Tuesday, July 9, 2013

City updates

Here's some more updates on what we've been up to. I thought I might introduce you to my city a little bit. India was accurately described to me as an attack on all of your senses. Let me expound:

First thing that comes to mind: it is hot. Fans are essential to surviving. As soon as one is turned off you automatically notice a hot sticky feeling in the air, start sweating profusely even though you are just sitting on your bed, and then the physical exhaustion hits, again, even though you are just sitting on your bed. It also probably doesn't help that we wear pants everywhere. Today has been a significantly cooler day- with the Weather Channel saying it feels like 99. I will surely save a ton on summer energy bills in the future though- knowing now what type of heat I can withstand! Rain is rare, but is always prefaced by a really nice and strong breeze that makes you want to just stand outside and breathe in the cool air.

Scented flowers in my hair
Unfortunately taking in great big breaths outside is not always a great practice because of another characteristic: the smell. We regularly walk by the dumps, and so some days it smells like burning trash. Some days it smells like rotting trash. Sometimes you get a good whiff of diesel engines as you walk by an accelerating truck. I feel like it smells like sweat, though this is really more a characteristic of me + heat rather than India, itself. I do not mean to be complaining, I am just trying to observe. There are also some very wonderful smells. The girls will often where white flowers in there hair that have a strong and beautiful scent. We bought some new laundry soap that claims Jasmine and Rose scent, so I'm also looking forward to that one soon! The smell of fresh butter naan, ginger chicken, and curry all are deliciously good smells to look forward to here.

One of the landfills
Leading me to the next sense- taste. I really enjoy Indian food. When ordering it here, though, we regularly have to request little or no spice so that the amount that is actually served is a reasonable amount for us Americans with our fragile taste buds. One of my newest favorite dishes I'm not even sure what it is. Our last night as a team we went to a new restaurant and I asked the waiter what to order if I wanted a curry that was not too spicy. He said he would tell the chef to make something to fit those specifications and brought us a delicious chicken and cashew curry cooked in egg and topped with tomato sliced into a rose. I went back for it again a few days later and luckily had the same waiter and he remembered us (I guess it's not everyday six American women walk in there), and he remembered the dish. I asked him to show me it on the menu, but he said it wasn't on the menu, but was a special order. So I still don't know what it is, but luckily I've now stretched the leftovers for 4 meals. I tried tasting the food the girls eat everyday- it was hot. I didn't have my water bottle with me and I didn't want to be rude so I just ate it anyways (and with my hands!). It took a while for the tingling in my mouth to subside, but it eventually did. The kids say that it's not spicy or hot, but I beg to differ!

They ask for it!
So we've got touch, smell, and taste covered. On to hearing. At all times you can hear cars, autos, bicycles, and trucks honking their car horns whenever they pass another car. The honking is not so much to say you're in my way or you're in the wrong like it is in America, but more as a way to let people know you are coming and they shouldn't do anything sudden. Drivers tend to focus on what's in front of them, and so honking lets them know you are coming. Many cars and trucks even say on the back, "Please Sound Horn Please." Also all the horns are not all the same. There is the traditional "beep" and "honk" but also some that are almost melodic, some whistle sounding, and some bell-like. Other sounds: At home Haley and I can hear the kids playing and getting ready on the floors below us. In our old apartment we could hear the neighbor kids playing badminton on the court outside our door. Walking by schools and homes we can hear children giggling, clamoring to see the white people, and saying, "Hi!" to us (this was even more true when there were 6 of us walking around together). At 8 AM we suddenly hear the outside world again as the scheduled power outage begins and the fan is no longer drowning out the outside world.

That just leaves sight. I'll just attach some pictures. Too much to take in to really describe with words.
Our apartment above the schoolgirls apartment.
Laundry day! Can you spot the little girl coming to greet us?!
An "Auto" or "rickshaw"

Friday, July 5, 2013


What busy and crazy weeks it has been here in Andhra Pradesh. We finished up our English camp. On reflection I'm not sure how much English the pre-schoolers actually learned, but they definitely were loved on. One of my favorites of the pre-schoolers was Evan- he loves to be picked up and thrown around and run and play. Whenever I would put him down an pick up another child he would say, "Aka, nenu! Aka, nenu!", which means, "Sister, me! Sister, me!" Then I would pick him up, flip him upside down, tickle him all over, and watch him curl up with giggles. Loved it!

One of the treats of each day of English camp was serving them  some American foods. The macaroni and cheese (Blue box of course!) was one of my favorites to watch them eat. Two of the schoolgirls just stared at their spoonfuls of cheesy noodles. We kept saying to try it and they looked doubtfully at us. Finally they tasted it, their eyes went wide, and they handed over their spoons for more and more! We also gave them Jello, which went over surprisingly well considering its jiggly and much much sweeter than the sweets they are used to having.

My computer has been having it's own little issues (I think it's protesting the heat), so I am not certain how often I'll actually be able to blog, but I'll do my best.

