Monday, July 17, 2006

it's my birthday!

Today is my birthday! I'm pretty excited about it!

Last night my mom made me some delicious Indian food! (Lamb curry, coconut rice, Indian veggies, and curd!) Then my dad took us to Cold Stone Creamery and I got my favorite ice cream (birthday cake with sprinkles)!

This morning when I woke up, Meggan and Kim had decorated the dining room for me! And tonight we're going to Gray's lake for a little grill-out with some friends!

It promises to be a good day!

And now I'm off to Mass!

God bless you all!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

three weeks back home

So I've been back from India now for about three or four weeks.

I really miss India! I am going to go back next year (hopefully)! I had such a wonderful time there and am so grateful that I was able to go.

Since coming back, I've gone to North Carolina's Outer Banks for a family reunion, which was nice. We spent 7 days at the ocean!

I've also been working a lot at the salon, which gives me something to do!

A few days ago I got a package from India, which was so exciting! My friend, Hakim, had sent Kim and I salwar suits as birthday presents! I love them!

So today we went to the mall and got a birthday outfit for him too!

Well, I hope your days are going well!

Pray for my friends Rheannon and Chris as they just had their first baby girl last night!

Also pray for my sister's friend who just drowned on Sunday!

God bless you!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

darjeeling


Hello everyone!

Once again, thank you for your emails and prayers! We arrived in Darjeeling yesterday after an 8 hour train ride followed by a three hour jeep ride with 10 other people. The Calcutta train station was pretty interesting. When Kim and I arrived, we didn't have a clue what to do and the only thing we had heard was that people like to steal your things if you aren't extremely vigilant. So Kim and I had our backs to the wall with our suitcases in front of us and tickets in hand trying to figure everything out. Pretty soon a crowd of people stated to gather around us because we looked confused and maybe easy to steal from. A couple of guys were taking several pictures of us and did not seem to be ashmed that we obviously noticed. Then a crazy/drunk woman came up to us and was yelling something that made no sense at all. Finally we thought she was telling us that we werent' at the airport. As the crowd around us grew to about 30 people, we decided to walk around to try to find our train. When we finally found our platform, train, and cabin, we felt a lot better. The man in the same cabin as us was also very nice. He talked to us a lot and explained what was going on and how the beds and luggage storage worked. Eventually, Kim and I fell asleep, despite the cabin being very full and having little roaches all over. (You would have been proud of us!)

The next morning when we arrived at NJP station (at the bottom of the mountain that Darjeeling is on) and got in a jeep with 10 other people for our three hour ride up the mountain. I was remembering my 1999 trip to Ecuador as I struggled not to vomit the whole way. The jeep was driving as fast as he could, cutting in front of cars, not slowing down for curves, and honking all of the way. There was also a smell typical of India that filled the jeep, mixed with cigarette smoke and piles of trash that we passed. At one point I really thought I was going to vomit, but Kim helped me through it with a little lamaze breathing and distraction technique.

When we got to the hotel, I started to get flu-sick. After lunch we tried to go on a walk, but I cut it short and went back to the hotel to sleep. My temperature got up to 101 F, but by morning I was feeling much better. So we went shopping. The prices were pretty good compared to Calcutta, so we got a few things that we had been reluctant to buy there because of price.

After shopping, we decided to hike into a residential neighborhood. We probably walked a mile downhill trying to find a tea garded that someone had told us about until someone told us that it was about 2km more so we decided to turn around (it was much harder on the way back up)! Back at the hotel, we went up on the hotel's roof, which was really neat. They have a viewing platform up there where you can see the Himalayan mountains for almost 360 degrees! The only problem is we are here at the wrong time of year, so everythign is really cloudy and we can only see about 1 or 2 mountains away. So please pray that one day we'll get to see the beautiful view!

So thank you again everyone for your emails and prayers! I really appreciate all of you and hope you're having a wonderful day!

God bless you all!

Love and prayers,

Kathleen

Sunday, June 11, 2006

leaving calcutta

Hello everyone!

