5 things

5 things India taught me:
1) blessed: we are so truly blessed and have way more than we need. True happiness doesn’t come from stuff as I saw demonstrated in Aizawl. True happiness doesn’t come from hot showers, iPhones, or even wi-fi. Share a bit of your blessings. Your trash is another’s treasure. Honestly. Literally.

2) Bible: I finished the novel I had brought with me on the trip and since I didn’t have anything else to read (I know this sounds awful) I picked up my Bible. And I’m really glad I did, just by reading it for a week I’ve learned a lot and feel more connected to God. It helped me out on the plane too. (Learned I hate flying! Deff have a slight fear- took 9 flights tho!)

3) future: I know I definitely have to do something with missions. I’ve heard the phrase “what breaks your heart is your passion”. Seeing all these kids and people in need breaks my heart and I know I can do something to change it. I would love to have an orphanage. I’ll be in another country again soon I hope. Whether it be in another country or America the less fortunate need a helping hand.

4) Be like the Mizos: their genuineness was unreal. A little girl came up to me at the children’s program, tugged my sleeve and looked up at me shyly and said “Miss, you are very beautiful”. Of all compliments I’ve ever received about my appearance this one actually touched my heart. She had no pretenses, no motives, and she saw me everyday with no makeup. Id like to think it was my interactions and moments with the kids that led her to her observations, and that it went deeper than just the outward appearance ,as she came up for another sleeve tug a few minutes later with a friend in tow this time and said “Miss you are so nice.” That meant a lot to me. The words of a child usually don’t have much of a filter. The Mizo people just accept you as you are, no judgement. they’re just happy to be with you.
I want to drop my judgements and be more like them. I know they made me feel so welcome and at peace being me, and I’d like others to feel like that around me. because I know there’s too many people in this world who have made me feel the opposite.

Also we have no idea what people have been through. There was a guy who I thought was a bit stuffy and could stand to loosen up. He later shared his story with me and I found out his entire village had been burned down as a child, he later became an Adventist and his own father tried multiple times to kill him and his sisters because of their decision to follow Christ. All of this before he was 20 years old. I didn’t know him but yet I had passed judgement. Let’s just not. Everyone’s got their own demons, let’s not pretend we know them all.

5) Simple things: it’s the simple things that make me laugh and smile. Learned I really like Bollywood. The things you enjoy may seem quirky to others, but just BE YOU! Learn to be comfortable with yourself and learn it’s okay to be alone. “It’s okay not to like what other people pretend to love.” Sometimes quiet time with your mind is so needed. be around people who make you laugh-my dad kept me dying laughing the entire trip- laughter truly is good for your soul. Get to know your parents.

This is a song a friend and I changed the lyrics around for a performance at camp and I think it’s the perfect way to end all this:

Then I found Jesus
He’s the one who’ll always love me
Now I’m praying to my savior
And I know I’ve found the answer
He said I’ve got a heart that He’s already died for
So how could I want more
Now I don’t want more

Much love and stay Irie
And now go on your own adventure!
-Bri ❤

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Day 11- It’s Taj Time!

Day 11 (Location: Agra, India)

So today was the day of the Taj Mahal!!! We woke up around 4:45 a.m. and then were downstairs by 5:30 a.m. to leave in time to see the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. When we made it to the entrance we were warned that we would be swarmed by people trying to sell us things, even at 5:30 a.m.! Well as soon as we get off the bus what do we see but monkeys! They were everywhere, just walking and roaming. Some looked pretty big and fierce. Definitely bigger than my dog Hershey. There were some little baby monkeys clinging to their mothers and that was adorable. Entering the Taj requires a security check, I got a pat-down. The first thing when you get to the Taj Mahal ticket area and security area is actually not the Taj! You can see some mosques and only after you get through security and walk a while and turn a corner can you see the Taj. And when it comes into view it’s honestly kind of surreal. There’s so much hype surrounding the Taj, after all it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and I’ve seen it in textbooks all my life. But I was kind of underwhelmed, just like, ok this is nice.. and the architecture is pretty amazing, but I wasn’t feeling the big hoorah about it. UNTIL

Our tour guide shared the story of the Taj Mahal with us, and although I knew some of the background of it, the way he described it with such detail really grabbed me. Instantly the Taj Mahal changed right then for me and it was like I was seeing it in a new light. It became so much more beautiful and majestic and meaningful. The story was that the Taj Mahal was constructed for this King’s favorite wife. She was his second wife out of 3 and was the favorite for many reasons. One of the big reasons was that she bore him 13 children while the other wives had none for the King and eventually he sent them back to their lands. But it was more than that. Her exceptional beauty first drew the King to her, but she had the brains to match the beauty. She accompanied the King into battle at his right hand and was involved in the battle planning and strategy. She was his companion in every sense of the word, the perfect partner for his life and he loved her so much. When she was pregnant with their thirteenth child, she became very sick while the King was away at battle. She called him home from the battlefront and he came. On her death bed she had three wishes for him. 1) That he would care for all their thirteen children always. 2) That he would not marry again. And 3) That her name would not be forgotten by the world and that he would do something grand for her, so that she would not be forgotten in death.

He fulfilled all three wishes although it was his own son who ended up revolting against him and killing the other brothers so that he could take over the throne.

Her name was Mahal which means crown and the King thought so much of her that he named the memorial Taj Mahal in honor of her. Taj Mahal mean “my crown”. I thought that was so sweet. The Taj Mahal if you look at it is fashioned after a crown and it was apparently fashioned after her very crown. It cost over 40 million rupees, 22 years, 20,000 workers working 24/7, and 1200 of those worker’s lives to build the structure. [Side note: the King was actually going to build a black marble Taj Mahal for himself, and we actually saw the spot behind the white Taj where the construction had actually begun for it, but his son threw him in jail before he was able to make much headway with the construction. Imagine a black Taj Mahal, how cool would that look!]

I was surprised how easy it was to take pictures. Any lines moved quickly and there were so many places to take the shots. Two mosques flank the Taj Mahal and what’s interesting is that only one of them is functional because only one of them points the correct direction to Mecca. The other one was built in order to satisfy the symmetrical look of the Taj Mahal. One mosque on one side of the Taj would look off balance. One thing that is crazy is that this was built over 400 years ago and the technique and precision is insane! You can walk inside but it is simply a replica of her tomb. The actual body is below because in Islam you cannot view the body. The Taj was to be a place of mourning. What I found interesting was that the women of the royal family were not allowed to be that near the body during the mourning process, there were rooms off to the side that they were allowed to sit in. This was because Muslims believe that women are creators, they bring life into the world and therefore they should be around the death side of life that much. Not when they are life givers. I thought that was kind of nice in a sense.

 

After the Taj-you really can walk around a lot- we headed back to the hotel and on the way saw some camels! You could pay to ride in a wagon that was pulled by them, but the camels looked in pretty bad shape. L Many had bloody noses where the lead rope had either ripped through the cartilage or extremely irritated it. We ate breakfast and checked out of our rooms and then headed back out to the bus to go to the Agra fort. This was insane. It was huge and once you got in the fort you could enter into the summer palace of the king and actually go inside the living room area and his private mosque. What’s interesting is that from the back of this summer palace you can see the back of the Taj Mahal, and for the last seven years of his life the King was placed on house arrest in his deceased wife’s quarters by his son, and could only see the Taj Mahal from the back from the window. The detail was insane. The entire ceilings at one point were covered in gold leafing. In a few places you could actually see a few specks of the gold. There was lots of ingenuity too. For example there was underground irrigation and beautiful fountains.

I’ve worn a Bindi for the past two days and I love it. I think they’re so pretty! I bought a pack of 100 so you’ll probably see me wear it in the states too! I’m also pretty certain there’s gotta be a tan line in the middle of my face from it!

I think some people are confused because I look Indian, but then at the same time I don’t. Some Indian women hear wear a red dye down their hair part and that signifies that they are married and men know to leave them alone. My dad seems to be ready to get a tub of red paint and dunk my head in it! Haha. Every time we got back on the bus there were so many flies! Like swarms of them. Dad and I were going double time swatting them with our UM hats. And it was burning outside! After that we headed to a shopping area where I tried to haggle for some bracelet charms, but I suck at bargaining with these shopkeepers and they wouldn’t drop the price lower for pure silver. So on the way out there was a man selling anklets on the road and I bought 4! I was able to haggle him down 50 rupees but I’m sure I could have done better. I like the anklets though, they look pretty tribal and one has little bells that jingle when I walk. I’m wearing long pants and the anklets are not visible at all and actually when I got off the bus for lunch a haggler ran up to me and said “From who did you buy your anklets?!” I guess he could hear them jingling! I couldn’t even hear them so he must have a good ear.

