Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Day 6 - Kanyakumari

Hello family and friends,

Today we were able to visit Kanyakumari, which is the Southern most tip of India. The peninsula is surrounded by three separate bodies of water: the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabic Sea. The three bodies of water meeting at the peninsula are said to symbolize the convergence of India’s three main religions: Hindu, Muslim, and Christianity.

Upon our arrival at Kanyakumari we were greeted by a breathtaking view of the waters and attractions.

The group along with Mike and Mahesh, traveled to the Vivekananda Rock memorial. The memorial was located on one of the two rocks that lay off the shore. Therefore, a crowned ferry was our method of travel. The memorial commemorated Swami Vivekananda. He was said to have searched enlightenment on the rock. There we were able to view various Hindu statues and temples.

After returning to shore, we visited the Gandhi memorial mandapam. The location of the memorial is where Gandhi’s ashes were stored before they were thrown in the waters at Kanyakumari. A gentleman at the memorial was kind enough to explain the significance of the memorial to our group. He explained that the architecture of the memorial represented the three religious structures (Cathedral, Musk, and Hindu temple). Additionally, he showed us two small holes that are designed to only let light through on October 2nd (which is Gandhi’s birthday).

Then we explored around the shops and stores before deciding to eat at a hotel for lunch. The food was wonderful! Then it was off to Madurai in the van. This trip only proved to be about four hours (a short trip for our group).

To end the day once we arrived in Madurai, we had a short shopping trip and settled into the hotel for dinner and a good nights rest.

- Lydia Archinal

Day 5 - St. Antony's

Hi everyone!

Today we had the amazing opportunity to stay with the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in Nagercoil at St. Antony’s! At the bright and early time of 6:00am we began our voyage via tuk-tuk to mass. After two hours of bare feet, bees, flies galore, and deep sleep (shoutout to Dr. Vaughn), we arrived back at St. Antony’s only to be greeted by the cheery faces of children that reside in the children’s home. After *another* breakfast of idly, French toast, and other foods that I will no longer be able to look at due to over abundance, we had the privilege of delivering gifts to the children. We handed out games, including an inflatable bowling set. A short fifteen minutes later, the bowling pins would be destroyed. How, you may ask? The children ate them of course! Couldn’t have guessed that one if I tried. Regardless, joyfully, we continued, playing soccer, swinging (on a most delicately not up to code playset), and above all, laughing together. After lunch (featuring French toast) we all rested. We then visited a market in Nagercoil, purchasing local goods, including face masks, coffee, and sweet treats. We walked back to St. Antony’s, only to discover our street smarts were apparently not up to par. In addition to our two “bodyguards” Mahesh and Mike, we also had our van following close behind, in case of rain, or Alli saying hi to future strangers. After a long day, we were able to visit with the children, have a dance off to Baby by Justin Bieber, eat *more* French toast, and rest. :)

- Erin Behe

Day 4 - Nursing College

Today we visted the College of Nursing in Dindigual where we attended the ribbion-cutting ceremony for the introduction of the finished dorms for the students. The new dorm rooms are a lot larger providing the studetns with plenty of room to keep all of their things.  We went to mass afterwards and were part of a program the students put on. They taught us Bollwood-style dancing, which was a blast! We then had our 5-hour treck to Nagercoil to visit the other children's home. Overall, it was an amazing day!

- Caleigh Adams

Day 3 - Playing With Children & Feast Mass

Today we woke up bright and early ready to play with the children at the school. We gathered up all the donations including markers, crayons, coloring books, paint, balls, jump ropes, and bubbles. The children were absolutely ecstatic when they saw all the toys we had for them. The greatest part about play is that it has no language barriers. None of our group members spoke Tamil but we were still able to play together for hours on end. No matter what language you speak, you can still run around, laugh and smile. Some of our group members colored/painted with the students, while others ran around playing with the balls and jump ropes.

After playing we went up to our rooms to clean up and put on our saris. The sisters came to each of our rooms and helped us properly put on our saris. They also fixed all of our hair as they were not fond of our sweaty and frizzy hair. We proceeded to go to mass with the sisters to celebrate the feast of the sacred heart. When mass ended, the children and sisters performed dances they had prepared for us. Watching all the children dance was absolutely adorable! The sisters have some serious dance skills which could not be matched by our American moves. Our group them had a chance to perform the itsy bitsy spider with the children. Also, we attempted to learn one of the traditional dances of South India. However, it turned out to be more of a comedy show than a dance performance. After a long morning, we packed up all of our stuff and began the long 7-hour drive to Dindigul.

- Karis Kosobucki

Day 1 - Cathedral & Mount Thomas

This morning we woke up ready to conquer our first full day in India. We ate breakfast at our hotel. For breakfast, we all tried our first idly. When we finished breakfast, Mahesh and our driver packed up the van and we headed to Mount Thomas. Famous for the presence of Doubting Thomas of the Catholic religion. Mount Thomas had a beautiful view. We toured the place to commemorate Saint Thomas. After, we toured the museum of Mount Thomas. A local allowed us to join his group where he translated the details of the memorial. 

Mahesh then took us to an Indian restaurant for lunch. It was delicious! We all tried different Indian dishes. Before traveling to Vellore, we took a detour to the restroom where we were greeted with an Indian toilet (aka squatty potty). Maria even introduced her phone and sunglasses to the squatty potty. We filled the restaurant with laughter. It was a good thing Jennie brought some toilet paper! Mahesh and our driver had a good laugh when we got back to the van. We stopped at a beautiful local church, too. On the way, we took a quick nap and woke up to pouring rain. We finally arrived to Vellore, where we were greeted by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. We were embraced in hugs. They made us dinner and delicious “milk coffee.” After a long day, we were all ready to get some rest. Tomorrow Sister Stella is taking us Sari shopping. We can’t wait!

- Alli Lee

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Just Kidding about having wi-fi

A text from one of the group’s accompaniers, Jennie, says that the group has not yet met up with wi-go to post here but they are still having a great time! They’ve had a lot of fun playing with the children. They will definitely have wi-fi to post Tuesday. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Safely Arrived - Update Coming!

As seen on Facebook, the India group has safely arrived but hasn't caught up with any wi-fi yet. They'll likely be able to post tonight, though, so check back this evening (EDT).