Saturday, December 22

on a day filled with babies, Christmas, and singing.

Regardless of how much you wanted to ignore it today,
today could have been the end of the world.
i know, i know, i'm sorry - but it was on your mind, and it was on mine, too.

i woke up thinking; "If today was really my last day to live, what would I regret?"

i kept thinking on it, and i even asked a few of my friends for their hypothetical regrets to get some perspective.

i pondered my question to myself through a staff meeting which involved a lot of Hindi brainstorming. Many things are happening at PMI. I'll keep you updated as they actually unfold, but know that I'm excited for some change, and praying for the best and wisest things. Continue to think of us as we seek the will of our watchful Father.

i took my thoughts with me to the house of a dear friend where I photographed her two-month old baby girl - though it was short, it was my first true photoshoot in months. Here's some fun things to know about me: 1) i really enjoy photography. 2) i love, love, love babies. Me and Athalia had some good times until i made her mad by putting her purple mittens on, but once she calmed down and i stopped taking pictures of her, she fell asleep in my arms while her mom made us both lunch. Her mom (Kham) and I got to have some really sweet and meaningful conversations - this lady is very creative, driven, serious, and honest. She has high expectations of those around her, and I enjoy her passionate attitude. She's a good lady, and a good mommy.

i kept thinking as i returned to PMI for yet another Christmas program. This particular program was organized by none other than the explosive and enthusiastic Praisey, my roommate and dear friend. It was the best program i've seen here by a long shot as far as smoothness and planning goes. My hat is off to the people involved -- they worked, they practiced, they operated according to plan and most importantly, they showed up.  i really enjoyed seeing the Nandlal kids from 6th-12th grade share what they had learned about Christmas and dance and sing and recite and act.

Immediately after the program, my thoughts and i were whisked away with nine other people in a minivan for another wonderful night of caroling. So much Hindi. So many dear friends. So much dancing. So much CHAI.  So much Truth.

after hours of singing, I came home to a package from America filled with Christmas cards from family. I sat down and read each one, touched by the combined effort and thoughtfulness involved in getting them to me. I treasured them, gathered them up, and wondered, "What if today was my last day to live?"

anything i have actively aspired to accomplish i've either done spontaneously or planned and brought to fruition by the grace of God. When I blush, i'm learning to trust. When I fail, i'm learning to laugh. When my heart is moved, i am learning to respond. Where i find love, i embrace it. When i feel frustrated, i look for beauty. When i look for beauty, i find it.

if today was my last day to live, it was a day filled with a chance to act out love toward all those i came in contact with, joy in both difficult and enjoyable circumstances, peace in the trials of my life and toward those who know only the tumult of hopelessness, patience with children and traffic and crowded resource centers, kindness in hugs to acquaintances, goodness by letting the Best News ring out in clear song in the streets, faithfulness by reading the Word of God and in a nightly email to my boyfriend, gentleness in handling a two month old and a two year old (as well as a couple of caustic situations), and self-control as i constantly learn to be quiet, to be gracious, and to be selfless.
if today was my last day to live, it was a day i knew intimately the Spirit of God, and sensed the opportunities He gave me to put Him on display.

if today was my last day to live, it wouldn't have been because the Mayans said so; it would have been because the Author of time decided before the formation of the earth that it would be so.

May He continuously guide my steps, as the world turns on.

love from Delhi,
Julie without regret. 

Sunday, December 16

duniya me aaya.

this is wonderful news!!!
Funny how things keep changing, huh? My two years here are turning out to be very little like I planned for them to be. I'll still get to take a mini trip over the border every six months, but I can come back any time I want.  Originally I was planning on doing some work in neighboring countries for a couple of months at a time twice a year -- now I can come right back and keep working where my heart is. Now I get to be here for Holi, the most colorful of the Indian holidays, and experience the ripening Eastern summer.

Some more news that is not so wonderful::
Ok, so I bought a moped, right? It's cute and it's awesome and I rode it a couple of times. But it was impractical. And i was never able to get it registered. Then last week, I got a quote of $800 to fix my computer. Instead of doing that... I've decided just to get a new one. I'll have my boyfriend-bearing-gifts bring it to me from the states, i think! :) So in order to get the money to pay for that, I'm selling the moped. I tried to be cute and independent, guys, it just wasn't in the cards for me. But hey! The new computer will be nice!

The past three days have been full and especially meaningful. PMI has started its Christmas parties... seriously, hold on; they're underway. Off the top of my head I can count nine that i'm invited to or helping with - there is one for every branch of outreach. I thought i would be overwhelmed by all the programs, but I've made it through two so far and find myself blessed in their wake - it's wonderful to celebrate corporately in community, and it's wonderful to remember the miracle we commemorate. On the thirteenth, PMI also held a blanket drive. We drove late into the night distributing hundreds of blankets to the cold bodies housing the precious souls who sleep on the streets. It was a very moving and heart-stretching thing to see the way things go in the the open air of Old Delhi at night. The first blanket I gave to someone was almost immediately stolen off of his sleeping body by a well-dressed man who, i'm told, probably went straightaway to sell it back to the shop where we bought it. I saw men and teens huddled in groups and taking drugs together, which is not something i'd ever witnessed firsthand. I saw a family with two young children and a baby on the sidewalk sleeping together through the drizzling night. I watched a friend of mine briefly share the Truth of Love and the Greatest Gift - the reason for our love and our giving that night - over and over again.
I think I liked the blanked drive so much because it was similar to what I feel I'm doing here. I can't change everyone's life. I can't give all these wanting people everything that they need. But i can do small things that may in the long run make some difference. I can encourage, i can share, i can put forth an effort that lets people know love in a place that does not often love them. Regardless of who I am with or who I am trying to reach, this, i feel, is my mission here: to do small things with the power of great love for the purpose of encouraging and strengthening the Father's priceless children.

Here it is, mid-December. Here we are, doing urban Work for the Greatest Reason. Here i am, a member of a Family who knows the miracle of this season. Here twice this week, i've found myself with them out caroling! We often sing Hindi carols - songs which have adopted both the depth of the meaning of Christmas and the gorgeous haunting quality of the typical Indian melody (it's not just with their food that these friends of mine prove my heritage bland). We marched and drummed and stood and drank so much chai from so many friendly houses. I found myself gaily harmonizing, clapping, and dancing in a circle of my brothers and sisters. We rode in a school bus to each of our destinations singing and laughing all the way. I enjoyed watching out the windows as our voices, mingled with the resonance of guitar and djembe, rang out on the streets and people turned to hear, to see.
There we were, redeeming the din of Delhi. There we were, making sure there was someone in Delhi dancing because the Truth had set them free instead of dancing because tradition had stolen their hope by telling them to. There we were, singing to Delhi the Best News. There we were, beautifying the noise of the city by transforming it into praise.
Praise is potent. Fellowship is dynamic. Service is significant.

and carols hold all the goodness of Christmas.
येशु मसीह की - जय !
Yeshu Masih ki - Jai!
Love from Delhi,
Julie. Caroling.

