Monday, January 26, 2009

New Year, New Beginning

A good way to start the New Year! With a friend from our English class. We remember the day he was in the class on parts of speech and gave the closing prayer. He used all the new wards from the lesson in his prayer. Definitely a manifestation of the spirit.
Another young friend who decided to as they say here, "take baptism, as he is accompanied by his pretty Hindu wife.
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This fellow and his two friends already in the trees have generated numerous complaints. Elephants are a big problem for some villages and neighborhoods in India. (Of course not Chennai.) Always that conflict between civilization and nature. Citizens are lobbying the government for more laws of protection. Remember the U.S. on going struggle with the wolf in our frontiers? Some how it seems that we might choose handling wolf problems rather than having a rogue elephant walk through our living room wall.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy New Year!

January 2009 is not over yet so hope it is not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

We went out to dinner and found a marvelous buffet of American food just waiting to be tasted.
At midnight we marveled that our apartment was completed surrounded with explosions of brilliantly colored fireworks.
We held money at the stroke of midnight and loved keeping this old family tradition with a new currency.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just Thoughts

It is a tremendously involved and consuming job to close a business and a home and leave for the other side of the world for two years. When you arrive there is so much to learn. Some instruction is given, but in the end you arrive and there is no one to train you and you mostly have to figure things out for yourself. Every day is an adventure and then the thought comes in your mind if you are blogging, "will there come a day when you don't have anything new to say." Then you walk down the street and see food for sale that someone took time to artistically arrange and you know your adventures with these wonderful people will continue to unfold day after day.
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Flying In The Night

On our night flight watching Tamil movies and trying to get sleepy enough to stay asleep for a few hours we never dreamed that the next day held a surprise, we received our first first gift in India - mosquito solution to spray on our clothes Sounds ominous. We thought we just had to take a pill.

Germany to India. Arrived in the middle of the night. Long lines in customs but they went fairly fast and we were soon with the Mission President and his wife zooming through the cool night (Bangalore is a high plateau) to the Mission Home for a good nights sleep. The next day started with a wonderful breakfast and lots of talking with our two leaders and then we were driven to the Mission Office where we filled out a lot of forms.

Later some of those forms would be used in registering with the government in Chennai. When that happened we did have a long line and then inside another long line and after the first office another long line and then we were told to come back in three days to find - you guessed it - another long line, but then we were done.

Well, two weeks later we moved to another apartment and had to re register. This next time saying the magic phrase "just change of address" the head guy took us in and did everything himself instead of putting us in a long line. We loved it!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Germany And The Last Goodbye

Our stop in Chicago was only forty-five minutes, not much more than time to walk the long hall from one gate to the next. The stop in Frankfurt, Germany was FUN! We had time to meet our beautiful young friend from Wiesbaden and enjoy breakfast and lots of talking. Her family has been friends of our family for over twenty years. We met in Hungry when so much of that part of the world was ruled by communism. Since that first meeting our two families have had many adventures including celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall together.
This young friend inspired me to buy the orange purse which you may have noticed in the blog on the Bay of Bengal. The purse is styled with gathers all around the top. It is perfect for air flights. At the last minute it can puff out like a pillow case and handle a few more things. Our friend gifted me with a lovely little purse and a matching necklace. (They were added to the contents of the orange purse.) I had just brought one pair of earrings with me so when two days later we had an opportunity to meet with others for dinner at a nice hotel in Chennai I added the purse and necklace to a simple dress and felt "together" after a hot dusty day.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Can You Say About The MTC?

Here we are at the Mission Training Center. What to say? Spiritual, informative, amazing. When everyone gathers for a meal it is mind blowing to see so many in one place. They come in waves from language and other classes and the next time you look up from your food the huge room is full. Loved talking with everyone. So why the hiding behind the sunglasses? The MTC had one more thing. All the exotic inoculations that we couldn't find locally. Problem, they give them all to you in one day. So Monday was wonderful and Tuesday too even with the shots at noon, but Tuesday in the night it started. By Wednesday morning one of us was okay and the other was covered with rash and huge welts - one aliment would have been plenty. Two days later fighting with anything thought of my eyes were not swollen shut any longer and with sunglasses we were in class together again. Did I go to the doctor. NO! Was I on the plane to India Saturday morning - YES! On the shuttle to the airport we learned that another person had bad reactions from the shots too. He didn't tell the doctors either. Nothing would stop us from keeping the Lord's schedule.

Looking towards India, . . .
Turning from familiar places where loved ones dwell,
And packing the expandable orange purse for the airport (this time with scriptures AND
EpiPen 2-Pak in case the eye swelling moved to the throat,) we waited to board yet one more plane on our way to India.
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Salt Lake City

A friend sheltered us in her spacious home providing us with a cozy suite complete with "chocolates on the pillow." We scurried around Salt Lake City, first buying a new suit and then seeing friends and then we finished with errands that didn't happen in California before we left. A quick stop found us on Temple Square to stand on the fancy stone and brass compass and point our feet East. My friend's husband hosted us royally while my friend was out of town on business. We enjoyed being out to breakfast with their funny and fun children and then my friend and her husband gave us the ultimate care by driving us to the mission training center in Provo. They moved us in even helping to make the bed in our little dorm room that would be our home for five days.

