Thursday, April 30, 2009

We have failed to write about a lot of our experiences, but we must tell you about one in particular. Our time in Haridwar was unique. We gained answers to many questions we had from the previous 5 weeks about the culture and Hindu religion. It was difficult for us to even formulate questions or know how to respond to what we saw and experienced. Even after knowing a little about Hinduism and previously spending five weeks in India, the time was far from what we could have previously imagined or prepared for.
Haridwar was probably the most spiritually dark place we have ever been. It seemed you could sense it in every way. Millions of people annually come to this city. We are told that thousands of seekers gather around to attend a nightly ritual to worship the Ganga River along its shores. Every twelve years a particular ritual occurs at the Ganga River that hosts about 20 million Hindus attempting to entering the water at a particular time to wash away there sins. We attended the nightly ritual, called Arti, to observe thousands of lost souls earnestly seeking and participating in the worship.
The following morning, we went around town and saw the many rituals that people perform. Particularly, we witnessed many who have traveled for the purpose of performing rituals for their deceased family members. The rituals range from shaving of their body hair, to rolling dough into balls, wrapping string around their wrists, repeating words and more. The importance isn’t in how or why you do something, but simply about doing the ritual.
One neat thing we saw was Historical documents that are updated each time family members come to Haridwar. The documents contain thousands of years of a family’s significant events.
In Haridwar, there are two major employment opportunities: a factory and spiritual tourism. Whether it’s selling rupees to throw into the Ganga River, to gathering up the rupees from the Ganga River that were just thrown in or selling flowers to offer to the idols, people seek to extract every last rupee out of the Hindu pilgrims and others that may be blindly searching. We saw so much idolatry, worshiping the creation rather than creator. The women will poor out the last of their food or milk into the Ganga river leaving there child hungry because of there belief that they will receive more in return. If only they would drink of the living water.
The weekend was such a blessing and eye opening to the needs of this people group.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Writers Block

So much has happened since the last real post that it's hard to know where to start. Now that I've stared at the computer and wasted a significant amount of time, I've decided to start with a few pictures and write later. That way, if a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll be way ahead.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

back to Delhi

We are so far behind in our blog. For those of you that are patiently awaiting....I'm so sorry! The Internet was touch and go prior to our departure to Delhi and now we've been away traveling India with Mom and Dad Rocke. Prior to our time traveling, we visited Rishikesh and were blessed to spend a weekend with Stan and Andrea in Haridwar. We will certainly have to write another blog about that experience! It is certainly going to be so meager and insufficient knowing that words can't come close to adequately describing the experience,but I'll try.
Now, we have returned to Delhi after traveling to Agra, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Jaipur, Neemrana. There are so many stories to tell, laughs to share, and images to show. All this is to come. Yes, I'm sure you are totally on the edge of your seats :-) But I'm also sure that everyone else that's waiting for the computer behind me is also on the edge of their seats in anticipation of me putting a close to this tid-bit.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Weekend with the kids

This past weekend Brent and I were able to watch the Jeff and Janet's kids. We had a very smooth first hour, then suddenly high pitch screaming came echoing through the house. We ran inside to find blood coming out of Cozy's mouth and a large lump on Conner's head! The peace was short lived as they accidently collided, but Calvin soon came to the rescue as he went between the two kids instinctively giving repeated wet kisses to both of them. It was adorable to see as they all fell into uncontrollable giggling.
The rest of the weekend was a blast with few further casualties. It was an energetic weekend full of arts and crafts, jump rope, double dutch, bird watching, walks around the area, card games and some intense dutch blitz! We had a fabulous time and are so blessed to have the opportunity to be with the Lemans. It's so hard to believe that we only have a couple weeks more here. Time has flown!
We look forward to the arrival of Mom and Dad Rocke!! They will be here in four days and we can't wait to see them! We love you all! Thanks again for your thoughts and prayers. Have a blessed Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pictures from Janet's Collection

I've been able to look at some of Janet's picture collection for India and here are a few of my favorites. (I DIDN'T take these pictures). Someone else skillfully took them, so I can't take the credit:) Never-the-less, enjoy the anonomous artist's work!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Prodigal Sons

