Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Welcome to India!

"The Crew" at RDU by johnenzor
"The Crew" at RDU, a photo by johnenzor on Flickr.

We left the US Friday night, Dec 30th at 6 pm. 3 Flights and 27+ hours of traveling, we finally landed in India around 4am their time. Although a few of us got a few hours of sleep on the planes, we were still very exhausted. By the time we landed, all we cared about was sleep and a shower.

Now, from here on out, everything I had ever known was new. Even my ideas of what was weird or crazy was nothing compared to what I was about to experience.

Well, let me back up. Here's a few things you need to know about India before we get too far along:

1 - India is predominately made up of ...what for it...Indians. Yes, shocking I know, but you need to know this to realize how rare it is for these people to see white people. White people are all over their ads, their posters, any TV show, they're all white, or very fair skinned Indians. Saying we stood out was an understatement.

2 - From education or TV, some people speak both English and one (or two) of the many Indian languages. Many of the kids we ran into could say things like "Hi" or "How are you" but not many could speak more than that.

3 - In their culture, it is a sign of respect for them to ask you to sit, and then to wait on you hand and foot. You think that sounds all wonderful, but it is very humbling to be asked to sit in a chair, up on a stage, with 50+ adult, elderly people, or pregnant women, sitting on a dirty concrete floor at your feet, every where you go.

So, with all that laid out, we get off the plane and through customs.

Immediately, you start to notice the thousands of people waiting for family or loved ones, who all start staring at us. They're taking pictures, staring with no self awareness or feeling to turn away when you look at them, and they just stare. If one of them saw you and his friend didn't, he'd nudge him to get him to turn, and immediately you'd have all of them staring at you. In America, if someone was to stare at you like this, when you look at them, they'll turn away. But not in India.

We immediately knew, we are the only white people here!

Part of the organization that our team is partnered with, is a Children's Orphanage in Hyderabad. The main contact from this home for us was a man named Raja. When we landed, he had a few of the boys there from the orphanage and another leader there to great us with beautiful ornate flower leis. These leis, are by far the most fragrant arrangement of flowers I have ever smelled, and they were gorgeous! They were packed with lillies, roses, and fragrant herbs. As we later learned, we would get these everywhere we went, as a sign of honor and respect, but there was nothing like that first deep breath of the first lei, right after you land from being on a hot plane ride for days.

Raja brought one of the leaders with him to greet us. He was such an inspiration! Having been born with 2 clubbed feet, he walked with crutches and grew up in the orphanage. Now an adult, he spent most of his free time pouring his time and love back into the place that fostered him into a very articulate, intelligent young man of God. His sense of humor was uplifting and I enjoyed being around him. He spoke English well, with the exception of some of our more rare or slang phrases, and was a great asset to have when speaking with the children. Currently, he is in college for his Masters in Engineering.

It was surreal to get off the plane and see how incredibly different everything was from where we were just a few hours before. Being in a strange place, with people who didn't fully understand my language was really beginning to set in that this trip would be crazy, fun, challenging, incredible, and surreal.

Welcome to India!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

We're Back!

Hi Friends!  John and I are back from India! I haven't updated this blog in forever, but since only my friends read this, you guys probably already knew we went to India.

I'm going to post a few entries about our trip over the next few days, including photos, lots of stories, and much more.

India was worlds different than here in America, to say the least.  I am thankful for so very much now that I'm back, including simple things like clean running water, a toothbrush, and air conditioning.  One of my biggest worries was the food and how my body would handle it, and amazingly enough, my body tolerated Indian spiciness pretty well!  It wasn't very happy with the plane rides, or airplane food, and it's not adjusting well back to American food, but it will just take a few days to re-balance itself. 

I'll be back in a few days to give you some pictures and updates!  In the meantime, hug on your families and be thankful for every single thing you do today, because most likely it is a privilege many don't have.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hard work = Happy??

