Today (10/30/2016) marks the end of my first month in India, and I decided to finally make good on my promise to start a blog/newsletter to update people on my life over here.
Since leaving the US, so much has happened, but I will do my best to give a brief synopsis of the story so far.
Here is the chronological narrative of these past weeks…
I left the US on Sept 28th and made stops in Dallas, New York (not originally on the itinerary), London, Mumbai (also, not originally on the itinerary), and finally, my new home, Hyderabad on Friday, the 30th.
I believe for my approximate 36 hours of travel, I slept about 4 hours total, watched maybe a bit of TV, picked up my book a handful of times, but mostly I sat restless and worried, anxiously fidgeting, all the while doing the best I could to maintain an external façade of control.
Arriving at my final airport, I was greeted by a friendly SCH face, and was taxied away to my new apartment. On the drive over, views of India reminded me of Jamaica at first, the trees, greenery, and my inability to understand or surmise any law or order in the flow of their traffic. After the scenic, motion-sickness-inducing ride, we arrived.
Here is my aside about my new apartment.
It is incredible. My apartment sits on the very top of a three story building in a beautiful neighborhood. I am able to overlook miles and miles of the city, with sights of Golkonda Fort (please look up pictures) from my window. Every day I sit out on the roof and am able to hear and watch the city around me.
Also, in my apartment, I have access to hot water for bucket showers! I share it with a fluctuating number of other volunteers (was once four, then three, and now seven). My roommates are the greatest blessing that my new apartment has to offer me. Their community and immediate friendship took me by surprise and I have cherished these daily, silly moments of getting to know them and their true and fierce hearts for Christ.
After an orientation (of which I only remember glimpses due to extreme jetlag), I toured the homes and met most of the foster mothers and volunteers. Insert more jetlag delirium. I can’t remember much between meeting my fellow volunteers and the night of that same day. I walked with some of the other volunteers down to the corner shop and we walked back. As soon as we arrived back home, I ran upstairs to my apartment and I got sick. I’m trying to think of delicate way to convey how seriously I PUKED my guts out, but any euphemism, any beat-around-the-bush phrasing escapes me. So, this is when I tell you I vomited a total of five times in one hour, and I was miserable. My throat was swollen from heaving, my stomach (which hadn’t been fed a meal in about 18 hours) was wretched, my eyes fogged, my tongue sat in my mouth feeling thick and tasting metallic, my head pulsing and throbbing and all other words to describe the rushing of my blood that felt like loose bowling balls, rolling out from every crevice in my brain and colliding. I sat down on the roof and I shut my eyes, trying to breathe.
I was met in my self-pity and wallowing by sweetness. A new friend brought me about 8 packets of ORS (oral rehydration something or other) and I rejoined the volunteers downstairs in the kitchen where they prepared this foul-tasting, life-changing medicine, and I immediately felt better.
The next day I met with Nikki (the foster mom whose email in search of a TVI seeded itself in my heart as the most serious conviction from the Holy Spirit) and Charlotte (a cute 3.5 year old singing sensation) to buy clothes, food, toilet paper, and so on.
On Monday, I started work, kinda…mostly I met and observed the students and staff, and sat in awe of the marvelous program these mothers had created for their children.
Here is my aside about my job.
Okay… brief history. My degree from FSU (go Noles) qualifies me as a teacher for students with visual impairments (TVI). This means that I don’t teach any part of the general education curriculum, but I teach the skills necessary for students with visual impairments to access their academics, develop independence, and secure a high quality of life.
Nikki and Merissa (the foster moms I work most closely with) run a school for the blind in their home. There are a total of thirteen children living in this home, seven of which have significant visual impairment.
On Tuesday, I worked with some of the children a little more closely, same with Wednesday. On Thursday, Nikki flew home for two weeks for Thanksgiving (the Canadian edition), and I truly began my first month of teaching.
Now, I’ve decided to ditch chronology in order to focus on the highlights, the list of blessings that I have yet to mention. I’m very unsure where to begin, because I am so overwhelmed with all of the blessings I’ve received in such a short time here. First, and always first, Jesus, His Kingdom coming, and His renewed Grace every morning. Amen amen amen.
Second, wow, oh, wow, these kids! THESE KIDS!!! These kids are all sorts of incredible and fun and silly and beautiful. The house I am working in fosters 13 children, and the school founded there serves those who do not go to a local school. Each student of mine is brilliant and challenging. I am enjoying learning more about them daily, and daily I am praying for more understanding of their needs and understanding of how to be the best possible teacher I can be for them.
Third, those I get to work closely with: the foster mamas that are supporting me and including me in their beautiful home, my fellow volunteers, my fellow teachers. (Oops, I may have already mentioned them). There is so much to say about them, but the most important to mention is how I feel so surrounded by the very sweetest hearts possible, and I will be continually grateful for such loving community.
Fourth, I am so appreciative of the friends and family who have supported this trip through prayer, through encouragement, through generous donations. ESPECIALLY since I have done so little to express this gratitude to them. I find asking for help challenging and I find it even more challenging to adequately express the impact that the help provided has had on me. So, I would like to say that I feel so loved, supported, and cared for by so many at home, without whom this dream would be impossible.
The list of things for me to be thankful for goes on and on…
The Internet: B E A U T I F U L. I get to talk to my family everyday!
My showers (already mentioned but it deserves repeating): I have hot water! I get to take hot water bucket showers! (Though, in total honesty, showering is not something I do daily… or very regularly…but that is something true of me when I’m in Florida, too, so whatever.)
Indian food. Especially chicken Thursdays and Sundays. And 10 rupee samosas.
Peanut butter. (My source of protein on all other days).
The fact that I don’t shave my legs or wear make-up. Incredible.
My new church.
Bible studies on Monday nights.
My morning routine: Family phone-calling, Bible-reading, breakfast-eating, Malaria pill-taking, Lesson-planning.
The beautiful coffee shop that served me THE cappuccino OF THE YEAR for only 65 rupees (less than a dollar, people).
The convictions of the Holy Spirit that are leading me down this path, tugging me further into the future, the purpose my Creator has designed for me.
This prayer by St. Anselm and its beautiful significance in these past few weeks:
O Lord my God,
Teach my heart this day where and how to see you; Where and how to find you. You have made me and remade me; And you have bestowed on me all good things I possess; And still I do not know you. I have not yet done that for which I was made. Teach me to seek you; For I cannot seek you unless you teach me; Or find you unless you show yourself to me; Let me seek you in my desire; Let me desire you in my seeking; Let me find you by loving you; Let me love you when I find you.
And with this perpetually incomplete account of all the perfect grace in my life, I give you a terrible conclusion to these ramblings.
For everyone back home, friends and family, I love and miss you, you are in my prayers, and I am continually grateful for your presence in my life. Also, please pray for me! Pray for my students, this incredible organization and all those who work here. Pray for my city. Also, message me (facebook messenger, whatsapp, imessage, anything except text, duh)! Please let me know about your lives and how I can pray for you all.
End. Of. Blog.
If you are interested in helping me provide all I can to my students, check out my Amazon India Wishlist. Supplies are hard to come by (especially what is needed for kiddos with VI).
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