Well, it seems like being home kind of swept me up and consumed me with family, friends, work, and vacations! I need to work on consistency! Here's day two...

Day 2 was such an adventure! First, we visited a special needs school which happens to be directly across from J.'s house. We walked over to meet Mrs. James, the head of the school(like a principal, but they dont use that word). She was such a sweet woman, and had such a heart for God, and a compassion for special needs children. Although the school is not labeled a Christian school, Mrs. James incorporates her faith into every aspect of the school. Under the name of the school is the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My power is made perfect in weakness..."
Being at the school was one of my favorite parts of the trip. J left to work on some things. First we toured the school, all 4 floors! Each class has only 4-5 children and most of them had 2 teachers in the class rooms. On the very top floor, which was basically a roof with a covering and open air windows was where children who are not able to learn scholastically, are taught social skills, and life lessons. All of the children lit up when we walked into the room. They dropped the craft they were working on and all said hello about 20 times each. It was the warmest welcome I've ever received!It was so obvious that the teachers here were standing firmly in the grace of God by the way they taught and loved the children. On the roof classroom Laura and I also found the most beautiful view of Bangalore. It was breath taking! These pictures don't do any justice...

Then, we were left alone to explore the school more, and to find a bathroom! We ended up asking a student who sent us to the basement. There we found a lunch/tea room, a kitchen, and a little boy who immediately clung to us! He also encouraged his class mates to join him. By this point we were standing outside the bathroom but were scared that the kids would want to follow us in so we waited until they ran off and entered our first public Indian bathroom. This is what we

We survived though, and moved on to sit in on a class. There were two older women teaching 6 little boys. I instantly fell in love with them! The boys were so funny, and full of joy. Their ages ranged from 4 to 9 years old but were around the same learning level. One boy politely greeted us with a hand shake and sweet "hello", and continued to shake our hands through out the rest of our stay. The music teacher came in with his guitar and we got to sing songs with the kids and do fun hand motions. Most of the songs are the same that kids sing here in pre-school. The teacher found out that we were staying with Jaideep, and he quickly started playing worship songs, and we entered into an amazing time of worshiping God together through song. There was such an amazing sense of God's presence in that tiny room, even though only 2 nationalities were represented (American, and Indian) it was such an awesome picture of every tongue from every nation singing praises to God.

Around 12:30 J. picked us up, and took us to visit his good friend Albert. He and his wife run a drug rehab center, Abhayam. They provide housing and meals for young men and women who are struggling with drug/alcohol addiction. This center is different in that each person must come willingly, not forced by family or friends. They also require daily Bible study attendance, along with going to church on Sundays. They also don't allow smoking, which is different than every other rehab in India. They have separate campuses for Men and Women. There were around 7 Men, but they didn't have any Women living with them during our stay.
While we were there, Laura and I joined in their afternoon Bible study, and were able to share part of our testimonies. J. asked us only 5 minutes before so I felt a little un prepared, but with my shaky voice I made it through. J. was laughing later that evening while he told me how red my face got. I tend to blush easily, and he said they never see someone's face do that since their faces are all so dark. He noticed everyone looking at me strangely as I was talking, and assumed that was it. I'm glad J. got a couple laughs from me during the trip!We shared a meal after Bible study. It was really spicy, and we were served huge portions! We struggled to get it all down, we didn't want to be rude by not finishing...

This is Rocky the dog. He was given to Albert, and lives at the center. The men also built a duck house, at the center. The guys took so much pride in it. They also spend their time making things to sell to support the center.
After the Center, J. took us to meet Yam and Aiyana for ice cream, then to his old friend's house to get mehendi! You might recognize the more familliar term, Henna. It was on both mine, and Laura's "to do while in India" list. Lucky for us, this woman was the best in Bangalore. She was incredibly artistic, and had a very steady hand.

We rushed home after our appointments because J. and Yam were having a young adult Bible study at their house that night. Laura and I shared what it was like being a Christian, and attending college in America that night, and with the help of J's preparations, led the discussion. The common idea is that America is one big Hollywood, and that Christians have very easy lives. They were shocked to hear that we are persecuted, and sometimes are looked at differently by our classmates, teammates, and teachers because of our faith.
Our visit was celebrated with an Indian barbecue after Bible study. I loved getting to know some college students, and exchanging stories. There are so many similarities, yet huge differences between us. It was a really fun night, and a great end to an exhausting day!


Finally in Bangalore!

