Once a Barista….

…always a barista! We are in Hyderabad and I’m at my second coffee shop today! After a month without being in one, I feel a little more at home.

The first one I went to was called Cafe Coffee Day. It was a lot more like Metro, and I loved the feel of it! I had an Americano that was pretty darn delicious, especially after a month without. For those who care (AKA Jim! ;)), they had a two group semi automatic. I wasn’t able to see the process, though.

The one we are at now, Beyond Coffee, is quite a bit different. We walked in, sat down, and someone came and took our order. I don’t love the feel as much, but my mixed berry smoothie is delicious! They’ve got a one group, but again didn’t get to watch.

Speaking of Hyderabad…it’s great to be here! A completely different feel, for sure. Last night we had Chili’s for dinner with a Baskin Robbins dessert! Today we had McDonald’s for lunch (no beef, but the chicken nuggets were delicious!) and tonight we are ordering delivery pizza!! (Either pizza Hut, Dominos, or Papa John’s…any of the above will be delicious.)

We are hanging out today with some fellow Sterlingites! Scott, Stephanie, and David are in HYD at the School of Worship right now (where we are sleeping), and happened to have a free day today. It’s been great to hang out with familiar people!

I fly out of Hyderabad at 6:40 tomorrow morning (so around 8:10 PM Monday night in America). It’s been great, but I’m excited to get home! Please be in prayer as I travel – I’m traveling by myself and am hoping for NO problems, no stress between flights, and finding where I need to be easily! :) I fly from Hyderabad to London to Dallas to Wichita and will land in Kansas at 10 PM Tuesday night!

I will definitely be doing some more reflective posts upon my return. Thanks for your prayers and love while I’ve been here!

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Soakin’ up the sun.

One thing we sure don’t have in Kansas is beaches. Saltwater as far as the eye can see. And hot, hot, hot, bright, beating Indian equator sun (ask my arms, nose, and top of my back about that – thankful that my sari covered the rest of my body from the joys of the equator sun…and Dad! My left arm is way worse than the right, with a very distinguished sleeve line – I look like you after driving around all the time with one arm out the window!)
Anyways, that is one thing we DO have here in India (in the land of no fast food, no Dr. Pepper, no beef, and the list goes on) a mere 25 km from the ICM office!
This morning, we loaded up, stopped and picked up the precious boys from the NTR Colony CCH and headed for the beach!
They were SO excited.

We then spent the next two hours playing and swimming and running and burying and laughing. It was a great, but exhausting, time had by all – Courtney and I, the boys, Agape, AND the pastor/dad at the NTR home!
Here’s a glimpse into our morning at the beach!

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I get to choose You.

Okay, time for a less cryptic blog post than my 6:45 AM ramblings. ;)

Last night, I found out that there had been a miscommunication with my friend Bethany as to the dates I was going to be in Europe with her. She will be in another country with the team she’s working with and won’t be available to go to Paris and such with me as planned.

Immediately, I was pretty disappointed. I have NO idea how this happened….all of our communication mentions these dates, but somehow it got messed up. I definitely don’t blame Bethany at ALL – we are both pretty disappointed about it.

After a Skype with my parents who made a phone call to the travel agent Courtney and I used, and $500 later, I will be coming back to Kansas on Tuesday instead of Friday now. I land in Wichita at 10 PM and am so looking forward to being back home.

This whole trip has been surrounded with problems. Discouragement. Frustration. Distractions. I knew when I was so discouraged before I even LEFT to come that it would all be worth it, that something huge was going to happen and make everything worthwhile.

But as the weeks have gone on, it’s only gotten worse. There have been problems around every turn for myself and the people I am serving with here. I mean, a car wreck, not having a driver for our last few scheduled VBS’, and SO SO SO many more things…it is SO hard to not just be super discouraged.

Paige has even said that times like these just make her want to pack up and go home. I’m not sure what the heck is going on here, but we are/have all been pretty weary at some point recently.

