Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Final Days, Adjustments, and Thanks

I can’t believe I have been home for a week already! It seems like just yesterday I was in India. I wanted to post another blog to update everyone on my last couple of days in India and what life has been like since being home.

My last few days in India were crazy busy but extremely fun. We finished up ministry on Thursday. Leaving the stitching center was very difficult as that had been the place we had spent the most time at. Friday was our fun day and the day of the trip where we could act like tourists. We took a day trip to Mysore where we toured an extravagant palace, saw an extremely large dam, walked through a beautiful garden and rode an elephant. Yes, I got to ride an elephant in India…so cool!! 

In front of Mysore Palace
The garden

Just having some fun at the garden
The huge and powerful dam-it was breath-taking
SO fun!

Saturday we began our debriefing process, finished up souvenir shopping, and had Bible study that night. Sunday was part 2 of the debriefing process, then we went over to a friend’s house for a delicious Indian lunch, church in the afternoon and another friend’s house for our final Indian supper. Church was extremely difficult to leave. We have a church family there that blessed us beyond belief and became some of our closest friends. We were thankful though that it was the last place we went to before the airport. We got home around 8:30, did our final packing and devotions and were off to the airport. We made it through security and customs with no issues. 

Our flight left at 3 a.m. Monday morning. We had a 9 hour flight to Germany. I slept almost the whole time. I was very fortunate on that flight to sit in the first row behind business class so I had lots of leg room. We arrived in Germany at 9 a.m. (their time). I only had an hour and a half layover and Germany airport is big! I made it through and to my gate just as they were getting ready to board my flight. I had to say bye to Kelsey and Erin as we each had separate flights from Germany. The flight from Germany to Chicago was another 9 hours and that flight was a struggle. I wasn’t very tired and there weren’t many good movies so the flight seemed to take forever. I was definitely ready to be off that plane when we finally landed in Chicago. I was back in the USA! I went through customs and everything with no issues.  I had about 3 hours in the Chicago airport before my last flight. Thankfully the airport is big so I kept myself busy and the last 45 minutes I got to spend with Kelsey (she was on a different flight about 2 hours behind mine). My flight out of Chicago got delayed a half hour but we finally boarded and took off. The plane seemed so incredibly small after the huge ones I was used to. The flight was only an hour and when we landed, I was so happy! I was greeted by the biggest and best welcome home crew!! We were all smiles :) 

Apparently, they were all fighting over who would get to hug me first but my sister definitely won (Kody claims he "let her win") :) She came full out running at me and the tears of happiness streamed from both of our faces.

I was overwhelmed with love and was so thankful to be home and see faces I knew. We came back to my house and had a delicious supper and talked for a long time.

The past week has been full of emotion and trying to adjust back to life here. It has been a slow process but I am getting there. I felt very strange, and didn’t really know how to explain it. I didn’t go very many places last week, but definitely got bombarded with school stuff and life here. I quickly realized I only had 2 and a half weeks before moving back to school. Jet lag has not been awful which I have been very thankful for. I am loving the hot showers with water pressure, sleeping like a baby in my own bed, and eating so many delicious foods including good ole Iowa sweet corn! I am still processing a lot and trying to figure out how to handle life here along with my life in India. Part of my heart will forever be in India.

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been supporting me through this whole process. The amount of conversations, emails, words of encouragement, financial support, and prayers has been tremendous and overwhelming. I feel so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life. After a lengthy application, going through an interview, getting letters of recommendation, going to meetings for 6 months, flying 20,000 miles, living on the other side of the world for 7 weeks, and lots and lots of prayers, my life has forever been changed. I have learned so much about myself, God and the world. This journey has definitely been one of a lifetime! I am so thankful to have been a part of Northwestern’s SOS team and see God’s plan unfold. Thank you for reading my blog, following me this summer, and praying. I have SO many stories to share, so if you ever want to talk about it, I would absolutely love to!

