Wednesday, August 17, 2011

strong and bound for glory and cursed with a thousand stories

i keep thinking about these feet. mine. theirs. and the distance in between.
i want to go back. see their faces light up and hear their laughter.
but i find a deep refusal, in the most hidden places of me, to shove my way back into their stories. this is not the time and i am fine knowing that. there will be a time and when i see their faces again i'll let out a halleluia and maybe even do a little dance. it will be good.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

i found myself missing my girls more than usual today. especially this one. that smile is one of my most favorite things in this world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

beloved hope

you can't see it here but this girl has a smile that makes me absolutely giddy. her name, it means beloved hope, fits her perfectly. when i see her smile i am reminded of the hope that we have, of love that never fails, of a God who has called us Beloved. She is proof of His unrelenting desire to make us new.

Friday, June 3, 2011

almost home

my apologies for the lact of updates. the last two weeks sort of threw me for a loop. and now i'm sitting in O'Hare waiting to board my final flight home. unreal. i still feel like i'm going to walk out and catch a cab or bus back to Bely, hang out with the girls and fall asleep and then wake up in Kolkata.
(yay for ridiculous run on sentences!)
when reality hits it's going to knock me unconscious
i will be posting a few more times at least but understand that it'll probably take me awhile to gather my wits long enough to get them here. if you want to hear stories or see photos before that we can have coffee or tea or just hang out under the lovely colorado sky.
can't wait to see your beautiful faces!

Monday, May 16, 2011

without feet, they dance

the women at dum dum have given me more than i could possibly hope to give back
in fact i feel out right selfish when i think about this whole situation
life with them is difficult at times
moments when i don't understand what they need
when i can't figure out how to make them understand me
when i find my skills and knowledge are inadequate
when i can't make the pain or the bad memories go away
but as difficult as it is for me to see them go through it
i imagine its far more difficult to live through it.

Still, it's quite easy to forget that their disabilities and trauma. it's easy to forget that Jhancy needs a walker or that Rani can't speak. I forget that Pinky doesn't dance on her feet. they are all so full of life, of joy and they teach me to live abundanlty. and that's what i'll take with me.
well, that and...
the way Nadira squirms with delight when she see's her aunties - the way Radha takes a good look at me before cracking a smile and saying "good morning"- the way Rina smiles and sticks her toungue out when i draw on her hands - the way Asha dances - the way Baishali sniffs at my hair - Asha Priya's smile - Gita's songs - Beshara's sneaky biscuit thievery - Suporna's hugs

i have life and breath, i have abundance and i see it now.
i am the richest

Sunday, May 15, 2011


what Gangtok lacks in...well, everything, Pelling makes up for a hundred times over.
we arrived in Gezing just after noon and had almost no issue find a jeep to Pelling.
Buddha, our hotel manager in Gangtok, had called a friend of his to reserve a room for us. we were ever so grateful. we settled in and went up to the roof for lunch. after being told they had no momo's and finding that their version of "Tibetan Bread" was just chapati made in Sikkim we mourned Kalden's (our favorite place for momo's and real tibetan bread) closure feri eckh palta*.

Still, it's quiet and rainy and simply relaxing. it makes me giddy to think about walking through some forest tomorrow. yes, i realize i'm a nerd. but really this is just perfect and exactly what i was needing and hoping for.

ah, i should mention we tried tongba tonight. i liked it and probably a bit more than i should. ha!

*nepaley phrase meaning once more

Friday, May 13, 2011

the road king

we were bored waiting to leave and thought you all needed to see just how awesome our jeep was.

105 days later

three and a half months in
i feel as if i've regressed
there are days that i just want to yell at people
and oddly enough i feel comfortable enough to do that here
i'm sort of ashamed to admit that i've yelled at men
more in the last few weeks than ever in my life
though in my defense the number is only up to four
i suppose i'm just tired and my defenses are worn down
and i've had enough with people trying to take advantage of whatever situation
or simply not caring
i have moments where i breathe slowly and hope/long for the restoration of all things
moments when i can see it coming, ever so slowly
but for the most part i get tracy chapman singing "the whole worlds broke and it ain't worth fixing"
i want a fresh start. and mostly for myself.
i want so much to see and hear and feel and understand without all these filters
and in my most selfish moments i just want everyone else to walk humbly, do justice and love mercy
not that i've already attained but because i don't like being inconvenienced
and you all thought i was patient and compliant

oh well

i'm hoping for a change of heart and mind
waiting and longing for it really

Sunday, May 1, 2011

now i know i promised thoughts on holy week and reaching my three month mark but i haven't had much time to process either. life is so full that i wake at 530 (ok, who am i kidding? it's usually 6) and don't make it back to be until at least 11. the community that has been built around me here is beautiful and bright. i am increadibly grateful and increasingly aware of how lovely and luminous my community in Denver is.
yep, this is one thankful, almost twenty seven year old, lady.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

coming soon...