Sunday, December 9

Five Years

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of CBC, the Family I'm a part of here.

A few of us stayed up late decorating the center for the celebration. I was so impressed with and blessed by the hard work of the members who served with us to finish everything and make it ready for the service the next day. Heather made a beautiful timeline of photos that took up the entire wall, starting with the formation of the Family in December, 2007. It was amazing to see how far they've come, and to hear stories of people who have come to know the Father as a direct result of the work of these dedicated believers.
The morning of the 8th, the members came to find encouraging testimonial notes from people who had been sent out from here, or who have come and gone, along with the hundreds of pictures documenting the growth of the Body. The celebration service was a truly encouraging time for me personally, even though I have not been here to see the transformation and growth. To hear the testimonies of these members of the difference this Family has made in their lives, to see the way it is truly a clear evidence of the faithfulness of God and a manifestation of that faithfulness to others - it's moving and humbling. Five years ago I was finishing my first semester of college, with no knowledge whatsoever that i'd get to be a part of the story of this Fellowship that was forming. Now here I am, with them, loving them - I even got to take part in an a capella choir piece sung in the service, for which we all wore traditional Northeast Indian dress.
Peter and Heather's administrators and dear friends Jim and Marilou came in to be able to take part in the occasion. Jim gave a special message and towards the end he said,
"I'm thankful to be associated with you.
I'm thankful to be able to know what God will do through you."
I feel the same way.

It's not easy to take broken people and bring them together in such a way that they edify each other with their complimenting strengths and forgive each other corporately for their weaknesses. It can't be done perfectly anywhere, but it is being done exceedingly well here. So many people are serving others instead of taking from others, and as is evident from their celebration of the past five years and vision for the future, they don't intend to stop working towards excellence in servanthood.

Keep us in your prayers as we seek to glorify the One who has given us His righteousness in exchange for our wretchedness. May we forsake all the wretchedness in us, and rest in His perfection.

Love from Delhi,
Julie - one part of a body.

Sunday, December 2

The Cultural Current

"Better is one day in your courts
than thousands elsewhere."

i haven't updated in quite some time -- i'm going to blame it on the fact that right after thanksgiving, my computer crashed and my internet fizzled out, and then on tuesday my wallet was stolen. I've been busy trying to resolve those issues, and i'm two for three so far... I'm updating today from a borrowed laptop because mine is still giving me trouble.
Because i don't have my computer, i also don't have photoshop available to me to convert my pictures into usable files - so i'm getting very backed up! I've been to two gloriously colorful and ceremonious Hindu weddings, and when i get a chance to edit there will be lovely, lovely pictures.

Yesterday was the concert that we have been practicing for for over a month. I heard from multiple people that it was going to be a real professional production, so because of my three months of experience instead of expecting a real professional production, i prepared myself for India to transform that definition in a way i couldn't possibly imagine beforehand.
I was glad i did that.
We arrived for the 2pm soundcheck and the stage was about halfway set up. The four of us in our band sat and waited for everything to be ready, and chatted amongst ourselves. While we waited I just watched everything coming together. I've noticed here that there are often too many people assigned to one task, and yesterday was no exception. It results in one person doing the work, two people pointing at him and barking opposing suggestions, and three or four standing with their weight on one leg and one hand on their chin. This fabulous cultural method allows a drumset to take 35 minutes to set up - incorrectly. (yes, i timed them.)
It seems to me like there would be enough for everyone to work on when you're three hours behind schedule for a "professional production", but apparently I'm wrong on that, since there were workers gazing, lounging, and smoking throughout the setup. One guy was more interested in what i was doing than what he was being paid to do, and just stood across the arena (in a cuter sweater than me, by the way) staring at me intently with deep, black eyes.
On the ground in front of the stage setup were three or four men and some wood. One grabbed a hammer and started deconstructing whatever structure it had once been fashioned into. I thought they were just getting the wood out of the way, or that maybe they needed one board to stabilize something - but then he pulled out the nails. As the reality set in that yes, they were taking apart pieces of wood to create something completely new that was necessary for the concert which was starting in right around an hour, i began raising my eyebrows and shaking my head. it was too much. i turned suddenly and asked our drummer Siddharth, "WHAT are they BUILDING?" i burst out laughing, and didn't even try to stop myself. I laughed harder than i have laughed in a very long time.
"You should put this in your blog," Siddharth said after chuckling with me. "A professional concert with a three hours late soundcheck, a guy in a sparkly sweater, and these guys building... that." He smiled, understanding my incredulity, and finished with "that would be good."

हिंदुस्तान है |
This is India.

The concert went smoothly on the whole, and the Good News was shared. We enjoyed our time together with friends, and I believe that God was glorified. It was a great opportunity, and one I never expected to have. I'm thankful for the platform from which to proclaim Truth, and the opportunity to work with the talented guys who formed the band.
Regardless, the situation was very indicative of my larger experience with Delhi.
I've learned not to take anything very seriously anymore, and to smile as India sweeps you along in its own way. I'm caught in the cultural current...
'what to do?'
Now seems a relevant time to include a quote that i've been holding onto since the journey over here.
On the plane from Dallas to London, the first movie that played was "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". It's a movie about senior citizens who move to India and their respective methods of coping with culture shock. Regrettably i fell asleep in the middle of it, but before i did i heard Judi Dench narrating over a clip of herself buying vegetables from a subjiwalla,
"...but gradually you realize it's like a wave: resist, and you'll be knocked over; but dive in, and you'll come out the other side."
I have spent three months, and will undoubtedly spend the rest of my traveling years, living and learning this poignant truth.

Last Sunday we sang the song Better is One Day. As the reality of India sets in, there are things that I long for in my home. But as we sang this song from my past, for the first time my heart understood its lesson. Better is one day drawing near to the throneroom of my gracious Father with confidence than one thousand comfortable American days. Better anywhere He uses me than anywhere that is easy for me. Better grace than comfort. Better Him than anything. To know Him is to know true contentment, rest, and peace. To know Him is to have the key to successfully diving into the cultural current.

I'm still praying i'll come out the other side!

Love from one day in Delhi,
julie forsaking a thousand days elsewhere.

