So Linda and Jeremiah traveled with Alyssa to the consulate in San Francisco to expedite processing of the visa to India. Then they went to Pier 39 and walked around window shopping. They stopped for lunch and had clam chowder and sour dough bread. They topped off a delicious lunch by going to Ghirardelli Square and getting chocolate and walking through more shops. They left town, found a hotel, and called it a night.
The next morning, the entourage had breakfast at the hotel and then drove downtown to San Francisco and the Cable Car Station. The purchased day passes for the cable car so they could get around town more efficiently. Lots of street musicians performed--drums, buckets, glass coke bottles, banjos, music, flutes, and tap dancers galore. They found the crooked Lumbard street, before taking the cable car to Chinatown for more street shopping and lunch in a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese shop. None of the employees spoke English, but a helpful bystander saved the day. Vendors sold their wares in the fresh vegetable markets. Soon it was time to return to the consulate, but when they went to hop on the trolley, it was full. So they walked 12 blocks back to the consulate to arrive during the tiny window of time to pick up the completed visa. With that in hand, they now drove to the Golden Gate bridge and got other important things done.
Because of their hard work and the efforts of Vanessa, HELP's travel agent, Alyssa was able to catch a flight from San Francisco to India on Thursday.
However, mom and Jerimiah had to leave before Alyssa's flight plans were all finalized. Since we didn't know the details, we were anxious to hear from Alyssa to know that everything had gone as we had hoped. I spoke with Alyssa by cell phone while she hung out in the airport waiting to hear from Vanessa. Unbeknownst to us, Alyssa was able to begin her flight to India on Thursday. She contacted us when she arrived in Atlanta. Whew. That was good! Would she be able to reach out to us once she arrived in India?
25+ hours later, and I'm in INDIA! Wow dad, this place is amazing. It's unlike any place I've ever traveled. Early this morning my country director Brook picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the house. It's cool. It's just this little appartment on the second floor of this small building in the middle of all these other buildings which are in the middle of these other buildings surrounded by more buildings. And I use the term "building" loosely. Iit's all really ghetto and real and smelly and crowded... but I love it. haha. Honestly.
My team is super cool! I already feel way confortable with everyone. Anyway, so we got back to the house, had a little meeting, then went to a workshop that our team hosted for the local LDS ward. What a cool place! I love that we are so involved with the ward and it's activities. It's cool to see the church in such a forgein place be so familiar. That lasted until 5. Then we went out to dinner. Only two dollars (~250 rupies) later and I am stuffed. holler!
Tomorrow we're going to church. And then I think sight seeing. I'm excited.
I'm beat. I'll try to write tomorrow and let you know moremoremore! Love you! So much!
Quick story: so this will give you an idea of what the Inidan people are like. On the plane, I was sitting by two Indian natives. It all started when I asked how to lay the seat back. In their broken english they talked my ear off until I decided to get some shut eye. I finally dozed off when I woke up to one of them poking me awake asking me if i was angry since I was going to sleep... "uh... no?" haha. This happened multiple times. I quickly dozed off again then was awakened by the guy next to me laying on my shoulder. Then my back. Then drinking my water. Then playing with my hair. Personal space? There is none. Just making himself comfortable. again Oh, and one of my team mates was proposed to this afternoon. No, he wasn't crazy. Just a member of the ward.
Right now we're all sitting in the front room watching Tangled.
This morning before church (don't worry, not at church) I witnessed and animal sacrifice. Goats and chickens. They would walk the animal around the temple then take it in the middle of the crowds and slit it's throat. After they'd take it into the temple and bless it on the alter then they'd bring it out, and people would throw the guts and blood at the temple. They were also dumping pounds and pounds of food, specifically rice, in piles around the goats. It was astounding. These animals and all that food had to have been a huuge sacrifice for these people. They're all so poor. It was really erie. The blood was so... red. It sounds potentially spiritual... but it wasn't. It was loud and chaotic and it reeked and beggars were surrounding us and guys were pulling us to the front to get front row seats and after one of the girls on our team wouldn't stop singing "savages! savages!" from Pocahontas. Right now the people are in celebration for the oncoming monsoon season. There is LOUD music blaring- and I mean blaring- from speakers on all the streets 24/7, people eeeeevvverrrywheeerre, and at night everything is all lit up. The sacrifice was just another part of the celebration. Don't you fret, I got pictures. Aren't you excited?