We spent the previous weekend in Mussouri, the foothills of the Himalayas. The weekend was a beautiful get away as we were able to experience God’s creation with hours of trekking all around the area. The place we stayed was located on a high bluff that provided a beautiful panoramic view of the sunrise.
After hiking the mountain and several intensely steep hills that took our breath away and made us feel incredibly out of shape, we reached a lookout with breathtaking view. We were blessed with two delightfully clear days that enabled a vivid display of the snow capped Himalayas, a variety of vegetation and vibrant flowers. On Sunday, Brent and I hiked up the mountain and found another open area to have church. We were able to have some great teaching this weekend as we listened to a pastor from NYC. He spoke on the Prodigal Son, rather instructing that is should be called the Prodigal Sons.
Three types of people:
The younger brother, the older brother , and how we should be.
The parable illustrates two ways humans try to make themselves right:
moral conformity-(older brother)people work hard/ make themselves submit. To the older brother type/Pharisee, Jesus may be a rewarded, protector, but not saviour bc the other brother type is his own savior by avoiding sin, he tries to control God through his obedience...doing all the good and moral things to get what he wants out of God, but not God Himself. He believes God owes him bc of his goodness.
self discovery- (younger brother) people live how they want to live.

Both sons were acting how they were wanting the things of the father, but not the father to point of wishing the father dead. Both wrong. The original hears would have been astounded. If one had two sons and died, the other brother would get 2/3 and the younger would get 1/3. The oldest got a double portion of all the other kids, but that happened upon the death of the father. So, when the younger brother asked for his portion, it was as if he was wishing his father dead---“I want the father’s things, but not the father”.
In v 29, the older son doesn’t call his father “father”, but rather “look” direct address to father, but “look you”...publicly insulting his father by not going to the biggest feast his father has ever thrown and publicly humiliates his father by refusing to call him father related the disgust of his father’s displayed love to the younger brother and the cost of the party.

It all comes down to motivation:
The Pharisees/ religious people obey to get things
The Christian/gospel person obeys God to get God

Jesus says we need three things.
1. We need the initiating love of the father: father goes out to both sons to bring them in. The father kisses the younger son before repentance. The kiss initiates repentance, not the repentance initiating the kiss. God seeks us first.
Father goes out to the older brother and pleads him to come in.

2. We need to learn how to repent for more than sin, but also for the reasons we do right
3. We need to be melted and moved by what it costs to bring us home. It costs a lot for the younger brother to be back in the family. The older brother had to pay a lot for the little brother to come back into the family. (all the riches left were technically his, so all the party given to the younger son had to be pain by the older brother). Someone always has to pay for the salvation. A true older brother would have seen the father’s agony and longing for the lost son and gone out to look for the younger brother, even at his own expense. Our true older brother, Jesus, came from heaven to earth to save us. We need an older brother that will come for us for more than the cost of his wallet, but at the cost of His life. On the cross Jesus Christ willingly offered Himself. He was stripped so we could be clothed with a robe of honor that we don’t deserve. He brings us home to the enormous expense of himself.

Jesus redefines God:
God the Father. Jesus is the first person to call God “Father”. Jesus addresses God as “Father” every time in the Bible except once. The one time Jesus doesn’t is when He is hanging on the cross. He then calls Him “My God, My God” because He was not treated as a son so that we could be. There, He paid the debt we know we owe. He, Jesus, had everything that the Father, God, had, but gave it up, bringing us home at His enormous expense.

Sorry so long, but I just loved the description of the Parable and wanted to share it. Compared to my previous knowledge of the parable, it was such an amazing light to the story. What a blessing to have free access to the living Word.

While in India, the encounters of daily life have brought up and brought new light to previously pondered issues. The practical challenges have developed from the numerous beggars we encountered (especially in Delhi) and our the daily life at Herbertpur. The beggars that we have encountered have us rehash the struggle of similar situations that often occurred in the streets of Chicago, Atlanta or other travels. Often, we are found trying to figure out how to truely love those people. They want money and we have no way of communicating with them. The need seems endless. While we were in Delhi I had to think of the persistent widow before the judge in Christ’s teaching on prayer and I felt like the judge.
In the past, evangelism has often seemed the chief goal. I confess seeing preaching as the highest purpose and everything else I do with that goal in mind. Whether it is service or social action that we’ve been involved in, evangelism has been the goal in mind. An interesting quote by Gandi stated “ I hold that proselytizing under the cloak of humanitarian work is, to say the least, unhealthy..why should I change my religion because a doctor who professes Christianity as his religion has cured me of some disease..?” It has taken me, what seems like a long time, to see social action and evangelism as simultaneously important, but still it’s puzzling how they will fuse in the mission field before us.
I have read a few pages out of a book by John Stott that deals with this issue (it was sitting in our shared living space) and as he articulates social action should be a partner of evangelism. Neither being the purpose to accomplish the other. In this way, the Great Commission (which at first appears to emphasizes evangelism) should be understood to include both social and evangelistic responsibilities.
I have often read this commission while forgetting Jesus’ prayer, “As though didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The statement begs to answer the question how did the Father send the Son? He came to serve. The Great Commission does not supersede but adds to the requirement of the second of the greatest Commandments, to love my neighbor including enemies. I have encountered many beggars and struggled in how to lovingly respond. I came hoping to get a greater glimpse of the things God wants us this education I have pursued. I entered medicine with the purpose of international missions yet I have less of a idea what that would consist of than I did when I started.
Staci and I are having a great time. I have been learning a lot in multiple areas including medicine, spiritual and cultural practices. We hope to travel with some friends from Holland this weekend to a National Park and if we are fortunate enough see some animals.
Internet was down so this didn’t get posted earlier. We already went to Rajaji National Park which will be posted separately.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rajaji Park & Indian Safari

