Monday, September 27, 2010

at the end of the week, I'm exhausted.

at the beginning of the week, I'm exhausted.


that's all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


So I’m going to Nicaragua tomorrow.

It will be a different sort of trip than I usually go on. This is a “Mission Awareness Trip” that is designed for sponsors so they can travel and meet their sponsored friend. I’m serving as the “CFCA-Kansas representative” since our president (who usually helps to facilitate these trips) is in the process of walking from Guatemala to Chile (no big deal).

So, it will be different. Definitely a different kind of work trip than I am used to...I’m hoping it’s more like a vacation? (Probably not, but I like to think about it that way.)

  • One thing that is DEFINITELY different is that it is only one week long...hooray! THAT means that I can most likely fit all of my gear into a small suitcase that I can carry on. This way I can ensure that my bag won’t get lost in the air (or wherever lost bags go to). week? That’s peanuts. (I think...I don’t actually know what that phrase means. I mean to say that “it’s really no big deal compared to the longer trips I usually go on.”)
  • I won’t have to travel through 5,237 time zones to get there, or to come back.
  • I can travel there within one day.
  • Everyone there will speak Spanish. I don’t speak Spanish. But I can probably understand it better than Tamil, or Hindi, or Telugu, or Malayalam, or Santali, or Swahili, or Luo.
  • I get to shop for souvenirs. Any requests?

This will be my third trip this year. WHEW. It feels like a lot. I’m pretty sure, however, that this will be my last trip of the year, which is good. It will be nice to have a long break.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

quick update!

So, we're sitting in the Dubai airport which has free wifi, so I thought I would try to give a quick update:

First -- the Dubai airport is definitely the coolest airport I have ever been in. It's like a mall. It is super nice. It is also the most diverse airport I have ever visited: Janet and I were playing "identify the nationality" and we only saw maybe 2 people that could have been American.

ALSO: Emirates Airlines is the best airline I have ever flown. Seriously...

Okay, the real (non-aviation) stuff: the trip has been great so far. We spent just under 2 weeks in India, with 2-3 days at each of our four projects in Tamil Nadu. It was lovely. We learned a lot and it was really productive, plus the weather was great: we had heard that temperatures were hovering around 108 degrees farenheit a few days before we arrived, but it was surprisingly mild throughout our whole visit. I don't quite know what else to say about the trip that isn't boring and work-related...Janet is a fun person to travel with.

OH! Here's something that is noteworthy: aside from maybe 2 days when I was slightly uncomfortable, ***I did not get sick at all during my time in India!*** This is truly amazing. I also ate a ton more than I usually do, which might have made a difference.

So, India was great. I was sad to leave. Usually, I get homesickish and am ready to come back by the end, but I was really digging it the whole time. I think I could live there.

Now, we're in Dubai waiting to board our flight to Kenya (in fact, boarding just started!). We'll be there for 5 days, then will head to Switzerland for a couple of days for my /friend/Nate's roommate Cephas's wedding. First time to Kenya, first time to Switzerland! I can't wait!

Now, boarding! I may be a little out of touch because I can't tweet in Kenya, but I may be able to get online at times.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When we act under the influence of negative
thoughts and emotions, we become oblivious to the impact our actions
have on others. -Dalai Lama

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

maybe one of these kids has been waiting for YOU.

Ok. So, I work for an organization called CFCA (if you hadn't figured that out already from my rambling travel-ogs and bleeding heart quotes). To be honest, I have been with CFCA for about 4.5 years and can say with sincerity that I am really excited about the work that we're doing.

CFCA operates through the model of sponsorship. That means that individuals have the opportunity to partner with one child, youth, or aging to help her/his family bring themselves out of poverty. This is a pretty exciting concept.

Usually, I'm a skeptic about this sort of thing, but I have seen and experienced what this program can do for families. These are NOT the stories like "oh, my life was so awful and sad before CFCA, but then my sponsor came along and made my life better and saved me." These are stories of empowerment, of individuals joining together to form community, of children reaching their desired potential, of relationships being formed across caste and religion and culture, of social change.


