Plus Belle La Vie

A More Beautiful Life

Category: India

The Little Things

I am now back in Wales for a few days finishing up some last minute details for my stay in France (I will be back in France on the 14th of January).

During my last 4 months, I have seen different characteristics of God.

A recurring one is the fact that he loves me and listens/cares for even the little things that I pray for.

With traveling I am not guaranteed much. A place the charge my phone, a nice place to sleep, food that is familiar(or food period), someone that speaks my language, a nice person, etc.

To be honest I have mini heart attacks every time I start traveling. Fears start arising. “What if I miss the bus?” “What if it doesn’t even come?”, “What if my plane is delayed, which means that I miss my bus.”, “what if…”, “what if…”, “what if…”.

In Lakeland, I didn’t have these kind of fears. I had a lot of certainty. If my car broke down I could call my parents. If my parents couldn’t come, then my grandparents would. I see now that I took those things for granted. They didn’t have to do that and many people around the world don’t have people in their lives to do that for them.

I don’t have certainty 100% of the time now. Certainty is not a everyday guarantee, but there is one thing that I am certain of now when times get complicated. That God is with me. That he listens to my prayers and he soothes my fears.

Many, many times, I have been afraid of different things going on. But God shows me that he is in control of the situations.

When leaving Italy I had purchased train tickets to leave from Avigliana to Torino, Torino to Savona, then Savona to Marseille on the 19th of December. Well, I missed the train from Torino to Savona, but luckily for me Jim (the missionary in Italy that I was staying with) was with me. He told me as we got off the train that the Italians are not known for their customer service. So as we were walking up to the customer service counter I prayed intently for a nice understanding gentlemen.
That is what we got.

When our number was chosen, a very nice man helped us sort it out, I would have to leave the next day, but it was sorted.

The next day, I missed the first train from Avigliana to Torino.
Truns out the train schedule for a sunday is different than the other days of the week.
Again, luckily for me Jim and Lori were at their home so they drove me to Torino in just enough time to catch the train to Savona.

With that… I had no idea what train it was that I was to take to Savona. I ran over the the customer service area – praying that the man that helped me the day before was there. He was. So I walked straight up to him. He told me to train. I found it. Got on it and sat down.

For me, just the fact that God put different things in my life to help me through the challenge was a blessing, as well as, the fact that he answered my prayers, even the little ‘petty’ ones.

There has been so many other occasions that he has answered my prayers.

From this I have learned that God loves each of us and he answers our prayers (with a yes, a no, or even a it is not time yet).

I feel very blessed to have this certainty, when nothing else is. I am grateful to have such a loving and compassionate God.

Pray for me as I make my way back to France on Wednesday and live there for the next 6 months.

A Few Stories From A Short Three Weeks

Flipflops v. Monkeys

Her brown eyes blazed as she pulled off her left flip-flop and jumped into action. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she ran toward the monkeys that had started to attack one of our leaders, Joce.
This moment right here will forever be imprinted in my mind. Two of my girl teammates and I were sitting outside in the nice Indian sun discussing our experience visiting the Hindu temples, when all of the sudden we were surrounded by monkeys (not cute monkeys, they were evil demon possessed monkeys). We were trying to ignore them so they would stop coming near us when one of our leaders walked by to go into our room. The monkeys turned from us and started to surround her. They wanted whatever it was that was in her hand. They started to bare their teeth and threaten her.
Maritza, from the States, didn’t even think twice she got up ripped off her flip-flop and charged toward Joce and the monkeys. She started swinging her flip flop around like some kind of sword. When the monkeys realized that she wasn’t a huge threaten they started to turn on her. That is when I started to scream, “RUN, MARITZA! RUN!” and simultaneously she started to scream “DAVID!” (He was our official leader and tour guide for India). David started to run toward us as some Indian ladies started to as well. The Indian ladies started to pick up stones and with extreme precision they hit the monkeys right on their heads. The monkeys started to scatter and since we were all relieved that Maritza and Joce were still alive we started to die of laughter.
Maritza had thought she could take on vicious monkeys with a flip-flop.

