Wednesday, December 10, 2008

MOVING...

I have been in California for 3 weeks and finally found enough courage to enter the blog world once more. To rest all at ease, I am home SAFE. To reach me know just email (cbrown101@pointloma.edu) and sooner or later I will write back. To each any every donate of money and love WORDS CAN NOT CAPTURE MY GRATITUDE!

I come to all my friends and family not give you a conclusion to this wild ride of a semester in India. Instead I find myself choked, stuck, and mentally blocked when looking back at the experience. "How was India? What was your favorite place? Do you speak Indian?" I will spend the next five years(at least) unpacking India. My india, my memories, my nightmares, my challenges, my dreams! So if I haven't answered any these questions for most of you yet, it's cause I myself can't answer them. Please continue in patience, please!

After catching up with an old friend today he encouraged me that "No one can go to India without being changed...your mental furniture will be moved." I loved this visual! My mind has put certain things into "furniture". Like my family, Jordan, my passions, my laugh, my love of people...I can perfectly see inside my mind...the armchair, sofa, house piano, love seat, book selfs. I found some kind of peace in this visual of knowing that even though I need to rearrange my furniture, these people and ideals are still what make me ME. What God laughs and giggles and loves about me. What keep my friends thinking I am funny (HA!). And what seems even more fitting is coming back to California in such a transitional phase of life. BUT...same ol' same here- GOD IS FAITHFUL! I have job, I have places to stay, I have a full belly, and I am about to get some more sleep.


Jordan and I had the blessing of traveling California and realizing everything and everyone who has and wants to support us. Thank you for each person along the way! May the God of justice and the Creator of love, grace, and forgiveness
WARM YOUR HOUSES,
RENEW YOUR SMILES,
and
LET US DANCE TOGETHER IN FREEDOM!

Be blessed.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Peace to all

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Four months...

(happy birthday jordan frye-my BOYFRIEND!!!)

Over this next week, as last week, I have sooo much going on so I thought I could give a quick update now! First, words seem inadequate to thank each person in prayer for me, our country, my state, and my family. In a few days I will have to realize I have been living in India for FOUR months now, whether tangible or not. Second, this thought leads me to again thank and prepare all these people who have been praying and been involved in my evolution. Thank you for all your patience thus far BUT PLEASE continue in this patience with me as I return to your "normalcy" in America. I will have questions and comments. I will hear and see things that you or I might have never noticed before. I will be silent or loud or absorb or pass off. Please, be patient.
Looking back one my first good memories was Indian music and now as our program is coming to a close we again were brought together by music! We got to share in a "cultural program."
Then in my Indian Folk Art class we got to perform a skit!
video


"One good thing about music, is that when it hits you feel no pain. So hit me with the music."


video

Saturday, November 1, 2008

During a setting sun


Have you ever lost the sun while it was setting? Maybe lost in the clouds, some hills, some pollution...whatever the case you continue your day cause you understand that the sun really isn't "lost" and you will see it tomorrow (inshalla). You understand that you just have the wrong view, a skrewed perspective, or too many distractions. A few nights ago I finally let go of the last part of myself. The self I wanted to produce to show the world "look at me, with my experience, with my look, look how culturally sensitive i am, how i can adapt, how accepting i am...LOOK!" Its gone in God's grace it is clear that I do not have to pick it up. The time and space that I have come to dislike in India is also the freedom that got me back to ME. What an odd thing life, growing up, distance, love, all of that. While my time in India is setting I able to smile, breath, and sleep knowing the California sun awaits me. My time left in India is dedicated to the people who invested in me while I at my lowest. My time left in India is not for me. So today watch the sun set, but don't stare directly at the sun too long (i hate those sun spot things after) and think of YOU, think of where the sun is just rising (the SAME SUN- get that) and know I will see you soon enough, under the same sun!

Breath!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Movin right along

Have you ever wondered about the "right way" every one speaks of. Like somehow you will get this feeling; the stars will align, your food will taste perfect, Mr. Rogers will high five you along the way, and then you know for yourself "Golly gee, I am on that 'right path'!" BS! BS...hear me loud and clear. I have no degree, not much experience, and no long term anything...but I know one thing so far, human existence is not BLACK AND WHITE. That 'right path' even has pot holes, big "short cuts", and times of rain. I thrive in this grey, I thrive in the "road less traveled", I live for the challenge (i.e. INDIA). Yet when I thought I knew myself, God has stayed with me through even my lowest, uncomfortable, alone, awesome, new, and bold days. MY GOD IS THERE...IS HERE. Along this weird, twisting, always changing path. Where the colors are blue and ivory, then deep green and mustard. This is me, this is katrina pushing for the best katrina I can be.

And this is what keeps me going:

"I would LOVE to talk to you soon, hold you when you return home, and hear about your heart, your hurt. Please don't be sick. I will pray for you... right now... hold on... Ok done. :)"

"I know you feel as though you are standing alone, but the way I see it (because of my journey) you are being lifted up by God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In John, Jesus said "Abide in Me and I will abide in you. I and my Father are One". So as I see it.. we have all Three Persons indwelling in us as we are indwelling in Them. So we can stand tall and wait for what God has to tell us. It's time to get strong in the LORD and move on. "

"You are a brave girl for being there. I am very proud of you for all that you are doing there like going to that small school and helping out those kids. It means so much to them and i could see that in every smile and hug that they gave you. God works in many many ways, and i think he put you there for a reason not only to help others but to also help you gain an experience that will be life changing.."

"Well, you are now counting days until you come back to the USA!!!! You are a real trouper..... you have hung in there and will never have to wonder if you should have gone to India because YOU WENT!!! YEAH!!!"

"I'll continue to pray for your strength and your peace. I love you. I love you. I love you."

"Know that you are thought of, prayed for and loved on this evening, in Point Loma."

" Keep your chin up! "

To be completely honest with you family I am having a hard time, India has not been easy but today (RIGHT NOW) I smile reading: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange was happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." (1 peter 4:12)

Please know I gather my strength FROM YOU...FROM OUR FATHER. So be strong, be bold, be yourself....FOR ME!

