It is hard to believe that in 12 days I will be leaving JFK airport and flying 18 hours to India. Hard to believe? I suppose I should call it impossible to believe. I don't think I've even talked about preparing for it that much. 8 undergrad students. 2 grad students. Andhra Pradesh on the coast for 3 weeks. In a children's home started by a Penn State alumn.
I don't suppose many will have been apart of this, but I was thinking about Mom's geography/missionary class in co-op back in the day. I was remembering the day we did races and games with different bags of laundry and buckets of water balanced on our heads that we pulled up from the creek behind the church. I was out to beat Tim Warren if it killed me. I think we both attacked the other with the water buckets at the end of the day.
And remembering Aradhna music group and the cd of worship music I have from them in Hindi. Their visits to the Efree church was one of the first times that I felt... what word would express it?... solidarity? Unity? Connection? Belonging? to a church and Body of Christ far beyond the small spaces I had known.
And now I am going through Penn State for 3 weeks. 21 days. Four of which are travelling to and from. A language I don't speak. A landscape I can't imagine. Knowing that I have only known spaces that were either American or frightfully close (Denmark at age 5 does not count).
A joy in going is that I will be sharing it with my two housemates in Patty's Place next year. Both Sarah Bednarcick and Maggie Cox will be on the team of students, for which I am so grateful and excited! Maggie and I took a picnic tonight and talked about going, about all the prep work we haven't done and need to do, finding nurses pants, buying baby powder, thinking about how to shave while we're there, how will the food affect our stomachs... and just getting our minds into believing that this inevitable and significant change is coming.
But then again, I remember something that Nellie (the Peace Corps recruiter at PSU) told me: don't expect too much from it. You might go and "feel" or see nothing. It might just be okay. It might even be a below average trip. That's okay. Just wait. Wait a few weeks, or months, or years. Wait until you go somewhere else. Wait until you meet someone from there on the street in an American city. Wait until you are in class and you understand a book that you've never understood in that way before. Just wait and don't count too much on your emotions to tell you what was and was not an important trip.
And so I ask for prayers. I ask for prayers in the confusing and slow preparations and in the many ways I have no idea what I'm going for or what I'll be "doing". It is hard to even know what to ask prayer for.
So a vague list, that I trust will be filled in by you:
-preparation itself is confusing and I don't even know where to begin. Pray that I find time and efficiency and quality prayer before I go.
-I am very easily emotionally drained and I know this will be hard. Pray that our spirits hold and that we will see how best to witness to and love our teammates and the people at HOINA.
-Clarity of learning. This trip may have very little to do with what we bring to India but what India wishes us to take back with us through learning, through experience. Pray that we will learn as we ought, humbly, and see what needs to be done with it.
-The return process. We start school four days after returning. Jet lag. All three house mates moving into Patty's Place (our home) all at once on said jet lag.
-Reverse culture shock. First week of class. Sounds like a crazy recipe for disaster. I'd like it to be a fun adventure.
And what am I looking forward to (that maybe I will regret later)?
-Wearing Indian garb (pronounced "churies")
-Learning to play cricket
-Buying chai tea for less than 50cents every day.
-Reading aloud from books with the girls.
-Taking too many pictures.
-Meeting and playing with the girls at the school.
-Chapel and prayer with the kids.
-Arguing and laughing with Andy Goga.
-Helping with meals.
-Seeing mountains and the Indian ocean.
-Writing while I'm there and putting together a project when I get back!
Soon. 12 days. Unbelievable.