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.

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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.

Monday December 31, 2018

John 14:27-28 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 

Happy New Years Eve!

After breakfast, Jeff and I helped the girls with dishes and then I did the wash while Jeff continued to help the girls in the kitchen prepare for lunch and dinner. The girls got a total kick out of Jeff being in there helping and chopping vegetables for lunch and were a bit surprised that he knew what he was doing. Today I decided to take advantage of the industrial washer since we were washing all of our sheets and towels, in addition to our clothes and it was a lot less work. There was a lot of waiting for the wash to clean, drain the water and refill it to rinse and then spin and hang to dry. So during the downtime I joined Jeff and the girls peel and cut onions.

Most of the day was spent working on preparations for the festivities tonight. A big dinner was to follow a worship service with people visiting just like Christmas. I worked a bit more on the policies for Clifton and completed a bit more research, I do hope this ends up being helpful. The worship service was beautiful and the meal was amazing, as usual, though it was later than usual, 7:00 pm. So by the time we got done eating David and Lucia were exhausted and decided they wanted to go to bed. Anjali wanted to stay up, so she joined Jeff and I at the bonfire outside our room which continued until midnight (though Anjali only made it until about 11 and then retired to her bed for a movie).

I was also able to connect with one of the girls here on the mission and I am so grateful that God put me here to listen to her and to encourage her on the path she has already begun. She is such a beautiful and strong person and I just pray that she will start to see this herself. I believe that God puts us where we need to be, when we are needed. I pray that I can be the person God needs me to be here and that I am able to listen and follow the path He lays before me. I just need to be sure that in everything I do, it is for Him and only Him.

This past year has been one of the most amazing years and I have learned so much about myself and my family. We have seen things that I could never have imagined. And all that we have done and that has happened, it was all because of Him. God laid this path before us, and while we feared what He was asking us to do, we took one step at a time and trusted in His promise to us. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

My prayer and hope for 2019 is that I can continue to grow my relationship with God and that I will listen with attentive ears and a willing heart to follow His path, whatever it is, and do the work that He has for me. He knows what is needed and I need to listen and make sure I don’t try to push my agenda and force what I want. He is the way and the light, I pray that I am strong and faithful to follow.

Tuesday December 25, 2018

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

I am beyond amazed that I am celebrating the birth of Christ with my husband and children in a rural village in northern India with the Himalayan foothills hovering over us. Being here on the mission during this Christmas season has been a wonderful gift. This little sanctuary, just off the main road leading into Banbasa is a testament to the love and grace of our Lord and I can’t imagine being anywhere else to celebrate Christmas during this journey.

The morning began very slowly, as every was tired. But once awake the thrill of pleasant opening quickly gave our kids a burst of energy. It was wonderful to watch our kids open their few gifts and have all three of them comment that they are all very happy to be here. While we are missing family back home, we have since been adopted into this large and loving family here in Banbasa, India. I don’t think my kids even missed breakfast this morning.

Christmas morning with our kids!
Anjali opening her “stocking” (or a pair of pants) hung outside for Santa.
Lucia loved her new Barbie clothes
David just couldn’t believe he got Pokémon cards!

We headed over to the Strong House around 9:00 for some Chai, but Pricilla surprised us with some coffee, real French Press espresso, and it was the best Christmas gift! I have been really missing some good coffee and I was able to have 2 really good cups of coffee. As we were all gathered around the nice warm fire, we were able to give Uncle Rick, Clifton and Pricilla, and Lachlan some small gifts we found, as well as track down Raymond to give him a new soccer ball (we are Raymond’s new sponsors) and it was so nice to be able to give him a small gift as we start a new relationship with him. We took a few pictures to capture the moment and other kids wanted to get in on the photo opportunity with Uncle Jeff!

Our family just grew by one!

Raymond with his new soccer ball. He was thrilled and it was wonderful to be able to bring him
some extra joy today!

