Kyle and Kaleisha were quite looking forward to being left home by themselves for three months.
And then we asked them to consider going to India. Here’s their story so far in Kyle’s words:
It all started with mum’s extremely crazy idea that Kaleisha and I should go to India for three months next year while she took the little kids walking for 1,000km (another crazy idea). Now mum is always thinking up crazy ideas and making wild plans so we thought that this was just another one of those unbelievable ideas that in a few days would be forgotten. Ha! We couldn’t have been more wrong! Mum contacted some people who she had known since she was at university and had kept in contact with who were doing missionary work in India, looked into booking flights and even came up with a rough itinerary. This was a serious proposal.
Our initial response was a huge NO! To start with, neither of us had ever wanted to go to India. And we definitely didn’t want to go away for three months by ourselves! We were also worried that we wouldn’t be able to complete a full year of school, and the whole idea was totally out of our comfort zone. Mum quickly came up with a study plan that would allow us to get in a full year’s study around our trip. As for traveling alone, well she asked Grandpa if he would like to go with us and he was all for it and told us that ‘by the time you are 80 three months is just a blink of the eye.’ It seemed that most of our biggest worries had been ‘solved’, but we still weren’t convinced. We weren’t 80 and three months was ages to us, especially away from family and friends!
After about a week of talking to mum, dad, Grandpa and friends, and a whole heap of praying, Kaleisha said that she was happy to go – however she didn’t want to go for three months. And then about a week and a half later I said that I would be happy to go for a month, but no longer. Mum continued to encourage us to think about going for longer so that we could make the most of the opportunity. We slowly but surely gave in and then finally agreed on around two and a half months. Mum doesn’t like us saying “gave in”, but that’s what it felt like. We were reluctant, but we could see that we could learn so much and even though it wasn’t our first choice, it would be a valuable experience for us. Although mum and dad didn’t force us to go, in our hearts we knew it was the right thing to do.
By this time mum had communicated quite a bit with the people in India and had a fair idea of what we could possibly do there if we did go. There were ideas of us working in churches, helping look after some children, working in orphanages and/or schools for disadvantaged children, helping run a children’s program at a conference and doing some tripping around.
Once we said that we would be happy to go, mum reserved seats on a flight that leaves on the 26th of April, 2014. 1 o’clock in the morning!
So the plan is that we will fly up alone and spend the couple of months based in Bangalore staying with the people who mum knows, doing whatever we can to help them. After our time in Bangalore, Grandpa is going to come up and meet us and we will travel around India for a month. We plan on visiting the town where he grew up as a child, dipping our feet in the Ganges, camel riding in the desert and tuktuk riding in the city, and I should celebrate my birthday at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the way home we will be stopping in KL for a few days to catch up with our extended family, who live there. We will arrive back in Auckland on the 20th of July.
In the name of education, this homeschooling family is spread out along the waterfront on a Friday morning…..the one with the arm in a cast is determining just what her limits are- so far nothing has been ruled out, not even the flying fox. The mama is trying out the wordpress app when out of wifi range (of course she could have sat at home and turned the wifi off, but this is far more pleasant a classroom). The two who made loud comments about how much work they had to do when I mentioned an outing seem to have forgotten their workload – I suspect something changed when I invited them to put their longboards in the car! Grandpa is also working on the physical education programme – zipping up and down on his bike. We’ve witnessed one guy try to mow him down; thankfully he’s a defensive rider. Overheard playground conversations have informed us all – the tooth fairy in this part of town brings $5, people get $900K when they sell their rental properties, the dinosaur cover on the front of a child’s scooter was imported from the UK…..this sure ain’t West Auckland!
Travel – even across town – broadens your experiences!
Postscript from the computer added after publishing:
Wowsers – look at that – I managed to do it all from the phone.
I remember sitting on the Trans-Mongolian train and Rob getting all excited about the possibility of publishing a blogpost from his phone – I didn’t share the exctiement, but to be fair, it didn’t work that time! This time it did. And the non-techno girl managed to do it. All. By. Herself.