When we went shopping one of the shopkeepers said I looked like this new Bollywood star, Sol Sh. The tour guide was convinced too. I looked her up and I don’t really think so, the tour guide said it was in the forehead and the eyes haha, but you can be the judge. Apparently the boy who carries our luggage on the bus thinks so too because he asked for a pic with me. Later we went and saw the workmanship of how the jewel inlays and engravings were done on the Taj Mahal. The craftsmen were the generations later of the men who worked on the Taj. Their technique and attention to detail is crazy. One small table top can take two years to complete! And that’s working multiple hours a day. It was sweet to see. Plus they gave us Fanta in glass bottles with straws and they were so cute and retro and refreshing. And it was Amazing to have a cold drink! Those are hard to get because most of the vendors here don’t have refrigerators and you’re not supposed to get ice in your drinks since you don’t know if they’re using filtered water or not.

Here if you have trash you literally just throw it out of your car and that’s not an issue. Trash is kind of everywhere, but deeper in the city it is better swept up. In the city earlier we passed a field that was literally all trash, right in the city and there were people there picking through the trash searching for anything to eat or use. Sidenote: This 2 day excursion was only $150! That included two nights stay in a hotel, 6 meals at hotels and restaraunts, a guided bus tour in both cities, a bus ride that took 6 hours total to Agra and back, and entrance into the Taj and the fort! Where in America could you spend that much and get that much value?? Amazing.

Dad and i :)

Dad and i 🙂

amazing tourguide!

amazing tourguide!

the King's private mosque in the Taj

the King’s private mosque in the Taj

thi cascading waterfall powered the Queen's private fountain 400 years ago- crazy technology

thi cascading waterfall powered the Queen’s private fountain 400 years ago- crazy technology

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the detail on the wall of the Taj

the detail on the wall of the Taj

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how beautiful it looks lit up!

how beautiful it looks lit up!

Fort in Delhi

Fort in Delhi

really detailed ceiling

really detailed ceiling

doing gymnstics by the Taj

doing gymnstics by the Taj

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McDonalds vegetarian options

McDonalds vegetarian options

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Our tour guide Vicram was amazing. I learned so much culturally from him and I was surprised to learn that the caste system is still very much alive and followed in India. There is literally NO WAY to change your class. Yes you could be the lowest class and a doctor, but because of your surname you would always be known as being from the lowest class. You simply have to say your last name and people would instantly know what class you come from. It’s kind of sad. And marriages between castes are definitely not encouraged and basically not allowed unless both parents consent. Our tour guide was from the second highest warrior class. We’ve seen a few “untouchables” and it really breaks my heart. People should not be living like this. It is absolutely not fair. I see naked children and children who are trained to beg.

 

We’re on the bus right now driving three hours back to Delhi on an 8 lane highway!  Once we reach Delhi we go straight to the airport. It’s kind of sad, it means our journey is really coming to an end. The scenery is mostly farmland, I see horses, rice paddies, and cows. This bus is really hot, even with AC and fans. Plus I’m pretty positive I’m getting sunburnt through the window. Oh well!

 

 

But my time in India has been amazing, very eye opening, very exciting, very vibrant, and at times very sobering.

I’ll write a reflection blog post later.

Bible thought:

James 2 14-17

“Dear friends, do you think youll get anywhere in this life if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say “Good morning friend! Be clothe in Christ Jesus! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and then walk off without so much providing them with a cup of soup or a coat- where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”

 

I guess I just want to encourage everyone to get out and do something for the less fortunate. I saw SO many tent cities in Delhi and Agra and my friends went to one where they said the kids were running around playing in bare feet on shards of glass. There are a lot of people out there who are straight up struggling to have the bare necesseties. I know we all have an extra jacket, an old pair of shoes, a can of soup, or some spare change that we could donate that would make a world of difference to someone in dire need. In Aizawl $50 a month pays for a child’s private education. $5 a day is what a laborer makes laying the foundation for buildings. All I ask is that you look around you and see what need you can fill. And I believe  that that need you fill will fill a space in your heart also.

For now; much love, stay irie, and please count your blessings.

Bri ❤

Day 10- Hello to Delhi!

Day 10 (first day in Delhi)

So Delhi is busy!!! Really busy. There’s more space than Aizawl but every inch of that space is packed. We had an early breakfast at the restaurant next door, but man do I crave some American breakfast! Some nice cereal with cold milk would be amazing right now, my mouth is done with spiciness! But there are so many random workers in India. For example there was someone at this small café whose job it was to toast your toast! You went up to a window, pointed to the bread you wanted and then he toasted it. Even though the toaster was on the counter you couldn’t toast it yourself! But hey at least he is employed. I ended up just eating toast with honey on it for breakfast.

Then we headed to the tour bus after presenting the hotel with our passports. At the hotels in India you have to present your passport upon checking in and checking out so they can keep track of you I guess. There was a beggar boy by our bus and I asked him if he would accept a pack of peanut butter crackers and he did. I brought a box of them here to give out to anyone I saw but so far he’s been the first to get some. We toured around old and New Delhi and yep I saw a McDonalds! What’s cool here is that a lot of people are vegetarians so anywhere you eat there will always be tons of options, yay for me!

We went to one of the biggest mosques in India and that was pretty interesting. Men if they were wearing shorts had to be given a long skirt like thing to wear and women were given a complete dress like garment, completely covering legs and arms. The mosque was nice but what was interesting was that a lot of men were just in there hanging out, sleeping on the grounds. I guess they were waiting for the next call to prayer, some people pray five times a day in the mosque!  My dad was surprised that it wasn’t cleaner, but I imagine it must be amazing when it is all packed with people praying. I wish I would have been able to hear the call to prayer, I think it’s beautiful. During actual prayer times, women can only be on the perimeter, they are not allowed on the main floor where the men prayer. However since it was not prayer time, we women were free to roam and explore.  You’re not allowed to wear shoes inside and I didn’t feel like buying the slippers so barefoot I went. And it’s completely open air so that was ground was hot- baked by the sun! But all my beach days and running to the car from the boardwalks prepared my feet for that. There was a woman outside begging by our bus, and she had the cutest baby with her and she kept pointing to it and asking for money. That was enough to make me want to reach in my wallet but our tour guide said we mustn’t give money to them because it just continues the problem and they will continue begging if they will continue to get money when they do it. I wish I could have done something though. However if you so much as looked at this woman she would jog with you the entire way to wherever you were going, trying to get money. She even ran next to someone’s rickshaw for quite a distance, with baby and all, trying to get them to give her money.

Next we had a rickshaw ride around the city! Our driver Kumal was really nice and it was cool to see the city from the vantage point that many of its inhabitants see it from daily. It was overload of the senses though! Horns honking, shopkeepers shouting out, the scent of incense from an incense store filling your nostrils, passing shops filled with all sorts of things-silver, marigold garlands, gorgeous swathes of cloth, hunks of meat open to the air with flies buzzing around. I felt bad for our driver though because what hard work this is! Pulling two people behind you on a bike UP a hill in the same lane as semi-trucks, taxis and motorcycles?! Heaven knows I couldn’t do it.

Next stop? Shopping! J Oh yeah I was a happy camper. WE went to this market/mall and our first stop was to see a traditional carpet weaver. That was awesome, you have no idea the amount of work that goes into the beautiful Persian style rugs in your home. Each design is drawn onto a graph and from there the design comes into shape ONE KNOT AT A TIME. Each flower is probably about 1,000 knots? And what’s awesome is that just by looking at a carpet and the design and dye colors, our carpet salesman a native of Kashmir, can tell from what family it came. He said that each design and color is like a copyright. You just do not copy another family’s design, just like how a random author wouldn’t try to write Hunger Games again.

And then after that my dream came true. We went to a sari shop and my eyes were immediately assuaged with a million glittering colors lining the walls. Immediately a fabric jumped out at me, it was a deep turquoise and magenta with detailed gold embroidery. I asked to try it on (I definitely could not do all the folds, someone had to do it for me every time) and it was absolutely gorgeous! I felt gorgeous in it, probably the second prettiest I’ve felt in my life- the first probably being Prom night. I just loved everything about it. It was a gorgeous gorgeous fabric.  However it was a super fancy sari, one meant for weddings or parties, and hence it had a price tag that went with it- almost $500- American dollars! Even with haggling, there was no way that Sari was going to go down to an affordable price. (not to mention I suck at haggling) So I Just took some pictures in it and looked longingly at it in the mirror. I think the helper was thinking of marriage! Haha He asked me if I had a boyfriend back home, I said no, and then he asked how old I was. I said 20, and he replied “aw, too young.” Ha I was thinking you bet right I’m too young! After that I tried to find a cheap shirt in the sari store for $10 but none of them were jumping out at me and the saris still were! So back to the saris I went, and the workers were so patient wrapping me up in sari after sari, trying to find one that matched my budget and my taste. And dear dad stayed in that shop with me for 2 hours! Giving opinions and keeping an eye on me haha. These shop keepers are really persistent and I didn’t know how to say no and I felt bad, especially after they had just spent hours and taken a ton of fabrics off the shelves for me. So I was counting on Dad to break the news to them about me not wanting anything. But then a red fabric caught my eye and I really liked it on. I’ve always wanted something red and the colors are just really rich and beautiful, red with gold throughout and a gold border. I’d narrowed it to down between this red one and a pink/gold one. By now, everyone has given their opinions and even the tour guide has come upstairs and was giving his two cents! I went with my gut though and went with the red and I’m really excited to wear it! So if anyone has an event or knows of one that I can wear a sari to please let me know! Luckily they gave me a booklet on how to put on a sari so hopefully with the booklet’s help and YouTube I’ll be able to figure it out! I’ve always wanted to try on a sari so this experience was amazing, and the shop workers were so kind and attentive.

