Monday, August 29, 2011

when the soles meet the sidewalk

[Two of the little ones at the blind school.
If you want to learn about love and joy, hang out with these kids.]

I went running tonight for the first time in months. Sheeew, that was some rough goin'. There were points where my body just did not want to move forward.

In response to a disheartened email, a wise friend once wrote that when he gets tired on long runs, it's usually just a matter of looking around him--of noticing the beauty of the things he's passing. "I notice the sore spots and the pinging spots and then I shake out my arms and keep running. I've always made it home."

We go through a lot of crap here on this earth, at least in my friend group we do. We lose people we love, we get our hearts busted, we lose jobs, or can't find them in the first place. Our parents are alcoholics, divorced, indifferent, or in loveless marriages. Our siblings can't get it together and, unfortunately, neither can we. We're insecure about our bodies, our intelligence, our future, and our faith. We can't find God in churches, in our parents religion, or in ourselves, so we read books and we discuss and we sift and we sort, until we land somewhere close to Him--we hope.

Tonight on my run I saw pink and orange clouds, a child picking flowers with his grandma, and the cutest little asian boy trying to hit a tennis ball like his daddy. I thought about my dear friends who listen to all my junk, and continue to ask about it because they know I'm a verbal processor. I thought about my parents and how they never get off the phone without telling me they love me--sometimes two or three times. And suddenly I was so grateful--in the midst of my lungs heaving and my legs aching--I was grateful for the ability to run at all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

landed...but not here yet.

[Smiley and Nikkita: faculty kids. fast friends.]

I'm back and sitting here on my bed--bag still packed, legs still unshaved, India still coating my heart.

My watch says it's 1:25am there. All the kids are tucked in their beds, the bugs and bullfrogs are making strange noises, and the earth is breathing a sigh of relief for the few short hours of rest the sun is giving it. In about four hours the alarm will clang and they'll start to get ready for the new week of school--a new week without their American friends.

The goodbye was hard--oh it was hard. I don't know how it's possible to connect and attach to people so deeply in just two weeks, but somehow I manage to do it. There were hugs all over, teary faces, and promises of seeing each other again--soon. Sally told me that I was taking some of their hearts with me, and she was keeping some of mine here, so I have to come back, because then we'll all have whole hearts again.

I uploaded all the pictures from the trip and have been looking through them with a dull ache in my little heart. I know that Sally's right. I know that some of my heart is still there. It's with Nikkita and Smiley playing the hand slap game. It's at the Blind School, holding three hands on my right and four on my left and running down the sidewalk with giggling little girls. It's playing with the Sunrise Orphanage children at the river--heart so full and amazed at their beauty, but also so heavy because the word "orphan" just got really real. It's laughing with Sally about Jessi and I putting our Sari shirts on backwards. It's in our little guest house, with our humble team of six, laughing over meals and always, always, taking it one step too far. It's doing highs and lows in the evening and praying with hearts so wide open that God can't help but pour in. It's sitting at the evening program, with Angelee "seeing" me by playing with my hair and bracelet, listening to 160 children sing at the tops of their lungs, so out of tune that I feel like I can sing too. It's in the morning mist that hugs the awesomely shaped mountains, in the car with Varma trying to teach me Telugu, and in those last heartfelt goodbyes to my friends--who just two weeks ago were strangers.

Yes, India got me, just like I think we knew it would. I'm just not sure I was prepared for how hard it was going to hold on.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hello, India. Nice to meet you.

Well, we made it. Turns out that India is quite the distance from our little apartment in Seattle--over 24 hours of travel to be more accurate. Those flights were pretty long, but when you mix it with movies, Set, sleeping and music, it's not TOO bad.

Right now we're in Hyderabad and staying in this little hotel just off the airport. Nick and Ben came in a couple hours after us and are still sleeping in their little beds. We'll wake them up soon so they can eat some breakfast, and then we'll have worship before catching our flight to Vizak. From there we'll get picked up by an Asian Aid worker and visit the Slum School there in Vizak to assess what we'll need to do to take the the kids on a picnic later in the week.

I can't believe this is actually happening. I remember MONTHS ago when Jim (president of Asian Aid) and I had our first conversation about this potential opportunity. It was a conversation in passing, really. He mentioned that he'd love to do a summer camp program for the blind kids in India, and I mentioned that I had lots of friends with blind camp experience who had a heart for this kind of stuff. Nothing happened for awhile, but then a couple months after that plans started to happen, the team was made, and tickets were bought. Crazy.

Nick just came out. I haven't seen him since we parted ways in Seattle, but here we are on the other side of the world, embracing and talking animatedly about our traveling experiences. Apparently the Emirates flight was the bomb dot com. Good. I'm glad they had a good time.

Anyway, we're all up now so I'm going to go. It's going to be the first time the whole team is together. I love these guys and feel so blessed to be experiencing this with them.

If you want to continue to be updated about our trip you should follow our trip blog at: All six of us will be updating that one frequently.

Okay, bye friends! Keep us in your prayers if you think about it!