Sending my love and my new found laughter!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Delivered.


The anticipation had built as I had been waiting a month for my package to finally be delivered. Today was the day; one smashed up, worn out, and re taped box was delivered to one patient Katrina Brown. I examined the box and its weight. Once again some postman somewhere opened and searched for who knows what. He once again left me with the “meaningless” important things! So after getting a fill of skate mags and American chewy candies I escaped into silence. One month it took for this box to become a reality in my life. One month. I am not even the person I was a week ago, so I thought in this moment of peace I would recap one month.
Lost my Grandpa Wimpy
Lost another chuck of my pride
Gained another chuck of life with my boyfriend
Gained Bobby Mac coming to visit
Lost respect for large groups of Indian men during a festival
Lost hope in humans
Gained hope in humanity
Lost time
Gained new music
Gained self respect
Gained weight
Lost waste (to say nicely)
Lost sleep
Gained strength
Lost convenience
Lost phone
Gained silence
I honestly just want to tell you, scream to you, whisper to each and every one of you THIS HAS BEEN THE HARDEST BEST MONTH EVER. This month marks one month left in India. I remember writing on this first blog "one month down" and now one month to go. MY FRIENDS OUR GOD IS FAITHFUL. I find God in every email, every video, quick message, photo, letter, or phone call. I found God cause I was looking. I found God cause he never left me.
Now the challenge comes, as I await in shear amazement at the work of God, to live in a constant search to hear God and be heard by him. Even in the comfortable, even in the everyday, even in the busy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Help me

I have already spoken of loss and gain and how India has brought these two realities side by side. Maybe this is how life is, but now I have no escaping it. I have found my peace and confidence in India and in that I have been such a better house mate. I am back to pranks and social functions and last night the boys played dress up with me and created a pretty boy. I laughed too much to not make a video...
video

In this pure joy I finally went off to bed, tired and smiling, but I was woken in the middle of my sleep by intuition. I turned my computer on and checked my email. My mother had just emailed an hour earlier that my great grandpa wimpy passed away on Oct 11th. I am crushed. I love this man. Before I left he shared some the funniest moments from war, living, parenting, and just being a man. I respect him and will miss him. If you didn't get to him just know you would have loved him. He told it to you straight. He was an amazing fisher, gardener, father, and grandfather.


Dear friends, please pray for me, my peace, my joy, me. I need it all. Please lift up my family and we continue to live happy as Grandpa would want us to. Home has never felt farther away. I come to each one of you, I need your strength.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

60 day notice

People rushing
Feet passing
What are we missing?

Stone solidifying
Nature diminishing
Time escaping

People rushing
Feet passing
Where are we looking?

Namaste friends and family!
I officially have 60 days left to take all I can from India and give India all I have. God has been so faithful and these last couple of days have changed me forever. Certain conversations, certain violations, certain perspectives, certain downfalls, certain achievements...all has been made new. "Today is a great day. A great day for up" Dr.Seuss use to tell me. Well, I decided and I am ready to fight for my happiness and change, that God has let me come here to grasp. Maybe I wouldn't figure it out now, maybe in a few months. But I will be happy now. I will find joy in the search...in the daily journey. I have been asked if I see God and dear friend I DO. I know maybe today at this very instance you seem distant from me, from God, from the reality that is this harsh grey area called life, but I must pass on the confidence I have now gained, gathered and nurtured. Soak in those around you. Thank your mom one more time for those words (even if she was right all along). Thank your dad for that hug (even when you didn't want him too). Thank that mentor that always smiled in confidence at your hardest unanswerable questions. Thank that artist that finally articulated themselves and you felt part of something bigger than yourself. Thank that annoying gas guy for doing his job in giving you hot water and hot food. Thank God for remaining the same.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going to the chapel and we're....

Getting ready for the wedding at our friend (Tulasi's) place-she is one of the teachers for the kids on campus...she brought us along to a christian indian wedding (left to right-Amanda, Julia, Me, and Tulasi)














At the wedding- they took flowers to another level...bride in white sari and groom with black western suit(very not traditional Indian)












And the reception-a HUGE deal...it was like prom so we posed for the occasion. You give your blessing to the couple and then share in a HUGE meal!

(photos taken by Suiry)


("the girls" Amanda, Me, Suiry, and Julia)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Black Coffee

I settled into the unfamiliar comfort of a couch and let the burning of the cup meander a little longer on my finger tips. I smelled the cup for as long as possible (working on my delayed gratification thing) and finally met my nose to the brim. Let my head slowly rise and body sunk lower into the couch. My lips finally met my first cup of home brewed harsh black coffee since I left the states more than two months ago now. COFFEE has always felt this good and it didn't take this cup to remind me, but I have been waiting patiently for it. Friends and family it was worth it. So I let my mind wonder what else I have been waiting for and then imagined how much greater those emotions will be. God has asked me, personally, to wait on some big things, relationships, sex, marriage, career opportunities, lifestyles, friends, family. And I have made it my life to listen and obey to the best of my ability...and then when my ability runs out (as always) God is right there to fill up, to remind me, to refresh, to breath. SLOW DEEP BREATHS. Waiting dear friends is not a recipe and is not even the same challenge for the same two people. But I know the cost, I know it all so well. And I just want to tell you IT'S WORTH IT. The cup of coffee I drank was over hours ago but I can't seem to brush my teeth cause the taste is too close to my nose, my teeth, my tongue to let go just yet. I want to let it soak in and restain my teeth, just to smile in the morning and know I waited and enjoyed every moment with that cup coffee, as if I had waited my whole life. Here is to the heavy hearted, the in this exact moment nervousness, the we already made our decisions, the unforgiven, the human...here is to each of us...sip from this cup...

BTW-got some great letters from friends that I will never forget! Thanks guys!

BTW-went to a ObamaIANS in Hyderabad, India party...who knew-lol

BTW-no bombs for almost a week! Praise GOD

BTW-going to a wedding on Friday, can't wait to share pictures!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Matters of the HEART

Today the front page of The Times of India reminded me of how small and out of control we really are..."7 churches attacked in Karnataka" After churches being burned down last month up north, the next attack has taken place without any deaths. This pro-hindu group is spreading fear all over the country, "...leaving the entire Chrisitan community disturbed."


