case. it seems so much hotter because it is not raining now. today at sari bari the electricity was out most of the day so it was a lesson in humility as i studied bangla drenched in sweat. for the last week or so the ladies were on a break much like christmas break in america so it was so much fun to watch them reunite and talk about what they did over the break. it was so cool to see their faces light up and run to hug one another. this is just the proof that sari bari is a family. they welcome each other back with hugs and huge smiles. it gave me motivation to keep going on this adventure known as my life in kolkata.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

the adventure known as thailand

reflecting on the last week in thailand and the adventure that we were on a week ago today, it seems crazy and also unreal. last saturday we headed to the kolkata airport bright and early for our 930am flight and when we arrived at the airport we found long lines and no answers as to why it was taking so long and if we were going to make our flight or not. we get through security at 930 at which time we look at our tickets to see that the ticket counter guy bumped us to the noon flight but didnt feel the need to tell us. we wait till 1230 when we finally get to board. a little insight into my personal health at this point.....i had stomach cramping and was running to the bathroom about every half hour with diarrhea. as we landed in dhaka for our layover we find out that our plan, originally scheduled to leave at 4pm, will not be leaving till 11pm that night. at this point i feel like im dying with stomach cramping and a fever. our fellow passengers that were on the 930am flight had been fighting with the airline since they landed to get the airline to put them up in a hotel and give them food for the inconvenience. after about 30 mins we all head to immigration to get transit visas and head to the hotel. this actually was amazing because i was able to get meds for my stomach and we all got to take naps. we head back to the airport and land in bangkok at 3am. in the dhaka airport we end up meeting this guy that owns a hostel which was a huge blessing because at this point we werent certain that our original reservation would have still been available. we went to bed at 5am after 24 hours of travel. the next morning we head out to hua hin for some rest at the beach. our mini bus breaks down so we had to switch buses. once we arrive at juniper tree and settle in we were able to relax after our crazy adventure.

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.