Next stop was upstairs where I picked up two small wall paintings of elephants for my apartment room next year and two small silver incense holders, shaped like a bear and a rhino. By then basically all the guys had been in the bus for a while, and myself and another lady were the last ones to the bus. Shameful I know. But what can I say? I’m the daughter of a recovering shopaholic so like mother like daughter. 😉

 

After shopping we ate at literally the most amazing Indian restaurant, I kid you not it was phenomenal! And of course I had a mango lassi. Outside there was a snake charmer and one of our group was brave enough to sit down, have a snake draped around her neck, and a COBRA placed onto her lap in a basket! I wish I had the guts, it would have made a co0l picture, but nah I just couldn’t do it. The guys in our group were really disappointed because they’d heard there was a Starbucks in Delhi and they really wanted to go but we just didn’t have the time. The film guys have been in Thailand and Vietnam and now India so they are ready for some American coffee! One more day and it shall be theirs. They also want to fly their drone camera up over the Taj Mahal but our guess was that it would be shot down from the sky pretty quickly. The area around the Taj is extremely secure and is a no fly zone. Who knows though, maybe if they tried it it would survive!

Next stop was to get on the bus and a three hour ride to Agra! Unfortunately I had packed nothing for the bus and I was pretty bored, so I ended up knocking out at some point. Our bus driver is a SEIK, and wears a turban at all times. He is an AMAZING driver because when we arrived in Agra it was insane. Even though it was after dark there were shops open and the streets were packed. There was even a little dance party going on. People had strobe lights, trumpets, and even a horse dressed up and it looked like a blast- wish I could have joined. My dad was certain many people were bound to be killed by our bus at the speed we were racing through the city and all the hustle and bustle but nope our driver honked and weaved his way through town like an absolute champ. Poverty is evident though.

We reached our hotel- The Raj Mahal, and it was the nicest we’ve stayed in our whole trip! We were greeted with mini glasses of rose water, which I guess is a customary drink for guests here and in Middle East countries, but I’ll be honest- it tasted terrible. But it looked great, a deep rosy pink. Our doorman had a turban and we were shown to our rooms. The only thing was it was pretty hot in the hotel. And all the hotels we’ve stayed in so far, when you put your room key in a special hole in the wall, only then does your room have power and lights. The downside of that? When your key is not in there, such as when you leave the room, there is no AC running. The upside? Hey it must keep bills down! I was thrilled to see an actual good shower, it even had a waterfall faucet! However, the water wasn’t really hot. I’d say it was a little colder than lukewarm- but hey this girl must have finally gotten used to it because it felt refreshing to me! Now that is a noteworthy milestone for me.

Off to bed, ‘cause it’s an early morning to make it to the Taj Mahal in time for sunrise!

 

Bible Thought:

Psalm 121

1-2 I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

3-4 He won’t let you stumble,
your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
Guardian will never doze or sleep.

5-6 God’s your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.

7-8 God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always.

 

One of my fave verses that I just rediscovered a few days ago. I was pretty nervous to sing for a church in Aizawl and I was flipping through my Bible during the service and found this section I had underlined. It made me feel more at peace because hey, God won’t let us stumble- He’s got our back through everything! He wants to protect us. If you ever feel afraid read these verses and think about the promises, the Bible doesn’t lie. God sees the bigger picture that we can’t and as one of the contractors said a few weeks ago to us after our house flooded- “He won’t give you more than you can handle.” Some of us are probably thinking, “well dang God sure must think I can handle a lot!” but try to lean on Him, there’s not a better support system.

 

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

my dream sari, sighhh

my dream sari, sighhh

Hotel in Agra

Hotel in Agra

the rose water, looks a lot better than it tasted!

the rose water, looks a lot better than it tasted!

our doorman, he always had a nice smile

our doorman, he always had a nice smile

rickshaw time!

rickshaw time!

i love bindis!

i love bindis!

The India Gate

The India Gate

learning about the ancient tradition of carpet weaving

learning about the ancient tradition of carpet weaving

the carpets were so soft and detailed

the carpets were so soft and detailed

a member of the group was so brave!

a member of the group was so brave!

at one of the biggest mosques in India, it was really hot out there

at one of the biggest mosques in India, it was really hot out there

one of the most amazing lunches I've had

one of the most amazing lunches I’ve had

 

Day 9- Goodbye to Aizawl, wow already?

Day 9

So today was the official goodbye to Aizawl. We got up had breakfast and then had to be downstairs by 9:30 a.m. to be picked up by the drivers. All the hotel staff wanted to take a bajillion pictures with us which was sweet. One of the hotel staff who had helped us find the bank on our shopping day had told us that he thought American money looked so cool and proudly showed us the dollar bills he kept in his wallet. My dad told him well I’ll give you four for helping us today so that you can have a solid five. Then he said he’d never owned a 5 dollar bill so today my Dad went up and gave Francis one, and his face completely lit up and he just kept holding it and looking down at it.

 

Well we all piled up and got in the jeeps, we had about 4 jeeps total between the 13 of us and started our winding journey through the mountains up to the airport. All the sudden our cars slowed down and right on the side of the road was the Mizoram Adventist Conference President in his motorcycle helmet who wanted to shake our hands and say goodbye. We stopped in the middle of the road and he reached the window and shook every team member’s hand. Only in Aizawl would they stop traffic for this and also only there would the Conference president care so much about the mission workers to feel the need to shake everyone’s hand to show them gratitude, even if it meant him having to wait on the side of the road for us to pass. It was very nice.

We had a pastor in the jeep with us and he shared his personal testimony with us the whole ride there. The crazy story combined with the crazy scenery and me realizing how close our jeep was to the drop off of the side of the mountain made for an exciting ride! I’ll share his testimony on another post for sure, but just for a little hint- his own father tried to kill him twice because of his faith. We stopped by a beautiful waterfall on the way and then continued on to the airport! We flew to Kolkata, then from there to Delhi! I love how the flight attendants on the Indian airlines wear saris. The plane from Aizawl to Kolkata was pretty old and shabby, but we got to ride in the Dreamliner to Delhi! That is the biggest, nicest plane I have ever been on and its only 6 months old! You can even change the tinting on the windows with touch buttons! It was such a smooth take off too, I wasn’t even nervous which is super rare for me. I watched a Bollywood movie on the 2 hour plane ride and let’s just say I’m hooked to Bollywood now. Of course we were fed an Indian meal on board as well.

When we arrived in Delhi this was definitely the India I had expected to arrive in when we landed in Aizawl. It’s extremely packed and we saw a family of four on one motorcycle! We’ve checked into our hotel and then went next door to the all vegetarian restaurant. Ordering was pretty hard since we had issues understanding the waiters, so we ended up with the strangest variety of dishes. Mine was the best and had huge portions and so once people saw mine 4 more people ordered that on top of what they previously had ordered! And Dad was pretty mad that he hadn’t followed my menu suggestions haha. The hotel is interesting. Your power outlets only work if your lights are on and your lights only go on if your room key is in a specific little case in the wall. Then if you turn off the bedroom lights the bathroom lights go out as well! Learned that the hard way haha. And of course we have two lovely sets of stairs to climb to get to our room. It’s cute though how each room has a doorbell! And we were given business cards in case we get lost that have the hotel’s address on it and it says “Please help me get back to my hotel”. Ha if any of us have to use these people will definitely be thinking oh those dumb Americans.

Tomorrow we tour Delhi! Sidenote: It’s really hot in the room as I write this.. I don’t think our AC is working. :/ And the shower layout in this room is definitely different. The shower floor is literally the same as the bathroom floor there is only a curtain. So the whole bathroom floor is gonna be soaked, no doubt. Should be interesting! And there is currently a whole herd of dogs barking outside our window. Goodnight -_-

Bible Thought:

This isn’t my own, but saw it online and thought it was fitting with the gorgeous waterfall I saw today.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42: 7

 

So what is the deep that calls to deep in the roar of my Father’s waterfall? The whole verse is: Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.

