Thursday, April 30, 2009

30. Doctor! Doctor!

Today I went to the hospital, to the orthopedic surgeon to be exact. I had been having some trouble with knee pain and wanted to get it checked out, considering all the surgeries I had when I was younger. It has been limiting my ability to do a lot of walking and to exercise (which really bugs me), and I was starting to feel a lot older than I am. I went to the best hospital in town, the more modern one where the nurses wear scrubs instead of white saris.

First, the hospital itself is an interesting place. Most foreigners in the area go there for their medical needs because it is more Western than any other hospital in town. While sitting in the waiting room, I have met Africans, Afghanis, other Americans, Brits, Dutch, French and nationals. It's quite a unique experience.

Second, the efficiency is unbelievable (for this country). I called Wednesday after the pain was bugging me a lot and got an appointment for the next day. I showed up, checked in at the main counter and went directly to the nurses station outside of the doctor's office. He and his assistant saw me within 10 minutes and ordered X-rays, and within 15 minutes I was in the X-ray room. Everyone is very helpful and friendly. The X-Ray guy, however, didn't say anything except to ask me if I am married (common question...trying to woo themselves an American sugar mama).

Ten minutes later, I am back in my doctors office looking at the computer screen with my digital X-rays on it! Amazing. Basically, I have little to no cartilage in my right knee, and he's concerned about my bone density. He tells me he's going to order me a knee brace, some calcium supplements and put me on a physiotherapy (physical therapy) regime. I'll have to go to physio three days next week to learn mobilization exercises. So, he sent me straight up to physio where they immediately made an appointment for me.

I then head to the in-house pharmacy where I'm able to pick up my meds and the knee brace and square up my bill. The total for consultation, X-rays, meds, knee brace and three physiotherapy sessions comes to less than $70...without insurance claims (which I don't have any right to do here). Unbelievable. I was out of there in an hour and 10 minutes. I'm not kidding.

Have you ever considered medical tourism? ;-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

29. Crazy, Funny Signs

There are some great signs around here. Here are just a few around town.

Lift is strictly for human movement and not for luggage.

You only have one head. Protect it.

Save the zebra's (why is there an apostrophe?...zebras=crosswalks) and the people on them.

Please do not wash your hands.

Spitting around White House complex is strictly prohibited.

Do nut pluck flowers.

Do not pass urine here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

28. Auto!

Our typical mode of transportation is the auto rickshaw. So I thought you might enjoy a little video and join us on a ride to Hindi class. This is actually a mild ride, but you can see us dodging other autos, cars and pedestrians, among other things. All for less than a dollar!

Monday, April 27, 2009

27. The Postal System

Today a got a package from Eliz! Yay! It took six weeks...the longest a package has ever taken to get here. The kinda sad thing about the amount of time it took this package to get here is that it had a ton of great Easter stuff. But, it also had other fun stuff like playdough (!), blonde bobby pins and candy.

Easter basket grass!

It matches!

Gummies! Yum.

The postal system is a bit inefficient, yet suprisingly efficient for the third world. Usually it takes a regular flat rate box 3-4 weeks to get here from the U.S. The slow part is not getting over the ocean. It can take as little as 5 days to cross the Atlantic. But, it gets stuck when it gets in country. Customs may cause some of the problems, but mostly it's just that things get done a lot slower here.

When sending a letter from here to home, the stamp costs about 25 rupees ($.50). Boxes are a bit more and can take up to a month and a half, depending on which method you choose to use. Your options include Speedpost (air), half ship/half air or completely by ship. I have sent a few things in country, including a big padded envelope full of goodies for a friend. It cost 51 rupees ($1) and only 6 days. Pretty good. When you send a package domestically or internationally you have to sew cloth around the box. Like this.

Pretty neat, huh?

Oh, and thanks Eliz! I love you!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

26. Random Roadside Goods & Services

One convenience to living here is the ease in which you can obtain random everyday goods and services...on the side of the road. These pictures are just a few examples of what you can find. From autos while sitting at a traffic signal, you can purchase newspapers, magazines, toy cars, stars that glow in the dark for your ceiling, Q-tips, flashlights, random toys and more.

