Friday February 22, 2019

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Fridays are interesting around these parts.  They are typically the days that the local schools have their field trips so we were inundated with running, giggling kids ranging in ages from 6 – 16.  Surprisingly enough the younger kids did a much better job at being turtle conservancy visitors usually abiding the rules which most especially includes no touching the turtles.  Older kids would be told not to touch and then surreptitiously reaching another finger into the tank in hopes of copping a turtle feel.  Both Sara and Fanny had to raise their voices on more than one occasion and by the end of our morning shift I think everyone was more exhausted from playing the role of chaperone than when we had cleaned tanks.

Fortunately, Friday afternoons we have off to get a head start on the weekend to explore the island or just simply relax.  Lorna’s time with the project was coming to a close so we opted to eat a quick bite for lunch and then head over to the sand bar just up the beach to have a few beers and enjoy an hour or two catching up with our new friend.  The fishermen who also operate the bar were very happy to see us and were quick to pour the drinks and bring us some appetizers.  Sara and I taught Lorna and Joeri the intricacies of playing Hearts which they both caught on to quickly.  Meanwhile the kids got to play in the surf and sand.

We headed back in around 3 and said our goodbyes to Lorna (and Fanny who was going with her for the weekend) and then made plans for dinner.  The kids did some playing in the pool and then after a quick clean up we made our way to the neighboring town.  Sara had found a restaurant that was well rated and right on the beach.  The only problem as it turns out was that our Tuk Tuk drivers did not exactly know where it was located.  We had agreed upon a price for the ride and they drove us into the next town.  However, a quick check of Google Maps revealed that they had gone too far.  A u-turn later and a quick stop for the driver to ask some directions and we were off again.  We found the location and sat down for a nice and relaxing meal.

Nothing quite like enjoying some good food and conversation with a sea breeze gently caressing you.  We definitely found the fruits of our labor this evening.   After a long week of getting dirty, sweaty, and tired we enjoyed basking in the beauty of God’s Earth.

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Tuesday February 12, 2019

Isaiah 28:29 This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.

Everyone was pretty tired today. We all woke up pretty late and enjoyed the slow pace of the day. We did decide to go into Perth for a bit. Jeff decided that he wanted to get some new sandals and when we were in Fremantle there were some that were 50% off. After the quick stop in Fremantle we decided to go for a walk through the botanical gardens. What a beautiful afternoon. I really enjoyed just taking in God’s creation. Though it made it a bit challenging at times because Anjali was in a bit of a mood today, most likely due to exhaustion.

We found a restaurant with a nice view of the ocean very close to home, so we left the city which had many options to choose and headed that way. We felt confident that we were going to have a nice dinner near the beach, but when we arrived 40 minutes later we found the restaurant to be closed for a staff party. After listening to the kids complain and argue in the car, poor Jeff curled up on the sidewalk feeling completely defeated. There was no way we were going to drive back into the city, but we had no idea where to go. Thankfully there was a liquor store adjacent to the restaurant and popped in there for some beer and more wine. The two guys that worked there sent us over to Hillary’s Harbor with the hope of finding a nice dinner. We were not disappointed, honestly I think the place we ended up enjoying was better than the first place. God took care of us, we just needed to be patient and trust in His ways.

 

Our dinner was absolutely fantastic. We sat outside and had a beautiful view of the harbor. This ended up being a 3 course meal with a couple drinks and a bottle of wine. The kids did a really good job and seemed to enjoy their fancy meal. This was just what Jeff wanted and I am so happy that we found this place. Lucia didn’t make it through dinner and passed out on me towards the end–thankfully all I had left was my wine to drink.

 

The unfortunate thing was that when we got home I realized that I didn’t have my phone. I swore I put it in my purse as we were getting ready to leave. Jeff and I headed back to the restaurant and thankfully found my phone on the floor directly under my seat, which means that I tried to put drop it into my purse, but missed.

Thursday January 24, 2019

Romans 15:1 We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Packing, packing, and more packing along with some last minute laundry and a few final projects that got finished up. I have been attached to Priscilla any time she gets near the kitchen because I am desperate to extract any cooking knowledge out of her! Clifton and his DTour clients got in last night, so we got a small bit of time with them before we all go our separate ways tomorrow.

These final goodbyes are so difficult and even though we’ve done this already several times, it doesn’t seem to get any easier, but it is almost more difficult. I think we are able to connect with people faster because we know we only have a short period of time and I am just heartbroken that we have to say goodbye tomorrow after breakfast. This week Jeff and I have been getting up in the morning to help with breakfast and our kids each took one day this week to also help (I couldn’t do Tuesday and Wednesday because I was not up for it-my asthma and cough is getting worse by the day and I am struggling just to walk up the stairs. I have never experienced this much difficulty breathing with just a cold.)

