Yes, he's Santa (in case you forgot)
Did you get all that?? My Uncle Jeff's parents and brother have lived in India for quite sometime. Kyle married an Indian girl and has 3 beautiful children!! That is who we went to visit : ).
We arrived in India on Christmas Eve morning around 9 and hit the road. This time it wasn't a 10 hour drive. YAY!!! It only took us about 30 minutes to get to their house. They have rented an entire building, which is quite nice. The ground level is parking, the first floor is the office, second floor the guest house (one of their driver's stays there), third floor is where Kyle and Sony live, and the top floor is where Ron and Karen live (we stayed in a guest room there). I have known this family since I was a baby so my whole life they have been known as Nanny, Pappa, and Uncle Kyle, but for all intensive purposes I will call them by their names.
We just relaxed and got tours of both of their houses until the kids got home from school. Preethi, the 10 year old insisted that I pick her up from school. Her school gets out at 2:15 and Sunshine was going with me since I didn't know the way (it's walking distance). We were going to get their early because she is a gunner for being on time, however, when we got to the bottom of their building, Sunshine remembered we didn't have the card to show the people at school. So, Kyle grabbed it and threw it down from the third floor balcony...the wind was blowing...it blew that little card right onto a ledge 2 stories down. We all threw in our ideas on how to get it down, but Kyle found the perfect solution...A BLOW GUN!!! Too shots and the thing came sailing down!! It may sound like this was a quick solution, but we did stand around for a while trying to figure out just how to get it down, therefore, Sunshine and I were a little late to get Preethi. Now remember I have not seen this family for at least 6-7 years, so the kids do not remember me, but you would never know that!! Preethi was upset when we got there, not because we were late, but because one of her friends at school upset her, but she still smiled and hugged me. She told me later that she knew it was me because I was the only white girl (I guess I do stick out). Jordan got out at 3:15 and once again I went (with Preethi this time) to pick him up. He saw me from a distance and yelled, "Kimberly?" He looks just like a Clayton!!! He resembles my cousin Brendon SOOOO much, except that he is about 5 years younger and half Indian, but still I can see it : ).
Mary was about to leave, but before she did...
This is Mary, she has been with Ron and Karen for 17 years. She said that she took a picture with my Aunt Karen (my dad's sister) when she was here 10 years ago and needed a picture with me as well. Remember, these are my Aunt Karen's clothes. Yes, her and her mother-in-law have the same name.
Then with both of us in front of the tree...sorry the tree is hidden
Once all the kids were home we wanted to go bowling, but once we got to the mall, I know I know a mall in India??? I would have never guessed I would see that since our last trip was such a culture shock, but nonetheless, there is a mall and it's SUPER nice. Anyway, once we got to the mall we didn't have time to bowl before we were going to dinner at the Hard Rock (Christmas Eve Dinner), so Kyle bought the kids a credit card to play games. This place was like a Chuck-E-Cheese with games and such, but instead of tokens, you put the limit you want on a credit card...just like the Monopoly game...this place shows kids how to get in debt (as Gary says). Next, we had our Christmas Eve dinner at the Hard Rock!! It was really good!! Then back to the house we went and the kids got ready for Santa to come!!
Christmas morning Ron and Karen banged on the door to wake us up, but we both fell back asleep. An hour later I finally climbed out of bed and went down to Kyle and Sony's to find everyone watching Toy Story 3. They had been waiting on us to open presents. Well, the wait was over and they didn't care if Gary was there or not. Preethi and Jordan had already recieved bikes from Santa, so this was all the family gifts. There was wrapping paper and laughter everywhere!! It was a good time. The night before the kids had bought us a teddy bear from the Hard Rock (shhhhh we didn't know about it) and I got to open that!! Then upstairs we went. We opened the presents upstairs and Gary and I got a cool marble elephant. It looks a little something like this.
We loved it!!! Ron and Karen got it for us and Gary has been wanting one!!! We were supposed to play dirty santa that night, but at the last minute plans changed so we gave Ron and Karen our gifts. Karen got a Batik fan (that is very Malaysian) and a Malaysian bookmark and Ron got a framed picture of a tiger (it means protection in Chinese). I think they liked them!!
Then for some entertainment...
One more song by Jordan and Preethi...
Then we ate breakfast and Karen started getting ready for the big dinner with Sony's family that night. Sony came upstairs and said that all the kids from the neighborhood were there and they were expecting to do something since it was Christmas Day. She wasn't prepared for them (hadn't even taken a shower) so she asked them to come back in 45 minutes. So, we both got ready and the kids came and sang some songs.
I wanted a group shot in front of the tree!
Sony decided that since this was a special day we needed to do something special with them so we took them to the mall because they having a craft there and these kids had never been to the mall. They live very close to their apartment building, but they don't live in apartments. They live in mud huts or tents made out of tarps, so these kids don't get out much and even though the mall is very close to where they live they never go anywhere except school, home, and church and those three things are less than a kilometer away from each other. So, need less to say the mall was quite the experience for them. I had to push a couple of them to get them on the escalator and they were just in awe at how big and bright everything was.
This is them giving their names so they could do the craft.
There was barely any room, but they all squeezed on somehow.
While the kids finished their crafts, Kyle, Gary, Sunshine, Jordan, Preethi, and I went to get some lunch while Sony stayed back. When we got back she said that she was freaking out because she lost one of the kids. It ended up he just needed to find a bathroom and he hadn't roamed very far. So, we took over from there and Sony went and got some food.