Today my problems and worries seem not less important, but pushed aside as I understand my thoughts and prayers need to be in the present with these people, with the country around me, at my finger tips. I don't know what I can do for the Christian community here. But I am not involved and have taken a back seat. I want in...not on the mayhem, but on the reality. I remember reading The Book of Martyr in high school. I read that entire book cause I wanted to sleep and breath the pain. Someone else's pain. I remember feeling like I was on the cusp of something real and original. I knew the events happened YEARS ago, but I felt connected and convicted. I lived in this spirit for a couple months. Then Life just pushed, as it always does. I didn't feed my heart and the reality slipped thru my fingers. I got accepted into college and haven't thought about that book or spirit until now. I remember during that same time I had this conversation with a friend. "What would you handle for Christ? Do you live like God is all you have?" Blah Blah Blah...i went on ranting. Luckily my friend listened and softly replied "To die is gain, to live is Christ." BAM! It hurt, I needed to understand living everyday in Christ is the challenge. Friends and family, not only do I understand but it is my constant HOPE. My everday here in India has BEEN IN CHRIST, no one else. Today, the sun is shinning and the smiles are high! Here is to great week, because we have to the freedom to praise. Here is to a great comeback and peace among our fellow brothers and sisters in India. Here is to chapel this week at Loma. Here is each family member newly appreciating each other CAUSE WE CAN!

(I am safe and India is on a "slight" code Red again after the bombings in Delhi, but all is well on the campus front here in Hyderabad.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

After the rains...



(just one day in the Chennai coast area...years of folk history at my finger tips!!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Both High and Low..."

Have you ever felt like everything you just ate was stuck! But keep imagining with me, at the same moment you were pretty sure everything was coming out any hole on your body! (ya-i went there). Then please continue with me, the only way home is an hour long rickshaw ride in the rain with unpaved roads and accompanied by two other sick girlfriends.
So there I was defeated, nauseous, broken, weak, barely gripping my friends hand in silence. I got home and sleep for about three hours. Woke up feeling the same, rested all day, gained some confidence from family and friends and finally sleep for another five hours. Woke up the same and frustrated. I couldn't focus and I couldn't shake this thing. I laid restless through out the night to wake up and decide it was time for backup! CIPRO! Praise God for cipro (ya-i went there too). I took an antibiotic and prayed for the best.
I woke up at 5pm and though I had slept through the day and was feeling the best I had felt in a week. I was surrounded by my girlfriends who woke me up and I quickly put my glasses on to see what was so entertaining. Ha-it was me. They all took turns telling me how I was acting out of it all day. I told my roomate to call Jordan and tell him I am ok, but I can't talk right now. Ha! I was somehow one my computer and talking to each girl checking up on me. HA!! All I can do is laugh. I thought I was asleep and I guess my body was but my mind stayed on.
I hope you are laughing at this point and not worried. Please understand I am well taken care of, but I have to tell you this story to let you understand how blessed I am right this very instant for my health.
I woke up this morning in the presence of GOD. The sun was shinning, I woke slowly and without an alarm. I SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT! YA! One night down and 95 to go! I can do this. I am so thankful to eat breakfast, take a shower, laugh with my boyfriend, smile with friends.

With full energy back I knew exactly what to do...
I did what any California girl would do...bathing suit, ipod, art supplies, towel, and some giggles...i LAID OUT. I soaked up the sun. It is one the hottest days we have had yet and super green because of the heavy rains last night.

India has been high and low and always at the same time. I told myself I would be better but my body was like um NO WAY. I want to be treated as an equal but I want all the convenience of a tourist, an American tourist. I want to feel the pain of each of the kids but I wanna sleep in my bed. Gaining and losing. Maybe this is just life-amplified.

To each and any every single person reading this or not THANK YOU for your thoughts and prayers. Please understand your prayers are not in vain. I am able to leave today with my program for Chennai this weekend because of YOU. I have never been more thankful. Dear friends our God is GOOD!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Yes, I'm on my way

In........out.............In........OUT........breath deep. Smell deep! Know I love you. YOU!

Breathing in the sun entered my veins. Breathing out anxiety loosens its grip. Everyday has been as filling as draining. So this last weekend was necessary. Five girlfriends and I planned a quick weekend trip to the Ellora and Ajunta Caves. We hopped on a ten-hour train hoping to leave behind heavy baggage (not physically, of course). I have never been “the only girl in a relationship” girl, but I have never been in love either. I was proud and excited to be there for each of these girls. Three of them have broken up with their boyfriends upon being in India. Already we have each changed so much within these last two months and we found a need to each other. We struck a balance and kept each other positive. Some vented, some listened, all understood. I love each one of these girls and care for them as my own girls in California. We had amazing conversations about sex, gender, race, sexuality, roles, culture, politics, art, and love. Each of us are different majors and different backgrounds but “this is India.” We come together on the common ground that we are lost among the crowds of people, we are open to life, and we are not settling. I was surprised by my role and voice I held with these girls. I came back to campus smiling and praise on my lips; tired and smelly too.(the view from Ellora caves with Tess, Amanda, Molly, Jessie, and Julia!)

I have just begun to travel daily with just one other girl to yoga of campus. This is a bigger deal than I can articulate. Then after this weekend of traveling with just a small group of girls, I am beginning to gain confidence. Every street smart I thought I had is on some corner in San Diego. I am having to re learn basic ideas: never give out your number, look both ways constantly, always argue until you pay 5rupees, never look down, only enter the front of the bus, never ask for a map, above all NO WINKING. Ok, I am laughing even writing these rules, but there are completely true.

