Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas FUN!

Seriously, I can't stop laughing about this picture! We are at a big mall and I was pretty excited about the Christmas decorations! Then we saw the Santa... creepy mask and all...These I have seen before, but the elves... wow! These guy came up and asked us in very low voices, "Hey... what country you from?"
Ryan and I were amazed by the fact that they were employing actual dwarfs as the elves... but, you know, anything goes in over here! We got our laughing quota for the day...

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's all about expectations...

I am one of those people who gets easily excited, but I can also get extremely disappointed... I know my Ryan thinks that my life is an endless roller coaster, but I am thankful that he is willing to ride along with me. One of the first times I think he realized this was when right before we were married, we went along with my family to Silver Dollar City in Branson. It was the Christmas season, and it had been years since I had been there, and to think of all the Christmas sights alongside some of the greatest people in the world, I was so excited! We get to where you turn in the park and wonder why there is not a line of cars as usual. Then we see the big lit up sign posting the sad news... "Closed for Today". I tried to hold it in, but I couldn't. Big crocodile tears slipped down my cheeks and I felt like my whole Christmas season would be ruined. Ryan, I am sure, was thinking, "What I am getting myself into?!" ... but he was nice to me even though it was clear everyone else was OK with plan B except for me. Everything turned out ok when we planned another night in Branson and we went the next day, but at that point I realized I need to learn how to deal with disappointment better.

 I am learning that there are ways to keep expectations low, but that does not mean that you are not looking forward to anything. Before I thought that if I had low expectations, for sure they would be fulfilled, but what fun is it if I never get to possess the excitement of the expectation? Yesterday we had a school holiday, and we wanted to do something fun. About 30 minutes drive from our house, I had seen a new big mall and a Big Bazaar, which I like to think of as India's answer to Wal-mart. And if anyone knows me, they know I love a little shopping trip! Ryan and I wanted to go, so we figured out the public transport out there that saved us several dollars from a private auto. I was pumped to shop at Big Bazaar! I told Ryan on the way there that if it was closed, I would not cry! I set my expectation high that it would be fun, and also high that if it was closed, we would find something even more fun to do instead! We get to the Mall and realize that even though it is a BIG mall... three stories, the only things in it are a movie theater,  a food court with Indian food and ice cream, the Big Bazaar, and two open shops. Everything else is empty, never been open before. It seems so weird to open a mall before it is full of shops, but no one asked me how you should open a mall! I see the Big Bazaar sign, and look in and realize that it is not even completed yet! They are still putting together shelves and painting the walls and there is no merchandise at all! The guards outside said it will open in two weeks, so I have that to look forward to... but just like I had told Ryan, I did not get upset! We just rolled with it and laughed that we went all the way out here just to find out we were two weeks early! So we opted for an Indian coffee and then a Hindi movie, which made for good language practice and a fun date!

6 Things I learned in a Punjabi Village







1. Turbans don't have to match your outfit, but since many people have more than 7, it is possible!

2. They are the ULTIMATE food pushers! ALL day LONG!

3. Girls at a Nursing hostel were as giggly as group of junior high girls at a sleepover! (I was the first American they had talked to... they all want me to get them a job in America! There were about 40 in one small room! Ryan called them an Army when they walked out following me!)

4. Even when they don't have extra money, they are always willing to offer food to anyone around at mealtime.

5. Hair is really important. Sikh's don't cut their hair, and everyman has a big beard, and in the early morning, it is down out of their turbans and if you go walking early, you might catch a glimpse of a guy brushing out his LONG, slightly stringy never been cut hair! But even the Christians who do cut their hair make sure their hair is nice and oiled.

6. When they start singing praise songs to Jesus, plan on being there another few hours!

ALSO, there are ALWAYS LOTS OF Smiles and Laughs to go around!

Chili- South Asain Style!

Chili has always been a necessity at my house... as soon as there is even the tiniest chilly breeze, Daddy would gather up all the ingredients and with a cheerful smile, we would chop up all the vegetables and thaw some meat.  Being in South Asia, meat is harder to find and so, i have found ways to substitute. When I lived here before, my roommate and I tried many different ways and here is a picture of the ingredients and a how-to!