Jeff and I were able to help Clifton out with his DTour meeting this morning. After hearing all about the plans for their next 8 days on motorbikes into the Himalayas both Jeff and I have an urge to take up riding so we can join another one of his tours. This won’t happen right away because we will need to have a fair amount of experience on a motorcycle before we could do something like this, but I am totally game and think this could be an adventure of a lifetime! If you already ride and are up for a challenging but thrilling ride into the mountains of northern India, check out the DTour website.

I was able to sneak away with a few cookies for a Uncle Malcom and Aunty Sonia. It was so nice to see them again and they promised to come by this evening to say goodbye to all of us because they would not likely see us in the morning before we left.

For tonight’s dinner I didn’t leave Priscilla’s side and also got to try my hand at chutney making again, this time I didn’t over blend it and it turned out amazing. Priscilla was kind enough to make my favorite dinner here, vegetable subji with chipati and chutney!

Just before we started eating, Sonia and Malcom came over and we got all our kids to say our goodbye to these wonderful people. Sonia’s hugs are the best and I am going to miss them. It is just one more reason to come back again soon.

This whoever week we have been receiving multiple cards and friendship bracelets from the kids here and Anjali really wanted to make some for her new friends. She was still up making these bracelets when we got back from dinner and was going to be up all night finishing these if she didn’t get some help. So she and I watched 50 First Dates and made more friendship bracelets than I care to know. We finished the last one about 5 minutes before the movie ended. Thankfully there would be plenty of time to rest and nap during the long car ride to Delhi tomorrow morning.

I did our last bit of packing and took Priscilla, Cathy, and Nancy some items that didn’t make the cut and headed off to bed.

Tuesday January 22, 2019

Acts 4:30-31 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

I don’t really know what to say, other than I just can’t believe we are leaving in just a few days and I can feel a piece of my heart breaking. I am so torn because my body is looking forward to the change in air quality, my heart doesn’t want to leave and I am pretty confident that part of it will always remain here in Banbasa, India.

Today I was able to help the girls in the kitchen make chipatis. While I didn’t get the chance to roll them, I did make the batter and prepare the dough into balls to be rolled out and then cooked. I have decided that when we get a house, Jeff is going to be making me an outdoor fire pit to cook our chipati and our subji. Of course I will likely be calling back to India for some help and I am pretty sure it will never taste as good as it does here.

Shortly after chipati making I meet with Nancy who gave me a quick lesson in how to wear my Saree. She first showed me how to put it on and then I made an effort at replicating it. For my first attempt I did pretty well. Nancy asked if she could do a small photo shoot, so we headed out by the old fallen tree and I let her take some pictures. It was so funny, as I walked through the mission I had just about every child asking me where I was going and telling me how nice a I looked in a Saree. I loved having it on so much that I went into town with Rochelle after tea time to pick out another one and drop it off at the tailor. Rochelle was such a trooper. She wasn’t feeling great but still trekked into town with and enjoyed a quick treat of gol gapas. I am happy to say that I found a beautiful Saree, this one is much more simple but still very pretty. We dropped it at the tailor for him to put the fall in it and I will be able to pick it up tomorrow.

We had a fun surprise from family back home, a package! Uncle Jesse, Aunt Tessa, and Annecy thank you so much for the wonderful gifts. We all love them and it brought us so much joy to get a box filled with goodies from our family back home in the states. We all got matching bracelets, as did my whole extended family got the same ones! So even though we are away from each other we all still all connected together. Lucia was also super excited for the stuffy keychain. She has been collecting keychains during this journey and has quite a collection so far and was stoked to add one more!

I watched Priscilla make our dinner tonight and I diligently took notes so I can attempt to replicate some of this amazing food. My new little notebook is going to be a priceless resource.

Monday January 21, 2019

Exodus 15:26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

Our kids were off school today for the MLK holiday, so we took advantage of a free day to explore and head to the Nepal border. We thought it would be a fairly easy walk, but it ended up being almost 5 miles one way. The kids did great and though we didn’t cross the border (mainly because it was going to cost $120 just for the day) we still had a fantastic time. We decided to take a horse-drawn carriage home, which was crowded but definitely a new experience. Part of the trip there and back is crossing over a large dam and walking alongside the river. It was really nice to be just the five of us, but I was also acutely aware of how much I was going to miss my wonderful new family on the mission and I just can’t believe that we are leaving this place in a week.

Unfortunately my lungs and sinuses are not doing so well and are looking forward to some cleaner air. I was happy that my body help out long enough for this excursion. I would’ve been so sad to miss it.