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love Like Jesus'

I wish I could share the many different patients I have seen. My first day here was a TB clinic day. Three people every second die from TB in the world. I had heard of these devastating statistic but its different seeing the faces.
This evening we went to a concert that hospital staff organized to raise support and provide awareness to the local community for poor patients that come to the clinic. There is a discounted clinic here where the poor patients only pay 5 rupees ($0.10), but sadly the poorest of the poor can’t afford even that. Jeff shared a story of a patient that had been suffering from TB for years and had spent money on treatment that turned out being insufficient and incorrect. When this 32 y/o lady arrived at this hospital’s clinic she weighted only 25kg (55lbs). This is not rare, might I add. I have seen many patients that weight near that weight and one that only weighted 22kg. Months of treatment went by and she was not gaining weight so she was asked why. She responded by sharing that beyond the cost of the medication and transportation to the hospital, her family was only able to afford a meal a day and shared five ways between her, her husband and three children. This is only a glimpse of what is seen at this hospital. I hope to share more of both the pain we see as well as the exciting things happening here that will dramatically help these patients’ cost decrease and improve their care as lives are transformed through continued caring. From the hospital wards to the clinic, in the midst of such devastated lives, I get to see such incredible Christian care showed to these people who God made in his image and passionately loves. I sadly have seen how I would have denied it at home, how tightly I have held on to my own wealth, time, reputation, health, and family that I continually must surrender to the Lord. “He is no fool who gives up what he can not keep to gain what He can not loose” (Jim Elliot).
“How blessed is he who considers the poor, The Lord will deliver him in a day of trouble.” Psalm 41:1
Just so you know we are at an EHA hospital in Herpertpur.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Days and lessons from India

Picture of the day...The way these people can balance things on their head amazes me...Too bad she caught me taking her picture. Woops! Oh well!

We are doing well, still healthy(Praise God) and now understanding a bit more how things work here. God has surely provided in more was than we could have even thought to pray for. When he arrived, I'm pretty sure they were not aware of our arrival and unsure where to put us. We had no orientation, but God provided others to help us most of the way. Our new friends from Holland showed us all around the campus, how to get food and when it's served, where to get clean water, where and when to show up for required events, how to do laundry and so much more. Praise the Lord for his provisions and protection.
We had a movie night with them and two others from India here. We watched Slumdog Millionaire. It was so interesting as we would get the play by play of what all the scenes were/the background and what was really going on from the Indian perspective. That was surely a fun night.
I have also become the "PE teacher" for Jeff and Janet's kids. We had our first PE today. It was full of jump roping and double dutch. Such fun and I believe successful as they all left quite sweaty. I look forward to more time with them for sure!
God has surely been teaching me so much about my own sinful nature and a new realization of the love and grace that He freely offers. While I was saddened to see the Hindu life and the fear that rules the lives of the followers, I have see how I too allow fear to rule times of my life. I become selfish, disillusioned and fear to surrender. I've often overlooked God's loving nature and that He truly has a plan for us, help, hope and future...not to harm or take away/destitute me with anything I fear to surrender. This is one thing that God has shown me and I continue pray through.
Being here has open my eyes to a whole new world. We have seen the reality of the battle of not flesh and blood, but powers of darkness and Satan's powerful work. On the flipside, we have seen and heard amazing stories of God's power over darkness and stories of people's conversions like never before. I have been blessed to see, in new ways, what a mighty God we serve.
Thank you for your continued prayers!
We love you all dearly~

