Friday, September 30, 2005

Getting Ready

We have a team of 5 Americans arriving tomorrow. I'd write about it - but I'm just too dang tired.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conversational English

I was informed on Saturday that I would start teaching in the Bible College on Monday. Conversational English and Vocabulary.

Could have used a little more prep time but I searched on the internet and found some good ESL stuff and ordered a book from Amazon.* My focus is on getting these guys to really speak and understand the language, not just have a head knowledge of it. (They have grammar/English in the mornings with another teacher.)

I'll be teaching on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, possibly adding a Friday Morning class. I have 14 students ages 17 to 25, all boys. I'll take a picture one of these days and post it.

Today we worked on 5 conversational questions and their answers. "How are you?" "What is your name?" "Where are you from?" "How old are you?" and "What are you?" (I am a student.) We practiced asking each other all class and then I paired them into 7 teams of 2 and gave them the homework of practicing with each other and then they'll do their dialog in class in front of everyone on Wednesday.

Of course there are the bold ones who jump right up to try and others who are, let's just say, much more reluctant. It was amusing when they were asked their age and responded, "I am fine, thank you." or when they tried to ask a question and came out with, "How old are you from?"

There was the one boy who insited on saying, "Where are you?" instead of "Where are you from?" Even tho I explaned very clearly that they have two totally different meanings. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Well, I should get back to getting E. ready for her English midterm (ha, she's 4 people!) tomorrow. I wonder if her teacher will deduct points when she sings "Mary had a little ham..." or not.

* If you have any ideas for teaching beginners English or websites for it, let me know. The students seem to be especially interested in Phonics - you know, how to learn how to spell. I'm sure my parents are rolling on the floor laughing at the thought of me teaching anyone how to spell.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I had a birthday over the past few days and it was horrible as all my birthdays are. The "happy" in Happy Birthday doesn't seem to apply to me. I'm not exaggerating; I cannot recall a "happy" birthday in all my ... years.

Well, I've come to the conclusion that it serves to remind me that it's NOT all about me. You know, My Life. Ain't it the truth.

If you're wondering, 29 Forever, baby.*

*Not really, but shhhhh that's just between us OK?

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I have way too much to do today to spend this time adding a post. Ok, now that I got that off my chest...

Over the years I have had several girls come and stay with me to help aound the house or with my kids. They stay for a few months or a year or longer. O.'s sister, Martha, was the longest. She's at college now.

For anyone who has ever had someone come and live with them, you know how it is a strange transition from being just your family to having this other person there.

Yesterday, Phoebe came. She is the niece of a man who works with us. She came straight from the village. She's never lived in a city before. At her home there is no electricity, no running water, no gas stoves. So, we're starting from scratch. When Martha came to live with us she didn't even know Hindi, just her village language. Well, at least Phoebe and I can communicate. At least, I communicate. She nods. In two days I haven't heard her speak a work. Oh well, it won't be long til she's talking my ear off.

Her three sisters are in our children's home and her dad is coming to help us with our Bible College by making food for the students. Phoebe's mom died after giving birth to baby Zarina who is about 16 months old. Zarina is in our Children's Home with Asha and Keziah her sisters. Asha came when her uncle came to work for us in Dec. 2003. She had been living with his family since she was 3. Keziah came a few months after her mom died, Zarina about 10 months later and now Phoebe is at my house. (There are 2 brothers too who study in a children's home/orphanage in Rajasthan.) So I guess Phoebe and her dad should be happy here.

Her uncle came and saw me washing the dishes yesterday and said, give it to Phoebe, she'll do it. I said, we're just taking it slow. I just had her watch the girls for me last night while O. and I went to a meeting. I came home and there was red crayon scribbled all over , I mean ALL OVER, E. & C.'s bedroom. Arg. I said to Phoebe, "If she (C.) ever goes to do anything like this again, say NO and take the crayon away. She'll cry and scream and make a big scene but she's not allowed to do this." I doubt that will be the end of scribbled walls though.

