Monday, July 30, 2012


Every night after family time I usually walk back from the boy's hostel by myself. It's lovely because the weather is finally perfect and the moon is just beautiful and occasionally on a clear night the stars are pretty incredible. I love this walk because without fail every night I feel an overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude. I'm so grateful to be in such a beautiful part of the world. To be honest on my first car ride to the Rising Star Campus beautiful was not one of the many adjectives I would have used to describe India but the more I'm here the more beautiful it becomes. I'm grateful to have this opportunity to refresh myself in between high school and college, to look beyond my high school years and get excited for the opportunities that lie ahead. I feel such deep love for these little kids. Especially the kids in my house but just all of them. They have such a beautiful spirit about them. In our lesson in church on Sunday the branch president talked about the first step to eternal salvation being love. I was a little surprised because I hadn't really thought about that. Then he shared the scripture in 1st John 4:8 which reads, "Behold, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." Reading this I had the impression that these kids so full of love are such a testimony of God, because God is love. Every night as I walk back I think about how hard it is going to be to say goodbye to these kids. That became even more real tonight because it was our last time going to family time. I really can't believe I only have one more day here at Rising Star. I really am going to miss having little boys pulling at my arms and hearing "Medicine, Medicine!!" "Auntie sit with me, sit with me!" I'm going to miss their cute cute little smiles and excitement about life. One of the kids I'm going to miss most is Jeeva. He's cute little Gopi's older brother and he's just a bigger version of Gopi and pretty much just as cute. I'm going to miss calling his name and having him turn around to see the biggest smile on his face and to have him running up to me for a hug. He's my little pal, we always sit together and we always play cards at night. He's a little shy but he's so sweet. I love watching him take care of Gopi, he's a very patient and selfless little kid. 
(This is Jeeva, yes I know I look super sweaty, sorry that it's extremely humid here haha. This was right after the kid's talent show. The older kids turned on Tamil music and the kids went INSANE and were dancing like crazy and it was just epic.)

I had another moment of gratitude and love as we were sitting at dinner today. All of the volunteers eat dinner on the roof under a big canopy. We eat our red rice, curry, fruit, veggies (and french fries today yay mondays!) off  of banana leaves and we just talk and laugh. I love going around the table to hear everyones Highs and Lows of the last couple of days. The sunsets have progressively gotten brighter and more beautiful and tonight's was so amazing. The sky was so pink and orange behind the palm trees and I was just feeling so grateful. I'm very grateful to have made such good friends this session. 

My other powerful moment of the day I guess you could call it was during Medical. There are a couple of jobs you can do when you're on medical duty and people usually fight over who gets to wash the ulcers and oil the feet. But today I wasn't part of that rotation at all I did the Blood Pressure instead. It was easy but in the beginning I just felt like it wasn't as monumental. It turned out to be the best thing for me. I loved being able to talk to the patients without having a mask on and a lot of work to do. I just got to sit right next to them, pat their shoulder, hold their hand, try to get them to dance and attempt at speaking Tamil with them.  The colony we were in today was a big one and the people there were so amazing. They had such a unique happiness about them. There was one lady who didn't have legs from her knees on so she knelt on a scooter type thing. She was beautiful and I sat on the floor next to her as I took her blood pressure and held her hand as she got her glucose taken and I was so inspired by her. I thought seeing the people with leprosy would just make me feel so sad for them but it hasn't been like that. Every time I've gone to medical I've left feeling so happy and uplifted. I think it's because most of these people don't feel sorry for themselves. They are humble and have learned how to be really happy and that's what is inspiring.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Little boys and paint

Today was super! I find myself saying super way too much because it means the same thing in Tamil as it does in English so we always say it to the kids. I had tutoring again today which was fun. I love eating lunch with the kids. I love walking into the dining hall and having lots of little boys come and ask me to sit with them, they make me feel very loved. I kind of always sit with my house though because I've gotten to know these cute boys so well! I got to read with Jeeva today as my last student of the day. He is absolutely adorable. The book we read was about a girl named Maddie which was very exciting for both of us. Another girl in my group got a very cute picture of us that'll post later, she's currently de-liceing her room. During recess today a little boy ran over holding a dead mouse by it's tail and threw it another girl. It was so gross I was dying. I tried to get the kids to stay away from the mouse and finally one of the boys covered it with dirt. Ew. TII (This is India). I made a breakthrough today with one of my favorite little boys. His name is Gopi and I just adore him but he usually doesn't care enough to let you hold him or take pictures of him but today as we walked back from lunch he insisting on holding my hand and pressed his little cheek against my arm as we walked to the school. It was just the best thing ever.

Today was Arts and Crafts day which was so fun and extremely chaotic. The kids went so crazy. The younger kids started out finger painting, which I'm not sure if they've done before. They were a little hesitant at first but it ended with paint everywhere. All over faces and clothes and basically we had to hose down most of the kids, but they loved it so much and it was so cute to watch.

