Brown Sugar and the City!

20170629_213625

Blogging from the hotel pool…

“Always take the scenic route…” It’s 10pm, and I’m sitting out by pool while a few of us are preparing for VBS with the kids tomorrow, and one is swimming. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this bungalow is, and how pleasant the weather is right now… #favor

The team went out today! Here are my findings:

  1. Street lines are apparently decorative. Chile it is every man for himself in these Indian streets!!! I don’t understand how there aren’t 9 car pile ups at every turn! It doesn’t matter that there are lines in the streets, here they drive in the space!
  2. When a driver uses a turn signal, that basically means it already happened. Our driver merged onto the interstate without looking and I had a mini-panic attack! Never mind the guy who was already driving in the lane we “merged” into on a motorbike… Jesus take the wheel… No, really, take it. Baby, our driver flipped that signal on after the fact as a way of saying, “Yea, I did it, now what?” Horns were blowing like crazy.
  3. Blowing car horns is possibly a form of communication here. Pedestrians heard horns, and didn’t move. You hear horns blowing the ENTIRE time driving, and no one cares. Dogs and pigeons don’t even move when they hear a horn! Which brings me to my next point…
  4. It is completely normal to find a cow sitting in the middle of the street, and all of the drivers will respect the cow’s fresh. Everyone drove around the cow. Nobody bothered him. Could you imagine a cow chilling in the middle of Tchluhoma in Whitehaven??? Yea, me either, but it happened.
  5. It’s completely normal to stand on the side of the interstate. People were sitting on the rails, talking and having a cigarette! And I’m all like 😮 I still hadn’t figured that part out yet… Give me a couple more days.
  6. One of the catwalks had an escalator. We can put one in South Memphis if we bad… We would absolutely tear that up… On site. #ijs #GritGrind
  7. Children hustle, early. It’s what we call in Memphis, “working the blades.” These little boys were so unbelievably adorable… They would’ve had all my rupees. Seriously, how are you charming when you sale flags, ink pens, and wash windows?! What I found most heart breaking was the life expectancy of these children is mid-twenties because of the fumes they inhale being around cars all day.

     

     

 

 

Our first stop today was Life Centre Academy. As soon as we entered the doors, we were greeted with bright smiles, and adorned with marigolds. I loved how print rich the school walls were! You knew immediately that this was a place of learning. Sitting in that room today felt like I was in a PD that blended my school and my church! #Mindblown! This past school year, we focused a lot on the “Why” behind the work. Often times, it’s easy to get caught up in the complaints of the work. It’s amazing how the message is the same, even in India.

The director made a statement today that made me take out my pen and pad.  He said, “Your why sustains your effort.” I wanted to wave my hand! Next, one of our team members, Melissa, came behind him and opened her devotion with the Rick Warren quote, “You become what you are committed to.” Then the Vice Principal here said, “first you have to learn how the student learns, then you can teach him.” Here I am, 8,000 miles away from home, and God is using this space to confirm some things He told me a year ago. Mane listen…

We had some time to talk with the teachers, and introduce ourselves. Of course, everyone wanted to know how old I was when I told them I was an assistant principal. I was like, “It’s in the genes, boo!” The director asked me, “How does such a little woman get the attention of so many?” I showed him that Trezevant cheer voice! LOL We played team building games with the teachers of Life Centre (that’s where all the womenfolk were by the way), and we had lunch with them. One thing I especially love about Indian food is they are not afraid to add some spice! Phew! We got a chance to talk with them about their school and the work they do (school hours are 8am – 1:30pm see what I did there?). Those stories blew my mind, and sounded oddly familiar…. “It’s exciting when you find parts of yourself in someone else.”

After fellowshipping with the director, teachers, and other leaders at Life Centre, we ventured to Lodhi Gardens.