She is going to be very helpful, I know. It's just going to be wonderful to not have to drag E. & C. everywhere I go. To be able to go shopping and not have to run home because we have to reach there before E. gets dropped off by the school van.

Phoebe does seem to run on village speed (slow). This morning I said to her, "This is the city. We do everything fast here." I think she caught on.

Hopefully she'll start speaking to me soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Christian Colony: Part 1

When you wait a little while to post something that is on your mind, you kind of lose your momentum. I’ll do my best to get it back for this one. It’s kind of a follow up to my post on Sept 14th, Not Benign Cultural Tradition, but it stands alone as well.

The other day I heard O. sharing with someone that he (and some co-workers) were thinking and praying about one day building a Christian colony (neighborhood) where we could all live and other Christians could join us. My first reaction was, oh no way, we must be a light among the darkness, even where we live.

But the day after hearing this idea was Saturday. Saturday was the day that the ganesh idol was dunked in the water. I was out for Ladies Visiting and E. and C. were with me. As our vehicle wound it’s way through the muddy streets filled with dancing people and the beat of drums E.’s eyes took it all in.

All Saturday and Sunday she was repeating the chants the children said while ganesh was carried down the street. Then when she saw the pictures of ganesh and the festival on the news she was full of questions about him. She called him the “children’s god.” At first I didn’t get it and then it hit me – he’s an elephant. Of course he looks like a children’s god to a 4 year old.

E. has been fascinated by all things Hindu for as long as I can remember. It is a constant prayer of mine (and others) that she be protected from the evil all around her.

So, after this happened with E. I started to think differently about the idea of a Christian colony. At least there our children would be isolated from these festivals. Here’s an example of what happens right at our own home. On Saturday a man came to my door and gave me a packet of Prasad (sweets offered to idols) and a small plaster ganesh idol. Gee, thanks. Just what I never wanted. In a Christian colony that would never happen. E. and C. would have all their little Christian friends on their street to play with, sounds ideal? Read Part 2.

Christian Colony: Part 2

Sunday night I opened a book I’ve been reading called, “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” by Beth Moore. Good book.

I hadn’t picked it up in about 10 days since I tend to read non-fiction off and on and fiction straight through. This, being non-fiction, gets picked up and read at intervals. It’s a hard cover book and I am loath to bend the pages on hard cover books so I usually use the dust jacket flap or a bookmark to save my place. However, I also have 2 small children so invariably my place is lost.

So was the case on Sunday. I had to flip through the end of the book to find where I left off. I opened the book and looked down and my eyes fell right here: “We’ve been sent to the very world the church will probably grow increasingly tempted to avoid. The huge irony is this: we still wouldn’t avoid unhealthy relationships because so many of us lack wholeness, having never allowed God to perform His work in us through and through. Here’s the shocker: we wouldn’t even avoid demonic seductions by shutting out the world and limiting our relationships to those within our church communities. Do you know why? Because so much of it takes place right there.” Pg. 149.

Hmmm, well, that hit home.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. It’s all in God’s hands, but I do know this. We battle not against flesh and blood and it doesn’t really matter where we live, there’s no avoiding the battle.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I've been thinking about writing some updates. Since it's nearly 11PM and I'm beat, I think I may mentally only be up for one entry and since this one doesn't require much thought, it's what you're gonna get. Basically, I just want to show off a picture of my (best) tomato plant.

Isn't it just gorgeous.
The seeds that were planted directly in the soil have not done as well as these that were put into pots. I have a total of about 10 plants that will eventually have to be replanted. Advice still welcome.

Onto other subjects. Remember the boxes? We got 2 MORE in the mail today. Wow!

OK, now onto the bed for E. and C. Well, C. has taken to it like a fish to water. I think she sleeps better there than she ever did with us. E., however, seems to be planning to sleep with us until at least her marriage. I put her in her bedroom after she's asleep and within minutes she wakes up and is back in bed with me. Sometimes I wake up and she is there next to me and I didn't even hear her come in. I'm going to let her go for little while because we have guests coming next week and she'd be kicked out of her bed and back with us for a week anyway. But after that...