A few days after we got here, she started to share a new worship CD that she had gotten with us. It’s PHENOMENAL. One of the songs on it was really powerful for her because of all that they had been going through before we arrived. But as we have ALL got slowly more weary and faced many things, I think we have all started to claim it as our anthem here.The bridge is the best part – “When I don’t understand, I will choose You. When I don’t understand, I GET to choose You.”

So. Great.

As my days here wind down, I’m frustrated that I haven’t really seen what all this has been for. I kept waiting for something great to happen, something that I can point to and say, “THAT is what the devil has been fighting so hard against! But he didn’t get the victory!” But, that hasn’t happened yet. And we leave Ongole in 2 1/2 days.

I talked with Paige about this at lunch today. She talked about her first trip to India being filled with phenomenal things, then her second trip, she brought Sean and wanted him to see all the great things she had seen as well. She was so discouraged by the end of the trip that not a single big thing had happened as so many had before.

That night, she had a dream about Doubting Thomas. He didn’t believe that the other disciples had seen Jesus after He had risen and refused to believe so until he puts his fingers through the holes in Jesus’ hands. After this happened, Jesus said “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.” (John 20:29. I like how The Message translation puts it here)

Paige said this was so huge for her in realizing that she wasn’t in India to see a huge show before her eyes like she had seen last time. But she had to have faith that God was there, God was moving, and things she will never know about happened for good from that trip. Believing without seeing.

This is EXACTLY where I am at right now. I’m discouraged because so many things have happened to get so many people down. And I have yet to see God show up and move in a HUGE way as I so expected to with all the problems we had. But this was just the reminder that I needed that maybe this time I WON’T get to see. Maybe this time it’s about growing my faith that me being here DID matter. About growing my faith that God is working through everything, despite the insane spiritual warfare going on in this country right now.

Please be in prayer for India. Something HUGE is going to go on and soon. There has been so much spiritual warfare going before we got here and ever since we have arrived. It’s affected me, Courtney, Sean and Paige, the Fadely’s, the Sterling team in Hyderabad right now, and the girl from Missouri volunteering with SCH right now. I don’t know what is going on, but there is a BIG fight to keep whatever it is from happening!

All my missions trips in the past I have seen great things and believed. I have come home with great stories from camp in the Philippines, from being in India last year and the huge things that happened in villages, and from helping so much in Mexico.

This year, I am coming home with stories of spiritual battles and a growth in faith that God WILL have the victory. Perhaps not while I am here. Perhaps not for awhile. But in His timing, this war will be won and something HUGE will happen that will make everything we have all faced be so worth it. And I am finally at peace that maybe it won’t happen while I am here to see it with my own eyes.

But “even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”

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A Change in Plans.

Long story short, I’m no longer going to Europe next week.

Maybe I will reflect on this more at a later time, but for now, it’s 6:45 AM and though I’m pretty awake, I don’t feel like going into details.

BUT – this means that I will be coming home three days early!

So Kansas, I’ll be back on Tuesday night!

Dennis, I hear Bev has been asking when good pastries will be back…hopefully Wednesday! :)

I would have loved to go to Europe, but for whatever reason it’s not supposed to be. And for now, I think that getting to come home early is probably the best thing I could be doing on Tuesday anyway.

More later. :)

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No words needed.

I don’t think this post needs many words. We took the truly scenic route home from the village tonight.

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Privacy is no concern in India.

I’m sure at some point in our lives, we’ve all complained about the “lack of privacy.”

However, what I am about to tell you might just blow any complaints that we have had in that regard out the window.

Lack of privacy in India reaches a WHOLE new level.

Yesterday morning was supposed to be a nice, quiet Sunday morning in the Whiting/Nichols/Huber household. We all slept in then sat down to a delicious looking breakfast of french toast, fresh mangos, and juice. Sundays are the day that we stay inside, usually in our pajamas most of the day, don’t have to put on saris, and can chill in the AC all day. A day of peace amidst all the crazy Indian lifestyles we encounter during the week!

We were about to start eating when there was a knock on the door. After a bit of grumbling, Sean answered to find two Indian men standing there. One explains (in pretty good English) that he is moving in above us and is putting in an AC.

No big deal, right?

