Monthly Archives: March 2011

good-bye

(Anika and I eat strawberries & cream at King’s Cliff one of my last nights in Ooty)

 

It’s weird to say good-bye to people you will probably never see again.

Certainly I wouldn’t mind if my path crossed with the other FF staff or the girls, but it’s not too likely. In case I hadn’t mentioned before- I love FF. Really, FF is such a great organization with amazing heart, and made up of a wonderful staff with such a love for Jesus. I so appreciate FF, not only for what they do, but who they are.

[ I should probably be sleeping as I’m waking up at 5:30am for the car ride to Coimbatore airport to fly to Delhi. But, though I’m not staying up late packing like I many times have— I know I will sleep better having written this first. ]

Today was my last day here in Ooty. I went to staff prayer this morning, had lunch at Anik’s family’s house (the aftercare director) with Anika (other volunteer), Anne (staff), and Yuimi (staff). The food was delicious and it was great to spend some time laughing and chatting with one another. Really, it’s always nice to get to do because so much of our time together besides prayer is dealing with conflicts etc. After lunch, I finished all of my packing. Yay! Then went to the Palm’s (Tarrah and Jayson are FFers) for our usual Thursday night dinner. The food was good (of course) and we got to talk, help the kids with prep (homework), and laugh over tea and chocolates. It was lovely. I love the Palm’s; they are such assets to FF.

Yesterday was my last day with the girls. Tuesday they were really giving me a hard time about leaving, but Yesterday they were quiet (except for the improptu dancing ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Teacher had them share with me whatever they wanted— things they were thankful to me for, admired about me, or anything else they wanted to tell me. I also shared a little with them. Overall it was really sweet and I even saw a few breakthroughs even with what they said and admitted. (woo hoo!) They thanked me for everything like the basics of coming, teaching, doing Bible studies etc with them to smiling and asking how they were, to… encouraging them even though “I gave you so much trouble.” {breakthrough! admitting this} Faith* said, “… How will I do my work without Didi? I’m like a little baby and Didi is my big sister.” {A very honest statement, but exactly what I want to see change her—- independence!}

I went with the girls to the garden the last little while before lunch. Hope* got on the swing and was… pumping her legs! HA! (The story I shared before was specifically about Faith* but I hadn’t seen the other girls “pump” their legs either.) From the swing Hope* opened up to about having been married. She was married at 16 (for only one year), it must be right after that she went to the brothel. She really has been quiet about her past, but considering she is the most recently rescued it makes since. Witnessing this breakthrough in openness right before leaving is something I am so thankful for.

Wednesdays are staff lunch days where everyone that can comes to Smyrna and we all eat with the girls together. So, it was a birthday celebration for the recent birthdays and a farewell to me. We ate cake, Indian sweets, and chips )Indians like their sweet and salty together). It was nice. I said some good-byes to FF staff them. After lunch, was our usual staff meeting and prayer time for the aftercare. We had to talk over some recent conflicts with the girls and we heard about some dis-heartening news. If you recall, we had two of our girls (with children) move on FF that moved together to a different part of India… Well, apparently, one of them, Harmony* has left for sometime with her husband or ex-husband (not sure if they are still married or not). Anyway, this is not a good thing and thus something for us to be praying about.

In other news, Zoe* is now considering to Bible school for one year in Delhi after graduating from FF’s program this year. This is exciting news! It seems she is really serious about it. I am so happy to hear of this, and before my departure because this is a huge step for her. Faith* even shared that after graduating she wants to work with handicap children! Ha! The girls sometimes help with horse therapy for physically challenged kids and it’s likely the idea came from this. I think it is a beautiful idea! Oh, and she has opened up in recent weeks to some of the other staff and having been married and having a child! When she shared with me she seemed dead against anyone besides me knowing, but this openness is fantastic!

Right before leaving Smyrna yesterday, I took the girls to the garden to pray with them. It was great. I got to express my love for them and encourage them in their futures. Zoe* even gave me a card she wrote! (Kind of surprising from her. The other two girls gave me gifts at other times.) It was surreal to say good-bye. They told me they will call me in America. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, all in all besides some unnecessary and frustrating conflicts between the girls, my last days with them were good.

Leaving Ooty seems strange, three months did seem to go by fast. I am thrilled to be going to Delhi for the weekend though! I’m so blessed. God is so good. Monday morning I fly back to the states. It will seem like the longest day ever considering I will flying for 20 hours and still be arriving on Monday in CA. Prayers for travel, jet lag, and transition to American life are appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you all so much for you support, encouragement, and prayers. I’ve felt them.