That pic didn’t quite come out as planned, but it’s one of the only ones I have before I’m sweating profusely… All of these buildings were built nearly 5,000 years ago and are still standing! The director’s daughter was with us today, and she was so sweet and funny. Apparently, staring is common here. Staring too long is disrespectful. We were in the middle of the garden waiting for a few others from the Life Centre to join us when the director’s daughter saw these two men staring at our group and asked them, “What’s your problem?” *insert North Memphis* He sassed her back, and she. went. off. Baby! She gave it to him in Hindi, with a whole lot of attitude, and the neck roll to match, then finished with, “Thank you. You can go now.” All the saints were standing there like her goons. HA! It was awesome.

Today was good. I learned a little about the culture and the city. Our team connected in a major way today, and my team leader, Katie, is out here killing it! It takes a lot to lead a team, but to be able to lead a team into the unknown shows influence and grace. This morning, Katie led us in devo about Saul. She came from 1 Samuel 10:21-24. Verse 24 says, “Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” Let’s look at that word chosen for a sec. The definition says having been selected as the best or most appropriate (y’all are a smart group… You see were I’m headed, right?). Katie encouraged us to operate in the simple fact that God handpicked us to do this work at a time such as this. That was so powerful! I’m His masterpiece, His 1st round pick, and there is none like me. Knowing that God orchestrated all of this so I could do the good things He planned, long before I even reached this moment leaves me speechless. He’s an awesome wonder…

Ephesians 2:10 NLT “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

 

Advertisements

Brown Sugar Arrives in India!

“For the sake of your soul, venture out…”

We boarded in New Jersey at 9:45 pm, and settled in. I scrolled through the movies, TV shows, and audiobooks that were available for this 14 hour international flight over the Atlantic ocean…. Yep… Ya girl felt the exact same way…

20170627_231644.jpg

I settled for Fences and giggled at how cute Denzel and Viola looked together. Everything about them made me want to have Sunday dinner at their house. Speaking of dinner, around this time, the airline served dinner. Of the chicken and vegetarian selections, I choose chicken… It wasn’t bad. Not really sure what that cold, sweet corn concoction was in the center, but I prayed and got some Ginger Ale to wash it down.

20170627_232054

At some point in the film, I drifted off to sleep. I was up and down for about 7 hours. After hour 7, I got up to walk around a bit and talked myself into staying awake because I knew it would be bedtime when we landed in Delhi. So I got another show going. I tried to watch Game of Thrones, but I couldn’t stay awake (sorry GOT fans. I promise I’ll try again on the flight home). Chile, I saw they had Friends! So, I’m watching Friends and CRACKING UP when I noticed people staring at me… I forgot they could hear me and not the TV show… my bad y’all…

A few people had their windows open, and I could see we were flying through a LOT of lightening. Whenever we hit a little turbulence, two small children behind me (one of which, who was probably the sweetest one, kept kicking my seat) giggled. I got through at least 6 episodes of Friends, and drifted off to sleep again. The airline woke us up for breakfast, and I was tickled because the flight attendant looked a lot like Ernie from Fox 13 News. I had turkey bacon, eggs, breakfast potatoes, and orange juice. I mixed some Emergen-C in my orange juice to help boost my immune system and watched Friends until we landed. It was 9:45pm when we left the states, and 9:45pm all over again when we landed in India… 😮

When we got off the plane, we all went to the rest room. Fam…. What was I supposed to do with this?! Which is exactly what I asked myself when I entered the stall. But if you know me, I said “YOLO” and went for it…. Don’t ask.

20170628_214837

Sooooo….. When in Rome?

The airport process took us a little over an hour because of the lines, but it was actually a really smooth process. Everyone was friendly, but moving! We met with more of our team leaders, and they were both older men who were warm and cracked jokes. I think it made us all feel more welcomed.  The shuttle that brought us to the hotel was cool. The gentlemen didn’t speak, but were hospitable. But let me tell you, he was whipping that bus!

When we arrived at the hotel, it was raining really hard, but the hotel was absolutely beautiful! Check-in was a breeze, but our team was completely exhausted by this point. It was midnight here (There’s a 10.5 hour time difference for us).

I just realized that everyone we encountered was a man… Hmmm… Where are the womenfolk? I’ll keep that in mind for tomorrow. We were escorted to our rooms, where I showered, and typed this quick blog for y’all to let you know that God kept us safe, and we arrived.