Well, in India, it’s not like they have ladders. At least not that I have seen. What they do, instead, is take long sticks (seriously, like the trunk of a very small tree) and create some sort of scaffolding by sticking said sticks through windows and tying it all together with rope.

So, that was what the knock on the door was for. They needed use of the window in the office area of the main room and in Sean and Paige’s bedroom.

Next thing we know, these two men are just trapsing through the apartment, interrupting our quiet Sunday, with 6 or 7 foot long sticks. We have to move the desk out of the way as they maneuver this hunk of wood through the window and tie it (rather unsafely, if you ask me). Then they leave, and come back a few minutes later to do the same thing in Sean and Paige’s bedroom.

They assured us it would be a quick job, but it didn’t take us long to realize that our Sunday would NOT be free of multiple interruptions. The windows had to stay open as there was STICKS in them. The bedrooms are the only two rooms that have AC, so Sean and Paige couldn’t even sit in their room and enjoy their AC all day.

Also, there were multiple times that we would walk through and there would be a man in the window doing whatever he was doing out there.

We placed bets on how long it would take for this “very fast, no problem” job to be finished. Unfortunately, I won by making the latest guess of 3:00, though it was after 6:00 before they finally left with the sticks out of the window. (8 hours after they came inĀ  to put them in.)

This morning, there was another knock and we were told to keep the windows accessible, but they wouldn’t need in our apartment today.

At around 10:30, I walked out of our bedroom to get a drink and was quite startled because there was someone in the window, sticking a stick through the window into the apartment again. Surprise! I guess we should be thankful that they didn’t feel the need to come into the apartment again, but it was startling to come out and see him right there because I didn’t expect it.

I went into the kitchen and as I walked back through responded to a “Miss! Miss!” by going and moving things out of the way of the stick. A bit later I went to check on my laundry and again – “Miss! Miss!” – this time he wanted a glass of water.

India is a constant learning experience and full of adventures that would never happen in the states, that’s for sure! It’s funny to me that this man, who is actually inconveniencing us quite a bit, and who is doing the job for someone other than us, feels completely comfortable hollering through the window and asking for water. I know it’s not a huge deal and I easily got him some, but in America a contractor would never even ask the person he is working for for anything, let alone the neighbor!

Hope this has maybe provided YOU with a chuckle (since there isn’t a huge stick in your window for the second day in a row! :)) and a glimpse into the huge lack of privacy in India! I know these workers sure enjoyed a glimpse of life in the weird Americans’ house – they couldn’t keep their eyes out of here. *eye roll*

In other news, it’s going to be a crazy hectic and complicated week around here, especially for Paige, as she tries to make arrangements for school bags, uniforms, and shoes for all the CCH kids – hopefully by Friday so we can give them out on Saturday. With our recent loss of the vehicle and driver, that makes this a LOT more complicated than it would be if we had a driver and the car wasn’t undrivable. Please pray for peace for her and that all will fall into place quickly and easily (two words that are rarely associated with dealing with things like this in India), for the car to be fixed FAST (like today!!) and cheaply, and that we can find a new, good driver ASAP!

Sean and Paige’s first date was on the 4th of…some month. ;) Ever since then, like for the past four years, they have celebrated the 4th of EVERY single month by having pizza together! Courtney and I are pretty excited to be a part of this special tradition with them! It’s one of the goofy small things that we have both been excited about since we decided to come – pizza on the 4th with Sean and Paige (and the Fadely’s this time, too!) :)

The rest of the week is still up in the air until the driver/car situation is figured out (if this dude had just been driving slowly, it would have been a really easy way to keep alllll these problems from happening…) but will likely consist of more VBS’ almost every day, in addition to some Second Saturday planning one day and a day at the beach on Friday with the NTR Colony boys!

Today was INCREDIBLY hot. Like, maybe the hottest we’ve been out in yet. I felt like I was suffocating from the inside out! ;) I’ve never been so certain I was going to get sick from the heat. Luckily, we weren’t out for long. But please please please pray for cooler weather (and even rain!) for the rest of the week!

Have a good week!

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Are you SURE we aren’t in Kansas?

