The things we have learned.

Jaimie eating PaniPuri
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Panipuri is a wafer type bowl filled with boiled potato and spices, then dipped into chili water that you pop in your mouth all in one shot. Such a rush!

It’s amazing how slow and how fast things go by in India.  Everyone has a slower pace, but the days go by so much faster.  We are now going into the third weekend in India.  Here are some quick tips for those thinking about visiting:

Top 5 Things to Know about Living in India.

  1. Don’t pay for things in advance when it’s delivery. I learned if something is rs15,000 ($300), like a mattress, that isn’t in stock, only pay for 1/4 the cost and negotiate the rest at delivery. If you pay for it all at once, there is no hurry to deliver (took 6 days)
  2. Don’t cancel your American phone numbers the first week. There are so many systems that use your phone number as a verification when you are locked out of your accounts due to “suspicious foreign activity.”
  3. Be prepared for the “American Tax.” It’s about a 200-400% markup on goods sold. It’s okay to say no and come back with a local friend.
  4. Tell each bank/credit card that you are leaving the country…then get ready for that not to matter. (Got locked out of 4 accounts last Friday)
  5. Buy your power converters in country.

The Excitement of India

India is an exciting place. Every food we try is a new and exciting flavor, every place we visit becomes the “new standard,” and our apartment is slowly becoming a new home. Jaimie and I have our ups and downs, but ultimately, we both love it here. The people are nice and friendly, everyone is excited to help, and there are so many new things to try.

Below is a picture gallery of a few things that took us off guard last week. Click the pictures to view larger.

The holiday game is a game where you make a human pyramid of men two stories high and try to break a clay pot filled with curd and rupees while the women throw water on you. So creative here!

The funny thing is…

Our mattress right now - thats tree bark
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We have been in India for five days now! So far we have gotten situated and also visited the church, where they invited Ben to preach. Everyone was very welcoming. We also had lunch with the pastor and his wife.

It took us four days to get a bed for our apartment, so we spent our first night in our new home last night. Things are starting to get real.

The first thing I have learned in India is to wait. In the US, everything happens in an instant. Not so in India. We ordered a mattress on Saturday (Day 2). After we left, the store called. They forgot to mention that they didn’t have what we purchased in stock. It would take two days to deliver it. After that, they called and said it would take four days. Finally, yesterday they delivered a “temporary” mattress made out of tree bark that we can use until they deliver the real mattress (tree bark with a few inches of foam – yay!). Apparently, this is all standard procedure around here.

I have actually found a lot of humor in this so far. I’m sure I will have my moments of frustration, but right now it is just so fascinating. Actually, I think my naturally slow pace seems to fit in just fine here! Also, it is completely acceptable to be 30 minutes late to a function (and everyone is late, except to work). That is great news for me. The Indians have a phrase that helps westerners understand their mindset in regard to time. They say Indian Standard Time (IST) really stands for “Indian Stretchable Time.” Nice!

Besides the time thing, there are a few other idiosyncrasies that I have found particularly fun. Here are a few. As you read, please picture Ben and me looking bewildered!

  1. Our landlords are strict vegetarian (many Hindus are) and have asked us to refrain from preparing meat in our apartment.
  2. There is no hot water unless you boil it on the stovetop or flip on the shower heater. Our friends were really amused when we asked why our faucet didn’t have hot water.
  3. In India, the whole bathroom is your shower.  The shower head is placed on the wall with nothing to separate it, so you just end up getting the whole bathroom soaked! Note to self: move the toilet paper to a safer location.
  4. No one in India uses or owns an oven. My friend would like me to teach her how to make lasagna. We might try an experiment with a toaster oven.
  5. When you go shopping, you have to take small bills because even in the big stores, “no one has change.”
  6. The presentation of gifts is very elaborate and taken very seriously here (Suzie, you would love it!). Everything is wrapped meticulously. My friend admitted that she was puzzled when I gave her a tissue-paper-stuffed gift bag last December! This time I didn’t even bother to wrap her gift… oops!

I hope you found as much humor as I did in these situations over the past week! Our friends have helped us so much as we learn. I’m sure we’ll have more adventures this week too!

Passage to India! (Ben & Jaimie’s Perspectives)

all we own
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Ben’s Perspective

Jaimie and I are down to a few bags in which we crammed all of the things we deemed as important to take to India. Everything else we either sold or stored. We both packed enough clothes for seven of our 360 days (tomorrow will be day 3).  We packed a couple of bibles, a few important books, computers, and Jaimie’s peanut butter. See the picture above for an idea.

Our Itinerary

We left our house at 6:15 a.m. and arrived in Washington D.C. around 11:00a.m. From D.C. at 3:00 p.m. to Newark at 5:00 p.m.  When we arrived at Newark, my mom surprised us with lounge tickets! We got a couple of glasses of wine, showers, and some snacks. We also sat next to some world travelers that were a blast to talk to – and taught us how to use the lounge the most effective way.

From Newark we got on a plane at 9:00 p.m. and arrived at Mumbai, India at 9:00 p.m. (14 hours w/ the time change).

After a 30 minute cab ride we finally made it to the comfort of a hotel room and went to bed around 11:30. 7:00 am came around and we got up, and took the hotel car to the airport and flew to Nagpur, India (our destination).

What is Nagpur like?

Nagpur is at the end of their monsoon season – which looks a lot like the beginning of summer/hurricane season in Florida. It’s bright and sunny during the day at about 90 degrees, then around 4:00 p.m. it begins raining and cooling off. It’s almost like we are home.

