Thank You

Thank you to my sponsors who made this opportunity possible and supported me throughout my journey.
Thank you to the workers in the Provo RSO office who helped me work through the complicated paperwork that allowed me to serve at RSOI.
Thank you to my parents and siblings for continuously praying for me and sending love my way, especially during the hardest days.
Thank you to my friends back home who sent me kind messages and words of encouragement throughout the summer.
Thank you to the readers of my blog who helped me feel as though my stories and insights are of meaningful and worth reading.
Thank you to the staff and every single employee at RSOI for creating a clean, safe, organized and exciting environment on campus!
Thank you to Shaun Parry for allowing me to become a certified Life Coach / Dance Master, and for recommending me for the position in India at RSOI.
Thank you to Carrie Scott for being a good friend and inspiration to me throughout this journey.
Thank you to Dr. Susan for b…

Faces, Hearts and Souls

I never learned all of the names of my students.  I wish I knew all of them... but I struggled to get them.  But what I did learn is to recognize the faces of my precious children... to handle their hearts with love and to allow them into my own heart... and to connect with their souls.  
The students at Rising Star Outreach are inspiring, glorious, priceless, and much more.  I can't believe that today was my last day with them... I feel as though the van that is about to take me away is just going to bring me right back after some unknown, random errand.  But it won't.  It will take me away.  It will take me to an airport where I will board a plan and travel for the course of a day and a half to a land 8,000 miles away.  Will it feel like a dream?  Will my students remember me?  Will I remember them?!  Yes.  I will remember them.  I will always remember their faces and the way it felt to be in their presence.
One of my dear friends on campus, Mr. Johnson, said something beau…

A Crab on Campus

We had just finished a good rehearsal with the Life Dance Troupe and it was finally time to prepare for dinner.  While walking to the Elephant House, I passed through the Mango grove and found a small gathering of students in a tight huddle.  Although this isn't a particularly uncommon sight, I felt inclined to ask these students what they were up to.  As I approached the group, I could see that everyone was facing in toward the middle of the clump.  They had something in there.  I came close and did my best to peer into the center.
"What are you all doing?"  I inquired.  The students parted way just enough for me to slip in a little closer toward the source of the excitement.  That's when I saw it.  A crab!  One of the students was holding it in her hands, and she proudly showed it off to me.  I was surprised!  After nearly 2.5 months on campus, I had never seen a crab before!  It was fairly small, but still a curious sight!
After some persistent coaxing, the stude…

Vasu's Vigor

"Rachel!  I missed the audition!"  These were his first words to me that I can recall.  I turned to look at the boy from 7th STD, and I noticed an expression of shock mixed with a pleading eagerness.   If touching would have been appropriate, I'm certain he would have grabbed me by the shoulders so he could level with me and look me straight in the eyes.

"I want to be a Life Dance Troupe member!"  Vasu continued.  The fire in his eyes was fueled by passion-- every word he spoke drenched in vigor.

Just the previous day we had held the auditions for the Life Dance Troupe.  Everyone from 6th STD up through 9th STD-- including11th STD as well-- had been invited to attend the audition.  Other students had already expressed disappointment to me about missing the audition, but something was different about Vasu.  The vehemence and urgency of his words and demeanor told me that this boy was special.  At the time I had no recollection of his dancing abilities.  But hi…

"I will make you an Indian girl!"

After skillfully wrapping me in a saree (and patiently watching me attempt the wrapping during certain steps in the process), Kavitha asked me how I would do my hair.  Since I had showered about an hour before and my hair was still a little damp, I didn't really know...  With my indecisive response, she offered to do my hair.  I accepted the offer!

"I will make you an Indian girl!"

Kavitha fixed my hair in a traditional manner that the women in India often do when wearing a saree. She then offered me her necklace and bangles so that my jewelry fit with the look.  I also wore the earrings I received from one of my students, Tamilselvi.  After placing a bindi on my forehead, she selected a flower from the tree in the Elephant House and clipped it in my hair.  She did it-- she made me an Indian girl!  I felt beautiful.  And to make things even more fun, it was Friendship Day today, so in a way all of this was Kavitha's gift to me for this special day!

Church services w…

When the Train Whistle Blows!

There's something magical about being able to ride a train with the doors wide open and the wind in your face.  I rode trains countless times on my mission in Hungary, and although I loved each of those train rides, this one was different!  Even when we walked onto the platform I could see people hanging out of the doorways of each train car as a train approached its stop.  My mother has always advised me to be safe, and I do my best to follow her counsel!  So it was funny to me when I saw a note on the train warning us of the punishments for those who choose to ride ON TOP of the train!  I didn't see anyone do this though, and I knew that this was not an option, haha.  Periodically though, I would wrap my legs around the bar in the doorway and cling to it with my hands so I could get a good look outside.  The world was so exciting!  Of course, everything I saw looked like India, yet everything seems better when your whisking by on a train.

We took the train from Guduvanchery…