Friday, March 29, 2013

Rising Star Outreach - Day 6

Today was Good Friday so the kids were off school on holiday.  People in the Colony were also off for the holiday, so we did things a little different than we would have.  We headed out this morning for another charity that was down the road by Chengleputt.  We stopped off to get some candy for the kids there.  When we got there we were welcomed by a custom sign that welcomed us to the school.  This charity is a school that takes in homeless, begging kids off the street.  Clothes them, feeds them, and teaches them (if they are unable to go to regular school).  There are some kids that are there that had had no formal school before this charity picked them up.  They are almost 3-4 grades behind, so they teach them at the school since they cannot put them in the local school.  The kids there were so sweet and excited to have people to play with.  Then at the end they did a little talent show for us.  They danced around, and then we joined them.  It was really fun.  After that we went to Pearls for a Purpose and the Bindu Art School.  Both are micro-grant businesses that are targeted to teach the local leprosy affected patients to have a skill.  The ladies at the pearls business are all leprosy affected in some way, either themselves or someone else in their family.  They custom make the jewelry and then sell it locally and online.   They seem to do quite well, then of course Rising Star helps them out quite a bit as well.  The Bindu Art school is the same.  I am not too sure if the money gets back to them the same way as with Pearls.  But we helped them out nonetheless.  We were able to get pictures with the artists that painted the pictures which was really cool.  After that we headed back to the outreach and we had a special play time with the kids.  They setup a full cricket field and we played cricket.  I was able to bowl and hit.  I did reasonable with both.  That was quite fun.  After that we had prayer time.  We repeated the first house that we went to, which I thought was really good since that house has Mousa in it.  He was the first to approach Carl and they have been more or less inseparable the entire week.  They totally forged a close relationship.  After prayer time we came back for dinner.  It was the last time the group that came for this week was together.  It was really neat, we talked about what we are going to take away from this week.  I was amazed that it was all almost the same about living in the moment and not in the future.  It was also along the lines of making life more simple and doing what is most important.  We often get bogged down in trivial things and we let them bother us.  I am really blessed to have this experience and and see that life is simple, and we have to keep it that way.  There was a great conversation on the car yesterday that was so profound and amazing.  We were talking with Virginia about loosing her husband to ALS.  She said that as soon as they stopped thinking that it was terminal they were able to enjoy the time that they had together.  Several years ago Elder Eyring taught that we should catalog what was good in our day.  And always find the good around us.  I find that to be very important.  I am thankful for this opportunity that I have had here.  It has really changed me in a deeply personal way.  I am so excited to take this new outlook back home and try to refocus on my daily highs and lows, and fully commit to serving those around me and to this wonderful gospel that I have. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rising Star Outreach - Day 5

Ok, so not a terribly long post today since it is really late and the internet was down half of the night.  but on a bonus side the power has only gone out one time tonight, issue was I was just getting out the shower.  So that was rather dark.   Today we had school duty and the other group went to colony.  We get to the computer lab to work with the kids on fractions and multiplication.  So that was fun.  We had fun with that.  Some kids are so smart and rip through the material and others really struggle.  I tried to help as much as I could.  The next it was off to reading time in the library.  I had a little girl and we took turns reading "On the bank of Plum Creek", the girl was really really good at reading, but it is hard to comprehend 1800's prairie culture if you have never understood the American prairie.  It was rather interesting.  I guess I took for granted being able to conceptualize that kind of life.  Next we went to eat with the kids at the dining hall.  This was really fun.  I kind of dragged Carl to it, and the others did not want to go, but I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  So Carl and I went over to the dining hall and sat with the bays and ate lunch.  That was a really good time to get to know the kids.  They were beaming with excitement that we took the time to eat with them.  After lunch and a nap, we went back to the computer room for more tutoring this time it was an older group.  I sat with three girls from the 7th Standard class.  They were working on fractions.  I was really proud that I was able to remember the fractions.  After computer lab we were supposed to go to do a class for the 9th standard about values, but they were all at the hospital for check-ups.  So were got a little break before going to play with the UKG kids.  UKG time was really hot, too hot to go out of the shade, so we stayed close to the hostel shade and enjoyed some time there.  We played different games.  Then it was general play time.  I played one-on-one basketball with one of the boys.  I lost, but had a great time.  Although now my quad is really hurting.  Finally we had prayer time with the kids.  It was really a good one.  We talked about gratitude and I showed off the pictures of the whole family.  It was really cute when I carried around the tablet with the pictures up on it.  They would touch the screen and say "God bless" and they would bless the family.  It just means so much to them that we are here with them.  I am not sure what I was expecting when we came here, but it has exceeded my expectations in so many ways. 
Thoughts from Carl:
day three was enjoyable.  We helped people who had leprosy.  they beamed at us as we washed their (occasional almost nonexistence) feet 
then we went to see a birds sanctuary.  You would not believe the different amount of birds there.  we came back for general playtime and we played Magic.
Day four we went to the hospital.  The man we where in charge of was over the moon.  Then we came back for general play time and played Magic again (this game didn't end yet).  I was whopped.
Day 5 we taught.  It was in the computer lab and i had to juggle two trouble makers by my self. we left for a mini break and then came back.  this time i insisted that i be in charge of one child, so i found one.  HE. WAS.  A.  MATH..WIZA!!!! Then we left for UKG time and came back to the lab and i had to stop one kid from getting the awnsers from another.  then i went to bed, but the Magic game finnally ended.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rising Star Outreach Trip -- Day 4

