Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I was never that into science growing up but I did always love the Dr. Dreadful Drink Lab. Anyone else with me? I never thought about it before, but maybe my interest in mixing spices and bizarre flavor combinations is somehow associated with the strange, carbonated, colorful concoctions that entertained my palate around the age of 8. Who knows. Either way, I seriously love mixing and matching flavors and finding creative substitutes for things I can't find or use here (eggs, sour cream, quick rise yeast, etc). I have also had my fair share of things blow up on me to claim an even stronger association with a science lab (tomatoes in my mixie, hot soup in my mixie, boiling chenna in my pressure cooker, the list goes on). Thankfully I've escaped with only minor burns and a lifetime's worth of lessons on "this should not be mixed with this".
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Instead, I helped build a tree house.
There are 4 kids in this family and the two youngest are boys aged 12 and 8. They had already kind of started the tree house, but soon decided to start over. So, most of the day on Saturday we moved limbs around and tried to tie things together to make it more stable. As always, you have to add on some cool amenities like a climbing rope to the top, and a swing made out of small limbs (which I very proudly designed and built), and mats made of weaved palm leaves. All the while, the father of this family was helping the kids along and getting them whatever supplies they needed. He had no other agenda that weekend, just there to be with his family.
It really got me thinking about God. I've been trying to learn more to see him as my Papa and the one who has no other agenda than to hang out with me and all his other kids. In this dad, I saw a good glimpse of our Papa. It made me think that when the world gets redeemed and Christ comes back, we may be looking for all of our theological questions to be answered and to come to a greater understanding of the world and how things work. It's easy to think that we will sit around all day and be taught by God about all these deep philosophical questions.
I hope some of that happens, but I think we might end up spending a decent amount of our time building tree houses with really cool rope swings.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I (Neil) joined the Rotary Club of Thiruvanmiyur last week. Rotary is actually very international with clubs in over 200 countries. A 'Rotarian' friend from New Albany suggested I look into it. For those unfamiliar, Rotary is a service organization for business men and women, which encourages them to be active in their communities.
I finally asked her, "What are you going to say if we get up to the front?". She said, "I'll say, 'I loved you in Ravanan!', and then leave." It's good to know that India is getting deeper into us and touching that inner 13 year old in us all.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
"So where are you from?" asks a 20 year old guy
"America lirundhu [from America]."
"Oh, US. Are you working here?"
"Naan velai seirein [I am working]"
"What? You speak English, right?"
"[sheepishly] Yeah, I'm working here."
"How do you like Tamil Nadu (the state)?"
"It's really nice, I'm trying to learn the language, but it's very hard since I don't get to practice it much."
"Yeah, the only way to learn it is to practice talking with people. You have to practice a lot. So, where are you staying?"
"Thiruvanmiyur tengi irukein"
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Thinking about my beautiful friend, Kylee, and her death 2 months ago, has made me restless for Jesus to come back. I feel more aware than ever that Neil and I are not supposed to be "together forever", that I don't want to live to be 900 years old, and that this world is not at all the way that it is supposed to be. My heart belongs somewhere else--somewhere beyond the love found in friends, family, marriage, and country. My heart belongs with Him; that is the only place it will find rest.
I am realizing that no words I speak and no tune that I sing will ever fully reflect the affection my Brother, Friend, Lover and King has for me. Maybe God has put this longing for song throughout my body, knowing that it will not be quenched in this life. Maybe it was meant to be my pointer to the hope of heaven; my reminder that I have so much more of Christ to experience.
Someday I will sing with total abandon the heart song inside of me.
Maybe it's just a matter of waiting for Heaven.
Come quickly, Lord. I'm ready to sing.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Everyday on the way to work, I pass this massive structure which looks like a pirate ship collided with a professional football stadium. It is gargantuan and extremely impressive. It is being built by Tata Consultancy Services. It's about their 20th building in Chennai, and Chennai is a small part of their operations. Maybe you haven't heard of Tata - maybe you will some day when they own the other 5/6th of the world. Seriously, they are bigger than Walmart - yes, bigger than Walmart.
Here is what "the Tata Group" specializes in:
-Wireless Mobile Services
-IT consulting (largest in India)
-Business Process Outsourcing (largest in India)
-Cars (largest manufacturer in India, they made the Ambassador, which was pretty much the only car in India for a few decades, owns Jaguar and Land Rover, makes a car that costs only $2,200)
-Energy production (largest in India)
-Steel (largest in India)
-Tea (largest in India, 2nd largest in the world)
In virtually any profitable industry, Tata is there building huge buildings and loving it. Good luck keeping up with that pace, Walmart.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
"Ok, so 50 rupees, right?" Head bobble
"50 rupees?" Head bobble.