I would ask that you continue to pray for Rahab’s Rope and the women and children I met this summer and grew to love. Please pray that…
-the appropriate steps and clarity will be given to open our own aftercare center
-nationals will step up and be leaders and advocates for the victims
-children and women will continue to be rescued
-those that are rescued will be free of the bondage that they face
-for the three ministry sites that we are currently involved in (HIV hospital, stitching center, an aftercare center) and that they will be safe places full of God’s love
-for my leaders, Jill and Lydia, as they continue to serve and make decisions
-God would continue to plant and water the seeds that were sown
-for my teammates and I’s hearts as we adjust and continue to process through everything we encountered this summer

Lastly, I would like to share one more song with you that has been heavy on my heart over the past week and a half. My aunt and uncle used it as encouragement for me when I left and it remained that way throughout the summer and since I have been home. The words are PERFECT!  I saw this song come to life this summer. I love the whole song but especially the bridge part that says, “Nothing formed against me shall stand. You hold the whole world in your hands. I’m holding on to your promises. You are faithful.” I have clung tight to those words especially as I have returned home, and they will continue to remain true. It is crazy to think that in 10 days, I will be moving back to Northwestern for my senior year of college. This fall I will be student teaching part time and taking my final college classes followed by full time student teaching in the spring.  My SOS is complete, but now it is time to continue and finish this chapter of my life. But I am confident that no matter where we are or what we are doing, “God goes before us, stands behind us, and is always by our side.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"10,000 Reasons"


"Bless the Lord Oh my Soul, Oh my soul, worship His holy name. Sing like never before, oh my soul. I worship His holy name."
That song is the one song that has continually come up throughout my 7 weeks in India. Many of you know, it holds a very special meaning in my life and in the life of my family. I still do not fully understand why God picked that song to be the one that constantly came up (because it wasn't easy at first), but I know there is a reason behind it. As I was thinking about writing my final blog while in India, the song was the first thing that popped into my head. The words of the song hold a lot of significance about my time here and what these last days have looked like.

The first verse talks about praising the Lord each day from morning til night no matter what happens that day. We never know what our days will bring, but this was especially true here in India. But no matter how joyful or depressing the day was, there was always "reasons to be singing when the evening comes."

The second verse talks about characteristics of God. His rich love was one of the things that I learned most about in the past 7 weeks. He blew my mind.

"For all your goodness, I will keep on singing. 10,000 Reasons for my heart to find." This is one of my favorite lines in the song. When I look back over my summer, there are definitely 10,000 reasons for my heart to sing. The relationships formed, experiences encountered, and lessons learned are true testimonies of that. I have seen the Lord work in some pretty remarkable ways. I am so thankful for this opportunity and everything I have learned and encountered this summer no matter how easy or difficult it was.

As I prepare to leave, I have so many emotions. Today is our last day of ministry. The goodbyes have not been easy or fun, but I can say my life has been touched and forever changed. I don't know if I'll ever see these women and children again, but my journey of love does not end there. I will continue to lift them up in prayer no matter how near or far we are. It is no longer only statistics, it is faces and relationships. My eyes have truly been  opened to the brokenness, hurt, and abuse they face everyday.

I have a lot of thoughts running through my head. It is crazy to me that in 5 days, I will be home. Talk about a whirlwind of emotions! I am very excited to see everyone and to sleep in my own bed, have a hot shower with water pressure, and eat meat or at least something other than rice. :) I am so thankful for these past 7 weeks, and I cannot believe that the next time I communicate with everyone, we will be on the same continent!

Here are some final prayer requests as I prepare to come home.
-safety as we travel these next couple of days and fly home
-smooth adjustments back and continued health
-God will continue to water the seeds that have been planted
-the women and the hurt and bondage they are faced with everyday
-peace with leaving India
-most importantly: God will continue to work in this city!

As I begin packing and everything is winding down, I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18-"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I pray that is encouragement for you as well.

I cannot wait to see all of you, share stories, and hear how the Lord has been working in your life this summer. We truly have 10,000 Reasons to praise the Lord. See you soon!
P.S. When I get home, asking me specific questions is extremely helpful as 7 weeks is a lot to sum up and talk about :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"I am the vine, you are the branches"

Last week was crazy with 11 people living in the house, but it was such a fun week. It was a lot busier than usual but so many blessings came out of it. The beginning of the is week has been a lot of down time recovering from last week. It is getting more and more difficult to put into words and share everything that God is doing here. I'm doing a lot of processing and taking it all in. No doubt are there tons of stories, but it is so difficult to share via internet. But I wanted to share as best I could some of the blessings, stories, and happenings of this past week.