Today is our last day in Calcutta! Kim and I are getting ready to go to Darjeeling on the 10pm express train, and Jill and Kyli and leaving on the 7pm flight to Delhi and then to Chicago. It is so crazy that we're leaving already! I know I've been gone for over a month by now, but it seems so short! I honestly forget sometimes that my life outside of India is not like this every day!

My last day at Kalighat was bittersweet! I had to say goodbye to all of the sisters, volunteers, and patients that I've come to love so much! I did take a roll of pictures, though, so I'll have some good memories.



Friday was also Kim's 22nd birthday, so I went out and got a pinata, candy, and decorations. When I got back to the hotel, I started decorating, but the men who worked at the hotel started to help also. They honestly did a much better job than I could have (mostly because they had a ladder and the ceiling is about 20 feet high!). Later that night, our friend Nani helped us put on our saris and we broke open the pinata with our friends and the hotel workers. The candy ended up all going to four men who worked at the hotel! It was crazy! They were not "share bears" at all! Each of them took three or four turns hitting the pinata and when candy came out, they ran arond as quickly as possible grabbing it up! I think out of all of our friends, I only saw one person get candy! It reminded me of four year old boys, but it was just funny, rather than upsetting.

I also got henna done on my hands and forearms by some of the beggar women on the street. It took about an hour and a half! Afterward I gave them food and one of hte other girls gave them some clothes. It's pretty cool. I also bought some henna so I can decorate Kim's feet while we're on our long train rides to Darjeeling and Delhi!

So we leave tonight, which I'm really excited about. It promises to be a good time!

Thank you for all of your love, support, and prayers! You are all the best!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

only a few days left

Hey everyone!

Thank you for your emails and prayers! The past week has been crazy and sad as we realize that we're going to be leaving Calcutta soon. Jill and Kyli fly back to the US on Sunday, the 11th, so Kim and I are going to be taking the last week of our trip to travel to a couple of places in India. We'll be going to Darjeeling where the Himilayan mountains are and is supposed to be super beautiful, Agra where the Taj Mahal is, and Dehli were we'll be flying to Chicago from on the 20th. We're getting pretty excited about our little adventure, but we're nervous at the same time. I guess going new places always brings out those emotions, especially when they are not anywhere like where you've been before in your life!



Work at Kalighat was really busy today. I thought I was able to handle everything pretty well until yesterday when we got a new patient. She has about 10 wounds that each take about 20-40 minutes to change the dressings. About half of them are full of maggots and her left leg is severly broken. All over her body are abrasions; it looks like she has been thrown from a moving train. (They found her at the train station, so maybe that is what happened.) It took us about two and a half hours to get through all of the dressings. For a while we got her to sing and tell us stories (even though we couldn't understand them), but after a while, she was not coping very well, either because she was in a lot of pain. She ended up biting, scratching, and spitting on the girl who was trying to help me hold her still and distract her. When everything was done, she was so much calmer and fell asleep. I felt so bad for her! This is the biggest nursing/humanitarian job I've ever done! We had to start an IV on her today also, which did not go very well. Her veins were so small that I couldn't see or feel them at first. Finally I did get the needle in her vein, but as I tried to put it in more, it went through the other side. It's harder than in America because in the US, the metal needle is taken out of the vein and a plastic catheter is left in that can bend to the shape of the vein as you advance it in. The needles we have to use here are all metal with no plastic catheter. It was frustrating, but another girl was going to try later. Poor lady! She's been through so much already without us poking her with needles!

Other than that things are going well. I'm pretty excited because our friend, Bernadette is flying into Calcutta tomorrow night, so we're going to go pick her up! We'll only be here at the same time for a few days, but she'll be able to celebrate Kim's birthday with us on Friday, which should be a good time!

Thank you again for your prayers and emails! You are so good and faithful! Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you as well!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Thursday, June 01, 2006

indian movie night

Hello everyone!

Thanks again for all of the emails! I really apperciate them and enjoy hearing from all of you! Keep them coming!