 

(Galatians 6:9 painted in the staff room at Smyrna)

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“India girl”

“Fall down,” it’s the nickname the girls established for me a few weeks back. They like to come up with silly nicknames for much of the staff and volunteers. For example, things like: “Horse, *uh ha uh ha* (coughing sound), Katirina (after a famous Bollywood actress), and Mom….” My nickname came from a time when i slipped on the hill at Smyrna going to lunch. One foot slipped, then the other, and yes, I fell down. The girls ran to my aide and then laughed about it once I did and the nickname came from then on. There are worse things that they could come up with and though it’s silly I know it is a sign of affection.

I got a new nickname added on this weekend, “India girl.”

I had my last weekend staying with the girls! On Saturday, I wanted to go to a restaurant for lunch with the girls and they decided we should all go wearing saris… so, we did! It was really fun to wear a sari (for the first time) even though they aren’t very comfortable, they are beautiful. Hope* started saying, “You no America girl, India girl!” I (and the girls) got some good laughs out of some of the looks I got from local nationals. I even had a few people literally walk backwards just so they could get another look of the white skinned, red haired girl in a bright sari. Ha… It was a really fantastic thing to do with the girls before leaving. It felt special… and I couldn’t believe the amount of “thank yous” I heard from the girls! (Their manners really have improved since I’ve been here! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

(the girls getting ready at Roja)

(wearing the sari I got to borrow from Hope*)

This week I had my last days of teaching! I am extremely thankful my last day, Thursday, probably went smoother than any of the other days I taught (about a dozen times total). This week, Leah added a lot of my photos to Ruhamah’s website so, now it has 15 or so of my photos up of newer jewelery designs. She joked that I should stay and be FF’s designated photographer. I’ve also had the chance to pass on my best photos of the girls as requested by Jayson (another FF staff person).

(Faith* practicing reading English with me at Smyrna)

I’m feeling further peace about leaving India and saying good-bye to the girls. I have had the chance to talk to them about my leaving (and other FF staff persons who will be leaving these year). It’s important to me to allow them to understand that leaving does not equal rejection. I know from their life experiences they can easily feel this and I desire them to know how much they are loved and how supported they are by all of FF. They have frequently reminded me of my departure, asking when, why, boo hoo-ing, and joking that they are coming with me. One of the girls, Hope*, was even joking this week that she would take my passport and was going to America instead of me. I asked her if we looked a like and we all laughed. Then she came up with a plan to disguise herself by putting white on her skin, putting henna in her hair, and wearing glasses. Her explanation made me laugh so hard. SHE often makes me laugh really hard. ๐Ÿ™‚ The best part was when she said once she got to America she would say to my parents, “Mom, Dad, me America coming. Dori India staying.” Ha ha!

(I walked out the door to see Hope* twirling at Smyrna)

I officially say good-bye to the girls on Wednesday and Friday I leave Ooty for Delhi.ย I know this next week will go by fast and I would love prayers for God-filled days and joy-filled moments.

Some news: Hope* will be going to court in April! This is an exciting chance for justice to prevail! Please be praying that her Madame will be convicted.

What I will miss about living in India:

  • tea time, I love chai
  • watching Hindi (Bollywood) films
  • living cheaply
  • simplicity
  • GOOD Indian food
  • the frequent use of the words “sir” and “madam”
  • the random children saying “Hi!” and other Indians that chose to be friendly
  • seeing women with their henna, bangles, and saris
  • observing the way people do things
  • riding scooters (?!)

A glimpse

(two of the girls and Anika all put henna in their hair this week)

This past week has felt like more of a blur than any other and I have to admit it’s been really difficult for me to get myself to sit down and write an update. My weeks seem to be getting fuller, and when I have time off I value it infinitely more than I did a month ago. I am quite quickly exhausted at the end of day and in the past couple days I’ve even been fighting a cold. I’m determined not to get sick and actually, I think my determination is working. ๐Ÿ™‚

