Deaf KFC in India! Check it out!

Praise God! What an awesome thing to do in a country where so many are deaf:) Read this post by a fellow blogger about her experience at this unique fast food restaurant:)

Click the link below:

Good Citizen in India- Kentucky Fried Chicken

<3Ariel

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Prayer for the Deaf and Disabled Children of India

When I began this blog, I hadn’t yet been to India. These posts were mostly prayers. This post is a return to that. Please, pray with me today:

Father,

You know the deaf and disabled children in India. You know them each by name. You know everything about them – every hurt, every joy, every dream. You know their needs. So, we come to You today, and we ask you to meet their needs through Your presence, through Your people, through us.

Feed them and clothe them. Grant them clean water and good health. Let them see themselves the way You see them. Bring people into their lives who love them and will care for them, who will be Your hands and Your feet, Your hugs and Your kisses, Your provision and Your tenderness. Give them hope. Give them joy in your presence.

And give us prayers for them. Give us the wisdom and the resources to help them. Fill us with Your Spirit and give us the boldness to do hard and seemingly crazy things to lead them to You and to the life You desire for them.

We thank You that You are with them now. That you are breathing in our prayers. That Your glory is unstoppable and Your love is already at work changing the world. Make us like You.

You are love and You are holy.

Your will be done, Dad.

Amen

Ariel

An Update from the India Girl

Hello friends,

Well, I haven’t been updating as much as I planned. I manage to do a bit with Twitter, (Since my concussion, I’ve found I’m better at communicating in less than 140 characters;) but I’ve failed to be faithful with writing on this blog. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

My youngest brother has several heart conditions that need to be resolved. In a little over a week, he’ll be going into a series of heart surgeries. The pre-op tests, surgeries, and recovery could take anywhere from two weeks to a month. Please pray for him and for my family as we walk through this valley.

We sold our house! Hurrah! So we’re also moving. Packing, packing, packing. Fun, fun, fun.

I relapsed recently. Seems I got rid of the parasites but not their eggs. They hatched. Gross. I’m also experiencing all the joys of traumatic brain injury. (Remember that lovely concussion I got from fainting on the kitchen floor?) Makes forming sentences confussing… among other things.

I’m working on my book, as well as I can with all of this business and brain injury. Mostly, I’m collecting my notes from my notebooks, blog posts, emails etc, putting them in chronological order and deciding what is relevant to put in the book and what isn’t. I’ll give you some insider info, though: There are some VERY exciting things that happened, and they’re going in the book for sure. 🙂

As crazy as all of this is, God is so good and so faithful. He has given be dear friends who have been such a support, and He has given me your prayers. I cannot express how valuable your prayers, encouragement, and even your page views on my blog have been to me. You are a gift. Thank you.

❤

Ariel

So… What’s Next?

I hadn’t even landed yet. I was still hovering somewhere over the ocean on my way back to America when the woman next to me on the plane asked me. I had just finished telling her about the work I’d done in India. So, of course, the very next question she asked me was, “So, what’s next?”

She wasn’t the last. Almost everyone I’ve talked to since has asked me that, and my reply so far has been very straightforward and very short-term: “I’m getting better.”

Now, just about 4 months after that plane trip home, I’ve finally by God’s grace attained that goal. Finally, I’ve gotten better. About three weeks ago, the fog of months of illness and a bonus concussion began to clear. First, I could read more than a couple verses during my Bible time; I could make dinner; I could unpack my bags. Then, I could read a couple pages; I could polish all of the wood in the living and dining room; I could reorganize my bedroom. Now, I begin to feel myself rising to my feet in life again – a little shaky, a little confused, a little weak – but very happy to be on my way to feeling and acting up to par. Finally, I’m feeling more like someone with a chronic cold than someone with a relentless disease.

Finally, I can I do a bit better in answering that question, “What’s next?”

Here it is, the first draft of a game plan:

I’m writing a book. I’m writing about what I saw and what I did and what it’s like out there. There’s so so much more to my trip than I’ve been able to tell you in these posts. There’s so much more than I can tell you in brief, sans serif anecdotes.

I want to be able to tell you the whole story, take you along with me down the dusty South Indian streets to the orphaned, disabled children, introduce you to them and show you the beautiful, inspiring, and yet desperately needy people they are. I want to take you up ten thousand feet into the green mountains of the north and show you the dark-eyed shepherds in their tents, let you hear the prayers ring out through the valley, haunting and deep. I want you to meet the deaf clothing merchant. I want you to celebrate Eid. I want you to come with me as I’m taken into an military camp in hostile territory. I want you to know what its like to eat with your hands and be lost in a world of hundreds of languages, to come to know and understand orphaned, disabled children and deaf Indians and Muslims. I want you to know the ways we need to teach them and I want you to know the ways we need to learn from them. I want to tell you a really captivating story, and then I want you to help decide how it will end.

