Sorry for yet another delay in posting. We didn't get to another internet cafe so I figured I would just wait until we got home so I could also post pictures. We did have internet access with Russ's iTouch, and I thought about typing a post on the teeny tiny keyboard...but if you've ever tried to type on something like that, you understand why I didn't. :)
Oh man, it's good to be home! We walked out of the airport in Salt Lake and it was 79 degrees. I've decided that is a perfect temperature. Russ and I also decided this is the first day we've been in under 100 degree weather in 2 weeks. I have never before had so much appreciation for our home, especially our bathroom. It was so nice to take a "normal" shower. It's humbling to know that many of the kind people we got to know in India will never have anything near as big or as nice as our tiny little apartment. I even missed our futon couch, and THAT is saying something!
***Host family minus dad***
***Sleeping on the roof!***
***Host home...the stairs up to the first patio where our rooms are the bathroom were and the top patio is where we slept.***
***Kitchen where our mom cooked everything from scratch and we had those tortillas she's making every day. They are good!***
***Our room. We did have cushions on the bed, but when I took this picture they were up on the roof.***
Tuesday, June 29th: I finally got what our guide book called "Delhi Belly". Without giving you too many details, let's just say that upset stomach/etc doesn't mix with a squat-style toilet. Not fun. But our host mother and her 11 year old daughter really took care of me. It was almost worth it just to see what they do for sicknesses. They had me lay down on my stomach with my feet together and hands at my side. Then they took a scarf and wrapped it REALLY tight around my stomach (I felt like I was getting into a corset or something). While I was drinking a glass of hot milk (which smelled like bread dough and yeast...) and proceeded to give Russ a looong list of things I should and shouldn't eat. I felt better quickly, so maybe their remedy helped. After a long, hot day at the school/orphanage, we volunteers escaped to the mall. We ended up watching A-Team in Hindi!!! haha It was only 2 or 3 dollars, and despite the language, I think we still pretty much got the gist of the movie!
***Russ and I at the school***
***Lunch at school was always some variation of rice and beans and spicy-ness. When the power went out at school the fan turned off and it got REALLY hot and sweaty***
Wednesday, June 30th: This was our last day in Faridabad! I was actually sad to say goodbye to everyone. We decided that since both the street kids and our host family kids had never been to the mall, we'd take them to eat at McDonalds. The happy meal was just about 2 dollars per kid, so it wasn't much money at all. They were SO excited. We - 7 volunteers and 7 kids - piled into an auto rickshaw. It was NOT comfortable, but it was an adventure. The toys in the happy meal were a big hit with the kids, but our group of white people and rag-tag kids drew QUITE a bit of staring from the locals.
I hope we did something for those kids. It's incredible to me how school is taught here. It is all memorization. I worked with the 7 and 9 year old boys the most, and it was really awesome that I had just taught addition this past year so I could teach them strategies. They got almost every question wrong because they had no strategies! They couldn't even count on their fingers. I wish I could have actually gone to school with them to see how their teachers taught, but I hope that some of the things I was able to teach them will stick with them and help them catch up with their more privileged classmates.
***This is the school. Perhaps you understand why we were a little taken off-guard the first day. We were expecting....desks, chairs, chalk boards...ANYTHING. ***
***Russ dancing with the kids at the school***
***Doing math and English***
Thursday, July 1st: (Happy Birthday to Kiera :D) We loaded up our bags and headed to Delhi, where we stayed until we flew out yesterday. You really have to go hotel shopping here because the standard is just so different. We ended up in one hotel but then switching the next day to a slightly nicer one, except they gave us foreigners the room RIGHT next to the road so we LITERALLY got woken up during the night with the sound of old car engines and honking (Indians looooove to honk, remember, it's like their turn signal). During the previous week and a half, Russ had tried calling the 4 Delhi branches MULTIPLE times. WELL, today it finally worked! Someone answered the phone, gave us the address of the church, and we headed down there.
As if that wasn't a miracle enough, we got dropped off in a strange part of town at a Catholic church. I felt rather frustrated about not being able to communicate that this was the wrong church building, and then across the street I saw a missionary! I was so excited to see that white shirt and nametag. Turns out the LDS church (which was really just a building that the church rents 2 floors of) was across the street, but there was a big tree in front of the sign so we wouldn't have seen it. We told the missionary how glad we were to see him and he said, "The Spirit told me to come stand out here." Wow.
