Thursday, December 20, 2012

A haircut

Today, I took Ethan for a haircut.  Now, admittedly, this is usually Brian's job, but since he is out of town, and I couldn't stand looking at Ethan's shaggy hair for one more minute....!  I took him to the barber down the street.
     This barber sets up under a tree, not far from our house.  There are also barber shops here (or hair saloons, as they are called..serioulsy that is not a typo..they call them "saloons"), but the shops will charge 2-4 times more for a cut.
     Now, for any of you who will tell me to cut his hair myself, there is a simple answer.  Brian can testify to the fact that hair cutting is not one of my talents.  I cut his hair, to save money when we were first married and lived in the US (*shudder*).  When we got to India and I found out the price of a men's haircut, I gladly retired from cutting his hair!  Ethan's haircut this morning cost about the equivalent of 40 cents!
Kara waiting impatiently for Ethan to be done
A picture of the kids on 12/12/12 at 12:12pm

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter (??)

A Maine winter...
                          OK..I will admit it.  I'm still a Maine girl at heart, so it's very difficult to call anything that doesn't involve snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, winter.  But, we are in "winter" season here in Punjab. (Notice, I still had to put it in quotes!)
     Some people may be surprised that India experiences winter.  North of us is Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, both of these states get snow, but they are both mountainous regions.  Here in Punjab, we are living in the plains, so we never get snow.  Yes, I said it..a winter with no snow...sad, I know!   So, what is our winter weather?
     I have already posted about the summer here, and the summer for me is always an endurance test.  But, most people here, find the cold months as hard to bear, as I find the hot months.  People always ask me "Don't you feel cold?"  My answer is always, "Sometimes, but I like to feel cold!"
A pleasant October day
       Usually by September, the monsoon rains have stopped and the temperature starts its slow descent out of the high 90's.  October and November are extremely pleasant months, with the temperature ranging between 65-85 most days.  By the end of November, the day temp. won't rise above the 70's and the evening temps. fall to the 50's.  By December we have to pull out the sweaters!    This week, the temperature is hitting a low of 45 at night, and highs in the 60-65 in the daytime.
Visiting in a village...warming up village style!  Villages get colder than we do here in the city, because they are an open area.
     By the end of December it will dip close to freezing (around 35), but usually only for a few nights, while the highs will be in the 50's.  January is usually a very foggy, damp and miserable month.
Waiting for the train to Delhi on a cool morning in December
January fog
Some interesting things to note...our houses here have no heating system, and are not sealed.  So, whatever the outside temperature is, the inside temperature is not much higher.  Also, our house is brick, cement and tile, so when it is chilly and damp, it gets very chilly and damp in the house. Many others live in much less substantial shelter than we do, so they are even more affected by the cold.  We wear the same amount of clothes indoors, as we do outdoors, and it is very difficult to get clothes to dry. 

Thankfully, this type of weather only lasts about a month, and then by February the temperature will start creeping up again.
    The children have only seen snow a couple of times in their lives, and are hoping to someday visit the US in December and January, so they can experience a "real Maine winter"!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Day 2012

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for the Pratt family!  We have spent quite a few Thanksgivings here in India.  Of course, it is not a holiday in India, but we enjoy sharing the history and meaning of Thanksgiving with neighbors and church people.  Usually the planning for the meal starts weeks in advance, so that I can search the shops to find the ingredients that I need, and then revise my menu when the ingredients are not available!  We try to make the meal as traditional as possible, though there are always some traditional foods that we do without. We were not able to have a turkey this year.  Brian found a local turkey, but they wanted to charge about $6/lb.  This, for a turkey that only weighed about 6 or 7 pounds, in other words, skin and bones!  So, we decided to have pork this year. 

Here is our Thanksgiving menu:
Mashed Potatoes
Green beans w/bacon
Homemade bread
Sweet potato casserole (for some reason the sweet potatoes here are greenish, instead of orange..weird)
The girls were a big help to me in the kitchen this year.