If you are driving a long on your motorbike and realize you're not wearing a helmet, you're bound to find a helmet stand somewhere along the way. You can buy carpets, gas cylinders for your stoves, jackets, fruits &and vegetables, potted plants, pirated DVDs, sugar cane juice, coconut water, nightgowns, fresh lime soda, shoes, the idol (god) of your choice, etc. Just to name a few.

Some of the services offered roadside include shoe repair and polishing, bicycle repair, hair cuts and shaves, toilets (well, sort of), freshly made fast food and snacks, drive-by temple worship and more.

It's so fantastic!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

25. Sweet Tea

Today as Kimberly and I were out and about, we got a little thirsty. We happened upon the "Georgia Gold" stand and found that their specialty is "Georgia sweet tea." Admittedly, it wasn't half as good as my Grannie Ella's sweet tea and was a little too lemon-y, but it was still good. But, how cool is that? Sweet tea in South Asia...a first for me!

Friday, April 24, 2009

24. Georgia Girls

the best in the world

My friend Kimberly from college lives in another city in my country and came this weekend for a visit. The weekend will be full of, the movies, maybe a pedicure and some good food. In fact, tonight we went to Hard Rock (a treat for me, too) with my friends. It was so good. I am excited she's here and am thankful for the fun and fellowship we'll share this weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

23. Precious New Baby

Last week, I wrote about visiting Rahab's Rope and spending time with the women there. Well, the very next day, one of the ladies that lives there gave birth to this precious little boy! We got to meet him today.

Here's Mackey, the full-time volunteer at the center, putting some new clothes on little John (stong, Biblical name).

And of course, I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

22. House Fellowship

I couldn't post about my life without including a post about my house fellowship. We meet every Wednesday night, a body of believers that are both national and international. They are such a blessing to me!

We study the Word, sing, pray, share meals, etc. together. The group is made up of people from all over and who have lived all over. Our backgrounds, culture and nationalities are different, yet we are all one in Him.

The keep me going. They encourage me, pray for me, exhort me, challenge me and look after me. They have definitely helped make these two years a time of spiritual growth and nourishment. Praise Him for the body scattered throughout the world!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

21. Scrumptious Fruits


Let me just tell you. Fruits (& pretty much all produce) here are so good! It's so fresh because most of it doesn't come from very far away. I discovered that I really like mangos since moving here, but I think it may be because the mangos here are out of this world! They are perfectly sweet, and there are so many different varieties to choose from. And cheap! In the States, I remember them being relatively expensive because they are imported. They weren't all that wonderful either. I'll miss them.

Other fruits that have become favorites are pomegranates (the seeds are so tender and juicy that you can just pop them in your mouth like candy) and the itty bitty bananas they have here. There are regular old bananas like in America, but there is also a variety that is about 4" long and super sweet. The consistency is a little different, not as "grainy" and with a smoother texture.

The best thing is the availability of all the produce. Just like in this picture, there are these little stands dotted along every roadside all throughout the city and even in more rural areas. On a road trip? Pull over on the roadside for a healthy snack. Sugar low during shopping in the heat? There's bound to be a fruit stand with some itty bitty bananas (tip: don't eat the fruit that doesn't have a thick peel right off the street...not a good idea). So convenient!

Monday, April 20, 2009

20. Staycation

Well, no pictures today. Sorry. But, man, it was a glorious day! Today was the first day in weeks that I had really nothing on the agenda, no plans with friends, no meetings, etc. It was great. I decided to use the day as a little "Staycation," since I don't have time right now to go on vacation.

I didn't sleep too late but had a little extra time. I drank two magnificent cups of coffee, ate a nice breakfast and spent extra time in the Word. I still exercised on Staycation, but that didn't bother me. Then, I stayed in slouchy clothes all day, reading the last Twilight book (Yeah. Addicted.) and watching movies. I also got a little craft time in, which I had been missing for a while.

