I will NEVER forget!

Honestly, there are not enough words in the whole English language to describe the last five days… But I’m going to give it a shot!

 

Saturday morning Dr. Waters conducted a SHORT seminar about World Religions for the teachers. Now, this was not on our schedule at the beginning of the trip; after some of the teachers sat in on one of Dr. Water’s classes they actually requested this seminar because they wanted to learn more! They wanted to learn about their own religions and the religions of their students and other faculty in order to understand each other better! (I am not making this up either, this is what they told us!) How neat are they?! They desire to learn and grow together, and I have a lot of respect for them!

Saturday afternoon at the Children’s Home we climbed the mountain, which was one of our planned activities. This mountain was more along the lines of a tall hill, but since I really haven’t climbed anything before it was a mountain to me!

It Was Beautiful!

Talk about seeing the beautiful creations of God EVERYWHERE you look! Even though I slipped every five seconds, I couldn’t help looking out at the peaceful, green landscape! And the children only made it better! They were so excited to show and explore the mountain with us! Every time I turned around I heard, “Dee Dee look!!! Dee Dee LOOK!” It was wonderful! Might have been more of a workout than I am used to, but I am so glad we went! (Pictures to come later!)

Saturday evening we were invited to have dinner and worship with family of the Dongardives’ and a small congregation! I am continually amazed at the lengths people take to worship Jesus here in India… This church service was held in the porch of the family’s joint home, in which each personal home within it was smaller than my dorm room at McMurry. But rain or shine, for us it was rain, people crammed onto the porch to hear the word of God! I love it!

 

Sunday morning I had the great pleasure of worshiping at the Children’s Home with the children and the house parents!

I love to hear the children sing!

Hearing those children sing praises to the Lord melts my heart; because I know their songs are how we, adults, should praise God! Their songs are pure and kind! They do not sing to show or to boast, but only to show love! I want to sing like them!

Sunday evening we had dinner at Sanjay’s home! (He is one of our main leaders for this trip and our contact person if we ever need ANYTHING while we are in Aurangabad!) I have to say, that evening was EXACTLY what I needed! All of us at that point had become tired and cranky and we needed a night of just pure fun… And that’s what we had! Between a small devotional, the BEST food I have had here in India by far (thanks to his lovely bride), a neighborhood game of soccer, and playing on a moped I begun to feel more relaxed! It was nice to feel like I was having a family evening for just one night. There was such a homey feeling there, and we were blessed to have him invite us! It may have been one of the best nights I have had here!

 

Monday was our last day of teaching classes at St. John’s English school. Although it was very sad to tell the children goodbye, I can honestly say I know I was not meant to be a teacher! I have gained a great respect for people who are training to become teachers and teachers of my own! It is not easy to entertain a class for an hour, not even considering you are supposed to teach them something too! So for all the teachers and future teachers reading this, Thank You!

Monday evening we had tea at Solomon’s house! (His son is doing much better by the way!) Solomon and all of his family are very humble and very kind! It was wonderful to have fellowship with them through a small devotional and dinner!

Being invited to so many different homes is only a SMALL example of the hospitality shown here in India!

 

Tuesday St. John’s had a farewell ceremony for us! Some of the teachers and students got a chance to talk to us about how our coming affected them. Many of the students said things like, “We were very happy to know you were coming,” “We learned lots of new things from you,” and “We hope you all come back to India!” The teachers said, “We like the way you teach our students,” “You are very enthusiastic and patient with the students,” and “We hope you all come back to India!”

Needless to say, I think they would like to see us again!

 

Yesterday was our last day at the Children’s Home…

Yesterday morning we visited a university here in Aurangabad! It was a very nice university and it was fun too look around and tour a university in a different country! 

After going to the university we had a very quick lunch and then we were off to the Children’s Home! Since it was our last day, we (not taking any credit here, we is just meaning a few cooking angels on our team) made them American food! We had garlic bread, mac and cheese with chicken in it, and banana pudding! And boy, did they LOVE the banana pudding! Just like American children!

They also had a going away ceremony for us. This one was much harder than the one at the school though. During these past weeks I have become so attached to my girls that it was hard to even look at them once the ceremony began. Of course I cried the ENTIRE time, but that ceremony was special and something I will never forget!

 

Tomorrow we will head out to the airport at 3:00 and fly to Mumbai around 6:50!