We had church today at 12:30. It was wonderful. Seriously, I can't get enough of these people. The difference between the individuals you meet in church compared to the people you encounter on the streets seems almost tangible. It's amazing. The blessings of the gospel are so apparent. Anyway, church was great. In sacrament meeting one of the men spoke on tithing. It was really touching to hear this guy- who is so less fortunate than I- bare his firm testimony of tithing and how it is necessary to our well being and security in this life. I am in awe of the wards faith. They are all so dedicated and confident. And the bishop! You would love him. He is adorable. He's a young guy, probably in his late twenties and is like 5"2. Always smiling. Also, he's a math genius. He did this trick where he asked for my birthdate then wrote down a random number on a piece of paper and gave that paper to me. Then he wrote down 561992 and asked for 4 sets of 6 random numbers. People called out numbers then he added them together and told me to look at the number he wrote down earlier. It was the same number that all those numbers added up to. It was the coolest thing! We all about died.
This is long, sorry. Final story. On the airplane from Dubai to India I sat next to two native Indians. They were really friendly, but maybe too friendly? We talked (ish.. broken english) for a bit then I was super tired so I turned away and rested my head on the tray. Not two minutes passed before one of them started poking me and asking me "angry? you angry? Why you sleeping?" ha! Oh man. This happened like 5 times. Then dinner came along and so when the flight attendant came by one of the guys ordered whiskey for himself, his friend, and me. I said no thank you but he was insistent. "No thank you!" "No, no, it's on me." "No thank you!" "Yes, whiskey" "No thank you!" "Please." "No thank you!" etc. I walked off the plane sober, but he definitely did not. He snuck in his own bottle of alcohol and was wasted by landing. The other guy decided that it was a good idea to lay his head on my shoulder halfway through the flight. And then my back. And then stroke my hair. And then drink out of my water bottle. And then try to grab my hand. And then lift up the arm rest and offer his lap. Like I said, no personal space here. Good times.
Hey dad! Sorry I haven't written for a couple days. Our internet chord
broke and it's been hard to find time to scout out an internet cafe.
We've been busy painting schools in the slums. I don't have much time,
but just know that I am safe, happy, and loving every minute of
India! Boy do I have sooooo much to tell you. Until then, I love you!
So the internet in our house is a little chord that you have to
reserve a time slot for and, low and behold, it is broken. Thus, why I
have not written in a few days. Thank heavens for internet cafes!
How are things back in the US of A? India is loco as ever. And no, no
one here speaks spanish. I tried that. Fail. Yesterday and today we
worked on painting a small school in the slums. This tiny cement shoe
box. They look great. I want to send you pictures so bad but this
little ghetto computer that I am on right now doesn't have that
capability. Hopefully our internet will be fixed soon! Anyway, it was
sooo fun. There were lots of chilren around, coming and going, just
wanting to take a peak at the white people. They are the cutest ever.
I made a friend, her name is Angelia. I adore her. She was so sweet.
Everything that I did "very nice madame! So beautiful!" I might bring
her home. She lived just across the school is a very humble teepee
made of sticks, tarps, and dirt. I am loving this experience, but my
heart breaks a little more each day.
So every morning I wake up to this guy next door hucking.. hawking?...
haucking?... hauwking... whatever... luggies until he throws up-
literally. It's distrubing. But I'm becoming accustomed to it. I spit
earlier today... be scared.
I have like 19 mosquito bites.
The people here are so friendly. I kinda feel like a celebrity.
Everyone wants to wave to the white people, touch the white people,
take a "snap snap" (picture). It's so funny. Sometimes they say hello
and then laugh. I wonder if they are making fun of us. Probably. We
definitely stick out though. But we do a pretty good job of
blending... ish. We dress is semi-idian clothing. I haven't worn jeans
since I got here. Bought some genie pants and wrap around skirts...
I'm pretty much full blown indian. I smell like one probably. Yikes.
