Monday, October 31, 2011

Kerala!

 At the beginning of October we went on a vacation to Kerala!  Our ultimate destination was the beach, but we wanted to check out the Capital as well, so we spent the first couple of days there (seen in the picture above).  Our awesome friends Keith & Carie met us there!  It was so awesome to see them!  They are awesome friends :)

One of the first things we did was go to a famous palace and temple.  The temple is very interesting!!!!  Only Hindus are allowed entry, so we weren't allowed in, but just being outside of it was very interesting.  Everyone that goes inside has to wear either a Sari or a Dhoti.  A sari is what the women are wearing in this picture...a 6 meter piece of fabric wrapped around themselves.  The men are wearing dhotis... A dhoti is a 4.5 meter unstiched piece of fabric that men wrap around themselves (in many different ways) and tie at the waist...  There were stations at the temple where you could rent a Sari or a Dhoti if you didn't wear one.  
 In this picture in the distance you can see the temple.  The line was SUPER long!!!  It was a big holiday (Dusshera) and everyone was going to the temple for the holiday.    On the left of this picture is part of the palace!  We went on a tour of the palace.  It was really neat!  We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, so I don't have any pictures, but they had a so many cool things - a crystal throne & and ivory throne and lots of other things!  The royal family had tons and tons of jewels and wealth!   One of the stories they told us in the palace was that the king would weigh himself every year and give his weight in gold to the people!  They had a lot of gold (more on that to come...).
  
 Here are more people in line :)
 Here is the temple entrance (the temple is in the back).  I wasn't supposed to take pictures up close, so I didn't really get any - the security was very tight here (more on that to come...)
 OK, so here is the temple.  It's called the Padmanabhaswamy Temple.  This is where it gets interesting... The temple and the assets inside below to "Lord Padmanabhaswamy" and are controlled by a trust that is run by the Royal family.   In January the Kerala High Court ordered the temple and its assets be managed by the state.  The Royal family have challenged that decision in the Supreme Court.  This past June, the Supreme Court ordered that the secret chambers of the temple be open for inspection.  

The temple has 6 vaults.  Some have been opened from time to time, but two of them haven't been opened in a long time.  They Supreme court directed that those vaults be opened for inventory of the articles inside.  When they went inside they found gold and jewels.  There were coins from Napoleon's era, golden statues, rubies, emeralds - all kinds of treasure!! ONE, just ONE of the precious stones inside of the vault was worth $10 million dollars!!!  If you DON'T take into count the antique value of everything inside, the items in just that one vault are worth over $26.76 BILLION!!!!!!!!! If the antique value is taken into account then those assets could be worth ten times the current market price!!!  WOW!!!!!

 They have decided to postpone opening the last vault.  The vault's chamber is sealed with an iron door with the image of a cobra on it.  It hasn't been opened because there is the belief that opening it would result in much misfortune.... I wonder what is inside!!!!!!!!!
 One thing that Kerala is famous for is it's "backwaters".  We didn't end up going on a backwater tour, but we went on a speedboat tour - it was fun!  
 The driver guy kept swerving all around and freaked me out some :) haha!  but it was fun :)
 We saw a few houses and other interesting things on our tour.  
 After our tour we went to this beach area.   There wasn't anyone there so it was a little weird.  They were fixing things up and painting while we were there.  Monsoon was just ending and they are preparing for the "on season" :)
 These little table areas were cute :)
 The sand at these beaches was orange.  It was very interesting!  We saw this old temple on the beach (at least that's what I think it is... maybe it's just a cool looking old shelter thing...I couldn't find any info on it).  It looked cool!
 The waves were pretty high!!!  People were on the beach watching the waves - it was really fun to see!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

DIWALI!

Wednesday was Diwali  :)  It's an exciting time of year.  For those in America, think of Christmas season... lights, people out shopping and buying things, stores (and markets) full of sales and fun things to buy for loved ones, special TV shows for the holidays, etc...  Diwali is a 5 day holiday but Wednesday (the 3rd day of Diwali) is what people usually refer to as "Diwali".  