That’s my main goal right now, and along with that come related goals. I’m planning on coming to visit those of you who supported me and telling you in person what God is doing and what God has done. I’m planning on writing more on this blog.

I’m going to do my best to be blogging at least weekly and posting on Twitter at least daily. Please do follow me, if you aren’t already, both on this blog and on Twitter. I’ll be posting stories, prayers, prayer requests, updates, and pictures, and I’ll be responding to your comments (Yes! I enabled commenting again now that I’m in a location where it’s safe to do so.) So, please follow me and comment – ask questions about my trip, give me prayer requests, give me suggestions for my posts, tell me what the Lord has laid on your heart, or just pop in to say hi and tell me what you thought of the post.

I want to thank you again and again for your prayers throughout my trip and during my recovery. I cherish them and thank God for all of your faithful support.

Grace and peace,
Ariel

Mourning

Mourning is the same all over the world.

A few months ago, in the mountains of India, I walked into a shepherd’s shelter. There was the silence that comes after death, and the sobs of a woman in grief. The message had come of a death in the family. We mourned with them.

A few days ago, in the valleys of Virginia, I walked into a little farmhouse. There was the silence that comes after death, and we sobbed in grief. Because the message had come of a death in our family. We mourned with them.

The scenery was all different, as were the circumstances and the way the messages came. But the after-death silence, the tears, the breathless prayers… these were universal.

In both places, in both deaths, there’s been a part of me that is tempted not to feel – a part of me that longs to run away from the pain of death. Because as much as I rejoice that a man who was like my uncle is now rejoicing with our Father, I can’t deny the twisting in my stomach… I can’t deny the reality of my hatred toward death. I cannot help but long for a world without mourning, for a time when we will never be absent from those we love. At first I found this a contradiction – this love for heaven and this hate for death. Yet as I pray through these seeming inconsistencies, I find that they aren’t opposing after all. Death is, as we know, a part of the curse. We were created for oneness and life. Our hearts should ache, our hearts should long for the day when death will be conquered once and for all, rejoicing in the meantime that death has lost it’s sting because of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we mourn for the loss, for the separation, for this awful thing called death, yet we rejoice for the gain, for the oneness, for the final bliss we know as heaven – the full presence of God. We gather around the family, we bring meals, we bring hugs, we bring laughter. Whether in the mountains or the valleys, the children still play outside in the grass and we have that hope that life goes on and soon all our tears will be left behind. In the absence of one we love, one who loved us, we love each other all the more.

And love is the same all over the world.

Thank You

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“Welcome back, ma’am,” he said, in a classic Virginia accent, as he handed me my passport. He was just the guy at customs, but he sounded so much like home that I wanted to give him a hug.

The past six months had been amazing: developing and teaching a sign language teaching program in south India for a home of 120 + disabled children and then creating reference resources with Katie so that future volunteers and adoptive parents could communicate with the children too; teaching sign language to Telugu worship music at a worship training center; meeting deaf children and adults in north India; creating a website for a deaf school as well as websites for some believers working there; teaching sign language to a shepherd family in the mountains who have a disabled baby girl.

It was incredible, and I never could have done any of this without your faithful prayers and support. I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed by all of you – friends, family, and those of you who have become dear to me through the journey we’ve shared together because you’ve so faithfully followed my blog. Even coming into the airport, when I took my passport from the man with the accent that sounded like home, and ran through the sliding doors into the cheers and arms of my family and dear friends, I was overwhelmed by the love of God lavished on me through the faithfulness and tender care of His Body.

I’m so looking forward to reconnecting with many of you in person – to thank you and tell you about all that God has done. Even though this is the end of this part of my journey, I hope you’ll continue with me as I journey on. I hope you’ll continue to pray with me for the needy in India. I hope you’ll continue to reach out with me, even from across the sea, to these people that need the gift of communication, education, and, above all, salvation through the only One who can save. I hope you’ll follow my blog, as I continue to tell you stories of the great things God has done and is doing in India (things I’ve either been too busy or too sick to let you know, yet) and as I tell you stories of those who are helpless and need to experience the love of God through us – through our efforts, though our talents, and through our prayers. I hope you’ll continue to pray for me as I begin writing a book about all this, so that more believers can know this need and join with us in ministering to this country, to these people groups, to these children, to the unsaved, uneducated deaf of India.

Sincerely,
Ariel

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Update

So, I’m going to resist the desire to write a well-put together post and give a simple and clear update of what’s been going on and what will be going on:

As you know, if you’ve been following along with me, I came to South India in March and helped out at Sarah’s Covenant Homes, developing a home sign language and sign language teaching program and implementing it by teaching the teachers and nurses who in turn taught the nannies who taught the over 100 children. I then went to Hyderabad and taught sign language to go with the Telugu worship songs to worship leaders and developed reference materials for the children’s sign language program.