We got a tour of the building (which reminded me a little of our meeting house in Japan) and actually met with the District President. He talked to us for about an hour about the church in India and India in general. We learned that the nearest temple is in Hong Kong so they prepare families to go to the temple and make the trip once a year. It sure made Russ and I appreciate the Provo Temple much much more. I am so so so so grateful to have members of the church all over the world. In a country full of people trying to cheat you, it was so refreshing to talk to members.
Friday, July 2nd: We were so excited about running into the missionaries that we told them we'd spend the day with them going to their appointments. I'm really glad we did because I think it was our best day in India. We started by taking them out to lunch at Pizza Hut and then we went to 4 appointments with them. I won't go through each one, but they were all incredible. The Spirit was so strong. These people are so humble, but have such strong faith. Russ and I were the new people so we said about 4 prayers each and bore our testimonies at each home. With one inactive member, the missionaries said, "We've met with him many times, but we've never felt the Spirit as strongly as we did with you guys there." What a compliment. Probably the most memorable home was in the slums, literally about 8 feet x 8 feet with a bed, a small fridge, some shelves, and some stacks of dishes. That was it. That was all they had. Even so, when we got there, the mother (who isn't even a member, but her family is) went and bought us chips and Fanta. She had so little, but still gave to us, who were strangers. It really made me wonder if I would have done the same.
***Us, Missionaries, and Investigator***
Saturday, July 3rd: By this time, I was QUITE ready to go home...counting the hours in fact. After some frustration and bartering, Russ and I went to see some sites around Delhi. We saw the Gandi Memorial, the India Gate and the Lotus Temple (it looks a lot like the Sydney Opera House).
***This is my all-time favorite picture that we had someone take. hahahah You can't even tell where we are!! :)***
***Yet another fantastic picture taken by a stranger. We're at the Gandhi Memorial, but we're standing in front of it...***
***Indians 25 rupees. Foreigners 250 rupees. At least they aren't shy about ripping foreigners off. ***
Sunday, July 4th: We checked out of our hotel and got us and all our luggage into a rickshaw. It was such a tight squeeze, but probably my favorite ride of the whole trip because it was hilarious that we actually fit everything in there. I wish we could have gotten a picture. We had a wonderful time at church. Some people could dress up, but lots just came in jeans or what they wear every other day, but the Spirit was really stong. I decided that everyone is so used to bartering that no one is shy, and everyone was very outgoing and friendly and excited to meet us. It was a wonderful testimony meeting. I was also surprised (although I shouldn't have been) at how similar Relief Society was!! We even had the same lesson that my ward had 2 weeks ago. I love that the church is the same everywhere! We hung around after church for a while until we headed to the airport. All I have to say about that is security in India makes the US look like nothing. I think we got frisked about 3 times.
***Rickshaw - our main mode of transportation***
Monday, July 5th: We had an exit row on the 14 hour flight back, which was good for Russ. We landed in Chicago, where I promptly bought us some Cinnabons and then flew to Salt Lake. We were debating what we would do first: 1. eat a hamburger 2. do our laundry or 3. take showers. The showers won. They were wonderful. Laundry is next because as we unloaded our suitcases, we realized just how badly we must have smelled the entire time. My suitcases are currently airing out :)
I know I wrote a lot, but it was mostly for the benefit of my family so that when we talk to them on the phone I won't have to repeat as much. But we survived!!! We enjoyed it and miss the good people we met (and won't miss the bad ones we met), but.....being home is incredible. Our perspective has changed, and I think we are better for it. Of course, as I type this at my own computer at my own desk, it's a lot easier to remember to good instead of how hard it was.
***Amber Fort - in Jaipur***
***This gives new meaning to that joke Garrett would tell about the two mopeds crashing and 12 people being injured :)***
***Sony, oldest daughter, teaching me how to do laundry***
***Learning to make the newspaper bags that are made in this village and sold in the UK***
***I introduced the host family kids to peanut butter, and it was a hit!***
***Russ playing with our host family***
***Russ's name was close to "rusk", which is their toast. Everyone giggled when he introduced himself.***
***Volunteers and kids***
***The magnificent Taj Mahal**