I had a request for a close up on the monkey of a few weeks ago. I tried to enlarge the photo but to no avail. It was too blurry. I'll have to get a better one next time. Monkeys tend to show up in the winter.

Well, I'll leave you with one last photo of my favorite plant on my balcony. I don't even know what it is.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blame It On The Rain

Well, not really. I've just been busy. What can I say? I have this urge in me to keep my blog updated, at least every other day, but - obvisouly - that's not happening. I guess I can best describe the urge as a responsibility - to post.

Well, I've got ideas for at least 3 entries. One being about Ladies Visiting, which is one of the reasons I've been short on time to write. But I also have pictures to download with that one and that's what holds me back. The stinking pictures.

I also want to write a follow-up to my last post and it's all there in my head but I feel a little drained today and I think I need to be fresher for that one. So it will wait.

Finally, I want to write an upate entry, where I give updates on some of the previous posts, like my tomato plants and the girls' new bed. But they can all wait. I'll probably get them up all at one time. eventually, maybe tomorrow. Until then, you get this really boring pseudo-entry. Sorry.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

NOT Benign Cultural Tradition

I’ve just finished digging through three dusty boxes of books to find what I was looking for to help me write this entry.

The idea for it came to mind yesterday when my house was reverberating to the loud beat of drums from outside. This went on for about an hour. I had an idea what it was about but it wasn’t until I actually saw the 6’ high, big fat, elephant headed, ganesh idol in front of my house that my suspicions were confirmed.

It’s rainy season, time to make ganesh idols and put them up on little stages in every neighborhood. Time to worship them and sing and dance and throw pink powder on each other, time to take the expensive, sometimes gold, silver, and even diamond covered idols and throw them in the river. Yep, that’s the festival. Ten days of worshipping and then on the last day, the idol gets dumped into the river.

The noise of drums that was bothering me yesterday was increased by the shouts and yells and cheers of teenage boys. They danced and banged the drum and shouted. And that is what had me digging through unpacked boxes of books this afternoon. I was looking for Breaking Strongholds in Your City edited by C. Peter Wagner. I read it about three years ago and something from the book stuck with me, mainly because I had personally experienced it to be so.

The book deals with idea of spiritual strongholds over certain areas of the world and why this is so and of course, what we as believers can do about it. On pg. 41 it says, “The question that plagues many people is what sustains them (dynasties of darkness). If the misplaced choices of earlier generations allowed demonic forces into certain neighborhoods, how do these evil powers maintain their tenancy rights across centuries or millennia?... One major answer to this question is found in the authority transfers that occur during religious festivals, ceremonials and pilgrimages.” He goes on to say on page 42, “These celebrations are decidedly not the benign, quaint and colorful spectacles they are often made out to be. They are conscious transactions with the spirit world. They are opportunities for contemporary generations to reaffirm the choices and pacts made by their forefathers and ancestors.”

And lastly, here is what brings me to my point (pgs. 41-42), “Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children a day are born into these enchanted systems around the world. Nearly all of them grow up hearing about the lie, but it is during puberty rites and initiations that many of them feel its intense gravitational suction for the first time. The power of the lie, fueled by demonic magic, is called tradition; and it is tradition, in turn, that sustains the territorial dynasties.” (emphesis mine)

Man, is that so right on. I looked out and saw these 13 and 14 year old boys, totally caught up in the frenzy yesterday. And not only yesterday but month by month as “cultural traditions” continue to come. That original contract with the devil is being signed over and over and over again.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Kind of News You Love To Hear

On Thursday and Friday our local pastor, our pastor from the next city over, and two musical guys went on a short preaching tour to the state of MP. The spoke at two locations in the villages where our MP pastors work.

I spoke with the guys who went and one of them told me that, although it was pouring rain, people were coming through the fields, walking on foot to get to the meetings. At both meetings combined there were about 450 people.