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the time difference. It’s SO WEIRD to me that I just woke up, and you all are going to bed soon. Haha. Moving on, so I’ve been away from home for two weeks today and in India for 10 days. Crazy right? I can’t believe that! It’s gone so fast. But I’ve still got a long way to go, so I’ll stop there so I don’t get ahead of myself. How’re things going at home? What’s new? How’s Emily’s thumb? Has Mel left for her cruise? Did you guys go to Steven’s show? Sounds like it was a blast. How is Gma? I miss her so much! Tell her that, please. Fill me in on the happenings in Utah!
India is great! Yesterday we went back to the school to finish up painting and today we are going to the high schools to teach maturation classes again. The girls here have been taught that maturity and all that comes with it is a negative thing. A lot of times they’ll be kept home from school and other activities when it’s “that time of month”, and their education about what is happening with their bodies and why is very minimal. So, we are trying to change their mindset with education. Women empowerment! It’s been so fun. Seriously, these girls are golden. They are so receptive and interactive. They ask a lot of intelligent questions and are very open about their feelings and opinions. I like that. Last time after we finished they all swarmed us so they could shake our hands, then one asked for an autograph, so they allllll asked for autographs (these classes were more like assemblies… so we’re talking 100+ girls), and 319485 pictures. It was so funny, and so flattering! What a fun day. From the pictures that I sent, the one of me with all the girls in uniforms was from this day.
Painting the schools is so much fun too. It’s just this teeny tiny like shoe-box of a room with no ventilation in 100 degree heat plus humidity BUT the children make it all worth while. Everytime my brush touches the wall a little voice will say “very nice madam” or “beautiful ma’am”. It’s the cutest. And the teachers will make us hard boiled eggs every time we come. We always bring lunches so we tried to fight it at first but these ladies are insistent (and it doesn’t help that most adults in the slums don’t know English) so we just smile and eat eggsssssssss. Once they made us 6… each! I’m amazed everyday by how willingly these people will offer everything they have to us. I cannot stress enough how blessed we are to live in the States. What a tremendous privilege, and Utah of all places!
We’ve got a lot of other projects we’re working on as well. Remember me talking about Soliets before I left? Well we should have 15 out of 37 done by the end of this week! That’s exciting. These people need it, desperately. We’re trying to raise enough money to build 6 borewells in the slums as well. The people are begging us for water. Cleanwater here is a rarity. Right now we only have the funds for about 3, and with the company we’re working with it’s all or nothing so we’re trying to raise money for the other 3 or 4. I posted a link to our fb wall. Spread the word!
The second wave leaves soon, and so I’m taking over a project called Missing Children. A lot of the children here will go missing but the police are having a hard time returning them home because when/if they are found they don’t know their address or phone number… so the police have nothing to go by. It’s heart breaking, so we are going around to colleges (the equivalence of high school. High school is the equivalence of jr high. University is what they call the people who are in what we would call college. Make sense?) to try and recruit interns to join our project so we can educate the people and make a change. More on that later.
That’s one thing I love about this organization. We do what we can, but with a huge emphasis on education so that the people can help themselves! That ensures longevity and sustainability. Hopefully.
Anyway, I love you all! Miss you all! And I love hearing from you too! Stay safe! And eat 12093 strawberries for me because they don’t have them here….
I’ve been away from home for two weeks today! And in India for ten days. Crazy right? It’s going by fast! I can’t believe it’s already been 10 days. But at the same time I still have a lot ahead of me. August 1st we are taking a 5 day vacation to go to…. Wait for it…. AGRA AND JAI PUR! Are you feeling let down because those two places mean nothing to you? Well then you should know that that is where the TAJ MAHAL is! Oh yeah! Hip thrusts. I’m excited. And when that’s all said and done it’ll be August 5th which means I’ll have three ish weeks left here. Bittersweet.
Not much is happening today. We were supposed to teach out maturation classes but the schools are “bunting” which means that they’re on strike. Apparently tuition costs are being raised and people are pretty peeved. So, it’s back to the house. I think we might be going to Batman again tonight. I hope so.
Mom! I wrote this big long email that I was so excited to send you and then our internet went out and I lost it. I was so mad that I had to take a computer hiatus for a few days... sorry it's taken me so long to reply. Stupid internet.
I loved your email! First and foremost, thank you sooooooo much for all of your help in getting me here to India. What a headache, BUT it's all paying off. So thank you! Also, San Francisco was a blast and a half! Me you and Jer should all go back when I get home. Haha, just kidding, but really that was just so much fun. You're the best.