Things have been going really well here! I really love India. I may not have been so excited at first, but this country has really grown on me! Thursday is always volunteers' day off and usually they have something fun for us to do. Today they had a trip to a leper colony run by the Missionary of Charity brothers, so I went with Kim and Jill. It was a really good experience! Each morning, the lepers come to work on looms weaving saris for the sisters, they build shoes and artificial limbs for people effected by leprosy, and they do woodwork and carpentery repairs. Some of the people live in the family quarters and some of them live in the village and come to work every day. They get a salary and discounted food from the brothers and those who live there grow their own vegetables and raise their own livestock. The community is about 1.6 km long and sits next to the railroad tracks about half and hour outside of Calcutta.

What struck me the most was how happy all of the people seemed. If they were in the community, they would be shunned and forced to beg, but here they have the dignity of a home and work and their children can recieve and education. Everyone smiled and said hello to us as we passed by and they seemed very content in and proud of their work. It was a really great trip!

I think if I were a leper, I would be so happy that I could make the saris for the sisters in repayment for all of the goodness they had shown me! It's just so beautiful!

While the leper colony was very peaceful, getting to and from was another story! We had to take the train, which I hadn't done yet. Going there wasn't that bad, but on the way back, we were going into Calcutta, so the trains were so crowded! The lady who was taking us on the trip told us that to get on and off of the trians, we would have to literally shove our way through, otherwise we would end up riding the train until the end of the line! Well, it was definately true! Right before the station where we had to get off the train, so many people got on that we were quite literally packed in like sardines! I had never been in so crowded of an area in my entire life! Probably five or six people were touching me! Getting off of the train was a little adventure in itself also! But I just pushed through as hard as I could and it all worked out in the end! Our whole group even got off (about 12 or so) and no one had to jump from the moving train! We were strongly warned to watch our belongings on the train as well, but I don't think anyone's bags were slashed or anything stolen. Good day.

Tonight is actually not hot! We had a thunderstorm earlier today and when we came outside for the internet, there was little humidity and the temperature was maybe 70-80 degrees! (Compared with the normal 100 or so with very high humidity!) Very nice!

Around 8:30 tonight, we are going to a movie with our friend Hakim. It's the newest Bollywood film called "Fanaa" and no one seems to know what it's about. I'm pretty excited, thought because I've heard that people will get really into the movie and clap and maybe even laugh and sing along! It promises to be a good time, even if I won't be able to understand the language!

Well, thank you again for your emails and prayers!

Know that you are all in mine!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Friday, May 26, 2006

indian birthday

Hello everyone!

Thanks again for the emails and prayers! You are all serously the best ever!

The past few days have gone well for me. The old lady I was telling you about died yesterday at 2pm. She had a peaceful death, which made me glad. Now I have a friend in Heaven to watch over me as I do my work!

Today I also met one of the patients who is very lonely because she doens't speak Bengali, which everyone else does. She speaks English and some Hinidi. So I gave her a massage and talked to her for a long time. It must be so hard for her to be so alone without any family or friends!

Last night we had a volunteer's day of prayer. I got to sing in the choir and we used 4-part harmony! I sang alto and it reminded me of the good old days in high school! (Except this time I could figure out the alto part on my own by the music instead of listening to Dana, who sat next to me!) It was a good and peaceful night!



Yesterday was Kyli's birthday and she was treated like an Indian princess by our hotel! We woke up and there was a floral arrangement from Hakim and Nani waiting for her. Then I went to ask the owner, Mrs. Smith, if we could decorate one of the small lounges for her birthday. Her reply (while pinching my cheeks): "Of course, darling! You treat this like your home!" So we did.

The men working at the hotel were so eager to help! They kind of took the job over, actually. After we'd finished decorating, Nani came up with another floral arrangement and a cake from Mrs. Smith and the hotel staff! It was so sweet! Shortly after, another floral arrangement arrived from Sam, the receptionist!

Tonight we are going out for her birthday and are going to break open a pinata! It promises to be a good time! Maybe we'll even wear our saris!

Besides the cake from Mrs. Smith, Kyli got an enchanted barbie birthday cake which we shared with the hotel staff and some of our friends. There was still a lot left over, though, so we took the remainder into the street to give to the beggars. The cake was gone in about 90 seconds! It was incrediable! I guess we know where to go if we ever have way too much food!

Tomorrow I'm going to go into some villages with Kim and some other nurses to do care there. I am pretty excited about it!

Thank you again for your emails and your prayers!

