Myanmar!

Ben & Nin Nin
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Mom, Scott, Jaimie, and I went to Myanmar! Jaimie and I had to leave the country after six months. We couldn’t think of a better place to go than to Myanmar, to visit our awesome friends Judah and Khaw.

While we were there, all four of us spoke at a full day seminar and met so many wonderful people. Judah took us around to different church families’ homes, and Jaimie and I were able to spend time with friends we met last time and share in their successes of life. It was incredible to hear and see what God is doing in Myanmar.
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A Small Town

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Visiting Another Mission

Tina, a great family friend, arrived on Saturday, Dec 7th and all three of us left for the small town the same day. While we were in the small town, we also met up with Jordan (Jaimie’s sister) and her husband John. All three of them came to visit us in Nagpur, too. While we were in the small town, we did many things including spending time with the children, teaching in the local church and watching a Christmas program. We had such a great time.
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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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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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These Are The Best Keys (Learn About Ganesha too)

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People just hand out anything over here…like a scooter to a white kid!  (Some rupees helped facilitate this deal) I don’t have an Indian drivers license, an address, credit cards, bank accounts, or a healthy grasp on road rules here… but I have a scooter!

the idol ganesha

Ganesha is the Hindu god who starts the ball rolling. Before a Hindu person would begin anything – a new work venture, for example – they would worship Ganesha for good luck. I’m sure you’ve seen a few pics on the blog. Here is another. It’s almost identical to Christmas – except I think Americans spend more on Christmas and it lasts longer…and we don’t worship the tree. Anyway, the next five or six months, there will be a lot of festivals. But the festival for Ganesha is the kick-off. The streets have Christmas-y lights, there are stands selling Ganesha statues and temples all over, and people are busy shopping and full of stress.

Here is how this 10 day festival of Ganesha works.

photo 1Day One

You purchase a stand (temple) and a god (Ganesha – made out of clay) and keep him covered until you or a priest comes to your house and uncovers Ganesha. When he is covered you decorate his stand, much like a Christmas Tree. There are lights, colors, stands, etc. Once he is uncovered you give him offerings of incense, burning oils, foods, money, etc. (Not like a Christmas tree).

During the Festival

One would usually have a feast or party called Ganpati, dedicated as an offering to Ganesha. The day doesn’t matter. Jaimie and I were invited to one of these feasts the other night – we were unknowing that the whole buffet was an offering to the Hindu god Ganesha.  Once we arrived, we soon learned this – and, didn’t stay too long after.

Day 3, 5, or 10

Now depending on your culture, heritage, religious sect… I’m not too clear on these details… you would take Ganesha and put him in the lake. Because he is clay, he usually goes down easily and dissolves – but if he floats, it’s considered very bad. So you can pay a local boy rs.50 (about 1USD) and he will swim Ganesha out into the lake and sink him for you.

What else Happened This Weekend?

Jaimie and I went to a roller blade competition, watched a little TV, went to church, and…  Visited an Orphanage! The owners were very curious about us and we were excited to ask some of our questions on how to get one started. We got a quick tour of the facility and enjoyed our time. We also got a lot of intel on how to get a Christian orphanage up and running successfully. We will continue to move ahead and keep you guys informed!

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.