So here is the matter of fact, I’m learning my way around (not avoiding, but diving in and flowing) Hyderabad, my mind, IBS, art, girls, and heartaches…

And here is note to each one of you struggling with breathing, with traffic, with money, with mother nature, please remember, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1john)

Dear friend, can’t wait to meet you again…on my way

Sunday, August 24, 2008

“Listen, India is a place of uncertainties, ok”

Today was an adventure. Woke up early for a great good morning skype session with my parents. Put down some breakfast and hopped on the bus with my friend Miykaelah. She invited me to participate in a service of Siddha Yoga Meditation. This is her path of spirituality. It’s not the active American yoga you might be thinking of, but a time of reflection based on Guru teachings. Her Guru (spiritual teacher) is followed at this “center” so she wanted to find a community and wanted a friend for support. I was more than willing to see her faith articulated, I had so many questions and have a God to support me. We got there after an hour of travel and funny directions. Lucky for us we chose a great day, being Krishna’s BDAY! So they sang a mantra to Krishna and then another regular mantra from their Guru. Then we broke up into groups to encourage each other about how these teachings have affected our lives. I was able to hear such sincere and passionate Indians express themselves freely. Finishing with a time of mediation; my legs fell asleep, I tossed around. I lacked focus so I peeked around to see the old “wise” ladies swaying and clapping and smiling. They found their place of peace and once again were excited about their faith. I was humbly encouraged and took my time to thank God for peace, for silence, for each one of the people in the room. I wish I had the words to really describe the scene, but the smells, sounds, tastes, and touch where unforgettable.

Back to the house had lunch and then joined my friend Julia and Dr.Das (our RA-kinda/good friend) to the old city. This is the main place in Hyderabad where Muslims and Hindu practice their religions at the same time, in the same space. There is an amazing presences and history to this area of town. It’s like the India you think of…majestic, crowded, old, incense and dust mixed with fruit market smells all competing for your senses.

We stopped for chai and biscuits and fell quickly into life discussions: from marriage, heartbreak, loneness, growing up, to food and kids. We took the city train back and I had three people ask for my photo, with one man setting his child on my lap and asking for a photo with his camera phone. I laughed and smiled. We were asked for our autographs, what country we were from and why we were in India. The entire trip was an hour of laughter between the three of us. With16 year old boys deciding we were all best friends including secret handshakes. With an older gypsy lady poking me to leave the train with her. With us deciding we were from Canada with fake names and numbers in all. We had a great time!

You just never know what your day holds…

P.s. Just wanted to thank every person reading this for your prayers and thoughts. They sustain me. Be encouraged!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Closing me eyes to see


I feel like I closed my eyes 6am on Saturday in yoga and have only seen God’s abundant and timely grace since. I got to skype my parents, Jordan, and Lynn; each one of them listening to me, and in return I was honored to listen to them. After such a week as last week I needed REAL. Not saying the people or experiences I am having aren’t real, but my real core is made from these people (and others). Each one of you reading this (if even just Jordan-lol) I want to thank you. You are my church, you are my community, you are my strength even when you are weak. For I see God in you, I meet God with you. I got out of my funk, went out for a friend’s birthday and decided I was going be ok; better than ok, HAPPY (Mai khuse hu –hindi- I am happy).
So, I am going to indulge in whatever I know will continue to free me and keep me seeking our God. I told a couple people I wanted to buy a guitar, they chimed in that we should all share the cost and have a house guitar-ANSWER TO PRAYER. I wanted a better fitness challenge and I was introduced to Sy (for short) and he introduced me to artist (butt kicking) yoga-ANSWER TO PRAYER. I needed the sun to come out for more than one hour. The rain stopped and didn’t start until today-ANSWER TO PRAYER. Do not be fooled, I did not deserve these blessings. I did not know this was how God was going to bless me. I did not know I would be able to see them. But THROUGH GRACE, my friends…God met me where I was. Or maybe he was here the entire time and I finally closed my eyes and saw HIM.
Finally I really wanted to see our kids on campus, but one week had passed and I had not made the time for them. TODAY, no joke, Madave and her brother Sennu (sp?) showed up at my doorstep, asking for me. For me. Me. I am utterly broken. Broken to tears. Madave takes my hand and says, “Come on baby, come on.” The one phrase she picked up from me-lol-ok I was taking her on my bike uphill and it was tough ok. I laugh remembering that day and bend down to their eye level. Sennu lets his soft brown hand run down my arm to meet my hand. I am in love. I am in love with love. I am in love with this pure moment of Grace. “Acha, acha, acha.” Madave encourages me as she now touches her hand to Tess and Julia too (the three of us have mainly worked together playing with them). She was saying “Sister, sister, sister.” I will never forget when she let us be part of her family-ANSWER TO PRAYER.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Color, Color, Everywhere















Rachel's 20th B-day celebration------->
















Thursday, August 14, 2008

Freedom From…

The music is off. The friends are gone and this will be my first night having my hostel almost all to myself. The silence is not only necessary, but acts as a blanket around my entire body. This week has been the hardest one, so far. I have no cool stories or lines for sympathy. I find it completely obnoxious to complain living next slums and knowing what I know about our decaying world. Where does this leave me?

If you don’t mind I will use this break to be honest with myself.

I have let living next to such poverty become a claustrophobic burden. I am at “that point.” The one everyone forewarns you about; the one that hits no matter how long you strive keep it way. Well, congratulations, I’m there. How much longer can I walk by the same slums, letting my heart break each time? Wasting food, over eating, laziness, snacking, electricity, heating, water… are hard to swallow. Visiting our kids only when we “have time.” Dropping them off at their homes (some would call slums) and having to leave them there. How do I reconcile? How do I justify? This is the bottom line I can now say with confidence after help from parents, Compassion (the book), Jordan, friends, and Eph 4 (thanks Lynn); it is this, I am free in Christ. I am free in Christ. I am free in Christ. You are free in Christ. We are free. I cannot live in fear of these realities because then no action is produced and then my heart is broken in vain. RATHER, dear friends I will fight…in love, in touch, in prayer (lots of prayer), in time, in hugs, in food, in knowledge, in listening. These are my tools I have been given to fight injustice. What do you have? What will you do? Who will you fight for? Or will you fight at all?

We have had some great days of no power and I have seized the time to be with the Lord in meditation and I must tell you this. Life is hard, whether struggling to pay for school in San Diego or India; whether denying yourself cheap pleasures in Vegas or Spain; whether crying over lost relationships in OC or South Africa. Listen! Please understand this does not lessen your issue or struggles, as I once thought. No! Christ is saying there is more! There is a choice TO LIVE (that is active) FREE.

“Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains.”
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Sorry to be so long winded, but that just flowed and hope you followed. Thank you each one of you for believing in me and loving me enough to support me here, where I am. You will not be forgotten. My love for you increases daily as I feel I need each one of you more. In honor of India’s Independence Day tomorrow I leave you with, “shanti, shanti, shanti.” (Sanskrit: peace, peace, peace)



P.s. more pictures to come...and don't know why this is underlined

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beauty is how deep?

Namaste family! This weekend was out first unplanned "relaxing" time. So what do we do, but treat ourselves to Girls day! We headed across town to a beauty parlor. On our way on the bus we are usually treated like celebrities. Constantly given the open seat and asked for our names and why we are in India. The women giggle to each other with each handshake or answer we return to them. Three woman in burkas asked me my name over serious laughs. As one woman went to put her hand to her face, as I do when I cover my mouth from laughing too hard, a stream of bright neon bangles slipped out. I pointed to them and said I loved it! She quickly lowered her head and covered her wrist once again. We began talking and they were so proud of me for knowing the area, where we were going, what we were studying and that we were up on the movies (a HUGE deal here!). I was only allowed to see their eyes, but I was overtaken by how much of their facial expressions I could be read through the slits that their huge brown eyes filled. I wonder how they find themselves beautiful? For us (American culture) "less is more", while here "more is never enough" (emily would love it).
We are welcomed inside the beaut parlor and I will never forget the feeling of safety. It is one of the only WOMEN ONLY areas in India (other than the home/kitchen). A man actually tried to come in and was quickly pushed back outside and then a message was sent outside to see what he could possibly want. I giggled at the foreign scene. Women filled every seat fully covered, either in starch black burkas or CRAZY colorful wedding sari. Either way, my definition of beauty was redefined. Instead of getting ice cream after pedicures and manicures, we covered our feet and hands in henna, got our nose pierced (yah!), and some got their eyebrows threaded (like waxing). They specialized in things we consider unnecessary, like how to wrap a wedding sari or how to put on the most ridiculous amount of jewelery. They have TWO day wedding specials, of completely recoloring your skin (cause white is still right, even more in asia), covering your body in henna and massive amounts of makeup, clothes and jewelry. I complemented one lady after she got her hair done, it was long, silky, jet black with a perfect bump under curl. I quickly and joyful said "You look great, your hair looks beautiful!" She slowly and shyly put her head down and said softly "Thanks" while in the same minute covered it completely returning her body under full burka. Who was defining beauty for this women, her husband? being the only man that gets to enjoy her gorgeous hair? I have held the theory that as women we dress to impress other women, cause honestly guys don't notice (as much as we imagine they do). But in this country, is it all driven by the man's standard of respect and beauty?
We finally left, renewed in our new view of womanhood. But the smiles on our faces were washed away with rain. The paper this morning said we received 15cm in 24 hours! Oh, monsoon season. We had to hid inside a hotel for about two hours until we could get a ride home. They charged triple the amount because they knew we were desperate and they didn't know if they could even make it through the flooded streets. The papers also said 40 precious people passed away just through the beginning of these storms, we are expected to get two more days of it. Please know I AM SAFE.
As we got home my first thoughts were with our kids on south campus, they ALL live in "slums"/ "shanties." I felt so distant and out of control. After a day of being landlocked in our hostel they rains let up for about an hour today and we got on our bikes and petaled our hearts out to South Campus. I had nothing to offer them, not even a blanket, I just had to see for myself if they were ok. My heart was beating so fast and was slowly pieced together as I saw my little Aneil running out to see me. I rang my bike bell and couple more kids came out. They had fires going and food cooking. Every house looked a little more soggy then usual, but they were ok. I asked Aneil if he was ok and he yelled, "Ya teacher!" Thats all I needed. My heart was broken in helplessness, but I have to leave each one of them with God. In the hands of the creator of these very rains. He alone will hold them, warm them, feed them, and love each one of them tonight.

Thank you for your prayers. I have never been so thankful for a dry house, warm clothes, warm food, and a warm bed, and YOU my family. Be blessed today! Sing and dance over each one your possessions, because you should know you are BLESSED beyond reason. Please continue to lift up our kids!

P.s. you know life will be ok, when you still have 4pm chai time and your computer has chai spots filtered all over the keyboard (don't worry I will clean it)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kick the Bucket


Namaste!
Sorry to take so long to follow up with the rest of my weekend, but I was passed the friendly head cold and had to sleep it off. But I kicked it! After a great early morning of yoga I want to fill everyone in on this past weekend.
Our program took us to a bridge school about two hours away. This is a school for just girls that have been saved from child labor or child abuse. They are offered this way of escape then brought into intense schooling, to catch up to their own age level of school. I had the opportunity to meet almost all of the 200+ girls and I hope to never forget them. We sang, danced, played, and laughed. They touched me physically and mentally in ways I didn't know I needed. (Like simply holding my hand)
I left a part of my heart with Suppira--->
She is nine years old and fell in love with me and my camera,
she took photos that I will never forget! The girls, didn't see a
difference between skin, hair, or accent. They loved us and played with us as though we were family. I pray for this school as they are faced with the challenges of dirty business men and village families that can't afford for their children not to work.

We again went and visited our kids on campus and I had missed them even more after seeing these girls. We played with them all sunday and it became my church. I was ministering and they ministered in return. We hugged each other and laughed with each other in ways I find some church people wouldn't even attempt. These children meet me on personal level and never cease in energy and passion. Even though I can't tell this children, Jesus Loves You! GOD MADE YOU and found you BEAUTIFUL. I can touch them, breath on them, pray over them, and leave them with GOD. God has again showed me grace through my new friends. Please continue to pray for them and us and we are trying to make more and more efforts to help this kids progress in their lives. There are so many but our solid 50 are constant now and we just need to let them now we are serious about them and we can HELP.