Thursday, November 22

Things to be Thankful for:

No need to reinvent the wheel here - it's wonderful to use this time of year to state our blessings and remind ourselves all of the reasons to be content. So that's what I want to do.
And wow, I have so many reasons. Where do I even begin?

1 - I'm so thankful to my Father for bringing me here to India. He placed the desire for India in my heart, and then faithfully fulfilled my longing to come. There were times that many people didn't believe I'd make it - and they've told me so. There were times that my leadership thought I didn't have the persistence or follow-through to finally get on the plane. But I made it. Praise God for His Faithfulness.

2 - I'm thankful for a family here. I have all the fellowship I could ever ask for. I have so many people invested in my health and contentment. At any time, there are at least three or four households I know I could go and I would never be turned away. I have just enough Americans to help keep me from going crazy, and enough children to fill my heart and hug my legs so that my love and affection tanks are never on empty. I understand family differently in India; in such a way that makes me amazed at God's plan to somehow place each of us inside of the family structure.

3 - I'm abundantly thankful for Andrew Quinn Johnson. Quite a few people will look at you a little sideways when you tell them you've conducted an entire relationship across an entire country, and part of it across the entire world. And just watch any television show: you can't trust anyone to love you exclusively, vow or no vow. But this is not a television fantasy; this man is a man I can trust. He looks after my needs and makes long distance work. Not many people are so devoted, patient, or special.

4 - I'm thankful that the weather feels like the holidays here! I woke up this morning to a chilly day somewhere around the 50 degree mark. We don't use heaters in our home, so it's felt fresh and crisp all day! I believe in my heart that it's Thanksgiving Day, and somehow that's important to me.

5 - I could never be thankful enough for the Good News that holds the power of Salvation. Mercy is renewed to me daily, and grace is extended to me to cover every mistake I inevitably make. I will never forget His goodness. I will live in light of His Sacrifice.

6 - I'm thankful for my little place!
Here's the story: recently, a friend of mine who is my age purchased a beautiful house with her husband. (I'm looking at you, Jena Roach.) I mean, it's really fantastic. When I read her blog update, complete with picture, i was sitting here on my bed. I looked up from my computer and my face scrunched as my heart withered. I glanced around, taking in the cardboard surrounding my air conditioning unit, the footless, knobless, rusted oven sitting on my bedroom floor, my crayon stained built-in pink-starred closets, my windowless and decorationless walls, my nonworking showerhead, my makeshift open-air kitchen.  Something somewhere in the back of my mind nagged,
 "And what do YOU have to show for 23 years?" 
But today, while you were sleeping, i was peeling potatoes happily into my little sink. As I looked around, my heart forgot the bay windows of America (they're still nothing short of fabulous, Jena; i'm coming over to visit) and remembered how it lives right here in my own little apartment portion of a flat in India. I'm learning to cook, live, thrive here, and that's valuable in my life. 23 years have brought me here, to this tiny wonderful place, and I am thankful.
Now, for those of you who have been losing sleep over what my little place actually looks like, I have a solution for you! I bought this awesome bowl to hold our mashed potatoes in for thanksgiving dinner, and noticed that it sort of acts like a fisheye lens! So i snapped a couple of photos in it for you.

this is the kitchen. you can see pretty much everything in this picture, including my stuff-storage system. haha. my little portable gas stove is there on the bottom right, my sink is at the top left corner and i'm cleaning potatoes on the table next to it! if you weren't sitting inside my bowl, you'd be peering at me from outside the screened window which makes up one of the four walls. that door behind me leads to my room!

i just backed up four steps. you're looking out the kitchen door into my room. That's my Thanksgiving day outfit hanging there on the closet handle :)
this is almost the same view, just from my bathroom doorway. my bed is on the left under the mirror, the guest bed that no one uses is on the right, under the world map, and behind me are my desk and the door to the main living area.

this is the view from the door to my room! So nice of you to visit. see you next time. 
Love from Delhi,
Julie, content.

Monday, November 19


So, this past week was the celebration of Diwali: the Indian festival of lights. I almost wish i'd had more of a residential view of the goings-on, because i've seen some really really beautiful images taken just this year all throughout India of the fireworks, the people, the colorful lanterns and candles and vermillion powders. But honestly, Delhi's not really safe on the main celebration day of Diwali because of all the firecrackers going off in the streets! So, we PMI'ers opted for safe nights in with our respective families. All i really got to experience of the holiday was the obnoxious bits... trying to carry on a conversation with someone proves extremely difficult when the crackers are going off constantly and so loudly you have to yell; and because the houses are so open here, the sheer amount of fireworks set off on that night alone fills the air with thick smoke that billows into your living rooms and sleeping areas. The air quality is and noise pollution are serious problems if you're not a partaker of the holiday enjoying all the festivities. Still, I got to see some really beautiful things: a fully lit Sikh temple in Old Delhi, our neighborhood bathed in brightly colored artificial lighting, the graciously quiet firecrackers that send up a wash of glitter - a fountain of fire. I didn't love the warzone that was Diwali, but i liked it.

you can notice the smoke beginning to cloud the air in the photo in the top right... 

the colors of India are quite a sight on a normal day,
but on Diwali, they're an experience in themselves. 

Another celebration I got to be a part of this week was the wedding of some of Praisey's friends. She used to work with the bride, and they invited her and me to be a part of their day.
 The ceremony was sweet and to the point, and the bride and groom were abundantly gracious and welcoming to me, a new face in their small congregation of dear friends. They didn't have an official paid photographer, so I got to step in and snap a few casual images. I was honored.

both groom and bride were welcomed down the aisle with congregational singing.

this is my beautiful companion of the day. also me in sunglasses and lipstick.  we got real girly, guys.

 This part of my journey is endlessly fascinating to me, as my feelings constantly surprise me and my job description continues to shapeshift. My hair is growing out. My preferences are developing. My strengths are emerging almost as quickly as my previously hidden shortcomings are being revealed. I'm doing surprisingly rewarding artistic work in design. I'm doing surprisingly rewarding artistic work in songwriting. I'm the lead singer in a band featured in a concert on December first to raise money and awareness for an AIDS orphanage. I love teaching English as a means to an end. 
I couldn't have anticipated any of these things.