The day kind of reminded me of those most excellent days on Christmas break from school (excpet that it was blazin' hot) when you stayed in your pj's all day just because you could. It felt nice to have a day that was completely free to rest and be lazy.

Don't worry. I'll be right back at it tomorrow with more pictures and daily life fun!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

19. Cooking from Scratch

This was our delicious breakfast this Sunday morning. This was after we were stuffed. Please disregard the "I am Canadian" mug. I am not Canadian.

Since moving to South Asia, cooking from scratch is a skill that we've been able to work on. Ready-made or pre-made/semi-made stuff is just not that available. This morning we had pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. Now the bacon is a story in and of itself. It came in a care package from America. It's that ready to serve stuff. You can't get bacon here. And it is a treat for special occasions only.

But, the syrup! Made from scratch. Yes, I know how to make syrup from scratch. It is so good. You'll notice that there is a syrup bottle in the background. We bought that before we learned how to make our own syrup. If I had a mixer or food processor, I would have made the peanut butter as well. But, we give in and buy the expensive imported stuff because we don't have the appliances needed to make our own peanut butter.

I love cooking from scratch. I feel so accomplished. My Grannie Ella would be proud. I can make tortillas, cakes, pie crusts, my own ground sausage (yep!), yogurt, sour cream, etc. Any beans that we eat are dry beans that we soak and then cook in the pressure cooker (oh, how I love the pressure cooker). I know how to make any baking recipe vegetarian (without eggs). I can bake bread. I make my own biscuits. I haven't made jam yet (still working on the supply of Mayhaw jelly my mama brought over). I have mastered my salsa recipe since coming here, and I know how to jar it to make it last for months. I plan on learning to make my own cheese.

I am going to make a good wife. ;-)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

18. NP stands for...


Probably not what "NP" on the truck stands for, but, hey, good enough. Quiet moments...they are so hard to come by here. If the back of the "lorry" is any indicator, it is just fine to "please sound horn please (please!!)" at all hours of the day and night. I'm not kidding.

One thing is for sure. It is very noisy here. Ask my mama. She can hear it...on Skype. Random music blaring from the temple down the street, the call to prayer from the nearby mosques, car/auto/lorry/bus/two-wheeler horns (and brakes...screech!), public announcements on loudspeakers, etc. It is chaotic and noisy!

My building is on a main road, and my apartment is at the front of the building. Near a bus stand. Enough. said. All day every day the sounds of traffic permeate our little humble abode. There really is not a moment of quiet. On top of that, the construction is (you guessed it!) still underway on the flat next to us. It's only quiet from about 2-5 a.m. Seriously.

If I had a recorder, I would let you hear it. But, alas, I do not.

Friday, April 17, 2009

17. Hope

Weekly, we have the pleasure of helping at a center that works to rehabilitate women who have been involved in commercial sex work (prostitution). The center is called Rahab's Rope, and it is a haven for women trying to make a new life for themselves and leave behind the trade.

Most often than not, the women became commercial sex workers (CSWs) because they were forced to or sold by someone close to them, perhaps a father or husband, or because life circumstances led them to do this as a way to provide for themselves and their families. All of their stories are heart-breaking.

Rahab's strives to rehabilitate the women physically, emotionally and spiritually. Up to 30 women are given a home in the center along with any young children they may have. They are given the opportunity to learn English, basic math and other skills like sewing and jewelry-making so that they can leave the life of prostitution and find other work. They are also assisted with medical care (many may have HIV/AIDS) and childcare as well as financial help to attend nursing school, beauty school or basic college classes.

When we go to the center we are able to help with the English and math classes as well as teach stories from God's Word. Many of the women are choosing to follow Him and are being discipled at the center. Recently, we began to start thinking of other ways that we could help, and we decided that some sort of arts and crafts project would be fun. It would give the women something creative to do and bring beauty into their lives. We decided that each woman should make a scrapbook about their lives.

Since Reba's mom came last week, we had her bring out disposable cameras and scrapbooking supplies, donated by friends and family. We bought the women small scrapbooks. Today we went to have a "lesson" in scrapbooking. Our friend Camille, an excellent photographer, came and taught the ladies basic photography skills and presented them with their disposable cameras.