When we arrived in Nagpur, we were greeted by our great friends. We ordered Dominos pizza for lunch, rested, then headed off to see our apartment. Our friends are the most accommodating and friendliest people anyone will have the pleasure of meeting. We are so excited to spend time with them. Around 4:00 p.m. they took us to see the apartment they found for us, and it is amazing!

You’ll have to check back in a few days to see some pictures, and discover the new things we are finding out we need – and had no idea existed, and more!

Troubles

I have a saying: “I’m not afraid of the dark, I’m afraid of what’s in the dark.” Basically, it’s the unknown that strikes fear…which, coincidentally, are most of the things that are 100% out of my control. I don’t like to fly, check bags, switch planes, get into cabs in foreign cities with strangers, get rude looks when I don’t tip more than $10 to put my bag inside the cab when I asked him not to, wait for lights to turn green in the slums at 10:00 p.m. at night, etc.etc.etc. But this morning was a little humbling when I was reading Galatians. In the first chapter alone Paul mentions he went to Jerusalem, Arabia, Damascus, Syria, and Cilicia which seemed to be all within a 3 year period (could be wrong). I went to Nagpur…just one place, which causes me to lose sleep with anxiety.

I am excited that with this trip, I can already see that I will have to rely on God’s control, and the strength of our marriage. I alone, it turns out, can’t control much at all.

- Ben

Jaimie’s perspective

We made it! After a pretty leisurely flight schedule (two short layovers in the U.S., a 14 hour overnight to Mumbai, a hotel stay and a 1-hour flight to Nagpur), we finally arrived in our Indian hometown this afternoon. None of our luggage was lost, which is a huge bonus! Compared to our last trip, this one was a cakewalk.

Our Friends found a wonderful apartment for us, and we met the landlord (who also happens to be a doctor and lives directly next door). Our kitchen is huge, and we have two bathrooms and two bedrooms. Tomorrow, we will go shopping for a few furnishings and other necessities! The apartment is in a great location, safe and close to a market and Ben’s office. We will be able to walk to many of our destinations.

It has been comforting and greatly encouraging to have friends praying for us during our travel. I can truly see the impact of these prayers already. Our fears and anxieties, which have been many, have been overshadowed by the faith we share in Jesus. His hand is guiding us in it all.

- Jaimie

We Leave Wednesday Early Morning!

ben and jaimie party
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We leave soon. Jaimie and I are at our last two days. We have started moving and packing. This week we threw out 7-8 garbage bags of junk. We’re busy moving furniture, packing bags, selling things, accepting donations (wink*wink*).  - Just kidding.  But seriously, many many people have been helping Jaimie and I tremendously by giving us their time, inviting us to dinners and lunches, giving us small checks and saying, “Here is for air and Internet.” It’s been so humbling seeing the generosity of the people around us. Thank you so much!

What Happened Friday Night?

One of these generous moments was Friday Night. Marco was able to shoot a video for us so we all can see what went on. Our closest friends threw a little going away party and you can be a part of it by watching the video below.

*UPDATE: Video removed for security purposes.

 

One Week and Counting

Screen shot 2013-08-06 at 6.34.54 AM
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We are leaving for India in one week.

What in the world happened last week?…let’s see:

  • Go to the Dentist
  • Go to the Doctor
  • Organize parts of the garage
  • Have a farewell party
  • Call car insurance
  • Quit my job
  • Have another farewell party
  • Research oversea communication
  • Begin the living will and that stuff.
  • etc…

That’s just me. Jaimie will have to tell you her full week. This week Jaimie and I already have 6 events on the schedule and I have 3 client meetings…and I’m sure more to come. It’s been extremely busy for us! But it’s nice that we don’t just sit in the house stressing about the move. There are lots of things keeping us busy.

Services Offered

One of my most favorite accomplishments this week is re-designing my entire website. From bottom up, Skillful Antics, now has a fresh new look on everything. One of the ways Jaimie and I are trying to fund our trip is to work for ourselves. Building websites for people is something I can do anywhere. So I encourage you to check out the new website and get a flavor of what I do for a living – if you know anyone who needs a website, I’d be more than happy to help them out.

What are Jaimie and I going through mentally?

I think I speak for us both when I say we are getting excited, nervous, happy, sad, etc. all at the same time. Jaimie and I are going to an area we hardly know. I’ve been encouraged to think this way:  ”Think, here in America you write five things on a list and head out for the day and you can get all five done. In India, write five things on a list, head out for the day, and hopefully by tomorrow you will get the first one done.” Not being able to communicate, not knowing the roads, stores, prices, expectations, corrupt laws, etc. puts an unsettling feeling in our gut.

We are certainly not allowing that fear to cripple us. Moving forward towards God is the active command he gave all of us – but sometimes it’s a little uneasy. It reminds me of Abraham. God called Abraham to leave his hometown and trek across the land to an unknown area. It’s so scary for me to do something like this without receiving any type of “divine revelation,” and I’ve been there twice. Not only that, I’ve traveled to tons of places inside and outside the US. If anything, I think I would be considered an experienced traveler who already has connections on the ground. Abraham had nothing. Back in those days you never left your home. No wonder the faith he had was credited to him as righteousness.

Oh yes, and one more thing – about the “divine revelation” bit. I think you should know Jaimie and I haven’t been “called” or blinded on the road to Minneola. We’re going to India because we want to teach people about Jesus who haven’t heard about him. There are many places to do this, but we had connections in India and it seems like a good place to start learning how to go into foreign land. For everyone else waiting for a “mountain top moment,” you should know we’ve already been commanded to go out and teach people about Jesus (Matt 18:19-20). You can do that anywhere – it doesn’t have to be in India. But if you want to come and visit and fumble around with Jaimie and I, we have room!