Raspberry Pie
Apple Crumble pie
Pumpkin pie (this is the first year that I've found real pumpkins here..Brian happened to see one in the
market one day.  I'm sure they've always grown them here, but I never saw them or knew what to call them in order to ask someone!  The skin is not the bright, orange color that we are used to for pumpkins, but the inside is orange and it has a pumpkin taste.  So, for the past couple months, I've been cooking and mashing fresh pumpkins and freezing it to use in pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie.)
Cookie Dough bars
Eskimos cookies
Sugar cookies
Thin Mints
Chocolate/orange cookies
A team effort

Coloring their Thanksgiving pictures

The completed art work
 Thanksgiving is an exciting and fun-filled day, but there is always a tinge of sadness at being so far away from our families at this time of year.  Thankfully, we were able to Skype with both sides of the family on Thanksgiving Day.  (Although, it was not necessary for my brother to share with us that they were having cheesecake for dessert!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Church Anniversary

November 2-4, we celebrated the 6th anniversary of Grace Baptist Church in Mohali, with a three day mission conference.  The theme was, "To God be the Glory".
Pastor Babu, from Guragaon, preached stirring messages, dealing with using our life to glorify the Lord. 
Boys singing an action song during Sunday School

The crowd on Sunday morning

Naomi and Melody playing special music
Some of the believers from the Zeliangrong Fellowship (our Manipuri church in Chandigarh) joined us on Sunday morning.  There are some great singers in this group.

We were so blessed to see some of our college students step up and do a lot of the cooking (and cleaning up!) for the meeting.  There have been many times when our family has shouldered most of the work for the church.  It is exciting to see our church people come together to work for the Lord.   We believe that the church is a family, and each one has been given gifts by the Lord to use in His service.  (The food was good too!)
The Lord truly blessed with a wonderful three days of meetings.  He spoke to many hearts, including mine.  On Sunday, during the preaching, I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by our church people, those from the Mohali and Chandigarh churches.  We have people in our church who cannot read or write, people who do manual labor for a living, college students pursuing various degrees, some pursuing PhD's in various field, some who work in offices for Multi-national companies.  As I was sitting there, the Lord spoke to my heart, that I was exactly where He wanted me to be, living and serving among these people at this time.  Very powerful....

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Sunday with the Pratts

Ever wonder how we spend our Sundays?  For us, Sunday is one of the busiest days of the week.  Melody asked me last week..."Some people say Sunday is a day of rest, is that in the Bible?" Hmmm... To consider Sunday a "day of rest", would not be true for us.  But, Sunday is a day that we spend in serving the Lord, and worshiping with His people.  So, here's a run down of our Sunday activities.

6:30am   Time to wake up!  At least for Mom...
7:30am    Kids wake up 
"I'm ready for church, Mom"...Hmmm...the shawl is nice, but maybe you should change out of the pj's!

7:45am    Brian leaves to go to Tira village.  We had a morning service going on here for about a year.  There were some problems here, and at this point only one older lady is faithfully attending.  So, Brian goes to her house for prayer, and then brings her to the church in Kumbra for the service.
Sunday is usually a quick breakfast for us.  It's the only day of the week we eat cold cereal (cornflakes, special K, or granola are the only options), or we might have quick bread or muffins that I made on Saturday.
Practicing a song for special music
 8:45-9:00am  We leave for S.S. and church in Kumbra
Waiting for our ride to church.

9:15-1:00pm  Sunday School and church service in Kumbra at Grace Baptist Church
Bro. Mohammad leading Sunday School opening

Sunday School class having a sword drill.  Bro. Mohammad teaches the adults and teens, and I teach the children in S.S.

Alyssa occupies the small children during S.S. time

Church service

 1:30pm  Reach home for a quick lunch.
2:15  Leave to go to the Chandigarh service.  Brian has recently started being interim pastor for this group of people from the North East of India.  Most are college students or young working people.  This is a different type of ministry for us.  Pray for these young people, as many are from Christian families, but have not truly been saved.
 2:30 - 4:30pm Manipur Service
 5:00-5:15pm  Arrive home from Manipur service
5:45pm   Back to Kumbra
6:00pm   Bible games/Trivia/Sword drill for the youth
6:45-8:30  Evening Service at Grace Baptist Church
9:00pm Reach home to eat supper and get to bed after a long day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some prayer requests

Pray for the sick.  There is still so much sickness here.  Dengue fever is the main problem now.  The hospitals are literally overflowing. Brian visited in a hospital last night, and there were literally no beds available.  The new patients are using metal trolleys, that they use in the emergency room, to lay on.  Some of our church members are very sick.  Ethan has had a low fever for a couple days.  It went up to 102.5 today so we did the blood test for dengue, just as a precaution.  He doesn't seem overly sick, but he did say today that he felt weak, and he has been laying around a lot, which is unusual for him. 

