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"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." - Sarah Williams

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It’s Sweaty Here.

We are here! In India. Our arrival to Kochi airport introduced us to the warm, humid rainforest of Kerala. It's sweaty here. We were met by Brother Joseph (Papa) and one of the children of Aswasa Bhavan (the oldest girl- my age). They were very excited to meet us, and helped us put our bags into the car at 4:00am. We were told that we looked Indian (wearing our Indian garb), except for our hair. If we had dark hair we would look very Indian. Katrina Elyse sticks out like a sore thumb from the neck up, and it was interesting to walk past loads of people in the airport with all eyes on us. Our very kind driver assisted us by barreling through the streets alllll the way home. It was an adventure, to say the least. It was kind of like a Disney Land ride- we drove on the left side of the road; we swerved to the right side; we careened back to the left side so as not to hit an oncoming car; we slipped past many bikes and motorcycles; we honked at and swung around many human beings out for a leisurely 4:00am stroll… It was exciting. Also, my rear end got a nice workout from keeping my body firmly planted in my seatbelt-less seat. Those three hours were spent talking, watching the towns fly by, and holding our breath on numerous occasions whilst praying that we would not kill someone/ourselves. :D Welcome to India!

The smell is very distinctly rainforest. I remember this smell from Panama, only here it is much stronger. There are so many beautiful green plants! Banana trees, Palm trees, Mango trees, Sweet Lime trees, Casava Yucca (tapioca) trees, Aloe Vera plants, and a zillion others that I don't know the names for. We were greeted at Aswasa Bhavan by all of the children who stood around us and clapped with huge grins on their faces. It was exciting to see all the beautiful faces (finally)! We were shown to our room, which is quaint. As we unpacked everything, we realized that not only were we drenched in sweat but so was most of our belongings. The humidity here makes everything damp. Our toiletry bottles were all slippery, the paper was limp, and even our walls were damp. That'll take some getting used to. We ate breakfast (a spicy lentil and rice mix) during which my nose ran. After a nap from 9:30am to 3:30pm, our new friends were stunned that we could sleep so long and not have lunch! We bathed before reentering the household. When I say "bathed," I mean we tried to figure out how to get the (cold) water from the bucket onto our bodies, soap ourselves, and then repeat the process until we were clean, all the while trying to keep the water within our bathing perimeter so as not to drench everything else in our bathroom. Did we succeed? Well, we were clean in the end, but our bathroom was soggy as well. How we got our hair washed is beyond me. This practice happens twice a day, so I feel confident that we will master the art soon enough.

We took tea (numerous times throughout the day) and met a handful of the smaller children. This was probably the best part of the day. We were surrounded by beautiful smiles, and had conversations in Broken English as well as tried to learn some new Malayalam words. The kids were so excited to be able to practice their English, but maybe more excited to be able to teach us Malayalam. They showed us their school books, laughed when we tried to speak Malayalam, and were very happy to be with us (as we were happy to be with them). It was so cute to watch them try to touch Katrina's hair when she let it down. They were barely touching it, so she wouldn't feel them, but they wanted to so badly! One of the adults saw them and quickly told them to stop. They were reluctant to do so (as they kept staring at her hair with that look- "I just want to feel it one more time!") but they stopped. Katrina said it was similar to the situation where the three year old boy I babysit saw a cat- He REALLY wanted to pet it, but he was really scared to approach it… but he really wanted to pet it. Such a predicament! We were exhausted by 7:00 and hadn't even eaten dinner! We joined the girl's prayer time, and then were fed a delicious (and spicy) meal. We have been trying to learn how to eat with our fingers, which is funny for our friends who think we are like babies. Bonus: I got them laughing when my nose started running and I kept sniffling. They were cracking up at that and kept saying (in Malayalam) "she's crying! She's crying!" Funny? Sure. Embarrassing? You betcha. :)

We went to bed, and only talked for about ten minutes beforehand (can you believe it!). Since we had to wake up at 5:00 the next morning, we were hoping that we wouldn't be zombies. Luckily, I woke up rip roarin' ready to go!... at 3:00am. Since Katrina Elyse was awake too, we just talked more and laughed a TON about our situation and how funny everything was. Mostly that we were so incredibly awake at that ungodly hour. It's 11:00am now, and we have successfully been awake for eight whole hours. I'm looking forward to seeing how we will manage to stay awake for another 10 hours.