Then, I came north. I got to, among other things, meet some local deaf people, connect with a deaf school, create a website for the deaf school, and most recently teach sign language to a family with a Down’s Syndrome baby.

I’m leaving for Europe in a week. I’ll be doing childcare for a week there at a retreat-type conference. Then, I’ll be coming home:)

I’m going to be spending some focused time with my family for the first two weeks or so and then, God willing, come and visit those of you who have supported me to tell you all about what the Lord has done.

After that I’m going to write more about what’s happened here…. So much more has happened than I’ve been able to capture in these posts, more even than I could tell you all in person. And the Lord has done too many awesome things… I just have to express them all to you.

I can’t put into words how grateful I am for all of your support financially, through prayer, and in joining me in this journey through reading along. Thank you so much. You’ve been such a blessing:)

❤ Ariel

When I Grow Up

I’ll finish my story about the mountains and what I found in the smoking tent and the work the Lord provided for me to partake in here. But not just yet. There’s something I feel a burden to talk about first. It’s a little bit about dreams and a little bit about the world changing and a little bit about growing up.

It also involves a little backstory: I changed my mind like most kids do about what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was seven I wanted to be a spy. At around age eight I wanted to be an electrical engineer… who wrote poetry. (Yeah, I’ve basically never been conventional.) Then I wanted to be a singer. I think, at one point, I wanted to be a dancer… and a computer programer. And when I was fifteen I really wanted to be a children’s book author and I wrote a children’s chapter book with one chapter missing in the middle haha. After that I just wanted to have ten children, home grown tomatoes, and a cow. But I find that as time goes on I haven’t really narrowed down my ambitions and settled into one thing, at least not exactly.

I want to be a hundred things at once – a teacher, a nurse, a nutritionist, a linguist, a foster mom…. the list goes on. I guess I’ve taken Gandhi’s advice too seriously. I want to be the change I want to see in the world, and there is just so much in the world I want to change. I want to be a teacher because I want everyone to have the gift of learning and knowledge. I want to be a nurse because I want every one to be healed and a nutritionist because I want everyone to be well. I want to be a linguist because I want to communicate to everyone in every language that they are loved and to give them hope. I want to be a foster mom because I want every lonely child to have a loving home. Again, the list goes on. For every lack and hurt and heartbreak I see, I want to do something that will change it. I want the world to be healed and loved and whole and know God.

But no one could do all of that, even in a thousand lifetimes. No one could accomplish all of that.

Still, I look out on my ever expanding view of the world, and I see need. I see deaf children who need sign language. I see disabled children who need sign language. I see children who need education, children who need love. I see so many languages the Word needs to be translated into. I see so many hopeless people who need to be saved. I see people sick because of ignorance, and I hear of people dying because of lies. And I can’t help but beg God to train up and raise up His people to be the change He wants to see in this world, by being like Him. I can’t help but beg Him to accomplish through others what I have to admit I could never accomplish no matter how much I gave up and no matter how hard I tried. I beg Him to stir in people’s hearts a desire to learn sign languages, to learn how to teach, to learn how to heal, to learn how to feed and clothe and love. I beg Him to bring people who will be family and home to the homeless and helpless children of this world. And I beg you to pray with me.

I’ve realized that in a world that is constantly shifting, uncertain in its future, and insurmountable if alone, that there is only one choice for me. If I could become anything or anyone… I would be a woman who prays.

Because while we are limited, the God whom we pray to is limitless, and His desire to see this world healed and whole and saved is greater than ours could ever be, and His ability to bring about those things unstoppable. Our burden is not to do every conceivable thing, but to do the things He has made for us to do and to pray for others to do likewise and for His will to be fulfilled on earth.

Please, pray with me.

Photos of India

Dear Readers and Followers (and people my mom passes these posts to through emails:)

I’ve recently made a photography blog so that you all can follow along with me, if you like, as I see India through my camera. I wouldn’t call photography my gift but this country is too beautiful not to capture, even if I capture it poorly:) I hope you enjoy:)

My photography blog is I Stand Upon my Desk. It’s named after a quote from a movie called The Dead Poet’s Society. The quote goes, ““I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” Some of my photos are a little strange – focusing on raindrops rather than faces, focusing on toes, incomplete images, or blurred scenes – because I find those things beautiful. I hope you’ll be able to find at least some of them beautiful, and at the very least, see things through these photos “in a different way”.

Thanks so much for joining me in my journey through India.