Click here to view these pictures larger

So day 4 is over, which is really rather sad.  It means that it is flying by way too fast and we are not able to do everything.  It was another incredible day, then of course all of the days seem to be words like amazing, incredible, ect.  So we started bright and early since we were taking a group of kids and patients to Chennai to the big hospital there to get things done.  We gathered up the kids and we waited for the teacher van to get here since it "had A/C"  It blew something that might be considered A/C at one point in time.  It no longer had A/C, it was rather hot in the van.  We then went to two different colonies to pick up three patients, those who are afflicted with leprosy.  And off to Chennai.  We went to the hospital there, which was huge, and circa 1970's hospital.  When we got out we broke into groups.  Carl and I were assigned Rajeth from the outreach and Issac from the colony.  Rajeth needed an eye check-up and Issac had just had a successful cataract surgery and needed a check-up.  We breezed into opthamology and they were seen almost instantly which was kind of amazing.  I then got into issues when the nurse started to ask questions about Rajeth that I could not answer.  Luckily Navamando (the Head Nurse from the outreach program) came by and bailed us out of that one.  Then we took Issac to the head of Opthamology to get looked at.  They were really nice.  I really loved the attitude and demeanor of Issac.  He was so very happy-go-lucky.  It made me smile, because every two to three minutes he would look over to us and smile.  Most of the patients from the colonies don't speak English, so we act out a lot.  He has at this point in his illness lost most of his fingers, and a fair number of toes.  He struggles to get around, but does so with a really light conscience.  He really inspired me, and made me think, about how I carry myself.  I think there is definitely some improvement there.  After the doctor's visit we waited for the rest of the group, they took a fair amount of time to get back.  So I let the boys from the outreach play with the tablet, they really loved it.  They got it taken away if one of them cursed when they died or fought over it.  After the hospital we went to St. Thomas' Mount.  It was supposedly where St. Thomas was stoned to death.  It had amazing views of the city.  I had to pay 10 Rupees, so I made the most of it.  The pics are in the slide show, I am going to inflict the 10 Rupees on all that are reading the blog.  They had a Mother Teressa Statue there, I am not too sure if she ever visited the spot, but after having been here and served here, I can say I have huge respect for her.  After that we stopped by Dominoes for some pizza, it was OK.  They did have on the menu for a pizza called the Boloroni pizza, which is a pizza and pasta bake in one.  So it is crust, noodles with sauce, cheese, and toppings.  It was rather nasty sounding, we definitely did not get it, but it apparently the favorite of the outreach kids.  We then returned to the outreach and went out for playtime and then prayer time.  Both were great.  Prayertime I taught them some Russian.  Which was fun.
I don't think that I can properly put into words the feelings that I have here.  The closeness with the Savior and the love I have for the people here.  I love this experience, makes me think that I definitely need to find more outlets for service, within and without the walls of my home, to give more freely with all that I do.  I know that this experience will bring me closer to my Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rising Star Outreach -- Day 3