The first day of Diwali is called Dhantaras.  During this day people honor and worship Lakshmi (the goddess of Wealth).  Purchasing new things - especially in the form of a precious metals like gold or silver - is said to bring good luck and wealth to your family and household for the next year.  The more precious metals and more money you spend, the more luck and wealth you will have.   This is what one store in our little "mall" looked like (there are only a few stores in the mall open now - it's a new mall)... it was PACKED out!  I had so much fun in it... it's kinda like shopping on the day after Thanksgiving - it's awesome! :)  haha!
 Day two of Diwali is called Choti Diwali (little Diwali).  Our local market was so fun and buzzing with activity!  Many people were out buying diyas (oil lamps - seen below), sweets, flowers, gifts and firecrackers!
 The whole center of the market was full of people selling marigolds.  People will have marigolds and mango leaves somewhere in their house for Diwali.
 On Diwali we went to the market in the neighborhood over from us.  It's a super fun and HUGE market!
 This guy (below) drove by the marigold cart and picked up some flowers, hung them on his handle bars and drove on... :)
 This is our local market (just a few feet from our house) on Diwali night. 
 More of our local market... the night of Diwali many people are getting last-minute things like sweets & firecrackers :) 
 This picture isn't that great but if look closely you can see a man with a big bag full of cotton.  The cotton is used for wicks in the diyas.  You take a little clay diya and put mustard oil (or other oil) in it.  Then you take some cotton and roll it into a wick, put it in the oil and light it!  
 Many of the business owners in the market did worship at their shops as well as at their homes.  The candles are lit for the goddess Lakshmi.  
  Our downstairs neighbor put their candles around the outside of their house.  This candle seemed a little dangerous :) haha!
 Most people have rangolis (decorated designs) at the entrance to their house.
 This is what a typical middle class house will look like on Diwali... Lights, candles or diyas, rangoli, merigold & mango leaves.
 These neighbors have REALLY LOUD fireworks that they've been shooting off for weeks... it's funny though, on Diwali night they didn't set off that many... maybe they used them all up before Diwali :) haha!
Diwali night is FULL of firecrackers!!!!!  They go off all night long!!!
These are our upstairs neighbors :)  They were having a lot of fun "bursting crackers" :)  
 The view from our roof is AWESOME!  I couldn't really capture it in pictures, but you could see the firecrackers going off all over our area of the city!!!  It was awesome!
It's a fun (and LOUD) night :)  It's pretty exciting :) haha!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Very Scary Day....

I'm posting this story on both blogs... 

I'm going to tell you a story about one of the scariest days of my life.  I get knots in my stomach just thinking about it, but the story just has to be told!  

This past week we went on a vacation to a beach city to south of us.  Our awesome friends Keith & Carie met up with us there and we had a really great time!  One of the days though, we had the scare of our life!  

Before I begin this story, let me tell you a little about our hotel room... we were on what we call in America the THIRD floor (In South Asia we would call it the 2nd floor because the ground floor is either called 0 or ground).... 
Anyway....
We were about to take the kids to the swimming pool.  They had just gotten up from their naps, and we put their swimsuits on.  The swimsuits were still a little wet from that morning and Aashini kept complaining that she was cold.  We told them to go outside and stand on the balcony and we would grab the sun screen and bring it out there and put it on them.  As I was getting the sunscreen, I hear a "THUD" and then hear Aashini scream: "Diya!"...  We run outside and look over the balcony... I see Diya laying face down on the ground - not moving.  

A lady that was in the hotel room on the ground floor ran out.  She heard the sound (and it woke her husband up from his nap) and wanted to see what it was (she though it was some coconuts or something).   At this point Adam is sprinting down the stairs to her and I'm yelling down to the lady (Fiona) that my husband is on his way down.  Diya starts to try to get up, so Fiona picks her up.  I grab Aashini and run downstairs as well.  

The area our balcony looks over was really hard to get to unless you have a ground floor.  Adam ran around to the side and jumped over a wall to get over there, while Fiona went through her room into the middle lobby area of the building we were in to find us.  Adam got to the outside area and Diya wasn't there, so he ran through Fiona's room into the lobby area.  There he was able to get to Diya about the same time Aashini and I reached them.  