This weekendย Hope* opened up to me about being pregnant last year when her sister got married; she had an abortion when she was five months along. (I was aware of this shortly after coming, but she never brought it up to me.) She also talked about missing her family with me and how it makes her sad when she talks to them on the phone. It’s nice for her to open up. I really have seen a lot of growth in her. It’s amazing. She and I have the least ability to communicate verbally with one another because she knows the least English of the girls. Today, Anika (another volunteer) and I prayed one on one with the girls and I prayed for Hope*. She told me a couple of things to pray for and after I was done praying she said, “I pray for you?” ๐Ÿ™‚ It melted my heart a little, as I never asked her too and planned just to pray for her. Though I couldn’t understand her prayer (in Hindi) I felt like crying because it really moved me. After she was finished she brought up me leaving (next week!) and said how she was going to be so sad. She said, “When you come I became soooo happy!” Honestly, this moved me in more ways than one. You see, I got here only about two months after Hope* joined FF. She was recently rescued and not only did she not talk/try to talk with me much, but she also did not seem like she cared about anything much. Over time I slowly began to see a change her. I’ve seen more smiles and more joy, more of an interest in scripture and more passion in prayer.

When I meet the girls at the bus to go to Smyrna I greet them with a “Hello” and “Good-morning” usually asking them how their night was. At first all of the girls were kind of hum drum, sometimes they hardly acknowledged me. Then about half way through my time here I began to see more smiles, and would get more of an answer than a nod of the head. I noticed a change in Hope* and Faith* first, the last few weeks they have greeted me with big smiles. Since then I have even seen changes in Zoe*! Now, most mornings all three of them say “Good-morning” and give me a smile. Quite the change from two and a half months ago!

(turquoise and pearl bracelet I designed last week http://www.ruhamah.in/)

Here are some other highlights from my past week:

*Learning about Indian cooking

*The many monkeys at roja (the girls do not like the monkeys and tend to over react and they were hanging out more than usual this last weekend, but I find them fun) ๐Ÿ™‚

*I slept the latest I ever have since I’ve been in India… most mornings I’ve woken up between 6 or 7 am whether I like it or not, but I slept past 8 am on Sunday! I certainly felt more rested which I really needed.

*Giving impromptu geography/world/culture/space/time zone lessons to the girls at Smyrna

*Eating DOMINO’S PIZZA! One opened in Ooty on Monday and some of us went to celebrate Anne’s birthday. It was more delicious than I can express in words. (A little glimpse of home.)

(Domino’s in Ooty?!)

I leave Ooty next week! It is beginning to soak in more now. I have to say, just in the past few days I’ve felt like I’m becoming really ready to leave. By the way, I meant to share ย more about Ooty sooner, but if you would like to find out more about Ooty— > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ootacamund I am incredibly excited to go to Delhi before I leave! As it turns out Anne and I are going to be able to stay with someone in Delhi and have been blessed with some amazing connections which will make our time all the more enjoyable. Yay!

Curious to know my schedule the rest of my time here:

Thursday: last day of teaching!

Friday: Smyrna in the morning, staying with the girls at Roja at night

Saturday: Roja with the girls during the day

Sunday: off

Monday: off

Tuesday: Smyrna

Wednesday: Smyrna

Thursday: morning prayer, off the rest of the day

Friday: fly to DELHI!

…. Monday, April 4th: Fly back to America!


Vulnerability

(The seemingly never ending tea leaves at Smyrna)

On Monday, Faith’s* Father, brother, and cousin visited. I felt honored to see a glimpse of her life and family, even though briefly. I wasn’t really able to converse with them, but I did get to point out how she writes her new name (she changed it after baptism last year) and the beautiful jewelry she makes. I knew Faith* was really excited to see her Dad, but anxious about the questions that might be asked. So, in the morning she asked me to pray about it before she left to meet them. I was pleased for her openness as I sensed her concerns. Besides her father wanting her to marry, nearly all of her family (besides her father) do not know that she is a Believer, and as they are Hindu, I think she fears their comments, ridicule, and lack of acceptance. Faith* left in the morning to meet them, and then returned with them near lunch time. When she walked back into the building I asked her how things went and she said, “It was good,” with a big smile on her face.

As Faith* walked out to say good-bye to her father, brother, and cousin– Zoe* and I stood alone in the workshop. She looked over at me, and with the most honesty and vulnerablity I’ve ever seen from her, she said, “If my mom and dad weren’t died; I think of how they probably would have visited here like some of the other girls’.” My heart swelled with compassion for her as she looked at me… eye to eye, and began to cry. I hugged her and told her, “but you are still loved.” She responded with, “I know I am loved.” Then I expressed to her that I know it must be hard, and make her sad, and though she does not have parents at least she has a sister and is not all alone her family. As I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and stood in silence for a moment I could sense the tears falling down her cheeks… and she let them. These kinds of emotions aren’t really expressed by the girls and Zoe* of all people to see this from was incredible. Then after a few moments she began to quickly try to wipe them away with her top and I told her, “it’s ok to cry… it’s good to feel our emotions and we need to cry sometimes.” Really. I think the look I received from her may be tucked away in my heart forever. Honesty and vulnerablity open the doors to new life and freedom.