‘Cause it sure felt like it last night! Check out the scenery around the home we stayed at:

But I’m getting ahead of myself. :)

Yesterday morning, we headed out to a boys CCH and did a VBS. We came home for lunch, packed up, and headed to Narsimgolu, a girls CCH about an hour away.

We did VBS stuff with them as well, including teaching them how to blow bubbles:

And some finger (okay, hand and feet) painting too:

But then something that doesn’t normally occur happened:

Paige got in the car and left, leaving Courtney, Agape, and I at Narsimgolu. We spent the next 24 hours at this home!

And let me just tell you, it was a time full of adventures!

I made my first chapati:

We ate dinner with the family (and breakfast and lunch as well – rice and curry of some sort for three meals…I’m ready for somethin’ different that’s for sure!):

Then, after dinner, we painted the girls’ nails. However, I wasn’t through one hand when the power went out. We headed up to the roof where Courtney and I attempted to paint by moonlight…

We got quite a bit of giggles out upon examining our work once we had the light of a candle. :)

Then, it was time for bed. And by “bed”, I mean, lay out mats because we were having a slumber party on the roof!!

It was a BEAUTIFUL evening, and as I mentioned before, we were out in the middle of Kansas-like NOWHERE. The clouds cleared, the moon was beautiful, and there were stars! This Kansas girl was comforted by the silence other than the ever familiar sounds of being outside in a rural area. It even SMELLED like Kansas out there :).

We fell “asleep” listening to worship music. I say “sleep” because the girls passed out pretty fast, but I’m not sure I got more than maybe an hour of sleep. See that precious little girl next to me? She passed out in a position very close to me in that I could not move to get comfortable out of fear of crushing her cute little self. But the few times I fell asleep for a few minutes, I woke up a couple of times to her cuddling with me in her sleep. Melted my heart! She is SO sweet.

A less Kansas-y thing was the apparent church service that decided to start in the nearby village around 1 or 2 AM? All I know was that I heard a speaker through the loudspeaker system that most of the churches have, and lots of “Hallelujahs” as the Indian people do during church starting around then for a couple of hours. I wish I knew what it was for sure and WHY they started it so late.

One thing about sleeping in the village, and especially sleeping outside, is that you wake up with the sun. So, the 5 AM wakeup was MUCH earlier than the 9 or so that Courtney and I are used to. Especially when I didn’t get much sleep but ten energetic girls had, it was a bit of a long day today. :)

We did stuff (I don’t even know what, to be honest. But it killed like 2 hours somehow. Okay.) then had breakfast (yellow rice and leaf curry. Yep, like they went out to the tree and picked some leaves. I didn’t partake).

During breakfast, I happened to mention to Agape that I had never been on a motorcycle upon mention of the Pastor’s. Next thing I know, this was the scene:

And off we went, seated just like that, to a nearby village to buy cold drinks for ourselves.

At first, Courtney and I were a little fearful for our lives as we had neither never been on motorcycles before, were sitting very weirdly, and had nothing to hold onto. But it didn’t take long for us to relax and realize how nice and enjoyable the ride was!

We got back to the church and I was EXHAUSTED. Like, I had NO energy whatsoever. But 10 girls and 3 pastor’s kids did! We read books for quite a while, then played and played and played some more. This was honestly one of those sub-par adventures – I was SO hot, and SO tired that I couldn’t enjoy this time with these girls. But that’s okay, they had plenty of fun anyway. :)

We played games until lunch time. We had potato curry and rice for lunch (curry and rice, see, told you!) then went upstairs to anxiously await our ride home. Paige had originally planned to come, but called to say that one of the boys from the home we went to yesterday was having surgery to remove a boil (pray about that, by the way. Because of the heat, several of the kids – and Sean – have been getting ridiculously insane and painful boils.) so she was just sending the driver and Karnacker, one of the CCH staff members.

We waited and waited anxiously, and our exhausted and sweaty selves were ecstatic to hear the horn as the car pulled up! We did our final things, said goodbyes, then hopped into the car. I had planned to sleep on the drive home (it’s about 45 minutes, or so we thought.)