-Relationships at the aftercare center are growing so much. We've been there twice in the past week and both times were so enjoyable. Friendships have definitely formed. The girl I have gotten closest to asked me for a Bible on Friday, so we gave here one on Tuesday. i will never forget the smile on her face when she received it.

-Hanging out with the kids at the orphanage is always a blessing and highlight of my week. They are always so full of energy and joy:)

-We went shopping and out for dinner on Saturday with the team. They left on Sunday night. It was tough to see them go. We only knew each other for a week, but what a huge blessing they were. God placed them here at the perfect time, and they brought us so much joy and encouragement. We made some great memories together. (They also spoiled us like crazy:P)

-Random story: When we were out to eat on Saturday night, as we were leaving, a girl probably about 18 years old came up to our group and asked us to sing Happy Birthday to her uncle. Yes, we thought it was rather strange, but we did it anyway:)

-Our last dinner with the team we made and ate in the dark because the power went out which is a very normal occurrence here in India.

-Conversations with people at ministry sites and church have been so amazing and encouraging.

-Monday was a rest and recovery day, so we got to go to one of our favorite restaurants, go grocery shopping, watch a movie and hangout. It was a very much needed day.

-Tuesday, we spent the whole day with Jill because it was our last day together. We did a lot of fun things and then went with her to ministry in the afternoon. At night, we had a celebration/appreciation night for Jill and Lydia because it was our last night all together. (Jill left Wednesday for her visa run and comes back the day we leave, so saying goodbye to her was very tough.)

-Wednesday night, I taught tuitions by myself. I love those kids no matter how chaotic it may be :)

That is just a few of the happenings from the week. I cannot even believe that I only have 10 days left in India.

Here are some specific prayer requests for the last few days…
-that I would be fully present
-continued health and safety
-for all of the people I've formed relationships with and how to handle leaving without hurting people
-our future aftercare center
-open heart, eyes, and mind

"I am the Vine, you are the branches." Jesus said in John 15. This is the passage that we have been studying in depth during group devotions. He goes on to say, "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  I have grown to love this passage and it has proved to be true over and over again throughout my time. Everyday, God continues to produce more fruit and my prayer is that it will be fruit that will last even after I have to leave.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers! I cannot wait to talk to you all soon:)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Blown Away

WOW!!! That is all I can say about this past week. Honestly, I do not have the words to explain or describe everything that has happened this past week, but I can tell you one thing…it's been the best week yet! God continually blew me away this week on every level imaginable. I'm going to try and give you a brief overview of the week, but it won't be the full stories because i don't have enough time and right now, I don't know how to put everything into words. I will do my best summarize, but there are definitely some amazing stories to share when I get back. :) 

Thursday-Some of the girls did my hair at the stitching center and we had life skills class. We discussed what they thought the biggest problems and fears in their slum were…so insightful. We had tuitions which I always love and it is fun to see the kids multiple times a week. It was the 4th of July so we had our own celebration by having beef, watching an American movie and eating candy. 

Friday-While we were at the hospital, the three of us had some great conversations and got to know each other even better. We also got to spend a good amount of time talking with some of our favorite patients and learning more about their lives. At the aftercare center, the women did a watercolor emotions painting activity which said a lot about the feelings and reality these girls are facing. I sat with a group of about 4 and they were beginning to open up which was awesome but also broke my heart. We went out for supper to a fun Indian restaurant. Also, a lady who was visiting from the states brought us chocolates so we were pretty happy:)

Saturday-If I had to pick the best day of my time in India, I think this would be the one. This won't do it justice because there are so many stories about the day. I saw a monkey (which I really wanted to see at least one while I was here). We went to the orphanage and I got to play volleyball, sing worship songs, and hangout with the kids. Kids, volleyball, and music…3 of my favorite things all together!!! That night, saw Despicable Me 2 in 3D in the nicest theater I've ever been in. (Kind of had culture shock all over again when walking through the mall to get to the theater. Felt a lot like America.)

