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,
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.