Ok, so there are few pics from today, but incredible memories.  we went to the colonies today.  We went to Calvary Colony, about an hour from the outreach.  We pulled up to the church that we were doing the clinic in.  The church has all of the windows broken out, it was very plain.  The medical staff pulled up and were so efficient to get the van unloaded.  They had a fully operational leperacy treatment center in about 5 minutes.  My assignment was to wash the feet for the afflicted patients.  These are patients that have sores on their legs from the leperacy.  Many don't have much of their feet remaining.  The first patient came in, and was handed his file.  (They keep very good records of their patients.  I am amazed at how well they are taken care of by the outreach.) The patient did not have fingers left, the leperacy had taken them, so he held his file between his hands.  He was first in line, I don't know how long he was standing there waiting,  but he waited so patiently, he came in ran through the whole testing with a huge smile.  He came to the washing station.  He had his bandages cut off, then he was washed.  I did not wash him, but watched as he patiently sat there having his little nub of a foot cleaned.  He could not walk without a special shoe he has to wear, but proudly he sat on the floor and scooted to the next station to be rebandaged and get more medicine.  It was people like him that made this day so amazing.  I was sad that there were only about 15 patients out of 60 that showed up, I hope that it means that the other are doing well.  I washed about 6 or 7, Carl my trusty assistant provided the towels and helped with the process.  Each patient was in different stages, but all were reasonably affected.  There is something amazing about washing the feet of the afflicted.  When we were finished, with the same efficiency they packed up the van.  After that we went to a bird sanctuary to watch some birds.  It was interesting, there were monkeys.  Love the monkeys!  Then we came home, back to the outreach.  We took a break to teach the younger volunteers magic, which they are digging on right now.  Then we ran off to play time with the kids.  Again, like yesterday it was really awesome.  "Uncle" do this, "Uncle do this" we ran all over.  I am sore all over from throwing kids.  It was really fun.  Then off to prayer time.  Tonight was much better than last night.  We sang "I know that my redeemer lives" and then talked about being thankful.  It was really neat.  I was truly thankful for this experience here.  It is so amazing.  Tomorrow we are taking some kids and patients to Chennai for check ups.  I will track down the official pictures from today.  We are loving it here.  Carl is already freaking out about leaving.  I don't think he would ever leave.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rising Star Outreach -- Day 2

So today was the first day at the outreach.  We woke up early this morning, a little earlier that we were supposed to since I misset the alarm.  That was no fun.  They picked us up and off we went in a car without A/C for a two hour ride. (and shhhh, don't tell April, but there were no seat belts inside the car, that was a little freaky!) We finally reached the outreach and went and setup our rooms.  They are rather decent accommodation   There is even A/C in the rooms, when there is power which seems rather spotty right now.  We have to quickly unplug electronics as soon as the power goes out since it will spike when it comes on.  After a quick orientation, it was time to meet the kids.  That was really neat.  We first went to play with the UKG, the young kids.  After a few minutes of staring at the kids we jumped in and started to play with them.  They all come running up to us and grab our hands and run off with us to play a game or swing them or something.  They were a riot, they had a blast and we had a blast.  From playing tag, to swinging them, to going down the slides with them.  We were roasting, sweating, but that really did not matter cause we were truly loving these kids.  Then we took a little break, and then to play time with the entire school.  That was really neat.  Some thing as the UKG group.  They all came running up to us wanting to play something with them.  One of the kids picked up a top to a tin, like the  type of tin the Danish cookies come in, and we played frisbee with it for a very long time.  What impressed me most was that kids of all ages wanted to play and they were totally allowed to.  When one would walk up and want to participate, they would automatically allow them in to play.  No pushing them away or telling them that they could not participate.  It was 100% genuine and lovely.  This is the way it is here.  The kids all work together and get things done together.  It is really amazing.  After play time, they broke us into groups and we went to one section of kids for prayer time.  There were 20 kids in 4 houses for the boys, we can only go into the boys house.  We walked in and they were singing a Tamil song, that went on for some time.  Then we knelt in prayer with the kids.  I had the opportunity to do the opening prayer.  What a neat expirience, on a cement floor, in the middle of India, with truly humble surroundings to kneel in quite prayer to our Heavenly Father, there was a special spirit there.  Then we sang "I'm bringing home my baby bumble bee" with the kids, including an extended version that included puking up the bee and then sweeping it up, new to me, but OK :).  Then we shared with them about us.  Carl gave a story about the tiger's whisker.  Then We talked to them about respect.  Then we went around the room and each kid, if they were younger gave us their favorite animal, if they were older what they wanted to become.  In their eyes, they knew that they could become anything.  This was so neat.  This outreach provides them with more then they could ever get.  It is an amazing blessing for them and their families.  We then finished the night on top of the hostel house for dinner where we gave out highs and lows.  My low: setting the alarm for the wrong time.  My high: playing with the kids, particularly frisbee, because they were so giving of their all to others.  A trait I really need to learn in my path of Christ-like living.  