+ thoughts on lent/holy week.
+ thoughts on life at Dum Dum
+ thoughts on reaching my 3 month mark

i have so many thoughts to share but an insufficient amount of time in which to share them. for now i just want you all to know that i am alive, i love and miss your faces and life is full.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

oh hey rach...what's that?

what? *blink blink*

oh this!

this is just a small testament to the fact that my friends are the bee's knees.

the bee's knees??

yeah i don't know what it means either but those bee's must have some fantastic knees

note: pedro has claimed the jellies for himself. who knew ducks like jelly beans?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

music often says more in three minutes than we are able to say in an hours time and seeing as the last months have provided such deep and moving experiences for both Mercedes and i (and not forgetting that she is a poet and i pretend to be one in real life) we've been working on some songs that might adequately describe what we see and feel.

hope you enjoy this little glimpse into our life here...

Friday, April 15, 2011


is Poila Baishak. otherwise known as bengali new year. yay!
that means fireworks tonight (i hope) and lots of celebration.
this photo was not taken today but since i missed the photo op that happened to be taking place on the opposite side of the bus i was on today, we'll just say it went a little something like this

this was the not-very-exciting view from my side of the bus.

my apologies for the lack of posts.
life is full.
stories to come
for sure.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

day 68 of 151
i never really thought about specific dates
though if i had i wouldn't have anticipated this
March 31st begins week two of get-rid-of-bronchitis-adventures
March 31st marks nearly 10 weeks of residence in this city
meaning i'm nearly half way through this journey
maybe journey's too eloquent a word
adventure might suffice

and what have i to say for the last 10 weeks
i suppose the best way to say it is this
i feel i've done so little yet much has been done in me
my heart, my worldview, my way of living
each been shaped by my time here
in some ways i feel like an old soul
in others i feel like a child still learning the proper way to say & do

so goodbye March,
minus the sleepless nights spent coughing over the toilet,
you've been good to me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

weavers studio

i think i found a little bit of heaven in kolkata

yep. i am a fan of this place.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


i love this place
to attempt an explanation of my love for it would be futile

& when the sun rises

it reveals this most breathtaking view

i ♥ darj.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

almost 2 months in and i feel like i just arrived.
and technically i did. Mercedes, Ashley (another volunteer from NY) I just returned from five days of much needed rest in Darjeeling. (more on that at a later time).

working at Dum Dum has begun to feel very natural. i can't imagine not being here, not seeing my girls faces, not taking in copious amounts of polluted air for an hour just to hear them say "good morning auntie!"
there's a part of me that doesn't want to spend May traveling. but then the reality of increasing temperatures hits and i want to run for the hills. literally. So Mercedes and i will soon be planning for that. Until then we're at Dum Dum being "aunties".
I'm not sure i mentioned it before but i'm now helping teach a class of 8 girls who will test for acceptance into the Indian Institute for Cerebral Palsy come June. The IICP does amazing work. Daya Dan, the orphanage i originally planned on working with, has quite a few of their kids enrolled there and has seen great results. It's a challenging task, getting them ready. I'm fairly sure one of the girls has dyslexia so i'm trying to find ways to work with that. two other girls don't understand english very well, making the process that much more difficult. It's good though to be in a place where i constantly have to rely on God's grace to provide wisdom and creativity in working with each girl.

I'm learning to rest
and trust
He is good

Monday, March 7, 2011

i'm much more accustomed to this city than i ever imagined i would be
the day to day seems almost normal
has me feeling like i need to do something more
instead i resort to making the work of these hands pleasing
no matter the task

He gives and breathes
and i find myself humbled and incredibly thankful

David's words sum it all up so if you're interested in knowing what i'm feeling just read some psalms and you'll get a good idea.

this is good, my friends, so very good

Thursday, February 17, 2011

making good on my promise

these men, this scaffolding

all rest on this

i just want to climb up and take a good look at the city

instead, this is where i go

meet the lovely lassi ladies, Patricia and Laura

the last week was spent in the company of some truly wonderful women. a few from the US, the others from every where else in the world. ha. really though, i am abundantly blessed by the wisdom and strength these women possess. this is what i get for asking for kindred spirits.

He loves me

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

just thought you all should know i have made two attempts on two separate occasions to upload photos and for whatever reason i always seem to end up at the computers that are having issues.
but i have photos and stories and soon you will see and read.


for now i will just say that God is abundantly good and i love you all!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

somehow i just knew this would happen
i didn't even have to ask
my Father is true and faithful
and He is abundantly good

He's wonderful, friends
absolutely wonderful

Friday, February 4, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

i sat down to write
and then yawned
i think i'll start doing video updates
typing takes too much energy

until then, please pray i don't have lice.
or that, if i do, Jesus would take them all out
kung fu style. yeah.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

across the river

went across the hugli with V, my roommate, and Kareem
watched the sunset from howrah
shot with the Nikon and am terribly excited to get the roll developed
life keeps taking very interesting turns
more on that later
and more photos later
this computer doesn't seem to like my usb cable