Along with my job description, my desires have also shifted dramatically since coming to India. 
Firstly, I came here really wanting to give my poor numbered hairs a break from the abuse i've put them through, so i just thought, i'll take two years and just let it grow without coloring or cutting once, and with minimal product and damaging heat usage. But since being here, I feel like the blonde just makes me so other. It doesn't really hinder me in a lot of ways, but I'd be more comfortable inside of the culture if i had black hair. Part of me is considering a temporary dye job, but i'm scared my locks won't go back to my natural color without some more major damage, and i wouldn't love to keep dying them forever. Who knows, though... next week you may not recognize me ;)

Another desire that has changed in me is the desire to be understood. Now, I think in many ways this desire is hardwired in all of us. But I'm coming to the realization that no human heart can ever fully understand mine. My lessons, my passions, my woes, my tangle of emotions, and my inexplicable joys will never be truly shared or known by anyone else. This seems like a depressing truth, but when you live in it, it's unimaginably freeing. My expectations of others are so much more realistic when i make this lesson real in my thought process, and i'm free to love them as fellow broken people, instead of being disappointed by their inability to cater to my "needs". It's wonderful, learning how to unconditionally love. 

The last transformed desire I want to share with you is the desire to perform. This is really true for me in every sense of the word. What i've really learned, though, is that in application the opposite of performance is rest. Strength is needed for daily life, and you can get it in one of two ways: searching inside yourself and pouring out your lifesource, or taking it from somewhere else. The problem with looking inside myself for strength is that I'm limited - i always run out. The beauty of taking strength from elsewhere is that i have a direct link to the author of time, hope, and love; and He offers me His ability to cope with situations, understand the meaning of life, and help others. 
I have His aptitude at my fingertips. 
I'm finding myself really fulfilled as i make the transition from performance to rest. I honestly didn't know that my first step in my dealings with the Father should always be to rest in His Finished Work. Any work i have after that is irrelevant, because He has paid everything, and I have only to thank Him with a life well lived. This lesson - this Good News - has made all the difference in my life, my attitudes, my frustrations and my dreams. 

I think that's something to celebrate.

Love from Delhi, 
Julie: celebrating.

Wednesday, November 14


I just want to be honest with you.
Living here in the aftermath of the novelty of India -
it's hard.

I'll apologize as a disclaimer to any native Indian reading this post; I know some of you follow my bloggings, so please know that this post is not an effort to disparage your culture. Instead, please read it with the knowledge of my great heart to understand and respect your culture as i approach it from the perspective of someone with an extremely limited ability to truly grasp its nuances.
I love India,
 I just don't get it yet.

I feel like i'm constantly messing up - i'm not hospitable enough or sensitive or quiet enough. My clothes don't fit quite right, and they certainly aren't colorful enough. My music doesn't have enough embellishments; or trills; or excitement. My dinner is too early in the evening, and it doesn't include enough rice. There are so many ways that i still need to learn to be Julie in India.
i think the biggest thing is that nothing is intuitive anymore. There is an immense amount of observation and focus involved in surviving here without offending anyone everyone. I'm something of a fixture in their lives, so they expect me to be more than a giggling blundering blonde mess, which got me by for two months the last time i was here.
Now, two months have come and gone, so i really ought to be offering water to people who visit me and giving diwali gifts and understanding which 'no' means "no" and which 'no' means "please keep asking me", and cooking rice.  

I'm very aware of the presence of these shortcomings in my behavior.
But here's the truth:
There's no way for me to be an Indian.

All I can ever be is an American girl with a deep love for India, and a basic understanding of the customs and expectations that come with the territory. I know that i need to be okay with that, rest in the grace offered me by my Father and trust Him to protect my mistakes and be the One [yes, the only one] who understands my heart. All I can do is exert my best effort and afterward convey as Paul did, "It is a very small thing that i should be judged by you, or any human court".

I think it's becoming important for me to truly implement the realism of the fact that I gave up more comforts when i left America than just the ones i already find superfluous. I gave up the values i was raised in, the people who know my background, the way i structure my days and weeks, the luxury of friendship as i know it. Though i may not have initially done it intentionally, i have made the decision to live here in the in-between. some days it's rewarding and exciting. some days it's uncomfortable. But as Heather keeps reminding me, the beauty of feeling so acutely that India is not home lies in the transitional understanding that nowhere on this earth will my soul truly feel at home.  I am ever a wandering foreign soul longing for the peace and rest of heaven.

Today I'm living in thankfulness for the wealth of treasure found in discomfort, and for the cultural questions that force me to cling to the Word of Truth.

Love from Delhi,
Julie the foreigner.

Monday, November 12

wherever you go

These past few days have been some excellent ones as far as being full of typical Delhi experiences!

As you know, i'm really enjoying getting all situated with my surroundings. Before you know it, i'll be driving my little scooty to Nandlal slum and taking Hindi lessons from a housewife. (okay, i'm not that comfy here yet, but i'd love to be!) I really love it when I find myself adjusted. Even if it's just when I know which direction to take the metro. Small victories, people.

These last three days have been like that.

On Friday night, after our PMI seminar, a group of my friends was going out to see a concert by Aradhna. They invited me, saying that it was a Hindi Christian worship band. I thought it sounded like a fun outing, although I don't like concerts very well. So six of us packed up to take the half hour trip downtown, found two willing auto-rickshaws, and tuk-tukkkked our way through the smog and the traffic and the diwali firecrackers (the holiday is on tuesday and the lack of fire code is a real hazard, and a frightening one!) to Dilli Haat market where the concert was being held in an open-air amphitheater. On the drive, there was a strip of shops along the highway that suddenly reminded me very much of Dallas - specifically the East side of highway 75 to the North of parker road. Similarly, as i walked into the amphitheater, i noticed that about 1/4 of the concert spectators were white, and over half of that population were gloriously barefooted and dreadlocked - the whole atmosphere was so reminiscent of a small Ohio town called Yellow Springs which is dear to my heart. These home-reminiscent experiences influenced the atmosphere of my evening, but not with the dominantly homesick flavor i thought that they might overlay. Instead of longing, i felt peace. i felt home in the midst of my travels. i felt centered. i love that wherever you go, you can find the same things. i love that wherever you go, you encounter the same people.
 Dilli Haat is an especially foreign-dominated area of Delhi which attracts the more hardcore tourists, as it has a wide variety of really great and really Indian trinket and jewelry shops; but more than that, when i looked up at the band, i saw they were predominately white guys, too! There were two playing western instruments, and one singing in perfectly enchanting, perfectly pronounced Hindi as he passionately plucked away at his enormous sitar. The performance was moving and heartfelt, and the beauty in the technicality of the music inspired my soul. I love that though in different places worship sounds different, wherever you go worship feels the same.
I closed my eyes as i sat on the ground next to my dear new friends, and let the music surround me. I love times that you can really be in a moment like that, times you can form an intentional memory based on a truly moving experience. i love that wherever you go, beautiful things happen.