Ok, so here is to week 5! The rains are heavy but they lifted this morning so I will do a load of bucket laundry with my music blasting reminding me I can do this for four more months because our God is faithful.
photo taken by Suppira!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Brewed senses

Good evening or Good morning or anything in between! Today marks my fourth week in India and the time seems so long YET so controllably quick. This week we finally ventured back into the city after waiting around for the green light, since we were on red. But we realized that we have to live in the RED. We got a group of eight and headed to Abids a great eccentric area! Half of us went crazy at an art supply store and the other half went crazy over shoes (each to their own)! We meet up for dinner and the boys found us “this place,” maybe Bargara or something. I might not be able to remember the name of “this place” but the food was UNFORGETTABLE. We were feed like kings and queens for about 4 American dollars each! We cried, laughed, sniffed, cried, and could not stop eating the overwhelmingly spicy dishes. The rice, the naan, the yogurt, and the water…nothing could cure the burning sensations felt through my entire body. “It hurts so good!” My friend Thi let out. We all exchanged grins over the longest 30 minutes. Being a veg has never been so crazy! My senses were heightened! My mouth was awakened and each taste will never be forgotten.
I believe this awakened sense was the beginning of my weekend (so far). I audited Philosophy of Human Rights this morning with friends! One of our favorite professors teaches so I went just engage my brains and I was not disappointed. The class was so full we had to find a new classroom where he dove right in, “Everyman is born free but is everywhere in chains.” Then moving into law and state. What and who defines these big words. What freedoms are we willing to give up for our rights? (Is your mind going? ya!) I ate it up! My ears were pushing to get every word, follow every concept. I wanted to hear the direct phrasing and hear every joke. I was open to hear. This statement may sound simple but TRY IT.
Then went out and visited our kids today! (If not another sense could be engaged) I missed them and they remembered me, which still makes me smile right now. A couple of my main girls were missing and I was bummed. This school is trying, but with 50 kids and 2 teachers it’s hard. We brought out 16 students today, so half of us helped build a barbed wire fence to keep animals (goats, dogs, buffalo, cows) out of their bamboo made school, while the other half played with the kids! Finally before we left my girls strolled by. With the language barrier we only get so far and then just laugh, giggle, and stare, but I wanted to know why they didn’t come to school. “School?” I yell as I make my way to cut them off. I knelt in close and the oldest girl quietly describes something about head hurting (maybe), body hurting (maybe) and food to deliver. Hahaha…she could quickly see I wasn’t following so I knelt in closer. She slowly reached out her soft brown hand and grabbed by chin. In this instance I became the innocent child and she became the wise old grandma. She cared for me and wanted me to understand. Her touch still feels warm to my face. I found out later that their dad was sick or got injured from work and it was their place to take of him. They missed school to care for their dad.

I will dig into this topic more tomorrow after visiting another kind of school. To be continued…


(Please pray for our direction with these kids, they are purely a gift from God! We are thinking something like kids-with-cameras.org/ )


(photo taken by molly)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

No child left behind...

First, I AM SAFE! India is in a code red state right now, but we are grounded to campus for the next three days where we are as safe as can be. Please be in PRAYER FOR INDIA!









We went to go meet our friends from the park and we were taken to their school and 50 kids appeared! We played in the sun ALL DAY!



And then there's always the HOKIE POKIE

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Let all the little children come unto me" (and the gays)

Today marks my two week mark in India!
Today I met with my new creative writing professor, Hoshang Merchant. He is a famously known poet and a famously known gay poet. He refers to himself as the "Queen of India." I fell in love with him before I knew anything about him. He was wearing Ray Bans with a traditional Indian outfit. He asked us what we wanted the class to be and how we should run it. With just a few other American students we discussed literature and poetry and life. He took us to chai as we discussed America, Bush, Obama, and the nuclear/atom crisis facing India. We left in silence, knowing words could would only ruin such a radical moment. We just experienced one of the hidden minorities in India, homosexuals. I am not trying to get extreme but to be a homosexual in Indian culture and society is RADical. He left us each with a book and a new fire in our eyes.
I went to my hostel invigorated because I have been dwelling on homosexuality since meeting my group. We have a gay male and female in our group, one straight gay rights activist, one straight with lesbian parents, and most of us have gay friends or family. We have had lots of discussions on homosexuality in America, in college and in life. I love my group. We each come from such different views and experiences, but all of us completely respect each other. But a couple days ago we were joined with another program sharing the hostel with us. They are great, but our group is a family by now.
We ate lunch and a couple of us went for an adventure, got some more stuff and clothes to fill our barren (my america standards) rooms. When we got back we wanted to play, so we rounded up about six of us and headed to the soccer field with a ball and frisbee. Let the games begin!!!
We were just passing around when BAM BAM BAM!!! Three boys came out of the forest and played with us! Within ten mintues we were playing a game of keep away with over ten kids. We loved them. I don't use the word lightly, I honestly love each one of them. They are one of the first groups of Indians that accepted me...us...Americans as equals. I respected them and they respected us. All language barriers were crossed with two hours of games! I felt like myself, I felt hyper and excited and funny for the first time in a long time! I love kids and the entire time I was just thanking God for letting the kids see pass our difference and accept us. I was so blessed and they can not even comprehend how powerful their love was.
An older guy appeared before we were about to leave and he explained that he founded a child care program for all the construction workers kids on campus.
I will take this moment to explain construction in India. First, it is always going on. Second, regular building is done by HAND. Third, lots of things get started and never finished. Fourth, 3/4 of the workers are women and these women bring their children to work. This guy we met created a safe place for these kids! His center has about 50 kids and another center across campus has about 40 kids. What a blessing. We were all touched and are headed back on sunday for another round of carefree fun.
After this we headed back for dinner and were greeted by the rest of our house already eating. I noticed my professors book was being passed around and he was the topic of every dinner table. "So he's gay?" "Is he famous just cause he's gay?"..."What he's gay?" HUH? All conversion stopped. Hahahaha...I wanted to laugh out loud. This girl that yelled this didn't know our group. She had no idea who she was saying this too. She quickly followed with "Wait, I'm not a homophob." I could see she was quickly going to offed people of my group, or me, so I got up and left and encouraged the rest of my group to do the same. But as we were all leaving I don't know what came over me but I stayed behind and went up to the girl. I breathed and spoke slowly. I like her and I believe she has a big heart and would never intentionally offed anyone. I simply said "Hey girl, I just want to make you aware of the fact that we have gays in our group here." She was stunned and flustered. "I just have never dealt with this" she quickly replies. THIS, THIS, THIS. We are all people, homosexuals are just as much human as Indians. I breathed again. "Listen, I am on your side so that is why I am asking you to be aware of what you say. You don't have to agree one way or the other, in fact, I don't care, just please before you speak or ask just imagine being gay and being asked that same question." "What?" She replies airily. Her friend speaks up, "Put yourself in their shoes."
So this is my rant, I don't care who you are, where you come from, or what you have left behind, YOU ARE GOD'S! YOU WERE CREATED BY MY CREATOR, BY OUR WORLD's CREATOR! So, please treat each other accordingly. These kids showed me love, so I did the same to this girl. I pray she takes this new challenge on and learns more about herself. I pray our group continues to bring as much joy to these kids lives as they have brought to ours.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Above the noise

