Nagpur in December!

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Ben & Jaimie’s December in Nagpur, India

This month we were invited into the homes of church families, traveled 10 hours by car through rough jungle roads to visit a neighboring mission, were greeted by Jordan, John, and Tina, and participated in many Christmas activities!
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Diwali

Rangoli - women use sand to hand-draw images on floors and driveways.
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Well, Ben and I enjoyed our first Diwali!  This holiday is huge – kind of like Christmas for India.  There are colorful lights on houses, candles, artwork, music, sweets everywhere, and people going from house to house “calling on” family and friends (people still do that here and it is really cool!)  People light fireworks in the streets… literally, right in the middle of the street.  We were told this was a five-day holiday, but celebrations lasted from October 30th until yesterday… I guess people celebrate it on different days here.  I got hit by firework shrapnel twice during this holiday, once while riding on the back of the scooter – but we didn’t witness any house fires or injuries!
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Who Doesn’t Like Monopoly?

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Should we start right in here and complain?  I’ll complain for Jaimie and I both…no dishwasher, no washing machine, no bank account, no turkey sandwich, slow internet, lemon and salt flavored toothpaste…which could actually go under the success section.

Successes in India

Yeah, the success section. Let’s do that…  Margarita flavored toothpaste, cooler temperature outside, found a video rental store, bought Monopoly, and…. wait for it… our two year anniversary is one week from today!
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What To Do In Nagpur

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I think Jaimie and I have both said a dozen times all ready – “What am I doing here?” It’s not always easy to see the forest through the trees. As my days go on, I’ve been focused on studying through the Gospels and casually reading through the letters. One thing I’ve been noticing about John the Baptist and Jesus is they both brought a very urgent, change-now message. A focus on the end-today mentality. So how am I to do that here?
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Some Highlights This Week

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I’m not going to sugarcoat this – it’s tough to adjust living in another country. I’m sure everyone would like to hear a ramble of the list of complaints that Jaimie and I have been annoying each other with, but I’m going to skip a few of those and stay positive today! I’ll share some highlights. At the end of a hard day, it’s getting easier for Jaimie and I to count the good things that happened, especially when I read scriptures like this:

I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. – 2 Cor 11:23b-27

I think the most difficult thing Jaimie and I had to endure so far is that our ceiling fan is broken + we don’t have air conditioning in the living room.

Focusing on what we do have

colored cows1. Colored Cows

I was so lucky last week that on one of my 100-degree walks home, I was accompanied by these colorful cows. Not only that, I heard a story yesterday that one of my co-workers here was hit by a cow while driving a scooter (the cow hit him).  And our driver nicked one once. There are cows everywhere. Most of them look a little dingy, but beautiful cows like these almost outshine that rooster with earrings we saw three weeks ago. That’s right! A rooster with earrings.

toilet paper in an indian bathroom2. Toilet Paper in a Random Bathroom

We went to a place that serves Dosa (look it up). They had 100′s of choices, even an American style. (I didn’t want to break their hearts and let them know there are no American Dosas.) Anyway, after dinner, we went to wash our hand (because silverware is hard to come by here), and we found toilet paper in the bathroom!  We’re halfway through our fourth week and this is the first time I’ve seen it in a public facility.

color

cookies3. Color & Cookies in the Apartment

Jaimie did it! She made chocolate chip cookies and added some color to our living room. It took 2 weeks to find chocolate chips.  Don’t think now they came in a packaged bag; these mini chocolate chips came in very small ziplock bag (we’re still wondering where they really came from). And we bought a bed sheet and hung it up by tape.  Any better ideas out there?

Jaimie and Ben at the lake4. Went to the Lake & Watched the Sunset

A couple of co-workers took us out to the lake, got us ice cream, took us for a drink, and then dinner one evening last week. We had a great great time. Until then, Jaimie and I have been busy with lots of other things, and spending time with our hosts (which is such a life saver and great blessing!). But last Saturday we had the chance to enjoy the company of some new folks and make some new friends and see some new things. Even a giant rat joined us at the lake. …ahhh, memories.

5. Last, but not Least, I Got to Driveben driving in india

I had no idea how much I missed driving until I tricked someone into letting me.  Just kidding – one of my friends from work graciously let me drive his car. The steering wheel is on the right side and all the traffic is backwards to me, but I didn’t care (which may have been a problem). You can see the joy in my eyes from the photo Jaimie took.

Last Words

Oh! I almost forgot. The best moment last week was when I was asked what the spots on my skin are (freckles) and if there was a solution for them. We all had a great laugh.

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!