#classicindia

The college students on my team have lovingly been calling out things that only happen in India. Like our bus stopping for water buffalo, or seeing a bike laden with 3 people and several trays of eggs, or even a power outage right as you step out of the (bucket) shower. It has been so much fun to observe and recognize the things that are drastically different here. 

The reason I have not been very active here is because I have been in charge of the daily blog on our team website, so to see what I have written there, go to:

http://www.hope-for-people.org/daily-blog/summer-2014

Thanks again for your support! 

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Why I left my camera at home, but why I still posted a picture with the locals.

“Lord, transform my thoughts.”

My initial shock at the prospects of living in India for an entire year was justified, of course, but it was still very real, and very painful. After all, what if I was stuck in this place that I hated, praying for it to end? Or worse, what if I left early, blatantly disregarding God’s calling? Advice from friends and family was invaluable, but it was still only the Lord who was able to refresh my spirit and give me an inexplicable peace and excitement about working here. 

One way that God showed me that my year would be joyous rather than depressing was our third day of VBS out in the villages. It was a relatively poorer church, but the smiles in the single room were priceless. I garnered so much energy from the children there, and hardly noticed the intense heat and humidity or the fatigue that results from jumping up and down to the tune of “I’ve got the joy down in my heart: WHERE?”. I know that everyday working essentially as a vice principal will not be this fun, but I am confident that I will be strengthened in the same way to enjoy the company of everyone I meet. 

I am especially thankful that I am staying for a year because of a few of the relationships I have formed already. Several of the girls in my VBS group were very clingy, and I had some trepidation about reinforcing the spiral of “white missionary comes, smiles, and leaves without contact” (read more at http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2014/may/good-missionary.html?paging=off). Thankfully, though, at least a few of them attend Riverside, and I will be able to continue our relationship beyond these 48 hours. 

It will doubtless be a difficult year, and I now have a better picture of that, but I also trust that it will be a beautiful year, full of growth for both me and the school. Thank you to each one who has prayed for me this week – your prayers have not gone unanswered. 

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A Common Debate.

An actual conversation with my friends: 

“Hey what do you think of this quote? ‘Instead of either deporting illegal immigrants or granting them immediate citizenship, why don’t we just extend their visas, allowing them to work and stay with their families without impeding on tax-payers dollars.'”

“If we are going to let them stay and work, why don’t we just let them become citizens?”

“Yeah – we are treating them like a second-class group!” 

“They should be able to work, and go to school, and have families just like everyone else!”

Sound familiar? To me, this sounds just like the debate over gay marriage. 

Instead of granting them these rights (marriage, citizenship), we argue our ways around tolerating them.

From my Christian background, I do understand the grounds that marriage is a spiritual, not just a governmental issue, but then again, marriage, with its “by the power vested in me by the state of ____” clause, is now a civil topic. In an ideal world, the two would have been separated long ago, and all couples would have a civil union by the State, along with a marriage by the Church if they desired. Unfortunately, the two are still hopelessly intertwined, leaving us with a fight where nobody can win on good terms. 

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Words I love

Words are beautiful, aren’t they? Here are just a few of my favorite:

~Adore

~Bewitched

~Beloved

~Cacophony

~Captivating

~Context

~Delight

~Decidedly

~Execution

~Fledgling 

~Graceful

~Grandeur 

~Hastily

~Harrowing 

~Impeccable 

~Indicative

~Muted

~Visage

~Vivacity

 

I know I didn’t make it all the way through the alphabet, but I figure I will save some of those words for future posts. Until then, enjoy playing around with some new words today!

 

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Was Jesus hot?

While babysitting yesterday, I watched an episode of Veggietales called Sweetpea Beauty. (Not nearly as good as the originals, but still, fun). Its focus was on not obsessing with our outward beauty, because “God made us each beautiful in our own special way” and “true beauty comes from what’s on the inside.” Now that I am no longer in pre-K, these mantras are a bit cliche, but I appreciate the effort that the directors made in affirming natural beauty.