We landed!!! What a relief... Next was Immigration, baggage claim, and Customs. Now, almost 2 hours after we landed it was time to find our ride home! Laura said she didn't remember what Jaideep (we're going to call him J. from now on..) looked like, so we were hoping our blond hair made us stick out enough for him to recognize us, but not so much that we looked like we didn't know what we were doing. Our plan didn't work! Within seconds of passing through Customs, we were bombarded with strange men asking to be our driver, and asking to carry our luggage.(insert panic attack #2) Definitely a culture shock! We kept walking and pretended we knew what we were doing(which actually worked!) we found J. and let me tell you: I was SO relieved! Later when he was giving us his first impressions of us, he said that my face lit up like I just won the Lottery when I finally saw him. We were greeted with strawberry-banana shakes, doughnuts and bottled water. Then, promptly met by a cab... We had almost an hour to take in the scenes and J. gave us a quick run down of our week to come. I was so excited!!! We got home a little before 3 am and were shown our room, and left to get some rest.

Our first full day in Bangalore was great! We woke to sounds of "autos" whizzing by on the nearby road, and peeked out to see school kids in uniform walking to school, and women in saris with water jugs on their heads. We were in India!!! I still couldn't believe it. Here was our first view of Bangalore:And of course we needed showers after traveling for 24 hours... The "shower" was an experience in itself! It consisted of a large bucket, a small bucket, and a faucet. We were told that if we had a cloudy day the water probably wouldn't be very hot because the water heater was on the roof, and warmed by the sun. Our showers were almost always cold!!
Next was breakfast. J's wife, Yamena made home made Dosas and a green curry sauce. Dosas are similar to a savory crepe, but made with rice flour. And their curry is not the yellow spice you buy here in America. They have a curry plant and use the tender, baby leaves in practically every dish! Here's the plant they have in their back yard:While breakfast was being made, J. took us outside and taught us how to open coconuts by hand!

After breakfast, we headed out! I must admit, I was a little nervous! We just drove around alittle bit before meeting J's wife Y. and daughter, A. for lunch. We went to a special restaurant where they serve your meal on a huge banana leaf! It was really cool! For dessert J. bought us some rose-leaf topped with a cherry thing. It was...delicious? Ok, I couldn't finish mine. I almost choked. But I'm glad I tried it! Almost every Indian sweet is covered with silver leaf! It not only looks beautiful, but has antioxidant health benefits too.

After lunch J. took us to "Home-Buzzzz" (similar to our CVS) where we bought our week's supply of water, and toilet paper!
Up next: Day 2! Ducks, Ice cream and Mehendi.


Watch out India: Here we come!!!

Some background info:

One of my closest girlfriends, Laura Wilson called me one rainy afternoon with a wild idea... her first words were "ok, is this a good time?" "uh..I'm driving. whats up?" "lets go to India this summer! Seriously. Wanna go?" Yeah, talk about surprise!! I told her that in fact it was not a good time and I would have to call her back. Two days later she was at my house with a spread sheet of all the info plus some! From that point, we had only one day to decide before air fare went up! The next afternoon we sat down and bought our plane tickets exactly one month before we would leave. I couldn't believe this was happening!

Laura's Grandfather is the founder of an organization called World Class Cities Ministries, and one of their closest family friends is the India Field Director. His name: Jaideep Jesudoss. Location: Bangalore, India. We would be staying with Jaideep, his wife Yamena, and their daughter Aiyana for one week while we toured India, and were involved in their thriving, God glorifying ministry.

Over the next month, we mailed support letters, gathered travel-sized everythings, got our shots(4!!) and did everything else required before traveling to the other side of the world. Before we knew it, it was time to pack our bags, and say good bye to our comfortable homes, and familiar faces.

So, with bags packed, and passports in hand, we said our last goodbyes. Both of us being SO excited, the goodbyes weren't all that difficult.(dont tell my parents!) Standing in Dulles International air port, it finally hit me. We were on an adventure of a lifetime! So excited to see what God had in store for us there was little room for doubts or second thoughts. We were going to INDIA!

Our first leg of the trip took us to Frankfurt, Germany where we had our first taste of international airports, broken English, and unusual smells. Our first priority, to find a bathroom, where we could brush our teeth, and freshen up!
It took us a while to get checked in, through security, and to our next gate but once we got there we had time to relax and write in our journals a little bit. It was there, at the gate that it hit me. We were the only 2 fair skinned, blond haired, blue eyed girls in sight, and this is how it would be for the next 8 days. I knew we would be, but when I actually realized it, "oh my gosh, what are we doing???" ran through my head over and over again. There was no turning back! The plane parked out side was there to take us to Bangalore, and I couldn't do anything to change that. Little did I know, this wouldn't be my last mini-panic attack!

More to come... Finally in Bangalore!