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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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!

The things we have learned.

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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!

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