We then showed them some examples of scrapbook pages. We put all the papers and stickers and scissors out in the middle of the circle and let them go at it! It was cute because, at first, they really weren't sure about what to do or confident to do it. But, once they got going, they really got going. They were able to create some beautiful pages. They will keep their cameras for a few weeks and then bring them back for us to develop. Later, they will put the pictures into their scrapbooks.

We hope this scrapbook will help them be able to creatively express themselves and give them something to represent the new life they are trying to lead. Please lift up these women and their children as they are continually trying to escape the slavery of commerical sex work. Please also plead on behalf of their salvation.

me and some of the cutest kids ever

Thursday, April 16, 2009

16. This is...

American Idol!

Every week we get a little slice of American pop culture when AI airs here on Thursday nights (two days late for you, Facebookers, don't ruin it for us). It has kinda become roommate tradition for us since our neighbors let us borrow a television until we leave.

I know it seems silly, but it's a highlight of the week that we look forward to and often talk about. I think it helps us feel a little connected and like we are "in the American loop" to be able to talk about and discuss something that is popular at home. Most other shows that air here are re-runs from previous seasons. So, it's nice to be "current." We also enjoy making fun of Paula because, really, when does she ever make sense?

I couldn't post about my daily life here without mentioning our little guilty pleasure.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

15. Day O' Shopping

Today we had a full day of shopping! We started early and went down to the famous commercial area of our city. I took a few pictures to show you what a little shopping looks like here.

This picture is a street view of one of the busiest shopping areas in our city. But, this was very early (10:30 a.m.) and not a lot of shops were open nor people out and about.

This is the "Dupatta Center." We stopped here to find a few scarves and shawls. Look at the selection!

Bangle shops are so fun! There is such a selection, and you can get the guys that work there to match your bangles combination to the shirt or suit you just bought!

Finally, this picture shows you how skillfully people run businesses from their bicycles. This guy sells coconut water to hot and thirsty shoppers. Apparently, it's "good for digestion" and "for when you are overheating." But, then again, most things are, according to nationals. I, personally, think it's disgusting!

FYI: The coconut water guy is just one example of a traveling/roadside businessman. I'll post one day about the many things you can buy on the side of the road. It will amaze you.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

14. Precept study

Have you ever done a Kay Arthur Precept upon Precept Bible study? Last year I did my first one with some of the ladies in my city. Precepts offers inductive Bible studies that focus on observing, interpreting and applying God's Word in our daily lives. Last year we did the "A Divided Heart...A Divided Nation" study in the Kings and Prophets series about Kings David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam and Abijam. Today we started our second study together: "God Searches for a Heart Fully His" which continues from the first study.

I really like Precepts because the daily lessons get you studying the Word thoroughly, providing back-up Scriptures, other references and historical information and asks questions that help you apply what you read from God's Word to your daily life. It's really neat to take the Old Testament and seek out personal application from it this way. The studies also teach you effective ways to study your Bible. I really encourage everyone to try a Precept study at some point. For more information, go to the Precept Ministries International Web site. Click HERE.

Monday, April 13, 2009

13. The tailor's shop

One thing I love about living here is the clothing! Saris for fancy occasions (everyday wear for nationals), salwar kameez suits for days when I want to make sure I am traditionally and culturally appropriate and then kurtis with jeans/pants for casual days.

Every piece of clothing here is so colorful, and you can have everything made to fit you (hey, I love's not easy to find clothes that fit this 4'8" frame). These are some pics I took today when we visited one of our favorite tailor's shop. He has made me salwar suits, hemmed my jeans, put darts in tops and made kurtis for me. The tailor is excellent at what he does and can make just about anything you want if you show him a picture.

The process of picking out your clothes is quite fun but can be a little overwhelming. When you enter the shop, you tell the store worker what you are looking for...a ready-made salwar kameez suit, salwar kameez material or material to have a kurti made. He then directs you to that area of the shop. It often looks like this:

Then, you start trying to find the perfect material for you! This is hard because, as you can see, there is a lot to choose from. To help, you can tell him what material you want: cotton, synthetic, soft cotton, a blend, etc. Then you can begin to weed out by color, telling him you don't want orange or that you are looking for something that is pink, for example.

