Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The world is much bigger than I originally thought or ever imagined.

Alexa Barnes

The world is much bigger than I originally thought or ever imagined. I have always thought that in order to travel to somewhere that could completely knock the air out of you, a shuttle from Kennedy Space Center would be a necessity. This superfluous theory has been proven wrong time and time again over the past few …how many days?

It is surprisingly relaxing to seldom know where I am, what time it is, or even what day it is. My withdrawal and the imaginary vibrations of my cell phone have almost disappeared by now, no better cure.
Kalsuin has provided much more fulfillment than anything else ever could. In one day I have held hands with more children, received more kisses, played more “duck, duck, goose,” and “hokey pokey”, and gotten my picture taken more times in one day than my entire life! (…mom and dad, I have taken more pictures this trip than my entire life!)
I would never have thought I would like it here, but I love it.

P.s. Vegetarians eat great here. I’m getting braver by the day as far as food goes.


Three Things

Trevor Swanson

Hey everyone. India is crazy and so much has happened since I left Salt Lake Airport. Since so much has happened I decided to just write three things I have learned each day since I left.
Day 1
- Long plane rides are not so fun.
- Airplane food should not be considered food.
- Only seeing a country from its airport is very lame
Day 2
- Long plane rides are not so fun.
- Know when your plane leaves. That way you don’t have look stupid as you run through the Singapore airport trying to find gate E11.
- Changing time zones is very, very tiring.
Day 3
- There are no trashcans in Delhi… or India! NOT ANYWHERE!
- Delhi traffic is more intense than any roller coaster I have ever been on.
- I think that there were like eighty million people at the Delhi train station this night.
Day 4
- Train rides are very fun.
- I kind of like being stared at by all the locals.
- Things in India are so much older than anything in the U.S.
Day 5
- Bottled water is good. Water that is not bottled is bad.
- Indian Girls are so funny and beautiful.
- The markets are crazy and I am not very good at bartering prices.
Day 6
- Charades is the best tool for breaking the language barrier.
- Little children are so cute and they have so much energy.
- The Himalayas are extremely beautiful!
India is so amazing and so are the people. I am having the greatest experience. I am going to end my blog here because typing on a computer is kind of a waste of time in India. I love you all!!! See you soon. : )


Tiana Chambers

No matter what anyone tells you Kalsuin is the best ashram! We have the cutest orphans ever. I love them so much already. I’m already sad when I have to leave just for the night; I don’t know how I’m going to leave them forever in a few days. I loved the kids within the first five minutes, and it grows every second I’m with them. In our ashram we have boys and girls, ages 1-13. Everywhere I go I have kids dangling from my every limb. They fight over who gets to hold our hands and love to ride on our shoulders.

These orphans have so much love it’s amazing. They are constantly smiling and giving hugs. One girl held up a plastic flower to me and placed it in my hand, she folded my fingers over it and said “please keep! Please keep!”. All day the girl was making sure that I still had my flower. Yesterday the kids skipped lunch because they were having too much fun. Today we made them go to lunch and as they were leaving one girl, Tanya, pulled me down and gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was so sweet and ever since then I have been receiving non-stop kisses.

I was anticipating the language barrier to be a big problem, but it really hasn’t been an issue. It’s amazing how well we can speak to them, I keep forgetting we don’t speak the same language. Halfway through the morning I noticed the children calling me “Didi” or “Tiana Didi”. I asked our translator (who has an unpronounceable name) what Didi meant, and he said “elder sister”. I love these kids so much and it feels like we are one giant family.

So far, this experience has been amazing. India is the most beautiful place I have ever been. I am so in awe at every moment at how incredible this place is. The mountains are so green and everything is colorful. I absolutely love it here and I am so thankful every second for this opportunity!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Early Morning Hike

Today the brave got up early for a morning hike in the Himalayas. It was beautiful. They hiked across the bridge to a Hindi Temple. Here are some photo's of the event.

Heading to Chamba

Pictures of the adventures heading to Chamba. Those bags all went in the back of a truck after they landed in Delhi. The truck traveled all day and through the night.

