Gosh, where do I even begin? Maybe I should start with our 30hr plane ride. Or maybe I should start with the overwhelming joy and love I have for my sweet baby niece Kaia Dream. Ok, actually I think I'll start with all of the good things that happened in my heart and then follow it with the hard stuff and end with the hilarious moments we had all too often. India, I love you. You stretch me, frustrate me, cause me to be way more thankful for the big and little things in my life and I can't wait to see you again.
So we'll start with our 30hr plane ride. That's right… It took 30 long, exhausting hours to arrive in India. We arrived at 1am, yea, 1am after being in the air for 30 hrs. All international flights land in the wee hours of the morning there. I'm not mad about it though since Ren was happy as a clam the entire flight! He never even cried once, he never slept a wink, but hey, he never cried so we'll say it was a really good thing. There was no better feeling than walking off of the plane and receiving a few compliments on his behavior. Can I get an amen, moms?
Josh and Kris met us on the curb and when we spotted them we went running, the tears went flying and I finally got to hug my sister after being away for a full year. We switched babies, cried some more and then started our drive home. We stayed with them in their adorable, second story flat. They definitely live so much simpler than I was imagining. They have running water and western toilets, but no "real" shower heads which meant bucket baths were in full swing and all toilet paper could not be flushed. The only hot water they have is in one of the bathrooms and when the power would go out, which was every day, the hot water went with it. We took bucket baths, lit the stove every time we needed to use it, had no AC, which was hard on those super hot nights and the back up generator would only run for so long before we were totally out of power. I couldn't believe the simplicity of their life. They really are my heroes.
We spent so much time snuggling my sweet niece Kaia Dream. She really is a dream. We snuggled every morning while giving Kris a break to nap and rest. Ren's little voice would go a few octaves higher every time he would see Kaia. It was just about the cutest thing we've seen. It's safe to say that these birthday sharing babies have something special and I'm sure they'll be the best of friends as they grow. We spent time working out at the Crossfit gym Josh started and is running/volunteering at. What an AH-MAZING thing he's got going on there! If only something like that existed when we lived there. We spent lots of time hanging out with the girls that Kristie has been teaching cosmetology to and that made the tears flow. We got to hear some of their stories of pain, hope and redemption. We made breakfast one morning for our friends and old drivers, Paul and Ameen. It was so good to see them! We also got to hang with our lifelong friend, TammyMa. She kept us laughing and all things in perspective. Like how she lived in India for 10+ years before she ever knew that generators existed. Or how on the day we went out for lunch she was out of power and water so she had to go fill a bucket FROM THE WELL just to wash off. We really did have such a great time with the community Kris and Josh have there.
It wouldn't have been a complete trip to India without a little bug, so about a week in, I got a nasty bug from a Arabian restaurant we ate at and boy was I regretting all the things in life at that moment. Thankfully it was only a 24hr bug and I was back on my feet in no time.
Our trip, although hard and uncomfortable at times was amazing. We made lots of new friends, loved on our favorites over at K-Homes and honestly had an incredible trip. My favorite part was being able to do life with my sister and her little girl. Motherhood has been and I hope will always be something that makes my heart feel totally alive. Being able to share that experience with my best friend was something I will always cherish. Ren loved India too, so much so that he finally started saying the word "dada." He also loved that he didn't have to ride in a car seat, don't worry, we never went faster than 10 miles an hour dodging cows and giant pot holes. He did great though, so much so that we may actually go international again someday. Maybe South Africa to see Ouma and Oupa? Good job bud!
When you come home from an experience like that you can't help but feel challenged. You realize how fortunate you are to have AC, warm water whenever you want it, nice roads, clean water to brush your teeth with (right out of the faucet), freedom to have a voice, education, clean food and so many other things we take for granted. Thankfulness and gratefulness always find a deeper place in my heart when I come home from India.
We are looking forward to having the Swarts come home for a visit in a few weeks and we'll get to show them our stomping ground here in LA.
Here are some pictures from our trip.
Until next time, India.