Sunday, June 24, 2012

It's crazy to think that over half my time here is already done.  I've definitely started to become more comfortable here and I know it will be hard for me to say goodbye in a week and a half.  On the other hand, I am really missing my family, friends, and fiancĂ© so it will be good to be home with them :)

Every night at dinner we go around the the table and we share what our "Happy and Crappy's" of the day were (Also sometimes called "blessed and stretched" or as one of my teammates said, "Chocolate and Vegetables").  So, I thought I would share what my "Happy and Crappy's" have been thus far.

-The starchy, scratchy feeling my clothes have after I wash them- I have yet to perfect the art of hand washing my clothes ;)
-Being sick- nothing serious, just a cold, but it has been draining me a little so pray that God will give me energy.
-It can be discouraging learning about how some families here don't believe that education is important. Some won't send their kids to school, even if the tuition money is donated to them.
-It breaks my heart to see how so many of the women here don't think they are beautiful or have worth.  Pray that God will use us to show them how loved and valued they are.
-Some of the hardest times for me have been going on house visits where women will open up to us and tell us their stories.  They talk about being beaten by their husbands and it makes me feel so helpless.  I just want to do something to protect them, but I know that's not my job.  Pray that God will comfort and protect these women and that He will change the hearts of the husbands and men that are oppressing them.

-The women here and their incredible hospitality.  Even though they have very little, they are so generous to us.  Getting to know them has been such a humbling experience and they have taught me so much about how to give joyfully.
-We live just a block away from a store called the Yellow Shop that sells ice cream and cookies.  It makes me very happy :)
-How the kids shower us with hugs and kisses everyday.
-Riding through Goa on the back of a motorbike- so scary, but so fun!
-Sharing the gospel with the children at Tuition- pray that God will continue to work in their hearts and be present throughout their whole lives.
-How my teammates can me laugh until I cry :)
-Milk tea, milk tea, and more milk tea... so good!
-The rain and the coolness it brings
-Seeing God work in the lives of these little children and the women we work with.  He is so powerful and faithful.
-How eager the kids at Tuition are to learn.  I'm praying that God will give me the same thirst for knowledge that they have.
-My whole team- they have been my family here and I have grown to love them so so much!  They are an amazing group of women who have been my support throughout these past weeks.  I have been learning so much from them and I can't thank God enough for putting them here with me.

God is working in so many ways here in Goa, many of which I'm probably still unaware.  I feel so incredibly blessed that God has given me this opportunity to join in His work here for these six weeks.

Thank you all for the prayers and support.

Love you all!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 2

So, this was our first full week and I'm exhausted, haha.  Our team has split up into two groups.  One group goes and works with the women, teaching them how to sew, embroider, and make other crafts.  My group goes and works with the preschool and a program called tuition.

In the morning we typically have breakfast and devotions around 7.  We have an awesome cook who makes delicious food (we are so spoiled).  He has made us a few Indian dishes like chicken and vegetable corma with rice and he has also made us some more familiar dishes like spaghetti.  Fortunately, my stomach has been agreeing with all the food so far, so that is a huge blessing!

We are usually on the morning bus by 8 because preschool starts around 8:30.  This week of preschool was really fun, but also pretty tiring.  I help out in the nursery with about 12 three-year-olds.  For almost all of them, this is their first time away from their parents so this first week was pretty rough.  The teacher and I spent a lot of time trying to get them to stop crying.  Towards the end of the week, they were starting to get used to us a little more, so that was helpful.  One little boy, Abisheck, to a special liking to me, and would start crying whenever I put him down or left the room.  Even when he would stop crying though, he would never smile.  I made it my personal goal to get this kid to laugh, and sure enough by Friday, after much tickling and hugging, he cracked a smile and started to giggle.  It made my day :)

After preschool we have a break for a couple hours where we either go get lunch, explore, or go home and rest for a while.  Then around 3:00 we head into the slums for Tuition.  We have about 40 kids that come and fit into one of the Pastor's tiny living rooms.  These kids are so easy to love.  Whenever we walk down the alley of the slum, kids will poke their heads out of their houses and start screaming "Teacha! Teacha!" and come and hug and kiss us.  We begin tuition by having all the kids say, "I am special. I am smart. I am beautiful. I am loved".    Whenever we ask the kids who loves them they always say, "Jesus and Teachers".  It makes me so sad that children here rarely mention their parents loving them, but I'm glad they are learning about God's love for them.  Each and every one of these kids is so beautiful and I think they have all stolen my heart.  I just pray that God will give me his heart to lavish love on these kids who need it so badly.

It breaks my heart to see the kinds of conditions these kids live in.  The entire slum is filled with trash and sewage.  Many of the kids also don't eat anything until the snack that we pass out at Tuition, but I've never heard any of them complain about being hungry.  Looking at their lives has really made me step back and consider how extravagantly I live my life.  There are so many things that I have that I hold onto so tightly that aren't even a necessity.  Even my life at the guest house here in India is far above what these kids have ever known.  I'm ashamed of myself for complaining that I don't have enough to eat, or that I'm hot without my air conditioning. I know God is working and changing my heart.  I pray that I can learn to live in a way that's pleasing to Him here and when I'm back in the U.S.

I've come to learn that women and girls are not valued in Indian culture.  Our translator told us that sonograms were outlawed in India because too many people were aborting their baby girls. This past Monday, we were able to meet one of our student's 14 day old baby sister.  She was so little and beautiful.  Through the help of our translator, the mother asked if we would want to take the baby back with us to America.  Our group laughed it off at first because we thought she was joking, but the translator explained to us that she really was willing to give up her baby.  The mother explained that she already had two daughters and that because of the dowry system, a third girl was too expensive for their family.  It broke my heart that a mother would want to give up her precious baby daughter.  I guess it is common for families to be disappointed when they have girls.  It's been our prayer that God will show these families how special and wonderful their daughters are.  We hope that by loving on these girls, their parents will realize how valuable they are and learn to love them too.

God has been teaching me so much here.  Even though it's easy to get discouraged with how much darkness there is here, our God is greater.  God is working here and He longs to redeem the hearts of these people.  Pray for strength and endurance for our team as we start to get into the routine of things.  Pray that God will reveal Himself to these people and open up their hearts to Him.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers!