Today is my last day in India. I almost feel pressured to leave because of responsibilities and committments made back at home. I understand the nature of the world in which I live in that is full of those and it makes me long for some stability. A stability that involves relationships that will not only last beyond the absence of people but one without absence itself. But I know that there is a greater day for that. And I hope for that.

I had a great time here and so challenges that I faced this visit that I hadn’t in my two previous visits. So I anticipate thinking through those things and learning from them. I suppose life, as I grow older is full of lessons and are all good blessings. It’s pretty humbling to think that I am constantly being given good gifts in that regard so abundantly and yet take so ling to learn them.

India isn’t exclusive to a place in which I am taught the lessons I need to learn. Neither is the dorm. Or America for that matter. I don’t know if I will do long term or longer term in India. I just know that I have one more day left here. And if God wills I have one more year left at Masters as an RD. I want to take each step at time in both, come differnt experiences with different and new people. One day left in India to make the most of it. One more year as an RD to make the most of it. With a new guy RD staff it will not be like anything familiar to me. I won’t have Dave or Jeff to lean on as I have in the past. In this trip I didn’t have a “team” per se but there were other people (so thankful Gunner & others like Eric, Nate, Mike, PMI staff, the Malakars, Megan, Heather, Jai, etc. And it was great! This coming year there are new people on staff and it will be great. If in the future God decides to put no one around I know that too will be great.

My time here had way less “touring” around and was more localized, stationed. It was around PMI, the slums, the workers, the people, the people, thr people etc. Had I not understood that before? Or is it still something I need to continue to keep in mind? And heart?

Like everywhere else I’ve had to leave or have been and where people have had to leave or chose to leave but learning that it’s about them and not just me. Maybe my depth of my understanding of people’s needs is more shallow than I think. Ironic. Shallow understanding can be deeper no matter how much I think through it. I suppose depth doesn’t come from how much you know and not just what you know what you know about people and what you’re doing with that, one person at a time as time permits.

I’m sad to leave India. But I’m excited for this last day to make the most of it.

RETREAT & KASHMIR

July 15, 2009

Well, tomorrow is the CBC annual retreat.  They are not retreating anywhere this year so the “retreat” is actually in the RC (resource center).  

Gunner’s been preparing very faithfully.  I’m always excited to listen to Gunner.  He’s probably one of the best communicators of anything that I know.  He is so gifted and insightful.  I enjoy working with him, and have been the last 5 years but I really do love him.  He’s an honest friend and I am soooo thankful to God I get to work with him again at Master’s.  

The retreat’s theme this year is on (what the “book”) has to say about relationships.  I’m really excited about that personally 🙂  I am also excited about doing music with the CBC band.  Our first session begins at 4pm and will include, speaking (from Gunner), discussion groups and such.  I was asked to lead a discussion group and quite honestly its humbling, but because Gunner already have the questions prepared for us, I don’t feel as insecure – ha!  

It’ll be a busy day for sure.  Friday we have 3 sessions, and then 1 session on Saturday and we end with a picnic at the park – isn’t that so fun?!  I think so!  Speaking of outside, it hasn’t been as intensely hot as it was last summer.  But the humidity is definitely out to strangle – however, today was such a nice day here in Delhi.  I didn’t even sweat walking from where I stay to the Malakars, which is 3 min walk.  And normally I’m just dripping with sweat…yuck!  

Anyway, you can definitely keep us in “mind”.  We’re anticipating this to be a really good time.  

On a side note: tonight was Chat Over Coffee and I met a guy who will remain nameless at this time for his protection, and I’ll save talking about him in another post.  But it has been one of the most powerful stories I have heard in a long time.  Not because it was dramatic, or anything that I think can be looked at as less than because it IS powerful, but because his joy were in his words, and his words were full of life and he reference the “book” several times.  He just had a light in his eyes that I just haven’t seen in a long time, even in myself.  It was like God sent him to me to rekindle me.  Even through his thick Kashmir (north of India) accent, it was such a short, sweet time of revival for me.  I’ll post more about that time later.  

Another side note:  I didn’t get to sing tonight because there were so many good conversations going on and because it was getting late.  So, we decided to save it for Focal Point on Sunday, right before Gunner and I head to the airport.  

Anyway, Gunner, Mike and I had dinner with the Malakars tonight.  We ordered in Chinese food – sooooo good!  And we talked about possible long/short term stuff.  It was helpful, but challenging at the same time.  I need to make some decisions soon about my future.  I’m glad someone else knows more about that than I do.  

K, gotta go!

DAY 4 & 5 of WEEK 2

July 13, 2009

Sunday was a good day. I think becuase it was full and long. That doesn’t mean none of the other days weren’t good. They were just different.

It began with an 11am rehearsal with the GBC band. We rehearsed for the retreat (without the drummer, he slept in),had break from 1-2pm, then rehearsed from 2pm-4pm for the serivce at 4pm. For some of you who don’t know, rehearsals can be very exhausting though fun, creative etc.

After the main meeting we had Focal Point. Eric lead that time and we had to re-locate becuase the power went out long enough for us to walk outside near the small park just 10 feet away.

After that we went back inside the resource center and by then the power wad back on. We celebrated Peter’s birthday with some cake and refreshments. I don’t normally like cake but it was actually really good.

After a long night of conversation with some people the random group from America took the metro to Papa John’s and had dinner (mike led the way). It was good and then we caught auto rickshaws back because the metro stations were closed. Ha! It was fun!

Today was a rest day for PMI. So the Malakars lock down and just rest. They need it. And I’m glad they do that for themselves. Sundays and the rest of the week is long for them.

I went with Gunner, Eric, Mike, Nate & Todd down to Chadni Chowk. We toured some temples & a the biggest Mosque in India. It was fun. I had visited these places last year but was fun to do so with these guys.

At the end of the afternoon Gunner an I took the metro back home which was fun because we kind of missed our stop, rerouted and boltted out of a train when we realized we were on the wrong one. We were laughing so hard because we had no idea where we were. We found our way thankfully.

Now we’ve been resting ourselves. We’re gonna go to the Cafe Coffee Day so he can do some study for the retreat this weekend and I’m gonna do some reading and final prep for music for the retreat.

In short, last night we had a “book” study with the CBC people at the Malakars.  It was a good time of prayer and study.  This morning we woke up and went on a slum visit to Nandlal – just about 7-10 min ride up the way.  

I guess I don’t really know what to write about (I’m referring to the slum visit).  It was my first visit this time to India.  We visited the slums in Varanasi last year but I’m not too sure what to say about my visit this time around.  What do I say y’know?  What would you say?  I guess it just becomes or it can, become very trivial if I let it and the fact that its becoming more and more familiar to me and not “shocking” me and that’s alarming to me.  

I’m sad for their conditions but why?  Because I “feel” sorry for them because I have more than they do or because they have less than I do?  Because I get to fly back on a plane in a week or so and get back to my comfortable life style, which I love and am thankful for?  or Because I see very clearly God’s compassion for them and I’m struck to the core in my thinking, without feeling, but believing somehow, my visit is actually doing something?  For them and not for me?  Why am I really sad about the slums?  

Here’s what I’m trying to say.  I’m tired of the poverty of life.  The poverty of my own heart, the poverty I see around me here in India, the poverty of the spiritual state of India, America, Samoa and the rest of the world.  I’m confused to see/visit a slum and live like it doesn’t exist. I’m tired of seeing the slums of man’s hearts/lives (especially my own), the slum like I saw today and living like it doesn’t exist.  I suppose I’m tired of coming to situations like this (and noticed I used “like” because there ARE other forms of these situations, external, relational, physical, mental, spiritual, economical, social, (every) cultural, theological, musical, environmental, etc)…like I was saying, its tiring to come to situations like that, act like I’m doing some good and yet leaving feeling like that was all to point out something about me.  And that’s where the issue really is, I really am just tired of me.  I’m tired of not caring enough, not doing enough, or acting like I’m doing something (when I really am) but not really doing anything, not serving enough, not meeting everyone’s expectations enough, saying enough, saying too much, thinking too much, and not rightly thinking about the little that I actually do think about etc.  

So, the slum(s)…its horrible, in my interpretation.  The conditions are sad and unhealthy.  But they live there and they ARE surviving there.  And I don’t know if they are doing that the best way possible.  But is education the answer?  Is more money the answer?  Is medicine the answer?  I know the answer but the chasm just seems sooooooooooo big – and I suppose its nice to throw “gospel” cliches, that are true and that I know need to be proclaimed…but seriously.  How do you or if you don’t, how would you think about it…not in the compartmentalized way.    

Okay, so one step at a time, I know.  I don’t want to just feel compassion, when I see a slum.  And I don’t want to save it either when I’m comfortable in the U.S. and use it then when the living conditions are in my favor (which, I know doesn’t make it any better or less than pleasing to God…or does it?)  

I don’t see a resolve in this post and so I’m not going to attempt one either.  I’m not angry, nor am I okay.  I’m not disillusioned nor am I completely sensible.  These are just my thoughts and ones I hope and pray will be used to haunt me, challenge me, inform me, remind me, thrust me to educate others and hopefully lead me to God, His love, His promises and Himself.  

