Tuesday, June 13, 2006


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,


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,


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,


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,