Now that English camp is over Haley and I have moved apartments and started doing adoption paperwork in the afternoon and helping the school girls with homework ("tuition") in the evenings. Most of our free time is in the morning, which lends itself nicely to reading and hopefully blogging once our internet gets set up (and my computer cooperates!). We are now living above the school girls and pre-schoolers so it's really convenient and fun living above them.

Hope everyone had an excellent 4th of July! It's been a few years since I was in the states to celebrate, but we had some fireworks and ice cream cones here to celebrate, which I found to be more than sufficient. I can't believe the trip is almost halfway over already. Traveling and moving around here takes up so much time that we spent several days getting to our newest apartment home here and are leaving it for America two weeks from today- craziness! I am really enjoying it here but must admit it is an exhausting lifestyle- everything just takes a little more work. I'm thankful to have Haley around and not be alone here! More updates to come hopefully. Keep praying for our safety and health (so far so good), as well as for purpose and productivity in showing these children love!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

English Camp

For the first week of this trip I am here with a team of people from Knoxville as we do English camps with some of the children here at SCH. Monday and Tuesday the school-girls came, Wednesday and Thursday the school-boys came, and Friday and Saturday the pre-schoolers will come (Yikes!).

Each age group arrives at English camp where they meet the members of our team- me, Haley, Deb, Kaley, Laurie, and Carrie. Each of us has planned a few lessons for the kids over things that parents of adoptive children have said would be useful. For example, one of my lessons is teaching the names of rooms of a house, so I show them pictures I drew of each type of room (bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom), then show activities (sleeping, brushing teeth, cooking, etc.) and they say which room that activity belongs in. Then we had them draw what the rooms in their home looks like. All the lessons are formatted in a fairly similar fashion with songs, games, or other activities that pair with the lesson.

What has been most surprising (though it probably shouldn't have been), is the range in English proficiency. All the students that come attend a public school, but since the ages, abilities, and special needs of each child varies, you get quite a sampling. Some have been able to serve as make-shift translators for us, while others we are unable to understand, even when they repeat what we are saying word-by-word.

A few short stories then to sleep because these days have been exhausting and we have pre-schoolers tomorrow!

With the school-girls (who Haley was foster-mom of for four months) I spent a lot of time helping Stephanie, who is completely blind in both eyes. One of our activities is singing and dancing the song "Love the Lord," which is based on Mark 12:30 (also found in the other gospels at various places). During the song I would move Stephanie's arms to the motions of the song as it played. Each time you could see a giant smile form on her face, creating huge dimples in her cheeks as she rocked to the music. It was beautiful.

Alesa, another school-girl with a mental disability, really took to the song, and was able to learn all the words and sing it on her own by the end of the two days. When we walked on our field trip to get ice cream on the last day she and I held hands and sang the song together the whole way.

The differences in boys and girls in America is not so different from the differences between boys and girls in India. With the girls we were able to do side-walk chalk, draw flowers, and finger paint pictures. With the school boys we had to break out the beach balls when they became quickly disinterested with the side-walk chalk and would finger paint words and entire blocks of color. They also ate many more snacks- which is a story I will save for after the pre-schoolers are done.

Sorry I haven't been posting here or putting pictures on Facebook yet. I have been enjoying being here with a group and have been kept busy with English camp, getting situated, and adjusting my sleep schedule. (I will admit I took a two-hour nap today, and woke-up thinking it was time to get ready for school.)

Continue to pray for our team's health and safety. I have been fine, but some other member's have not been feeling 100%. Pray also for the children we have worked with so far- that they would understand the verse and song we taught and know they are loved. Pray for my time after the team leaves, that my work would continue to be meaningful and that plans for my service routine after English camp is over would come together smoothly, that they would be suited to my gifts, and that God will give me a willing heart, whatever that service may be.


For those who did not get my initial email of why I have this blog, some introductions may be in order. Here are some details:

Where I am: I am in Ongole, India with an organization called SCH, which takes in special needs children and places them in family style homes, meets their medical needs, and teaches them about the love of Christ.

Who I am with: I am in the company of five other lovely ladies from Knoxville, TN. Haley, the trip leader, served here as a foster mother for four months last year, and she is doing a great job showing us the ropes and taking us all around town to get what we need, where we need, and in touch with who we need. I am so blessed by the team that has assembled and can't wait to get to know them even better (though the 50 hours of travel time did a pretty good job of getting us all VERY acquainted with each other!)

What I am doing: The other ladies and I will be doing a two-day English camp with three different groups of students starting tomorrow. While the official language of India is English, the spoken language of the state is often Telugu, and so many of the children are not proficient English speakers, which poses problems if they ever leave the state or when they are adopted to the English-speaking countries like the US, as many of them are. Tomorrow we are working with the school-age girls on introductions, body parts, emotions, and a few other useful communication tools.

How to pray: Thank Him for this opportunity, for safe arrivals, for our wonderful apartment, and for the existence of SCH. Pray that our lessons would go smoothly, that we would remain safe and healthy, that we would be patient and loving with the children, and ultimately that God would work through us, despite our sinful nature, to show himself to these beautiful children.