Know that you are in mine!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Monday, May 22, 2006

one week into india


Hello everyone!

Life has been going well for me in the past few days. I am really beginning to like working at Kalighat (home for the dying). It is good to be able to help the people there in ways that others cannot. I am beginning to realize how fragile life is. For the past three days I've been dressing the wounds of an old woman who I'm sure will die very soon. Each day she gets a new wound because she is so full of infection. I think her heart is failing too. I'm working with another nursing student and we were trying to remember all of the signs of heart failure yesterday. Of the ones we knew, she met them all. It is just so sad to see her suffering so much. I cried yesterday while I was doing one of her dressing changes (she has six to do).

But I am comforted to know that she is in a safe place surrounded by people who are willing to show her love and care in her final moments of life.

I keep thinking of the following song and it is consoling to me when everything seems dismal.

We have a hope in Jesus
We have a hope in Jesus
That all things will be well
That all things will be well
That all things will be well in Him

I sing it to the lady as I sit with her. She seems to like having her hand held and being sung to.

On a lighter note...thanks for all of your concerned emails about Kim. She is still alive and well. We went to the hosptial again yesterday and she got her second of five rabies shots.

And we experienced our first Indian rain! We were shopping when it started raining. Kyli got really afraid and no matter how much people reassured her, she was convinced that monsoon season had begun. So she wanted an umbrella. We went to a shop and they tried to sell us one for Rs450. Umbrellas should only be Rs60-100, so we decided to walk in the rain. It was pretty fun. The water was about a foot deep in the street and we didn't realize until we had already been walking in the street for a few minutes that we could have used the sidewalk. Oh well.

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful day!It was great to hear from you!

Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Friday, May 19, 2006

finally started working

Hello everyone!

Thanks for the emails and prayers! Things are going well here. I had my first day working with the sisters today, which was a bit crazy at first. I've always felt really called to work at Kalighat, the home for the dying, but the other three girls i'm here with were going to work at ShiShu Bhavan, a home for children waiting to be adopted. So I was nervous and didn't know anyone or where to go after morning Mass and breakfast with the volunteers. I found some people, though and we were off.

As a nurse, I can help in a different way than all of the other volunteers. The "normal" volunteers work get to Kalighat and do laundry, then they sit with the patients for a while, usually just holding their hands, hugging them, singing to them, etc. Then there is a 10:30 break for tea and biscuits for the volunteers and after that the dry laundry is folded, the patients are fed lunch, and then we go home.

As a nurse, I did dressing changes all day. I won't tell you about it in detail because the wounds are very graphic. I'll just say that wounds rarely (I hope) get this bad in the United States. It is very sad to see people enduring this amount of suffering in their daily lives. Most of them are so patient, though, it's heroic. I know that I am helping people a lot by being able to do their dressing changes, but I see the other volunteers being able to be there for them emotionally in possibly a deeper way, which I am slightly envious of. I guess I can work on being more like this while I'm working with people too.

As far as life in India, we are all adjusting well. It's not nearly as hot as I imagined it would be, which is good. Everyone is so nice to us and had been helping us with anything we need.

Yesterday we went to see Victoria Memorial, a museum about what life was like when the British were here around the 1800s. One of our friends from the hotel took us, which was very nice. As we were leaving, we wanted to get some bottled water, so Hakim (the man who took us) went to go get some. We saw a men with monkeys on leashes and wanted to see them. They came over and the monkey danced for us and we took some pictures. Then he told us to give him 200 rupees, which is rediculously expensive for watching monkeys dance. Kyli, one of the girls with us immediately gave him Rs200 and then he asked for 100 more rupees. Kim said "no!" and then one of hte monkeys came over and bit her hand!



Just then Hakim came back with the waters and said "I leave you alone for 10 minutes and you spend 200 rupees and get bit by a monkey!" So true. People always ask us how much we've paid for things and then usually tell us that we've paid too much. The man probably should have gotten 10 rupees or less.

So Kim and I had to go to the hospital so she could get rabies shots. It was a far cry from American hospitals. It reminded me of the hopsital in the movie "Pearl Harbor." There were bugs and everything seemed like it was at least 50 years old. We were a bit afraid but everything has seemed to work out so far. She has to get 4 more shots now. Poor Kim!