Tell me about the Play! What did you think of his mom? Honestly? And was Jerimiah cool? What was the conversation like? And did you do anything else or just the play? Details! Details! His mom is the sweetest. I knew you guys would like her. Such a fun lady!
The Batman incident was in the papers all the way over here. One of the most horrific things I've ever heard. Man, what a disturbed person. I've seen it twice over here because movies are only 150 rupees= 3 american dollars (woot!) and because that movie is awesome! But both times I was kinda paranoid the whole time just thinking about what happened in Colorado... heartbreaking. On that note, can I just tell you that Indians are so obnoxious in movie theaters! Haha, they are just always cheering and screaming and wooting all over the place. It's pretty funny though.
How's Dad's back? What happened? Has he gone to a doctor? What was he doing? Who was he helping? Sheesh, you guys act like you're getting old or something! haha. I'm praying for him+the family everyday. How's his job hunt going by the way??
I can't believe they're already talking about taking off Emily's cast! I feel like she broke it just yesterday. Man, time is flyyyyyying! I'm happy to hear that though!
And how was Camie's birthday?
Tell Steven that everyone on my team wants a CD. And a plastic surgery t shirt. And a date. Haha, seriously.
Is Mel back from her cruise? Is she full blown african american now? That tan little freak of nature. I'm still whiter than ever over here. Haha. So you let Caitlin do your hair? Brave! Haha, just kidding, I bet it looks great! I can't wait to see it. You look good with warm hair colors, so I bet the auburn looks awesome on you.
How's gma doing? I miss her soooooo much. Will you tell her that for me? Tell her I love her and miss her like crazy. I am so excited for school this fall, but my heart breaks a little bit every time I think about moving out of gma's. Is Amy thinking about moving in? I hope she does. Grandma loooves the company. Even though I was never really there, and neither was Steven, I know she just craves company and just the thought that someone would be there at night and that the house wasn't empty. I'm really going to miss hanging with you too mom. That's been my favorite thing to do this summer. I've loved chatting with you and being able to run home whenever and just say hi or see what you're up to. I really miss that when I'm away. Aw man, I'm making myself homesick before I even leave! I'm stoked for Logan though, don't worry :)
Speaking of school I got an email with the tuition costs from USU. I sent it to Dad. I'm not exactly sure what to do with it seeing as I get home the 23 of August and it's due the 15? Anyway, yeah. And housing arrangements have all been made, so that's exciting. I'm excited to move up with Lizzy but a little nervous too... I've liked living with random girls and making friends that way. I've never really wanted to live with a friend just because I like having my own space and time and life... but I'm excited. Lizzy is way cool so I know it'll be fine. I'm going to have to hit the pavement hard when it comes to job hunting when I get up there. Bleh, I don't even like thinking about that! I'm going to try to apply for some online while I'm here during free time... which isn't very often. But I'm not too worried. It'll all be fine.
Anyway, I should get going!
One more thing, you mentioned in your last letter that you've always wished that you could do a big service trip like the one I'm experiencing now, and while I totally know what you mean I have to say that I feel like your whole life just encompasses everything that I'm doing over here. Honestly! I've always looked up to you in that aspect. Ever since I was really little I've noticed how giving and service oriented you are. I think that is why I've always wanted to do something like this, because you've taught me the importance of giving and sacrificing all we have to those less fortunate and those in need. I really appreciate that about you mom.
I love you so much! I'm happy to hear that everything at home is great. I can't wait to see you guys in a few weeks! I'm looking forward to hearing from you again. Stay safe! I will too.
Hello hello! I'm off to Agra and Jai Pur! Bye! Just kidding, but seriously, sorry I can't write more, we've been super busy with presentations about CARPED (one of our partners) and our fight to help missing children and child labor, and painting schools, and now we're off to take a couple days and see the Taj Mahal. WOOT! Love you all a lot a lot. Be safe!
HEY! I am home! Well, in Hyderabad. It’s weird how excited I was to get back to my Hyderabad home. Somehow, someway, we made it back alive. The trip was memorable, to say the least. Jai Pur was awesome! It was colorful and there was a lot to see. I rode a camel and elephant, walked up 2039 stairs, spent too much money, and ate some great Indian food.