Sunday-our awesome team of 6 arrived and we had church. Both of which were huge blessings. The team is fantastic and such a huge encouragement. We've only known each other for a week, but it will be difficult to say good-bye on Sunday. 

Monday-this was our 1 month anniversary…crazy, I know! For the first time, we got to go out by ourselves which was so cool. We know we can survive in India:P In the afternoon, we went shopping and out to eat with the team. 

Tuesday-Had a prayer time over the house in which God was so powerful! We did nails at the stitching center and made bracelets with the women. It was a nice change of pace and something that we could all do together, making relationships even stronger. One of the girls specifically made a bracelet for me. (There is a big story behind that). We had tuitions again and our translator made us an amazing Indian dinner. 

Wednesday-The team spoiled us with desserts and chocolate while we made hygiene kits for all of the women at the centers. At the stitching center, I really connected with a new girl. She did my hair and designed my henna while we talked. She opened up a lot to me during that time, and I am still processing a lot of it.  

Thursday-went to IJM (International Justice Mission) in the morning…so cool to see how God is working through them as well. Got to play games with the patients at the hospital and cleaned in the orphanage. 

That is a VERY BRIEF overview of my week. Sorry if it doesn't make sense-i typed it super fast and a lot of it I am still processing. I cannot believe I only have about 2 weeks left on this journey…time is flying by. I know for a fact, it is not going to be easy to leave this country. 

Here are some prayer requests for the week…
-God would continue to work in amazing ways and that my eyes would be open to seeing them. 
-Give thanks for a fantastic week, true joy, and an amazing team. 
-that God will make the path clear for the necessary steps to take to have our own aftercare center
-the women would continue to open up to us
-Strength and wisdom when talking with the women
-that we would continue to give God all of the glory for the work He is doing
-Continued safety and health

Scripture that really spoke to me this week: Romans 15:13 and 1 John 4:7-21

Thank you all so much for your prayers! I can feel it here. I cannot wait to share stories with everyone when I return to the states. :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Smiling….that is something I have always loved and known was important, but throughout my time in India, I've realized how important it really is. I've noticed that multiple times I've written in my journal, "I love smiling at them or I love seeing the smiles on their faces." There were a lot of instances like that over the past week. 

Friday, we got to go to the aftercare center for the 2nd time. We had a chill afternoon with them trying to continue to build relationships. We painted their nails and the smiles on their faces were beautiful. 

At the HIV hospital, smiles covered the patients' faces when we played games with them on Monday. Also, seeing their faces light up with smiles when we go around visiting their rooms is something that words don't describe well. 

At the stitching center, the ladies always greet us with big smiles. Relationships are forming! It made me smile this week when a couple of the ladies taught me what they were learning, and I got to practice. It made them happy to be able to teach someone what they had just learned. 

The smiles that appear on the children's faces when they see us at Tuitions is one of the most beautiful sights. One of my favorite parts of the week is seeing those kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

In India, most women and children keep very straight faces and are taught to not show their emotions. That is one reason smiling is so important and impactful. If you smile at them, most of the time, you'll get a smile back. I try and smile at all of the women and children I see because not only do they not see it very much, but they love it and they have some of the most beautiful smiles. It always brightens my day!! Smiling is a way of communication that doesn't require language. It doesn't matter what language you speak, a smile is universal. And the best part…Satan can't stop it! So despite the language barrier, we can always smile. It's things like seeing smiles on the women and children's faces, whether at the centers, in the slum, walking down the street, or in our neighborhood, that reminds me, God is working here in India. :)

This week was harder for me (some personal battles along with it being 1 year since my cousin Shaun passed away), but here are a few extra things that made me smile…
-I got to Skype with my family 
-Eating an All-American BEEF bacon cheeseburger 
-Seeing another rainbow
-Having one of our translators cook us amazing Indian meals
-Singing "10,000 Reasons" in church on Sunday (I honestly didn't know whether to cry or smile. It was difficult to sing especially being the day after June 29. Walking out of church, I decided to smile because it was totally a God thing. We don't normally sing new worship songs and hadn't sang that one before, so I knew God had us sing it for a reason.) 