Roll on camino for some good pictures and stories.
When we went last year, some of the older kids had been learning Spanish and so we gave them the responsibility of doing the talking.
Of course, once you’re on the ground you pick stuff up and I came home knowing things like: Do you have beds for eleven people? * We are from New Zealand * Where is the supermarket? * emergency * radiology department * it’s broken * sandwich with ham * sandwich with cheese * sandwich with ham and cheese * coffee with milk (not that I drink it, but everyone else talked about it).
Once we made the decision to go again, we became good friends with Scotsman Mark from the Radio Lingua Network as the four younger children and I started going through Coffeebreak Spanish lesson podcasts downloaded to my phone. We have the basics under control – it is empowering to be able to manage basic communication. And it means we’ll be able to talk with people who do not speak Polish, German or English. While many do, and English is often the lingua franca amongst pilgrims, we love to be able to make the effort to connect with people in their heart language, even if we mangle it.
We have written up a short charity: water speech and a longer explanation, and will have them translated into Spanish and we’ll learn them off by heart. It’s how we learnt Polish twenty-plus years ago…learning a short paragraph to practise with people every day. This time we’ll say our piece over and over to whoever we meet and certainly pick up more Spanish in the process as well.
Do you know a fluent Spanish speaker in Auckland who might help us?
Would you give more because we made it harder on ourselves? I’ve been thinking about this since the issue was raised a few weeks ago.
On the one hand we’ve had someone imply it looks far too much like a fun holiday and we should just call it that. On the other hand, we’ve had people say we should stay in NZ so that we don’t have to be separated from our family for so long and so that we wouldn’t have to spend so much. If we did it in NZ we wouldn’t have to leave our family for such a stretch – true, but it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. And we are so aware that many people would *like* to lose their family for a couple of months – the fact that we will find it hard means we have something special to treasure.
If we did it in NZ it might cost a little bit less. True, but again, we’re willing to pay the price.
You could call it making it harder on ourselves, or not choosing the easiest path.
But I suspect that whatever we decided to do, there would be people who disagreed. It wouldn’t be hard enough. It wouldn’t be good enough. It could be more. It could be for longer. We could do something differently. Yes, yes yes to all of that.
But we’re going to do what we can. Certainly, we could always do more…does that make what we do manage not enough?
We’ll do what we can and if someone can get excited and join us, then we’ll be grateful. If others don’t share our enthusiasm, then we understand completely. We’re not all the same. For our part, we’re really excited!
I don’t think people need a gimmick to give to. There are a gazillion outstretched hands begging for your donated dollar. People who want to give will do so. They will check out causes, charities, NGOs, financial statements, charity ratings, and they’ll give.
We’ve chosen a charity that ticks all the boxes for us in terms of transparency, engaging in real life-saving work, empowering the people they serve, partnering with others, being accountable….we are willing to give to these guys. We hope some of you might be too.
If you’re interested, maybe you’d like to LIKE our facebook page and you’ll get twice-weekly updates before we leave and then hopefully-daily (dependent on internet connection) updates while we walk – possibly even each-day-in-photos too.
“Even today we don’t pay serious attention to the issue of poverty, because the powerful remain relatively untouched by it. Most people distance themselves from the issue….”
― Muhammad Yunus, Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty
Scott Harrison was a powerful man in New York. He was also untouched by poverty and certainly did not pay attention to it. In his own words, he was “for the most part living selfishly and arrogantly”. Despite his success, he was desperately unhappy and knew things needed to change. He wanted to revive a lost Christian faith with action and asked the question: What would the opposite of my life look like?
And he came face to face with poverty. As a photojournalist, he travelled to Africa. Africa where there was no public electricity, running water or sewage. Africa where there were leper colonies. He spent time in one, as well as remote villages. He didn’t just take photos of people; he was touched by them.
Long story short, he started charity: water.
That’s his story. What about yours?
What power do you have that you could wield today? What are you touched by?
How do you think we distance ourselves from the poor?
Would you consider sharing your thoughts on the Facebook page?