 

Awestruck, Surreal, and Scary

We drove up a windy half dirt, half rock road on our way to a distant village.
As we drove up to this village men and boys started to come out of their homes and come near us. At first i felt fear as they may not want us in their village, but then a smile played across all of their faces. They greeted us so warmly saying “chai” and “sit”. They gave us chai and some bread, both were delicious. We sat down and started to drink our chai along with the men and boys. One of the men spoke English very well and said that they have only ever had 5 other visitors to their village before. He then said that we should have a tour and took us to different homes to meet all of the families in the village. As we went along we saw so many faces and were greeted with so many smiles. At a few homes we stopped and had some water (We were told not to drink any of the tap water, especially from the villages, but we were urged by the people to drink so we did.) and more chai.
As we made our way around we saw some women sitting so Maritza, Sabrina, and I decided to sit with them. The women looked at us and smiled. One of the younger girls ran off and brought back more chai. We drank and didn’t speak only smiling at each other. The women only knew Hindi and we only know our mother tongue.
As we sat staring at each other I pointed at the main ladies earrings and said “pretty”. She pointed at mine and displayed a brighter face. I then pointed at her nose piercing and again said “pretty”, she pointed at my nose and with her eyes asked “why”. – In the Indian culture married women have their nose pierced, so with me being 18 and not married it was a surprise to her.
Our conversation went on like this. Pointing. Touching. Eyebrow Raising. Laughing. Smiling. I didn’t know you could connect with people so immensely without even speaking their language.
Our conversations were cut short as we were called to see more by the head elder. He then showed us to their temple. We walked inside took off our shoes and began to see where these people worship their gods. The man that spoke, pretty good English then asked if we wanted to pray. Maritza said “Sure, but our God is not the same as yours.” The man said “That is okay, pray to your God.” So she did. She prayed out loud for God to bless these people and for more Christians to come and speak to these people.
When she was done praying we continued to talk. One of the older men came to us with flowers and was giving them to us. – In the Indian culture they typically give flowers as offering to their gods. Which meant he didn’t understand our concept of prayer and was wanting us to give an offering. – We declined the flowers and the man that spoke some English said, “For you to pray.”
We replied, “We already have.”
The look on the mans face was shock and misunderstanding. He couldn’t comprehend how one could pray without giving a offering. The confusion then turned to frustration. The man then aggressively asked, “What have you done? What did you pray?”
Maritza said, “I prayed a blessing.”
He became agitated because he didn’t understand what blessing meant. He asked her and she said “Good things.”
He didn’t like that answer. David then stepped in and said “For your cows to have milk. For you to have a good harvest. For good health for your people.” The man still didn’t understand. Other men and young boys started to gather around, there was 15 all around. The thought that crossed my mind was, “I never made it to France. Here I am in India. I will be killed here as well.” I started to pray silently to God. “Please God, Please. Please God, Please. Help us.”
I opened my eyes and the man looked at me. Maritza standing beside me. I then answered, “Good things for your people. You have been good to us. We want good for you.” Maritza then repeated what was said, because the man only wanted the answer to his question from Maritza.
The man looked at us harshly. Then a smile sprung on his face. The atmosphere changed and in a split second everything was great again. He said he understood and insisted that we stay.
We told them we had to go and they walked us back to our car.
Some little girls walked beside me. I stuck out my hand and they grabbed it, loosely. Since there was about 6 girls following they each took turns holding my hands.
The moments in the village were precious. We learned a lot about ourselves and the Indian people while being there. I will never forget their beautiful smiles and them waving as we drove off.

Conveyer Belt Worship

As I stood on a bridge in Haridwar that crossed a portion of the Ganges River. I was peering down into the river and saw a naked child being handed from his father to his mother. The mother then took the resisting child and dunked him under the water 4 times. Still screaming the child was thrown back to the father to be dried. The mother then started splashing water all over her fully clothed self.   

She was not the only woman to do this. Every morning and evening in the Holy City of Haridwar they have a fire ceremony where they bath in the Ganges River. This river is considered a god. 

   
 My team and I saw many people stripping down to just their under garments and going into the water. Others were just splashing it on themselves.   We walked through this ceremony. We noticed that some people just seemed to do it out of mere religious ritual and others did it out of a passion with a true devotion to this god.

I watched a old man (who was in under garments) bathing in this river. He seemed to be praying as he gently scooping up water and poured it over his head and face. He seemed at peace as he did this. He had his eyes closed and continued to pray as he scrubbed his arms. As he left the water up the steps he kissed his right hand and then placed it on the step. He loved this god. He served this god.