Our pastor was so overwhelmed by it all he could barely get up to speak when the time came. Later when he shared the testimony about the meetings with us his eyes teared up at the greatness and goodness of God. After the meetings there was prayer and then a time for the people to give testimonies. Over 15 people stood to testify how God had moved in their life. The first woman who stood to her feet shared how her eyes were cloudy and she could barely see any more, but God had healed her and she could see clearly for the first time.

There were more people who wanted to give testimonies but there wasn’t enough time.

Here is a picture of the team of men working in our city at a meeting at my house on Saturday. The pastor who shared the testimony of God’s greatness is on the left in the striped shirt.

That's a funny picture.

Anyway. Praise the Lord!

6 Boxes

Yesterday I got a call that 6 boxes had arrived from the US. When they came to my house I saw that 5* of them were from my friends J. and T. What a surprise! There were 2 boxes of kid’s clothes for our Children’s Home. Two more boxes of winter clothes for our C.H. kids (winter clothes are painful to buy because we only use them for a short while, but necessary. It does get cold here for about 2 months and even a little cold feels REALLY cold when your body is adjusted to 10 months of 90 – 120 degree weather.)

There were also some clothes for our Bible College students, believers and village pastors. THANK YOU.

Here are some of the C. H. kids in their new “hip” outfits.

This is my favorite one. You’ll see that she’s wearing some kind of dance bodysuit with a half slip on the bottom. (This picture was taken at church this morning. Me, shaking my head once again.)

Thanks again, J. & T!

* 1 box was one of books that we had sent to ourselves.

A New Bed/Room

E. & C. have been in a room with O. and me since their births. It’s gotten kind of squishy. Since we are now in a house with plenty of bedrooms, we designated one for the girls. Last night O. and I went shopping and bought a bed for E. and C. See below.

We spruced up their room with some Disney Princesses and we’ll see how they do tonight!! Mom (that’s me) is very excited. Of course when I asked C. where her bed was (we were standing right in front of it) she pointed to MY bedroom. Um, not anymore.

When E. was asked about her new room and bed she gave pretty much the same response. However, she did enjoy decorating with the wall stickers.

E., C., and Markus - their cousin on the new bed.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

From My Balcony

The view from my balcony. Do you see the monkey on the top of that house in the center of the picture? They pop up a couple times a year. Ugly little suckers.

And, yes, it finally rained today, thank heavens.

A Clean Kitchen

Today two friends stopped by. One did this to my kitchen...

... while the other did this to my girls.

Thanks Awon & Aza. (They also made me banana bread - in a Pressure Cooker!)

Friday, September 09, 2005

Hard Pill To Swallow

At least that's what my dad calls it.

O. is in Rajasthan, the place where he was born. On his family's land. The land that has been theirs for generations. At his father's house. The house O. built for his father on their family's land.

Why is O. there? The people living behind O.'s father's land somehow got O.'s family's land registered in their name and now claim it is theirs.

Poor O. spent 2 days doing all he could and it came down to buying back our OWN land from these people. You almost want to let it go but his father and sisters and brother depend on him to fix this. They say, this is where we were born, this is where our mother died. It must stay in our family.

So, O. just called me, he said the people were asking $5000 for it. O. got them down to $2500. He gave them some money and said he'd pay the rest over the next few months. These people would still rather fight. And when I say fight, I mean, Fight, with fists and sticks and big knives. It IS the village. They do what they want.

O. basically said to the people who still want to fight, if you don't go through with this then I'll take you to court and that's going to COST you money whether you like it or not. That slowed 'em down.

Anyway, hard pill to swallow.

Half of It

I'm actually writing this post right in the box and while I'm online for once. Usually I write it in Word, offline, and then dial up to paste in here. But... since my main job of the last few days has been sending large attachments to various people, I find that I am online anyway, so may as well make the best of it. Instead of writing in my blog I could be reading Harry Potter fanfics on Mugglenet but this is a much better option. (There will probably be considerably more mistakes this way. Read em and weap.)