Namaste
Bob Marley once sang, "One good thing about music, when it hits you fell no pain, So hit me with music, hit me with music, Hit me with music, hit me with music now!"

My remedy: INDIAN FUSION MUSIC (ie Hawaiian guitar-19 strings, Sitar, Violin, Tabla-two drums, Percussion-noise maker, and Keyboard-tuned to zesty indian sounds)

Our program once again took care of us and treated us to a night of the State's best Indian Fusion Music! I will never forget it! They play a raga-an improv based a composed tempo and style for about ten minutes each. Just jamming the business out of their instruments, passing around smiles at certain sections and nodding at other moments. Each guy just so pleased to be playing their traditional instrument. Most of them had been playing for over twenty years and still sounded crisper than ever. I decided while so lost in the music that if I enjoyed nothing else in India I would be satisfied with this one concert!

But the music was NOISY, everything at once, it was a chaotic-patterned-elaborate-beautiful mess within a tempo...lol. Just like India, noisy! I am not saying this negative or positive. I am simply stating a fact. India is never quite. I was deep in the music when I realized all my senses were being used. The sounds accumulating upon my ears, the incense filtering through the room, the touch of my bare feet on the Persian carpets, the taste of my sweat around my lips.

So today I searched and found space above the noise. Yoga all day began this journey and it ended tonight upon our hostel roof. My friend Ben and I climbed to the very top to see the city lights and breath fresh air. We sat and meditated for fifteen minutes! The silence became overwhleming after having none for so long. I once again was forced to give over my entire self to God. To the silence, to the peace, to the renewed excitement of life...of freedom.

Be encouraged my dear friends, I may be lacking hot water, electricity, and in&out...but our GOD IS ALIVE IN WELL IN INDIA...in me. Have a great day for me. Flash your lights off and on, cause you can! Ha..wait save the energy

Namaste

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wish I could share this with you


Hey family, I had a great ACTION packed day. We played a version of great adventure in hyderabad ALL DAY. It was our programs last chance to teach us how to navigate and become independent in a somewhat "controlled" setting. HA...ha...ha. We got rides in truck beds, overpriced, crowded rickshaws and buses. We got clues and had to answer questions, but let me tell you the truth it was all worth it. I kept a good attitude and had a fun non competitive team! Each destination was unforgettable. From a local textile hand crafted design linen store to a school of excellence and enlightenment in a quaint park. I loved it, we found places in the city I could have never found by myself. I gained some more confidence in myself getting around in India.

I will take this moment to share about India. There are no "road names" exactly. Street signs are rare, light signals are even rarer. Any map is not detailed because so much construction is happening and names are always changing. So how I would always use maps to confirm direction, now its left to asking and trying to visually remember(wish I had emily). There are no real "rules." The asking directions part is easy being an American, but the complications come from "Indian english" and multiple people giving different directions all at the same time.

So school starts tomorrow! I can't wait to get my hands dirty in the art department! I can't wait to put myself out there in a class full of Indians. I have been the minority my whole life, LETS DO THIS!

Along with school, intense yoga begins as well. Every morning from 6:30-8:00am! YOGA!

Here are the upsides that keep me balanced with all the challenges of India. But mostly I wanted to write to you. Yes you, my reader, my friend, my family. Today was just one of those days you wanted to share with friends. Don't get me wrong, I have great buddies on this trip and it was great. But they aren't you. I am so thankful for you. For each friend that ever saw me for who I was and is still my friend. For each friend that lasted through more than two of my phases. For each friend that needed me these five months. For each friend that is GOING THRU right now without a hug from me. For each friend that has just simply been a friend. Today I can only return the favor in prayer and meditation. Tonight I sleep with all of you on my mind. Praying for protection, strength, comfort. 1 cor. paul was encouraging the church to cry together, to rejoice together. So goodnight as I smile with you...love with you..cry with you...scream with you...dance with you.

Sleep in my arms as we close our eyes under Gods wings. Be blessed

Thursday, July 17, 2008

One week down


Today is officially my one week in India and these are my thoughts so far:

I did not come here to become Indian.
I can not and will not become comfortable here.
As much as I love, I hate.
I have already formed a healthy addiction to chai.
The food is never ending spices (breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
Never have I ever seen some color together so vividly.
Abbreviate everything (veg and no veg- thats vegetarian and meat eaters).
10 am California time=10:30 pm Hyderabad time
New perfume=Heavy DEET bug spray
"CP Time" (colored people time) is universal
PDA is only allowed between same sex
1 dollar=40 rupees
Bobbling head=yes/ok
Condensed milk is staple
Always carry sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, a trash bag, an umbrella, water, fruit drink and anti-diarrheal
Women toe ring=marriage
Always have naan (lite pita bread mix maybe tortilla like) and water with every meal
Last resort "naheem naheem naheem" (no no no)

I start school on the 21st and I am super excited to start.
Please pray for two of our girls, Jessy and Molly, they are super sick! Already four have gotten sick and gotten better...my time hasn't come yet.
I am excited to start taking yoga daily and get certified!
I am struggling with massive amounts of bug bites.
I have never sweated so much in my entire life.