On our way back through Banbasa, we stopped to pick up my Saree and suits. Thankfully all was ready and we had finally had money to pay for it! We were also able to stop at my new favorite street vendor for “tiki” and “gol gapas”. Tiki is a crispy potato pancake topped with garbanzo beans, fresh onions, sweet red sauce and sour green sauce, a dollop of yogurt and finally some crunchy gol gapa. This is such a yummy treat and very easily lunch. After eating the tiki, I introduced Jeff to gol gapas. It is basically a hollow fried flour ball that they smash a hole in it to fill with a few garbanzo beans and then the sweet and sour sauces. You put the whole thing in your mouth and it is a liquid explosion of flavor in your mouth. It is messy but absolutely amazing and I could sit here all day and eat them!

We got back to the mission in time to for dinner. The kids got washed up and we headed over to the Strong House for our group meal. I actually made the chutney tonight (with the help of Nancy), though I guess she wasn’t watching me close enough because I over blended the chutney and it came out more like a sauce then chutney. It still tasted good, just the wrong texture; beginner mistake I guess! The food here is so flavorful that I am really concerned that all other food is going to taste so bland.

We also came home to find that Priscilla and Sarah had brought out a 5,000 piece puzzle and set it up in the Strong House for everyone. So we all took some time to work on this before and after dinner.

Sunday January 20, 2019

Colossians 1:10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.

We started our morning helping The girls make breakfast. After breakfast and dishes, I was exhausted. I am starting to feel the effects of living in India for the last 2 months. My lungs are constantly burning and I am finding it difficult to take a deep breath. I have started needing my inhaler much more frequently and am also finding it more and more difficult to sleep at night because I am waking up coughing. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do.

Right after church we went over to Sonia and Malcolm’s where we enjoyed some coffee and cakes, along with some wonderful conversation; I really enjoyed our time with them. It was the first time since being here that we were able to have this one on one time with them and I do wish we had done this sooner. I would have loved to get to know Sonia and Malcolm better.

We had to say goodbye to some other volunteers today, Rosie and Frank. It was so wonderful to get to meet them and spend some time getting to know them.

After lunch, Sareena (one of the big girls) was kind enough to do some Henna (or Mehndi) on my hands. I sat in a chair, soaking in the sunshine while Sareena gently ticked my hands with the ink. Jeff joined me while helping another big girl with some homework. This process was so relaxing that by the time she got to my second hand I kept dozing off in my chair only to be awoken to Sereena laughing at me! What a spectacular afternoon, it was absolutely peaceful with all of the mission kids in quiet time and our kids watching a movie in our apartment. And then it all ended at 3 pm when the kids were done with quiet time and the whole mission sparked to life again with the sounds of laughter and squealing children.

As usual, our kids ate dinner with the mission kids and then we all met back at the room by 6:30 to get them showered and in bed so we could head to dinner at 7 pm. I will say that this quite an undertaking and the time pressure is difficult (we are always late to dinner), but I love these dinners in the strong house. We spend about 2 hours eating dinner, laughing, joking, drinking Chai, and just getting to be adults. I kind of sat back tonight and took in the whole thing, plus I am not feeling all that great. I am really going to miss these dinners, actually, I am going to miss the entire mission here. I feel so torn because my body is really feeling effects of the severe air quality here, but my heart is aching at the realization that we are leaving in just a few short days. The people here have etched a permanent mark on my heart and I haven’t even left yet, but am already wanting to return.

I can’t even begin to describe the constant love expressed here and while I have tried my very best to give all that I could, but I kept feeling that I am getting more than I am giving. I pray that I was able to show the wonderful children and staff here how much I appreciated them and that I had grown to love them just like family–they are my Banbasa family and they will always hold a piece of my heart.

Saturday January 19, 2019

Isaiah 44:8 Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

Today, just before lunch the mission had some visitors who where on their way to Delhi from Nepal and decided to stop to say hello. They had lunch in the Strong House and as I stopped in there after lunch I learned that they were visitors from the US and we talked a bit about their work in and around India and Nepal, as well as our mission and COG. I also learned that they too were on a hunt for cash from the ATMs and were headed into Khatima. This morning Jeff took a 3 hour walk to the surrounding towns of Banbasa in search of money with no success–there is no money anywhere. Since we are leaving on Friday morning, I didn’t want to chance not being able to get cash since we needed to pay for our taxi back to Delhi, so I took them up on their offer to join the, and I am so glad I did because I was able to get out enough money to cover the clothing items from the tailor, as well as our driver, and a few other items we needed for our last week here.

This evening we were surprised to learn that a last minute jungle dinner was in store for us. Eugene headed out at 3:30 pm to prepare our meal on the riverbed over the fire, but we didn’t leave until at 6:45 pm in the bed of a trailer being pulled by a tractor. It was so much fun. We took the bumpy ride through the neighboring village and just to the riverbed where Eugene and Uncle John were preparing our meal. We got and found a nice fire blazing and chairs situated around it. This ended up being a fun little party with some new friends/visitors. As usual dinner was amazing, though this time we were eating under the beautiful stars with the rambling river in the background. It was such a peaceful and fun meal filled with great conversation, stories, and laughter.