As I'm writing this, I'm hearing car horns, roosters crow, birds singing, crows cawing, hammers banging, cows moo, dogs barking, bugs chirping, girls talking, and some other strange and unidentifiable noises. It's great! Everything is so beautiful here (especially the people)! We haven't been allowed to participate in chores, and all of the kids are off at school currently. So today we've had a lot of time to ourselves. We aren't sure what our role should be during this intermittent period, but we are looking forward to (and anxious about) starting school on Friday. We are going to be the best non-certified, blue eyed, American, non-Malayalam speaking white girl teachers they have ever seen! With God's help, we can do anything. We are so excited to be here, and to be listening for God's direction. Prayers are always appreciated, and needed in our relationship as brothers and sisters across the globe. Sister Anina ("Mommy") is having surgery today- a hysterectomy; prayers would be much appreciated.

Thank you all for your prayers and support, and praise God for our safe travels and the opportunity to become a part of the Body of Christ in India! God is always good. Much love,

Sydney Lin

By the way, I saw bats last night. These are no ordinary bats. They're like franken-zilla-nuclear-experiment-gone-wrong GIANTS. They were like the size of my arm from armpit to wrist (in case you don't know this, I have arms akin to a spider monkey's- they're miles long). They were as big as the huge crows in PA. I was so excited (or was it thunderstruck?) at the sight that I was speechless- I could only thump Katrina Elyse's arm over and over again while pointing up in the sky. It's exciting to be here!

Question: Can a surge protector get fried? Answer: Yes. Yes, it can.

We’re Finally Here!

Hello friends and family! I'm writing this from the last leg of our last flight. We are due to arrive in Kochin in 30 minutes!

We had two safe flights and an adventurous connection in between. Due to a last minute gate change (from 37 to 17) we ended up RUNNING from one side of the airport to the other with no time at all before our flight left without us! When we finally made our way to gate 17, to our horror, the entrance was closed off! Thanks to a kind airport employee, we were able to rush through the security check for gate 15 and book it down to 17. We made our flight by the skin of our teeth, or perhaps by our breathlessly whispered prayers. Sydney and I were the last two people to board. Thankfully we made it!

Traveling internationally is kind of a strange and disorienting experience. It seems like for the last 20 hours it's been night time. On the first plane there was some day light, but Sydney and I were seated in the middle row and the shades were drawn for most of the flight. It's a confusing thing to be in the dark for so long. I bet the jet-lag will be difficult to adjust to. I'm shutting this down for now as we were just instructed to prepare for landing… :-D


29 September 2010 – Wednesday (Kerala)

Our first 24 hours at our new home

Hello all! Sydney and I have now spent a full 24 hours here at Aswasa Bhavan, our new home. There were difficulties with the internet access, and I will be posting this as soon as I can.

Wow, what can I say? After a wonderful introduction to Joseph (known as Pa-pa to all the kids), our host, we had an exciting drive from the airport to Aswasa Bhavan. This place is truly gorgeous. When we pulled around the last bend there were many small smiling faces beaming with joy at our arrival. We entered the main house and there we met Aneena (or Mommy as all the children call her). The boys kindly carried our luggage into the house and we were offered our first cup of Chai (Black tea with milk and sugar). After a few minutes of chatting and a phone call to our parents, we were taken to our room a short distance from the main house.

Our room is much bigger than I had imagined. We walked in and found a spacious room with a double bed and a small desk. There was also a stair case leading to an upper level which contained two twin beds and a locker, which looks like a filing cabinet, another small desk and a mirror on the wall. There was a small green T.V. set under the window. Down stairs we have a closet and a bathroom. What a pleasant surprise – we have a western toilet! We weren't really sure what to expect, but we were ready for whatever was to come our way. After showing us around the room, we were instructed to bathe and rest, and then to go and find Vava-Chechi (the elder sister who came to pick us up at the airport with Joseph) when we were ready for breakfast… or was it dinner? Maybe it was lunch? It was 8am in Kerala, which translates to about 10:30pm EST. I was so confused.