Please follow my Raising Hands blog and follow my I Stand Upon my Desk blog to receive automatic updates by email:)

Here are a few picture from my site:

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Jesay Daysh Vesay Vaysh: A calling to enter into their world

We were surrounded by persian rugs – rolled up and leaning against the walls, resting on the bench, and scattered over the floor. Clothed in salwaar camis and wrapped in a dupatta, I sat in the midst of the them, my right leg folded under me, my bare left sole resting snugly before me on the soft cool touch of silk. I leaned over my left knee and watched and listened to the merchant bargain with one of my companions. In the midst of the bargaining, the merchant seemed suddenly distracted by me. With a puzzled expression he noted, “You sit like a local girl,” then resumed his bargaining.

After the bargaining was concluded, he spoke to my Uncle in Urdu. I understood some but it was little.

“What did they say?” I asked Aunty.

“The merchant wanted to know why you dressed and sat the way you did,” she said. “Uncle said ‘Jesay Daysh Vesay Vaysh.’ It means ‘As the culture, so the custom.'”

It is a typical Indian saying and mentality: Adapt to the customs of the culture where you live. It’s a sort of Indian version of “When in Rome do as the Romans,” which interestingly enough is a phrase that did not originate in secular thought, as I first assumed. Our phrase “When in Rome…” can be traced as far back as Saint Augustine when he wrote how when he was in Rome he fasted on Saturdays, though in Milan he did not. (I feel such a tangible connection with this as I write, as my lips parch and my stomach twists in observance of the local fast.)

But the concept goes back further than the Indian or Anglican sayings. The concept goes back to the Scriptures, to the words:

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

– 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NIV

Another translation lays it out more simply:

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life….

– 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 MSG

It’s a truth that perhaps we don’t think about all that often, but we really should. I’ve seen the difference. I’ve seen the division caused by a T-shirt and a pair of jeans, and I’ve seen the way that something as simple as scarves and bangles creates a passage into a people’s world. Of course, it’s more than clothes. It’s also practices and attitudes, body language and food choices. It’s a hundred other things. But they are important things. They are the details that make up a culture and a people group, but more than that they are the details that make up a person.

The great thinker Alfred North Whitehead once said “We think in generalities, but we live in detail.” And we do. Though we think in the necessary – vital even – generalities of doctrine, belief, universal truths… we live in the morning prayers, in the cups of coffee, in the  scarves around our necks. In fact, the various details we choose to live in flesh out the generalities we truly believe and communicate them to the world. In south India I wore a scarf around my shoulders; in the north I wrap it around my hair. The choice itself is different, but it’s communication is the same: “I respect you. I relate to you. I love you.” and, hopefully “Our Father loves you. Can we grow in Him together?”

When we do this, when we live these details, when we both “enter into their world” and “experience things from their point of view” something very significant happens: We grow in both knowledge and unity.

We grow in knowledge in the way that as we fully recognize another culture, we more fully see our own. I have seen injustice in India.I have seen lies, oppression, fear. But I have also seen love and honor and respect and self-sacrifice in a way that in all my life I have never seen in the country where I was born. Yes, I have seen truths of the Bible forsaken here, but I have also seen truths of the Bible fleshed out here which until now my eyes had never seen.

We grow, too, in unity. From childhood we know the strange power in the details of commonality – the same favorite movie, the same frequented coffee shop, the same interest in art. Those details, small as they are, are binding. We are tied to people through ice-cream and summer-camp and all-stars; we are tied to people through bangles and hot chai and fasting.

When we choose details, when we choose to enter in their world, when we choose to experience things from their point of view, we choose them. We choose to be Jesus to them – God fleshed out in their lives. The choice isn’t between our Faith and their culture. No… The choice is our faith lived out in their culture: Holiness is dressed in scarves; love is poured out in cups of tea.

God saved us by first becoming like us. We carry on His work by becoming like them. He did not compromise Himself – he was fully God and fully man. Likewise we can be fully God-honoring and fully integrated into the culture of these people. The difference lies only in sin itself. As He was a man who participated in all but the sins of mankind, so we can by His power participate in all but the sins of our culture. The key is to have a Biblical assessment of sin: Sin is not defined by what seems strange to us, but what estranges us from God. As we choose which details we will live out, we choose them on the basis of the holy law that sums up all the Law and the Prophets: We choose the details through which we can best both love God and love people.

So I sit here like a local girl and I adjust my scarf, because I have been loved and I want to flesh out love for these people; I enter into their world and see things from their point of view because I want to be, by God’s grace, all things to all people so all people may know Him and so I may know Him better, so I may like the writer share in the blessings of the gospel. Because, for me “Jesay daysh vesay vaysh” means “When in India…” It means that beneath my head covering, I will fast and pray.

Please pray with me for the people of India and that the Lord of the Harvest will send laborers into this, His harvest. 

Ariel