Welcome to India

This blog is intended to make a country that most Westerners find to be otherworldly not so much so. We enjoy sharing our experiences, noting our observations, highlighting our impressions and otherwise recounting our adventures in India while helping our blogwatchers to be vicariously closer to this grand country. Welcome to India.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The "M" Word

My personal, little identity crisis began as soon as Paige and I committed to come to India last July.

Once you commit, and once you begin to rally partners for the cause, you have to describe what you are going to do, where you’re going to do it, why, and that brings me to the hardest part: who I am going to be because of it.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Who I am, what I’m made of, etc. is not going to change because I live on the other side of the world, but inevitably the “M” word enters the conversation. Okay, yeah, I guess, in some ways, maybe, okay, yeah, probably, um, a missionary.

I respect, admire, appreciate, am thankful for and hold dear so many missionaries I have known in the past and present. I just never thought I’d be one myself, and still don’t really see myself as one. I’m just someone who, ultimately motivated by their faith, moved across the world to help give some overlooked kids a chance, and needed some financial help from his surrounding community in order to do it because this just isn’t a lucrative business.

Not a missionary.

Okay, yeah, I guess, in some ways, maybe, okay, yeah, probably, um, a missionary.

It’s just got a certain perception that goes with it:

Nice, needy, skinny, poorly dressed, poor in general, a little weird, socially awkward, sorta different, not in touch with everyday life, have to eat horrible, strange food every day, kids go to “international” schools, they “appreciate” and “respect” totally backwards cultures and even take on some of those characteristics, we have a picture of them on our refrigerator, always ready with a slideshow – usually pictures surrounded by a bunch of non-white kids in a village with dust, animals and straw-roofed huts, sharing the “good news” at best, at worst promoting cultural imperialism…and they live somewhere no one else would ever want to.

Well, as a whole, yes and no. Indulge me as I unpack each of these:

  1. Nice: Um, try not to be, but occasionally have moments of weakness.
  1. Needy: Emotionally sometimes (like on Easter away from home). Financially? Yeah, every little bit helps!
  1. Skinny: Well, not so far. The term “rice belly” comes to mind (for me, not my wife, of course).
  1. Poorly dressed: This was more a pre-married phenomenon than a “missionary” phenomenon.
  1. Poor in general: After three months in rural India, one thing’s for sure. We are NOT poor.

  1. A little weird: Probably. We did just move to India.
  1. Socially awkward: Nope, only in 6th grade.
  1. Sorta different: Hopefully in a good way…
  1. Not in touch with everyday life: One word – “internet.”
  1. Have to eat horrible, strange food every day: My mouth waters every time I think of my next meal (see #3 above).
  1. Kids go to “international” schools: N/A, and hopefully stays that way for a little while longer!
  1. They “appreciate” and “respect” totally backwards cultures and even take on some of those characteristics: Yes. And only the parts that give us a healthier overall view of the world.
  1. We have a picture of them on our refrigerator: Yeah, this one was tough for me to overcome and send out, I’ll admit it.
  1. Always ready with a slideshow – usually pictures surrounded by a bunch of non-white kids in a village with dust, animals and straw-roofed huts: Simply not true - some roofs have palm branches! (and our slideshows are iMovie spectacular!)
  1. Sharing the “good news” at best: When we can, but it preceded us to India by about 2000 years.
  1. At worst promoting cultural imperialism: Nope, working with a marvelously indigenous organization bringing hope to tens of thousands who are otherwise without any.
  1. …and they live somewhere no one else would ever want to: Yeah, guilty as charged, but you can always come for a visit!

The most significant way that I still just don’t feel like a missionary is because the one resounding characteristic of a missionary has always been “they are far away, never to be heard from again for many years.”

Um, you just finished reading our blog that we just wrote Monday morning.

And you see our status updates every day.

And we just got off of webcam Skyping with you.

And we watched the same TV show yesterday.

And, with the internet, we’re all officially in the same world, and around the corner from each other.

For better or worse.

In this case, for better. Thanks for reading and thanks for your support of us…okay, yeah, I guess, in some ways, maybe, okay, yeah, probably, um, missionaries.

Monday, April 18, 2011


They happen every year no matter where in the world you are. You also turn another year older no matter where you are, and if you are in India you get older sooner than if you were in America! Twelve-and-a-half hours sooner!

Thanks to someone special, we were able to get away for 2 nights to a hotel in a city about 2 hours away. So, we boarded a train the on the 12th, didn't leave until the 14th, and spent the whole birthday day in fun hotel mode!!

This year Sean turned 38 India style:

Buffet breakfast

Talking on Skype to many friends and family

Having coffee at Coffee Day (not anything like Starbucks)

Swimming in the rooftop pool
(the only one we know of within 3 hours of where we live)

Dinner reservations made by the hotel manager

A cake delivered

Feeding cake is not only a wedding thing (which we didn't do at ours) - birthday's in India too!!

The perfect sunset

I am so blessed to be married to such an amazing man! God knew exactly what He was doing when He put us together! With each year we celebrate together, our love grows and we grow! There is no one else I would want to be on life's journey with!! I love you, Sean!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tour d'Andhra Top 10 - Video Included

In anticipation of and preparation for the opening of our new children’s homes in May, we recently made the trek throughout the state of Andhra Pradesh, visiting seven different districts (similar to counties in the States), 11 church home buildings with pastors/soon-to-be-fathers-again and covering 2,100 kilometers over six days.

Since everyone loves a good Top 10 list, we thought this the perfect occasion to give you our own: The Top 10 Tour d’Andhra Observations and Experiences (both memorable and not-so-memorable).

10. Driving to the church in our first village, then being told we need to go back to the outskirts of the village to receive our garland and be properly paraded into town, drumbeat, escort ‘n all! We thought, “Is this gonna happen in every village we go to?” Fortunately, it did not.

9. Two words: “Village” & “Curry”. Yum.

8. Two more words: “Pot” & “Hole.” Thousands, maybe millions, of them…

7. During our trip, India won the semi-final over arch-nuclear rival Pakistan and then the final over Sri Lanka of the World Cup of Cricket – first time since 1983 in the quadrennial tournament – and it was fun to witness all of India go berserk over finally triumphing once again in their national sport.

6. Andhra Pradesh has a strong agricultural economy. We saw fields, fields and never-ending fields worth of tobacco, sunflowers and red chili peppers (which we assume were very “hot”), which made for quite the colorful combination.

5. Aside from a one night/two day trip from Seattle to LA and an overnight trip to Monterey last summer, this is our very first legitimate road trip together ever. Apparently, we prefer planes…

4. Wildlife spotted: herds of buffalo, herds of goats, herds of cows and herds of ducks. Yeah, you read that correctly, ducks were being herded! Cutest thing ever!

3. What we failed to consider in our trip planning was the hospitality factor: Indians want to serve you their best village food – breads, curries, spices, fruit, chicken and more – so on a busy day when we scheduled a village at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 4pm, well…let’s just say we didn’t need any dinner at 6pm!

2. We were in some seriously rural parts of southeast India, places that would NEVER have cell phone coverage in the States, but curiously we were never without coverage in India…

1. And the number one observation/experience of our Tour d’Andhra was that when we came back to our apartment in Ongole, it felt like we were home. Something we have hoped it would feel like one day.

**double click the video to watch in another browser.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day-to-Day Life in India: The Office

A 3-minute video vignette on a daily experience of ours here in India - low budget filming and no budget editing.