Sight Seeing in Delhi

Here are some photo from the day in Delhi seeing the sights.

Medical Team Teaches Skills to Save Newborns

Kelly and Joselyn were hard at work today teaching the rural midwives how to do safe deliveries and infant life saving skills. Thanks to their great interpreters. The women did not want them to leave. They love the demonstration babies and wanted to wrap them in blankets and hold them.

Hello to everyone reading the blog!

Hello to everyone reading the blog. I am going to write about all of my experiences throughout the last few days. Well, maybe not everything, just a few excerpts. So the airplane ride across the Pacific Ocean was pretty dang awesome. We rode coach but it felt like we were riding first class. They gave everyone on the plane a new pair of socks. Each seat has a television where I watched about 4 movies and played a bunch of video games. I didn’t really sleep that much. We arrived at Delhi at 5 or 6 in the morning, it felt like it was already noon because I had been up for so long already. We went to church in the morning and then we went to a McDonalds where they had no hamburgers, only sausage and chicken. The driving here is nuts. We have not hit anything yet but there have been a lot of close calls. Oh, by the way, Mom and Dad I am taking a lot of pictures. Then we got on a train and I slept all night. Woke up in the morning and got into cars. Five minutes into the ride, Parker pulls out some beef jerky and offers it to everyone in the car, even the driver. It was so funny because Hindi people do not actually eat cow. The driver took a bite and then threw it out the window. So it is going good, I have to sum this up because we are about to go to bed. So, the food is alright, the kids are stinkin cute and fun, and the scenery is amazing.

With Love,

Austin Averett

India Blog-Jared Hall Great peoples, Great Journeys

Even though today was the first day of our work in the schools and Ashrims, I had a particular highlight that did not include the kids. Our Sahoo education team-taught at two schools. After we left the kids at Era school, we headed over to Sahoo. But unfortunately all the kids were out on vacation. We had several hours to burn so we decided as a team to walk over to the Lord Shiva Temple nearby. It is always interesting to see the reaction that the local people have to seeing white kids walking around in their village. Nick, one of the college interns who are helping our education team, showed us the temple and explained as best he could how this temple worked. The temple was very open and serene. We walked over to the shrine and saw how people prayed. The areas we are working in are very traditional; Hinduism is very widely practiced. We saw a woman pray, part of the prayer is to touch the shrine, which represents touching the foot of the Gods. This is a sign of great respect; we finally left to go back to Chamba. On the way home we drove by a shrine, which was located just off the side of the road. These roads are mountain roads mind you; someone who gets carsick easily would have a very hard time with all the switchbacks. Halfway back, our driver, Uttam stopped the car. Confused we looked up to see him praying in the car, just a quick moment of silence. When he was finished he continued on the trip again. I have realized how much people care around here. In India, especially in the country, the drivers are very considerate and thoughtful of each other on the road. This connection along with the religious beliefs of the people created such a feeling of joy and eagerness to learn more about the people and customs in India. Each of us continues each day with a hunger to learn and become part of this great country; there just is too much to take in during the time we have though.

We definitely aren't in Kansas anymore!

Deson Haynie

Well, we definitely aren’t in Kansas anymore. We have seen so many strange things that you just can’t prepare for and never could expect. We’ve driven past banana trees one minute, then seen groves of pine trees the very next. We’ve had donkeys, cows, and dogs cross our path, while seeing packs of monkeys playing near the edge of a nearby cliff. I’ve always heard that India is the land of contrasts, but I never realized how amazingly correct that statement is. Virtually every aspect of India has another aspect that is totally different. For example, getting into India we flew on a fancy plane with TV screens built-in to every seat. Later, we rode on a rusty night train with teeny cots and a bathroom consisting of a hole in the floor. India is so amazing!

