(see part two, a photo summary on: https://kimmyshouse.wordpress.com/india-summary-part-two-photos/)
Twenty eight sunsets have faded into nighttime since I returned from India. I am finally going to try and summarize my trip. But today has not been an easy day. Seventy times the sun has risen since my dad passed away. Today is Friday. Fridays have been turning out to be hard for me. I don’t think I am consciously aware of the fact that it is a Friday until I pause and wonder why I am in such a crabby mood.
They just seem to creep up on me.
I had a similar problem last week, only it was on a Wednesday. Unbeknownst to me it was December third. The first Wednesday of the month means I teach the introduction class at Bible Study. I left the house selfishly hoping no new women would show up. I didn’t have authentic enthusiasm to be in front of a group. I was in somewhat of a downer mood. Kind of like the one-day, once a month- emotional imbalance that comes with the monthly hormone shift, that turns me into either “monster mommy” or “sob-ster mommy.”
It was about eleven thirty in the morning, I was leaving Bible study, no one had new showed up, so of course I then felt a little bad that I was so selfish… anyway I checked my messages and my mom had called to ask how I was feeling. I looked at the date on my phone and realized it was the third. Dad passed away on Friday October 3rd. That is why Fridays and thirds seem hard…even though I don’t pay them attention, my brain and emotions somehow alert me to the strange fact that they seem like hard days. I certainly don’t want them to be.
I have had other random things happen in my brain lately that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
I was really tired last week and lay down while James was napping. I was drifting towards that moment where body and mind pass into sleep when the thought; “my dad is dead” passed through my brain and robbed me of a nap.
Or I wake up in the middle of the night and have a mental picture of one of the children at Kimmy’s House and have a random idea pop into my head.
Anyhow, I really got off track. I sat down to summarize my India trip but I guess I had to move other things out of the way first.
“Heavy” was the word I used the first night I returned to the hotel after visiting Kimmy’s House.
I think that word somehow describes most of what I can’t describe about my trip. I often fall short in trying to explain what I can’t quite process yet. It is possible that I am close when I say that it seems like I have a scrambled Rubik’s cube in my head and I keep turning the pieces and if I am lucky enough to match all the colors on one face it still leaves the other five faces jumbled up. I can’t solve it all yet. (BTW, when Caleb and I went to build houses in Juarez, Mexico back in April, there was a sixth grader in our van that could solve the Rubik’s-cube. He walked me through the turns and twist and I wrote them all down and was actually able to solve it with his help, (and my handy dandy cheat sheet.) I was pretty proud of myself and couldn’t wait to show Todd. When we got home, the cheat sheet paper was not in my bag and therefore I was not able to do it. But the possibility exists that I can do it again…it is not unsolvable!
There I did it again, got way off track. It is Friday. My brain is not working anymore.
OK, so the first week of the trip was spent in the Bangalore area. Our small group of six was hosted by an American couple that lives in India and oversees two orphanages and sixty some house churches. The pace of the first week allowed us to get on India time right away and have several restful nights.
I was so thankful to visit the other orphanages and see how they are run. Because of the major cultural and socioeconomic difference between America and India I often ponder how my/our ideas are perceived by Timothy. (Timothy and his wife Lilly are Indian nationals and they oversee Kimmy’s House from Hyderabad. See the short video at www.kimmyshouse.com for the history.)
I was relieved to know that at the basic level all my expectations were working at the orphanages we visited. However, the orphanages we visited were not taking care of special needs children and that is a HUGE difference.
But before I go further into that subject I wanted to write about our group.
Sandy Baird was our fearless leader. He and his wife have traveled the globe many times, visiting forty-four countries and overseeing the feeding of 6,000 orphans worldwide. (www.mannaworldwide.com) Next therewas Char, she is from Denver. She is taking a group to Kimmy’s House in February to do basic medical/personal hygiene/sanitation/first aid -training and also a construction team who will help make the facility wheelchair accessible (so we can purchase much needed wheelchairs and actually be able to use them) and build bunk bed frames. (BTW-there is still time to travel in February if you are interested!)
Finally, there were three folks from a church in Middletown Ohio (www.placeofblessing.com). Rebecca, Lamar, and John. Lamar is the senior pastor and he and his wife have a daughter with spina bifida. John is the mission’s pastor. Rebecca just has a heart for orphans and traveling. She had spent several months in Romania ten years ago, working at an orphanage. She has a HUGE capacity to shower unconditional love on the children. Their church had hosted a golf-tournament-fundraiser in October and they designated the funds to benefit Kimmy’s House. So they wanted to come and see the children and the home.
It was a great team and I felt so much wisdom came from the combination of each ones experiences. We traveled well and no one had any major issues or over-whelming personality triats that hindered working together. We were divinely put together.
Moving on. The second week we traveled on to Hyderabad. I was so nervous and somewhat emotional arriving at Kimmy’s House that I was actually shaking. It might be hard to understand, but I felt so connected to a place that I was just now seeing for the first time. Well, technically I have seen it in pictures many times over as people have traveled and sent photos back.