I don’t have it figured out and neither do the slums of India.  I’m not mad that they have less than I do in America, nor do I feel guilty about that (anymore).  BUT I also don’t want to pretend like (REAL) slums don’t exist and I don’t want to EVER boast in my blessings – I just want be thankful for them and learn how to give them away very generously and foolishly – money, time, friendships, apartment, sleep, food, clothes, etc…man, I have SOOOOOOOOOO much to learn…

Today is Friday and Gunner, Eric & Nate arrives from Bangalore (I ended up not going on that part of the trip because we had decided it would be best for me to stay in Delhi and help get the music ready for the retreat). But it was nice to hear about their trip.

Anyway, not much to update other than I have been having good talks with people here. Our interaction with the locals are more to help the Malakars establish a good name, which they already have.

One more week and then retreat. I’m suppose to get together with the band tomorrow. A lot of scheduling isn’t as concrete as I would prefer so I can’t really rely and anyone’s word. Which is good in the sense that it produces patience. So, I hope to meet up with them tomorrow.

Today we visit the Delhi campus to invite students to Focal Point and Chat Over Coffee.

Tonight we have Core Group where have “book” study with some people from PMI staff and the people who “meet” on Sundays.

Ok, that’s it for now.

Okay so I’ll update you a bit here (my apologies for bulleted point versions, just seems more convenient, lets be honest 🙂

  • taught my english class
  • saw some Iranians I met last year – these people are very hospitable and kind, makes me want to visit them there
  • took a walk into the neighboring town by myself and got some dinner 
  • was hit by a car (no worries I’m okay) just a little soar…it was quite funny actually and it was more like a bump/hit
  • Mike Gundersen arrived last night, good to see him – its been fun seeing him…funny, we were in Samoa together 6 summers ago doing “work” there, now we’re in India doing “work” again
  • was humbled today by several things today
  • had Chat Over Coffee
  • sang two Phil Wickham songs tonight at Chat over Coffee (played the keyboard and sang…its wierd to do that still, i feel like a celeb….hahah, funny but kind of gross feeling)
  • met up with Ali about music for the retreat next week and set up times to meet up and rehearse with the band (exciting)
  • walked to the Coffee Cafe Day with Mike, Meagan, Heather (not Malakar) and Moelelwa (she’s from So. Africa)…the other two are Master’s alum helping out
  • then now I’m here 
  • tomorrow Gunner, Eric & Nate get back from Bangalore – it’ll be good to see them…
  • tomorrow we’ll be meeting with Ali to talk through song themes and band dynamics and song choices from the bible
  • its been hot here, very drainingly hot 🙂
  • talked with Mike about relationships and such…he’s engaged so that was cool to hear – he had some good thoughts…thinking through a lot about that…
  • oh, i took the metro down a ways to get some groceries, it was fun…
  • that’s it for now

anyway, things are well here…learning tons, and asking God lots of questions about India, direction, etc

DAY 5 & MASALA

July 6, 2009

DAY 5 was really uneventful for me (maybe more so for the Indians around) particularly because Monday is a rest day for PMI.  That means the volunteers, the workers and the Malakars have a day off, as it were.  So, here’s what I did: 

  • Woke up
  • read
  • met up with Peter to have chai
  • called Ali to try and set up a time to meet up about music (he canceled and rescheduled, felt like I was back in the dorm 🙂
  • caught a taxi with Prabin to the mall to meet up with Peter, Heather & Prekash…at Coffee Bean 🙂 
  • had an Extreme Mocha blend 🙂 (oh, I forgot to mention I cooked my own Masala…yeah, don’t be too impressed its basically like Ramen
  • then went to the airport to pick up Jai (he’s a med grad starting his residency here and finishing up in West Virginia, where he grew up – he’s Indian and its his first time here in India…he’s a “worker” also), Meagan and Heather – both grad students in So. Cali and both alumnus(?) from Master’s
  • then that was it…
  • Mike Gundersen arrives tonight

Today: 

We’re headed down the street to the Malakars to have breakfast, then a study in the “book”, then grocery shopping for the new comers, then I have prep time for my english class (thanks Lis for the material – very helpful), and then I’m meeting with Ali to rehearse songs for Chat over Coffee and for Sunday.  I’m excited for today!  It’ll be a good one…I’m hoping to walk down the way to gets some Indian food off the street 🙂  oh its the best – haven’t had any issues yet and I’m not trying to but I love the food here!!!

I’ll keep you posted…

DAY 3, 4 & VISITS

July 5, 2009

Its Sunday evening and I’ll recap DAY 3 and 4 all in one.

