Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh Yeah...

Eden is home. Two weeks now. I know. I know... It reflects poorly on me that I can write a 2000 word post on the weeds in my yard and it takes me this long to acknowledge her return from the other side of the planet. I'd feel bad about this, but I've also failed in a lot of other areas lately too... and so this particular failure doesn't feel all that unique. Sigh... Who am I?

Eden had an amazing time and made us all proud and jealous again. I'm trying to get her to send me some of her many pictures so I can post them here. I'm also almost past the desire to throw sanity to the wind and attempt to adopt one of the girls she worked with there. We teared up more than once see photos of and hearing about the beautiful kids who deserve better lives than they're on track to have.

Among the other things I've failed to do:

I forgot to tell you that Evan's weeklong scout ordeal went just fine. At least he briefly admitted as much as he walked in the house, covered in dirt, rambling about how he needed to get to GameStop ASAP. Apparently he and the other scouts had been comparing notes on a game he simply had to have. His favorite part of the canoe trip in the Tetons? The car rides in between campsites.

I also failed to mention that Evan is now 6' 3" and 150 pounds... 7 inches taller and 50% heavier than he was a year ago. Oh yeah, he also started school again. A sophomore. Yikes.

I omitted a mention Hailey's work trip to Las Vegas. The bridal shop she works at paid for a few of the girls to go to some seminars at the Magic Show. No, not Siegfried and Roy, fashion stuff. She was a little nervous, traveling with a bunch of new people, but I think she had a good time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lessons Learned - Eden Rabdau

I could write more about the vines in our yard or how I can't handle ordering at drive throughs, but I thought you might get a little more out of this: A new post from Eden, again in her own words. You can read the original post along with others here.

Coming into India I had no clue what to expect. I had no clue if I would find that favorite girl that I would do anything for. If we would feel like we made a difference. If I felt like I helped someone at all. In one week I found that favorite girl I would do anything for. We made a difference. I feel like not only did I help one person, but 25. 

These girls have the most spectacular souls. Souls filled with pure joy. Souls filled with the desire to give and to love.  Souls that I’ve never seen before.

I think sometimes we come into an adventure like this expecting to change these girls lives and to help them so much. Which we do.  But in return they do the same. The girls live the most simple life style, one with no excess, even one without the essentials. It’s honestly one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. So many of the girls either have a single mom who cannot afford to keep them at home or no parents at all.  25 girls live in a crammed “house” hardly big enough to hold a family of 4. Ceilings sit two inches above my head and mud floors are beneath me, beds made of wood with a dirty rug over the top is what they call home. No one deserves to live like this, especially these girls. 

These girls have taught me a few very important things.
-How to be selfless.
-How to truly love someone for all they are. Flaws and all.
-How to devote your whole heart to service.
-To pay attention to the girls who has just peed herself. Also to not pick her up while playing soccer.
-They’ve taught me to smile and to laugh just because you can.

We were going to say goodbye today but it got postponed until tomorrow so we could celebrate India’s Independence Day with the girls. When Raj told everyone we didn’t have to say goodbye today the girls cheered and hollered. I can’t even begin to imagine what tomorrow will bring.  Either way, India and the people of India have changed me yet again.

Eden Rabdau

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Hailey in the back yard. Photos taken, I believe, by Eden. It's annoying that other people can capture such nice images with my camera. Really dispels the self-perpetuated rumor that I have "special photography powers". Although the fairly adorable subject matter didn't hurt either. I wasn't out there when they were taken, but I'm thinking the idea here was to show her hair before it changed... again... dark this time... girls...

Saturday, August 13, 2011


This is a picture of the bacon we had in our BLTs for Evan's birthday dinner. Mike, Hailey's boyfriend, ate three (we ran out of bacon). This post doesn't have anything to do with bacon.

Evan returns sometime today from a week long scout canoe trip. He and about 15 kids and leaders drove north to the Yellowstone area... Jackson Lake, Island Park, bays, islands... You get the idea.