After the ceremony, we took a cable car up to a few Hindu temples.  

  The temple was like a carnaval. Things being sold everywhere. So many things being sold as offerings to the gods. There were flowers given to the gods. Most people seemed to have bought them their.  

 But there was some that brought their own hand picked flowers to give to the gods and goddesses. These people appeared to be more devoted than the ones that bought it as they were walking in. When we walked through it was hard to find your footing. People were everywhere. At every shrine a different colored dot was put on their forehead. There was people that had one for a specific god or goddess they served and there were others that had like 4 or 6.

When my team left these temples we talked about our observations. One a the girls said that it seemed like a “conveyer belt” worship. With that some of us mentioned how as Christians we can revert to that same attitude of just going through the motions and not actually meaning anything we do. Just waking up going to church, singing songs, going home, going to work, and then doing it all over again.   

 Questions that came to me during this time is:

Am I as devoted to God (the true God) as these people are to their gods and goddesses?

Would I be willing to bath in a freezing cold polluted river if God told me to? Without complaint?

Will these people ever know the truth? How would they take it?

Where am I? Where are you, Father?

I flip a switch and the hot water turns on. Putting a bucket under the focet I begin to fill up the bucket. After a few minutes I turn the tap off and begin to take a small cup and pour the water over my head. There is no tub or shower head. Just me, a bucket, a focet, four tiled walls, a door, a roof, toiletries, and a cup. With just this I am far more blessed than many other people in India. 

I didn’t know what it would be like coming here. I, like most people, have seen pictures of seen movies. India is so much like that, but being here being able to physically touch these people and make eye contact with them is so different. The thing that has devastated me the most this far is not seeing the poverty but having the young children walk up and touch me as they beg. When you see something you can ignore it but once those people, children and adults, touch you it makes it so much more real. Today as we were eating lunch in a park  

  three children came up to us. I was cleaning up after my teammates and the children gathered around me pointing to their mouths. We had some food left over which we had planned to give away. These children touched my feet then their forehead over and over again. This hurt my heart because their was nothing I could do. After we gave them the food we got up to leave and one of the young boys had snatched our water bottle that was unopened. I said “No” and tried to take it back but he wouldn’t let it go so here I stood feeling awful as I ripped the tiny fingers from the bottle and walked away. It is real.

Then I walk around seeing temples for gods and goddess of all kinds. At night as it gets dark you can hear their worship. I think “Where is my Father? Where is he?” These people are hungry. They are hungry even more than what their bodies crave. They desire something more in this life and they turn to these other things. I stand here and just watched. What can I say to someone who shares no common tongue? 

I shed some tears tonight thinking about India, because I would prefer to just look at the pictures and to not think that this isn’t real. That people are like this.  I want to tell that young boy that he wouldn’t have to thirst any more, I have good news, something that would satisfy much more than what his body said he needed but I couldn’t. 

India is beautiful. We are right on the edge of the Himilayan Mountains  

 
it is just stunning views. The people are so beautiful as well. They may stop and stare at us, being white among brown faces, but I just gaze at the woman in their beautiful clothing, perfectly braided hair, and jewelry. Like I said they stare. The men stare especially. The people see us and stop what they are doing to watch us. The people are very generous to us and want to help us with just little things. They want pictures of us. But then there are some that do not like us because of our skin and will turn away from us if we ask questions. 

I have done so much since being here and now know what I have is great. I have a loving Father and so many great people in my life as well as possessions.

I have observed so much in just two days. 19 more.  

  

Welcome to My Blog

Hello, all. I have made this website for my friends and family to stay posted on my life as I go off this year. Starting this fall I will be getting on a plane and flying overseas to go through missionary training. While I am away there will be a five (5) hour time difference, nine (9) hour and thirty (30) minute time difference, and a six (6) hour time difference. I hope that this website will close the gap between my loved ones and myself. This website provides a way for everyone to read from my blog page the same story the same way, as I won’t have the time to call each person individually everyday. I expect that this next year will be a extreme challenge and will test my faith more than any other point in my life.

I have attempted to make this website easy to utilize and have the capability to answer all of your questions thoroughly. If you still have more questions you can contact me via the contacts page.

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