Here is where I must insert a disclaimer/spoiler alert, for the mothers’ sakes. ;) Before you read any further: know that everyone is okay. :)

Interest piqued? Good. ;)

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I was NOT going to get ANY sleep once we pulled away from the home.

There’s some background information you need to know before I can go any further. I’ve mentioned Chinna, Sean and Paige’s phenomenal right hand man. Usually he is our driver when we go out for CCH stuff, but he is out of town right now opening the new CCH’s that are too far for Sean and Paige to get to. So, S & P had to hire a driver for the next two months. They hired one yesterday that we were impressed with on our journeys (day 1).

So anyway. We were out in RURAL India. Roads aren’t great in CITY India. So you can just imagine what the roads were like. Bumpy, narrow, parts of the road simply missing, and so on. We had a very, very, very, shall we say, bouncy ride home. We were probably driving a little faster than we should have been, but Courtney and I just held on and didn’t say anything because that’s how Indians drive.Though we were wishful that Paige had been with us, because she would not have let him drive like that. (Not that it was unsafe, just not slow enough for how bumpy it was.)

At one point, Courtney and I exchanged a glance as we bottomed out (in the still pretty gosh darn new car). Not much later, we had an….incident. We’ll call it a “one automobile accident.”

Again, remember my disclaimer. Everyone is fine. :)

We hit a bump far to fast and suddenly our front bumper was bent and on the ground. We stopped as the driver, Karnaker, and Agape attempted to fix it. They got the bumper back up onto the car, but it was rubbing the tire so we couldn’t drive.

By now, Courtney and I have crazy headaches from the heat, though we are SO thankful for the AC in the car, and bouncy ride, are still exhausted, and just want to get back to the apartment for showers and relaxing for the first time in over 24 hours at this point. We sat in the car as they worked and more and more people from the village stopped to “help.”

Eventually, long story short, Agape, Courtney, and I ended up on an auto for about 25 or 30 minutes back into Ongole (as if we hadn’t been through enough bump trauma already… ;) just kidding – I think the auto ride was less bumpy than the car!) and to the apartment. I’m not sure where the car is now or what will come of it. Agape said it would probably need to go get repaired because the driver’s temporary fix would NOT last long.

Please pray that the car will be fixed quickly, easily, and cheaply! We need that vehicle to get to the homes we go to (we’ll need it to get to 2 or 3 homes this coming week) as well as to get us to Hyderabad one week from tomorrow morning!

So anyway, now we are FINALLY at the apartment. I am showered (it felt SO great!!), have been chowing down on gummy worms, and have a few Advils in my system. ;) I’m not sure what the dinner plans are, but then I have a Skype date with the Kitsons this evening that I am looking forward to, then I am SO ready to PASS OUT and sleep sleep sleep! Sundays have been french toast morning around here, which will be great tomorrow. In addition to the fact that we always all four sleep in on Sundays and don’t do much of anything all day either. :)

So, last night was better than today, but all in all, spending the night in the village was a great experience! Especially one that felt so much like home. So many memories were made and I am grateful for that!

I am down to just one week left in Ongole. This week will be more VBS’s at both CCH and CCDC’s, a day at the beach with one of the CCH boys home groups (I don’t know who’s more excited – us or them!), and Saturday will be the monthly Second Saturday event. Our team helped with it last year, it’s the even where all the close CCH homes gather in Ongole for a day of fun together! Then, early early next Sunday morning we will make the 7 or so hour trek to Hyderabad. But it will be so worth it!

Hyderabad weekends are Sean and Paige’s closest time to America. The rough plans for this trip include Chili’s, a movie at the theater, time at the new coffee shop (perhaps what I am most excited for! No, that’s not true. I’m more excited for Chili’s. But coffee shop is a close second. What can I say. It’s the barista in me and I’m curious!), and just chillaxin’ time before I fly out VERYYYYYY early Tuesday morning (like 4 something AM) for EUROPE! Can’t believe my time here is nearing an end – in less than two weeks I will be HOME!

Have a great weekend, America. :)

 

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