My pictures of our dinner didn’t really turn out, but I did capture of a picture of these two little ones having fun with me by balancing some toilet paper on our heads!

Monday January 14, 2019

Colossians 4:5-6 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.

Happy Birthday, Dad! This is one of the difficult things about doing this journey away from family and missing events like this, but we were able to do a FaceTime with my dad and wish him a happy birthday from India.

We ended up having a fair amount of pancake mix leftover from our breakfast feast yesterday so we were able to help the girls make a pancake snack for all of the school kids. This meant that I spent another 2 hours making pancakes over the fire. And while this task was smokey, it was a lot of fun to hang out and laugh with all of the big girls. We had a lot of fun and I am really going to miss this time with them. These girls work so hard cooking all the food their brothers and sisters, as well for us volunteers. Jeff and I have really enjoyed helping them in the mornings, learning how to cook the porridge and Chai tea, as well as helping wash the dishes after the meals. This time with them also included laughter and silliness while getting the work done, because let’s face it, work is so much better when you are having fun!

Our kids did a pretty good job with school work today. It is so hit and miss with them, and while 2 may be doing well there is usually one who doesn’t want to do the work. It is really frustrating, but this is just how it goes.

Saturday January 12, 2019

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “If you are able!–All things can be done for the one who believes”.

Today Jeff and the kids went out to the building site of the new staff housing project to help by move dirt and I spent my morning in the Strong House working on an organizational project. While I was not with the kids, Jeff said they worked very hard and that just filled my heart with joy. I love hearing that my children are lending a helping hand around the mission, especially since on Saturday’s the kids here are all in school.

The highlight of the day on the mission is that Dylan got a new catfish that he plans on eating once it dies : ) I can’t help but laugh at the thought process.

This afternoon while Jeff and the kids moved more dirt, I was charged with having the small boys clean up garbage around the mission. I figured that getting the boys to do a good job would require them to “buy into” the project, so I created two teams of 6-7 and we had a race/competition to see which team could collect the most garbage. After a bit of advice from a few staff members I ended up setting a few ground rules (we set boundaries and agreed that they could not go to the garbage pits to fill their bags). The boys were so excited and they cleaned up the whole front part of the mission in about 15 minutes. The boys seemed to have a ton of fun and they did a great job!

Thursday January 10, 2019

John 9:5-11 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”

[A]nd his name is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

The John verse for today brought these other two scriptures to mind and I just could not help but to include them. I love the reminder that Jesus will always take care of us and that there is nothing that He cannot accomplish. When we live and walk alongside Him anything is possible and this fact is incredibly reassuring in this crazy world; I may not have any control, but He does, and what’s even better is that He also knows what I need.

I guess today we needed a break. Eugene and Phyllis (Filly) invited us, along with Gail (a GSAM alum), Lachlan, John and Sara, and Frank and Rosie, to spend the day at the Jim Corbett National Park in Ramnagar. This place was amazing. We all piled into 2 cars and then headed off into the jungle. As we were driving through the jungle we stopped along the side of the road to grab some firewood so Eugene and John could cook us lunch over the fire. Our drive through the jungle and over the dried up riverbed, up to Jim Corbett’s cabin was absolutely beautiful. Trees formed a canopy over the dirt road and we were all on alert hoping to see an elephant, but that didn’t happen.

This afternoon was such a blessing. This was the first time we really got to spend some quality time with Eugene and Filly. The adults sat together overlooking the dried up riverbed while the kids ran around the property. Eugene and Filly brought 3 of their kids, so ours had a ton of fun with them. It was so relaxing and wonderful to share stories and to get to know one another. Eugene and John cooked us an amazing meal of chicken and rice, also known as Biryana, and of course some homemade chutney. After we all had our fill of the food, Filly was kind enough to share a secret with me…chutney with some fresh squeezed lime juice and raw onion made for a wonderful, but really spicy treat. The two us just continued to take chutney/lime shots until there was no more lime; it was awesome! Of course our meal would not be complete if it wasn’t followed by some spiced chai. We got home right about 4 pm, just in time for another round of Chai tea.

I had no idea I was needing a break, and maybe I really didn’t need it, but today was just perfect. I am so grateful for God’s grace in making this happen. We all had a wonderful time. We laughed and joked while we got to know each other better, all while the kids ran and explored. Lucia seemed to have a really fun time with her new friend Jeffrey!

David, taking full advantage of his longer hair.
Here is the view from the property.

Our adventurous kiddos!

Anjali is sneaking around the corner.
The dried up riverbed! During the monsoons, this river can be uncrossable!

Once we arrived back home Jeff and I were asked to help make Dylan’s birthday cake for tonight. For a last minute cake, I’d say this dinosaur turned our pretty good!

Happy Birthday Dylan!