It is crazy to think my time here is half over already. Time is flying by. 
Here are some prayer requests for this week…
-that the bondages that the women face will be broken
-keep me and our team from spiritual attacks
-for next week as we have a team of 6 coming to join us
-encouragement for my leaders as they continue to make decisions for the organization
-God would be the center of our relationships
-Praise the Lord for safety and health!

I hope things are going well for everyone. Thank you for all of your support! Sending smiles from India! :)

Galations 5:6b-"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

P.S. Smile at someone today, it really makes a huge difference in your day and theirs :) 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

God is good!

God is good, All the time! All the time, God is good! That is a phrase that has consistently popped into my head over the past week. It's crazy to think that another week has passed already and life here finally feels "normal." I am finally over culture shock, jet lag, and feeling like I am able to do life here being fully invested. I can't believe this experience is over 1/3 done already!

There is a lot going on here and this week is an extremely busy one as everything is in full swing. I'm not going to give you the details of everyday because it looks generally the same as last week only with a few more things added. Instead, I'd much rather tell you stories, highlights and what God is doing here. 

We have been to all of the ministry sites now and relationships have formed and are building. It is so cool to see the barriers being torn down, and God at work both when we are there and when we are not. 

Monday, we got to play games with the patients at the hospital in the afternoon. They had so much fun and it was good to see them smile. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, we went to the slum and the stitching center. Spending time with the women has been fantastic as we are learning more and more about them. Standing at the top of the stitching center and looking down over the slum is such a heart-wrenching experience every time. Seeing the poverty and hurt breaks my heart, but seeing the children's faces light up with a smile and them waving like crazy when they see us brings me so much happiness and hope. Children call us "aunties" so everywhere we see children whether in our neighborhood, in the slum or around the city, they are always yelling, "auntie, auntie, hi!" Children will run and chase us yelling and wanting to shake our hands, smile and wave, or asking for chocolate (candy). The kids in our neighborhood have gotten very good at saying, "auntie, chocolate?" :) Sweets are such a treat for them.  

Rickshaw rides have been another highlight. Not only do we get to see a lot of the city and people when we ride in them multiple times a day, but it also has made for a lot of great conversations and memories between the 5 of us as we travel to and from places. Yes, we are very good at cramming 5 girls into a rickshaw! :)

Church has been a huge blessing. In an area that is very dark and heavy, being surrounded by a body of Christian believers is so encouraging. We have had the privilege of going to three different people's homes from our church. It has been so fun getting to know them better and then to know people at church on Sunday. 

The biggest highlight and joy of my week happened on Tuesday. We began doing Bible lessons in the tuitions classes in the slum. Tuitions is a time every night where the kids can come to do homework and other activities. I thought I was going to be teaching two different sections of children the story of creation, but because of a little misunderstanding, plans changed like usual :) We found out all of the kids were going to be together for our Bible lesson. We went to the top room which is only about 15 square feet, might I add. Kids kept coming and coming and coming. As they walked in the door, their faces lit up and they said, hi auntie!" They all wanted to know our names and show us stuff they were learning in school or talk to us. Soon there were about 100 kids in that room (plus 3 teachers and 4 of us girls). It was packed! That sight and noise brought me so much happiness. As I looked over the room and saw the beauty in those children's eyes, my heart was full of joy. (What wasn't so cool, was the way of discipline the teachers used…that was hard to watch and made me want to cry.) When it was time to begin, the teachers got the kids quiet and explained that we were going to teach them a Bible lesson. We began by singing "My God is so Big" and they knew that song! It was beautiful to see 100 kids singing their hearts out and doing the actions. I'm not sure the smile on my face  could have gotten any bigger. We taught them "He's got the whole world in His hands." They liked that one and caught on very quickly. Then it was time for the Bible story. I read the story of creation and one of the teacher's also translated. They listened very well. Not sure if I'll ever teach 100 kids at the same time again :) We sang "He's got the whole world in His hands" again and then they sang a praise song for us in Tamel which is one of their languages. They were so full of energy. Leaving was difficult, but we are supposed to go back today and every Tuesday and Thursday! :)

The weather here has been absolutely beautiful. I don't know the exact temperatures but probably between 75-85 everyday. It will sometimes rain randomly in the afternoon, but usually nothing more than a small shower. 