As for today, we got to meet the kids in our orphanages for the very first time. It was a little awkward at first, which is to be expected, but the awkwardness quickly gave way to friendship and fun. I was amazed at how quickly the children befriended us, and how much they opened up. The language barrier was definitely present, but it completely melted away once the games began. I had three kids, Parveen, Akshay, and Arjun who were constantly clinging to me and fighting to be on my team for games. It was so cool. Apart from the fun and games, the kids also learned a ton from the English workshops. They were so bright and inquisitive, and they just soaked in the material. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow. Everyone is doing fine, and we have learned way more in the past three days than we could have ever hoped to learn in a month of formal school. The roads are crazy, but the drivers are amazing and I feel totally safe. We are having the experience of our lives, and really making a difference in the lives of the orphans here. The culture is diverse, and the people seem so happy. India truly is a sight to behold.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Only in India…

Only in India would I only burn one of my arms and not the other.

Only in India would I learn how to squat while going to the bathroom, and have to bring my own toilet paper.

Only in India would I take a bucket shower or not flush the toilet to conserve water.

Only in India do people you don’t know barge into your room and take pictures of you, with hi and wow being the only things they know how to say in English.

Only in India would you have to keep your arms inside the jeep because if you don’t your arms will get hit by other cars.

Only in India do you have to pay to take off your shoes while walking through the temples.

Only in India do you see wild monkeys, cows, goats, and stray dogs.

Only in India do the men wear helmets while driving a scooter while the women ride behind never wearing one.

Only in India do boys hold boy’s hands and girls hold girl’s hands, but boys and girls never hold hands.

Only in India do cars honking become background noise.

Only in India have I been so tired I wanted to die, and had to keep going for another three hours.

Only in India do you have to drink coke to get rid of parasites from dried mangos that your leader bought you.

Only in India do you have a beautiful landscape only to be ruined by all the garbage.

Only in India do they have Veggie surprise and McChicken at McDonalds.

Only in India would you see a giant statue of a Red Monkey that will bless you, even if you burn your feet getting to it.

Only in India does it seem out of place when you go running.

Only (going to church) in India do guys ask if you have a facebook and then proceed to get your information and picture.

Only in India does a six-hour jeep ride seem like two hours.

Only in India am I having the time of my life.

~Lydia Scott

My New Soul Mate

Since the beginning of the trip I’ve found my new soul mate. We sat next to each other for 25 hours of flying and are in the same expedition group. We both had top bunks in the sleeper train but not in the same cabin. We were in the same Jeep for our 5 hour ride to Chamba and now we even get to sleep in the same room (and possibly bed). We get to share practically every thing for the next 14 days. I hope that she doesn’t get sick of me before then. My soul mate is Eliza Pullman!

Facts about Eliza: Her little sister wrote her a book about her; cleverly named Eliza Jane. She has a purple I-pod. A great singer and guitar player, and I’m pretty sure she has a career waiting for her in air drums. Last but not least she painted my nails and they are mega awesome. They have designs and everything. Talk about professional.

Signing out
ChaiDee Woods




Sunday, March 28, 2010





I talked to Robert on the train as they were heading towards the Himalayas. Everyone is doing great. They had a fun day on Sunday. They went to Church and had a great experience. The Branch loved having them there. They ate breakfast at McDonalds. Then they went and saw Qutab Minar, and an Indian Temple. They had Lunch and saw the Lotus Temple and the Gandhi Memorial. The train ride is something they will alway remember.

JoDee Baird

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Everyone made it safe and sound to Delhi. They had a great, long flight. They changed clothes in the Delhi airport to prepare for the 90 degree weather. They are going to a Church, and touring Delhi today. Then they will get on the sleeper train and with a little luck they will sleep.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Made it to San Francisco

Hello Parents, Friends and Families! We have made it through phase one...only about 15 more phases to go. The kids are great and they get more excited the closer the time gets to actually leaving the country. I have attached some pictures for your enjoyment!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I arrived in Kolkata last night after 30 hours of flying. Rakesh met me at the airport and checked me into the Punjabi Club near to his brothers home! It is great to be back in the company of such a great friend! I feared I would not get to spend much time with him on this trip and when he decided to come from Delhi to meet me it brought a sense of relief. I originally planned to be greeted at the airport by our Nishtha friends however I new that it would be late at night and with the short time I have in Kolkata for this trip it would be best for me to try and get a good nights rest. Nishtha has been extremely busy with there year end audit and paperwork to close out there fiscal year. they have also been extremely busy preparing for the completion for their first World Stock order. I can only imagine the pressure they are under. They have been so kind and gracious to host Nick Clark and Alex Park our interns that started up in Himachal Pradesh for the last several weeks.