The next day, my task was to go and find gifts for our guests from Great Britain who have been hosting an Evolution vs Creation seminar in PMI this weekend. After some successful and budget-friendly shopping at a strip of trinket markets called Janpath, Praise and I hopped in the car with two PMI employees, Sumit and Shivanshu, and drove back in a PMI-ish direction. As usual, though, we got stuck in traffic, and as we all started talking we realized that we were all starving. Sumit had this place in mind, but he was worried that i wouldn't be able to handle it. I waved away his uncertainties and ordered Shivanshu to take us there, because i could tell they were all really excited about it. We got there after much winding and walking through a building that looked like it was probably a hotel of some sort, and i stared up at a menu entirely in some North Indian language - there wasn't even a Hindi translation anywhere, let alone English! I shrugged, glanced, and nodded at Sumit, who promptly ordered us four all-you-can-eat meals for 60 rupees ($1.20) per person.  Here's what came to the table: Papard - basically a huge round crunchy chip made of lentils; Roti - a soft, round, thick wheat tortilla-like bread; Aloo - potatoes and masala; Chana (or beans of some sort, i'm not sure) - beans and/or chick peas with chiles in a sauce; Sweet Dal - lentils boiled, mashed, and sweetened; and Subji - assorted vegetables, similar on that day to sourkrout. There was also rice available, and some fermented mango chutney with whole pickled lemons.
Now, all of that sounds very exotic and frightening, i know. But if you get past the fact that it's not American, you can enjoy that it is delicious. I love that wherever you go, people have comfort foods. Praise couldn't get over it. She couldn't stop saying how delighted she was with the whole place. The two guys couldn't stop eating! I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it. The potatoes were a little too spicy for me, and the dal a little too sweet, but I gobbled everything else. :) At the end of our meal, we ordered something like citrus yogurt or lemon pudding which was had perfect cooling effect on all the heat i had going on in my mouth! Honestly, whenever I eat true Indian food, instead of feeling full and revived, i usually feel a little lightheaded from all the different spices - haha. It passes, but i always just cross my fingers and hope for the best as my body deals with the aftermath. And I am getting more and more accustomed to it, i can already tell.

Then, today. After church a large group of the girls set out to go to a choral competition put on by an association which celebrates Northeast Indian culture. Many of our church members are from the Northeast, and so they were particularly excited to be around so many people from their home. We had some traditional Northeast food at the gathering before going into the competition, and I'll be honest, this stuff, i did not like. There was a smell coming from something that was turning my stomach before i could even get to the plain rice and dal, and though there was beef on my plate for the first time in forever, it was indistinguishable as meat -- i tried not to be too obvious as i eyed it with caution. That whole plate was a flop in my book, but there was an interesting and enjoyable masala-filled salad that caught my attention. After we sat down to watch the show, my friend Jesse busted out this dried and spiced shredded beef that she'd just bought downstairs. Everyone was warning me about how hot it was and advising me not to eat it, but it looked so dang good! I decided to give it a try. Friends, i am proud to say that i loved it! It was something like beef jerky with some ginger and a good amount of heat. I kept wanting more -- after the program i went down and bought some for myself. The Indians seemed a little shocked, but i think in at least a small way, they were proud of me. At least, i like to imagine they were...
I love that wherever you go people are proud of their upbringing, and i love the way that wherever you go, sweet pieces of home make people nostalgic and wide-eyed messes.

We're just wired to be people; love-needing, truth-seeking, passionate, hope-hollow, homesick,  community-hungry people:
you'll find that wherever you go.

Love from Delhi,
Julie [wherever she goes.]

Wednesday, November 7

The purple dupata

As I get settled in India, blogging seems to be less and less on my mind. So many beautiful things are happening, but they are becoming so commonplace to me! Man, I pray that I don't take for granted what an amazing time I'm having - I don't want to miss the awesome weight of everything I'm experiencing, or lose the wonder of life away from heart-numbing comfort.

So, firstly: I'm learning what I like and what I don't like about both Indian fashion and Indian food. This might seem like a good thing, but in reality it is a dangerous thing. As in I'm obsessed. As in very soon I may be fat and broke.  I'm frying banana fritters and pakora,
Praisey's banana fritters:
basically pieces of fried banana bread dough.
i may have died and gone to heaven.
chowing paneer and naan and chole bhature, and searching endlessly for an easy chicken tikka recipe.

I'm making weekly trips to the market with friends (as an outreach opportunity, of course,) and coming back with a new set of bangles or pair of patiala pants every time (i'm only going to use them for a little bit, and then i'm going to send them to friends in America, naturally). Also, I have discovered the beauty of custom-made clothing: I bought 2 meters of beautiful cotton fabric (that I spotted while shopping for necessary PMI decorations, you see,) and had it sewn into a kurta made to fit my preferences, measurements and specifications for a grand total of right around $6. After the experience of wearing such nice-fitting clothing, I just can't go back to clothes made to fit the size S masses. I took four more of my old kurtas to the tailor straightaway to be altered to my liking, gave the nice man 4 hours to have the job done and paid him $3 upon its completion.
The last step in my cultural fashion indoctrination is to take my clothing to the press-wallas to be ironed after washing. Everything is really really wrinkled after it hangs to dry, for whatever reason, and i've been skipping the ironing step so i always look a little mussed. I think i heard the fee was 5 rupees (10 cents) per article of clothing, so after my next laundry day i'm going to go on an adventure and have everything pressed...
I'm getting more Indian all the time.

So, I told you that i bought my scooty, right? Yay! It's wonderful! I've had it for a little over a week, and I've driven it twice. I'm still getting used to the controls but it's basically what you'd expect: since it's automatic transmission, it's just like a bicycle and a car in one. Once i'm used to the sensitivities, I'll be taking that thing EVERYWHERE. I'm still a little cautious, but I'm loving riding it. The other night Praisey was feeling restless, so she just said, "okay, let's go have a scooty session!" We got it out and she rode on the back while I drove. She kept saying i was so brave, but I think she was the brave one to ride with me after I'd only had one driving lesson! We were laughing so hard when i would wobble in my steering, or anytime i came up to a turn in the road. We went around the neighborhood twice, and on our second lap, a good-natured man who had seen us already and knew i was still learning started teasing us and pretending to jump out in our path! We were losing it. It was so fun.
Experiences like this - learning and being vulnerable with people i'm coming to love here - mean everything to me. The friendships are real, the fellowship is true and deep, and the memories are simply priceless.