I find myself telling the girls things like, “I want you to know how God loves you,” more lately as I do Bible studies with them in the morning as I teach, and Friday nights. Sometimes I feel like they are only half listening waiting for me to finish, and then there are those times when they look up, nod, and take it in. I’ve noticed Hope* in particular paying more attention lately. It makes my heart rejoice. Truly, God’s love is amazing, so unconditional, and we are so undeserving. But with these girls sometimes I just want to shout it! “God loves YOU!” It’s like I can feel it bubbling out of me. What God can do for us— giving us true freedom, peace, and joy is seems too good to be true sometimes. But God steps out of those limitations, and it makes me want to do the same for Him. I want these girls to know how much I love them… and God loves them. He accepts them, he accepts us. His Love is perfect, it never fails- Just as I shared with the girls this week from 1 Corinthians 13. Learning to love in ways you don’t know how, loving when you feel disrespected, and worn out does something to a person. It can either become an obstacle, or it can give you fuel to move forward… To move forward in love. This is what I choose.

โ€œTo love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.โ€ – C.S. Lewis



Pump your legs!

(Faith* on the swing in the garden at Smyrna)

I think most people in America know what is meant when someone says, “Pump your legs,” especially at a child’s play ground. Pumping your legs on a swing is to move them back and forth to make the swing go higher and faster.

Before lunch at Smyrna, the girls have an activity time. This consists of games etc. But the girls’ favorite thing to do is go to “the garden” at Smyrna. There is a small playground there that has one swing… the token swing. The girls love it and frequently want to be pushed. This week was no exception. After Faith* saying, “Didi! Push me…… please!” on more than one occasion, I found myself trying to explain to her the art of “pumping your legs.” When I was in elementary school, the swings were one of my favorite things on the plain ground… and I like to think I mastered this art. Explaining this concept (even showing it) to someone that is in their mid-twenties, and someone I already have language challenges with, is more difficult than I would have anticipated. Faith* fairly quickly would give up, leave her legs out, and tell me to push her again.

This experience felt like a wound in my heart.

As I have explained before, these 17-25 year olds are so much more girls than women. More than that, they have missed out on their childhoods in so many ways whether they were married off at a young age or went to a brothel when they were still young… I don’t think any of them went to school past the age of 10. Most of them didn’t have good parental figures in their lives or they lost their parents at a young age.

Beyond this being a good example of lost girlhood, this is even more an example of what I want for these girls. I want these girls to thrive. I want them to be independent women, not so dependent that they want to be pushed on a swing or for me to do their school work for them. I want them to move on with their lives with strength. But more than all these things, I want them to be free. I want them to “pump” their spiritual legs and allow God to let them fly as they get rid of all their fears, their insecurities, and put all their trust in Him.

This was my second week of filling in for teacher three days a week. Things were ok. Truly, the class room hours are the most challenging. I had to put my foot down a lot as I was being disrespected repeatedly. I have two more weeks where I will be filling in like this.

(the girls working on English exercises)

This week I designed my first necklace for Ruhamah. Zoe* started making them this week. It was really cool to see my creation being produced.

(sandstone necklace)

Friday night I stayed with the girls, and spent the day with them on Saturday. I took them to “The Boat House.” The Boat House is basically where a man-made lake is and people can go out on paddle boats, and there are essentially carnival style rides near the lake. I went on two rides with the girls. They must have a thing for spinning here. The second ride we went on was called “Break Dance.” I sure hope break dancers don’t feel as sick as I did when I got off of it. My stomach still felt queasy even a few hours later. But, I guess it’s a small price to pay. Oh well. I’m glad the girls had fun.

(break dance: photo by Faith*)

In other news, we found out a new girl will be coming to be in our program in a month or so. I don’t know much about her except that she is 30 years old and is HIV positive. It’s exciting to hear FF can be a part of another rescued girl’s life.

Three weeks from tomorrow I will be flying back to California from Delhi. Seems strange. Faith* told me this week, “Didi! You get me a visa.” (Meaning she wants a visa to go back to America with me.) Hmm, good-byes won’t be easy. However, I am getting more excited to visit Delhi/Agra! Another volunteer, Anne, is going to be able to go with me which should be really fun. For a while I wasn’t sure if I was going to be making the trip solo or not. It’s so nice to have a travel buddy. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, I have only 18 full days left in Ooty before spending time in Delhi for a few days. Wild.