We had just barely finished getting things settled in when Vava-Chechi came and called for us. She said it was time for breakfast, so we went back to the main house. We had some sort of brown rice flour and coconut cake/log thing and a green pea … sauce (for lack of a better word). It was spicy or "chilly" as our sisters here call it. At first we were given forks. An Austrailan had visited Aswasa Bhavan in the past and ate only with spoon and fork, so they expected that of us. We wanted to learn to eat with our hands. Haha! So Vava-Chechi demonstrated for us, after much confusion when we tried to explain our child-like request. Once we learned, we ate a lot! After finishing one thing we were given something else! This will take much practice. We were told we are like little babies when we eat. Haha, I'll take that as a complement. After this we returned back to our room.

When we left on our journey, Sydney and I discussed just staying awake our whole first day to help us adjust to the jet-lag. Yeah, that didn't happen. Haha! Even now I laugh when I think about it. I cannot, ever, remember a time in my life when I have been SO tired. Ever! Which is pretty crazy for me. If you know me, you know I have spells of lacking sleep. So I laid down upstairs on one of the twin beds below the fan and fell asleep. It was so hot and humid! And it was only 8:30 in the morning.
Sydney woke up first, and we both had no idea what time it was. Such a weird feeling. We finally figured it was about 3 in the afternoon. We both bathed. Oh yes, I forgot to describe our bath. It's a bucket. And a cup with a handle. Right next to the toilet in the small bathroom. This is another new thing for which we must learn the art.

We decided we wanted to get out of the room and meet people. So we headed back to what Sydney and I have named the Red Porch (which is outside the main house) and sat on the casara (bench). Then all the children came! What a delightful and confusing experience! They all started saying hello and asking "how are you? I am fine." We were again offered Chai and given a snack called Micha. We were still so full from breakfast that we could not accept their offer for lunch which confused them. One young man taught us our first "magic" Malayalam phrase, Pearenda, it means "what's your name?" :-D excited about our new found key to opening conversation with the children, Sydney looked at one of the little girls and parroted the phrase we had just learned. ! It worked! The little girl smiled a huge beautiful smile and made the foreign sounds which compose her name. And so the snow ball began to fall. All of the girls and boys wanted to teach us their names. Thankfully I had brought along a small notebook Serina gave to me. I wrote down their names and tried to write down all the new words we were learning. This lasted for what felt like a few hours, maybe it was? Even though I had just slept for 6ish hours, I was still SOOO tired. Sydney and I decided it would be best if we could just have dinner and go back to our room and sleep. So we asked Vava-Chechi and she prepared another delicious meal.

Right before the meal one of the older girls invited us to join them for evening prayers. It was a great experience, I can't wait until I've been here long enough to actually understand what happened! Haha. In India all women must cover their heads when praying and reading from scripture. So we began, all the girls were sitting Indian style on the floor in two rows. They put their scarves over their heads and began singing and clapping loudly. The only word I understood was Yesu. It was a strange kind of beautiful. Like I said, I can't wait to understand and participate. Then they read Numbers chapter 5 and Psalm 138. Then we bowed our heads and knelt and prayed. After this everyone got up and went their way. We had our dinner, which was much more food than breakfast, and made our way back to sleep. I'm such an American. I cannot believe how many times I asked different people "what are we doing tomorrow?" All I really wanted to know was what time we were expected to be up and around. The verdict? "we get up at 5 every day" oh boy! The sun doesn't even rise until 5:45. They have morning prayer at 5:30, then they do their duties (chores). We were to join them for prayer. And we retired to our room. What a long but good day! I expected to sleep and sleep, I was so tired I didn't think my legs would carry me to the bed. After figuring out how to set an alarm we went to sleep. At around 3am both Sydney and I were wide awake, ready to go! Thankfully they do get up so early here. If they began their day at 8, we would have to wait a whole 5 hours before anyone would be around. So we talked and laughed a lot about all of our experiences and the things we learned and the things we didn't understand. And about how we were totally awake right then. We reviewed all our new words and the children's names. We read from Acts and spent some time praying. We bathed and got dressed, and still we had a little time! Finally 5:30 rolled around and we headed up to the main house for morning prayer. This time we read from Proverbs.