There are times in life when we feel the wave and breakers are breaking over us nonstop.  We feel like we might not make – like we might drown.

In that time, the deepest part of my soul calls out.

But more importantly, my Father in heaven calls out to me and speaks to the deepest part of my soul of His love and care for me.  He will never leave me or forsake.

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

this was dinner and yes this was all mine :)

this was dinner and yes this was all mine 🙂

Our bus driver gave us these welcome garlands

Our bus driver gave us these welcome garlands

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pretttty waterfall. some guys came to swim in it while we were there, seemed to be cold!

pretttty waterfall. some guys came to swim in it while we were there, seemed to be cold!

they even had paintings to decorate the plane!

they even had paintings to decorate the plane!

It was really spacious inside the dreamliner

It was really spacious inside the dreamliner

you can change the window tinting in the plane whaaaaat

you can change the window tinting in the plane whaaaaat

what you see upon entering the Delhi airport

what you see upon entering the Delhi airport

Airport decorations

Airport decorations

Happy to be off the plane!

Happy to be off the plane!

this was funny! they gave us all these when we checked in. If we handed this to someone I bet they would laugh

this was funny! they gave us all these when we checked in. If we handed this to someone I bet they would laugh

 

the thing you have to put the key in if you want your room to have power and ACthe thing you have to put the key in if you want your room to have power and AC

 

 

 

 

Day 8- Happy Sabbath

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such a big plate!

such a big plate!

Dad and I with the Mizoram SDA Conference President

Dad and I with the Mizoram SDA Conference President

my sad attempt at capturing the gorgeous city lights at night

my sad attempt at capturing the gorgeous city lights at night

Dad and I "modeling" our Mizoram gifts :)

Dad and I “modeling” our Mizoram gifts 🙂

most of the people who got baptized alongside the Quiet Hour team

most of the people who got baptized alongside the Quiet Hour team

check out the crazy steps to the church!

check out the crazy steps to the church!

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most of the people standing were about to be baptized :)

most of the people standing were about to be baptized 🙂

Day 8 (Sabbath)

So we finally got to sleep in, hallelujah for Sabbath! Breakfast got to be at 8 instead of 7. Today everyone split up between five churches in the area. My dad is speaking at one called Mokbow so I went with him. It was on a completely different mountain than we’d been on before so a change was nice. I’d been wearing flip flops to all the evening services all week so I decided to switch it up and try to be a little fancier for Sabbath and wore wedge heels. HA! What was I thinking?! The place we’d been having our evening meetings was relatively flat but just to get to the front door of this church required walking down an extremely steep extremely long set of stairs, and there was no handrail. I had to hold onto my dad the whole way down. I looked around at the other women in the church and a number of them had on heels. I don’t know how they do it! Modesty is definitely really big here. Most of the women wear the long traditional skirt and then a long sleeved blouse.

The church was really cute and had some really pretty purple silk draperies at the front. Like most other churches, of course the big drum was present for accompanying the singing and there was also no AC. For Sabbath school we just kind of sat there because we couldn’t understand anything. Then Dad preached and after I sang Amazing Grace. I was actually pretty nervous! But I think it went really well (Dad was on duty to record it, but being the tech savvy guy he is (NOT) he recorded me exiting the stage, that’s all. But a few members of the congregation joined me in their own language which was nice. After the service we stood outside to shake everyone’s hands and these people are just so nice. Even though they don’t speak much English they really try to communicate with you. Afterwards we hiked back up the hill and ate lunch at the hotel with our drivers and translators.

 

Then we all headed out to Seventh Day Tlang. It’s kind of cool how the highest point in the city (Tlang means hill in Mizo) is all Seventh Day Adventist buildings. There’s a school, the conference office, a church, a hospital, and more. It took us about an hour to get up there, it was a pretty bumpy ride and in a lot of places simply a one lane road (but that doesn’t stop people from acting like it’s a two lane road). We were there to witness the baptisms. Upon arriving someone comes up to me and says “I’ve arranged the piano player to play for you when you sing.” What??? I wasn’t aware I was singing at this program! But I decided Amazing Grace would just have to get an encore, so I sang it again and there were about 250-300 people there!

 

What was amazing was that there were over 70 baptisms!!! That is a crazy amount. We were expecting about 50, but a lot of times what happens there is that people commit to baptism and then don’t end up actually showing up. The Mizo are a really shy people, for example in services here it’s not good to do alter calls or ask them to stand at the end of a service showing their commitment to Jesus because it makes them uncomfortable to have the attention on them. So that morning we all prayed that these people would actually get on the bus to make it to the baptism service and man did they ever! It was also really beautiful that so much of the Mizo Adventist community came out to support them. Almost 300 people! The church was packed, the balcony was packed, and there were rows of chairs outside as well. About 16 of the baptisms were from our meeting site! There were some cool stories behind the baptisms as well. One man had been a Baptist and his wife was an Adventist so their home was divided and there was a lot of strain on the family life because of it. He agreed to attend the meetings with her and his heart was touched by the message and how everything was backed up by the Bible. He decided to be baptized and was so thrilled for the change it would mean in his home and family. No longer would his children have to split their time between going to the two separate churches. His wife and he would have a new unity.

Then after the baptisms they had the whole Quiet Hour Missionary team come up and publicly honored and thanked us for coming to their city. It was a really nice moment. Their gratitude and appreciation was so sincere. Then a line of women came in and presented all the ladies with a traditional Mizo skirt. I was not expecting this and was so excited for this! These Mizo skirts are made by hand on a loom, involving a good amount of time and quite a lot of detail, and to buy them in the market can be $100 US dollars! The men were presented with Mizo cloth and a woven shoulder bag. Afterwards everyone came up to say goodbye and talk to us. I literally have never met a kinder people. They just like you instantly, there’s no pretenses, no need to impress anyone. They just love. We were asked again and again “When are you coming back to Aizawl??” All we could say was one day, we hope. And I do hope that I will be able to return. Honestly I know that any one of those people would open their home to us. My dad’s final words at the service to the people were “If we don’t meet again here on this earth I pray that we will all be able to reunite one day in Heaven. “ I think that sums it up pretty well.

After we were invited to eat dinner at the conference office and what a spread it was! I’ve never seen plates this big in my life. And there was fresh mango served in cups and I kid you not I had four cups! I was so excited for fresh fruit and something that wasn’t spicy! Surprised I didn’t get sick from the amount I ate! Then we said our final goodbyes to our drivers and translators and it was bittersweet for sure. It was sad for it to be all over. I truly can’t explain to you how kind these people are. We drove back down the hill and the sun had just set and all the buildings and homes on the hills had their lights on which made the hillside literally glitter. (My attempts at pictures never captured it right.)

Later that night, me and some of the other 20+ year olds went exploring the city streets near our hotel trying to find some food. But in Aizawl everything shuts down at basically 8 oclock and the streets were deserted! But we were able to find one little store and I found oreos. J

Tomorrow we fly out of Aizawl and then on to Delhi to explore and then to Agra for the Taj!

The mission part of our trip is officially over and I think it was an absolute success. Now time for the tourist part. Woop woop!

Bible thought:

James 3:13

Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.

I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. With a lot of the Mizo people extended conversations weren’t really possible because of the language barrier. But that didn’t matter, the way they acted- the happiness on their faces and their welcoming spirit in my interactions with them shone through. They made the phrase real to me: Actions truly do speak louder than words.

 

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

Day 7- Goodbye dear Durtlang

Day 7

At breakfast our team leader was like ”Happy 4th of July!” and I was like oh woah, didn’t even realize it. It’s definitely not celebrated here of course. Fireworks would be awesome here with the mountains but oh wellllll. Today Dad and I went and explored the streets of Aizawl and the market areas.We just walked out our hotel gate and went strolling.  But basically the entire street anywhere you go, is lined with shops and stalls. You definitely have to watch where you walk because before you know it there will be a drop-off into a stairway leading two stories down or a step or a hole. First we had to exchange money and that was an adventure in itself. Ha luckily one of the workers from the hotel was able to help us get to the bank, it would have been a journey on our own! Taxis are so cheap here, to get to the bank cost us less than 1 US dollar. And man Aizawl is not handicap accessible there are so many stairs everywhere! I didn’t see one gym here and I know why! The people stay in shape just fine from all the walking and stairs! It’s interesting because there is no big super store at all. Each store sells specific items. All fruit and meat is sold completely in the open air, so you need a strong stomach for some of what you see and smell.  If you needed stamps, clothes, bananas, pots, and a sofa cushion that would be 5 different stores you would need to visit! Also something interesting is in the whole shopping district I only saw one public bathroom- and you had to pay to use it!