He then begins to show you material you like or that he thinks you will like. If you are buying a salwar suit, you need to make sure that you like all three pieces of material and that those three pieces match. The material for the pant (salwars) and the scarf (dupatta) should be about the same and the top (kameez) should compliment and coordinate. I say should on purpose.

Once you find your perfect material, the tailor takes your measurements, you leave it there for a few days and then come back to pick-up your custom-made suit. It should cost you less than $10 if you are a fairly thrifty shopper like us. Here is the tailor altering a shirt he made me. Notice the manual sewing machine...better in case there are power cuts.

I have this plan to go buy a lot of beautiful fabric (not hard here) and have a few dresses and maybe even a pant suit made before I head back Stateside. I have full confidence that whatever he makes will look like I got it at JCrew or the Gap!

Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

12. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we now have been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! For if, when we were still God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation."
Romans 5:6-11

These are the verses I read this morning. Praise God for His love. Even while we were still in sin, disobedient and rebellious, Christ died for us! For me. For you. His death and resurrection provided the only way for us to be reconciled to God, to have a perfect relationship with God...the kind that Adam and Eve had before the fall. They walked with Him, talked with Him and had an intimate relationship with the Creator God. Then they disobeyed. The perfect relationship was broken; they were separated from God. Their new destiny: death.

We all fall short of God's glory. We all sin and, therefore, we all face death. But, Jesus came. The perfect, sinless sacrifice. Beaten, ridiculed, mocked and murdered. All for love. To reconcile us to God. To free us from sin and death. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Only through Jesus can we have a right relationship with God. "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved...for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" (Romans 10:9,13)

I pray that each of you knows this as truth and already have a right relationship with God through Jesus. If not, I pray that you will ask God to show you truth. He will only show you Jesus.

Moving on...

I heart Easter!! What a great time it is to share with friends, family and neighbors who don't know about the One, True God.

We had a great day. It began with a little Jesus time and then a gift from the Easter bunny (also known as Reba's mom...have a told you how wonderful it is to have a mother in the house?).

special delivery

Then, we attended an Easter church service. Afterwards, we began to set up and prepare for the Easter celebration we hosted in our home for our neighbors.

First, the kids came over. They heard the Easter story through resurrection eggs (google it). We had cake and played a few games. They were so fun and so attentive to the Easter story. They asked great questions. We pray that they will hide the things they have heard in their little learning hearts and one day follow Him. Here are some pictures.

Afterwards, the women and older kids came over for a viewing of The Passion of the Christ (sorry, I didn't get any photos). Boy, was it powerful. I sobbed and sobbed, of course. I hadn't seen it since I watched it in the theater. All the women were very moved and asked a few questions. Some of them had seen it before, but it was the first time for many. We are asking for fruit and hoping to see even more interest from them in days to come. It got late, and we didn't get a good chance to have a discussion. Our plan is to go by our friends' homes individually to talk to them about the movie and what they saw.

As we sat around tonight talking about the day, the one thing we all talked about as being so amazing and such a privilege is that we have been the first to tell them Truth. Awesome.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

11. Egg Hunt

Every year at Easter ex-pats (also known as "foreigners") in the city get together for an Easter Egg Hunt. Hunting eggs probably seems a little ridiculous to nationals (you should have seen the looks I got just carrying along brightly colored eggs in an auto...what? is that unusual?).

Here are a few pictures from the day.

craft table

relay races

the Easter story

and, of course, the egg hunt

Friday, April 10, 2009

10. A Good Friday

Today was a very good day! Sorry I am so late to post.

Reba's mom came and brought goodies from home for us...including M & M's, Starbucks coffee, Easter candy and more.

Then we made invitation cards for our Easter celebration that we will host at our home on Sunday. We delivered them to neighbors and friends and then went to a nice dinner out at an Asian restaurant.

The finished cards! Aren't the cute?

It was a good day!