Friday, October 31, 2008


I can't believe it's been two weeks since I last posted - sorry to those of you who worry when you don't get regular updates. We are all doing well, but have been very busy with the start of second term. The second monsoon season started about two weeks ago, so we have been enjoying some amazing showers (rain, that is). The rain has also made us appreciate the bits of sunshine even more!
Work is still busy for both Ryan and I. Ryan is preparing for a piano duet at the end of November with a music teacher from a neighboring school. It's a 30-page Mozart piece, so he's been practicing quite a lot. I am still working the same hours in Hoz, but it has seemed a little more manageable recently. The nurses are meeting today to finalize a schedule for the rest of the term that will spread the load a little more evenly. Please pray that we will be able to accomodate the needs of the staff along with the needs of our community.
Also, I want to let you know that we have a mission family at our school that is really going through a difficult time right now. I can't give many details (please email me if you would like to know more), but there are some serious health and financial issues related to one of our students. The home church (they are not American) is not able to give them any additional financial support at this time, and they are struggling to get their daughter the necessary treatments. Please pray for this family, and also let me know if you would like to give a one-time financial gift to support their family. We have been amazed at the way we have been provided for, and we are trying to pass this on to them.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Water Park - India Style

On Tuesday, we took a bus, with two other Hebron families, to a water park called Black Thunder. It was amazing! There were all kinds of amusement rides, water slides, swimming pools, horse/camel rides, paddle boats, and a wildlife refuge (not bad for $5 a person). The scenery was beautiful - it was right at the base of the mountains, and the weather was pretty good (rained fairly hard in the afternoon, but wasn't too cold). Needless to say, we were the ONLY white people in the entire park. During lunch we were the main attraction - seriously, about 40 people just sat and stared at us while we ate our food.

Also, as you can see from the photos, the swimming attire was quite different than what we're used to in the west. There were women and girls in their school uniforms, salwars, and even saris going down the water slides! As you can see from the pictures, I too was fully clothed in the pool - it was quite an experience! To add to the show, we had three little ones with blond, curly hair in our group which made them targets for attention. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Indians love to pinch the cheeks of white babies. They believe that it's good luck, and they love to pinch hard enough to make them cry! I only had to yell at one group of women for pinching Addie, so that was good. There were a lot of people standing around, so I think the word travelled quickly.

The one ride that we all avoided was the Ferris Wheel. I've never seen a more terrifying ride - it was going so fast! At the other extreme was the Lazy River that went around the park. It was so slow that we ended up paddling with our arms the entire way. The next morning, we were all complaining that our arms were sore, and it took a while before we realized it was from that dumb river.

Side note: in case you're wondering about the volcano that Addie is sliding down... no, it is not made of cement - it's some kind of rubbery something.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chips & Salsa

Yesterday I had a craving for chips & salsa. I went to Modern Stores (that's the biggest grocery in town...about the size of a mini-mart), and found Doritos and some imported salsa - the problem was that it would have cost $12.50!! So, I decided to make my own. Luckily, the ingredients for chips and salsa can be found easily, as they are the same ingredients used in Indian cooking. However, the experience of making chips and salsa in the States and making them in India is quite different. And I probably wouldn't even make them in the States, because I would just go down to El Tenampa and buy them - they're better than homemade!
Well, here is what the experience is like in India. First, you have to pick a day when you have nothing else going on, because it's going to take a long time to get it all prepared. Next, get on the internet (that is if the electricity is on) and find a recipe for tortillas - yep, you're going to have to make the tortillas before you can make the chips. Then take an inventory of your cupboards - flour, hmm... wonder if they have corn flour in India... After this is done, stop for lunch. Undoubtedly these first couple of steps will have taken you all morning to complete!
Now you are ready to head into town. The first stop is Modern Stores to look for corn flour. They don't think they have it, and they don't think they can get it. You don't even bother, because if there was any chance they could get it, then they would have told you to come back next week. You also notice that they have a new little section of fruits and vegetables, but you wonder if you could get a better price down at the market, so you get on your way. Oops, forgot to mention that you ask if they have any rolling pins for making chapatis (that's the Indian equivalent of tortillas), but they don't.
You start your walk down the street, wondering why you decided to do all of this on a Saturday - Indian tourists are everywhere. A nice little shortcut, called Stink Alley, takes you right to the busiest intersection in town which you cross like a local - if you don't make eye contact, then they probably won't hit you with their auto or car or truck or bus, but they sure will honk at you! Too bad for you, the vegetable market closed sometime earlier in the day. Of course you wouldn't really know when, because the posted signs are all in Tamil.
Off you go, towards the main market - pedestrians everywhere, horns honking, beggars singling you out to ask for money. It's all the same as every other time you've gone to the market. On the way you drop into a few shops (like five) to ask about those nifty little rolling pins, but everyone tells you to go to the market. Once in the market, you wander through the labyrinth of booths looking for the little old man with no teeth, yelling, "Bic, bic, bic, bic, bic, bic, bags!" Why didn't you bring some from home, you think. Oh well. You find the man, buy a bag for 5 rupees (about 10 cents), and keep wandering into the depths of the market. You buy garlic from a man who only sells garlic in his stall, and then you get cilantro (only they call it coriander here) from a man who only sells greens. Then you pick out peppers, tomatoes, onions, and limes from another man. All this costs about 50 rupees (a little more than a dollar) - what a deal.
You then wander out of the market - not the way you came in, because you have no idea where you are. You wander past the fish stalls, the chicken crates, and the beef butchers. It's quite an experience trying to breath through your mouth to avoid the odors, and also breathing through your nose as not to inhale any flies. Finally, you reach the end of the market, and you begin your walk back home. Along the way you pass about twenty-five autos, but you don't get one because you figure you should walk the 2 km home since you're going to eat an insane amount of chips and salsa later in the evening. As you pass Modern Stores on the way home, you pick up a few more things for the next day (cheese, yeast, tomato paste - you know the pizza craving will be next), and you notice that the prices for veggies are just as good as in the market. Oh well, you'll know for next time.
When you get home, you still have to mix up and roll out the tortilla dough (you did manage to pick up a rolling pin in the market for 12 rupees), cook the tortillas on the gas stove, wash (in clean drinking water) and cut up the veggies, then cut the tortillas and fry them. It's a very long process, but the end result is so worth it!

So, all of this to say that I hope you will go out to your favorite Mexican Restaurant with some friends or family this week. When they bring your food, I hope that you will pray for us here in India, and know that we wish we could be eating out with you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Bath Tub!

The Ketchum family has a brand new bath tub - hooray! Ryan went to the market today, and came home with this tub. When I saw it I smiled and said, "Wow, that's pink!" He just smiled back and said, "We have three daughters, of course it's pink!" The girls absolutely love it - especially Addie, who can now take a bath without having to be folded up into a little ball.

Our Wisteria

I just love this picture that Ryan took today of the wisteria vines that are growing up our bedroom wall.

Exotic Fruit Man

Ever wonder what you get when you have a husband who is extremely creative, loves fruit, and lives in the jungle? You get "Exotic Fruit Man!" Ryan and Addie had a great time making this face out of fruit from the Ooty market. Can you pick out the custard apple, sugar cane, goa (guava), pomegranate, pear, and the banana looking things that are definitely not bananas?!