So, I'm going to be taking 2 days a week this month to teach English at the Burari center. Burari is about a 45 minute trip away from my home in Hudson Line, and yesterday the burari team and i went by auto-rickshaw. This vehicle, which some people call a tuk-tuk, is basically a three-wheeled covered moped with a back seat. It's pretty open to the elements, and to the eyes of any onlooker.
Now, I'm pretty resigned to the stares of the Indian masses. I don't mind. I'm not surprised. I stare right back until the gawker drops his gaze out of awkwardness. But i'm not big on celebrity, or a fan of too much attention, so I don't love it. On the way to Burari i used my purple scarf (a new purchase from a market trip - scarves are useful and cultural, thank you,) to cover my mouth in places where the pollution was particularly bad (and when i say particularly bad, i mean so thick you can't see through it and so pungent i think i'll always reek of stinkyriversmog). On the way back, though, i used it as a dupata - like many typical Indian women - to cover my flowing golden hair (pfff) and my pointed aryan nose and chin. I was amazed at the difference. Usually in a crowd, as an Indian scans the way ahead, their eyes rest on me and they do a quick casual double take, or they cock their head curiously or simply unabashedly continue to look at me until i'm out of their line of view. But without my caucasian features visible, their eyes did not even find me. Though people still looked in my direction, every single one looked through me without seeing me. Where usually i would meet someone's gaze upon every glance up from the road, i now found myself free to view the comings and goings of Delhi without scrutiny from behind my purple screen of privacy. One two-foot piece of cloth made all the difference.
I'm struggling to tell you why exactly i find this so meaningful, but i think it has to do with the feeling of being integrated as opposed to being other. Something about blending in is important to me. I feel legitimized by knowing when to turn off the water pump, how to tell the tailor to alter my clothes, how much i will pay for a pair of pants, which side of the street to drive on, and how to prepare food that an Eastern tongue will not spurn. It's important to me not to be a severely foreign presence here, but to be a learner, a chameleon, a lover of culture. I feel much less other when i am not always demanding peoples' attention with my mere presence. I hope and pray that Indians see me as a humble servant rather than a demanding tourist;
for I have left my home environment and come here not to be served, but to serve.

More and more, i want my life to exemplify incarnational motivations and selfless labor, and i'm glad to say that i feel the steps i'm taking are leading me there.

Love from Delhi,
Julie the servant.

Friday, November 2

When in India,

Well, it's been over a week since you heard from me!

Things have been super busy with the American team here and with all the different schedule changes, from the CBC retreat to the team taking over English classes, I have been running here and there and haven't had a moment to just sit and reflect and update!

Well, my English class wrapped up nicely, our closing program was really beneficial and fun for all of us. My students promised not to forget me through this holiday season, and they said they wanted to come back in January. I dearly hope that they do.
The team came Wednesday morning, and I didn't meet them til Wednesday night. The two men on the team led the CBC retreat which was held in our own Resource Center after we decorated the life out of it (or, into it i think is more appropriate in this case). The retreat was more wonderful than I can say. I am learning more than you would care to read here, and more than I have time to write. My heart is changed. I am constantly being made new. I am amazed at the transformation i am going through during my time here already. I am so thankful; speechless, almost.
On the last day of the retreat, there was a formal banquet to finish everything out. We were requested to dress for the occasion, and so the two girls from the team and I decided to get all dolled up...  in saris. 
I was thrilled, and i picked a navy and gold sari of Praise's that was simple but gorgeous. Everyone was so excited that we wanted to wear them - they love when we make effort to understand and appreciate their culture. Even so, some time into the evening, i found myself a little self-conscious in the outfit. Not because it looked bad on me, but because i was doing it a great injustice. My halting American clumsiness met its slippery graceful flowing grandeur, and a marked clash ensued. A number of women attempted to help me fix it throughout the evening, but i just kept on martyring its cultural fabulousness. By the end of the night i was emotionally exhausted, and a little embarrassed from my battles.
Oh well, i tried! I'm sure next time i'll be more familiar with the issues involved in the event of sari-wearing (i have NO idea how so many women wear them as daily dress). Me and saris, we're not through yet!

Today marks two months exactly since I left America - it is from here on out the longest amount of time I've been out of the country. I'm astounded at my contentment, and excited to continue growing, learning, and loving India.

On Monday after the retreat had ended, the team had plans to go to the Taj Mahal. Heather asked if I'd like to go along, and I said yes! I've been before, in 2010, but I knew i'd love to see it again. When John, the leader of the team found out i was going with them, he said "Oh, good, that makes me feel a lot safer." I smiled outwardly as i laughed in my heart; "because i know what's what in India..."
Since we had no Indian friend with us, I was acting as guide, informational expert, and Hindi translator for the day (hahahahahahaha). We made it back alive, and that's about all I have to prove my efforts. The trip was really wonderful, though. The way to Agra is long - about 4-5 hours, and so we left at 6AM to get there in time to get back in the same day. During our drive the sun was rising through the dust and haze in the distance and i looked out over the fields we were passing. I saw some houses built of grass, and they were surprisingly refreshing to me. These small, sweet, clean huts were a welcome change from the tin-and-trash communities i'm surrounded by in North Delhi. It makes me want to visit Rural India - i just know it's beautiful.
After parking, it's a little ways to get to the Taj gate. Naturally, we went by camel.

The taj was really wonderful, I liked it even better the second time!

I was looking at the huge and opulent structure, made completely of solid white polished marble and inlaid with onyx and countless tons of semi-precious stones, just completely in awe. But then, i started to look around me at the masses of humanity swarming this spectacular wonder of the ancient world. It was a crowded day, and people were all wishing that everyone else would get out of the way of their pictures. As i looked from the architecture to the audience, my heart melted; i realized that just one of these souls was of infinitely more worth than the entirety of the lavish, extravagant structure we had all come to admire. Each soul carries more weight than any wonder of the ancient or modern world. I was somewhat overwhelmed just thinking about the value of humanity with no regard for each other, all prioritizing stone over priceless lives.
But, i'll give them this: it is an awfully fabulous arrangement of stone!

I've been following the girls around, taking them to the slums and stuff, and getting to be a part of Pathshala again has been so great for me. It's one of my favorite outreaches. these beautiful, precious children give my heart hope.

I feel like I don't have much in the way of updates - I'm enjoying my comfort with my place and my breakfast-cooking for the girls in my home, and stopping at the roadside shops to get mango shakes, and going to the markets alone to look for things i need and things PMI needs, and learning to barter successfully (the key word is: "Bhaiyya!" with a hurt and shocked expression), and starting to get comfortable driving my scooty! yes, I bought the moped. it's so cute and it's not really difficult to drive. I have to get used to the speed and controls but it's light and the balance is easy. Delhi traffic, here I come!

Life is sweet, my friends. The more time I spend here, the more time I want to spend here. That must be how you know you're in the right place, right?