“God not only sees where you are, He sees where you can be…”

Brown Sugar Goes on a Mission!

India1“Take the risk, or lose the chance.”

So I’m sitting in the airport in Newark, New Jersey, and couldn’t think of a better time to start blogging about my mission trip.  I started a leadership internship with my church last September, not fully knowing what to expect. I learned rather quickly the vast commitment that was expected of me, and for some strange reason, in spite of the many other demands on my plate, I took this one head on.  A requirement for completion in this internship is to go on a mission trip. I was chosen to go to India. The day we learned which trip we would go on was SUCH a rough day for me, and instead of being able to fully enjoy that moment, I was in the bathroom balling my eyes out (That’s another post on another day)!

I gotta admit, I never quite knew why I was chosen to go to India. All I could come up with was the fact that the universe aligned the stars for my yoga journey. :-/ Last week, my children went on vacation with their dad. I had all of these different ideas of what I would do with my free time: who I would hang out with, what events I’d attend, what fitness classes I’d get in. What ended up happening was almost the complete opposite of that… I had some time to clear my head, relax, meditate, spend intimate time with God, and truly be restored.

Friday, I got an update from my team leader letting me know that I was $999 away from being fully funded for the trip I was scheduled to leave for in FOUR days! Ironically, I wasn’t anxious, and had no clue where it all would come from, but told God I would trust Him. That had become my mantra that week.

Each saturday night, I serve in the 3-year-old room at my church. I’ve been there every Saturday since I started this internship. Off and on, I wondered why I was chosen to serve there when I serve on a completely different team on Sunday’s but such is life! This Saturday, all of my babies were hype about announcing they were all three! Then one stated, ” Yea when I was a little kid, I used to do that.” I almost replied with, “girl you’re still a little kid!” when I realized that I was about to crush her three-year-old dream! How many times are we unconsciously reckless with our words and ultimately plant seeds of doubt, fear, and insecurity in our children? I caught myself, and giggled with them instead. The Kids Life director and I both jumped in and told them we had “threes” in our ages too. In that moment God spoke to me and said, and that’s why you were chosen to go to India. Listen ya’ll. I was ready to go COGIC ugly shout in the corner, then make an alter right there in that classroom, and go lay prostrate. I knew then that I was sent to go love on children.

Sunday morning, one of the pastors at my church, Pastor Travis, spoke about being a Dream Chaser, and doing so meant finding what you were passionate about, and go from there. It was A GOOD message, but I’m passionate about a lot of stuff! Yoga, tea, sleep, working with kids, chips, psychology, cheerleading, to name a few. Later that evening, our church hosted Kids Life XL for grades 1-5. When I tell y’all the lil babies were LIT! I think I was called (LOL) to work in the heat to prepare myself for this New Delhi heat, but when that first bead of sweat rolled down my back, I was over it… LBVS What I did notice was how my heart lit up when I saw how excited the kids were, and how my energy shifted from selfish to selfless. Even though I’ve been working with kids for 11 years, it wasn’t until that moment that I realized that I really am passionate about working with children. It’s amazing how all things work together.

God revealed so much to me in span of one week, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overwhelmed by it all. To add to how great He is, by Monday morning, that $999 I had left to pay on my trip, had been fully funded by friends, family, and complete strangers! Remember that ugly wall shout and prostrate alter call I told y’all about earlier? Yep. Happened in my bedroom. I cried until I couldn’t breathe. I. Was. ‘Tow. Up.  If I don’t know anything else, I know that God keeps His promises! I can’t thank you all enough for your generosity! One thing became evident this week, my journey in leadership has cultivated my purpose, and none of it is about me. It’s all about the kingdom. I’m excited about what lies ahead!

“To me, a rich and satisfying life means one full of contrast. Give me sleep ins. And soft rains. Coffee shops and conversation. But also adrenaline and adventure. And drunken bellows to the stars. I am determined to embrace this extravagant life for all that is has to offer.” -Beau Taplin