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  And Especially to my hubby, because today is our 4 year anniversary!  I'm sure most of you read it on Facebook already, and will probably get sick of hearing about today from the two of us, but seriously, it's a really great time for us!

To understand how incredibly happy I am, you have to understand a little back story.

John and I dated and were engaged for almost 2 years before we were married.  And even though we had gone on trips together and had spent a lot of time together, and we took a "pre-marital" class with the most honest and true married couple out there....our first year married was difficult, to put it nicely.  Now, I know some people say "oh that's the honeymoon year!" Well, for us, that honeymoon phase lasted until we were back in Raleigh, the day we got back from our actual honeymoon. Short lived, I know.

That first year was tough.  And it was tough for both of us.  There were times I doubted if I had made the right decision, and times when he thought the same.  There were times when baggage each of us had brought to the relationship was overwhelming, and it seemed the easiest thing to do to was not work on the marriage aspect and just be content with living together for a while.  But, we got in a newlyweds class, read my favorite book we've read together to date "Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti" We talked with other newlyweds and amazingly, we all realized the same thing:

We're all going through the same thing!

If you're reading this, and thinking, 'wow, we've never been like that' then you're definitely different.  But for us, this first year contained so many things:  living together, in a tiny apartment that was way over priced, me working a new and extremely stressful job, John working his "normal" 8-5 stressful job, then getting laid off from said "normal" job, and deciding to start his own business, all thrown on top of the normal first year of figuring out what this "marriage" thing looks like.

Over time, we've learned how to talk to each other, especially in arguments, how to tell the other one they've gotta step it up, without making them feel defeated, that we're really different when we thought we were so much alike, and how to be happy in those differences.

Going into marriage, I knew things weren't going to be Cinderella and a Fairytale, but what I did know was that I wanted to be happy, and however that was to happen I wasn't sure, other than talk and work on it.  And that leaves a lot up in the air to "work on" and that just doesn't sound like much fun. 

I knew this was going to be hard coming in, but I really didn't know just how hard it was going to be.  And I don't mean it's been hard for me to deal with my husband, he's really great!  It has been hard, for me to realize that I do a lot of things wrong, and I'm pretty judgmental sometimes, hard-headed and stubborn, whiny..a lot, change my mind frequently, at times hard to understand, and had a massively exploded head in thinking how awesome I was. I had self confidence, and then I had massive ego.  Self confidence = good.  Ego = bad bad bad.

I realized that my husband reacts differently when I hurt his feelings than I would.  And while I know how to handle the way I would have reacted, I didn't know how to handle this man I molded him into, who couldn't see how great he was because I was too busy picking out the negatives and making them huge.  I didn't do it on purpose, but it seemed that when we disagreed, I was somehow able to make them a point to be noticed.  I realized that much of the things I didn't like about what he did...or didn't do, were reactions to things I had done to him.

How did we get through those things?

We had very very honest, very painful conversations...ones where we were not allowed to dispute the other person's points.  He would tell me deep things on how I had hurt him, and I had to sit there and take it, and not bite back.  And that was hard to hear.  And I sat and I listened, and I listened and I listened.  And if you've ever met my husband, you know he doesn't usually talk this much, so I knew it was bad if he had this much to say.  Later, I then told him some of the things that had hurt me, things I didn't expect to go how they were going, and how they shattered my idea of what a happy marriage looked like. And he listened, and he didn't bite back.

And at the end, we both were able to see that we needed to do a lot to change.

And today, 4 years after we were married, I can honestly say, that I have never been happier.  He is my very best friend, one who challenges me to be a better person, who accepts my faults, and loves me like crazy.   He still does things to impress me, and I love it.  We talk honestly and openly about our differences and are able to see how they make us mesh together perfectly.  I am happy because of the love and the life we have built together.

And if this is only 4 years, I can't wait to see what 10 years, what 25, 40, or maybe even 60 years looks like.

'Cause this is awesome!