Well, I should go now! Thank you so much for your email! I love hearing from you and am so blessed to be included in your prayers!

Know that you are also in mine!

God bless you,

Kathleen

Monday, May 15, 2006

calcutta day 7?

Hello everyone!

I am in India now and have been for maybe a day and a half. I am
not really sure how long.

Our trip here was a bit rocky. Kim and I were supposed to meet
Kim's cousin, Jill and her friend Kyli at the London airport, but they
were not there when we arrived. By the final boarding call they were
not there either, so we were really worried. We asked the lady at
the desk if they had checked in and she said they hadn't. Their
flight from Chicago to London was delayed and their plane had
landed 30 minutes before takeoff in a terminal that was miles away.
So the plane left without them! The lady also told us that Jill was
all alone! So, Kim and I left a note for her telling her to take a
prepaid taxi to our hotel and the lady told us we would be updated
when we got to Calcutta. We ended up gettting her flight info on
the plane. She was rerouted to Delhi and then flew to Calcutta
from there.

When we arrived, Kim and I had no idea what to do or how to find
Jill. Kim ended up asking God to help us sort everything out and
as she was praying, an American who had been sitting behind us
on the plane came over to us. She helped us figure out what to do
and made us feel a lot better about the whole thing. It was really
quite amazing, in fact, because she would always show up just as
we were beginning to get frustrated and offer us just what we needed.

God is truly faithful!

Thanks to our American friend, we figured out that Jill had never
checked into her Delhi to Calcutta flight, so we were worried once
again. Eventually we found the British Airways offce and they
gave us her new flight plan. She was scheduled to arrive at 2pm
so we decided to check into the hotel for about an hour and then
return to pick her up.


video


The 45 min prepaid taxi ride was the biggest culture shock of my life! I
honestly thought everyone on the road was going to crash at the
same time. It was like the "drive as fast as you want and break
as many rules as you want" game. But everyone seems to get
by well this way. (They us their horns A LOT!) Everywhere you
look there are people and animals. The strangest thing for me to
see was people bathing in the streets and little kids running
around without clothes on. It makes you sad.

Our hotel was a breath of fresh air for me. Compared to American
hotels, it doesn't seem very luxurious, but it is clean and the people
are SOOOO nice! (And we have AC, which is really nice in 120
degrees!)

The hotel sent us back to the airport with one of their drivers to
pick up Jill. When we got back in there her flight ended up being
an hour later than planned. When she finally arrived, Kyli ended up
being with her and their luggage was lost. (It's in Calcutta now and
the hotel will pick it up for us.) When we got to the hotel we slept
pretty much all night.



Today we went to a market and bought some Indian clothes. I
got a very fancy sari and a salwar (long shirt with pants). I think
we ended up paying too much for them, though, but we have NO
clue how much things should cost.

When we got back to the hotel, the owner's handmaid helped us
put the saris on and then we took several pictures with her and
some of the other employees. It was a lot of fun. We wore them
to lunch too, but changed into american clothes later.

Now we are finishing trying to find a new hotel. The one we are
staying in is going to be much to expensive to stay for a month.
So far we have a couple that seem decent, so hopefully we can
figure it out.



I am so happy also because it only costs about $2 to talk on the
phone to the US for about 10 minutes and only $0.50 to use the
internet for an hour! (So I can update you guys frequently!)

We will start working with the sisters on Wednesday, after we
get the hotels figured out. We didn't do this before because we
wanted to see what they were all like before we committed to staying
in one of them, which is good. I am beginning to adjust to the Calcutta
way of life and know that I will feel more content after we begin
work. At the moment everything is a bit disjointed.
Thank you guys for the emails! They are very encouraging to me!

I hope you all have a great day! Know that you are all in my thoughts
and prayers!

Friday, May 12, 2006

london, day 5


Hello again!

I hope you are all doing well! The past couple of days have been good.
Well, the first part isn't good but the rest is.

Yesterday Kim was sick in the morning so my cousin Dave and I went
on a walk around his town with Abby, their 9-month old golden retriever.
It is such a beautiful place to be! We walked through lovely gardens
and by the river and through the town shopping center.