"Ok, so it's 50 rupees then?" Very confident head bobble.
I thought this might be just a cross-cultural problem, but then I got this email from a trainee in my last batch. His manager was 2 hours late to a meeting and apologized when he finally arrived. The trainee wasn't sure how to respond. In his own words, "I had no clue what to do. I nodded my head in every possible direction."
He asked me if he did the right thing. I bobbled my head.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Monday, April 5, 2010
Ok, 3 teams.
"Umm, the New York Yankees...the Chicago Bulls....the Los Angeles Lakers."
I guess the good news is that we still have 2 weeks of training left.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tea is a staple in India (and many parts of the world). It serves as an excuse to call people into your home. It is a sweet (and sometimes bitter) way of sharing. An excuse to make a conversation go on longer.
I've never been much of a tea drinker. I've always secretly wanted to be one of those people who can put a very emo/organic/hippie facebook status report about the most recent exotic tea they just drank over a book or song that made them cry. But, it's just not me.
A few days ago a neighbor knocked on our door and said that she and her husband would like to come by this weekend. I ecstatically agreed and knew what I needed to do. I went out that day and purchased my first tea set. A reminder of the promise I heard God give me a few months ago, "You have friendships waiting for you in India." That tea set looked so beautiful to me that day.
Something else I want is to be good at mourning. It may sound crazy, but in the last year I have been so humbled to see the way God draws near during times of pain and sadness. This world is not in it's ideal state, and that should be sad to us. Knowing Christ is not a reason to "be strong and quit crying"; knowing Christ is the reason why we can drink deeply of sadness and loss without fear of being overtaken by them. Those of us who know Christ should be the best mourners; not the ones who avoid it.
Mourning is a staple in most of the world. Some cultures are just plain good at it. Jews sit for days at a time, tear clothes, spread ash on their heads. In Chennai, a group of men carry the body through the streets, making sure to block traffic and force regular life to stop if even for just one second. God praises women who are good at mourning.
This morning, I lost a dear friend. A friend who was one of those women God praises for their skillfull mourning. Is it cliche to say that she was young, beautiful, and left us too soon? Either way, it's true. I felt so sad. I still feel sad. I will feel sad for a long time. I didn't know what to do; I needed some kind of an expression for my aching heart. I made a batch of tea, leaving out the sugar. I sat at my kitchen table, sipping the bitter tea until it was gone. It hurt. A lot. It also felt good.
I'm not sure the purpose of this post. Maybe being so far away from all of the other mourners, I needed to have a forum to share my hurting heart.
Thankfully, I have my husband, my tears, and a cup of tea.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
It's not just shoes either. There are all sorts of jobs of convenience here in India. Courtney and I have both taken in clothes to get tailored. Having clothes that fit just ok was another thing that we just dealt with in the States. But here, it's so easy to take in an article of clothing and for a reasonable price have it tailored.
With a billion people to find jobs for, there are many professions that exist here. Shoe guys, ironers, elevator men, ladies tailors, gents tailors, waste paper collector, house help, watchman, etc. There seems to be a common understanding here that people need jobs. So having a shoe guy is not only a really convenience for us, it also makes sure there is one more job out there for someone to fulfill.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Having both grown up in the Midwest, Neil and I know that we can always rely on the faithful "how's the weather?" conversation filler. What's great, is that it's not just mindless "filler", because it really is a legitimately interesting topic, because the weather is so rarely the same two days in a row. Monday could bring 50 degrees, partly cloudy. Tuesday is 20 degrees, sunny. Wednesday is 31/32 degrees and freezing rain. But, not in Chennai.
I realized before me moved here that we would have to re-learn how to "small talk", but I wasn't totally sure what was and was not going to work. After a couple of friendly "it's hot" comments, I quickly realized that talking about the weather was one area of small talk that didn't survive the plane ride. Imagine if all of your conversation fillers suddenly come back void and you realize that you have NO CLUE how to start, end or fill friendly conversation. That's what happened to me. It was a little unnerving at first, until I realized that the reason weather isn't a great topic to talk about in Chennai is because IT NEVER CHANGES! There are definitely differences in the seasons, but day to day you can absolutely count on the weather being between 30-34 degrees celsius and sunny. Go ahead, google it.
So, now I'm happy that I've lost a conversation filler because I've gained consistency in an area of my life that was NEVER consistent before: the weather. Plus, I've figured out the perfect conversation filler to go in it's place: my language faux-paus.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
There are few things in life that give me (Neil) more pure joy than juice. I love fruit in general, and there is something so wonderful about squeezing out its essence. When we lived in the State, I was always on the lookout for some wonderful new juice mixture (white cranberries AND peaches AND strawberries? Banana AND mango? I must try it...) .