Pray for our church building.  We have been renting the same rooms for the past few years to hold our services.  The owner of the building now wants to raise the rent by 64% in December.  We are just not able to bear this increase, so are praying and searching for other options.  Pray that we find the right place, or that God changes the owner's heart.

Pray for a new ministry.  A group of young people from the North East of India (Manipur), has been meeting for fellowship in Chandigarh for a couple years.  Brian met them through a mutual friend and preached for them a few times.  They have asked him to be interim pastor for them.  They want help in forming a church, strengthening the believers, evangelizing the unbelievers in their midst, and calling a pastor when they are ready.  The group meets near the campus of Punjab University, and a lot of those that attend are college students.  This will mean a greater responsibility and ministry load for all of us.  Pray for strength for the work.

Pray for our furlough plan.  We are praying and planning to take a furlough next year, starting in April or May.  Pray for the finances to fly our family of seven to the US.

Thank you to all that read our updates and pray for us.  It is so important for missionaries to have the support of the believers.  We cannot do it alone, please keep us in your prayers. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What's your name?

This past August marks 11 years of ministry in India for us!  Wow!  Doesn't that sound like forever?  It feels like forever at times too!  After living in a culture this many years, parts of everyday life that may have seemed strange and weird to us when we first arrived, have become a part everyday life.  We used to stare at families of four riding on a bicycle together, but now we don't give them a passing glance.  So many things I could share like that, but the fact is, you live, you adjust, you become accustomed.  I say all that to say this, if there is any one who has a question about Indian life and culture, or about our life specifically, that they would be like me to address on this blog, please leave a comment here on the blog, on my Facebook page, or send me a message or email.  If possible I will answer your questions. 
A bride and groom with extended family

 Now for a part of Indian culture that still amuses me, at times.  What is your name?  What do people call you, refer to you as?  Here in India, most people are in the habit of using respectful titles and language, when referring to others.  Some people are very strict about it, and would become offended if they felt you were talking down to them, by not using the proper titles of respect.  So, what does that mean?  Let me try to make it simple (if possible).

Family relations:
Each relationship in the family has a name, and it is not as simple as our English "Aunt and Uncle" or "Grandmother and Grandfather".  Your father's parents are called "Dada and Dadi" while your mother's parents are "Nana and Nani".  Your father's brothers are called "Chacha" while your mother's brothers are called "Mama". This can get confusing when you throw in your father's brother's wife, your mother's sisters, and your in-laws!    Getting the picture?  I still get confused about what to call some family relations, but if you could master this system, you would instantly know how someone is related by the name they use for that person.  You wouldn't have to ask if it was mother's side, father's side, elder or younger.  But, a title, like "Chacha" can be used for someone who is not your actual relative, but an older man who is close to the family.

First name:
It is considered disrespectful to call someone by their first name.  The only people you would call by their first names, would be children, a close friend, who is close in age to you, or someone who is considered in a lower position than you such as, a servant, employee, or student.  So, you have to be careful about using first names.  So, what do you call someone?  Many people use the terms for sister and brother (didi and bhai).  Or, you can refer to someone by the job they do.  We have a neighbor who is a mason, so people call him the Hindi word for "mason".  A man in our church sells vegetables for a living, so everyone calls him the vegetable seller.  A lot of husbands and wives don't refer to each other by their first names, and it's not because they use a term of endearment.  It is not considered polite by some to call your husband or wife by name.  A lot of times they will say "my husband" or "my wife".   Another way to refer to someone, which always amuses me, is to refer to them by the name of their child.  Our neighbor always to refers to her husband as "Sanjeev's father" (her son's name is Sanjeev).  It is very common, especially for mothers, to be referred to like this.  Sunil's mother, Prem's mother, Guddu's mother. 

So, what about us..the strangers, the foreigners...what are we called?  Since, we are considered teachers, as well as my husband being a pastor, besides our foreigner status, we are referred to by most people as "Sir" and "Madame".  Other pastors many times call my husband "Pastor Brian", and to some I am "Mrs. Brian".  There are a small handful of people in India that call me "Angela".   One family that does is our landlord and his wife.  Their children are our age, and they lived for many years in Western countries, so are accustomed to our way of speech.   Sometimes I miss having a name, but that's just me, I guess. 
Brian was talking on skype to his mom one day, and referred to me as "my wife".  His mom was indignant on  my behalf..."My wife?" "Don't you know what her name is?"   Ha Ha!  That made me laugh!  Just another way that we have adjusted to life here.