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dum Dum

Orientation took place around 3 pm yesterday
i filled out my card and waited
chatted with some guys until my name was called
i sat down in front of the Sister and collected my thoughts
she asked where i worked before and what sort of work i did back home
then she asked if there was a particular place i'd like to work this time around
i, of course, answered Daya Dan and then said i was open to going elsewhere if need be
so she asked me about Dum Dum
it's a home that was only recently opened to female volunteers
she said most people have a really difficult first day/week
and that she'd honor a decision to go elsewhere
but that she really believed it would be a good fit
so i said i'd do it.

from the moment we arrived there this morning i was overwhelmed by how fitting it all was
overwhelmed by how well He knows me
and how He takes my passions and my dreams and meets them with His perfect will

He knows me
He know my name
and He keeps calling

Monday, January 24, 2011

day three

the wall outside shrashi center

i suppose that's a bit deceptive as i am first going to share with you an excerpt from my journal entry on (the last bit of) day two...
today was, fairly uneventful. i slept in, went to raj's cafe, checked email and facebook, visited sanjay's shop and then returned to my room at shrashi. then things got interesting. my roommate, who incidentally is the same person who told me about the guest house, arrived at some point and mentioned that she was going to the evening service at the ag church. she invited me to join her and so, though i was a bit hesitant at first, i did.
as we were getting ready to leave she asked if i had dinner plans. i had none so she asked if i would like to join her and a friend. i again said yes

i wasn't expecting much out of the service but left feeling so overwhelmed by our Father's goodness and love. and, to boot, the woman who founded, alongside her now deceased husband, the church was there and i got to meet her. She was super sweet. and old. and just plain lovely. From there we went to roommate's friend's guest house where i met 6 delightfully intelligent people, most of them PhD's. i learned so much and i think they enjoyed my youth. following a our meal, roommate and i decided to crash an Indian wedding we stumbled upon and OH MY GOODNESS these people know how to throw a party. colorful, loud, and a most beautiful bride. at one point my roommate mentioned how she could tell the bride and groom were really in love. it made me happy. so that was my sunday evening. unexpected, enlightening and really really fun. i'm looking forward to more days like this.

and now, if i haven't yet bored you to death or sleep, day three...i'll make it short.
roommate and i went out to breakfast at a south indian vegetarian cafe. i ended up throwing my resolution to drink only black coffee this year out and had some with milk and sugar. it's made in chai fashion. very sweet, very creamy. so delicious. our next stop was Oxford. if you've heard me talk about this place then i needn't say more. if not, you'll hear all about it someday.
orientation was today. i met some delightful people and...drum roll ended with me being placed at Green Park. it is much like Daya Dan, only all girls ages 8 to 18, i think. this home was not open to volunteers until recently and they have a greater need for them at the moment so Sister Mercy Maria asked me to try it. i still have the option to switch to Daya Dan if i don't think it's where i should be. needless to say, i'm really excited!

on a random note, i don't remember ever seeing cats during my last visit. i saw about 5 of them today and night before last heard one meowing outside our window.

don't cuddle the cats. don't pet the dogs.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Hello loves!
i arrived in Kolkata 5 hours ago. (i still haven't slept so i apologize for any gramatic error and anything that just plain don't make sense)
somewhere between London and Dehli, everything stopped making sense and i just wanted the comfort of being back in Englewood. in Dehli, i met a girl from Boston who is currently living in Boulder and spending two weeks volunteering with an anti-traffiking NGO here. small world. the flight to Kolkata was spent wondering what had made me think i loved this city and why i'd wanted to return. i recited psalm 51:8 & 12 until i felt a small semblance of peace creep in. and it kept creeping in as i stepped off the plane, walked through the airport, waited for Antonio (he ended up on a different flight due to a mishap in Dehli), and found a taxi. now i can't imagine not being here.

i arrived at the guest house i wanted to stay at only to find that they had no beds available. bummer. i walked (well, more like teetered. a large back pack, a guitar and two bags made me feeli like i might fall over at any moment.) a couple blocks to the next guest house and found that they too had no beds. as i walked out, disheartened and not looking forward to coming up with a new plan, a woman called out to me. she informed me that she was staying at a guest house down the street and was sure they had beds. she gave me the information and sent me off. 15 minutes later as i sat waiting for my room i realized that he was still working things out for me. i may have had better plans this time around but his are perfect.
so here's to the next 5 months of seeing his hands at work.

love you all!

Friday, January 14, 2011

sending snail mail

if anyone were to feel so inclined
the address you can send letters to is

Rachel Rael
c/o Sr. Mercy-Maria MC,
Missionaries of Charity, Motherhouse,
54a A.J.C Bose Road, Kolkata 700016, West Bengal, INDIA

the only thing i can imagine i'd want, other than a handwritten note, is chocolate.
i like dark chocolate. i had a difficult time finding good chocolate the las time i was there.

the address may change once i'm settled but for now this should do.