DAY 3:

  • Woke up – sometimes that’s hard to do when you’re in a different time zone, or for some, just hard to do period :)…so it was worth mentioning
  • had breakfast in the hotel with Gunner, Eric & Nate
  • our driver, don’t remember his name because sometimes Hindi names are difficult to pick up which is a bummer because Indian names are really cool to say sometimes.  
  • arrived at TJ’s, then went to visit some “workers” in the village (now this is not the typical village, but more like people in the outsets of the city).  these workers were more of the dalit’s (outcast of the cast system) people.  They’re hospitality and respect was humbling…people who have nothing giving out of their poverty – how do you respond to that?  I’ve read it, heard of it, believe in the principle but when its literally done to you, when these men who are studying and training others to do the “work” it just makes you feel overwhelmed.  I felt ashamed, humbled and thankful all at the same time.  It was beautiful and challenging.  
  • after spending about 3 hours there, listening mainly (on my part) to the translation going on, we set out back to the Smith’s to have lunch.  Karren cooked us authentic Indian (veggie style) food…so good!
  • Then we just hung out and talked with them for hours.  
  • Went to the mall in town, which was 5 stories high, really nice (and A/C), and they took us to the best indian food in town….yeah, it was in the mall – and boy was it spicy.  My stomach was having its own independence day celebration going on 🙂
  • Came back to our hotel and had a really good talked with Gunner about things – man, can I just say that I have some of the best counselors are friends?  I’m so blessed!
  • then enjoyed some bantering with the gusy (Gun, Eric & Nate) before getting to bed

DAY 4: 

  • Woke up (again)
  • TJ, Karren & Chaya came by to our hotel and had breakfast with us.  
  • packed our bags and headed back to the Smiths for some singing and “talking”
  • said good bye to them and took our taxi back to the airport and got on our plane headed towards Delhi – it was so good to see the Smith’s again – I’m excited for them – there’s going to be a lot of work being done there – TJ gave me some sweet indian CDs; can’t wait to listen to them when I get back.  
  • got back to Delhi, Eric, Gunner & Nate continued their trip on to Bangalore (they’ll be back to Delhi with me on Thursday). 
  • I took a taxi home (to Mike’s – Gunner’s brother), showered up and went to PMI for Focal Point.  My driver didn’t speak a lick of English and didn’t have any clue where he was going – he stopped 5 times asking where “King’s Camp” (the district we’re in)….so imagine being in a foreign country by yourself and not knowing where the heck you’re going for 45 mins….ha!  It was actually quite exciting and adventurous.  
  • After the discussion about a Solid Foundation (there were about 35 people there…Peter said that wasn’t bad considering their 6 week break)
  • I sang a song following the discussion – it was funny.  Apparently I’m doing another concert on Wednesday…
  • After that, met some young guys studying for their Master’s Degrees (Indian guys) who faithfully come to PMI – they were very good conversationalists – they invited me to go with them to dinner but I went with the Peter & Heather (and Prakash, their son) to Subway for dinner.  
  • Came back and here I am…

Now I’m beat.  Tomorrow I meet with Ali to work through songs for the retreat and catch up.  Ali is the guitarist from last year that I did music with.  It’ll be fun to meet up again and talk through music – he’s really, really good on the guitar.  

Let’s see – something I thought about today…sometimes people just need a visit.  Even if you don’t have anything to bring or give, your visit means way more than you will ever know.  Those who are being visited, don’t expect much more than that.  Be grateful for their presence and their kindness – embrace it for what it is, company.  Let it grow if it does and if it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.  Now, if its someone you don’t really enjoy that much, then…I can’t help you with that one 🙂  All in all, think about others and make time to visit people as its fitting for the moment.  Don’t make people feel guilty when they don’t, that’s unbecoming, but if you haven’t see someone in a while, just let them know you miss them, if you do.  

Okay, see ya later!

DAY 1

July 2, 2009

I arrived to New Delhi yesterday, Thursday morning at around 7am. Prabin & Sandib, two guys I met last year picked me up from the airport. It was good meeting up with people I knew. Strange that is. I know people across the globe.

I’m staying at Mike Gundersen’s (Gunner’s brother, who has been living here for the last year). Mike’s actually in the states. The Malakars actually arrived early this morning from the states.

All in all, I had a full day to myself here at PMI. I met some new staff memebers and were welcomed very kindly by them.

I came back to the empty apartment and read, watched some hind TV and thought about what to do with the music I’ll be doing here.

I turned in about 8pm, I was exhausted from all the traveling (met up with Jeff Lewis in Munich Germany who is visiting his brother in the military – we had a blast roaming around Munich). Anyway, I slept for what I thought was a full 8-9 hours but woke up at about 11:40pm. It was disappoint because I wad ready to start the next day.

Finally, I woke up well rested and I am now off to the Malakars to see about my taxi to the domestic airport where I will meet up with Gunner, Eric and the rest of the crew on our way to Lucknow, India for the weekend. We will be visiting friends who are doing “work” there. We hope to encourage them as they face opposition there.

I’ll post again when I have time.

Btw, I already had some real India food…I LOVE it!!!