At that point we ran with Diya & Aashini to the doctor's office at the resort.  There were some American doctors there for the week, so we ran to them.  They did a quick look-over of Diya.   Her right arm was covered in red mud/dirt and her right side (rear-end & leg) was red.  She seemed to be able to move her arms just fine, but wouldn't stand up and was crying a lot, so we weren't sure if something was wrong with her hip or leg area.   

So we rushed her to the hospital.   Aashini was super freaked out at this point, so Adam took Diya to the hospital and I kept Aashini at the hotel.  Right as we were leaving the doctor's office and Adam was headed to the hotel car that was going to take him to the hospital, our friend Karen was at the pool.  Aashini had been wanting to swim with her, so it was perfect timing.  Karen was a life-saver and watched Aashini while I grabbed some things in the room to bring to Adam in the car (and for about an hour after that while I sat by the pool talking with Adam on the phone).  

He rushed Diya off to the hospital.   I then went to Keith and Carie's room and told them what had just happened.  We prayed and Keith left and went to the hospital to be with Adam and Diya.   It was really hard not to be with them at the hospital, but Aashini didn't need to be at the hospital and she really needed me.  She was dealing with it in her own kid way.  It came in waves.  She kept saying: "Diya fell.  Why did Diya fall?  I couldn't catch her.  I couldn't catch her".   We talked about it a lot and talked it though and told her it wasn't her fault, but it was still really hard on her.  She was worried about Diya.  

Adam went to the first hospital which was super small and they sent him on to the larger hospital in the capital city (just about 20-30 minutes away).  They looked Diya over and then gave her a sedative so that they could do x-rays and a CT Scan on her head.  The sedative made her hyper!  She was running all around the emergency room and singing (this made me so happy!!!  Her bones seemed fine, so now we just had to make sure there wasn't anything wrong in her head).  Eventually they gave her more sedative and she fell asleep.  

They did the X-rays of her spine and the CT Scan.  We got the results back and there was NOTHING WRONG!  Diya was perfectly fine!!!!!!!!!!!   She fell from the 3rd floor balcony and nothing was wrong!!!!!!!  She didn't have a cut, scrape, bruise or bump!!!!!  NOTHING!!!!

Praise God!  He totally protected Diya!!!!!  I will share this story over and over again about how God protected our little girl.  She fell from the 3rd floor balcony and didn't get a scratch or a bruise!  God protected her!!!!  Thank you God!!!


Here is the balcony.   The balcony (except the one side) is fully covered with glass.  For most of the time we were staying there, we had a towel over the far end (with the X) so we didn't realize what a hazard it was!  In the few seconds that she was out there by herself, she fell through those holes!   Do you see how high up it is??? We are at the tops of the trees??? WOW!   I kept looking down and thinking that if I fell I KNOW I would have broken something!
The is the ground where Diya fell.   Right where those two holes are is where she landed.  She was just a few inches from both concrete walls!!!
Here is Diya at the hospital trying to fall asleep.   She had her swimsuit on when we did her exam at the resort with the American doctors, but Adam took her with just the beach towel... so that's all she had!  Poor thing!  When Keith left to go to Adam, my brain was not working well, so I didn't send him with anything!  Keith was a super hero though!  He got Diya some diapers, milk, cup, straws & biscuits (crackers)) all in a country he doesn't know in a language he doesn't know!
Here is Diya asleep getting her CT Scan.  
This isn't our balcony, but it's the same balcony on the other side of the building.  It was over 20 feet off the ground!!  We took this picture so you could get an idea... The arrow is pointing to the balcony and on the ground you can see little Diya... just to see the perspective.

Diya got home that night around 10:00 pm!  Wow!   Here's a picture of her the next day :)  We've always called her "Bam-Bam" and she is REALLY living up to that name!!!!  She keeps talking about what happened and says:  "Fell down and 'BONK'" She still talks about it some.  When she saw this blog post, she recognized the balcony and started talking about it.
Here is Aashini the next day too :)   She was so worried about Diya and had a really hard time going to sleep that night without her there.  She was soooooo happy when Diya was there when she woke up!
I am soooo thankful for this miracle that happened in our life this past week!  Thank you Jesus!! :)  Whoo hoo!!!!
Check out this awesome Bible Story about a boy that fell from a 3rd floor window! - Click here to read