The beans here are not from a can, so you must soak them overnight... then cook them in a pressure cooker for about 20 minutes. Cut up your onions, bell peppers, and tomatos. In Hindi they are, Pyaz, Shimla Mirch, and Tomater. Then the secret ingredient is beef bullion. This should come from America... they don't make it here! Mix that into hot water and then add Nutrela. This is dried Soy granules. They soak up the bullion and take on the taste of what you soak them in, so they taste somewhat like beef! In a big frying pan, cook the granules and the vegetables. Add the beans, some tomato sauce and some Chili seasoning.  I also get my chili seasoning packets from America, so the chili seems to taste a little more like home. I am sure if i played around with it, I could find the right spices here. This is the land of spice! Hope this little how-to makes you smile! Blessings!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Friends!


I spend my quiet time today asking the Lord to send me a friend. I asked for someone who I could invite over to my house for a meal or chai... Well, the Lord is not slow in keeping His promises! I went to my language class and there was an Indian girl who was learning how to help people learn Hindi. She is really sweet and we hit it off immediately. She was just observing, but it was conversation class, so I included her in our conversation and we had so many laughs! By the end of the hour and a half class, we had a plan to eat lunch at my house and then go to the market for some shopping. I was so excited that the Lord answered my pr so quickly! She is not from this city, or the city where we are going, so I was a bit sad to realize that she was only in town for three days. But I felt like the Lord was renewing my confidence in Him... He sent me a friend that I made in just a few minutes... and He can send me many more, if I just keep my eyes open and take advantage of the opportunities to meet people. Ryan also had made a new friend a few days ago and he wanted Ryan to help him with his guitar playing. So he came over last night for a little lesson and so I made some cookies and chai for us after the lesson. It was amazing to see once again, "Before they call, I will answer: While they are still speaking I will hear." Isaiah 65:24 Before I even asked him, He sent a friend for me to our city, and he gave Ryan a guy to play guitar and practice Hindi with... and all in one day, I had Indian friends over for chai, and a meal! Amazing!

My Spot

Here I sit... in my spot... coffee in hand, in awe of the beautiful creation surrounding me. There is this amazing tree out my window, and as I sit here, all the worries of the world fade as I realize the splendor of our King! The foothills of the Himalayas lay right out side the window and I can only imagine how majestic is our God as I marvel at his wondrous creation. Out my window is also lots of people... its India, right? Always lots of people. And people are the height of God's creation. I love the hustle and bustle of crowds of people, but today I can just sit and observe in the peacefulness of my spot by the window.
I did not realize how much this temporary house could feel like a home. When we moved in, it seemed really, "Indian" without very many fancy or new things or the conveniences of home. The color of our bedroom is a pale mint green, and there are water stains on all the ceilings. Our freezer is about the size of a dorm fridge and the washing machine is semi automatic. (quite fascinating... I had never seen one like this! Ryan is great about doing laundry, so I don't complain about the slight inconvenience of moving the clothes back and forth from the soapy water to the spinner since he does it!).  But its home. And in my spot, everything looks better. I have found that if I have a place where I daily go to spend time with the Lord, it easily becomes a priority the first thing in my day. And how much better is life when we make Him our priority!?!
Being at home is so good.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I love the music in South Asia... I love the chords and the interesting and very non-western sounding melodies. But one of the things that i love most is seeing people really worship the one true God in a place where that is not normal... We went to a ch'ch yesterday... a whole group of young people were up on the stage singing as if their life depended on it! and a keyboard, drum set, and guitar. It was not the traditional dholak and harmonium like I love, but you could tell for these young believers, this is their kind of music and it was great to see them worship. This link is not the people we heard, but it is a group from the city where we are moving and it is a lively version. The title is Yeshu Tere Naam, and it means, "Jesus, your name is above all names." Hope you enjoy listening to it too!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2zNHrQR5ws&feature=related

FALL!

