Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Normal

   With time comes familiarity, and it’s nice to be familiar with my new home.  I’m learning my way around the streets and the culture, slowly becoming accustomed to the ways of the land.  I’ve picked up Hindi phrases and words that allow me to communicate (on a very base level) with people, and I even gave directions to tourists from Delhi earlier today!  It’s the little things, you know…

   This week I started language school.  I am taking one class a day, Monday through Friday, and so far it’s been fun.  Ask me how I like it in three weeks and I might give you a different answer, but up to now I’ve enjoyed it.  I’ve decided that I’m going to put a lot of effort into it, not only because it’ll keep my mind busy and occupied, but also because it will prevent me from feeling isolated in a foreign country.  Referring to the above paragraph, knowing a little of the language will help me feel at home.  And in this case familiarity does not breed contempt, but rather contentment.  Or to put it plainly, less homesick.

   It’s been fascinating to learn both the culture and the language simultaneously, as you can’t truly know one without the other.  An intriguing example comes from a conversation that Michael, Laura, and I had after our classes today.  Michael was telling me that in Hindi, the sentence structure to describe someone being late to something is not “I am late”, but rather “lateness happened to me”.  It’s not “I am sick”, but instead “sickness happened to me”.  How indicative of Indian culture!  Everything comes down to fate.  They take no personal responsibility for what happens in their lives (which might be why their country has not progressed much farther than poverty in 4,000 years), and they hold true to the belief that they are bound to one inescapable fate.  From incarnation to the caste system, their beliefs indicate that they don’t have a choice about what happens to them.  And here it is - reinforced in simple vocab and sentence structure.  That might be boring and irrelevant to some people, but I found it incredibly interesting.

   Helping take care of John has been great.  He is a sweet and willing little guy, and he’s been quite the trooper.  I watch him in the mornings from about 7:30-12:30 while Michael and Laura are in school, and then they come home and we all eat lunch together at the guesthouse.  Shortly after lunch, I leave for class and come back around 4:15pm.  My day is full but not hectic, because nothing is hectic in India (except for traffic).  Time basically irrelevant, and despite the hard day’s labor Indians put in every day, the town has a laid back feel.  Keeping busy is good for me, and I’m thankful for the routine I’m settling into.  I like the pace here.

   Michael and Laura and I have settled back into the easy friendship we had when we were in college, and spending time with them is nothing but encouraging.  God knew they would be the perfect people for me to be with, and I hope to be a fraction of the blessing they’ve already been to me.  Keep them in your prayers!

   So that’s me, one week in.  My spirits are up and I’m glad to be here.  I’m resting confident that I’m exactly where I need to be, and that puts any times of homesickness or fear in perspective.  Thank you so much for your prayers, thoughts, comments, and love!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finally Here

  Well, I’m finally here! It’s been quite an adventure already, and I’m praising God for safety.  In the past 48 hours I’ve been in three countries, two continents, and traveled thousands of miles on planes, trains, and taxis.  I’ve even ridden through Delhi traffic, which is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  There are no rules; cars, rickshaws, buses, motorcycles, people, and animals basically do what they want through the busy streets, and we had a couple close calls (which is not out of the ordinary), and still God protected me.  I am definitely not taking safety for granted.  It is a gift that I am here with all my limbs, all my luggage, and my sanity basically intact.

   I got into Delhi Monday morning at about 6:30 local time and met up with my friend Laura shortly thereafter.  We didn’t leave for Mussoorie till the next day, so I got to experience some of Delhi.  Delhi is a classic example of what India is, and there are no words to describe it accurately.  The poverty is most evident, and most shocking.  I came in expecting to see it, but was still bothered by its reality.  As we were driving through the city on the way to the train station, I saw people sleeping in the shell of a partially demolished building, on carts parked along the streets, and even on top of their work trucks.  It’s a painful sight, but smell is just as bad.  The city smells like every form of waste you can think of, and the 110 degree heat doesn't help any. The city is massive, but when you’re walking through the streets, it feels small.  Everywhere you turn, there is spiritual warfare. Figures and statues of their millions of gods are placed wherever the eye turns, and you can feel the darkness in the air. 
   On Tuesday morning at 5am, we left Delhi on the train to go to Mussoorie.  This included an hour taxi ride, a five hour train ride, then another hour long taxi ride along curvy mountainous roads.  So much traveling!  I’m thankful it’s done now.  And if I wasn’t jet-lagged before, I am now.  I can’t make it through the day without sleeping, but then when it’s nighttime, I’m not tired.  I’m 10 and ½ hours later than the US, and only 4 hours later than Italy where I’ve spent the last 2 weeks, but the trip and the early mornings have done me in.  Hopefully I should be back to normal in a few days.

   I’m all moved into my little apartment.  Although not amazing by Western standards, in India it’s a rich person’s room.  It’s about 400 sq. feet, but it has a bathroom (thank God) and a shower and a bed, so what more do I need?  I'm very thankful for it. I’ll post a couple pictures as we go along.  I’m only two doors down from Michael and Laura, so that’s nice!

   Elevation is 7000 ft, so I’m actually quite altitude sick.  Been feeling queasy and nauseous for most of the day, which is making me more tired.  Apparently it wears off in a few days, so I’m praying for some relief asap.  I banked on this happening, considering I live in flat Kansas, but let’s just say it’s not fun.  It could be worse though, so I have a lot to be thankful for.
 Mussoorie is very beautiful – the view of the mountains out my front yard never get old, and when I look down, I can see many towns and cities cascading down the hills thousands of feet below me.  The people who work at Ivy Bank (the name of the place I’m staying) are wonderful.  Some of them speak English and they are all very sweet and accommodating.  Little John Berkley, the one year old I’m going to be looking after, is a celebrity everywhere we go.  Indians are fascinated by white babies, and he gets so much attention – it’s so cute to watch them interact with him.  He’s going to be spoiled, for sure.

   So that’s me so far.  I’ll try to post every week to keep those who are interested updated.  I’m a little homesick, but God has given me a lot of grace so far, so I’m enjoying where I’m at.  The facebook posts, emails, and comments help so much – keep them coming! :) They mean more than you know.  I'm sorry, I know this was a long post, but thanks for sticking with me!