As I glance around this room I am awed at God’s loving spirit and how he is able to transform every person to encompass a different aspect of Himself. We are all beautiful children of God and today is a reminder of how much God loves each one of us. He gave His son, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life, as a sacrifice for my sins and for the sins of all. He sent our Savior here to live a life filled with hardship and tragedy to show me how to live me life. He was sent here to teach me all the ways I am able to have a relationship with God. The birth of Jesus Christ opened the door for every person on earth to experience the love of God and we have the opportunity to see God in each one of our brothers and sisters. This is absolutely the case here. I look around at the faces of the beautiful children and see a life of hardship and loss, but they are surrounded by a loving family who encourages them to see God every step of the way. These children have taught me so much and I am so grateful for every way God works through them.

We enjoyed a wonderful meal with a lot of the same people that were here for the Christmas Eve worship, as well as a gift and treat bag for everyone. The excited faces of the children were unforgettable.

Jeff and I with Raymond

Once those that do not all the mission “home” went their own ways to spend the day with their families, everything here just calmed. Kids were playing on the playground or just around the common areas with their new toys and gifts. We learned that almost everyone was heading into the jungle for a couple hours or picking berries and playing by the river. After a 15 minute walk and a quick crossing of the ankle deep river, we ended up on a small island walking through the jungle and finally arriving at a sandy beach. It was beautiful. The boys had brought along a speaker, so we had music playing in the background while we enjoyed snacks, skipping rocks, and just relaxing and spending time as a family.

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends. We hope that your day was filled with as much joy as ours.

Friday December 14, 2018

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today’s homeschooling efforts were a total success. The kids were all on task and completed their assigned work and everyone was pretty much done by 2:30. This was a total win and has not happened in a very long time. David even let me teach him a new method of subtraction that he ended up finding much easier than the Common Core methods they learn in school. He was thrilled because he was subtracting 6-8 digit numbers without even needing to write them down on paper, and he was able to solve the problem in half the time. He was so excited and so was I. Lucia also completed the entire Kindergarten curriculum today, so she will be starting first grade on Monday. She just breezed through the Kindergarten curriculum, I am curious to see how she does with 1st grade and how she will handle things that are more difficult because up to now, everything has been so easy for her.

David and Lucia stayed back while Anjali went with Jeff and I to Banbasa for a few items. It was nice to have her along and I think she enjoyed being away from her brother and sister for the afternoon.

We also committed to being a sponsor for one of the children here on the mission. We are so excited to continue a relationship with this big family and to start a new one with Raymond, one of the 11 year old nursery boys here on the mission. Jeff and I are looking forward to getting to know Raymond and to support him through the coming years. It is also wonderful that this all happened while we were here so we can actually take some time to get to know Raymond a little bit before we leave. The kids are also very excited to have a new PenPal when we go back home and share with Raymond their life experiences and hopefully hear about his. I guess this means that this will probably not be our only trip here!

As part of life on the mission, we have gotten use to seeing monkeys everywhere. While they are not very nice (or so we have been told), they are still quite adorable and fun to capture pictures!

One thing that I have not missed is fighting with the my children about eating. They seem to be enjoying the food here and because we all eat as a family, they are continually urged by other kids to eat their meals. It has been great to watch our children finally just sit down and eat their meals!

Wednesday December 12, 2018

Numbers 23:19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

We had a very nice day today, though it was a bit colder than it has been. Rocky has been a lot to handle–he barks all day long. Jeff has been trying to walk him during the day, but he really just never stops and it is very trying to hear him bark nonstop. The kids had school today while Jeff hung up Christmas lights with Lachlan and Uncle John. They have a lot more to do, but what they got done looks great! I was teaching the kids all day today, which made for a long day. I really love teaching Lucia because she is engaged and desires to learn. But to be honest, David is pretty hit or miss, some times he is fun to teach and other time he fights us on everything. Unfortunately, more often than not, Anjali does not want us to teach her, so it is usually a battle with her. We did, however, get a bit of recognition from her today that she is behind and that she is very overwhelmed with how to get caught back up with everything. She is fully capable of not only getting caught up, but actually being ahead of schedule with her academics, she just needs to apply herself, which she is not currently doing. I really believe that she is looking at the forest and not seeing the trees, meaning she is seeing the big picture of how much she has to do and not able to see that if she takes each lesson one at a time, she would be done before she knows it. Hopefully she will learn this soon–we are trying to show her and tell her, but we don’t know anything and she knows everything. Ughhhh, pre-teens! As with everything, it will pass soon enough and we will be on to another challenge.

