It is kind of funny (if it were not so true, I am sure it would be funnier). I was told that there would be a couple of phrases that would be used often in India ... and some might even stick around upon my return. One phrase that I am thinking about more often than others is: "o.i.i." The essence of this phrase is "only in India" does this happen.

So o.i.i. - Last week a monkey discovered the painful outcome of jumping onto a power line. The only reason we had any idea what was happening is that our power went out (which is not an event in itself) and then there were sparks just outside the office door. The monkey (again not an uncommon sight) fried itself. It burned itself pretty good, apparent by the smell, but was okay enough to scamper away when we came running to have a look. o.i.i.

We (the interns) were again prayed over and commissioned (for the third time) after completing our final week of orientation - one in CO, one in India. I started "real" work yesterday. Tuesday afternoon I was asked to do research for the project trip to Pune, near Mumbai. We will be in Mumbai playing tourist for one day with the volunteer team, while we have the first team meeting (we will also meet back in Mumbai on the last day before the volunteers fly out). So I was looking at what things might be good to do/see. Many parts look like what you might find in a very developed Europian city, and then many parts resemble what little I know about traditional Indian bazaar type places. It should be a good trip (in March).

Yesterday, while working on a project that we are working on getting out next week, the power went out at its scheduled time ... infact, somebody noted it went out one minute early at 11:59am (typcially this winter we have no power from noon to 3pm - except via generator). That is one more o.i.i. And it almost snowed yesterday afternoon - a light dusting, but not enough to cover. The temperature is quite below the freezing point. There is just not enough moisture to freeze. Which is why I guess our water pipes are a favorite. Oh well.


scanvenger hunt

Yesterday afternoon we ventured out (and down) to the bazaars in Mussoorie. The goal was to gain familiarity with the city and try out the few Hindi words that we have learned thus far. Us two new interns were spilt and paired with the two returning interns. So for three hours we ventured out and down and around the mountain taking pictures and speaking with people. I have discovered two primary things: 1) Even if I learn how to ask a question in Hindi, it does not mean that I can understand the answer ... especially since in this eastern culture, relationship is valued (meaning they want to talk and know you); 2) I have not yet developed mountain lungs ... for on the way back up the mountain, in the cold since the sun was setting, my lungs decided that a deep breath was not on their agenda - at 8,000+ feet (opposed to San Antonio's 850 ft.), I literally could not take a breath.

There is something else I must ask/speak. This winter is apparently a bad one for northern India. Yesterday I learned that at least 58 people have died in the plains from the cold. This is particularly heavy since there is at least one more month of winter here. Those that are impoverished have no home, no shoes, or no cloak. It is so cold that we have actually run out of water because our pipes have been frozen for several days. We were previously using the water from the rain collection tanks (I was told that it rained last week). So we are out of water. But we have means to buy bottled water, the truly poor of India have no resources.

This was actually good for me to here. I had become so self-focused on how cold I am, that I am appreciative that God stepped in to give me a lesson: "Look, you are all right, yes slightly inconvinced, but all right. You have blankets, a coat, the ability to wear five layers, and have wood to burn for heat. There are many that have not. And my heart weeps for them." Thank you Lord.


picture problem

Okay, so pictures will have to come later. The internet connection in the office is not good enough to handle pictures. Sorry guys. I have some good ones to. So this will have to wait until I go down to a nearby internet cafe. For now, just trust me that we have a great view.

how I found myself in India

We (Ryan and I) arrived in Delhi just over a day ago. Since we landed at night, it was 10pm ish and dark when we made it through customs - and all of our bags made the complete trip as well! Two other guys met us at the airport - Ryan K. (staff) and David (from Oxford; one intern that stayed over for another semester). We jumped in a taxi and drove quite a distance to our hotel for the night. I did not sleep more than a couple of hours and was wide awake before 4am Delhi time (4:30 pm central time). We left the hotel at 6am, and walked about 10 minutes to the train so that we could depart by 6:50am. It was a 5 1/2 hour train ride from Delhi to Dehradun. Both Ryan and I managed not to fall asleep the whole train ride so that we could have a quicker adjustment to the time difference. Because of a film over the windows in the train (sadness, since we couldn't gaze at what we were passing), Dehradun was the first time we could see India in daylight. This is where I pause in my story: Wow. Overriding thought: They must have a system for driving. It may not appear that way since the lines on the street (when there happened to be lines) are quiet suggestions. But there are few accidents or hit pedestrians. And do not worry Danna, I do not (yet) have the guts to navigate the streets here on a motorcycle. I do not know the system, so I would either wet my pants in anxiety or screw up the system and hurt somebody (or both).