Since O. has been away (yep, he's still gone) it's been quiet around here. Well, not yesterday, it was a school holiday and I had the kids over - all 23 of them. 9:30 to 4:00 (when I shooed them out). I had them over to watch some movies and eat lunch. Wouldn't you know it, my electricity was out all morning AND my gas tank (that fuels my stove) ran out of gas. No TV, no lunch. AND AND my driver called out sick so there wasn't much I could do about it.

I called a guy in our office, he went and took an extra tank from our Bible College and brought it over here on a motorcycle. Lunch was back on. I was making biriyani and I only had about 1 lb of meat so I really could have used my driver to go get some more, but I made due. Two friends of mine stopped over and they stayed too, we ran out of food, but everybody got enough. I fed the kids chips later on, they were happy. The nice thing about my friends stopping over was that they washed all my dishes for me. Wasn't that sweet! (I hate doing dishes)

The rest of the day I worked on pictures for a newsletter and stuff to be sent by ... you guessed it, the attachments. (Oh, the electricity came back on after about 3 hours) I generally had about 6 small children crowded around me and the computer as I worked. At one point one of them was actually sitting on the desk using the hard drive as a back rest.

Anyway, they seemed to think that me being on the computer was for their benefit and they kept asking me to pull up various pictures of the kids stored in there. They'd shout out someone's name and when I pulled up that child's picture they'd run and call them in here to look at it. This dramatically slowed down my work yesterday, but hey, I'm a pushover.

I wrote more than this, but it got lost and I'm not gonna write it again. I didn't love it anyway.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Ah, To Be Loved

I find the question, “What do you do in India?” to be a tough one to answer. I guess the simplest way to put it would be to say that, I facilitate and supply the needs of others so that they can more effectively and efficiently do their God given jobs. Does that make sense? Basically I see what the needs are, or what needs to be done, and I make it happen. Kind of like a Captain on the Enterprise, “Make it so.” (Not really, but I couldn’t get away without a TV/Movie example.)

Today was a fun and typical day for me. E. is feeling better so we were up and about (at last!). O. is in Rajasthan right now dealing with some problems there (not fun, pray for him) and I am free. Free in the sense that I don’t really have to cook for 3 days. This saves me about 4 hours a day – at least. I’m not kidding. Anyway, what I did today:

After completing some smaller errands, I drove on over to the house where our Bible Students live. I had been there briefly once before with O. and some others but I was going with just me and the girls today (and my faithful driver). I needed to get a group photo of the guys as well as some individual ones for a team that is coming from the US next month. I got the pictures over with right away and then I said, “Bring out the snacks.” You see, I’m not stupid. I came bearing –FOOD. Samosas, come-in (don’t even ask me to describe what that is) and Thumbs Up ( India’s answer to Coke and Pepsi.) Oh was I loved after that.

This seems like a little thing. To take some people’s pictures, and then sit around and eat snacks with a cold drink, but it is a big thing to these guys. They’ve all left their homes, they don’t have 2 rupees to rub together in their pockets. If they want a cold drink -tough. We don’t have a cook right now so they are all making their own food at the home. I can only imagine what these guys are cooking up…*

After a lovely visit and photo shoot it was off to the Children’s Home. Since I had been housebound with E. for a week I felt like I hadn’t seen most of the kids for a long time. Too long. I also need some pictures of the new children so I took care of that as well.

I wanted to see the bedroom where the kids slept because I needed a picture of it (we need to build more rooms, that’s why) and I noticed the ceiling and corners were filled with cobwebs.(They popup like crazy here; in my old house I could go to sleep and wake up the next day to a house full of them.) So, seeing this I said to one of the guys who helps out there, “Do you have a long handled broom here for these cobwebs?” “No, Madam.**”


“Well, What else does the home need?”
7 Kg Pressure cooker, 20 plastic chai cups, 2 serving trays, 5 lunchboxes, 2 buckets, a container for holding flour, a container with a lid for drinking water, a 20 foot pipe to drain water, mosquito plug-ins, a clothes washing brush, shampoo, lice killer, bathing jugs… and on and on. Other than the cooker most things only cost 25 cents or less than a dollar.