I just had to include this picture of Lucia waiting for breakfast to start. She has the perfect expression on her face and pretty much shows how the kids are feeling about getting up at 6:45 every day!

A really crappy thing happened though, I ended up catching whatever Anjali had yesterday. Shortly after our afternoon tea time I started to get real cold, so I headed up to our room and climbed into our bed to sleep. I proceeded to get colder and colder, so I was in there for the night, except for dinner. I don’t know if I have ever been so cold, and it wasn’t even that cold outside. I was definitely ill.

As Jeff and I were walking over to dinner we heard singing and music happening from over by Uncle Rick’s room where we eat dinner. When we got closer we found some carolers singing Hindi Christmas music. The kids were singing along and dancing. It was so neat to experience, I just wish I wasn’t feeling so crummy.

I shared some videos are my Instagram page @sarassimplelife if you want to experience a bit of this for yourself.

Saturday December 8, 2018

Zachariah 10:1 Ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring rain, from the Lord who makes the storm clouds, who gives showers of rain to you, the vegetation in the field to everyone.

I am not sure how to describe today, other than totally wonderful. After breakfast everyone got dressed and the kids went outside for the day. The pictures speak to how the kids have gotten along here; they have all found friends and seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

There have been games of Pass the Pigs, Uno, and Sleeping Queens (all games we brought with us), as well as playing on the swing sets and playground. Today the mission kids had the day off from school and it was a lot of fun to just spend the whole day with them. We all ate breakfast and lunch together, which I really enjoy. As soon as the meals are done, the kids are back outside to play, except after lunch when the whole mission seems to shut down for rest time (not everyone naps, but that is definitely encouraged; those that don’t nap are usually watching movies in their hostel). Anjali and David both ended up watching movies with their new friends while Lucia hung out with the girls in the kitchen. They all seem to be finding new friends and it is great.

After dinner, Jeff practiced with a few others for worship tomorrow; he will now be singing on Sunday mornings. This will be his first one, but he seems to be happy singing again with a group on Sunday morning.

Anjali had asked to eat dinner with us tonight, so the kids all joined us for dinner tonight and while they were well-behaved, I must say that I would much rather them eat with the kids so Jeff and I can have some adult time. I know this may sounds selfish, but we get so little time away from our children and I have come to really enjoy this time that we have together, as adults, with the other staff. Plus putting them all three to bed at 8:30 pm is not very easy and left very little time for Jeff and I to have some down time as parents.

Friday December 7, 20181

Isaiah 11:1-6 The Peaceful Kingdom

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
   and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
    and a little child shall lead them.

Today was just a routine day. I spent the day wrapping Christmas gifts for the all of the small boys on the mission while Jeff taught our children. I can’t believe how many gifts the mission will need to purchase to provide a Christmas for all of these children. Here are some pictures of the wrapping done thus far, but there is still a lot left–this will be an on-going task until Christmas morning!

Wrapping these gifts that were hand selected by the staff for each of the children, just brought me so much joy. The gifts were selected because they knew the children would enjoy them and I can’t wait to see all these happy faces on Christmas. The Lord is blessing the place every day. This is a community who worships God with all they have and the cherish and teach these children the loving grace of our Lord, giving them hope for a better future. It is just beautiful.

Lucia helped out making chapatis again tonight and had a blast! After the kids went to bed, Jeff and I headed over to Uncle Rick’s house for a staff dinner, which they do on the first Friday of every month. This was a great opportunity to meet all of the staff and really get to know everyone. It was very casual, just a wonderful opportunity to share a meal on a cool winter night.