So, the reason I'm telling you all of this NOW is because I have given myself a personal mission. A few weeks ago I agreed to "take" 5 kids to find sponsors for them. So far, I haven't done a very good job. But I am determined to find sponsors for these 5 BEFORE June 7th.

[edit: while I was writing this, my mom, dad, and sister agreed to sponsor Susana from Columbia. AWESOME!]

So, here are the remaining FOUR!

Emily, 8, lives in Guatemala. She likes to play with dolls and cars, and is described as "smiling and happy." Her dad is a farmer and her mom is a housewife. [edit: Emily has been sponsored! Thanks Ty & Maddy!]

Mamatha, 10, is from India. Her parents are farmers. Her talents are dancing and drawing, and her job at home is to help her mother with the household work.

Isai is 6 and lives in Mexico. He's "happy, a little grumpy but social and playful." (I love it.) His favorite school subjects are to color and cut. (Again, love it.) He lives with his mother, stepfather, and younger sister. [edit: Isai has been sponsored! Thanks Andrea!]

James, age 5 (almost 6!), is from Kenya. He is an above average student and likes to go to school. His favorite subjects are Kiswahili, English, and Math.

So...I know that I know LOTS of people who would love the experience of being a sponsor...they just don't know it yet. I myself have sponsored a girl named Yesenia from El Salvador for the past 4 years. I even traveled to El Salvador and was able to meet her!

To be a sponsor, you commit to sending $30 per month, which will benefit the child and family that you sponsor. More importantly, however, you exchange letters and are able to build a real relationship with a real person...and I'm pretty convinced that relationships are what change the world.

So, if you're interested in sponsoring one of these FOUR, please let me know. I would be happy to answer any questions you have about sponsorship or about CFCA. (You can find more information about CFCA here, and can even look at profiles of other kids and aging who are waiting for sponsors here. I strongly encourage you, however, to choose one of the four listed above.)

Thanks for reading! Hopefully, my social media bombardment will get these 4 sponsored. :)


Monday, May 10, 2010

organic gardening and life

...I've learned to nurture [the] circle of life, starting with microorganisms in the soil. Working with nature instead of trying to thwart it produces a confluence of benefits, many of them unforeseen. This philosophy also can be applied outside the garden. Take a positive mental attitude, for instance. It doesn't come from excluding or fighting with people whose ideas differ from yours, but rather from welcoming them--like the myriad bugs in the garden--into the debate, learning from them, and discovering how their ideas--distasteful or indifferent though they may be--can enhance your own.
-Jeff Cox

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

People living in poverty have the least access to power to shape policies – to shape their future. But they have the right to a voice. They must not be made to sit in silence as ‘development’ happens around them, at their own expense. True development is impossible without the participation of those concerned. - Nelson Mandela

I may be starting a series of work-related posts soon. (or, this post may be the first of the series.) stay tuned.

Friday, April 16, 2010

a quote...

...from a letter from a sponsored child in Nigeria to his sponsor:

"Yes, banger is a kind of firework. It is graded according to the sound it produces. Example: one sound banger will produce only a sound, two sound banger will produce two sounds. Banger can also called knockout. The banger we have are from one sound to nine sounds. I can hold it and let it bang while I'm holding it. Though it is dangerous, you just need to be careful. It is more fun when you hold it."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

omg...internet, for the first time in days!!

We got these net-card-modem things when we were in Hyderabad, thinking that we would be able to use them while traveling...but they only worked in Hyderabad (and, now it seems, Delhi). whoops. HOWEVER, we were in such a rural area for so many days, that we probably wouldn't have been able to get much service anyway.

So, now we're in Delhi! We have been to Hyderabad (where I posted last), Dumka for a couple of days, then in "interior villages" throughout Jharkhand and Bihar, Bhagalpur, Allahabad, and now Delhi. The time has passed surprisingly quickly...we have been very busy. Now, we have the rest of today and tomorrow in Delhi, then I fly home tomorrow night! yay!