 

Something the children continue to tell us is, “Don’t forget us when you go back to America.”

I don’t think these children know how impossible forgetting them would be! They have shown love to me in ways I have not received before! Their little names are imprinted on my heart, and I don’t think they are ever coming off! I have most certainly been blessed by each child at the Children’s Home in multiple ways! Every day when we arrived at the Children’s Home, I was attacked with love! Every day they tried to teach me knew things about India and every day they tried to learn something from me! Their smiles stole my heart each time I looked at them!

And I will NEVER forget them!

 

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Hello God, I know you are here!

I felt God today!

 

Wednesday was a fairly normal day between St. John’s and the Children’s Home.

I am always amazed at the things I learn from the children at St. Johns! During my class with Dr. Waters we all had a chance to ask each other questions about the different religions discussed so far. The children asked us our views about Jesus, salvation, and where we worship. All of them had very thoughtful questions to ask us! Then it came time for us to ask them questions, and all I could come up with was, “What can you tell me about the bigger Buddha?” Haha! I was informed he was not called the fat Buddha (as most American’s refer to him) but the Laughing Buddha! He apparently represents peace, so to put him in your home means you are asking for a blessing of peace over your home!

I learn new things every day!

 

Yesterday was the beginning of a two day Pastor’s Seminar! That’s right world, I participated in an international Pastor’s Seminar!!! And it has been a blessing for sure! After lunch I was asked to share my “testimony”, which is always a confusing word to me. Some major parts of my “testimony” I was not able to share because of cultural differences, but I shared all I could!

I am going to ask everyone who reads this to pray for a man named Sudir. He is one of our body guards who have been watching out for us while we have been here. His mother died yesterday of old age. Although she did die of natural causes, his hurt is still there for him and his family

It has been very interesting to see how deaths are handled here in India. Sudir’s mother died around lunch time yesterday and her funeral was five hours later at the most. Sudir’s family kept his mother’s body inside his home until the casket was made, and directly after they proceeded with the funeral. I realized six hours is a short time to have so many emotions…

 

I felt God today!

We began the second day of the Pastor’s Seminar with praise music and a prayer. Now, this praise music was the most animated and exciting praise music I have ever seen! These men were FIRED UP for Jesus! Rachael described it, “It’s like they are trying to start a Christian mosh-pit!!!”

Then Papa Dongardive said the prayer. As I sat there quietly talking to God (because the prayer was being said in a whole other language) I felt the wind pick up behind me. Then the wind BLEW in! All I could do was smile as I felt the Holy Spirit being poured over all of us there! After a few second it suddenly stopped… I whispered to God, “Why are you being quiet God?” And though I couldn’t hear him say anything, the wind came back stronger than before until we said, “Amen!”

Hello God, I know you are here!  

 

God Has a Funny Sense of Humor

Today in class, Dr. Waters talked about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama! I have always been fairly fascinated in the Dalai Lama and what he has to say, but today’s quote took me by surprise! (This quote may not be correct word for word, but you will understand!)

“I am a Buddhist, but I am not going to try and convert you to Buddhism. If you practice Hinduism, you should be the best Hindu you can be! If you practice Christianity, you should be the best Christian you can be!” –Dalai Lama

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the WHOLE WORLD thought this way?! If we weren’t worried about converting people or trying to convince them our way is right the first time we meet them! To accept people where they are instead of trying to bring them where you are! Wouldn’t it be amazing? For all of us to live together peacefully!

 

Going to church on Sunday was wonderful! I went with half of our group to St. John’s English School for church. Every Sunday they hold church in their main hall, called Kay Hall, at the school. It isn’t a very large hall, but it was full for sure. All of the children sat on the floor, all of the seats were full, and there were even people standing outside! It is inspiring to see people who want to love God enough to stand outside in the rain just to listen in on a church service!

I am always amazed by the hospitality here! In church, very unexpectedly, we were introduced one by one and were given welcoming gifts by the church! It is incredibly sweet and very humbling!

The rest of Sunday was fairly peaceful! We rested at the hotel and went to the mall for dinner. After all of our excitement it was nice to have a break!

 

These past two days have been filled with normal routine; starting out at St. John’s English School and ending at the Children’s Home.

