Saturday, August 01, 2009

India never ceases to amaze us

Well, a lot has happened since the last blog! The trip to Mysore was a huge eye opener into the heart of cultural India. We saw many ancient temples and buildings, several of which are still used today. The outsides are beautiful and ornate, but I was honestly a little shocked at what I saw inside. Nothing extreme, but I guess I was thinking “tour bus” and “sightseeing.” To walk in to see big statues and guys with incense and water was a little different, and to see people bowing down and worshipping these statues completely caught me off guard. We left and didn’t see the main idol, and didn’t go into any of the rest of the temples, but I guess I’m glad I went in and saw what I did. I realized how much these people put time and energy and much of their lives into wood and metal and stone. (Habbakuk 2:18-20) Brian had a conversation with a worker at school, asking him why he was a Hindu and stuff. He replied he didn’t really know and it was mostly just because his parents did it and it’s the culture. Hinduism is a belief system practiced by people here, but it’s more commonly a ritual, custom and tradition that the culture is immersed in.

After Mysore we went with the hostel kids to the zoo and stopped by a high ropes course called Breakthrough. At Breakthrough every physical challenge has a lesson in it, which they bring faith into if the incoming group is Christian. Very neat. The zoo was FANTASTIC and fantastically Indian, lol. There were nearly as many snake exhibits as other animals exhibits. Highlights were the humongous hippos, the pelicans swallowing each other’s heads, the white tigers, and the lion—which we saw on the mini safari. The kids were also a blast to get to spend a day with outside the school, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed spinning around at ridiculous speeds on the park playground contraptions.

We also just came back from an amazing overnight trip to Kerala. We took a train to get there, which was one of my highlights of the weekend. My teammates and I enjoyed sitting and standing between the cars and staring out at the whizzing by scenery of rural India. It was beautiful and very surreal. Still feels that way. Then we arrived at our hotel/resort, and since it is off-season for India, we nearly had the place to ourselves. After spending the night there, we woke up and went by taxi to our next destination—an authentic Kerala houseboat. You have to see pictures. The most peaceful part of the weekend by far. We got on, went to the little upper deck/area/hideout, and just sat and watched the boat head down the canal of water surrounded by trees and houses and head towards the open backwaters of Kerala. Incredible. We explored a rice field later that night when the boat docked. Dexter and I ended up accidently exploring the mud a little more than the other two, but I have to say it was worth it. Dexter was covered in disgusting black and brown mud up to his knees! Needless to say, we ended up washing off with a little swim in the backwaters, per instructions of the crew…well, they told us to wash off at least. After a semi-miserable, sleepless night from the heat and bugs, all of us enjoyed a peaceful morning return to the hotel. We headed home shortly after, and enjoyed a slightly less comfortable train experience than the first, although it was still enjoyable and got us back.

Between weekend trips, working at the school has been an incredible experience. All of us have very unique experiences at the school, so I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know each of us is having a great time there. I am enjoying my classroom a TON and will miss it SO much. I’ve seen development in the kids over the two months, which is incredible to witness. In the classroom I feel I can be a support and extra hand to the teachers, as well as just love the kids and be there to support them—trying to speak encouragement to them beyond the schoolwork (although often it’s just trying to manage the kids and some of their terrible behavior). Some of the best moments with the kids I’ve had, however, have been on the playground, away from the classroom. One of the kids with the worst behaviors has grown attached to me and it will be so hard to leave him, as well as all the others, too.

Thanks for all the prayers and encouragements and support. God has yet to fail me this trip. He has been good to me and all of us in health, safety, and looking after us in the little things. It is great to witness the Lord provide for each other as teammates. You can be praying for health as we finish the trip, safety in our trips to Goa and Chennai, for the kids in my classroom and their needs both emotionally and spiritually and situations in their homes, for the provision of the right teachers at Asha Kiran (the school), and for God to reign in these last two weeks—starting with my life, and then overflowing into everything else.

Miss you and love all of you back home and around the world, Lauren and team India.

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