Then there was Agra, home of the Taj Mahal! And the arm pit of India. Agra sucked, honestly. India is really dirty and stinks so bad and it just super ghetto in general, but Agra took it to a whole other level. It was rank. And it didn’t really help that everyone was so cranky the day we were there. I was actually pretty funny, I thought. HOWEVER, with that said, the Taj Mahal was awesome! Seriously so majestic! I could make up a grandiose story about magic carpets and genies but I think the real one is much more romantic (in the words of Anne with and “e”) so bare with me, sorry not sorry if you hate it...
So, the King who built the Taj Mahal did it as a memorial for his second wife who died during childbirth. The entire structure, artwork, garden, and design is totally symmetrical- which is amazing considering the detail and scale of the entire thing- EXCEPT the coffins. He wasn’t planning and being buried there but on his deathbed he requested that he be laid down next to his wife. So, hers is directly in the center of the building, staying true to the symmetry, but then his is squeezed in next to hers to the left. Around the Taj, at each corner of the grounds, there are four really tall towers. Apparently they used to be open to tourists to climb and get an aerial view of the building but they closed them because people kept jumping from the top of them, committing suicide, because they did not have love. Sad, right? Cue Ingrid Michaelson. You don’t get that because you only listen to the call me maybe/Friday sisters but there is a song by Ingrid Michaelson called Everybody.
Anyway, when you emailed me and said that it was 4:30 and that I was probably asleep, I definitely was not. We had a 26 hour train ride home (in which I didn’t have a bed so I just had to bunk with whoever would let me crash with them, and you’re probably picturing some sort of bed. Don’t. It was more like a bench. O and I was sick. Not sleeping for more than an hour at a time for the past 72 hours, and 80% of that “sleep” consisted of me rolled into a really tight ball will do that to someone apparently.) Anyway, 4:30 was actually when our train FINALLY pulled into the station. Fun trip all in all!
Today we went to a preschool to do a small presentation for them about our Missing Children project. The problem that the organization we are working with is having is that often when they actually locate a missing child, the kid doesn’t know their own information to help get them back home. SO, our presentation was about that. We created an animated elephant named Bobby (which was also the name of the elephant that I rode in Jai Pur!) that is the face of our campaign, and then told them about the number to call if you get lost, had some fun activities, and told them the importance of knowing NAPE: name, address, phone number, and emergency contact. It was SO fun! Seriously, a highlight of India. The ages ranged from 3-6, so that was a bit interesting. Half the time we were wondering if they even understood us, but I think they did. They kept repeating the Missing Children number over and over and we printed off these little I.D. cards that their teachers are going to help them fill out that has their NAPE info on it and blah blah blah. The teacher was golden. She was so easy to work with and said that she’ll do a follow up lesson with the kids and such. Plus, we got a few of the parents there too so they heard and will hopefully take the initiative to educate their children. It’s such a good feeling to work hard on something then accomplish it successfully. Today was a good day!
Also, I am posting my first blog post on the team blog tomorrow sometime. Keep an eye out for it, and read all the other posts. They give really good information about India, it's culture and what we're doing over here.
Borewell construction started yesterday. AMAZINGLY enough we were able to raise the $4,500 in order to build them. Honestly, I was really skeptical. We hadn’t heard from the church (who was potentially donating a large portion of the money) but we needed to start drilling asap so that we could get them started before we have to leave so we started fundraising to see if we could make up the difference. And we did it! This team has some amazing friends and families who gave so much. Very humbling. I can’t help but think that if I saw our posts on fb I would probably just scroll over them and not really think twice about it. Thank goodness for good people. Literally a miracle. It was so exciting. We drilled the first one yesterday; when we finally hit water it blew out of the hole and started ‘raining’ on everyone. It was so awesome, all the people were freaking out and smiling their faces off… it was great. So so great. One of my favorite moments.
hey dad! You tried chatting me? Sorry, I must not have seen it, or I didn't get it or something. Our internet here is suuuuuper glitchy the past week so I haven't been able to get on the computer very often, if at all. And when I do finally get the chance it's fleeting. I will email you my flight info right after this. Love you! Miss you! CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOU!
None of us can do everything, but we can all do something.