Specific prayer requests for the week:
-Relationships-that they will continue to grow and God will be the center of them
-The women and children who are being trafficked everyday
-The people would be open to the Gospel 
-That people would be able to see God in us wherever we are
-Continued safety and health (so far so good!)
-That God would continue working in my heart 

I hope everyone is doing well. Thank you so much for all of the emails, support, and prayers. It is so encouraging!!  

Here is a verse I read this week that I want to share because it meant a lot to me. Stop and think about the beauty of it :) "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."-Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Blog 1 from the other side of the world

Hello to everyone from Bangalore, India!
It is crazy to think I have already been gone a week and a half and wow, have I already been learning a lot and a lot has happened. I will try to summarize and give you an update of my life. (It is currently 12:15 p.m. on Thursday)

I left on Monday, June 10 from Des Moines with a wide mixture of emotions. Excited, scared, nervous, anxious, sad, happy and about anything else you could think of. I had a short flight to Chicago where I met up with the other two girls on my team, Kelsey and Erin. We hit it off well and it was nice to finally all be together. We got on a very large plane for an 8 hour flight to Germany and then boarded an even bigger plane for our 9 hour flight from Germany to India. Thankfully the planes were nice. The flights were long but not awful. We landed about 1:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning (which was Tuesday afternoon back home because I am 10 1/2 hours ahead). Praise the Lord for safe and smooth travels and they let us through customs and into the country with no problems. About 3, we made it out of the airport and were greeted by our leaders, Jill and Lydia. They greeted us with big smiles and hugs, and I will tell you right now that they have been a huge blessing and the 5 of us make a great team. Thank you Jesus that they have lived here for 3 months and know what they are doing. We made it to our house and went to bed around 5 a.m. They let us sleep half of the day to try and get a little bit rested up. Jet lag is not fun at all! The rest of Wednesday was a lot of orientation stuff and hanging out. Thursday was our day to go to Commercial Street to buy our Indian clothing. This was an experience like I had never had before and it took no longer than for me to step out of the house to know that I was not in the U.S. anymore. We had to get a rickshaw to travel around (we either walk or get a rickshaw to travel everyday). Words cannot even begin to describe the sights of India. There are people, animals (dogs, cows, goats, chickens, sheep), vehicles (busses, cars, taxis, mopeds, motorcycles, rickshaws, bicycles) EVERYWHERE. Honking and 4-5 lanes of traffic on a 2 lane road is the norm. Shopping on Commercial Street was overwhelming but fun. It definitely threw me right into the culture. I also now own plenty of Kurtas which is what we wear everyday to ministry. Friday we were supposed to go to the stitching center (one of the ministry sites), but plans fell through. Lesson #1 on flexibility and patience.  We did prep work and watched a documentary on sex trafficking. On Saturday, we went to a beautiful park for a picnic lunch and had more training in the afternoon. Sunday, we went to the pastor's house for afternoon coffee time and then went to church. It is a small, Christian, English-speaking church and all of the people were so kind. After church during fellowship, there was a beautiful double rainbow. This was an amazing visual reminder that God is with me no matter where in the world I am. Monday was our first day to get to go to one of the ministry sites. We had our first public bus experience which was a day's worth of excitement within itself. We went to the HIV hospital and AIDS orphanage. During the day, we cleaned at the hospital. God really stretched me there because I am not a huge fan of cleaning and many of you know how much I hate hospitals. I knew how important it was through and how much they needed our help. I had to remind myself that God calls us to love and serve everyone. God was working on my heart. Late afternoon, the kids all came home from school and my whole world lit up. I began talking with a 10 year old boy and helping him with his homework. A little while later, him and another boy began playing volleyball, so I immediately joined. I played volleyball and basketball for about an hour with a group of kids and loved every minute of it. They could speak some English, but language didn't even matter because there was joy even with few words. At one point, I heard one of the older boys, probably around 15 years old, singing, "Bless the Lord oh my soul, oh my soul, worship His holy name. Sing like never before, Oh my soul, I worship His holy name." I stopped, listened and smiled. When he stopped, I told him that was one of my favorite songs. He said it was his too and asked me who it was by. I will never forget that moment. God knew exactly what i needed that afternoon. I was sad to have to leave, but hopefully, we'll get to go back on Saturday. Tuesday we were supposed to go to the stitching center but plans changed again, so we prepared lessons for teaching the children for next week. We are getting a very good idea of flexibility and patience :) In the afternoon, I had my first grocery shopping experience in India. We went to Easy Day which is their version of Wal-Mart. It was similar except it had 3 floors which was pretty awesome. Wednesday, we finally got to go to the stitching center and meet some of the women. They showed us the projects they have been working on and then we did a Bible lesson and henna with them. It was challenging with the language barrier but relationships were beginning to form. This afternoon, we are supposed to go to the stitching center again and hopefully continue to build those relationships. Friday we are supposed to go to the aftercare home for the first time, so hopefully by the end of the week, I will have been to all 3 ministry sites. 