In Dehradun, we had lunch and taxied our way up mountain. I really need much more practice eating with my right hand, since it is culturally inappropriate to eat with the left (silverware is not really used). Though I have seen scary switchbacks before in the mountains of Guatemala, this ride up was long and tight fitting on the road. At least we had concrete barriers before you fall off the mountain and paved roads. It is funny though, the same honking system is implemented here as in Guatemala - to announce your presence, though not just before you get to blind 180 degree turns but also in the cities in traffic. Once you get past the idea that it is annoying that car horns can be heard at all times, it is actually quite humorous. We got to the top of one peaks here where the office is about 3pm yesterday. The two remaining interns (Ryan R. and David), us two new interns (me and Ryan "Quinn") and Gretchen (staff) took a walk around one of the loops. What a great view! We have not had much opportunity for interaction with anybody else yet. We had dinner a bit later (boiled cabbage and lintels with an Indian flat bread - "poor man's dinner") and continued chatting. After everybody (all of the guys and married peoples) left for their respective homes, Gretchen and I stayed up talking until 9pm ish. I unpacked a bit. After being scared about freezing during the night, Gretchen helped me prepare to buckle down. Under five dense, woven blankets (plus the extremely warm travel blanket that April gave me) I slept in one of those mummy sleeping bags with leggings, pants, undershirt, long-sleeve shirt, shirt, sweatshirt, scarf, coat, beanie, gloves, and two pairs of socks. By two this morning, I was hot (shock, I know, I do not use that word much). So here I am. Sitting in the office (all I had to do was walk through one door) at the desk that I now will refer to affectionately as mine waiting for the sun to rise over the Himalayas. So good morning to all!


t minus ...

There is one day left in Colorado Springs. We fly to Newark from Denver on Sunday to arrive in Delhi on Monday night (India time). We will hang in a hotel for the night so that we can catch a train before 7am Tuesday. And thus begins the next phase.

Yesterday, we took a little time off to go hiking at a state park north of CO Springs. It was pretty cool ... in fact, rather cold. We had our last talk today - about poverty, since we will all be faced with it. To reinforce the discussion, we all headed over to the soup kitchen downtown to serve. I imagine that we served a couple of hundred people lunch. It also started to snow pretty good this afternoon/evening. After dinner we gathered together for the last time as an entire intern group to worship and pray for/with each other. That was an amazing time, just praying for each other. And now, it is almost midnight here (mountain time), and tomorrow we leave the retreat center. So, until India in a couple of days, so long.


half orientated

Orientation here in Colorado is nearly to the half-way point. I have initiated a morning hike outside to observe the sunrise each morning. Before most people are moving around, I am tromping through the snow and just marveling at God's creation. This is a great way for me to have personal time for contemplation and the like - which is essential for me to function. This morning I walked to the edge of the property and ran across a seemingly intentional sign of placed trees - crossed, and a partially buried orange cone. I thought about why someone did this, took a picture, then made my way right through it. Oh well.

Our days are packed from 7am to 11:30 or midnight, consistently. Lots of discussions covering cultural awareness, history and purpose for missions, general expectations of interns, and our calling. Today we went to a climbing gym for team building and fun. It is difficult to climb "blind" with someone on the ground guiding your hand and foot holds. Tonight, we just finished a personality survey - one: so that we can learn to work effectively with co-workers, but also culturally what is traditionally more apparent or valued. Apparently I am a perfectionist; who knew?
We are scheduled to get a few inches of snow early Wednesday morning with wind chill in the negatives (is this humane?). I am making lots of new friends in just this short amount of time, which is always a plus. I have a feeling what this thing that I can feel God is preparing me for - not specifically, but life attitude, is about especially after our last talk tonight about calling. This just might turn my scheduled life up-side-down for a while. I just might not have things all figured out, but, strangely, I am glad for that. We will see. In the meantime, India is straight ahead.



Today began as a partially early morning. My flight to Colorado Springs (via Houston) departed at 8am. At Houston, I almost met Ryan, the other new India intern (from Austin) who, by pure coincidence, booked the same Houston to CO Springs flight. I thought that it might be him sitting directly across from me at the gate and our eyes kept meeting, but I am not the type to go up to a stranger and ask, "Hey, are you perhaps named Ryan?" Later, after we got off the plane in CO, Ryan said that he followed me onto the plane to try and get a glimpse of my name tag on my carry-on bag. While in CO, and before we needed to be at the meeting location (all new interns from all world offices are here together), I decided that I might as well invest in an actual coat. Being from San Antonio with our two weeks of "winter", I have never owned a real coat that will hold merit in a mountain climate ... oh say like the Rocky Mountains, or better yet the Himalayas. So Ryan, another girl going to Costa Rica who picked us up at the airport, and I went to buy me a coat. Then we walked around a shopping area for an hour and a half to kill time. There is snow on the ground - not much though, but enough to allow my feet to play a bit.