Sunday morning I had a great reunion with Nick and Alex Park after not seeing them since last January. I can't believe how fast the past two months have passed. They looked good, and spoke freely of the wonderful experiences they have had working in India. We headed off to attend the LDS branch in Salt Lake City. The Church has a small house where they meet and we were greeted by about a dozen members and the First Councilor in the Branch Presidency. The meeting was vary simple, singing hymns without accompaniment and partaking of the sacrament. I was asked to bear my testimony and then both Nick and Alex gave two great talks. There parents would have been proud of their maturity and the ability with which they freely spoke about calling down the powers of heaven and following the spirit. There is something truly magical about watching young people grow and mature in the face of adversity.

I arrived at Nishtha late in the afternoon and was greeted by about a hundred girls that we had worked with in the fall that where attending a training at the Nishtha offices. I was approached several times and asked about the likes that were here in the fall. They wondered if our YMAD kids still remembered them and how they were doing. I felt obligated to pass along the love that has been expressed to me over the past several months by the youth and adult leaders that participated in the West Bengal expedition of 2009. I don't think it is possible to forget what we experienced last November. I know that I will never be the same.

Of all of the years I have been coming to India, I never cease to be amazed when I meet and come to know the kids. Their simple desire to gain an education and to freely give and receive love have left and indelible mark on my heart! It is so ironical that the future of these kids rest in the hands of adults and how much that is taken for granted.

Our plan for the next day prior to leaving this place is to determine how YMAD can best serve Nishtha in the future. It is all an adventure I am anxious to discover!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mad adventures Ft. creeps

About ever night the boys (Alex and I) go hit the main street light life. There are all sorts of things to see from meat hanging on hooks, severed goat heads, and even a vegetable market. We always have a great time when we go out. One of these nights we were on a bisect run. I had a mad craving for a good bisect. I was looking up and down for a shop with a wide selection. I found it and I began to select some. While I was focused on my choosing, these people came up to Alex and asked him what is name was. It sounded like a man. But when I turn around I saw 3 men dressed up as girls.. Alex told them his name. I hurried and bought my bisects and we started walking a way. They followed us. We had to stop because of traffic and one of the Man girls looked at Alex and said “ you want some” Alex immediately said “aaaahhhhhh “ pushed me and said “RUN!” So we ran never to see our man girl hookers again.. so far.That same night I bought some ice cream and dropped the last bite. Dropping that last bite was the worst part of that night for sure.

Another night we went with Mimi and Manami to an Indian wedding. The wedding was hopping. Alex and I were spitting some mad game. Faults, no girls. But who needs girls when you have a creepy kid starring at you the WHOLE night! Seriously the second we walked in the kid sat by us and starred. It was like he was starring into your soul. I smiled at him to be nice. Bad Idea. We got up to move to the dinning room and that creep of a kid tried to hold my hand. This kid was too old for it to be cute It was just creepy. We sat down to eat and guess who joined us at our table. Creep kid! Yay! Now he can watch us while we eat. By the end Alex said “hello have you meet my friend nick?” and pointed at me. That was a low blow. But haha it back fired! The kid just staired at Alex more because he spoke to it. Then he left. But wait it came back and stood by Alex and pulled out a chocolate bar and handed it him. Until we left the creep kid just followed us trying to hold are hands. Another thing alex and I havent slept more then 3 feet away from each other this whole time. and sometimes when he cant sleep he takes pictures of both of us. creepo...

Calcutta is fun.