Here is a very general schedule of what a typical day may look like for me (if there is any such thing as a typical day) :)
8:00-Wake up
9:30-10:30-Team Devotions-This has been a huge blessing!!
10:30-1:00-varies everyday (ministry, prayer time, errands, planning, etc)
6:00-??-Supper/debrief/house visits/anything else

The people are friendly and the food isn't awful :) We have eaten out a few times at Indian restaurants and I have found things I like. I have not gotten sick yet, so Praise Jesus!! I am beginning to feel more and more comfortable here and I'm sure that as we continue to do more ministry work, I will feel even better. It was a LOT of culture shock the first week and I will be completely honest to say that I miss home a lot and have struggled with homesickness. BUT, God is with me and is watching over me and everyone back home. He has been teaching me a lot and I've been growing. God uses our weaknesses to bring Him glory. 

Thank you SO SO much to everyone for your prayers. This experience has definitely been challenging, but knowing the amount of prayer support I have, makes it a lot easier to keep going. Thank you to everyone who contributed to my prayer/encouragement binder. It is beautiful and I read it often. I love it more than you'll ever know!! I was able to read all of my emails today and it was very exciting to hear from so many of you. Seriously, you don't know how happy it makes me! Keep them coming, I'd love to hear from you all! 

Here are some specific prayer requests and prayers of thanks that I would ask for:
-All 3 ministry sites. There is a lot of brokenness and hurt
-Safety-Our lives are put into the hands of many people throughout the day, so please pray that we stay safe. 
-Continued health-so far we have all been healthy, so give thanks for that and pray that it continues
-Peace-Pray that God will give me peace and the ability  to enjoy and live out everyday to the fullest
-A great team and leaders-prayers of thanks for that and that we will continue to grow and encourage each other as sisters in Christ
-That the language barrier won't be discouraging
-Sleep and rest-the three of us haven't been sleeping very well and it is becoming frustrating. 
-Relationships-Pray as we form relationships with the people here. That they will be open to us, and God will be visible through us
-Give thanks for the small things and areas that I have seen God work
-For the classes that we will begin teaching next week (tuitions, life skills, young girls)
-That God will continue to shape and mold my heart

This has gotten very long, but i hope it gives you a little bit of an insight as to what my time in India has looked like so far. I will be able to update you about once a week. Sorry to anyone, if i don't get a chance to reply to your emails, I will do my best. Know that i love them and I read them all :) Psalm 19 really spoke to me this morning as I was doing my morning devotions, so I would encourage all of you to take some time and read it. 

I love and miss you all very much! Thanks again for all of your love, encouragement and support!

P.S. Shout out to my little brother, Kody, and friend, Blaize, and the rest of the team, as they play in the baseball championship tomorrow night! Congratulations! You'll do great!! Have fun! Know that I am cheering for you from half way across the world!