I LOVE FALL! I was thinking this time of the year was going to be one of the hardest times of the year to be on the other side of the world, but God knows what little things we need to feel at home. You can't beat the cool breeze and the smell of nutmeg and fresh cooked PUMPKIN! I asked my language helper if they had ever heard of a big, orange pumpkin. She said there is pumpkin, but its green or yellow not orange. I first found a little one and it worked, but I heard from others that they found a big one and I knew I needed to go to a bigger vegetable place so I could find a bigger pumpkin. They are called Kad-du. They are actually not as big or round as most pumpkins I have cut. It was quite a bit flatter, but i went ahead and tried it anyway. I started by cutting a hole in the top and pulled out all the strings and seeds. Then I started cutting the edge. It took forever to get it all cut! I felt like it kept growing and growing. I cut it into cubes and cooked it. I did not have a pot big enough, so i had to boil it in three pots! (and we only have two burners so it really did take a while!) Once it was cooked I mashed it with a potato masher I just found here. I would rather use a blender, but I have not purchased one with 220 volts yet. I am waiting until we get to Mumbai to get most of my utensils and appliances. It ended up making about 8 cups of pumpkin! I am prepared for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. 






Monday, October 24, 2011

Home

There has been so much going on since my last blog, it might take a few to catch up with where we are. We loved our two months in Virginia and the new friends we made. The hard part was the actual saying goodbye to family and friends, knowing it would be a while til we saw them again. Skype keeps us on the same page, so we are really blessed to be going out at this time in history. (the trash truck is outside beeping his horn... about a hundred times just to make sure you are awake and brought your trash out already! There are lots of things I love about this culture, but the horns and other incessant noises are not it!) We really feel like this is home, even though we are in a temporary house and we know this is just the first three months, but its still our South Asian home. Our home is small but has everything we need. The weather is so nice that we have not closed most of our windows since we got here. There are fans, but we rarely need to use them.

We have spent much of our time finding things around the city (no Target or Walmart here... you have to go to five shops to get the five things you need. The first day I looked around the house and made a list of what it needed to feel more liveable. I had a long list and after going to the biggest market for a few hours, I had only found a couple of things. I got discouraged and felt like I had lost of touch of finding what I needed. Then I remembered how long it took me to get house set up the first time I was here and how long it takes to know where you can find everything in the city. The next day we went out with a list knowing what I needed and where I could find it... and I accomplished everything on my list! It felt so nice to feel like i could accomplish something again!

This picture is from my kitchen window... in the perfect time of day. There is about 1 1/2 minutes of perfection: right when the sun sets over the hills the whole kitchen sparkles with an amber haze and I cannot help but feel completely in awe of God's grace that he has given us through creation. And I get to experience part of it through my own kitchen! WOW! At 5:40 these days, you know where you can find me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

hope

I had grand ideals of writing this blog last week (I thought I had HOPE all figured out), but life and moving and driving across the country got in the way! Well, as the past few days transpired, I realized why I had not written this yet... I really have not figured out what hope is, and I really have so much more to learn and so many more days of waiting than I would have "hoped" for....  So, what is hope anyway? We often think of hope as the possibility of a certain outcome, or hope in a person to come through. I have hope that Ryan and I will get to South Asia safely and that things will come together for us there... hope that our family will grow... hope that the friends I have shared Chr'ist with over the past year will come to fa'ith. I feel like the things I have hope in are justifiable... I don't think they are worldly, or anything that is contrary to Scr'ipture or the heart of G'od. But just because we Hope for something that COULD glor'ify G'od it does not mean that it will be what brings the MOST glory, or be the way that G'od chooses to use us. As certain things have not worked the way i planned, i sit with my coffee with tears streaming asking why G'od is not giving me what I HOPE for, I realized that I can't hope in an outcome, but ONLY hope in the Lord. Not in the things that i dream would bring people to Him, or of the things that would help me to serve him better, or what i always imagined my life would look like, but only in the Lord. How do you put your hope in the Lord and not in the things that He does? I realize that I have no idea. I thought I had it figured out. wow. Sometimes we get so short sided, imagining that we have a broad view. I don't know what to do, but I know the one who does, so I will just sit and spend some time with Him and I have full confidence that he will tell me how to live it one day at a time. 
Psalm 17:13-15 "Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Radiant with Joy