Then came the night meeting, the last one for the week L. We normally arrived at the meeting site at 3:45 and the kids would already be waiting for us but today the traffic was killer. Friday traffic is the worst no matter the country! So we ended up getting to the meeting site an hour and change late, around 4:50 and a good amount of kids were still out there waiting! And then that started a chain reaction as some ran off to go get the other kids. It was like Paul Revere going from door to door, the VBS leaders are here! And before you know it we had 80kids!!! That was quadruple the amount of kids that attended our first meeting. Crazy. It was a lot of fun we sang every song we knew and then did a craft. We ended up going till 6:45! A good amount of parents showed up out of worry because their kids hadn’t come home for dinner time, but they just peeked in the door and when they saw the kids were safe and having fun they just stayed outside the door watching and smiling. The Bible story was about

Heaven and it was really fun to get the kids excited about heaven. “Do you know there will be streets of gold?? And you can play with lions and ride sharks!!! Do you know Jesus is making you a mansion right now??” For their craft they made little crowns and man was that a time eater- having to tape 80 crowns to kids’ heads! Of course we ended with our favorite song Makin Melodies and then I said “Goodbye, it’s been fun spending the week with you and I hope to see you in heaven” in Mizo to them. I’m pretty sure I completely butchered it trying to say it in their language but hey it’s the thought that counts right?

By the way this is how it looks written in Mizo: “ Kan in hmu thei hi a lomom hle a varnmah ka hmuh ngei Che u ka ring a ni.” Yeah it was rough haha. This is how it would look phonetically and how I wrote it out in my phone (I had my translator say each word and then I wrote how it sounded) so I was able to pronounce it semi correctly: “Can en moo tay he a lom ohm lay ah vanrahma ka moo neigh tay oo karinggg a ni”. Immediately after I said that and the kids knew the last VBS was over they totally swarmed me “Miss! Miss!” saying good bye and wanting to shake my hand. (In Mizo culture shaking hands is really big, hugging doesn’t really happen that much as a greeting or goodbye outside of family. At least that’s what I witnessed.) In America what 4 or 8 year old do you know that would come up to you wanting to shake hands?

I told the kids that if they came back at 7, the adult meeting time, we would be able to sing our favorite song one more time. I really didn’t expect any of the kids to come back for two reasons. One, it was during their dinner time and they were already late, they would only have 20 minutes before 7 by the time they got home. Two, none of these kids were Adventist. Well to my surprise about 11 came back! And they were all dressed up in fancy dresses and nice dress shirts. It was adorable. We went on stage and performed our wacky song for about 150 people! They were definitely nervous but the audience really liked it and I think the kids felt special. The hall was completely packed tonight, all chairs were filled and there were people standing outside! All 11 kids stayed for the service, but I had to sit in the back with them to keep them under control. It was pretty cool though because my dad’s sermon was all about Heaven, the title was “The Best is Yet to Come” and a lot of the pictures in his PowerPoint were similar to the ones I showed the kids during their story time so I think it was a good reinforcer for them. Kinda like “Oh, what my VBS teacher showed me is actually legit? Cuz the big adults are looking at the same pictures too. “

For the past 3 nights the sweetest little girl had been sitting next to me for the service and she spoke really good English so were able to have a lot of conversations. Her name is Remtluangi tabue and nope I never said it right. At the beginning of the tonight’s last service she handed me a sparkly black hair clip and said “I have one and now you can have the other one. It is for remembrance.” I’ll treasure that hairclip. Another little kid came up and gave me a mint candy.  A little girl came up to me and grabbed my hand and said “You’ll be coming back to Mizoram right?” Tugged my heart—all I could say was “I would love to.” And that’s the truth.  The VBS was a bright new spot and event in these kids routine lives’ and I don’t think they’ll soon forget it and I know I absolutely won’t. Their happy faces, enthusiasm, and acceptance will stay with me forever.

The people here are just so welcoming and friendly. Everyone made us feel like mini celebrities because at the end of the meeting everyone wanted a picture with us and to shake our hand. We ended up leaving the hall a half hour later than we normally do.

When I was interviewed for the TV series “Missions Today!” they asked what was so special about children’s programs and what did I think the bigger picture was. Well I think they’ll be singing these songs amongst themselves for the next few months at least, and my hope is that one day in the near future or when they’re older they’ll remember these songs and actually think about the words they used to sing. Because Jesus’ love truly is a bubbling over, His everlasting love is reaching out for them, and He is singing right along when we’re Making Melodies in our hearts to the king of kings.

Bible Thought:

In my Dad’s sermon (yeah I actually listened and didn’t sleep!) he mentioned a verse about heaven that was crazy to me.

Revelation 21:23-24

“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.”

How totally sick is that going to be? I can’t even really imagine it. Hope we get to witness it together.

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

on the walk back to our hotel

souvenirs for friends back home?

souvenirs for friends back home? get excited

the kids still there after waiting for an hour for us to show up

the kids still there after waiting for an hour for us to show up

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the only public toilet I saw! and it costs about 10 rupees to use

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intense stairwell in Aizawl, eventually it leads to another street

intense stairwell in Aizawl, eventually it leads to another street

Remtluangi Tabue :)

Remtluangi Tabue 🙂

the orginazers and pastors who helped plan these meetings

the orginazers and pastors who helped plan these meetings

the kids who came back to sing!

the kids who came back to sing!

Remtluangi!

Remtluangi!

the lizards here are mini crocidiles

the lizards here are mini crocidiles

the kiddos saying goodbye

Day 6- New Eyes

Day 6 (written day 7 at 8:42 a.m.)

So today we left around 9 a.m. to go to Durtlang( that’s where we have our nightly meetings) to hold an eye clinic where we give out glasses to people in the community. Well by the time our jeep rolled up to the site at 9:30 (we had told everyone the clinic would begin at 10:00) there was a huge line of people snaking up the road. 200 people were already there waiting for the chance to get eye glasses!!!

By the end of the day the registration list reached almost to 400 people. This was honestly an awesome experience. People would come in and I would work with a translator to find out what their eye issue was. If it was reading issues we would hold up a thing to their eyes that they would look through and we could change the lens strength to figure out what kind of strength of reading glasses they needed. If it was distance I would go 20 feet away to an eye chart and determine their vision health by having them read lines of letters, just like how we do when we visit an eye doctor in the states. Dad and I had carried about 200 glasses in our carryon to India and praise God they all survived the trip!

The people were so grateful and the amazing moments to me were always when I would be flipping the knob to change the lens strength and all the sudden they would go “clear! Clear!” in their language signifying that they could now read the paper in front of them very well and the image was clear. That to me was just a crazy moment because with just one pair of reading glasses that we could go to the dollar store and pick up for pocket change, their quality of life just skyrocketed. The people would smile and you could just see it in their faces they were really excited. It was definitely a fulfilling moment. Especially when we could do the same with school aged children. Now studying their books, which is a really big part of their lives, wouldn’t really be a struggle anymore. One of the children I gave glasses to comes to our children’s program regularly and that night he came proudly wearing his new glasses. It was really cute.

The older people were what really got my heart though. They were just so humble and sweet and when they could read the newspaper in front of them, that maybe they hadn’t been able to see in years, it literally put joy in my heart. They were some really elderly people who came in who were so adorable, the woman dressed in their traditional skirts and shawls. Many of them reminded me of the grandmother from Mulan.  I felt bad though because for so many of them, the state of their eyes was very bad, simply because of old age or cataracts and unfortunately we didn’t have any glasses that could fix that and you could see in their faces they were very hopeful that they would.

At the same time this experience made me very, very sad. There were just so many opportunities that these people did not have and I feel that there was a lot of basic health knowledge that they just did not know, but probably had never had the opportunity to know either. When I left the eye clinic I was quiet for a while, in my own thoughts, because it just didn’t seem right. As a group, we brought over about 400 glasses, maybe more but what I felt sad about was the fact that these glasses would run out. There would be people we would have to turn away. And even if we had brought 800, 1000 glasses those would eventually run out as well. There will always be a need and we just have to do our best to fill it, one person one item at a time. I guess you just have to come to peace with the fact that one person helped, is one person that wasn’t helped before, even if there are still 500 after them who need help as well.

 

At the same time I feel that I got an itsy bitsy taste of what being a mission doctor would be like. These people were telling me all these things “I have eye pain and I had this tumor…” fully trusting that I would be able to diagnose and help them, they were looking to me, a 20 year old,  for answers but I felt a little helpless because hey I’m not a doctor yet! Lately I’ve been a little unsure of whether a mission doctor is exactly the route I should take, I know pretty much without a doubt, missions is my calling but once I got here and saw the children, the running an orphanage has been more on my mind. However, helping with the eye clinic showed me how much of a need there is and showed me see how fulfilling it is to be able to help these people with their health because when you help someone with their health you’re literally changing their lives.  I’ve said this before and I think its true; sometimes you really have to mend the body before you can mend the soul.  We shall see what God has in store! I’ll just keep trucking with these premed courses for now.