I wrote the list in English, told it in Hindi to my driver who wrote the list for himself in Gujarati. “Make it so.” And off he went. Done. Man, that feels good! Getting stuff done, getting back in the groove.

And I am loved. Not just because I make sure everyone has what they need and I get things done, or because I provide samosas and Pepsi but just because and It Is Wonderful. I have the best job in the world.

* See “My Little Plug”
** That’s me.

My Little Plug

Here’s my little plug. If you live near a college or a university, go over some day and ask for the International Student Office. Find out if there are any International students who will be staying on campus over the holidays or summer. Invite them to your house for a meal. It’s a wonderful way to share the love of Christ.

I’ve got a confession to make. When I hear about people who say, “I don’t know what to do with my life.” It makes me crazy. I’m not talking about young people, I’m talking about older people who’ve had enough time to figure it out. If only. IF ONLY I had a 1000 lifetimes to do all the things I’d love to do. I doubt it would be enough.

Anyway, if I were living another life - this practicing Christ’s love and hospitality with international (or alone) students would be something I’d really dive into. I saw this when O. studied for a few weeks at a university this summer. He stayed on campus and almost every student still there was a foreign student who wasn’t going home for the summer. They shared with O. about lonely holidays and O. saw first hand how they didn’t eat well in the dorms –usually just a loaf of white bread.
I also know what this is like because I WAS one of those foreign students. I spent 1 year in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University when I was 19-20 and we prepared our own food on a little gas stove in a communal kitchen. I learned how to make yummy Korean food and really good rice from my beloved roommate H.(Hi!) and I lost a lot of weight. I cannot tell you what it felt like for someone to invite you over for Christmas dinner and to get to eat something like – ummm, baked chicken or mac n cheese or mashed potatoes. Passover – you better believe I was at someone’s house, and any other holiday that came along, if anyone asked me over, I was there! I still remember being without money and food and the Sabbath came (everything closes- I mean EVERYTHING closes on the Sabbath in Jerusalem). There wasn’t anywhere to buy food even if I had the money. I was hungry, truly hungry and another student invited me in to eat with her. She gave me a pita with tomatoes and this sour cream/cheezee stuff. That was 13 years ago and it could have been yesterday.

So this is my plug, find a lonely international student, invite them over for dinner, for me. Thanks.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Of Missed Meetings and Sick Children

I’ve been housebound for the last 5 days. E. and C. are/were sick. C. is better, E. is still pretty bad. She’s got a bad cough and runny nose and won’t eat. I got a ½ cup of chai (milk tea) down her this morning and that’s it.

Other than having sick and miserable kids, I’ve also missed just about every meeting this week AND church* since I’ve been home with the girls. So far, I’ve missed our Wednesday night Bible Study, Friday fasting prayer or the special meeting held in a another city where one of our pastors has a new work. (I haven’t visited there yet and I’m dying to) and church. There was a meeting yesterday and since E. was pretty good on Friday night and Saturday day, we went. E. felt bad and during the meeting asked to go home to bed at least 50 times. So, we’re back at home.

But missing so many meetings had me thinking last night about how much I love to go to them (we have them about 3-4 times a week, not including visiting). My kids like it too, well, when they’re feeling good that is. I think it’s great that we all go together and this is how we spend our time. What a great way to raise your children in the Lord.

The basic format of the meeting is this: Prayer (everyone prays out loud together), 3 songs, testimony by the person whose house we’re meeting in, short message, prayer, snack (chai, juice or chips or something).

This format can change depending on the purpose for the meeting like a birthday, new house or something like that, but it’s usually pretty much the same. Dependable. My kids are good, their friends are there, they sit together or play with some little thing. Sometimes they sit with other people or go outside, no one cares. They’re kids and this is India.

I was just reading about Joash yesterday and how he spent from age 1 to 7 in the temple hiding from his grandmother.** I think spending those early years in the temple with the priests was good for him and his rule.

* I LOVE church, missing it throws off my whole week.
** 2 Kings 11