Meanwhile in our little Parakeet room we've been having some great boy chats. I've forgotten how nice it is to have girl friends. It makes me even more sad to leave knowing I won't see these girls everyday, but even more excited for college!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CTR-Cook the Rice

 I feel like I don't have to blog because Katie is doing such a good time blogging about everything. So if you feel like i'm not doing enough read her's!

So medical days are still my favorite. We went to a really cool colony this time and I met Maria. Maria is amazing. She came running up to all of us as soon as we arrived with her arms wide open and insisted on hugging all of us. I walked with her for a little while and could feel her sweet spirit. I got to wash Maria's feet and clean out her ulcer which was a bad one. I could tell she was in a lot of pain and she was even crying. It completely broke my heart to see her have to suffer so much. I watched as she tried to wipe her eyes with the stubs she has as hands and I was filled with love for this beautiful woman. Even though all I did was wash her feet I was so grateful to be able to help her.  

I realize this picture really isn't great of either of us but this is Maria. 

After medical Anadan our driver (I realize I spell his name different every time...ah well) took us on a couple adventures. One to pizza hut, one to another hill top temple and the last one some of you will recognize from this picture. 
Today was our education rotation and for some reason I just wasn't feeling it. But like I said before the last student of the day is always the best. I read with Jayaraj today and although he wasn't one of the cute younger standard kids that usually come during that period he was hilarious. He wanted to sing everything instead of just reading it. It made it so much fun. He's a good little singer. Speaking of singing I went to the kids choir class today which was so sweet. They're learning So Long Farewell to sing for the volunteers at the talent show. It made me sad, I'm already dreading saying goodbye to these kids. I heard Brooke was the last choir teacher, she would have been super!

I was writing to a missionary today and trying to be somewhat uplifting/spiritual and I was talking about how there is never too much love to give. That's become very apparent to me once again while being here. Everyone needs love. I also realized while writing him that being in India isn't about me. I'll be honest at the beginning and maybe until today I thought it was. I wanted the kids to like me, I wanted to be able to have cool pictures, I wanted to ride an elephant, I wanted to grow personally, I wanted a lot to do with me. But I realized how much it's not about me. With this realization comes the fact that because it's not about me it doesn't matter if I'm hot or bored or tired. Why am I focusing on me? There is so much love to give here and I need to be focusing on that. I sadly only have one more week here at Rising Star before I head off to Delhi and I'm committing myself to 100% involvement and energy while I'm here! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It keeps going uphill

Okay okay I'm going to try to catch up a little bit. I've been having a really good time here in India but it got really good on Thursday. Thursday was our medical rotation and we stopped first at a special needs school. From the very second the kids saw us they were so happy and kind and ran to give us all hugs. We sang with them and played games with them for awhile. There was one girl who kept repeating what I said so I would say "I love you" and she'd repeat it back and we'd just go back and forth again and again it was so cute. The translator told me that the girl kept saying that I was her older sister. It was very sweet. It was kind of random that we stopped there, it wasn't on our agenda and our coordinator hadn't ever been to the school but I'm glad it happened because it was an amazing experience.
After that we went to small preschool in one of the colonies. The kids were so scared of us. I was determined to get the girl in the yellow to like me because she was so adorable but she was the most scared. She barley let me hold her long enough for this picture but at least I got it haha. I know I look realllly good here, don't even worry.

The next stop was in a colony for the actual leprosy treatment. Not going to lie I was a little bit nervous. I'm really not good with anything medical, I just get grossed out easily. But it was very rewarding to be able to wash their wounds/feet. I could tell how much they appreciated it. I can't even imagine having leprosy, these people are amazing.

Anon is our driver and he's hilarious. He made the day so much more fun. He always has somewhere he wants to stop and little places to show us. So we stopped on the side of the road and he took us up a little hill to a Shiva temple. It was so cool. The view from the top was beautiful, the lake on one side and Chengulput on the other. Then he took us to a little restaurant and had us try Parotta, which is like a very light and flakey tortilla and you put fried egg in it. It was really good. Also Anon had those coconut cookies Brooke bloggged about. They really are good, I need to find out where to get some.

As soon as we got home we saw that the Life Dance kids were about to load their bus for their Chennai  recital so we asked if we could go and surprisingly they had room so we were off! It was seriously so much fun. The bus was blasting Michael Jackson and Tamil music and all the kids were singing and dancing. Vimil is one of my favorite kids here, he's older so he understands a lot and he's fun to talk to. He's obsessed with the song Call me Maybe and he's always singing it and the way he does it is so funny. I had no idea was this recital was going to be and it definitely wasn't what I expected. There were about 300 people in the crowd and we were for sure the only white girls. Dressed up in Chudidars and bindi. The rising star kids dancing was so cute. Seriously I felt so proud of them and I had this overwhelming feeling of love for these kids and this country. I just love it all. We ate dinner and got ice cream on the bus ride back and it was just a party. I'm so glad I got that experience.