One of the differences is I am helping teach English now since Dr. LeMasters headed back to America. I do miss the Personality Development class, but English is fun to teach also! It is neat to watch children practice a new language! The only problem is they are still normal children. I have had to talk about respect for others multiple times in the past few days. When one of the children tries to read in English, the others will laugh at them. I feel as if I am not really there to help teach, but more of to keep the class in order! Which is fine with me!

The class I am taking is wonderful! I love to watch the children interact in class and talk about their own religions! Today as we were talking about Buddhism one of the little girls in the class showed us how to sit and stand in the lotus position! When she finished, the students asked Dr. Waters if he would try to sit in the lotus position! He did try, and I have to say even though he did not do so well I have a lot of respect for him. He knew trying would probably end up in failure, but he tried! He is trying to make the children more comfortable with him in the class, and I respect that very much.

The Children’s Home is always lots of fun! Here recently the children have had cabin fever because they have been trapped inside for days due to the rain! So it has been a little crazy! All of my girls are as sweet as they can be! I noticed one of my girls, Nikita, always wears yellow. Even if the clothes she wears are dirty, she always has some sort of yellow on. I finally realized why today. It is because I said in my mini biography yellow is my favorite color! Those girls humble my heart in ways I was never prepared for.

 

Here recently God has been putting opportunities in my path to pray out loud. Funniest part about that is I feel uncomfortable praying out loud for the most part. While we were in church on Sunday, John asked if anyone wanted to pray over the offering. After a few seconds he said, “Just give the microphone to Caitie, she wants to be a minister! She will pray!”

God has a funny sense of humor…

Grateful

On our way back from the zoo on Friday, we all ended up having to cram onto a bus with the children to take them back to the Children’s Home. Now, when
I say crammed I mean CRAMMED! Take a smaller version of a short bus, add all fourteen of us standing up in the middle, then add about fifty children, a bus driver, and a few of our body guards… Oh yeah, we were in there alright! So while I was trying not to fall over, I found myself singing Patsy Cline to a group of small boys in the back with me! They looked at me as if they were mesmerized, and I couldn’t figure out why. After thinking about it I realized these sweet little boys didn’t have anyone to sing to them. They didn’t have a parent to sing them a lullaby before they went to sleep, or even just sing to them for fun!

I am grateful for my parents! Who sang to me, took care of me, and made sure I was always okay physically and spiritually! I love them!

 

Friday I had an experience I may never have again, I got the chance to eat lunch with a few people from a lepper colony. Going into this I wasn’t really sure what to expect. The only thing I had ever heard about people with leprosy was in the bible… So I went with an open heart, and I am glad I did. I met some of the sweetest, most humble people that day. They were MORE than grateful we even showed up, and the fact that we ate lunch with them and served lunch seemed to blow their minds! But truly, we were the ones who were blessed by them! They are in a spot they can never get out of as outcasts in a society which will never accept them… And yet, they still praised God right along beside us, maybe even more so than we did! Because they know better things are coming for them in the Lord! They know the glories awaiting them, and they are ready!

After lunch we met the children at the zoo! And even though it was a bit cold and wet, we all had a ball! The zoo here in Aurangabad is not a very large zoo (maybe about the size of a large park) and the animals look like they could attack any second… But I am more than glad we went! Every new animal we came to all I heard was, “DiDi LOOK! DiDi LOOK!” coming from ten different directions! Those little girls bless me more than I could have ever imagined just by the love they show!

Later Friday evening we gave gifts to our children. I had bought some cute little purses, made bracelets, bought bracelets, and got a few different candies to give them! Of course I put all of the small things inside the purse to make it easier! When I gave them the purses their faces lit up! They didn’t even know there was anything inside! Other children around them were receiving hoards of gifts, and my little girls were happy with what they thought was just a small purse… Again, we should learn from these girls!

On a side note, I probably shouldn’t have given them Pixie Sticks…. One of my girls had four of them downed in a matter of three seconds…

 

Yesterday we celebrated Papa Dongerdive’s birthday! So instead of teaching classes at the school, we all got dressed up in traditional Indian clothing! There were three main ladies who helped us get dressed, and by the end of it I am sure they thought we were INSANE! Hahaha! But they were more than helpful and you could tell they were intentional with the things they brought for us to wear!

By the way, I swear one of the reasons God brought me to India is so the color pink would grow on me… Because yesterday, I was pink ALL OVER!