After Kim woke up, we went to go see Windsor Castle. The last admission
was supposed to be at 4pm and we got there about 3:59pm. But, they
were closed and obviously had been for at least five minutes because
everything was closed and barred. So, insead of being discouraged, we
decided that we'd at least get a good outside shot of the castle.

So we found a postcard with a good view and walked around to where we
thought the photo was taken and then got the picture! We had a lot of fun
despite the potentially unfortuante circumstances. We also saw some
Indian people shooting part of a dance scene for a Bollywood film! So of
course we had to sneak around trying to end up in background shots!

Today we woke up early and headed into London. We saw the changing of
the palace guard at Buckinham Palace, which was not that exciting. Then
we went to Westminster Abbey, but they were charging to get in and there
was a long line of tourists. So, Dave pointed out the Catholic cathedral and
we went over there and walked in during daily Mass! So we got to go toMass, which was an unexpected treat.

Then Kim and I went to the Tower of London and Dave went to a bookstore.
The tower of London was not too exciting, but we did find one of the palace
guards and managed to put a smirk on his face by the fuss we were making
over trying to take a picture with both of us plus him in it by ourselves.

We were so proud!

Then we went to St. Paul's Cathedral for some Anglican Evensong. In the
church yard, we saw an Indian family feeding a little squirrel! The boy saw
that we wanted to feed her and take her picture, so he gave us some of
his peanuts and led the squirrel over to us! We took so many picutres and
videos! It was the most fun ever!

For dinner we met up with Dave and Lara and ate at a little pub/thai restaurant!
On part of the way home we rode on the top of a double-decker bus, which
was fun but slightly scary!

And tomorrow we leave! I am so grateful to my cousins for letting us stay
with them! This has been a nice break to what would have been a 24 hour
plane ride!

I hope you all have a wonderful day! Thanks again for the prayers and emails!

God bless you!

Kathleen

P.S. We added/will soon add more photos so be sure to check them out!

You can also try to go to Kim's myspace account to see some of our videos at
http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.myvideos&n=4&Mytoken=FD5839BA-100F-8C47-0E7312B44857B4DD789115

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

going to india!


Our journey has gone very well so far. We left Des Moines at 4:38pm
on Monday and got to London yesterday at 10am. (There's a 6 hour
difference between London time and US Central time, so we were a
bit tired by the time we got there.) The flight was super nice, though.
We each had our own personal entertainment center in the seat in
front of us; we got a pillow, blanket, and headphones; and we got
dinner, breakfast, and several drink services. The seats were bigger
than the small planes that fly out of Des Moines (it was a 777) and
there was actually a relatively nice amount of leg room. I even managed
to get about 3 hours of sleep.

When we got to London, we got our bags, got some pounds ($2 is
about the same as 1 pound) and took a train the Paddington station where
my cousin Dave met us at Starbucks. (I found it ironic that the first thing
Kim and I did in London was eat at Starbucks.) After taking the train to
Richmond, where my cousins live, Kim and I took a nap, ate dinner, and
then we all headed into downtown London to walk around a bit.

Today Kim and I went exploring. We went to go see the Tower Bridge
and then walked around some of the other monuments and attractions.
Everything closes very early...usually between 4 and 6...and we didn't
get into London until close to 2pm. We did get to see a lot of churches,
thought, which was really cool. (Although it is weird to see people
walking around a church listening to audio tours!)

It was really fun just being able to wander around, not really having any
place that we needed to be. We didn't necessarily know where we were
going the whole time, but that was ok. We always had maps, my cousin's
phone number, and friendly shopkeepers to ask directions if we needed.

I am very glad that we were able to come to London. Our original plans
were to go straight through from Des Moines - Chicago - London - Calcutta
without stopping. We saw, however, that there was about a 5-hour layover
in London, so asked the travel agent if we could just stay there for a few
days and we could, which was great!

Kim made a Yahoo! Photo account and has uploaded some of the photos
we took today. We'll try to keep that updated as much as possible! You
can see them at this website, which I highly recommend!

Anyway, thank you all for your wonderful emails and your prayers! Know
that I am praying for each of you and hope you are doing well!