Education with the kids really is great. The books we have to read with them are so funny. The first day  the book was all about bike safety, wearing a helmet and only riding on the right side of the road. First of all they drive on the left side of the road and second of all they drive wherever the heck they want here haha. I like reading with the kids, especially when they like it. It's neat to see them learning. The best part of the day is the very end. The young kids come in to read and I always get a little worried because by then I'm a little tired and always kind of dread trying to keep the little ones working. But to my surprise the little kids are the best at reading, they're so good at spelling things out because they've just gone through phonics so it's so fun to see them speed read through they're books.

I think I've taught pretty much every kid here how to do the parent trap handshake, they laugh so hard when we bump our hips together. The other night the house mother just finished doing henna to one of the volunteers and a little boy brought the henna to me and asked me to do it to him. The house mother smiled and laughed as she watched me attempt at doing some cool Indian design. I actually really like doing henna I'm bring some back and hopefully I'll get better at it. I brought my little notebook to family time and all of the little boys took turns drawing me pictures, they're super cute. I just love the little boys. I find myself with them more than with the girls. I played cricket with them the other day and I actually wasn't that bad. They're so cute. Yesterday they all got haircuts and I'm worried cause they're hair makes it way easier to recognize them. I wish I was better with names but honestly they're names are really hard.

Yesterday was really great, we went into Pondicherry which is kind of a little beach town. It was ruled by the French for awhile so some of it is nice and some of it is crazy India. There's a huge statue of Gandhi on the beach. Honestly Gandhi is just the cutest man. I was kind of dissapointed that Lakshmi the elephant wasn't feeling well and couldn't give us a blessing but we still did some exciting things in Pondicherry. We went into a temple and they put the chalk on our foreheads, still not quite sure what it means. Then we spent the day walking around, shopping, eating, and trying not get run over but the billions of rickshaws and motorcycles. We went to the bazaar which was really cool, just fruit and fruit and fruit. We walked past the most disgusting pile of trash at one point, it was literally so gross. So India haha. There are such interesting people here. I just wish I could talk to some of them and here they're life stories. The Indians love us white folk and are always asking to take pictures with us. It's pretty funny.

Life is good. The pictures take forever to upload so I'm going to have to ask you to check my facebook for those.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Auntie Auntie

I already feel like I have so much to say but I really don't know how to say it. I love wearing the clothes, I love eating the food (I really do, a lot of other volunteers don't like it but I'm lovin the rice and curry), I love the kids, I love that it's cloudy. It's so exciting when the kids remember your name and when they ask if you can be the one to read with them. They call me Medicine cause that's pretty much how they pronounce Madison. They really are so beautiful.

Funny story, yesterday was our construction day and we tossed bricks in an assembly line from the pile on the ground to make a pile on the roof. If you know me you know my face turns red when I get hot, like really red. Well, it reached a whole new level here haha, I can honestly say I've never sweat that much in my life. It got to the point where you had nowhere to wipe your sweaty face anymore because your shirt was already wet and your whole body was covered in red brick. Yum right? Bucket  showers felt goooood that night.

(I wish you could have seen my face when it was super red, haha jk I hope no one ever sees that again)

I love getting to know these little kids, some of them are such sweethearts and some of them are little stinkers, but they're all pretty cute. I've gotten to know the little boys the most so far because I'm in their hostel at night. There's a 3 little boys that just melt my heart, Vignesh, Vira and Gopi(?). They all have just the sweetest little smiles. Every night I go into Vignesh's room and we sing the alphabet song that we sing with Kate too. "the a says ah the b says buh every letter makes a sound the b says buh." and  Vignesh just screams it at the top of his lungs it's adorable. There's a boy who's a little older named Vamil that's just great. I taught him the parent trap handshake and he's making us show every person we can find. I love teaching them games. I wish I could think of more. I cut when I was throwing bricks so I'm wearing a bandaid and every time they see it they ask why I have it and when I explain that I have a cut they all begin to show me the many cuts/scratches on their bodies and then I feel kind of silly. We have so many things I take for granted as simple as bandaids. We ate lunch with the kids today for the first time, they laughed a little when I didn't know how to eat with my hands correctly. Just so you know you should only use one hand, it's silly to use two. 
This is Gopi, I think, like I said the names are hard for me. He has the longest eyelashes and is just so sweet.
 All of the kids steal your cameras. I was attempting to get it back but Varishnavi (so adorable) insisted on taking more pictures but couldn't figure out how to get her finger out of it haha so cute.
                                          Jennifer on the right is just beautiful.

Well I just know I'm going to get lice at some point on this trip. I feel like it'll be a blessing if I don't. A couple of girls have gotten sick so keep me in you prayers that I won't! We're going into the colonies tomorrow for our medical rotation and I'm so excited. We also get to stop in the art colony and I'm excited to get something. India is humid, life is good, and maddie is happy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

India day one

Well well well, I'm here and I'm safe and happy. This is going to be amazing I can already tell! The kids are so funny, they have so much energy and all they want is your attention and your camera. I'm so excited to get to know them better and learn more of their names. The names are hard. The heat and humidity is intense but bearable, I'll get used to it for sure. I love my session though, there are a lot of really fun girls and I'm just so excited for what's in store these next couple of weeks. Still can't really believe I'm here!