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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How Do You Handle It When...?

As a little window into our life here, the day-to-day life that is often hard to communicate, uninteresting and unglamorous, we thought we’d share the questions we asked ourselves (according to our journal from 2010) prior to coming to India, and then share with you the questions we now only wish we had known to ask in order to properly evaluate and prepare for what was to come:

Sean & Paige’s India Questions 2010:

  1. What will be our responsibilities & expectations for this program?
  2. How will our individual giftings be best used?
  3. How often should we come home?  How much fundraising do we need to do?
  4. Do we have the commitment to stick with it when things are difficult and rough in an unfamiliar part of the world?
  5. Can I be productive and efficient in a very open and unstructured environment where we are in charge of our own program?
  6. What will our friendships and community look like there?
  7. What length of commitment will be needed or best?
  8. Do I have any romantic images about what this might be like?  Anything that needs to be called out before reality hits us?
  9. Will we be able to enjoy the food?  What will our living space look like?
  10. What will be the effect of this developing world environment on our marriage relationship? 

Not bad questions at all, but since hindsight is indeed 20/20, we now know the questions we should have asked ourselves, and what we would encourage others to consider prior to committing to this type of service in the developing world:

  1. How do you handle it when everything around you happens an hour or two after you had planned it?
  2. How do you handle it when someone tells you they will be there or the job is done and neither is true?
  3. How do you handle it when you’re facing a deadline and the power goes out?
  4. How do you handle it when that power comes back on, but the internet then goes out?
  5. How do you handle it when you are told something, but only because that’s what they thought you wanted to hear, not because what you were told is anything reflecting reality?
  6. How do you handle it when you’ve made Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, but it’s plan D or no plan at all that transpires?
  7. How do you handle the inefficiency and perceived waste of time and money when trying to accomplish something that faces avoidable setback after avoidable setback?
  8. How do you handle it when the gods are seemingly against you?  Answer this one carefully.
  9. How do you handle it when all these things happen in 110-degree temps, sometimes without fans or air conditioning?

Coming in with expectations, standards and pre-conceived notions of how everything should be or run is the first of so many pitfalls for us Westerners when coming to parts of the world (I don’t think any of this is unique solely to India) that aren’t grounded or built on the same foundations as we are used to.  So when you arrive, it’s a constant give and take that ultimately demands patience more than anything. 

“Are you patient?” is the first and last question you should honestly address when considering a season of life in the developing world – this will make all the difference in your experience and others’ experience with you.

(Even as I finish typing this, while the power and internet is out – mind you, my wife is in the midst of making umpteen phone calls all over the state to follow up for the umpteenth time about tasks that should have been completed months ago…)

Love is patient - there’s a reason Paul listed this first in his descriptions of love in 1 Corinthians 13…

Pictures Above:
1.  Paige walking along a beautiful Bay of Bengal beach earlier this year.
2.  Ever wonder why Indian food is so spicy?  Well, these piles of chilies are all over the land...
3.  Our newest addition to our NTR Colony home, Khartik, the youngest CCH member we have so far in all of our homes.