Love from Delhi,
Julie in the right place.

Wednesday, October 24

On Dussehra and the enjoyment of togetherness:

It is officially Dussehra.

This Hindu festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil - an image of the evil god Ravana is posted high on a stake and burned in almost every sector of the city of Delhi, and some version of this reenactment is performed everywhere throughout India.  Buildings are decorating with twinkling lights, vendors peddle their gods and Hindu-approved god-pleasing offerings side by side on the street.
Other religions, such as Sikhism, who also would like to partake in the fun of the Indian festival, have adapted their own reasons for celebrating on this day. This seems really really ridiculous to me, but then I thought - it's like saying,
"I have an opposing belief with Christianity, but I really like that Christmas is so much fun. Maybe I'll come up with another reason to join in - an image I can associate with the day and post everywhere for my own good..."
That's right, i just called Santa Clause an idol. Deal with it.

ANYWAY, This morning I've been up for an hour, and during my chai drinking and housecleaning, about every five minutes i hear firecrackers going off, and the response of shrieking girls immediately afterwards.
Every festival here seems to be celebrated to the fullest: brightly colored tents being erected - to the point of blocking entire roads - people rolling out in droves to attend worship,  beautiful outfits, family gatherings, firecrackers, loudspeakers, songs, drums, dances... i could go on and on, as the natives of this land have no qualms about doing so.
Honestly, I can see why this is an attractive facet of Hinduism. Feeling united with an entire Nation in happiness, purpose, and a general excuse to rest and enjoy yourself? It seems like something almost anyone would get behind.
During my English course, I had a one-on-one conversation time with each of my students to help them improve their casual English. I had a list of set questions to ask them, and one question was "Were you raised in any certain religion?" This led into my next question: "What do you like about that religion?"
A good majority of my students were raised in Hindu homes, and they looked at me a little sideways when i wanted to know what they liked about being raised Hindu. I think they expected me to ask a question that would make them doubt their faith, as some of them always get a little bristly and defensive when we turn to subjects of religious substance. So, when i asked them about why they liked Hinduism, they raised their chins, glanced thoughtfully at the ceiling, hunched their shoulders, and thought for a minute about how to frame their ideas in a new language. And then, almost every single one of them answered in the same way.
Not, "It helps me to feel I'm doing good."
Not, "I am able to do the right thing, and be blessed for it."
Not, "I have never really thought about it."
Not, "I believe in these gods, and that i must pay homage to them."
All of these answers were along the lines of what i expected. But the answer i got from the vast majority of my Hindu students was more like this: 'I love that I can celebrate and worship together with my whole family and the people that I care about. We love to all worship together, we love to feel like a part of something big because we are with everyone who believes the same thing we believe.'

Hinduism is hardly their religion. It is their lifestyle, it is their culture; Hinduism is their family. And because of the collectivistic nature of the culture of India, Hinduism is an outworking of everything an Indian individual holds dear. Hinduism promotes and embodies everything that is central to an Indian individual's inborn and long-cultivated value system.

At first, this was enlightening and intriguing to me.
Now, it makes me want to cry for them. it makes my heart hurt so deeply.

Hinduism is not mindlessly integrated into these people's lives by way of their longstanding heritage and culture as I have always thought. They do not question the spirit or truth of their practices because they do not worship in spirit or truth. They worship in this way because it expresses them as people. This means that i cannot uproot anything they believe with apologetics. i cannot cause them to think about the comparative truth of god or the love of god, because that is not why they worship. in order to make a Hindu stop and think, "that might be valid," I have to be the better family to them. Because in order to choose anything other than Hinduism, they have to give up their favorite aspect of their life: their togetherness with their culture. In order for me to ask that of them, i'd better haves something much, much better to replace it with.

(INSERT: Obviously, I'm not saying that I think Indians are mindless or even unintelligent. But I do think that this is the driving force of their reasoning when it comes to religion.)

it makes me think that in order to reach them we have to show them that their hardwired nature is wrong (as everyone's, everywere, is), that we have a Father who is enough; and that that is worth more than togetherness. That we have a Family who will love them, truly if imperfectly. That we have a Love that allows us to be part of something longer standing than their heritage, bigger than the Hindu faith, and with more members than the entire population of India.
We have to be family to them.
He has to be everything to them.

I am longing to embody this by any means necessary. I am committed to learning what it means to be a true family, and to do what it takes to show that off to a watching nation.  I left to learn these things. Here i am; now i will practice them.

Love from Delhi,
Julie: your sister.

Monday, October 22

Warm Welcomes, Accordions, Tea lights, Babies, Believers, and the Lemony Veggie Mix.

Wow, I have been taking tons of pictures recently. That gets represented here, so yay!
 In a recent post I talked about going to Burari, one of the PMI expansions. Well, on Friday, I got to go to the other expansion. While the Burari class is held in a rented building, the Civil Lines production is a hop, a skip, and a metro ride away, down a short road and around the bend. I wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch the first reaction of the 30-40 younger children as we rounded that bend, but here's the tail end of it:
Talk about heartwarming. They were so excited to see me, Praise and Siddharth coming to teach them. Even though I've been in many situations that made my heart reach out to Indian children, I've never seen a reception like this in any of the other PMI locations. The kids in this clean, green slum are so eager, fresh, and attentive. They are responsive and sweet and obedient, and their eyes and their smiles are bright. I left Civil Lines wondering what was different about this area, and that group of people. I think it will be a really special and important outworking of PMI's original efforts.
This is the kids learning a new song. Kindergarten through second grade are on one tarp, and third to fifth grade are on another tarp. 

This is the 6th - 12th grade English class that Praise and I got to lead. In this picture, the students are practicing introducing themselves in English. The two boys in the foreground are enthusiastically saying, "WHAT'S UP?!" "HOW'S IT GOING?!"
The girls in the back offered us food before we left, and also walked Praise and I back to the metro - such sweet demeanors and giving hearts. I really enjoyed my time there.

Check it! Praise got me in focus!
i am so pale!

 After Civil Lines on Friday, we had care group in the Malakars' home. Peter and Praisey's Aunt and Uncle are in town, so they came over for dinner afterwards. Peter's older brother also came over to visit.
Praise and I had had a long day of walking and errand running, and both of us were totally beat. Our bodies were hurting, we were mentally exhausted. I came into Joy and Prakash's room and plopped down next to Praise on the ground, and Campy (Praise's cousin) and her mom (Praise's aunt) were both in there. "You are tired?" Auntie asked me. "Yes, so tired," I answered her with a sigh and a slump. "Ok, lay down, I massage you." Of course i couldn't say no! This sweet lady who has been a nurse all her life but who knows nothing about me gave my sweaty, dusty, exhausted self an amazing massage right then and there. Her concern for me was touching, and more than a little inspiring. What am I doing to go out of my way to make people feel cared for?
 While Heather and I were in the kitchen finishing dinner, naturally the whole family all began to sing. Peter's brother, Phillip, has a really beautiful voice, and he whipped out his accordion to complement Peter/Prakash's guitar playing and Joy's joyful bongo banging. I'll tell you, there's no better backdrop to cooking dinner than spontaneous Bengali song. And he played that accordion so beautifully.