After we were all dressed up we were off to the party! One of the party activities was having all of us walk a catwalk in our fancy clothes! WHICH WAS A BALL! None of us really knew what we were doing, so there was nothing else to do but have fun with it! Then we all did an Indian dance (which I am fairly positive we failed at!) And then afterwards we played musical chairs!

I need to be in India for my birthday, because the way birthdays are celebrated here is fun! One of the things I have realized is tradition here is to only buy a small cake and to have each family member feed the birthday person a little piece of the cake! Now, I am glad my family doesn’t do this because by the end of the party we would have cake EVERYWHERE!

Later yesterday evening we went to the Children’s Home. We decided it would be fun to teach them to play kickball! And it was! By the end of the evening balls were flying, kids were screaming, and you couldn’t understand anything over the laughter! We didn’t have many rules because of translation issues so anything went really! Lots of fun for sure!

Because some of the adults are leaving today (It is Sunday morning here in India) I gained a new little girl whose name is Ganga! She is very sweet, and just as attached as my other little girls!

Today I will be going to church at St. John’s English School and then going to the Children’s Home to celebrate Papa Dongerdive’s birthday there!

 

When we ate lunch with the sweet people from the lepper colony I had something strange said to me! After we were all finished eating we sat together and visited, with the help of a translator of course. One of the things the women said is how ugly they were and how they didn’t like their noses. They told me I was beautiful because my nose was long and pointy! I quickly told them they were beautiful and people at home tell me my nose isn’t pretty.

Many of us take great pride in the way we look, and it shouldn’t be that way. We should be happy we are alive and in good health! Grateful for what we have, including my nose! 

Open our eyes Lord

Today’s blog is a short blog, but a happy one!

We went sigh-seeing today with some of the workers from Life Light. You see, they are actually there to watch out for us, and personally appreciate them very much!

First we went to see the Ellora Caves. These are a set of caves made by the Buddhists, Hindus, and the Jains to be a place of worship. These caves are in a BEAUTIFUL location on a mountain surrounded by all sorts of trees and vegetation!

Next, after lunch, we went to go see a fort. It looked more like a castle and I truly thought there should be a pretty princess living inside! I do not know much about the fort because we just about got rained out and then it was time to go.

Lastly we went to look at something called a “Mini Taj.” It is, as it states, a mini version of the Taj Mahal. The man who had them built buried his first wife in the Mini Taj and his second wife in the Taj Mahal.
If you ask me, I think the first wife got jipped because the Taj Mahal is three times the size of the Mini Taj!

After all of the sight seeing we went to the mall for dinner and shopping! Needless to say, once we all got back we fell asleep fairly quickly!

I am VERY excited for tomorrow because we will be taking the children from the Children’s Home to the ZOO!!! This should be organized chaos all in itself with eighty children and about twenty adults, but I am still very excited!!!!!

One of the other things we will be doing tomorrow is having lunch with people from a lepper colony. As we were talking about this last night, God put a song on my heart and I asked if we could all sing it together in our devotional time. As we prepare to do this, I continue to sing.
“Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him
Open our ears Lord
And help us to listen
Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus”

I do love India!

I brought Smartees (a kind of chalky candy) to my girls at the Children’s Home today! I smiled as I handed them the candy and watched their faces light up! But in these little girls I see so much of Jesus… The first thing they did with their candy was open the package and feed ME the first few pieces of their candy. These little girls are orphans! I know for a fact they are more than taken care of, but candy to them is a luxury! And the first thing they did was to make sure I was happy! Funny enough, I found out later one of my girls didn’t even like the candy I had brought! She still smiled and told me thank you MANY times though…

I think I can learn many things from these beautiful girls!

 

Today in our classes at St. John’s we ended up teaching the same things as yesterday because we had all new students. What caught me today, though, were the qualities listed for good character by a little boy in our second class. His list of important qualities went like this;

  1. Feed the poor
  2. Live peacefully
  3. Take care of the elderly

And all I could think was, WOW!

People back home who think poorly about the people of India have CLEARLY never been here!

 

Today in the class I am actually taking we talked about Hinduism! It was very neat today though because the teacher sitting in on the class was actually a Hindu! She was very helpful and was excited we were teaching the children about a religion many of them claim! Also I learned something today! The people of India find cows sacred because they believe that the cow encompasses the beings of the different gods.

