Friday, July 8, 2011

A place in my heart

Today was an emotional roller coaster. We woke up and went for a walk through the village. It is such a cool thing to do as the sun is rising and as the people are getting up and starting their day. It’s so cool how this little community comes together. Its just like a big family that stretches within this mile long street. Its cool to see them cooking meals and cleaning dishes and clothes. I love to just see the families and how they interact. Again, I felt like I was in a dream- just walking down this road that came straight out of a movie. After our walk we got ready for the day- a day of more hauling bricks. Such a good work out. We moved almost 2,000 bricks today, in two hours, with 7 people. I’d say that’s pretty dang impressive. Am I kind of glad I don’t have to do it again? Yeah- one would say so. On the other side of things- saying bye to the kids was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I can explain that later.

After construction we came back and a few of us went to play dress up!  We put on a saris! It was the best thing. We had one of the little Indian ladies who works at the school pin it all up for us, which is a dang complicated process. It was so cool though. We put them on, with our bindis (DOT) and bangles. We have a photographer here in this session with us who wanted to take some pictures of us with them on. It was so fun. I just cant believe the women here where them everyday! That is mind blowing. But after we took pictures we headed over to play-time with the kids! It was amazing. So much fun just to hang out with them and play. I love this part of the day. They are crazy and funny and well, kids. I love them all. We stayed a little longer then usual today and got to listen to their prayers and songs that they do together. It was incredible. All of these kids who were just running around screaming, are now sitting in lines, singing songs in Tamul, and kneeling to pray together. Then a house-mother read something from the bible and they all just listened. It was so amazing to watch these kids and be sitting with them, being a part of it all. At such little age they have such amazingly great faith. What an example each and everyone of them are to me. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know them.

We ate our last Indian meal up on the roof today. It was so yummy and it was such a cool experience. We all went around and said the number one thing we learned here and that we want to take back with us. It was so cool to hear everyone’s perspectives and be able to agree on so many different things. After dinner, was family time. Heart-wrenching. I do not like goodbyes. We played games, and laughed a lot, and they jumped all over me. We played telephone- oh man they were so funny. They kept teasing  each other about different girls and saying that they would marry fat girls. They crack me up. I honestly can’t get enough of these kids. We all sat together, me and 20 little boys, just talking and laughing. It was time for me to leave, but I definitely didn’t want to. Oh gosh, I was a mess. Ill be completely honest with you. It killed me. I just have so much love for these kids. It’s like this motherly bond with them, where I care so much for each one of them and I just want the best for them and I don’t ever want them to be hurt or sad. It was so hard leaving them, knowing I will most likely never see them again. I cant even put into words how hard it was.

I have learned SOOO much while being here in India. The people I have met, the experiences I have gone through, and the things I have seen have changed my life for forever. I am honestly a different person then I was 3 weeks ago. I will try and put into words the main things that pop out at me of the things I have learned. One of the biggest things that I have learned from the Indian people, is how to truly love. These kids loved us from the second we walked in here. They didn’t know our background, our name, who we were and where we were from, but they loved us.  These kids all knew that we were here for 3 weeks, and that we would soon be leaving them. That didn’t stop them from opening their hearts completely and fully loving us and wanting to pay with us. They just wanted to be loved, so to do so- they loved. What an amazing life lesson. The people from the colonies showed their overwhelming love from the moment they saw our van pull up. They come outside with their hands in the air, so excited for help. They would kiss my hands and my face and offer me things they had. Their pure love will never be forgotten. It was such a cool thing to me to see these people of India and the immediate love I feel. They don’t judge anyone, they just love them. To me, this is an important lesson to take home- to love everyone. To never even have to think about it, just to love.

I think its cool to that we are able to find beauty in everything. Almost all of India is trash. The streets are gross, zero sanitation, and you are never clean. Yet, a place full of trash somehow pulled the trash out of me. It got rid the things that I didn’t like about myself. I feel cleansed, while being in such a dirty place.

Another thing I love about these people is the hope and the faith that never ever fades. They can be going through such a hard thing, where it would be so easy to turn bitter and upset. They have had almost everything taken away from them, almost to the point where they have nothing. They live these hard hard lives, but they are all so hopeful about the future, and so loving to God. They are constantly praying and giving thanks and always showing their love. I think it is so cool that no matter what- God is first. They will never be upset with Him, or blame Him for anything. Just pure, undying love. What amazing spirits these people have.