We found the big Christmas tree!!
There was a balcony looking out on the city. Gary took some pictures that he can hopefully make into a panaramic shot.
Then Sony wanted us to get each child's picture by themself in front of the fountain. This was quite interesting because the only person (Sony) that can interpret for any of us was gone, but we got pretty good at hand motions and such and the pictures are cute. I wish I knew all of their names!
We had to rush back because Sony had to cook for dinner that night too. Oh by he way...when we got to the mall, Kyle just dropped us off at the front door and went to park the car, but when we left we all went to the car park together and in order to get to the car park you have to get on an elevator. The kids were amazed that we started on one floor and when the doors opened we were on another floor. Kyle and Sony's apartment has an elevator, but it's one of those old fashioned ones that has the metal cage type thing where you can see out and know when you are going up or down
like this except without that white door, just open.
They were just sooo cute!! To end their fun filled day, we stopped and got them some ice cream just to top it off!!
The race was on once we got back to the house. I asked several times if I could help with anything and both Karen and Sony kept telling me just to rest and relax. So, that's what I did. Gary and I watched a couple of movies with the kids until Sony's family started arriving around 7.
We had dinner first, which was filled with all my favories...green bean casserole, chicken and dressing (I think turkey is super expensive and really skrawny so not worth it) and then to top it off Sony made my mom's famous Cinnamon cake. We both agreed that nothing beats my mom's but it was a little taste of home in India!! There were some Indian dishes there and I'm not gonna lie, I didn't even touch them because I was just too stuck on all the American food that I hadn't had in soooo long. Actually Gary was a little sad that he didn't have more Indian food while we were there, but there are plenty of places in Malaysia to eat it so I guess he wasn't too heartbroken. After dinner, it was present time. Oh I forgot to say that they have a 4 month old on Sony's side of the family...I was so glad she woke up before present opening because I got to hold the WHOLE TIME!!!!
She fell right back asleep and didn't wake up and get fussy until the very end. I was in heaven!
I look like I am jealous of Grandma here because she has Eva.
This is Sony's niece and she is absolutely gorgeous!!
Everybody left and off to bed we all went because the next day was Sunday!!!
It's really neat how Ron and Kyle do this. On Saturday morning over breakfast they "made the plan." Ron told Kyle where he was planning on going and Kyle told Ron where he would go. They picked who would drive them and the plan was made. I had already told Karen that I would teach a children's bible class so I was automatically in the car with Ron, and Kyle wanted to hear Gary speak so Gary was automatically in the car with Kyle. Oh by the way they asked Gary if he would preach that morning and then later on when they were talking about it they stopped and said, "Wait, you have preached before right?" We both laughed and thought it was neat that they were letting him preach and 1. weren't even sure that he could and 2. have never heard him, but they said they trusted me and that means they trusted him!! Good thing because he is a pretty amazing preacher!! Anyway, so Gary and Kyle left for first at 9 and we (Ron, Karen, and me) left at 10. Our first stop was the children's Bible class...
First they sang
Then I taught David and Goliath and Jonah
This was my first time to teach kids with a translator, but I didn't let that slow me down from being super enthusastic and go overboard with my motions and facial expressions.
Then they said the books of the Bible
Then they did something where one kid stood up in front of everyone and they repeated what they said. I'm not sure what they are saying, but I thought it was soooo cute!!
Me, the Bible class teacher (sorry I forgot her name), and Karen
can you find me??
Then we went to the church Ron was at and caught the end of his lesson. We were kind of in a hurry, but after the worship, they garlanded (I know that's not a word) us and they had a belated birthday cake for Karen
This is the little guy that gave me my garland!
They do birthday cakes like wedding cakes and feed it to each other. Actually later that night a guy came by (I didn't get pictures of this) and wanted us to honor him by having birthday cake with him and he feed some to Ron, Karen, Gary and me. Quite interesting tradition.
So, then we went back to the church I taught Bible class and Ron preached there too. Then we headed home, but before we did...
Of course I had to hold a baby!!!
That afternoon, we just rested and hung out..UNTIL...we went downstairs to see the Telagu speaking church and Sony said the kids thought they were having their Christmas party that night instead of Monday night. So, I grabbed a bag of donated beanie babys and headed back upstairs to make some goodie bags. Good thing Karen is super creative because we made some goodie bags with four cookies and a beanie baby in each wrapped in tissue paper and tied up with one of Karen's famous bows!! Then Sony went out and bought crayons and just little stuff to give them as well. For such short notice they were quite cute!! We met back downstairs at 6 to have our get together. Of course they sang some songs and then I told them the story of David and Goliath and then we played games!!!
First was musical chairs and this was our winner!!
Then it was Hot Potato
Then it was Simon Says. I tried to be the leader, but the language barrier was harder than we thought. So, Sony took over.
And last but not least DUCK DUCK GOOSE!!!!
The boys got home pretty late, but we were all starving so we had some grilled cheese and soup...when was the last time I had grilled cheese you ask?? Well, it's been at least 4 months!! It was DELICIOUS!!
Monday morning we pretty much got up and left. Ron took us to the airport, but before we left Kyle and Sony met us on hte first level and we said a prayer...by the way they say a prayer before they go anywhere and the kids pray as soon as they wake up in the morning...so sweet!! Ron dropped us off pretty quickly and we were off.
We had a fun time in India and it was neat seeing a different side of that country. It was a short trip, but as you can tell we did A LOT!!!
I hope everyone had a GREAT CHRISTMAS!!!