Children’s programs was really great tonight, I think it was our best night yet! We had about 70 kids. There were still people waiting in the building where we do VBS for the eye clinic and so we had a bit of an audience for eye clinic. And boy did those kids put on a show for them! Ha it was definitely the loudest they had ever sung those songs, it was great! Then when we did the Bible story, a number of the adults turned their chairs towards us so that they could hear it as well. It was the story of Zaccheus and I think that was a really good one for people to hear, about how God can take a not so great person- in Zaccheaus’ case he was a thief and liar- and forgive them and fully accept them. Afterwards we went around with my translator to a few people’s houses in the neighborhood to invite them to the meeting. Well, we interrupted a family dinner and then walked in on an Adventist prayer meeting! So we weren’t super successful but it’s interesting here how the people are so friendly and welcoming and will just invite you into their home when you’re a stranger!

 

Tomorrow we’re going to do some shopping in the market so the shopper in me is excited!

 

Bible Thought:

One day in heaven, we will all have perfect eyesight and perfect everything else too!

Isaiah 35:5-6

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.

 

Imagine what it will be like for people with those issues; those who cannot see, hear, walk or talk when they can finally see a butterfly, hear the singing of angels, run down the streets of gold and talk with Jesus. It shall be incredible. Today try to count your blessings and you’ll probably find they outnumber your problems!

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

 

pics:

-part of the waiting area for the eye clinic

– My translator Esther 🙂 and VBS helper Annika

Day Cuatro/Cinco- $5 for what?!

Day 4 & 5 (writing this at 10:23 p.m. day 5)

Day 4

So yesterday was pretty cool. We went to a construction site where they were laying the groundwork for a new Adventist church. When we reached the site we had to climb down a steep incline and very steep steps and I was shocked when I got to the construction zone. The land was terraced, as in layers of ground were cut away like stair steps. My first thought was what?! How can you build a flat church on land like this? The pastor whose church this will be showed me the blue print and it looks like it’s going to be a great church! There were currently men digging four foot deep holes that would be where the cement pillars would go. We were supposed to be going to help with construction, but when my dad jumped in a hole and started shoveling (of course he did) after a few shovels they told him to get out (they said it in a nice way) because he was taking away the work from the men who hired, and they definitely needed the moment.

Next came the culture shock moment. These men who are doing intense construction work all day from essentially sun up to sun down make $5. A DAY! They are doing intense manual labor and I make more than them in one hour sitting on my butt in air-conditioning lifeguarding a pool. Sobering moment for sure. And that $5 is an okay amount of money to them. Crazy. Most people in the U.S.A. wouldn’t even rake a lawn for $5. We need to realize how blessed we are but also DO something with our blessings and help give people in other countries or desperate situations more opportunities! To attend Private Adventist School here is $8 a month! I’m sure so many of us could sponsor a child’s education without affecting our wallet at all.

Next came a pretty cool moment. The first four foot hole at the site was ready to have the first batch of cement poured in. Essentially this was the first foundation of the entire church. And guess who they asked to pour in the cement? Our mission group. What an honor for us. We each literally got to take a bucket and pour the cement in. It was pretty awesome because we were literally laying the foundation of the church. Figuratively and metaphorically because with a church building the gospel can spread so much more. The local pastors were explaining to us that with a literal church building so many more people are interested and will attend a service than if it were just in someone’s house. Quiet Hour Ministries funded this church, about $10,000, and they say construction will be done in 3 months! And it just started today! Climbing back to the main road again made me out of breath and my legs are burning-these people must be in amazing shape! Near this church site there was quite the little farm- what looked like squash, banana, corn and more. It all looked so green and lush. The future pastor of the church was just so grateful. Then a storm moved in and when storms come the sky literally turns white with clouds, where I could see mountains, the farm, and trees before I could now see nothing- just a wall of white! It’s crazy.

We learned yesterday that some church leaders of other denominations told their congregations that their children couldn’t attend our VBS programs so in some areas (our group splits up and goes to 3 different places each night) children attendance was lower. But one VBS has had 140 kids!

Random fact: if you want to be a doctor here in Aizawl right out of high school you go to med school and attend 5 years! Sounds pretty nice to me!!! VBS went well, increased by 10 kids. We had 45. Was able to give a baby blanket away to a mother and her child.

 

Day 5

Today was fun, although I must say I am just still so tired! Waking up at 6:45 a.m. every morning is the ULTIMATE struggle for me. I sit up and then fall asleep sitting up. My dad is like what is wrong with you?! I also took a 3 hour nap from 8:30-11:30  a.m. and waking up from that was like waking the dead too! This morning we interviewed for the TV show “Missions Today!” that was pretty fun, but they shot it on the roof of our hotel and it was hot! It was nice to be able to share my thoughts about the trip. My dad got interviewed too and he got all mushy gushy about how this was amazing because he got to go on the trip with his daughter and how seeing me interact with the kids was “mindblowing” he loves seeing it. It was sweet to hear him say all of this though, there may have been a tear in my eye? We’ll blame it on the heat 😉

At VBS tonight we had 66 kids! That’s our highest yet! More than double our first night. It was definitely chaotic trying to get them to do a craft and be careful with scissors when you literally can’t speak one word of their language but there’s a few parents who stay and help us out which is nice. All I hear is “Miss! Miss!” from the kids and then they start motioning for what they need. Today the craft we were making was a basket that they had to fold and then I had to come around with tape individually to each child. A few of the older kids didn’t want to wait in the line and successfully tricked me for a few minutes by giving their baskets to a little girl in the front of the line. I would tape her basket, turn around, and then turn back to her and she would have an un-taped basket in her hand again! I was so frazzled I didn’t realize what was happening at first and just kept taping baskets but by the time she had yet again a 5th basket I was like “waiiiiit a minute.” Then the older kids started giggling and gave up the hoax.  I had to laugh too, it was a good try on their part that worked for a little! Again they couldn’t get enough of the songs. What’s crazy is that as soon as we open the doors to let these kids in they are rushing inside to help stack the chairs and get out the benches. We don’t have to do a thing, they are just so eager to get things set up so we can begin. It’s awesome. Then when it’s time to leave, a bunch of kids stay behind to help us return the benches and set up the chairs for the meeting. They’re so helpful and sweet. There’s 4 kids that have my heartstrings. One brings her little brother and he’s about 14 months and just about the cutest baby I’ve seen! They know me by name and always try valiantly to have a conversation with me. One little girl just can’t seem to understand that I don’t speak Mizo and just keeps babbling on in full sentences asking me questions while I just stand there and then try to explain to her I can’t understand. It kinda sucks, I really wish I could understand and talk with them!

The kids really seemed to be listening to the story tonight and I really hope they are understanding that Jesus loves them and it’s more than just a story. After VBS we went to a traditional Mizo store (more like a little shack on the side of the road) with my translator. I tried Indian cookies and a mango drink made by Coca Cola but bottled in Bengal. Not gonna lie I was kinda scared to try some stuff because our stomachs are weak compared to theirs! The drink was really good but would have tasted even better with ice. Unfortunately ice is something we are discouraged to have here because it’s most likely not filtered water.  What’s interesting is that they don’t refrigerate butter here, so you have to be careful not to eat it because a lot of times it can be moldy.

The sweetest little girl sat next to me for the service tonight and she spoke really great English. She told me “I really wanted to be here for your health talk last night but the school gave me too much too study. The heat makes it really hard for us to study in the classroom.” I’m guessing her school has no AC at all! Then she told me a greeting to say in Mizo up front when I started my talk on the benefits of drinking water. Well since she wanted me to I didn’t want to disappoint her, so I went up there on the stage… and completely butchered that greeting! Ha even my translator was confused! But I got some chuckles and smiles out of the audience so hey whatever works.

 

Today after the sermon a man came up to my dad and was just saying how excited he was to be at our service. He just converted to Adventism from being a Presbyterian and had been Adventist for 2 weeks. He was saying how he loved how everything we said was from the Bible and how much he enjoyed learning tonight. (Tonight the sermon was on the state of the dead).It’s nice to see someone so fired up and excited about the faith.

The days are pretty long though. We wake up at 6:30 a.m. and we head to the meeting sites at 3:30, then we are at them till 9! I can’t help it my head is definitely nodding during the sermons. It’s cute to see some of the pretty old people knocking out, they just can’t help it either! They really want to be there though, even if they’re tired. There’s one woman who has to be in her 90s and she’s sat next to me the past few nights and is so into the singing. Whenever we sing hymns she always lifts her hand vigorously up and down with the beat of the drum (it looks pretty similar to the FSU war chant hand movements).

Tomorrow I’ll be working a long day at an eye clinic that is being set up by one of our volunteers. We have over 200 prescription eye glasses to give away so hopefully it goes well!