From Little Carl's thoughts:
It is a neat experience.  I watched as children with nothing played and laughed.  Sweat dripping of of my brow went almost uncontested as I played with the kids, seeing that they knew that it is what is inside that counts.  Not one unkind word was spoken in the course of the entire recess.  And the children love God with all their tiny hearts.  I know that they will be counted as the children of him.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rising Star Outreach Trip - Day 1

So the adventure began.  Last night Carl and I hopped on a plane bound for India.  We knew it was going to be an adventure, what awaits us, is so exciting.  We got to the airport got checked in, at the Abu Dhabi Airport.  So the pecking order for flights in Abu Dhabi is Etihad (the Abu Dhabi owned airlines) flights that are bound for western countries are out of the nice new terminal, Terminal 3.  Then western airlines fly out of the older, but still nice.  Then the India bound flights are out of the ground floor of Terminal 1.  Think of an airport circa 1975!  When we got down there, we were the only white guys in the entire building.  People kept asking where we were going, and then looked at us as if we were in the wrong area.  After the plane boarded,  the flight attendant announced that they were going to pass through the cabin with a "non-toxic" bug spray.  And sure enough the stewardess comes walking down the aisle with a can in both hands, blasting a fogger spray.  The aerosol spray got crud in my mouth it was really awful.  Throughout the flight the little girl behind me went after my chair like she was a kung fu star, and my chair was its sparring dummy.  So no sleep on that flight.  We landed in Chennai, India at 0400 in the morning.  It took over an hour to get our bags, I started to panic that we were going to be without bags for awhile.  Luckily the hotel was there to fetch us from the airport.  Carl explained to me that he could not sleep on the plane since he can't sleep on things that are motorized.  I laughed and said that you did not sleep since he was playing games and watching shows.  He was aghast that I would suggest such a thing, but he was out within two turns.  That is saying something too, since we were on Indian roads.  
When we woke up we booked a car from the hotel to take us around the city for a tour.  First we went to St. Thomas church.  There are 3 churches in the world that are said to be built on top of the remains of the Christ's apostles tombs.  This is one of them.  So we went and saw that, which was interesting.  Then off to the world's or India's largest beach, I did not understand it, and it was dirty and not that nice.  Then we went to a Shiva temple.  They were having a festival so there were people everywhere.  It was rather interesting.  We were not able to go in since there were so many people.  Hopefully on the return trip we will be able to stop there.  Then we did some shopping in random places around the city.  We found some really nice silk things for the girls and a couple of other treasures that we will be adorning the house with.  I am amazed by India, the vastness and the sea of people.  My heart goes out to the poverty state of some of the people here.  I saw a mom sleeping on the street with 3 naked kids around her.  My heart broke for her plight.  
I am so happy to be here with my boy, for an opportunity to serve those who cannot do for themselves.  I hope and pray for the spririt of the Lord to be with us for the next week.  Thanks to all who are supporting from home. 
Tomorrow we are going to be meet up with the Rising Star Outreach group and off to the colonies, the real service begins tomorrow.  For now, it is sleepy time, cause tomorrow is going to be a long day.