Upon a few days after arriving in India, we went to a grocery store and there was this big banner advertizement which was for a brand of juice called “Saint”, and the ad reads “Juice the Way God Meant it”. Immediately I knew I was among people who spoke my heart language. We got the Mixed Fruit Juice and I feel okay saying that it was heavenly.
While I am dropping brand names, I must add my new favorite drink, Nimbooz, by 7UP. It's similar to a lemonade, but better in ways I can't quite describe. I have often said that if I had an endless amount of money, my one luxury would be wearing a new pair of socks everyday. However, since I don't wear socks in India, I think I will change it to having a Nimbooz everyday.
Not only are there a plethora of delicious juices at the grocery store, there is also a juice shop on nearly every block. While living in our guest house, we found one shop that made delicious juice for a cheap price. These places will make nearly any fruit into a juice and the fruit is just sitting there in the store. On my birthday, we went with Karyn and Ben to the king of juice shops called the Fruit Shop on Greams Road. They had a menu with at least 40 options of juice choices. Unbelievable.
If you are still reading by this point, you must be a juice lover as I am. So, if you want to make a pilgrimage to the center of great juices, look no further than Chennai.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Welcome to the first in a five part series entitled, “5 Things We Really Like About India”!
For those who know me (Courtney) well, you don’t need much explanation of the above title to understand how happy it makes me to say it. I have always loved playing with my food. In high school I would sit at Steak ‘n Shake, bumming food off my friends usually, and at the end of the meal would create some disgusting concoction that would make my friends “ooo” and “aahh” (not totally true. Reality was more like, “gross, Courtney”). I have since graduated from salt, ketchup and hot pepper mixtures to gravitating toward taco bars. Any hands-on eating experience warms my heart. That being said, I think I was specially made for this part of Indian life. Every meal is eaten with your hands (actually, ‘hand’, maybe I’ll explain that one later…). The traditional way to eat is to combine rice and some “gravy” into a mushy ball, pick it up with your right hand and roll it into your mouth. Only the truly gifted can do this without tipping their head back to catch the food; we are nearly there. I absolutely love it.
Neil has always told me that I’ll never be able to tell our kids to stop playing with their food. If they grow up here, I won’t have to. :)
Here is a video of us getting ready to board our first train and some shots of what it was like.
There were a lot of good memories, and we might try it again sometime, but after a full day of traveling, we were both ready to crash at home.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Even before we got to India we kept hearing “you have to go to the movie theatre”. I couldn’t quite figure out what was so great about going to the movies here, until I got to experience it for myself!
Neil and I went to see Avatar with Jason & Karyn at a movie theatre called ‘Sathyam’. This is well known to be the nicest movie theatre in Chennai—it’s the nicest one I’ve ever been in! Here are the highlights:
-Big, comfy seats all with their own armrest. Seriously the most comfortable I’ve ever been at the movies.
-Intermission for a potty break (or to get more food)
-getting to eat 2 veg puffs, 1 brownie, 1 coffee, 1 veg sandwich, bottled water & a container of caramel corn for around $6US (I can’t remember the exact amount, but this is conservative. It very well might have been less.) We barely get a coke for that in the States!
-this is by far my favorite…the whistling, yelling, and clapping. The theatre was so much noisier than we would ever go for in the States, but we loved it! There were a couple of times when a scary, slimy monster would be sneaking up on the hero and someone in the crowd would whistle, seemingly to get the hero’s attention. Or, when a really good part would happen, they would clap. If something scary or exciting happened, some would yell. It was awesome!
If you ever find yourself roaming around Chennai, looking for something to do, go to the movies. (actually, if you ever find yourself roaming around Chennai, looking for something to do, CALL US, then we’ll go to the movies.)
Monday, February 15, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
When we first arrived in Chennai, our teammate Jason looked at me (Neil) and asked if I wanted to coach a youth basketball team. My Indiana blood screamed "YES", and it came out of my mouth quickly, but then I thought, "Basketball in India?". Does anybody really even play here? Is this too much westernization? Am I being type-casted?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Friday, January 22, 2010
"Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 12:6)
Be blessed in the mundane today. He is near.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
So much of our transition to India has gone extremely well. Our flights were good, we got all of our luggage, we had great friends who showed us around town, we found a place to live very quickly... it couldn't have been better.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
My birthday has usually been the mark of a significant change in our lives. In 2007, we moved into our very first apartment in Lincoln. In 2008, we moved into a new place and began our lives in Sellersburg, IN. In 2009, we kicked off a support-raising tour after deciding to move to India. Now, in 2010, we are just barely a week into our new lives here in Chennai.