Saturday, September 17, 2011

Smile, Serve, Love

Today I finished up my India Journal and I figured I should wrap up a few things on here as well.

After a few delays, flight cancellations, a ton of airport security, and my last rupees I made it back to the United States safe and sound and without ever getting sick! :)

I have been thinking a lot about India and what I learned there. I learned so many things and I would like to share a few with you.

1. Happiness is a choice, it is not determined by your circumstances. You can choose to be grateful for what you have and to find joy in small things.

2. The children taught me how to love wholeheartedly, without hesitation, and unconditionally. I learned that I can love someone without even knowing them.

3. I learned to have a bigger perspective. I learned that I shouldn't just focus on myself all the time, I need to look around and lift up the people I see.

4. I learned that beauty can be found anywhere, even in -- no --especially in "dirty, crowded, smelly" India.

5. I learned to be grateful for so many things, I have been blessed with so much. I am grateful for clean water, flushing toilets, showers, America, modern medicine, and my education, to name a few.

6. I learned that smile, serve, love is my new motto :)

I went to India to serve, to try and help in any way that I could, but I came away with so much more than I gave. I learned that when we are serving the Lord and doing his will He blesses us in more ways than we could imagine.

Here is a quote about India that someone shared with me:

"There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won't go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor." -- Keith Bellows

India is in my heart and my heart is in India. I can see in technicolor now; I have been so blessed!

Smile, Serve, Love

mary katherine

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, Day 19

I left Rising Star today :(

Our session continued RSO's tradition and painted this henna hand on the wall to leave our mark. Then we all wrote our names in the hand.

After we checked into our hotel, some girls and I went to Spencer's Mall. It was so different than an American mall. It was a lot like the outside markets we visited on the streets except it was inside. Lots of tiny shops and lots of "streets". Luckily we didn't get lost wandering in circles :) Then we had lunch at Pizza Hut; so much better than in America. I had the chicken Tikka Makhani pizza . Basically it had tandoori chicken and tandoori sauce and was so delicious. I am pretty sure that when I get home food is going to taste so bland. I will need to spice it up!

Tomorrow morning I am leaving India. I am excited to go back to America, but I really feel like I am leaving my heart in India.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, Day 18

Today was my last day at Rising Star; it was romba super!

I started off the day doing yoga with Alyssa on the roof. :) Then I ate breakfast: toast and a whole fresh mango! So yummy!

I went with the medial team to the colony Moot. I went to the same colony two weeks ago and was excited to go again.
On the way we saw a bunch (20) of monkeys on the side of the road.
This one was looking at himself in a piece of mirror!

courtney and I played Jenga with Kartoshi. As soon as we had it set up she would just start pulling pieces out; it made us laugh.

Kartoshi loves to hold hands! I just stood with her for a while and held her hand. It is amazing how powerful human touch is. It is a beautiful form of communication and can create instant connections between two people.

This is Saroja. A beautiful, sweet, spiritual woman. The other day I learned the Tamil hand movement to tell someone they are beautiful. She does not speak English so when I sat down next to her I gestured that she was beautiful. She smiled and kissed my hands. Then she raised her hands to thank God. It was a very special moment for me. She is not angry or sad, she is thankful for the little things, a smile from a stranger, a house to live in, a fresh bandage.

As we drove away I knew I was leaving a little slice of Heaven.

On the way back to Rising Star we stopped for lunch at a restaurant. I ordered some chines food, don't worry, that is how it was written on the menu :). I got dragon chicken (like a spicy General Tso's) and mixed fried rice (meaning it had chicken, shrimp, goat/lamb, and probably something else). I hadn't eaten that much meat in a long time and it felt really weird. Some of the Indian members of the medical tried my dragon chicken and said I chose well, haha. Then we stopped at the junction and I got Maaza! And I am bringing some home with me, be excited family!

For dinner we had chapati, one of my favorite dishes. We went around the group and each said something that we had learned. (I have learned so much in India and will dedicate a later post to that topic.) I said something along these lines, When we first arrived the coordinators told us the theme for the session was, 'When you release the joy in someone else, you release the joy in yourself." I realize now that I did not completely understand that quote. But since I have been here, everyday I have learned how true this is. I have seen joy and happiness in the faces of so many and it has made me happy.

Then we had family time. I feel horrible about leaving my boys. As soon as we arrived they opened their hearts and their arms to us. They knew we would only be staying for a few weeks, but it did not matter. They were a great lesson to me on unconditional love. I know I have a greater capacity to love because of them.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday, Day 17

Today was super!

I switched with some people so that I would be able to go to the colony Moot tomorrow which meant that I was doing education again today. I was a little worried about tutoring two days in a row but it turned out really well. The kids were great and interested in learning and we had fun. During their breaks I played with the kids. I love that they can play and have so much fun with out any toys. I have never once heard one of them say, "I'm bored." We make up new games everyday. It is so fun to have relearned how to play :) I am grateful to have finished tutoring on such a happy note.

The kids line up for an assembly each morning.

Mageshwari and I reading about boats.
(Mom, I took some video of us for you).

Our hostel is decorated with some sweet elephant statues!

Flowers from our courtyard.
(This is for Hannah.)

I have been here for 3 weeks and today was the first day that I saw this awesome shadow.
I love it!

Some random photos, just fyi:
The view out of my window.
(You can just barely see the wall that surrounds the Rising Star campus.)

The squatter.
Not as bad as it looks. And it is kept very clean.

Bucket shower.
They are not bad at all, except that it is really hard for me to wash my thick hair (and I even thinned it and cut a bunch off before I came)!