 

I can say I’m definitely here for the kids. They are what makes it worthwhile.

 

Bible thought:

I tried to make it through the day without complaining once, pretty sure I failed. Ha change that to:  I’m positive I failed. I want to try again tomorrow and I’m realizing that our words, especially the words we simply think, definitely play into our attitudes. Negativity begets negativity. Gonna try to ride the positivity train tomorrow.  Join me?

Proverbs 16:21

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.  

 

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

Day Tres!

Day 3 June 30 (I’m actually writing this one at 11:41 p.m. on actual day 3 yay!)

So today was a really full day! Like really full. So this post is going to be really full. This morning I woke up at 4 a.m. again but I told myself “No way! You are going back to sleep!” and I was able to fall back asleep. Woot woot take that weird jet lag sleep habits! Poor Dad wasn’t as lucky and was up since 4:30. We have a confused rooster outside our window who seems to think the sun is coming up at the strangest time, but so far I’ve barely even noticed it, it’s my Dad who points it out.

But back to the day. So we had worship/team meeting at 7 a.m. and I was in charge of presenting the worship talk. I did it on faith and Hebrews 11 and I really recommend you read that chapter, it’s actually pretty cool. I was a tad nervous but I think it went well! We have a film crew traveling with us for the new TV show “Missions Today!” and it’s definitely been a little strange getting used to having a camera in your face and acting like it’s not there! Literally sometimes it’s like right up in your face and you’re like eeeeeeeek that can’t be pretty and at the same time you have to act normal and nonchalant. But on the first day they said “we promise to make you all look good” so I’m gonna hold them to it and think of that when I think the camera is way too close and possibly an up-my-nose shot.

So our first stop today was a lookout point on top of the mountain and oh my goodness the drive up to it was TERRIFYING and I kid you not, terrifying is the word to describe it. First off these drivers are experts, I wouldn’t survive 5 seconds out here in the driver’s seat, and they really are so skilled. Essentially you’ve got a 2 lane road, but at times it becomes so narrow it’s only wide enough for one car but yet you’ve got vehicles coming from both directions! Add in a bunch of mopeds, motorcycles, taxis, motorbikes, and tons of people walking and that’s a typical Aizawl road. Also, I’m not really afraid of heights but OH MAN are we up high! As a Florida girl I am not used to any hills, the highest elevation in my county is the landfill and yet here I am 4,000 feet in the sky in a city bus winding around roads that wrap up the side of the mountain. And when I say side of the mountain I mean literally one wrong jerk of the wheel and we are OFF that mountain and falling down a straight drop. At some points in the road there’s not even guardrails or at other places there’s just some barbed wire which is not going to stop a 30 person bus from going over. You honk if you want to pass someone and whenever you round a corner because you can’t see what’s coming. Also there are big delivery trucks parked on the sides of the roads because it is way too busy for them to fit and drive in the streets during the day so they park and wait till night time to make their deliveries. Everything is directly on the streets- houses, stores. Take one step out of a shop and you will be on the street! Its crazy how close cars get to each other- I could stick one finger out the window (a finger, not an arm) and touch whatever car we are passing. Amazingly I haven’t heard any screeches of metal of cars sliding past each other but a lot of times they are barely squeezing past! The lookout point was pretty cool and you could see a lot of the city and the airport we flew into. I got to climb on top of our tour bus and take some pictures which was neat.  On the descent from the lookout point I was sitting on the side nearest the edge of the road and if I looked out the window I was looking straight at the drop off, so at times I just had to stare at my phone or completely turn the other way.  My stomach flips and drops like I’m on a roller coaster every time I’m standing at a railing or a balcony and I realize how high we are.

After that we went to what they call “Aizawl’s Taj Mahal”. It’s a tomb that a wealthy man made for his wife that passed away in a car accident. Our bus wouldn’t fit on the road that leads to it, so we had to get out and do about a 15 minute walk. This area wasn’t on the main street and some of the houses had pens with pigs in them and we also saw men carrying huge bundles of grass using headstraps that went across their foreheads, it looked like a really heavy load! Also all the stray dogs here are adorable—saw a Chihuahua! And man it was quite the incline to the tomb, I was huffing and puffing by the time we made it to the top and feeling quite out of shape haha. It was definitely interesting and he clearly loved his wife. In the top floor of the dome all her clothes were displayed in a glass case including the outfit she was wearing when the car crash occurred. The husband has a school for children right down the path from this tomb and we got to go see some of the boys there. They were outside playing basketball and volleyball and absolutely loved getting filmed by the film crew. The field where they played soccer and had a basketball court was right next to a pretty big drop off. I can only imagine how many balls have been lost! There was also a swimming pool- the first one I’ve seen here- and kids were loving being in the water. But it was sooo green, no filter no chlorine, and I really cringe to think of what was in there but hey they were living it up!

[Side note: you know how yesterday I said we weren’t eating dinner but I was okay with it because I wasn’t really hungry? Ha just got the biggest hunger attack so I am currently on peanut butter cracker pack #2]

Our last stop for the day was to see Solomon’s Temple, which is a huge white marble temble/church that was built and funded by a group of dedicated people who interpret the Bible certain ways. Essentially, it’s a cult(that’s what our tour guide told us and the pamphlet offered by the church also suggested as much) so that was really interesting and a little eerie to see. The structure is quite beautiful though! It was interesting that the founder of this church group had the nicest house I’ve seen yet in all of Aizawl. Even by American standards it was great- it had stained glass designing on the front! The church holds 4,000 people and what I really liked about it is up front by the pulpit is a wide open area that is for the people to come up and dance in during the singing of songs. Apparently there is a specific dance that they do and I think that would have been fascinating to witness. It felt really peaceful inside the church building though and I gotta say those pews were comfier than the ones in my home church!  The main road to get to this temple was blocked off for a funeral (Aizawl fact: all funerals are held in the family home) and so we had to take a detour route. My goodness was it bumpy and it didn’t help that my poor bladder was ready to burst and there are really no public restrooms around at all!

What’s really interesting about Aizawl is that it is NOT how I imagined it at all. The people here really all mostly look Asian, if I saw them my first guess would definitely not be that they are Indian.  They are a tribal primitive people and they distinguish themselves from other Indians, whom they call “plains people”. They really have a lot of pride in the fact that they are Mizo. In fact an example of how different it is from the rest of India is that today was Aizawl’s Peace Day, a national holiday symbolic of when the peace treaty was signed between Aizawl and the rest of India. There had been rebellions before because Aizawl wanted to be completely separate. Another interesting fact that we learned from Asiama, our awesome tour guide/ Youth leader for the conference, is that the youngest of the family has to take care of the parents when they get old, that is the tradition.

It’s just SO insanely different here from America and I don’t even know how to describe it. For example I don’t think anyone has a dryer, so far I’ve only seen clothes hung out to dry on every surface imaginable—roofs, clotheslines across the street from houses, hanging in front of businesses. And all the clothes washing I’ve seen was hand washed. The ambulance system here is not that great because of the roads and crazy traffic, so if they needed to get to you I imagine it would take 20 minutes at least. An ambulance passed us the other night and it was actually a Jeep. The streets, the shops, the way of life is just completely different. There are a lot of orphanages here and I really want to visit one! More and more I’m seriously thinking that something with an orphanage might be in my future life plans.

VBS was fun tonight but I was pretty tired from the long day, the kids loved singing as always. I learned tonight that none of the kids attending VBS are Adventist- so that’s pretty awesome! We had about 40 kids tonight and a lot of their parents stayed after for a free eye clinic we were doing in which we gave out free prescription eye glasses. It was fun that the parents stayed because I got to hang out with about 6 of the young girls as their parents got their eyes checked and just do different handclapping games (Miss Mary Mack etc.) and it was nice to actually bond with them. J There was also a little 14 month old boy I got to play with who was absolutely adorable! One thing I’ve noticed it that young children here are very good with their younger siblings. For example, the mother of one of the girls just dropped off her 14 month old baby with her 7 year old daughter so she could go in and get her eyes checked. I don’t know about you but when I was 7 no one was letting me watch toddlers! But I hung around both of them and she was extremely good and responsible with him. It was impressive. The people at the services are extremely welcoming, a few people even came up at the end and wanted pictures with my dad.

Not sure what’s planned for tomorrow, all I know is it starts at 7 a.m.! Sleep is calling my name, I was just tired of doing blog posts a day late!

 

Bible thought:

Based off of Hebrews 11

By an act of faith Able brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought that made the difference. It’s the same thing with us. It’s not about what we bring to the table (our gifts, our abilities) it’s about how God is able to transform what we bring and turn it into something amazing. God doesn’t ask that we are able, He simply asks that we are willing. We don’t have to worry about being able because God IS BEYOND ABLE.