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Glimps of India

Before church in Darha dun

Grounds worker at the hospital

Off to the "Department Store"...small grocery store

My Valentine...A dozen roses from Brent

A local tailor at the bizarre

electric coil + water

Yesterday was again a day of first time experiences. I did my first hand wash load of laundry. With language barrier and the people's explanations/directions being different, it leads us to my mistake. Brent and I were given two plastic buckets to fill with water for bathing and washing clothes. We were also given a piece of coiled metal. While I didn't really understand how this could be remotely safe or even work, I asked for explanation several times. She kept repeating that you stick the coil into the bucket of water to heat it as you plug it in the wall. Simple enough, right? We have two guys living in the same "apartment" and one of the guys was sitting at the computer and walked me through it one more time from across the room. I somehow stuck in the coil without electrifying myself, but after a while we were sitting in the common room and he looks confused at me and asks what a noise was. I'm thinking it's a normal noise for this strange contraption, but we jump up, see smoke rising. I had melted two large holes through the bucket and melted the plastic all over the back of the coil. He couldn't believe that I mangled the bucket and heater like that and that, nor why I didn't put it in the designated metal pail...My thoughts exactly...we weren't ever given such a pail to begin with...Well,learning the hard way, but eventually finished the laundry in his pail, hung it out to dry on the roof and breathed a sigh of relief (and hoped the monkeys wouldn't come back on the roof and steal it)
Another day in India...another adventure

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Arrival at Herbertpur

We have had some difficulties getting Internet. The local cafe has not been open and we have to wait until Dr. Jeff is back for a password so updates may be sparse. We took a taxi from Lon & Sarah's and were not sure where to go when we "arrived." All we knew was two names to ask for and that I was not sure of because I couldn't understand them very well over the phone earlier in the day. Eventually we were taken to our "plush" accommodations including 2 twin beds, 2 buckets and a small cup to assist in the "shower." In addition we have some electrical heating device to plug in to warm the water. Staci is very excited because we have a space heater. So far the food has been good. We thought we might initially loose weight on this trip but it is not looking like it so far.
Our first day was quite ruff, we like to refer to it as culture shock to make us feel better. We weren't sure if anyone knew what to do with us. Staci and I were split up and were later able to comfort each other with similar mornings of confusion, grief and frustrations during a 2 hour walk through the tea garden. We continue to return to the tea garden which is quite beautiful. We are doing better now as we are quickly adjusting. Today we took a run through the tea garden followed by a frigged bucket bath. Our survival, guidance and orientation to what in the world is going on here has been completely provided by some new friends of ours from Holland.
Hopefully we will able to use the Internet more in the future and post pictures. We are trying to plan a weekend trip to the Himalayan foothills this weekend.

Namasta (Hello in Hindi)

We are now at Lon and Sarah's in Duradam (or something like that). We had a incredible 5-6 hr train ride there from Delhi. Incredible in that I, staci, felt like a 5yr old with my nose stuck to the window...never have I see such poverty, extreme slums in masses, such brilliant color, dichotomy in socioeconomic class, idolatry, and randomness and trash. I am not able to come close to describe the sights. From early, 5am, to late into the night, streets are packed with people pushing carts of produce, strange trinkets etc to sleeping in the middle of sidewalks all over, beggars in plagues, cows walking freely all over and incessant honking of horns. Today, we even saw a massive elephant carrying a large load of small trees on it's back with a rider. The stranger thing about it was that the elephant was slowly walking down a major "highway/perimeter" of it had all the rights to be there that a car would have. Needless today, it has been an eye opening experience.
Since at Lon and Sarah's, it's been so nice to hear how God has been working in their lives and those around them. It has been such so neat to hear their stories. We had a nice Indian food lunch, went on a scooter ride with Lon into town. Sarah and I were at home and the boys went out and came back with a dozen roses for each of us girls to celebrate Valentines.(very sweet! red roses with glitter) This evening we went to a market and bought fabric for another "Indian dress/suit" and then went out for drinks at a cafe. end off...we had hot showers! ahhhh, incredible! That about it for today. I'll have to do a retro update for the first couple days in Delhi.
we love you much and are so grateful for your prayers. They have surely been felt as things have gone so smoothly, peacefully and without problems.
P.S. What would have taken 5 minutes has now taken over an hour. Got to enjoy the world wide web especially in rural India.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A not so black belt in packing

The official start of our blog...I figured there was no time like the present to start...In the comforts of our first home together. As I was packing up today, I was quickly reminded that I actually never fully unpacked from my last place. For instance, I found a check written to me from 2007 (sorry mom, but I'd love to have that check written to us again:) ), long lost sweaters, and dishes that I hadn't actually unpacked from two moves ago in Georgia. This goes to validate my seemingly nomadic life since moving to Illinois. With that said, I wouldn't want it any other way! There's nobody I'd rather be a nomad for than Christ and to spend it with Brent! Life is full of adventures, but I never new it could be this full until marrying Brent and going through away rotations and interview season! Wow, over 30 flights later for me...I'm now at the Brink of our time in India!
For those who have never made it here, I think I'll include our latest fine decoration...The Christmas tree that still stands bc there's nowhere to put it, so I thought I'd decorate it for Brent's birthday.