After this we just sat on the red porch and read and talked to various people. We had some coffee and a delicious breakfast. We were told yesterday that today we would go to school and see how that works. But today we were told it is another day for rest. So we've been trying to fill our time with any activity that does not include napping…. I'm not sure how successful we will be :-)

Finally brothers and sisters, I'd like to ask for prayer for Mommy Aneena. She has been in the hospital since yesterday morning, shortly after Sydney and I arrived. She is having a surgery and will be there for the next few days. Everyone is a bit anxious for her and she is always in thought and prayer. Please pray for us as we are learning everything, how to eat, speak, bathe and dress.

Peace, hope and tropical humidity,

Katrina Elyse

Sunday, September 26, 2010

We're off!

We are headed off to the airport! I'll post something as soon as I can when we get settled in. Don't expect to hear anything until Tuesday evening (or will it be morning?).

Peace and excitement out our ears!

Katrina and Sydney

Saturday, September 25, 2010

On Your Mark, Get set… Go!

Today is our last day at home. There has been so much going on and so much to think and pray about.

Sydney and I spent some time together last night. We went down to the lake and just talked and prayed about the coming days. We talked about what might be coming in the future and saying goodbye to everyone, to our homes, to the things that are comfortable and familiar. Sydney and I are ready to go. We are ready to be stretched and shaped and to work hard and love hard.

We realized something last night, we have been terribly blessed to be here. Don't get me wrong, we know we are blessed. We have always had enough, and even when things get a little tight, we have always been able to make it through. We are very grateful for that.

The other day a friend came over to pray with us (and to bake cookies). During our time of prayer my mom prayed that Sydney and I may "Live dangerously" after Christ. Not just that we'd be safe and healthy, but that we will live on the edge, seeking and pushing to the extreme. It's kind of crazy to hear your mom ask for you to be in danger… well, not in danger, but that she is ok and trusting that God will guide and protect us in His name where ever we go, whatever we end up doing. We have lived here in the US all our lives living relatively comfortably and seeking as best we can while still having all the comforts of home nestled around us. Now, as we head out, Sydney and I are ready to let these things go. We want this to be a step closer to giving up all to follow Christ. We are appreciative of all we have had, we truly are. But now is the time. Now is the time to take a deep breath and jump in!

Living with a sense of urgency may not be something everyone feels. I feel this urgency so strongly. Every time I say goodbye to someone, I want to know that things are ok between us, that my conscious is clear and that peace exists. You never know what tomorrow may bring. I think there is a lot of joy in that. I know it's not always possible, but whenever it is, I try to live at peace with everyone, so long as it depends on me (Rom 12:18). Yet at the same time, there has been a lot of rest during these days in which I feel such a strong urgency. It is good.

Sydney and Dad are watching the movie 300. I haven't seen much of it, all I know is it's about Spartans fighting a battle. It reminded me of the words spoken over Sydney and I at Lords Valley several weeks back. We are to enter this vocation with a firm shoulder and strong commitment to our Master, fully embracing the truth found in the Armor of God. This is my prayer for us.

Ephesians 6:10-20:

 10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

 19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.


Well, I'm off to spend some time with my parents before we make sure all the final odds and ends are safely tucked into our carry-ons. Then it's off to a last good night's sleep in our beds. We'll go to Church in the morning and then Sydney and I leave in the afternoon! The flight leaves at 11pm and we arrive early in the morning on Tuesday (according to the time in India), which is 7:30pm on Monday, EST. I may post something before I leave head to the airport, but we'll have to see what the day brings. If not, I'll write as soon as I can so that you all know we made it to Kerela safe and sound!

Peace and smiles full of excitement,

Katrina Elyse




Thursday, September 23, 2010


The visa has finally arrived!!! Everything is here and in place, we are just waiting for Sunday to come :-)

I will be writing a longer post soon, perhaps tonight, perhaps tomorrow. It will be soon!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Visa News!

