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,