No one could have asked for a better sendoff but during our visit our friends managed to provide the first snow of the season. We remember that chilly air when the temperature soars here in India.

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Both Feet In India But Still Posting More Goodbyes

What fun we had saying goodbye to everyone. When it was over we realized there was barely enough time. My brother took us to the San Diego Airport. We were on time, the bags were heavy but we were optimistic. Jumping out of the truck the back of the suit it riped itself. I believe that is how it is said in Spanish. So now we have our first disaster. However, several slacks were packed in the top of a carry on bag. We selected a close match to the suit jacket and so there was our first blessing.

The second blessing: Some of our bags were too heavy. When we left Provo, Utah there was an industrial sized scale so we knew that one bag was eighty pounds. In San Diego and in Salt Lake City a baggage porter just pushed them on through and no questions ever came up. In Chicago and Frankfurt the bags were checked straight through. It wasn't until Bangalore, India and the one hour flight to Chennai that we had to pay for one bag. Definitely has to be a blessing!

Overjoyed And Optomistic

There never has been a moment like this in the history of our country. The outcome of this election speaks loudly for the good hearts of our citizens.
May we learn from all who have gone before us and restore integrity, hard work and optimism to this land of promise.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cows And Pongal

All the Hindu homes in the neighborhood were decorated for Pongal. The neighbor out our bedroom window always has the biggest and best executed design. At twelve midnight the street was bare, but by five AM her home was ready.

"Our" cow was right outside our balcony with decorated horns and a cry for , well a cry for something. We still do not understand Tamil. We took down money and our neighbor sent her maid down with a large platter spread with food for the cow.
At the women's college the cow wore flowers on her head but there was another cow

who experienced a very different day. There is a tradition in the villages to subdue the cow.

A money prize is given to the man who stops the cow in his frenzy by using only his bare hands. As near as we can tell the prize is not large. The participants seem to be driven by a sense of honor. The scene is a little like the bull run in Spain but many more people are involved and there seems to be more injuries. The "sport " is called jallikattu and it was reported that three died but then the news said last night that eight died. In all 275 were injured. If you are brave look up jallikattu on YouTube, but don't watch the clip to the end. The camera travels in the ambulance and operating room.

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A New President

These two young woman traveled from India with their father to Washington D.C. for the presidential inauguration. We watched the ceremonies late tonight over the Internet. It was exciting in many ways. One way was that one of our daughters was there too. She is the first family member to ever attend an inauguration. Of course we never spotted her in the crowd for sure but we were glad that she represented our family.
May we all be blessed in this new beginning. May leaders be inspired and individuals strengthen. May all men learn to love peace. God Bless American.
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Monday, January 19, 2009

More About Pongal

Pongal is about a bountiful harvest. You take the first day of the three day celebration (It can be four in some states.) to throw out the old and buy new. Pots are included. There is lots of preparation and your actions reflect traditions and symbolism. One dish with milk and rice must be so full that some boils over. This represents abundance in the coming year.

Interestingly enough the government was distributing the ingredients for "sweet pongal" from ration shops all over the city. The abundance is there only for some and the rest must stand in line for survival.

The tried but slow way to separate the chaff from the grain.

Bringing in the sheaves and building up the meji.

And gathering. Marina beach at the Bay of Bengal looked like this on Pongal. Many people travel out of the city to celebrate at their home villages, but enough of Chennai's ten million stayed home and filled up the beach. 111 and children below the age of fourteen went missing, but the police were prepared and all in turn were found within minutes. Happy Pongal Day!
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Pongal

Happy Pongal. We are celebrating the harvest. It's like Thanksgiving. Yes, it is time to gather in. If you get close enough to the Equator you harvest in January. Pongal lasts three or four days we are not sure which but we will have more to report soon.
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A Tradition

(click to enlarge)
A number of years ago when the world was churning up the thought came about what would you
do to be safe if things got really bad. The answer came right after the thought - "Know your neighbors." A near neighbor was consulted and plans were made for a breakfast to be held at the top of the street. Invitations were passed out up and down the street. Then DISASTER! It was September 11th and terrorist struck in the United States.

There was talk about cancelling the breakfast but it was decided to go forward. We met and began our meal with a prayer for our country and those who had given their lives and suffered in the explosions. It was good to be together and support one another.

The breakfast is a tradition and we have been together eight times. The oldest attending was on a ship in Pearl Harbor as World War Two came to Hawaii and the Pacific. The youngest person there was born after we left for India. There are about forty families who gather and everyone on the street is known to someone else and we are happier for this friendship and the feeling of peace that comes with caring.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are We Tired Yet?

Out looking for apartments one day for the young missionaries we were across the river in a simple neighborhood when we heard a school bell ring. We had settled on the apartment in question (which later they backed out because we were not Hindu. Easier to tell us a week later over the phone instead of to our face.) We called for a taxi and went down to the street to wait. Four young boys came along and asked us to take their picture and then the whole scene bloomed. From the school up the street
streamed boys and girls all wanting to shake hands and get their moment of photo op.
At least two hundred hand shakes and many blown kisses later the crowd was thinning until the
last bunch of patient girls who didn't want any boys in their picture lined up for the final shot of the day. How do celebrities do it!
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