Praise God! After many fervent prayers and many unanswered phone calls we have received word that Sydney's Visa has finally been processed and is in the mail! We should be holding it in our hands by Thursday!!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us. Please continue to left up our journey, our family at home as we eagerly anticipte our departure this Sunday and our family in India.

Katrina Elyse

Monday, September 20, 2010

***Change in Plans***

Hey everyone,

As I hope you all know, Sydney and I was scheduled to leave the US today at about 11pm. As you also know we have been eagerly waiting for Sydney's visa to arrive. Her visa is still being processed but we have good hope that we will get it by the end of the week. So as of now, we will both be waiting in the States until Sunday.

We know that God is faithful. We know that God has called us to serve in India. We know that we don't understand these delays but we are looking forward to using our time as wisely as we can to further prepare for this trip. Our spirits are at peace and we are praying that God make himself manifest in our lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters at Aswasa Bhavan (http://www.aswasabhavan.org/home.htm).

Peace and perserverance,

Katrina Elyse

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


We leave one week from today!

It feels like all our time from yesterday forward is completely planed and accounted for. There are no spare moments for anything! Sydney's pretty close to finished packing, I'm getting there. I did some significant catching up last night. Here are a few pictures of the process. If any of you have had to move or pack for a longish amount of time, than you know that things need to go EVERYWHERE before they can be neatly placed in their bag/box/container.  Here's some of our room sprawled on my bed.

More things on the floor.

The day quickly approaches! We are still waiting for Sydney's visa. Please pray for our stamina, it feels like there's a lot to do in a short amount of time. Pray for our attitudes to always reflect the peace and patience of Christ, but that we may also act with appropriate boldness.

This week was my last week working at the Korean church that I've been a part of since the beginning of the year. Though at times it's difficult, it has been a blessing to work there. I have learned a lot.

My emotions are very confused right now. It's a mix of excitement that I'm leaving, yet also fear that I'm heading into the unknown. I'm happy to go out on this adventure, but sad to leave people behind. I trust that God will watch out for them just as I trust he will watch out for Sydney and I. I'm nervous because I know I'll make a lot of mistakes, but I'm looking forward to learning so so much.

A lyric from church on Sunday reminds me that I don't need to worry. To God I can fully say, "All of you is more than enough for all of me, for every thirst and every need. You satisfy me with your love and all I have in you is more than enough." Sydney was singing a simple children's church song last night which I think will become a prayer I pray often. "Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning, burning, burning, keep me burning 'til the break of day...Give me joy/love/peace in my heart keep me singing/resting/serving, keep me burning/singing/resting/serving 'til the break of day."

Such simple truths shall keep us strong. God is our provider, we need not worry or lose heart.

More to come soon!

~Katrina Elyse

Friday, September 10, 2010

9 days...


Only 9 days left until Sydney and I head out! It's crazy!
We have a good solid list to help us make sure we get everything done that needs to be done which becomes progressively more detailed as time goes on, haha, what can I say, I'm still me!

Sydney gets back from Texas tomorrow, yay! I've missed her, but I know she has had a good time being with her family before we leave.

My last day at the diner is tomorrow. I'm working a double, and during the break I get to see Sydney! So it should be a good day.
I talked to several people at work recently about this blog - I hope some of you are reading this!! :-)

As far as further updates... we're still waiting on Sydney's visa to get through. There's still a week and a half, so we do have time, but that knowledge still doesn't make it any more comfortable!

I've started saying my final goodbyes. It's bitter sweet yet at the same time it's exciting. This is real, this is happening, God is faithful, and we're on our way! Good times, good times.

That's all for now folks!
Peace out,
Katrina Elyse

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


So I haven't updated in a while. I have been so swamped with work lately! The last two weeks have been INSANE.  I don't have too much time right now, but I hope to have more soon.
Sydney and I are leaving on September 20th!!! That's less than two weeks away!!!
Preparations are going well, but all your prayers are still desperately needed.
Please pray for courage to take next steps, good time management, and a deep growing commitment to the Lord as Sydney and I seek to bring Him glory through every breath of this journey.
We've gotten our plane tickets, and I have my visa :-) We are still waiting for Sydney's though, so prayers for that would be greatly appreciated.

God is good and His love endures for ever!

Katrina Elyse