I would love prayers for these last weeks here and also for what I am doing after I return to the states. I am focused on being in the present, here, and now and loving on these girls. Yet, as my time is coming to an end my heart is seeking God’s direction and peace of mind. Thanks!


3 Liters

Sitting, minding my business, I suddenly felt the cold rush of water all over me… and it didn’t seem to stop. Leaping out of my chair, I ran to get a way from it, but I couldn’t escape it. Three liters of water later… I was soaked.

***

This has been a quite crazy week for me… I taught three days this week, did a lot with packing/organizing jewelry and beads with Leah, I didn’t have a day off until Thursday, and then Friday night I stayed with the girls at Roja (my first night) and I even stayed Saturday during the day. Needless to say it was a lot.

This afternoon I went with the girls as they helped Anne with horse therapy for a few children. [The girls usually have horse therapy sessions once a week and then occasionally help with the sessions for the kids.] I loved seeing the girls help out. After the sessions ended and we finished our tea, the girls “initiated” me into horse therapy by way of Zoe* pouring a huge tub of water on me. I’m just glad the girls thought through moving my backpack with my camera in it. But, even after drying my clothes on the line at Roja, they weren’t completely dry yet four hours later.

(The girls help with horse therapy)

Zoe* shared more of her story with me on Friday night and also showed me a FF dvd where she explains some of what happened to her as the brothel keeper was on trial (though Zoe* told me this woman has been paying off the police so that she will not go to jail). I did know some of what happened to her after being rescued, but nothing prior. She openly talked about things with me… When she was young, her mother took “a job” to escape her abusive father. Zoe* and her sister went with her. She was promised work, so she took it not realizing she was becoming a temple prostitute. Zoe* lived with her mother at this time, and when she was eight years old her mother died. When Zoe* was twelve she too was forced into a “dirty job” and sent to a brothel. After being in forced prostitution for one year she was rescued— the first girl ever rescued by FF’s efforts. This was May of 2006.

One of the other girls also shared her story with me (she really hadn’t shared that much with me before, though I knew some things from other staff). Some of what she shared with me astounded me. She shared quite a lot of totally new information with me as we sat outside of Roja together- just the two of us as I tried to warm up after being so wet and cold. With out repeating what I have already shared in previous posts, I will piece the rest together. She was married at a young age, her husband ran off, and her husband’s mother was extremely abusive to her. She even hit her over the head with a metal bar. She has had seven surgeries on her head because of it. Seven. She was even kicked in the belly… while eight months pregnant. Faith’s* daughter was born and only four months later, when Faith* was only 14, her husband took the child, this is when her Father’s brother drugged her and trafficked her. She “wanted to die.” This is a horrible, terrible, unspeakable thing for anyone, but for Faith* she felt even more shame because she was still married (they have since divorced and her father wants her to re-marry, but she does not). She desperately wanted her child. A person from IJM was able to rescue her from the brothel after five months. Her daughter is now about to turn 12 years old and lives with Faith’s* father. She told me two nights ago she had a dream about her daughter saying, “Mommy, I miss you. I wish you were here for my birthday.” She said she woke up after that and couldn’t sleep any longer as she cried. {I think her sharing this dream is what broke my heart the most.}

No one here knows that she was married or that she has a child– the staff or the other girls. She told me, “You are the first I am telling.” I couldn’t help but think why me? in that moment as many emotions rushed over me just as the water did earlier in the day. I haven’t totally decided how I am going to handle all this information. It’s a lot to take in and process. It certainly helps me understand these girls better.

***

Well folks, a month from today (April 5) I will be waking up in my bed back in California. It seems so strange to think I have only about four weeks left here. A couple of weeks ago- when I was sick really- I was struggling with the thought of being here for over a month more with all the challenges involved with being in India and volunteering with FF. But now, I am trying to wrap my head around what it will be like to leave and say good-bye to the girls.

Other News:
*Harmony* and Naomi* indeed left on Tuesday… I’m hopeful for a new step in their lives, but also saddened. I will miss them. Their departure has made me think of what it will be like to say good-bye to the girls is just less than a month now. It won’t be easy. They will forever remain in my heart.
*Hope* wants to be baptized! My heart is so full of joy to find out this news. I am hoping it happens before I leave because I would so much love to witness it.