I have a passion... something that gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps me pressing on throughout the day...its all about JOY. I love making peoples' day and bringing a smile where there was a frown! I love to sing loudly and spontaneously break out into dance... No one would say that I am a fabulous dancer, but they would have to admit I have LOTS of fun doing it! If someone asked for words that I want to be described as, the top of my list is always, "Joyful!" My heart longs for joy and the moments that are most defining in my life have been so because I chose joy. How we respond is always a choice and it's a challenge to step back and choose wisely. My life verse is Psalm 34:4-5 (NLT) "I prayed to the Lord and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be RADIANT with JOY; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." This is why I LOVE scripture! How poetic and powerful is this! Through him, we are given freedom from the fears that bound us, and we radiate HIS joy and we will never be covered with shame. I want to be full of JOY... so full that it spills out and radiates out of my very being so that when I smile to someone on the street they see the glory of God living in me. Too often I am not thinking of sharing the glory of God, but of promoting "Sarah" and her "cool-ness' to everyone around me. I want to change this and moment by moment dwell on the goodness of God so that I will continuously "look to Him" and be "RADIANT" for Him! I am an eternal optimist and as I sit here writing, I can imagine that I will do this daily, but I have an awareness that it is not by my own strength but by the Spirit that we are able to do something so bold. Living with a realist (my husband) helps me to know that our world is full of sin and things are flawed and not ideal, but we can both agree that through daily spending time with HIM, we can become the person He desires for us to be and we can radiate His Glory to the world.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sacrifice

As I get ready for the next step in life, it makes me think back to where I have been in the past few years. Life in South Asia to life in Bay area, being in America for two hours and then getting engaged, married life and working as a three year old teacher... Life has been dramatically different, but I feel so at home doing all these things. I am a bit ashamed as I write this, but I feel like writing it down will help me not make the same mistakes again. The word of the day is Sacrifice... Sometimes I get a bit of a selfish attitude with God and try to tell him that I am doing SO MUCH for Him and (as I said, shamefully) I try to tell him that I am doing all I can for Him, and now its time for Him to do something for me, and give me the things I ask Him for. I guess I assume that the more I sacrifice for Him, the more I deserve or should receive from Him. Somehow I figured that sacrifices= rewards. It's not about "me", but about HIM.

We were appointed last weekend, and being surrounded by amazing others who are also about to uproot their "cushy" lives to take their families to live at the ends of the earth was humbling. The sacrifices that these families are making is astounding. They have given up so much of their "stuff" so they can move overseas in a few suitcases. Living with hands wide open, holding so loosely onto things that to let go of them is not really even a sacrifice...It is actually a freeing feeling to let go of stuff! I love the feeling of another box given to Goodwill! I figure that if I can sacrifice stuff and my nice simple American life then I must be good at sacrificing, but it is SO much more than stuff and where you live. I know I am not good at sacrificing my desires and my personal dreams. I get on my knees and still demand that God answer my requests. And in MY time. But it is all in HIS time, which has been proven even in my own life to be better than my momentary fix. I know that HE is working and will always work for HIS glory and I am so humbled to be part of HIS plans.

I was speaking in a 5 year old sunday school class, and one of the kids questions was, "Why did God pick you?" I was struck by the simplicity and depth of that question. Why did He pick me? I asked the kids, "Do you think it was because I am the smartest?" They all quickly laughed and said, "no..." I think it's because I am willing to be used. Not because of my qualifications or my extreme devotion. Really if that was what it took, I would have been disqualified years ago. No, its all because of His ability to work through me and my willingness to be used by Him for the sake of HIS name and glory.

So, as I get used to living with my hands only loosely holding on to anything, I am aware that I am not doing this for my glory but for HIS. I know that I am not worthy and no amount of personal sacrifice will make me worthy, but through His grace we are all able to come before His throne confidently and proclaim His greatness to all languages, peoples, and nations. To God be the Glory!