This afternoon during play time all the volunteers had a water-balloon fight with the kids. The balloons were gone in 10 seconds so we started using buckets to drench each other. It was a lot of fun and the kids loved it.

Tomorrow is my last day at Rising Star and I am kind of really sad about that. I will miss these kids so much. Luckily there is a new set of volunteers coming on Monday to give them more love!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday, Day 16

This morning I got up at 5ish to watch the sunrise, but unfortunately I couldn't see it because I wasn't high enough and there were too many trees in the way. But it was very peaceful and I could hear all the animals waking up/going to sleep. Because we have air conditioning in our rooms we don't have the windows open and I can't hear what India sounds like at night.
So many strange noises, but nothing dangerous I hope :)

Today I was at the school tutoring. Sometimes it is not so fun, but when the kids are learning new words and are excited to read it is really great.

At lunch I at with the boys in my house. They are super! I think I am getting better at eating with my hands :) Anyone want to come over for an Indian dinner when I get home? I have discovered some really yummy food here!

Vijay, me, Naveen, Rangith

Tonight I was walking with Natasha to family time and we saw a giant beetle on the ground, at least 2 1/2 inches long. Just as she was leaning over to take a picture of it and we were saying that it probably can't fly. It started flying straight towards us! Needless to say we were surprised and may or may not have screamed and ran away :)

Sorry I don't have much to say today. I am getting up early again tomorrow with Alyssa and we are going to do yoga :)

Tuesday, Day 15

My group went to construction again today. We moved about 1,700 bricks in 2 hours! We walked past some of the house that we moved bricks and cinderblocks to last week and saw that they had already started building the bathrooms. So cool to see our hard work already making a difference!

We are pros with the assembly line!

After we finished our work some of the other volunteers went to the art school. But Traci and I went to visit the barber. He is leprosy afflicted and received a micro-loan from Rising Star to start a small barber shop. Traci asked him to trim her bangs. He sat her down and put an apron around her. Then he brushed out her hair and put it in a pony tail and was about to cut three inches off! Haha. We told him to wait and I showed him several times to only cut off 1/4 inch. Then he cut her bangs, straight across. It was probably the most entertaining hair cut I have ever seen (I don't think he has much experience cutting a woman's hair). He was so nice and excited to be able to cut Traci's hair. It was also very neat for me to see how a micro-loan was able to change this man's life.
This is Rangith and I doing homework. It seems like he always has the most work to do, not sure why, but he is dedicated and always gets it done.

The boys have started to ask me when I am leaving. I hate to tell them I am leaving on Saturday :( I have loved being here and will really miss them. They want me to come back again, but I don't know if I can. I don't want to leave! At least not right now. The time has flown by too fast.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Monday, Day 14

Today my group was on the medical rotation. And this time I got to do what I really wanted to since I came here!
Let me explain the process (sorry if this is too much information): The leprosy afflicted patients arrive to the clinic, collect their charts and have their blood pressure checked. Then they have a little check up with Dr. Susan (an Indian doctor who volunteers her time to help the leprosy afflicted). Then their bandages are removed and their ulcers are photographed to mark their progress. Their feet are washed to clean them as well as loosen some of dead skin and make it easier to cut their nails. After being washed I put oil on their feet. Neem oil is used to hydrate the skin and also keeps bugs and critters away from the wounds. Then their ulcers are bandaged, they collect medicine and extra wound care supplies, and are done.

These patients no longer have active cases of leprosy, but are still suffering from lingering affects of the disease. For example leprosy causes bone, cartilage, and tissue to be reabsorbed into the body which is why many of the patients have shorter fingers and toes or none at all. Another affect is a decreased sensation of pain in the extremities. When a person with normal sensation sits for a while on their foot their body automatically tells them to rotate position to get blood circulating in that area again. In the leprosy afflicted, they often cannot tell if they have been putting too much pressure on a body part. This decreased circulation causes ulcers or deep wounds that take a long time to heal.

As a nursing student I am no stranger to wounds and the like that often gross out other people, but I was still very affected by each patient. Each ulcer means that the person has little or no feeling in that area of their body. It means they suffered with leprosy long enough to have such a devastating consequence. It means they suffered from a disease that is so easily curable. It means they were ostracized to a colony because they were thought of as sinners.

It was very humbling to do such a simple thing for each of these people who are so grateful for everything. This song helps to explain how I feel; "I have no right to complain because I have been blessed, I am grateful."

Who knew there are cactuses in India?

After we finished at the colony we stopped by an Emu farm. Apparently having Emu is a sign of wealth. Also, they use all the parts of the Emu, for what purposes, I don't know.

Then we stopped at a private catholic hospital. It was so clean and empty. I am not sure why no one goes there, lack a transportation perhaps, or money? It is one of those things about India that just make me wonder . . .

Me and an Indian nun

This is Vicky and I at family time. The other night he figured out a way to use my water bottle to prop up the flash light. I praised him for his ingenuity and told him he could become and engineer one day. First his face lit up with the complement, then he said, "No, I can't do that." I told him he really could. And I really believe it. After he finishes school he will receive some money from Rising Star to help pay for college. He will be educationally and financial ready for university. That is so cool to me. Without Rising Star his opportunities would be so much more limited. I am so excited to see what these kids do with their lives. Even if a lot of them don't end up going to university, they will have an education which is soo important. They will instill in their future families the importance of an education. And generation by generation they will help to raise their families out of the poverty and ostracism associated with leprosy.

Sorry this blog was so long-winded :)