God bless you!

Kat

Monday, April 03, 2006

coolest day ever!

Just in case you wanted to know!

On Wednesday of this-week, at two minutes and three
seconds after 1:00 in the morning, the time and date
will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again.

You may now return to your (normal ?) life.

Friday, March 31, 2006

operation station

God bless operators! I just got done calling India to let the Missionaries of Charity know when we'll be working with them, but I had some troubles gettting started. I was unsure of how to make an international phone call, even though I had all of the correct numbers for country code and city code and the Motherhouse. So my dad suggested that I call the operator and ask. He was very helpful and told me to leave out the zero before the city code and it worked! Very exciting.

Although the phone call itself was very uneventful. They just said we were most welcome to come and when we get there to ask for Sister Corrina (I think - it was a very poor connection. But my roommate Meggan, who's been there twice will know.)

Yay! I am getting so excited! Now I am all ready to go with everything. Maybe I'll buy a train ticket online before leaving. I also still have to get my vaccinations, but I have those appointments made already. And I should probably find a camping backpack to use as luggage since I don't own one.

Jesus, thanks for being so faithful in helping all of these plans to start coming together! Thank you especially for Kim, who has been influential in getting this all off the ground, despite her extremely busy schedule! You are lovely!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

cars, planes, and babies

Today I am in Connecticut until Friday visiting my dear sister Annie who was on my NET team with me! My plane didn't come in last night until 11:30pm and I leave Friday at 6:00am, so my visit is short, but life is always fun and exciting whenever Annie's around. It is so good to see her!

Also, my cousin and her husband just adopted a little boy from Korea! (My cousin was also adopted from Korea when she was an infant, so it's pretty neat!) His name is Owen and last Saturday there was a baby shower for him in Omaha. We played a few games, opened presents, and ate. My favorite thing was we all got to design a onesie for Owen! My sister and I did a joint effort and made a night sky (moon and stars) that said "goodnight moon, goodnight owen." It was a lot of fun. Good idea for a baby shower if anyone is planning one.

Also, my Grandma called me a couple of days ago saying that she was giving up driving and wanted me to have her car because I'm her namesake. She has such a generous, beautiful soul! It must have been so hard for her to make that decision, but I am glad that she at least lives where she does. She is close to my aunt and uncle who are always willing to drop everything and help her. Also the community she lives in has daily busses that can take people shopping and out to do fun things, so she can still remain fairly independant.

Jesus, please bless my Grandmother. Thank you for your faitfulness to her. Also bless my cousin Tricia, her husband Ben, and their new little son Owen. Help them to grow into a happy, holy family. And thank you for this time that You have given me to spend with Annie. May it be a wonderful visit and may we encourage each other and draw each other closer to You!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

rangoli

Today in my India class, we learned about some forms of Indian art. This class was really interesting because we learned about Rangoli, which is a type of temporary art made with sand in India. Each morning, a woman from the household would go outside and create a design, usually a geometrical one off of a dot grid, in the front yard. They use a sand that is made of limestone powder. For general daily purposes, this art is made with white sand, but for festivals or marriages or other special occasions, many different colors may be used. Sometimes people decide to freehand their designs and create something more whimsical. Also, grains or flower petals are often used in place of or in addition to the sand.

Many of us were commenting about the American mentality that we need to keep all of our creations. We took pictures of what we had each done and made a lot of comments about it as we were doing it. Our teahcer, on the other hand, said that in India, people do not get attached to their designs because they know that at the first sign of wind or rain, their hard work will be washed away. The most similar thing I could come up with in American culture was sidewalk chalk, although I know plenty of children who cry when the rain washes away their masterpieces. I also found it interesting how Rangoli is often a group effort. One woman will be the main artist, but others will pitch in by filling in colors or helping create a certain area of the design. To Indians, rather than the exclusive goal being the enjoyment of the finished product, the process of making these Rangoli is designed to be enjoyed and calm people. It was a most enjoyable class. I hope to be able to do Rangoli again someday. Maybe I’ll have to go buy some sand…

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

my new "special friend"

So my roommate Kim and I joined a gym yesterday in an attempt to build up some muscle and weight for our trip to India this summer. (We'll probably need it since we may loose it all from being sick as happened to our other friends who have gone there.) So far we've gone twice and it's really fun! I discovered that I actually like to exercise! Well...it helps to have a friend there too.