I love how simple the people out here live. Just have the most important things, and that’s all they need. They don’t stress about wordly things, or what they are going to do in the future. They focus on that day, that moment. The Indian culture is so centered around families and relationships. The way these men treat their wives in the colonies was so beautiful. They were proud to show off their spouse, and to take care of each other. The people in the village, and at the school and colony, live off so little. Most have a hut, a few pots, a water basket, and a couple other little things. They don’t need the new latest fashion items or the next best ipod. They live the life they have and are happy with it. I think its an awesome thing to simplify your life and to really focus on the things that matter most to you.

I really could go on forever about the things I learned from India. This place has literally changed me as a person. I will never forget the smiling faces of these kids, who have been through more than most of us will ever see in our days. I will never forget the hands and the feet of these leprosy afflicted people, who mean so much. The worth of their soul is so great. They are so strong and so happy. Never take what you have for granted. Enjoy all you have, and remember you don’t always have to be the biggest and the best. Be happy with all you have, and thank the source that it truly came from. I just have learned so much about service and how important it is in the human race. I want to come home and continue serving. I think it is so crucial to our happiness, as well as the happiness of the people around us. Being a little less selfish will do so much goo in the world.

Really quick, it is my cousin Katie’s birthday today. All day today I have been thinking about her, and how much love she would have for these people. Her soul is so full of love, to absolutely everyone. She would have so much love for someone before even meeting them. She would never judge a person, I don’t even think she could judge someone if she tried. I just kept thinking about how pure and selfless and what an amazing person she was. I am so thankful for examples like this in my life to look up to and strive to be like.

All in all, India was AMAZING. The best experience in my life. I have learned so many things about myself and other people. I am so much more grateful for the things I have, and the life I live. We are so lucky and so blessed to live in America. Never take our freedom and our advanced society for granted. Find Joy in the little things in life. Branch out to other people, because everyone is human and everyone is a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. Thank you for whoever has read my blog and kept up with my adventures. It has been something that I will never ever forget, and I feel so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to experience it all.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My heart is full of India

When I look back at my India trip, today is one that will definitely stick out in my mind. Today was an AMAZING day. One of those days that will never leave me. We went to the colony to help the leprosy afflicted people receive some medical attention. My job today was washing and cleaning the ulcers that these people have. A little about the disease- it’s a bacteria or an infection that causes permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Basically it kills the nerves so they can’t feel certain parts of their body. So when they are sitting for long periods of times, unlike you and I, they don’t feel the same thing we feel. Our body tells us to get up or move when or legs fall asleep or pain and numbness kicks in. For them, the reason they have all of these ulcers, their body doesn’t tell them when to move. So when they sit long periods of time cross-legged or something, the skin by their ankles starts deteriorating and forms an ulcer. There is a lot more to the disease and I don’t know a ton about it but that is why they have all these huge open wounds. Anyways, it was my job today to wash the ulcers and scrub them. It can be a really hard job, because I can see how sore it looks- but most of them can’t feel it. However, there was one woman who pointed to her sore and by her facial expressions I could tell she was in pain. It really gets to me when these people are suffering so much. It’s almost to the point where I don’t even want to ask about their life stories. Almost every person I talked to had one of their close family members pass away. One lady today was sitting in front of me as I cleaned her ulcers. I asked her if she is married, and she said her husband died. Then she said she has one kid. I asked her how old, and she did these hand motions and I finally figured out that her daughter died. Another little girl, Trisha, from the school was with us at the colony. Her grandma is very sick and probably in her last days, so she came to see her. I asked her how many brothers and sisters she had. She told me one older brother and one little sister. I asked her how old her sister was, and she told me she died. I said I’m sorry and asked how old her brother was, hoping to change the subject. Trisha told me he died too. For this little girl to have to go through so much loss and heartache just blows my mind. There were so many moments today when I felt the spirit so strong and wanted to just tell all these people how much our Heavenly Father loves them. One of the most amazing thing about these people is their faith. No matter who they believe is the greatest power, none of them stop believing. No matter what disease they have, what loss and pain they have to go through, they always keep that constant faith. Being in the colonies with these people, I have seen so many prayers being said. These people are not afraid to just start praying and thanking the Lord. One man slowly walked by my station with his cane in hand, and he was saying something in Tamul. He stopped and looked at me and said in English, God bless you. Right there was one of those moments. One of those moments that makes me stop and realize how much God loves every single one of His children. He gives us each different trials and obstacles pertaining to what we can handle. He gives us each our own personal problems in our lives, knowing that we have the strength to overcome them. He would never give us something too hard to handle. Each trial we go through is specifically given to us because He knows we have the capacity to gain strength from it. Like these people with Leprosy, never lose faith and hope. Don’t be afraid to share the things you believe. Life is too precious to not share the things you are blessed with.