That said, I don’t know if I always truly believe the message that we are all really beautiful. I struggle to accept this notion of beauty because when I look in the mirror, I see someone who has gained a lot of weight in the past 3 years, who has acne scars, and eyes that are too small, and who will never look ‘hot.’ Now, this isn’t every day that I feel like this, but the thoughts do circulate more frequently than I would like.

I’ve tried to rationalize it out, and to convince myself that ‘hey, your husband won’t care about your waist-to-hip ratio, or your dry skin, because he will love you for who you are.’ I’ve also gone for the “God didn’t make you drop-dead gorgeous so that you would attract a guy with your intelligence, and humor” route. Which both sound great, until you watch movie after movie where the guy only loves the girl with the perfect shape. It just wears you down after a while.

Around Easter, I was thinking about the incarnation of Christ, and what that may have actually looked like. We have “The Shack”s version, where He is described as just an average first-century Jewish man. And for all intents and purposes, I think that that is probably an accurate descriptor. After all, if Jesus had been the pinnacle of human attractiveness, we would have heard about it through some other venue, right? The Greeks and Romans at the time were all about human beauty, and with their impeccable marble and bronze statues, we have a very clear picture at what they considered to be god-like perfection.

So, if Jesus, God himself, didn’t form his own body to be Calvin Klein-esque, why would we expect Him to make our bodies that way? He obviously has a different idea of beauty.

Even as I write this, though, I wish it could be so easy to believe. I know that it will be an ongoing struggle for me, and for all of us without the ‘perfect’ body and face. And I know that I could stand to eat healthier, and get stronger at the gym, but I don’t honestly know if those would ever get me to a point where I could call myself, without a doubt, beautiful. That knowledge has to come from the heart, and from the heart untethered by the devil’s lies. But for now, my heart is tethered, in a way that no amount of ‘likes’ on Facebook, or compliments from friends will change, but only, eventually, through the truth of the Lord, who cherishes the “imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” (1 Peter 3:3)

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Title (optional)

The reason I chose the title for this blog, besides the obvious Mumford & Sons connection, was solidified for me with the passing of Graham Stevens at 8:32 pm two weeks ago. He was 19, and died without warning. His testimony to us should be to live ‘not with haste,’ because we never know what final date we are rushing towards.

During my escapades in Europe in the summer of 2011 (more on these later), I was told the following:

“Americans know how to entertain themselves, yes, but not how to enjoy themselves.”

In the harsh German accent these words were spoken in, it took me a moment to really understand the depth of what he had just said. It was not merely a critique on American culture, but it really was an insight on the roots of many of our problems! We don’t know how to just sit and enjoy one another’s presence, or do something crazy just for the heck of it, and not for the great Facebook pictures it will provide.

I’ve tried my best to apply this to my daily life since my return (easier said than done, of course). I have not often succeeded, since it is my nature to over-analyze if in fact I am having a good time, but the mantra has helped re-orient me many times towards living life to the fullest, and enjoying God moment by moment.

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Speaking as a Child.

There is nothing quite so humbling as learning a new language. I’m certain many of you, whoever you are, have gone through a similar experience, perhaps in a high school language class, or while visiting a foreign country. It’s quite something, isn’t it? Not being able to express oneself in the least, and fumbling for every word? It sucks! But, it also is a good reality check, and forces you to slow down and to be content with mistakes.

My thoughts have been thoroughly jumbled today, as in the morning I attended a study abroad meeting entirely in Spanish, and then went to my German tutoring session (an odd combo of languages, I know). As I tried to form sentences in either language, I found myself picking words and phrases from one language and pairing them with words from the other. It made for a very interesting afternoon inside my mind.

I am beginning to understand why my 1 and 3 year old cousins get so aggravated when we, the adults, don’t understand what it is they are asking for; in life, we want to be understood. We want to know that someone grasps what we are going through and what we desire, and can then respond appropriately. Verbal communication not only facilitates our basic social, political, and business interactions, but allows relationships to wither or flourish. In an era of instant contact, we oftentimes allow infrequent texts to replace quality time spent together. Why would you ask someone about their day when you have already heard about it on Facebook?

At the end of the day, whether in German, Spanish, MMS, or Facebook chat, we all need to communicate with those around us, and can only hope that we will be understood.

 

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