 

At lunch time we visited a Sikh Temple! It was very interesting. The people of the Sikh faith believe all religions should be in community with each other. They worship their scripture which is believed to be their 11th and final guru, or teacher of sorts. So it was interesting to walk in and find people kneeling to scripture… When we finished touring the temple they actually fed us lunch!

I think we could take this into consideration as Christians! Not the part about kneeling to the scripture, but the feeding and taking care of others every day! NOT just on Sundays and Wednesdays!

My favorite part of everyday is going to the Children’s Home! I got to meet Sonu today and I learned she is eleven years old and likes the color pink! Those little girls make my heart SO happy! Each one of them just wants to be loved!

They are pretty funny too, most definitely girls! After I gave them the Smartees they asked for chocolate next time! Hahaha!

Tomorrow is a tourist day for us! We will not go to St. John’s or the Children’s Home, which is kind of sad… We will see the Ellora Caves and also something called a “Mini Taj” (which is supposed to be like a smaller version of the Taj Mahal.) Should be lots of fun!

I got to ride in a little, mini, Indian taxi type thing tonight! It is called a Rickshaw! Lots of fun for sure! Kinda scary though! Haha!

 

A little girl in one of the classes today asked me if I loved India. Of course I told her yes right away, but I have been thinking about it a lot ever since… There are some things about India I could never get used to; crazy traffic, huge crowds, very persistent hagglers on the streets, etc. But every single person I have met here in India has been nothing but nice to me, whether they knew me or not! When I think about loving India, I am not thinking about the place itself but the beautiful people who make up the country. And though I don’t think I could ever live here, I do love India!

Just like us!

Today was the first day for us to teach the classes at St. John’s English School! My job is to assist Dr. LeMasters in teaching a class called “Personality Development.” I was a little apprehensive at first to help teach a class with this name, but it sounded fun anyways! Today in this class we talked about good virtues and good moral character. It is interesting to me the words the Indian students do and do not understand. We needed to explain words like dignity and virtue, but we did not need to explain character and moral compass… Smart students are they!

 But today in this particular class I came to a realization I know I needed to come to. At the beginning of the class we asked each student to tell us his/ her name and what they wanted to be when they grew up! The names were a bit hard, I have to admit, but their future occupations made me smile! They want to be singers, police men, chefs, engineers, dancers, actresses, doctors, and lawyers! I am not sure why I thought the children of India were so much different than the children in America! They all have bigger than life hopes and dreams, and so they should! These children inspire me to have bigger than life dreams myself!

God is clanking around in my brain again… And I think I am okay with it!

After teaching a few classes, I went on to my class I am taking with a few other McMurry students and some students from the school. In this class we talk and learn about other religions, so in the spirit of this when we introduced ourselves we included our religion as well. Many of the children were Hindu, there were a few Buddhists and Sikhs and Jains, and one little Christian girl! What surprised me so much was how little they knew about their family religion… Many of them know nothing at all! But almost all of them believe religion should not be as big of a barrier as it is between people! Children of my own heart for sure!

Later we went to see the children at the orphanage! I love seeing my girls! Every time we meet they greet me with the biggest hugs and the sweetest smiles! They are all starting to come out of their shells, and they are even showing a little sass! I learned they are fourteen, twelve, and eleven today which is astonishing to me because they all look like they could be eight. I get to meet my fourth little girl tomorrow, Sonu, she has not been there these past two days! I am very excited to meet her!

For dinner I had Domino’s Pizza!!! (Not what you were expecting was it?) There is a mall about a block away from our hotel and it is HUGE! I was very comforted once again by one of my comfort foods, pizza! Also, I bought myself two Punjabis! They are traditional women’s tops!

Tomorrow we will teach, learn, visit a Sikh Temple, go to the orphanage, and maybe shop a little more! Who knows?

 

My oldest girl, Usha, continues to tell me she is very happy! She always says this to me! When she says this to me I say it back to her in return, because I am happy!

Today as I was leaving the orphanage I told my girls goodbye, I love them, and I would see them tomorrow! I then hugged all of them and when I got to Usha she whispered in my ear, “I am very happy because of you DiDi, I love you DiDi!” 

I am very happy! And not only happy, but I am blessed also!