Alex told you how we got here. Now let me tell you little about what we’re doing in West Bangle. We’re about a 40 minute car ride out side of Calcutta. We are working with a great NGO called Nishtha. They have a lot of projects going on all the time in villages all over. Mimi and Manami are two people here that we love they take us everywhere and show us their projects. In this area of India there is a disgusting hatred for women. So Nishtha only works with women. It’s good because they need it. If a family is poor, they have a boy and girl. They’ll only put the boy in school. And if that girl doesn’t work or contribute to the family they will most likely get sold in girl trafficking. They don’t look at the female as if they’re worth anything. Sometimes they don’t feed them or just straight up beat them. Nishtha as gone around and found girls like this. They have 21 schools in 20 different villages. The 21st school is the Day Boarding School aka the DBS. That’s where Alex and I spend most of are time. We get there at about 11:00am. We teach About 90 girls everyday, teaching English of course. After teaching we always have an ultimate happy fun play sesh. until they go at 4:30pm. Alex and I have also been to other village schools, and been take out to see other projects of Nishtha. The things we’ve seen… We’ve been face to face with girls that have been sold in girl trafficking but luckily saved be Nishtha. It’s a whole different world here. My sadness level is at 9.0 out of 10.0. haven’t been this sad since I watch “500 days of summer” darn you summer.

Oh and once we were at a meeting in a village and we got coconuts to drink. Cool huh?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Starting a New Adventure

Nick and I, are absolutely loving life in India! Nick and I had a great opportunity to stay with Mr. Dhami and his wonderful family. After that we took a 5 hour car ride to Pathankot , where the nearest train station is. If you ask anyone who has ever gone to India before with Ymad, they have a story about the train ride. Last time when we were here with a group of 35 people we sat in the train station and everyone stared at us. Why should it be any different this time around? Wanna know the biggest difference between sitting in a train station with 35 people compared to 2? Your not nearly as intimidating to be approached by weirdos. When Nick and I sat down, Nick had his arms wrapped around all the bags while I sat there with my 10-rupee veg burger. One guy instantly sat down right next to us and leaned over and didn’t stop looking at Nick for the 2 hours we sat there. A group of about 15 young men were all whispering and looking over at us. It couldn’t but help remind me of little schoolgirls. One of them finally got the guts to come up and show us his butchered English. When one person shows some courage, Its a lot easier for others to show it too. Soon we had a group of 15 people standing in front of us all asking questions. That was the first time this trip I genuinely felt overwhelmed. I wasn’t scared, I was just was overwhelmed at the idea of sitting here and talking small talk to all these people. When I thought it couldn’t get any weirder some guy came out of left field and started giving us biscuits. No one saw him coming. They eventually got bored of us and went back into there dark corners. The train finally arrived and we found our spot where we’ll be sleeping. The only sleeper train I’ve been on the compartment only had 4 beds, but this one had 6. We thought we would be stuck with 4 other creepy guys for the next 9 hours. We totally lucked out and got a small family of 4. Nick and I were so unbelievably stoked! Neither one of the kids were older than the age of 5. We had some extra beanie baby’s so we handed them over to the kids. We all got ready for bed and I plugged in my ipod and was excited to lie down in peace. As soon as a got all situated one of the little kids started weeping. Not crying. Weeping. This kid had lungs. At the beginning of his weep session I wasn’t even mad. I was actually impressed. That soon went away and I was honestly thinking about taking away his beanie baby if he didn’t shut up. The biggest thing that stopped me was the language barrier. I didn’t think it would look good if I was stealing a little boy’s stuffed moose. After about a half an hour or so he stopped. Our train was to arrive in Delhi at 7:30 in the morning and I was terrified we were going to sleep through our stop. I got up around 7 and was ready to go at 7:30 all anxious to get off the dumb train. Don’t worry. We weren’t even closed to sleeping past our stop. Our train was late by 2 and a half hours. We had a crazy rickshaw drive through Delhi and we were at the airport ready to fly to Calcutta and start a new part of our adventure.