In between washing two peoples feet, I ventured off into the next little room from where we were working. There was this man who was painting this beautiful picture. I sat next to him, and watched as his disfigured hands held this paintbrush. He slowly dipped his paintbrush, and carefully touched it to the paper. He had immense concentration while he tried to perfectly continue the beauty of this painting. I told him it was beautiful. I found out that his wife died, and he has 2 sons who are now married with kids, but he doesn’t get to see them very often. He already has so little, and his family is almost nonexistent. I sat there and watched him finish his painting, adding the last white dots. I was amazed. Not only is it hard enough for him to hold a paintbrush, but for him to put together this precise painting was unbelievable. Can ya’ll guess what happened next in the story? Yep. I bought it. I mean how could I not right? The money for this art program they have going here helps pay for the art supplies, as well as gives money to the artist and the colony. To see how happy and accomplished he felt when I handed him the money for the painting he just finished was amazing. That is definitely something that I will cherish forever.

As we finished washing feet, I could just feel how thankful these people were. They kissed my hands and had the most sincere heart melting smiles on their faces. I can’t even describe the love that I have for all of them. I think its kind of a cool thing to do- wash their feet. I know our Savior washed His disciples feet. I thought about this today, and what this act truly meant. I know that I am simply medically helping these people who have these ulcers, but it hit me when I was washing one lady’s feet today. They have to wait and soak their feet, waiting to be oiled. It sometimes takes a little bit of time to wait for the oil, and the people usually get really antsy. This woman was sitting at my station, with her raw feet soaking in the water, wanting to go to the next chair. I told her she had to wait, and I figured while we were waiting I would wash her shins and massage her calves. I know she can’t feel when I am washing her sores, but she definitely could feel her legs. I kept eye contact with her, to make sure I wasn’t; hurting her or anything, and she smiled and sat back in her chair. She said “super” and gave me a thumbs up. She was relaxed. It hit me right there, the literal act of washing another’s feet. With the right attitude, it’s a service of humility. Our Teacher and Savior, washed His disciples feet, an act which is usually done by the lowliest of people. He taught that if He were to wash their feet, they must wash others feet as well. He teaches that we are all of the same equality, and we all must serve each other. Because our Savior died for us, we were able to be cleansed from our sins. However, we are all of the natural human, and we may “dirty our feet” while living in this world. Washing of the feet is an amazing literally and spiritual way to cleanse ourselves as well as the people around us. I just think it is so cool that Jesus Christ was able to sit and wash peoples feet. I think it is so important to serve others. It is such a humbling experience to wash the Leprosy afflicted peoples feet. To be able to get down below them, and do something for them, while they just sit a minute and be able to be served. I just love it.

We said our goodbyes, cleaned up, and went back to the school! We surprised the kids with a water balloon fight at playtime! SO much fun. We had buckets and buckets of water balloons, and the second we unleashed the beasts, the balloons were gone. Of course it turned into grabbing the buckets and any bottles and filling them up and soaking everyone and everything in sight. It was so much fun. I felt like I was 10 years old again. Running around with these kids throwing water at them. They were all so happy and excited. They would dump water on me and laugh and run away. Hearing these kids laugh and play is the best thing in the world. After a long time of water fights, we were all by the music as some of the kids just started bustin out these moves. Most adorable thing I have ever seen. Some of these kids have such a passion for dancing- ahh I love it. I just wish you all could see everything I saw today. It was a magical day.


San Jay- what a little punk. :)