I got a bit of sickness yesterday, but have been attacking it with antibiotics and electrolyte fluid and as much rest as I can get, so I'm feeling better today. yay! I can make it through these last couple of days!

Overall, it's been a really good trip. In terms of work, it's been really productive, but it's been a really good trip for me personally, too. I had a rough first few days (I usually do), but then I settled into my groove. It was good that we didn't have internet or cell coverage...I think I needed a chance to be totally separated from my "connected" life, which allowed me to experience a sort of spiritual cleansing...a lenten fast, if you will. Plus, we were in the middle of Beautiful Nowhere...Bihar and Jharkhand...very rural villages, beautiful scenery...most of the places we stayed barely had electricity (for only a couple of hours a day, if at all). It was a good time to reflect.

Plus, being placed in a culture that is sooo different from your own allows you to examine your own culture, and habits, and lifestyle, and thought patterns. (You would think that I would be used to this by now, since it's my fifth trip to India!) This process can sometimes be unsettling, but when combined with the rural exile, it allowed me to have a particularly reflective time. ahhhh.

So anyway. Really only a day and a half left...and I'm ready to come home. I miss my little home in Kansas City. :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Well, I made it safely to India...barely. My flight out of Kansas City was delayed a couple of hours, so I was literally running through Chicago O'Hare (a la 'home alone') to make my connecting flight. I did make it, but my bag didn't.

The bag was supposed to be delivered to Hyderabad yesterday, but wasn't. Now it is supposed to be sent to Calcutta tomorrow evening so I can pick it up on my brief (very brief) stay in that airport...PRAY FOR MY SUITCASE! I was able to go shopping and have a few extra outfits, but not enough to last for 10,236,273 days or however long it is until I get home.

But, I've been in Hyderabad for the last couple of days, and it's been good. Very busy (though I did have some down time this morning...loooove the down time). And we've been to a few gatherings where we have been the "honored guests": this is nice, but it can be exhausting (literally) to be treated like a celebrity all the time. I'd rather just sit in the back row and watch everyone else.

So, tomorrow we have a few more meetings, then we fly to Calcutta (Kolkata) in the evening where I will RETRIEVE MY BAG and then we will get on a train to...somewhere in Jharkhand.

It's the middle of the night now, and though I'm having a hard time sleeping (hooray jet lag), I should probably try. I really miss everyone, and Kansas City!

(and: phone tweets work! you can view them at

bye! pray for my bag!! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

tweet tweet

I'm contemplating a new way of keeping in touch while I'm in India. I've set up a twitter account that I will try to update while I'm there, either from the internet OR *crossing fingers* from my cell phone. We'll see if it works. My twitter username is "sarainindia" (@sarainindia). If you're a twitter user, you can "follow" me. If not, you can visit to see my updates! (If it works, of course!)

Oh, and...I'm going to India on Saturday. In case you didn't catch that. ;) It should be a good trip...I'm looking forward to the HOT weather! woohooo!!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I think it's about time...

...that I also announced the launch of KC Bookies, the official blog of my book club.

Our book club is the best. We have great members, we read great books, we drink great wine, we eat snacks.

Our blog is a way for us to share our books with the world. You should check us out.

Monday, February 22, 2010

first post of the new year, apparently.

I offer you a quote:

"...we are all discover, through following Jesus, that this new world is indeed a place of justice, spirituality, relationship, and beauty, and that we are not only to enjoy it as such but to work at bringing it to birth on earth as in heaven." -N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

It doesn't exactly have the same effect out of context. But it's still good if you let it simmer for a little while.

I would like to start writing more. For me, though, it's not something that I can just has to overflow. I'm working on 'simmering' my life a little more so that a little more spills over. I guess we'll have to see what happens. Lent is a good time to 'simmer'...