The Lord is constant and faithful, I feel him in the littles things. I am surrounded by noise and unknown, when all I want is someone to tell me everything will be ok.
Just to go out it is a hassle, everything is posed as a quest and you must have the stamina to go out and then come back home. I am exhausted in a way unlike I have ever felt. BUT, I refuse to settle. I will find rest in the arms of MY GOD...I must.

My roomate and I were saying we can't wait until next month when we love it here and time is going by quickly...I dunno. Today I will hope in hope. I will be renewed in all your words, prayers, and support. Today I am defined by every friend that has ever hugged me. I rest in the nourishment of community.


So I send blessings and thanks. Enjoy today for I am determined to do the same.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Just another day in India...


among the chaos...


another dead dog among waste lying on the streets...












Just some snap shots...will write when I have more time! Be encouraged the creator of India created YOU!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A ride to koti

Day three: Today our task was to go with our peer tutors and get on the right bus, explore great markets, and take the right bus home. Oh...if Indian life were only this easy.
Taking the first step unto that bus will never be forgotten. I was the minority, I was the intruder, I was not expected or accepted. It felt like the world stopped with a thousand Indians stareing directly at ME. Ok, ok, this passed in a second and I shoved my way into the middle front. In India ALL buses are segregated. Women and elderly only enter the front door, men in back. The first five or so rows that are indicated are only for the women and elderly to sit and the rest is for the men to fight over. Each bus squeezed about 300 percent more than it seems possible. People holding on the sides and people pushed side to side. A few side notes...its HOT and everyone is SWEATY and Indians do not believe in PERSONAL SPACE. Us girls jumped, pushed, and shoved our way in. Then the bus just stopped! Oh, another side note to consider of Indian transportation is that its on its own schedule. There are no driving rules only to use horn liberally and get there quickly.
So we are in the bus that is now parked and I turn to my new friend Molly and she calmly and confidently tells me, "I am going to faint." (The next things happened within I dunno what time frame or if the bus was even moving.) I smile say ok to Molly, being a past experienced fainter as well. I hear nothing and see nothing but Molly. She turns pale and I grab her body, she goes limp in my arms and I feel no weight or strength, just Molly. I remember saying her name to her over and over. We are given a seat and she slides on, I get water down her mouth and she comes to just as quickly as she left. She apologies and I realize a child is screaming within in inches of us. Just stareing at Molly and screaming.
Thats all I wanted to do, scream with this baby. I wanted something comfortable and easy. I wanted to quickly and efficiently take her to get re dehydrated, but we were an hour and a half from our hotel and who knows where from the hospital. BUT THIS IS INDIA (Tii) I was told before I got here. So our leaders hundled around us and we got her a juice box and banana. She quickly regained the color in her face and we just keep apologizing to each Indian around us. We all breathed a little easier and I just kept praying and thanking God that I had spent time with him this very morning and opened up my day with Him. (we are all safe and healthy, after food and naps)
I am overwhelmed not from Molly, but from the entire day. So much goes into just getting to market. Heck, so much goes into taking the bus. All convenience is lost. I wonder if this reality is too simple for me to even grasp. Life is hard. Statements like these filter through my day here. From seeing rows and rows of slums to rich wealthy Americans dine out upstairs. Tii...this is India.

Friday, July 11, 2008

DAY ONE!!




Hey all, I am here and safe! I only have a few moments this morning to post some pictures and quick captions and I come back to this post later today! First of all it took me three days of travel to get here and along the way I truly ENJOYED MYSELF! Prayed, read, thought...

ah have to go right now, but here is my plane...a lady i loved...and (not permanent) henna

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Last goodbyes and First hellos...

This is it! "This is India!" some say. I leave today for a land I have only dreamed of. To live among people I have only prayer for. To grow in a way with the Lord I have only read of. But I am going. God has given me a peace the last three days that honestly has passed all understanding. I have been able to sleep and think clearly and see everyone I needed to. Said goodbye to my friends and life in San Diego. Said goodbye to my boyfriend and decided it could only be a "see you later." In some hours I will say goodbye to my parents and California for the next five months! Here it goes! Please don't stop thinking about me! Please don't stop smiling when you remember me! Please eat meat and lots of it for me! Goodbye California. Goodbye family. Goodbye Jordan. Goodbye friends. Thank you everyone, each one of you that has supported me. I leave with you in my heart. So here we go, traveling as one, some in my hands, some in my feet, some in my heart. Come along to India we go...

See you again soon!

Monday, June 9, 2008

a new beginning

Flights



Air India
Flight AI136 overnight flight
DepartWed, Jul 09 07:10pLos Angeles International Apt, US (LAX)
ArriveFri, Jul 11 03:45aDelhi, IN (DEL)
Flight Time20hr 05min | Economy
AircraftBoeing 777-200ER/300ER


Flight AI136 has the following stops:

ArriveThu, Jul 10 02:50pFrankfurt International Apt, DE (FRA)

DepartThu, Jul 10 04:15p



Air India
operated by Nacil Indian Airline
Flight AI9940
DepartFri, Jul 11 06:40aDelhi, IN (DEL)
ArriveFri, Jul 11 08:40aHyderabad, IN (HYD)
Flight Time 02hr 00min | Economy
AircraftAirbus 320-100/200



Air India
operated by Nacil Indian Airline
Flight AI9840
DepartFri, Dec 05 07:15pHyderabad, IN (HYD)
ArriveFri, Dec 05 09:15pDelhi, IN (DEL)
Flight Time 02hr 00min | Economy
AircraftAirbus 320-100/200



Air India
Flight AI137
DepartSat, Dec 06 07:30aDelhi, IN (DEL)
ArriveSat, Dec 06 04:35pLos Angeles International Apt, US (LAX)
Flight Time22hr 35min | Economy
AircraftBoeing 777-200ER/300ER


Flight AI137 has the following stops:

ArriveSat, Dec 06 12:25pFrankfurt International Apt, DE (FRA)

DepartSat, Dec 06 02:00p


Passenger(s)


1. BROWN, CARLYNN KATRINA