Just a short blurb - shout out to Pinterest for this great idea... tea lights surrounded by coffee beans! My whole room smelled faintly of lattes the whole evening, instead of the many other things it often smells like (garbage, fish, curry, and a host of other very Indian odors.) And they're pretty!

Now, today.
 I got to be with the kids in Sunday school after singing together with the Family. They were fun and sweet, some of them are just too great :) I loved hanging out with them. They colored a coloring page about Jesus rising from the dead, and Prakash brought his over to me. Jesus was surrounded by happy friends, and I asked if Prakash knew who they were. He said no, and asked me to tell him, so (faking it) I said, "This is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is Peter. And this is Mary, Jesus' mother, and Joseph, Jesus' father. And this is Jesus' little brother!" He asked some more questions about them and named them back to me. He especially liked Peter, as that's his Baba's name, and the little brother. After a minute he looked up at me and said, "Wow, Auntie Julie! It's like a book!" It is a Book, Prakash. It is a Book.
We came back with the kids in time to see the dedication of Kham and Kagui's sweet baby, Athalia. They asked me to take some pictures, so i snapped a few. This sweet sweet baby and this sweet sweet couple make me so happy. I loved everything about this handing of our children to our Father. We commit them to Him. We trust in His love for them as we trust in His love for us.

Also today: this, again is Peter and Praise's aunt and uncle. Uncle gave the message this morning, and at the end of the service, he sang a duet with his wife. You are looking at two loving and cheerful people between sixty and seventy singing an a cappella rendition of "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows". It's one of the better things I've ever experienced in my life. It was truly moving. 

We have a team from America coming on Wednesday, and they are hosting a retreat from Thursday to Saturday. I'm keyboarding on the music team during that time, and we had practice tonight. I walked out towards PMI under a clear and (almost) crisp night sky, complete with a huge tilted crescent moon. That Middle Eastern moon got me thinking about walking on the streets of Delhi, and how fulfilling just BEING here is, let alone DOING what I love. I decided that I value the quality of experience above safety, and purpose above comfort. I must. Otherwise I wouldn't love tripping on the broken cobblestones and sidestepping mangy dogs and searching so hard to find something I need to purchase for my kitchen ['MUFFIN TIN. no, like six pie pans in one. no, all connected in the same pan. no, not for eggs. no, i am not hallucinating']. But I do. I do love it. 
Anyway, after we were done working on the music, some spontaneous jamming broke out. I was doing my most soulful "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone", and Kagui the worship leader was like, 'hey, I haven't heard you sing like that before. You should sing at this open-air concert we're having to raise money for charity.' So there you have it. Just like that, December first (my sister's birthday!) we're opening! More details to come on that later - but, how fun, right?

Tomorrow we are going to buy my scooty. If all goes well, I'm coming home with a red and white girly  getaround machine! Also i feel kind of hardcore. We'll see if that feeling continues after the first time i get a little lost... ;)

I'm going to leave you with this... delicious!

Love from Delhi,
Julie: the lemony veggie remix.

Friday, October 19

Out of Focus

picture this:

I had a rough time getting out of bed this morning, and so I thought to myself, "self, you deserve a lazy day." So I put on my comfortable India pants and a t shirt, threw my hair back in a little baby bun, and slipped into my black old navy flip flops. Incidentally, in my slothfulness i forgot to put on deodorant. I realized it after i got out of the house and told myself I'd take care of it later. I went grocery shopping with Heather at the Exchange store, which has a lot more imported goods than most places. Our trip took a touch longer than i thought it would, so i was rushing to get to Pathshala, which got canceled, so i came back and cooked some lunch for me (complete with some aromatic garlic) in my kitchen without a fan. I had decided to go to the slum today to take pictures of our older kids' tutorship program, so I went out there and photographed the learners and also a clothing donation that we had today. On our way home we stopped with the CHEP volunteer girls to get some food and chai at a hole-in-the-wall "restaurant" (more like a glorified street cart). It was dingy and dirty and delicious. After a few more stops and shenanigans, we got home and I was feeling pretty energized, so i decided to do a really good workout to end my day.
Here i am, unwashed hair, too busy to remember deodorant, covered in slum grime, and post-difficult workout, ready to just get clean.
But tonight is the night that there is no water.

So, to the best of my knowledge, the Delhi system works like this: there is a water tank on the top of each building. In the morning, serviceworkers come and fill reservoirs in the ground which are connected to those tanks. To be sure you have water, you turn on a pump in the mornings which fills the tank using the water in the reservoirs. You can switch it on at any point in the day that you are running low, if you want to run the water purifier, or if you need to laundry or something. But this week is a Hindu festival, and our theory is that all the housewives are doing so much daily cleaning to prepare that there is no water left to use by the end of the day.
Oh, it's so disappointing and comedic at the same time!

As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm so gross.
As compensation for disgusting you with tales of my thoughtlessness and grime, here are some things you don't have to imagine!

I am kicking myself so hard for not making sure about the focus in the picture on the right. Other than the fact that it's a little soft, it's one of my favorites from today.
 These were two little Nandlal buddies who followed me around for a bit today. I love their quiet sweetnesses.
 certainly this is what the joy of learning looks like.

Prabin was lamenting on our way to the slum that he is going to be the LAST of his friends to marry. So, hey ladies! Look! He's pensive! He's goofy! He serves!  Come move to India and get him.
man, could i be a matchmaking service or what?
clothing donations - "who wants a t-shirt?"

What do I always say about handing off your camera? There was an eager CHEP volunteer who wanted to make sure I was photographically represented, so I let her give it a go... and there I am again, forever out of focus :)

look at her takin those clothes home for momma.

 There is truth in my life, there is rhythm in my life. No matter how grumpy or grimy or tired i am, i never forget that i want to be here.  I never forget the gifts of many who have helped me get here. I never tire of thanking our Father for you, for PMI, and for the sweet new generation of Indians i always fall in love with. The focus of my life, finally, is not on me; at last i feel so free to focus on the needs and hearts of others.

Love from Delhi,
Julie out of focus.