Apparently Kim had called them on Monday and the guy said that there was a deal ending yesterday that you could sign up for $35/month with no sign on fee ($100) when they usually wanted a sign on fee of $450 and $50/month member fee. So she went over there and aparently this was not the deal at all. (We're not really sure what it was.) The guy was trying to have her get the really expensive one and she refused. She asked if she and I could get the family membership together ($100 sign on fee and $70/month total) and he said absolutely not until she was about to leave and then he said it was ok.

So now the gym probably has Kim and I down as a couple...but hopefully they just put "family" instead!

God bless you! Happy Ash Wednesday!

Monday, February 27, 2006

slightly bummed

So I have officially ruined my GPA.

Not really, but it's not longer a 4.0 as I was trying to maintain.

I missed getting an A by 0.73% in my Mental Health Nursing class, getting an A- at 92.27%.

Oh well...now school will be a lot less stressful, I suppose.

Not the end of the world.

nun run

This weekend I went on a discernment retreat with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist! It was a really good weekend. I went into it not really knowing what to expect or what I wanted to take away from it, which I think was good because it helped me to be more open.
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I got to talk with the vocation's director, Sister Joseph Andrew for about 10-15 minutes, which was really helpful. I just told her my entire vocational discernment journey and she said it sounded like I'm called to marriage, but to continue to pray and keep myself open to whatever God has in store!
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I'm really excited about this! She said that as the "JP2 Generation" (as she calls us), one of the important jobs we have is to raise up the next generation's priests and religious. It will be a powerful witness to my children when they discern to be able to say "You know what, honey, your vocation is a beautiful gift from God and whatever He wants you to do is wonderful with your father and me. I even thought about being a religious sister but discerned that God wanted me to be married. We are praying for you and will be happy with whatever you discern."
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It is just exciting to be at the point in my life where God is saying "It's alright for you to know a little bit more about your future now!" Usually I want to know everything at once, but this much is good for me now!
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Anyways, sorry it's been so longs since I've last written! I've been so super busy with school!
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God bless you!

Monday, January 30, 2006

birthday delight!

This Saturday we had my roommate Meggan's little sister Ginny's 9th birthday party at our apartment. 19 little girls were invited over for the surprise pary, and all of them showed up. It was so fun to see her joy as she walked in to her friends running out from every corner of the apartment! But one of the happiest parts was when, five minutes after everyone else had run out, her big brother, Phillip, who had come home from college for her party, ran out and yelled "SURPRISE!" [She didn't know he was going to be there!] I almost started to cry!

This little girl is so wonderful! The only things she asked for for her birthday were to go to Meggan's apartment and watch "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" with her family and to get donations to give to the poor children in India. What a little saint!

She is also so joyful with life. She loves making little pictures or peoms for people as presents and gets so happy when you make a big deal about them. Yesterday Ginny and I spent almost an hour playing "keep the balloons in the air." It was a good time.

Jesus, thank You for Ginny and her witness of love and charity! Please bless her ninth year of life and bring her to an even deeper holiness! You are so good!

best dad ever [part 2]

In case anyone was wondering who the best dad ever is, it's mine.

So this Friday I was on my way to a friend's birthday party and I stopped by my parent's house to get a few things (I also used the opportunity to drop off some dirty laundry to do at a later occasion).

Well...I ran out of time to do lanudry in the weekend because of events I will discuss later. So I got a call from my dad yesterday and I imagined he was going to ask me when I was going to do my laundry, but he said that he'd done it for me! As if that wasn't good enough of him, when I came over to get it today I picked up the bag and felt something cruncy at the bottom...he had gotten me a little prize!

[My dad loves giving my sister and I prizes.]

He had gotten me some toffee covered peanuts and hid them in the bottom of my laundry bag!

I love dads! [Especially mine!]

Jesus, thank you for my wonderful family, especially my wonderful dad! You're the best ever!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

whooooo!

Hello all! Here's a fun little ad from our parish bulletin! (True story!)