Post written by:  Madame...Mrs. Brian...Alyssa's mother...Angela

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Malaria, typhoid, and dengue fever, these are all words we have been hearing frequently here recently.  Sounds like a delightful topic of conversation, doesn't it?  Sickness has been sweeping through our area, and so many people are affected. Most of the visits we have been on lately, have been to visit the sick. 

The village where our church is located, Kumbra, is kind of a typical village in India.  There is no proper sewer system or water supply.  Sewerage flows in open drains throughout the village.  Unfortunately, the people have no concept for proper hygiene.  Trash is left to pile up on the road sides and in open ditches.  The village has a lot of cattle that roam freely, so animal waste is also piled out in the open.  So, when rain comes, as it has been in torrents this month, the trash and waste flow into the streets, overflow the open sewers, and contaminates the water supply.  This has resulted in many cases of typhoid.  We have told and told our church folks to boil their water, but most do not bother.  These days when we go for sick visits, and people try to give us water to drink, we always decline.  We used to let the kids drink the local water, but we have strictly instructed them now, to not drink any water outside our house!  Also, because of improper drainage and standing water, there is an abundance of mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue.  Melody and Kara are very attractive to mosquitoes, so we try to keep them doused with mosquito repellent when we have to be out in the evenings.

Why am I saying all this?  Just to shock someone's delicate sensibilities?  Hmmm...maybe!  (Be thankful I haven't supplied pictures to illustrate!)  Mainly, I just want to share what is going on with us, and what we are dealing with on a daily basis here lately.  The children and I caught some kind of fever last week, that gave us all headaches and severe aching in our muscles.  It lasted only a day with the kids, but 3 days for me, probably because 2 of those days, I tried to keep up with my daily responsibilities, school etc.  Thankfully, we all are doing better.  Please pray for our health and strength.  Pray for us as we visit and deal with the sick.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A trip to Mumbai

In August, Brian, Kara, and I took a trip to Mumbai for a few days.  Mumbai (Bombay) is about 1800 km from our home here in Punjab.  Our friends, Pastor and Mrs. Eda, who have been serving the Lord in Mumbai for about 30 years, invited us to come to visit their ministries, and their Bible College. 
It is always an encouragement to see nationals who have been serving God for years, and staying true to God's Word.  It's a blessing to see the Eda's desire to train up the young people of India to take the Word of God to the multitudes of this country.
While we were there, Brian preached in chapel services.  He also taught classes for the senior students on the practical aspects of being a pastor and planting churches.  On Saturday, there was a family meeting for all the college faculty, where he spoke on the Christian home.  During this meeting, I took a session for the faculty wives on "Being a help, and not a hindrance to the ministry".  I was also able to teach a Bible study for the college girls.
Some of the college faculty
Two of the faculty members children
Kara made some new friends while at the Bible College
Had to share this photo of the work going on at the Bible College.  They were working on a drive way, so these men were laying the stone before paving it.  Look at the size of that rock he is carrying on his head! 
 The college is located about an hour and a half outside of the city of Mumbai, so it is a very quiet and peaceful setting, unlike the city of Mumbai itself.
On Sunday, we visited Mumbai proper to be in the services of three different churches.  Also, on Wednesday we went for a meeting in "Asia's largest slum", which is home to over a million people. 
This is a pictures of the meeting.  We didn't get there until it was dark, so I didn't get any other pictures of the area, but believe me, it is like a city in itself.  Bro. Prashant, who we have known for years, is doing a good work in this slum area.

We were able to visit a few of Mumbai's well-known tourist attractions while there: the Gateway of India, the Taj Hotel, and the Arabian Sea.
Brian and Kara at the Arabian Sea
Gateway of India -- Built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.
The Taj Hotel, the site of an extremely deadly terror attack in 2008
Trying to get Kara to "touch the top" of the Taj hotel..almost got it!
Mumbai trivia:
Formerly known as Bombay
Largest and richest city in India
Home to "Asia's largest slum"
Fourth largest city in the world
Home of India's film industry, which is nicknamed "Bollywood
Financial capital of India: the Reserve Bank and National Stock Exchange are located here