Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Tribute to my Kiddos...

As our days quickly come to a close I have spent a lot of time reflecting on our experience here...wondering how all this will influence my children's lives? What will they remember the most? What have they learned and how has it changed them? 
For one thing...we have become used to feeling like celebrities! This day was particularly bad...this is an extended family celebration near a temple in Mamallapurum and they would not let us go for at least 10 minutes. Everybody wanted photos with us and were even shoving each other away at times. :)



Just like any year of our lives, there have been seriously hard times for the kids. Most of them involving online school...which is HARD! We will ALL be so glad to have them rejoin their peers in the public schools next year. : )

We had our final trip out with the Medical Clinic this last week. How grateful I am for these experiences. They are some of my favorite ever from India and the ones that I am sure my children will always remember. 

This is Jayaraj and Jayamary. They have been a joy to meet and serve. Jayaraj is hands-down the HAPPIEST human being I have ever met. His example has touched each of us during our time here.




The oiling station was always my favorite. Their skin is often very dry and can crack easily so we massage oil into their lower legs. It is very personal and sweet and always feels very connecting.

Lon was always a trooper and often volunteered for the nail clipping station...which can be hard work and a little scary to be honest. Their hands and feet are often in very bad shape and it is hard to know how much to cut off and how to do it since the nails do not cut easily. I have had a couple times where I am scared that the whole nail is going to come off if I apply too much pressure...it's risky business!




We said goodbye to Brooklyn last week. She flew home to UT and we won't see her until May. We are so glad she came with us. She had a wonderful experience here and served so well. She learned to do lots of things that were outside her comfort zone...just like a "regular" mission! 

Her last months here she was given the assignment to write stories about students and patients. So she often went out with the medical clinic and conducted interviews.


She also did a Sunday afternoon choir with me. We LOVE these 8 girls. Hearing their adorable voices sing "Jesus loves me this I know" was a highlight of every week!



And this girl got up EVERY MORNING of the week at 7 A.M. to teach Vimal piano lessons!!
There could never be a more grateful student.



Brooklyn LOVES to dance with Jayaraj. And he loves to dance with her. 


We are so proud of her work here and the way that she served and loved and gave her heart to the people of India. One of the teachers said to me yesterday, "We are missing Brooklyn very much. She is so very nice. She never say hard word to anyone. We all like her very much."


 Brooklyn and Anu


Brooklyn on her last night saying goodbye to the kids.


The hardest goodbye of all...this is Elina Mary. Brooklyn and Avery are going to sponsor her and they have become very close these last few months.


This is Elina Mary and her little brother Praveen. Our family is going to sponsor Praveen. We fell in love with these two because they stayed on campus during Christmas break so we all really got to know them one on one.


Camry has probably paid the heaviest price for coming here. Online school as a junior is SERIOUSLY HARD. AP Calculus and AP English without a classroom teacher is CRAZY!!!

But I hope there have been enough good times to make up for it. : )


 The goats are SO cute!!! That's gotta make up for a little, right?

I always knew that coming here would change my children...I just never knew it would give them a future in the tattoo industry! ; )  Camry is a beautiful artist and she has done some amazing henna while we've been here!


 She has served with so much love and so much kindness in the colonies. We are so proud of her and how hard she has worked here and the ways in which she has grown. She has learned to be self-motivated and to look outside of herself. She has continued to be a great older sister and example!



Liberty has also done so well here.  She has worked so hard to stay on schedule with all her schooling. Even though she misses her friends in UT, she has never complained about being here. The other day, I was SO proud when I heard her say to Avery, "I'm not excited because we are leaving India...I am excited because we are going back to America." She adjusted so well to being here and has taken everything in stride.
She has really grown and learned about the important things in life.

I mean, how many 17 and 15 year olds do you know that would happily clean ulcers? I have been so proud of my girls and the beautiful and natural way they have served here.


These little girls are really going to miss their hugs and play time.




Here is Liberty tutoring Sabari on one of his first days of UKG...upper Kindergarten.


And all of our girls worked HARD in the sweaty, muggy heat to help with construction projects.



Avery has made so many friends here. The kids just love how she runs and plays with them.
Avery and Nivetha


Avery was never shy out in the colonies. She just picked up this little girl and started making a friend.



She has shown such grace in the way she so naturally interacts with the patients.


hands-down one of my favorite India shots!



And she and Cohen have a lot of fun while they wait to do their job at medical (which is always to dump the washing water out and sanitize the tub).



When we first came here, Cohen really went into a shell. He became so shy and quiet. We could barely get him to speak two words to someone outside of our family. But then in August a little boy came here with his family and helped Cohen break out of that shell...and now he's chattier than ever!






This is one of our drivers...Velu...who absolutely LOVES Cohen. One day he snatched up this little goat for Cohen to hold.

Cohen loves to play out in our courtyard...digging and swinging.


And he ADORES all the little baby animals. The biggest impact India has had on Cohen is that he now wants to be a farmer! In fact, he was trying to convince me that instead of sending Camry and Liberty to college, we should buy a farm with our savings! ; )

 From our very first visit to this colony, Jayaraj has paid special attention to Cohen. He always wants to talk to him and even helped Cohen put his shoes on one day...which was so moving to me because Jayaraj does not have any complete fingers left on his hands--yet he knelt down and undid the velcro and helped Cohen put his sandals on.

 And Cohen is such a hard worker and really knows how to set up the medical stations!

He had a hard time here at the beginning. The kids were so overwhelming for him and he really shied away from them. But I have seen so much growth in him. Recently, we had two boy volunteers--12 and 13 year olds--and he just went over and started talking with them and invited them to play with him. ; ) And in the last 2 months he has come to really love playing soccer with the boys at playtime. He can't wait for 4:45 pm every day!!



And just one more...
This is our little sponsor girl, Maria Catherine. She is a doll!!  Lon thinks she looks like David Archuleta. ; )  We will miss getting to see her regularly.

I am so grateful for all my family...for each one of my children and my husband and their individual sacrifices to be here. I hope that this experience will continue to bless all of our lives for years and years to come!

I am so sad to say goodbye to this place. I am sure that I will leave half my heart here with these beautiful children that I have come to love so much. 

Goodbye, India! Until we meet again...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Our year {so far} in photos...

I haven't really posted very many photos lately, so I thought I would just fill a 
whole post up with all the goodies.

We recently hosted an event on campus where 15 artists from the Bindu Art School came and painted. The art school was founded by an Austrian artist to teach leprosy patients in one of Rising Star's colonies. It is an inspiring thing to watch these men and women paint with missing digits and clawed hands.





Everybody there wanted this painting when she was finished. It was amazing!



 This is Velu, one of our drivers, who absolutely loves Cohen
...he calls him 'Cohen, my friend' whenever he sees him.


One day out on Medical, Velu picked up this little goat for Cohen to hold. Cohen was in heaven!



...and here they are playing around with Cohen's rubber snake, Rattle. Velu thought is was so cool and wanted me to take a whole bunch of pictures with it.


Avery with the same adorable goat!



Liberty with Vaishnavi K. out at playtime.

This is Durga Devi and everyday Lon tutors her after school.


The girls and I out with the Mobile Medical Clinic...







The kids absolutely LOVE to play with our kids.


Camry with Vignesh N. and Priyadarshini P.


Cohen and Avery have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED playing soccer with the boys every day for the last month. They can't wait for 4:45 pm to roll around.



 That's all for now....but there are many more to come as we now take our camera everywhere so we can make sure to record it all before we get on that plane to America. ; )