Sunday, July 29, 2012

Touches of Home

Please do not get us wrong:

We would survive without all of the things mentioned below.

But hear us when we say life is a lot easier to handle in the midst of the monsoon season's moldy walls, poor drainage, and broken appliances, when you can sit down, shed some stress, think happy thoughts, and eat...

beef jerky,
ranch dressing,
Parmesan cheese,
sunflower seeds,
Fruit Roll-Ups,
Peanut Butter M&Ms,
and pepperoni
(not all in one sitting--usually).

But even just eating those things is simply the culmination of several exciting events:

Opening up the packages

(1 of 3 from Kristie's mother in late June)

Trying on the new outfits

(our little ballerina in her tutu)

Organizing all the imports and taking a picture for documentation as well as savoring what we had once the goods are gone

(a package of essentials and sweet notes from the Reads in Hattiesburg)

Hugging the packages and imagining what could be inside

(from the Men's Growth Group at First Hattiesburg)

And being thankful for the love we feel in each bite

(Rebekah rediscovering the wonder of raisins)

We enjoy letters, emails, and Skype calls just as much, but let us know if any of you want to become an exporter of pieces of America to South Asia. We will be glad to oblige.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Delhi: Some Comparisons

We heard someone compare Delhi to America the other day. Touring the capitol made us feel like maybe we were in Washington, D.C. in some ways.

Lots of big stone buildings built nearer to independence than now...

A President's home we could not get near...

and old churches (well, in this case, temples)...

There were couples walking around town,

Children playing in the grass,

And government workers, well, you can see below.

But the differences were still too striking for me to say it brought memories of America, until that night when we enjoyed a little taste of the USA with a Bacon Cheeseburger (yeah, I think it was actually beef) and fries at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

With Friends

We certainly are not the parents who--although in the land of arranged marriages--want to make any plans for her future friends when Rebekah is only 3 years old.

However, during our time in language school and during our meetings in Nepal, Rebekah spent a lot of time with a couple of children who she met during Summer 2011 in Virginia and who now live in our country (though a long way away).

This is Jonathan and Rebekah at the end of last Summer's training in late September. They were just cute little kids back then.

They have grown up a bit since then, with their personalities sprouting as much as they have. 


Each enjoys doing whatever the other does, and they argue like an old married couple about random topics at times.

But Rebekah really misses him (as much as a three-year-old can), and this week she has asked on multiple occasions when he would visit us again. 

But if they continue to put their arms around one another as often as they do now, James says he may have to have a sit-down talk with the young man.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Really, South Asia? Part 9 (Safety Standards)

While James was on a stuffy train to our neighboring state on his birthday, Rebekah and Kristie found the perfect decoration for what would be his belated birthday cake.

The cake was baked and decorated, and these beauties were added.

They may look more like fireworks than traditional birthday candles, and here is the reason why:

We believe they were actually fireworks marketed as "candles." Having previously experienced South Asian fireworks, we were very wary of the stability of the "candles," and certainly did not get close enough to blow them out.

And despite wanting so badly to buy the "candles" for her daddy's cake, Rebekah does not seem too fond of them, does she, as she flees James's lap?

Thursday, July 19, 2012


We grew up under the impression that monkeys are just cute little animals.

And, although all of our actual non-zoo experiences with them have been tense (from the beaches and highlands of Africa to parks in Asia), bordering on frightening, we still find something fascinating about the tenacious little food-seeking monkeys. 

During our recent meetings in a super-nice hotel in Nepal, we encountered some of the boldest monkeys around. This resort was full of monkeys. 

Monkeys jumping onto your table during dinner for a little dinner roll (all they had to do was ask), monkeys opening unlocked windows and making off with a local vendor's food products, and monkeys waiting on your room's balcony just in case you leave the door open when you leave.

So, our little monkey fit right in at the resort.

Making her faces and constantly lurking right behind you for any piece of food you might drop.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dr. Pepper Coolie

Do you remember the movies, whether comedy or drama, where a big chase scene takes place in a crowded airport/mall/subway?

Having already revealed Kristie's love for Dr. Pepper, and James's gift to her for Mother's Day, we saw one of those chase scenes play out in the South Asian train station last month.

Once the coolies at the train station know which train you are waiting for, they bolt for your platform (sometimes carrying a hundred pounds on their heads!). Looking back, with his loyalties divided, James saw Kristie wave him forward--she would worry about Rebekah, he should just not let the Dr. Pepper get away!

Thankfully, a big red LL Bean bag (thanks, Tiffany!) and a case of Dr. Pepper are hard to lose, even in those crowds, so we made it to our platform in plenty of time, with Dr. Pepper safely in hand.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wet, Wet, Wet...

We had heard the weather was cold here in the winter...

But we were surprised at how cold.

Likewise, we had heard the weather was hot here in the summer...

And we were told the truth: Things were hot here.

But the monsoons brought unexpected "challenges," such as only having two options for getting Rebekah to school: a motorcycle or a rickshaw (neither of those options are water-resistant).

But the bigger challenge than getting wet a lot is something we remember well from our flooded apartment in New Orleans 1 1/2 months after Hurricane Katrina, when we finally got into the city: the moldy furniture, clothes, and shoes.

We have not had the mold nearly as bad as some of our colleagues in town, but the distraction and frustration that comes with each new white or black fuzzy patch of mold reminds us that we live in South Asia, the land of houses without climate control.

So we try to just brush off the bouts of culture shock that come with our fuzzy friend, and look on the light side of the humidity and rain...

The chance to change into multiple outfits each day, find trendy and cheap umbrellas in the market, wear rain boots from the USA (courtesy of Grandma Roberts in Oklahoma)...

And just enjoy life a little bit, dancing...

and splashing in the rain.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rebekah's Time to Shine: Pre-Show Jitters?

Like so many little girls, Rebekah loves to dress up in colorful outfits.

But we were not just dressing Rebekah up in traditional South Asian garb for fun. We had a Vacation Bible School program (for 3-4 year olds, mind you) to attend.

Before the show, she appeared a little devious, so we wondered what was going on in her little mind.

We soon learned she was just planning her next move. It's not hard to figure out which one on stage is Rebekah.

And, when finished, Rebekah just sits as if her performance is completed and was completely normal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Really South Asia? Part 8 (Trained Tour Guides)

While briefly in Delhi, we had two goals:

 1. Dr. Pepper, and 
2. The Delhi Gate

On a hot morning, we set out on the nice 
(seriously, no sarcasm intended) Delhi Metro
to see the Delhi Gate, then take an Auto-Rickshaw
to get Kristie's drink of choice.

 While walking on a little bit of the grass found in Delhi on the way to the Gate, an auto driver pulled up and offered us a deal we couldn't refuse: a riding tour of 4 historic sites, all for $1. 

Too good to be true?

After feeling the heat and realizing we would still be walking for a couple miles despite our miniscule itinerary, we decided $1 was a steal, whatever strings were attached.

So we hopped in and rode to the various sites, including an unplanned stop for our guide/driver to feed the pigeons a huge bag of seed (There must be some cultural or religious significance to his actions, but we have not yet investigated.).

 Sure, there were strings attached: We were persuaded to "just look" at some craft shops that were either "famous" or "close friends and family" of the driver/guide (and from whom we are sure he gets a cut of our purchases).

And while the morning tour was interesting, our biggest laugh came as our driver tried to get our family and the India Gate in one picture.

Not quite...

A little better...