By faith Noah built a giant ark on dry land when everyone thought he was crazy. The result? He saved his family and a whole lot of animals from the flood.

By an act of faith Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son, even after God told him that his descendants would come from this son Isaac. His faith was so strong that he figured if God wants me to do this then I believe God can bring him back to life after so that God’s promise to me is fulfilled.

Moses’ parents hid him for 3 months from the Egyptians and then placed him in a basket in the Nile River. That’s insane faith to me! I can’t imagine putting my little nephew at 3 months old into a basket and floating him off down a river filled with countless dangers. But as a result of their faith Moses survived and thrived and was able to bring an entire people out of slavery.

Whenever you find your faith lacking think of these examples in history and how God always came through for His people. We have to faith that God has a plan and and the truth is He ALWAYS does.

When we have faith we feel at peace. But this is bigger than our feelings and even bigger than our faith. It all boils down to the fact that Jesus loves us. And once you realize that, your FEELINGS can come from the FAITH that you have in the FACT that Jesus loves you. And those will be good feelings, I promise.

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤

No stop lights in Aizawl. Traffic police direct traffic during the day.

No stop lights in Aizawl. Traffic police direct traffic during the day.

Soloman's Temple. The marble really is beautiful and so far this has cost $3 million and its not completed yet!

Soloman’s Temple. The marble really is beautiful and so far this has cost $3 million and its not completed yet!

lunch

 

Green pool! the kids were having a blast swimming in their underwear

Green pool! the kids were having a blast swimming in their underwear

the tomb

the tomb

The boy's school by the tomb. Check that drop off!

The boy’s school by the tomb. Check that drop off!

Hand games never get old! and language barriers aren't an issue with this

Hand games never get old! and language barriers aren’t an issue with this

the bus door never closes..ever

the bus door never closes..ever

Jeeps are everywhere! so basically I'm in love.

Jeeps are everywhere! so basically I’m in love.

Piggies!

Piggies!

The dance area in the temple.

The dance area in the temple.

clothes out to dry

clothes out to dry

View of Aizawl from hotel.

View of Aizawl from hotel.

 

Day Dos!

Day 2 (Technically it is day 3, 8:04 a.m.)

So today was pretty cool, besides being wide awake at 4:30 a.m. due to weird sleeping patterns because of jet lag. One thing that’s interesting here is the sun is up so early! This morning by 4:00 a.m. the sun was completely up and shining brightly. I still haven’t figured out how to make the shower hot and that seems to be a problem among all the others here too. And if you know me at all you know I take like one hour showers every night back home but hey I can sacrifice, I’d take a cold shower any day to be here! The cold water definitely cuts down my shower time too, I’m out in about 10 minutes here and that’s a record for this girl! Apparently the traditional way to take a shower here is to fill a bucket in the shower with hot water(When you turn on the hot water it’s burning hot for about 1-2 minutes) add a little cold water and then dump it over yourself once, but I don’t think I’m down for that haha.

So today we started the day with breakfast, things run pretty slow here, the food was supposed to get here at 7 a.m., we probably didn’t eat until about 7:50. But hey that’s okay as a Jamaican I’m used to island time! One thing that was really awesome was that since Aizawl is so high up in the mountains, there were clouds literally coming in through the open window! That was pretty cool and weird at the same time. After that we had to take a trip to the CID, which is a government office. Because this part of Mizoram-Aizawl- is a protected part of India, any foreigners even other Indians from different parts of India have to check into the area. It was really interesting because it was definitely a less formal office than a government office would be in the States. We sat on plastic lawn chairs as our passports were looked over by an official and there were only a few cabinets that appeared to lock in the building.  The main ways of transport in Aizawl are Jeep, taxi, city bus, and motorcycles. And of course walking. It’s pretty cool how the local church here has really banded together to accommodate us. Our hotel is owned by Adventists and all our drivers are usually Adventist as well. I actually feel very secure in our hotel and its right in the middle of the city!

One thing that’s really interesting is that over 90% of Aizawl is Christian so on Sundays all stores close and pretty much the whole town goes to church. It was cool to see everyone walking around in their Sunday best and also what I thought was really neat was that most everyone carried a Bible. With Bible apps on phones it sometimes seems like a physical Bible is a thing of the past so it was nice to see people with a tangible one. Also another plus was that there was a lot less traffic!

Then we had a little of a break time and then around 3:30 we headed to our meeting site which is in Durtlang, Aizawl. It took about 45 minutes to get there and man I am still not used to this driving over here! When we arrived at the public hall where the meetings are held, the kids were already lined up outside waiting! And we weren’t supposed to start for over an hour! One of my favorite phrases is “unbridled glee” and that basically just means a completely unabashed happiness and that perfectly describes the looks on the children’s faces. As soon as they saw our jeep approach they were clapping and jumping up and down. It was adorable, completely melted my heart. Since the kids were already there we decided to start right away. Basically I run the VBS and another girl here puts together the felt story board behind me as I tell it and also assists with everything else. We started out with songs (Thank goodness I’d just come back from Camp Kulaqua because all those songs came in handy). It was really interesting because only a few of these children know English, and only then a very limited amount, but a few words into the song they were all joining me! At first they were just singing along not saying the words, but by the second time we sang the song they were singing the English words right along with me! I was shocked, it was pretty awesome. So we exhausted my list of camp songs and then told the story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Basically I tell the story and a translator stands beside me and translates as I go. The translator is a really nice girl named Esther who teaches 7th and 8th grade at the Adventist school. That school is so packed-1700 students- and she told me that for 9th grade there were 5 openings for students and over 200 kids applied for those spots! Then as the story telling is going on, another girl from Quiet Hour Ministries, Annika, puts felt pictures up that illustrate the story. After, we did a craft where they had to put their prayer requests on the back of a paper and then we prayed over all their requests.

Following that they wanted to sing again, so sing we did! All in all I think we sang for 50 minutes! I probably won’t have a voice by the end of the week! We did all the classics- “Who’s the King of the Jungle”, “I just wanna be a sheep”, “I will magnify the Lord”, and “Jesus love is a bubbling over”. Their all-time favorite though was “Makin’ Melodies” we probably did that one about 4 times! But that’s okay with me because it’s my favorite too. It’s hard not speaking the same language as them, I want to get to know them and ask them questions but I don’t know any Mizo and their English is pretty limited. We communicate in smiles and laughs though. Even many of their names I can’t pronounce. Like at all. We left at 3:30 and didn’t get back to the hotel till 9:30! So I guess every day we shall only be eating breakfast and lunch, but I can survive that! Surprisingly I’m not really hungry at dinner time. Woo, maybe I can fit into some old jeans when I get back.

Check out the youtube video of the kids singing their FAV song. (wifi is so sketch here so if the video doesn’t work someone let me know)

The children were precious, so adorable and enthusiastic.  After VBS the children go home and eat dinner and then an hour later the adult program begins. In their song service they sing from a hymnal, but most people bring their own personal hymnal. Also they have a big drum that they beat during every hymn to keep everyone on a solid rhythm. I thought it was interesting how in the States churches are having huge debates about whether to let drums in, but here they use it during hymns and it’s a great thing and not one person complains! Most of the woman wear long skirts, pants are not really worn by women to church, and a lot of them wear the traditional kind of skirt (I forgot the name) but these skirts are hand woven and beautiful with many details. A lot of the men wear suits to the meetings. At the end of each row of chairs there is a cup and a bottle of water and if you are thirsty you just pour yourself a cup and everyone drinks from that same cup. There was a young girl next to me, perhaps 13 or 14, and she handed her hymnal to me and wanted us to share so that I could sing along. I gave it my best effort but my goodness these words are like nothing I’ve ever seen before! They’re very long and not always phonetic at all. She kept glancing over to make sure I was singing and we would look at each other and laugh at my terrible stumbling over these words. She was a really sweet girl and it felt nice to be welcomed and it was nice of her to want me to be involved.

I gave a health talk about basic hygiene and then my Dad preached. They had a banner with his name printed on it and everything, they were really excited to have us all there. With translation the sermon was pretty long, so tonight he’s definitely going to try to shorten it. There were a few older people in there who completely knocked out. Not gonna lie I was wiped out too! We’ll blame it on the lateness of the hour and not my Dad’s speaking?  Ha just kidding, he did a good job.

After on the drive back, the view from the top of the hill of the city is gorgeous. Literally the whole hill sparkles with all the building and house lights and I’m pretty sure a picture wouldn’t do it justice. Tomorrow (day 3 is excursion day! We’ll get to explore a little bit)

Bible thought:

As we drove to the first VBS I didn’t know what to expect and was a little nervous. But God helped me out by helping me remember all the songs from my childhood and camp, and in the end you just show these kids love and they love you right back instantly! No questions asked, their acceptance is pretty great.

1 Corinthians 13:13

Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly and love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Much love and stay irie, Bri ❤