I think I was shaking because I expected that I might be a little disappointed having been to the other two orphanages.
Our group ambled our way up the narrow piece of land towards the three buildings that make up the orphanage. I saw children that I “knew” and yet I was meeting them for the very first time. I was very much a pale-skinned stranger to them, just as much as the other five in our group. Yet I really felt like I “knew” them. I felt/feel this way because I have stared at their pictures for two years, I know “the personal stories” that brought each of them to Kimmy’s House. I have seen photos and videos from friends who have traveled there before me. I have written their bio’s for fund-raising and for the website. I have dreams and goals for these children, I really do. I was meeting and touching children that I felt very connected too, and it didn’t occur to me right away that they didn’t know me. I was able to greet most of the children by name and it didn’t seem strange at all. It was both fulfilling and VERY overwhelming.
Overwhelming, because I was there at Kimmy’s House; meeting children that have in some indescribable way touched my life because God whispered something in my ear in 2004 about going to India. Actually if I pull a little further back I see that if it were not for Kimmy’s life entering our lives in 2002, than there would not be a Kimmy’s House with Todd and Shannon involved. There would be a “somebody else’s” house and someone else would be involved and handicapped children in India may have never been on my radar. Yet, if I pull even further back I see where God was preparing me even before Kimmy, yet Kimmy changing our world prepared me for this/that moment. Overwhelming, see why I can’t process it all and describe it well yet? The other five in our group had their own things to process; it felt weird and wonderful that it was so personal for me and odd that it couldn’t be quite so personal for everyone else.
It was also overwhelming because you can’t un-see things once you see them. You can’t un-hear sounds you hear or un-smell or un-taste or un-feel… It was overwhelming to experience a room full of children with various and overwhelming medical, mental and physical needs that have never been properly treated. (That is hard to write because “properly treated” is my expectation, but not something quite so realistic in one of the poorest places on the planet.)
In the first hour of our arrival I think all six of us shed unashamed tears. Tears of “what,” I am not sure. But they flowed.
Mine were a mixture of the pure emotion of being there, joy, shock, sadness for the conditions and probably the realization that I was not able to pull a rabbit out of my hat and snap my fingers and make things instantly change. And in hindsight, that somehow the same providence and sovereignty of God that allowed me to be born in American and have three children with access to medical and therapeutic care, was still very much the same providence and sovereignty of God that allowed these precious creations to be born in India.
There are a variety of stories and adventures. Some that are still waiting to be shared, some that I can’t and some I have already shared. (See https://kimmyshouse.wordpress.com/2008/11/18/heroes/ and https://kimmyshouse.wordpress.com/2008/11/15/deborah/)
One fun story involved purchasing mattresses. Currently the children and staff sleep on mats on the floor. This is very typical in India and specifically in the rural village surrounding Kimmy’s House. However, the children’s bodies would benefit significantly from being off the floor and on some padding. So Rebecca, Dorcas, (Dorcas is Timothy’s oldest daughter and was a fantastic guide and translator for us),and I went shopping for some bunk-sized mattresses that were firm but without inner springs and could have non-allergenic vinyl mattress covers made to be sewn completely over the mattresses. (Because of the wide range of disabilities a lot of the children do not have control of their toileting. Diapers are not commonly used and would create quite a disposal challenge anyhow. Hence the need for the elaborate vinyl covers to keep out odors, stains and moisture.)
Our driver took us to Nagpauls Mattress Palace and we were warmly greeted by the shop owner who spoke exceptional English. I explained our purpose for being in his shop, he listened, and like a wise business man explained how he could help us. He was very thorough in his explaining about different mattress types and coverings that he thought would work for our needs. Yes, he understood the need to have the vinyl covers sewn completely around the mattresses, and that we needed a fair price since we were purchasing so many. He gave us his top three suggestions and his best pricing. I was very satisfied but wanted to shop around anyhow to make sure we were getting good quality and the best price.
In the meantime I had been reading the book, “Three Cups of Tea,” which is the very inspiring true story of Greg Mortenson and his pursuit to promote peace by building schools and educating girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The premise and title of the book is to show how important relationships are to people in and the three cups of tea symbolize the growth in relationships- the first cup is business, the second cup is friendship and the third cup is family. Meaning the longer you spend with someone the more cups of tea you will have together and the better you will know them and do things for them.
When we returned a few days later to order the mattresses he first offered for us to sit and have a cup of tea while we talked. I thought it was very fitting and appropriately timed for what I had been reading. (You must read the book if you have not.)
I am also thankful that there are now mattresses for the children to sleep on. Since bunk bed frames will not be built until February the mattress are stacked up and pulled down at night to sleep on.
That is about all I am able to summarize tonight. Since a picture is worth a thousand words I will make a seperate page with a photo journal and summarize a little about the journey under the pictures . If nothing else I hope you will be inspired by the beautiful faces of the children. https://kimmyshouse.wordpress.com/india-summary-part-two-photos/