Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coming Clean.

Hello blogging world, family, friends, complete strangers...I am glad you stopped by today, it was not an accident that you did.

It's time I shared more of my vulnerability with you. Not the sneakily guarded, contemplative, what-is-the-meaning-of-life complexities of my usual "vulnerability," but the kind that's humbling to verbalize...the kind that we so often try to keep inside because it's terrifying to put it out into the universe. Once it's there, out there, unguarded in the ether, it's anyone's for the taking...which means anyone has a chance of finding out about my fears and failures...the things that ironically make me human but that I spend my life vehemently denying.

I have very much messed up many things in my life, I suppose that's what we humans do best. Living in India has brought me to a place in myself that I don't wholly understand, I am even scared to investigate it. As much as I came here for what I deemed the "right reasons," I have found a dark struggle inside me that has made it hard for me to move forward here, to break free of the things that hold me back, that stack up between me and God. So, I find myself in a rut, in a foreign country, undoubtedly ostracizing and burdening my best friend (and only real human support here...) because I can't so much as humble myself and admit that I can't do this on my own. Of course I cognitively understand that I can't do this on my own...but still it has been weeks and my pride has held strong. It's built what feels like an impenetrable fortress around my heart and is fighting with all the nuclear weapons and gusto in the world to keep everything else out.

The part of me that seems to get the most frustrated is the part of me that expected that I would do this right. Moving to a foreign country to become a Christ-serving missionary means you have everything together, right? Well, here is my mightily humble proclamation: I don't have it all together and I'm not where I want to be spiritually. Why does it feel like a dirty Christian stigma to admit that as a missionary I'm really struggling, hurting, fighting to remain centered and focused on God? I have to let go of all the things I "think" I should be...and just be myself in all my broken pieces. I am once again in need of a savior...not that I ever wasn't, I just feel it again in every fiber of my being.

This morning I woke up on a quest for true humility and understanding. I am thoroughly sick of my dark and depressive nature and I'm ready to tear down that fortress around my heart, even if it's only one brick at a time. I know being refined is a process, a painful one. But if it took me having to come to India to truly learn to let God lead and control my life, then it's worth it. I know it's no coincidence that God is tugging at me today, my heart felt primed for change the moment I opened my eyes this morning. Today's Daily Bread devotional talks all about failure and how God USES His children who are failures, liars, murders...it's all throughout the bible. I then happened to check a friend's blog only to find that she had posted lyrics to a song all about breaking the chains that keep us from the freedom that is in Christ.

Ok God, I'm listening.

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age..."
-Matthew 28:20

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rickshaws and Monkeys and Pink, Oh My!

I must admit, today my tiny universe was filled with many frustrations. Mostly it's that I am fighting off yet ANOTHER bout of sickness (sore throat, cough, swollen tonsils, chills, aches, blah blah blah) which renders me fairly unable to cope with anything even remotely out of the ordinary. Case in point: the internet felt the need to suck all day, making it impossible to upload all my new pictures to Facebook...should I whine some more? Anyway, I am sick and a tad annoyed...although still reeling (in a good way) from an incredible five day adventure...first to Agra, Uttar Pradesh to see the Taj Mahal and then to Jaipur, Rajasthan to experience everything about "The Pink City."

First, we begin our journey in Delhi where we hopped on a 6am train to Agra this past Monday morning. We arrived in Agra around 9:30am without hitch and were fast on our way to see the Taj via auto-rickshaw. I would try to explain the Taj but there are no words...literally, there are NO words. It was more than I imagined, a jewel of perfection as far as man-made structures go. It's rather mind blowing, breath taking, and one of the most incredible things I have ever laid eyes on. I had very real chills the first moment I saw it. We spent hours there exploring, taking a tour, taking hundreds of pictures, and sitting in the shade basking it the Taj's glory. It was the most relaxed I have felt in a very long time...and every bit worth coming to India to see...so do it.

That same evening we boarded another train to Jaipur, running only 90 minutes late, a great feat of success for the Indian Railway system. I was surprised to find that Jaipur was one of the cleanest big cities I have been in so far in India...which isn't to say it's clean, just cleaner than most. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this city, there is a large portion of it that is walled in and everything inside the walls is painted pink, thus it's nickname, "The Pink City." It is very well situated for the Western tourist, in other words there were Western bathrooms, toilet paper, and restaurants with "continental" cuisine nearly everywhere. It was a welcome change after nearly 6 weeks of real Indian living. I won't lie, I had my share of milk shakes, french fries, and pasta.

We were able to hit all the major tourist spots in the city including a huge old fort/palace called Amber Fort and (my personal favorite) a place called Monkey Temple, aptly named for it's thousands of monkey inhabitants. After spending a whole 10 rupees on a bag of peanuts (about 20 cents USD), we were able to feed the monkeys while they grabbed our hands and held onto our legs...it was one of the most fun and exciting things I have ever done...and I'd like to think I have lived a fairly exciting life thus far...maybe?

Anyway, on to the piece de resistance, the pictures! I'm not much in a storytelling mood, at least with my words, so I will allow my pictures to do the talking. Bon appetit...

Monkey at the Taj Mahal.

First sneaky teaser view of the Taj.

The typical image of the Taj.

Yes, I am a shameless tourist.

Possibly THE most amazing picture ever taken. Ever.

One of the Taj minarets.

Detail of the amazing semi-precious stone inlays covering the Taj.

One of the cool nooks at the Red Fort in Agra.

Red Fort, Agra.

Amber Fort, Jaipur.

Snake charmers at Amber Fort in Jaipur. We ended up getting to each hold the cobra...I'm guessing it had no teeth...either that or we pretty much almost died.