Anyway, we are now at a retreat center just outside of CO Springs called the Hideaway. There are 15 interns right now with two more to come soon, and about 4-6 staff that will be giving talks about EMI and its (our) role globally, their testimonies, cultural issues we will face, the role of the church universal, and even a bit of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. On Thursday we will give our testimony to the group.

But for now, there is much praying and spiritual and mental preparation to do. I have a new thing - thought, feeling, whatever - that I am not sure I can pinpoint yet. I am not anxious or worried or at all fearful ... but there is an unsettling in me. God is preparing something - something big. I know this. In conversation with some interns who have gone to India previously, one guy said that he came back "ruined". Ruined in the sense that he can no longer see with the same eyes he had before. Another guy corrected him with: "not ruined but fixed", made right. When you see with God's eyes using your heart, change is a must. I suppose the question then becomes: what is our response? I am in great anticipation for how I am going to see God working through great poverty, great hardships, great injustice, but maybe most importantly (at least for now) the vastness of the blind eye, our ability to be consciencely unaware even when it is Indians among fellow Indians.

There is much going through my mind right now - and it is only day one! A parting thought: "Go there - and do there - what you do here."


class m

I am now a licensed motorcyclist! I went to DPS on Thursday morning to take the written test (perfect score, by the way). Wednesday (the last day of motorcycle class) we did our driving test at the end of the day. The only part that I have discovered that I cannot do well right now is figure eight u-turns ... slowly and within a 20ft box. But whatever.
During those two days, I was riding on Betty, a beautiful blue Suzuki. She was very good to me. And I, in turn, never dropped her.
Anyway, so I am all packed. Passport and visa in hand. I leave in just over a day. And now I have seen "The Lord of the Rings" for the first time - yea for movie marathon with my sister. So ... just hanging out in Austin with Kelli. And what a gorgeous winter week it has been (man, I love Texas with 70 degree days in January); go outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun.


one step closer to biker-chick

Today was day one of motorcycle school. Wow. Okay first thought: when getting back to driving a car from a motorcycle, you feel like you are not doing enough - "Why am I not using both feet and hands? Why am I just sitting here?" But we all had so much fun. I wish I had my camera with me ... tomorrow, though, tomorrow I will get someone to snap a few of me riding around.

I have been known in the past to get frustrated with myself for failures and inadequacies that do not meet up with expectations. Today was no exception. Our riding coach commented that I look cute when I get upset. And something about do not expect to be perfect. "For goodness sake you have only been riding for three hours and before that you haven't even driven standard before. Have a bit of patience." I am not a fan of the clutch right now (f.y.i. -left hand lever). But by the end of our five hours of riding, we are now able (me - not so gracefully) to slow before a turn, shift down to second gear (which requires left hand, right hand, right foot, and then left foot), open the throttle (right hand) through the turn, shift gears back up to third at the apex of the curve, and pull out of the curve continuing to accelerate ... and continue with this loop several more times. At the very end we practiced how to brake fast (and safely) which is about speeding down and then as quickly as possible put the bike to stop using all hands and feet without dropping the bike or flipping over it. Praise God that nobody was injured. I think my head hurts. That is so much to have work through your mind. I suppose, though, that when first learning to drive a car, similar fears and mental use was needed. All this is to say that I cannot wait to get a bike!


untraditional exercise

I am currently sitting with my laptop sitting directly on my lap absorbing as much of its heat as possible (mmm...warmth) and doing what must look to onlookers as very odd calisthenics as I raise and lower my arm over my head. So without context, I am weird. With context, I am weird but with a purpose. A few hours ago I received my final immunization - Typhoid, and my arm is now quite sore. Before that I made a mad dash to the post office to finally (hopefully ... address disagreements first time through) mail off my visa for India, which also means that I no longer have a passport in my possession. And before that, I headed north to UTSA to trade my parking pass for probated cash back ... and stood in line. And even before that I stood in another line to renew my truck's registration and get new tags. I have a feeling that I checked another thing off my growing list of to-do-before-no-longer-can-do. I also took time to rest in the cool sunlight outside while reading and play with a precious dog that I am dog-sitting this week. Bueno. All in all, a productive day.