He didn't really want to go. Actually, it was more complicated than that. He was dead set against going, then he seemed okay about it, then he was very reluctant, later somewhat excited, followed up by denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance and maybe even... enjoyment? It's important to note that we never actually see the enjoyment stage, we're kind of assuming it might happen. But he always waits till we're out of sight to show it. He also tucks it into his pack right before he gets home, depriving us of the parental satisfaction we understandably crave.

He wasn't the only one with mixed emotions about the whole affair. Tracy and I agonized before and after we sent him on his way. It's maybe not what you think: We weren't afraid of the canoeing (life jackets) or bears (he can run faster than at least some kids) or even pervy scout masters (I'd trust these guys with my life). He's just become a little distanced from the scout program and subsequently the people and things that go with it. It's possible that's entirely our fault, but I'd like to hope otherwise. Nevertheless, his attendance on the trip was not a foregone conclusion. A couple of primary reasons: 1) Tracy and I aren't really campers... and so we're reluctant to insist our kids do something for a week we usually won't do for a night. 2) He had been teased by some of the kids on previous trips and was dreading more of the same. We could get past the first reason, the second wasn't so easy.

Not sure about other parents, be we've always received a lot of joy from seeing our kids spend time with other kids in a way that makes them happy and keeps them busy. Not sure why... maybe we take it as a sign that they will eventually, in spite of our parental prowess, adjust okay to others and the outside world. It's like that when we visit family in Pocatello. We pull up, unload the car and they just disappear with their cousins. Riding horses, throwing knives, chasing chickens, texting boys. We see them at meal time but not much more... they seem completely content, completely independent of us. No, it's not just us being lazy parents... I think that's how it's supposed to work. It's never quite clicked that way for Ev with scouting. He has friends, but no close friends. And those closest to being close friends are fickle and and often interested in winning the favor of the older/others.. sometimes at Evan's expense.

We felt good about our reasons to have him go... get him out of the house and into the light, provide more exposure to the splendor of the American west (Tracy's idea...weird, right?), reconnect with scouting and the kids from church, make memories, eat hamburgers and have new stories to tell. And yet we were worried that we were setting him up for a rough week... surrounded by kids his own age, but possibly feeling isolated or worse. Might he overstate the problem, to avoid a lengthy camp out? Maybe. But it still felt a tiny bit like we were throwing him to the lions. Potential exaggeration aside, no parent ever wants a hand in that.

How did it all turn out? We'll find out soon enough. We did get a text from one of the leaders a couple of days ago (Thanks Ben) that said he seemed happy and was doing well. I think it probably, hopefully turned out fine... maybe even great. Will he admit that, knowing it will validate our decision and motivate us to send him back next time? Probably not.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Garden Park After Dark

Locking up the building for a week does have its advantages. Couldn't take too many photos though... my building security companion (Evan), who was strictly in it for the money, didn't have too much patience for being artsy.


Eden is back in India.

She left about a week ago. We just started hearing from her just in the past couple of days... guess that's the type of delay you get traveling some 44 hours straight. If I've got this right: 2 hours to Chicago, 15 hours to Delhi, 11 hours on a train, 6 hours in a bus. Plus delays. Plus layovers.

She's essentially in the foothills of the Himalayas... near a town called Chamba, in an area called Himachal Pradesh. see it here or here. If you go a few hours west, you'll be in Pakistan.... a few hours east, either China or Tibet. She says it's the most beautiful place she's ever been, that we'd love the people, the curry, the mountains and the stars. I can almost see it.

I'm not sure we initially believed she'd ever go the first the first time. We were a little skeptical when she vowed to go back. Now, before she's even been there a week, she's telling us she'll return... next time for months and not just weeks. I have no doubt.

She said we should go as a family, back to northern India. Should we? Could we? It seems completely implausible and impractical. But still... something so far out of the ordinary... the concept feels magnetic.

I'm sure there will be more photos and posts... You can follow the official blog here. But for now, from India... in her own words, Eden. (and a few from Tracy in between)


How are you guys? India life is great. For the most part. A few things that suck hard core are 1. Humidity. I've never hated being sticky more in my LIFE! 2. (name withheld). Her and this girl (name withheld) are being absolutely horrible. They are so exclusive. I'm rooming with them and it absolutely sucks. They are just buddy buddy the whole time, I feel like I'm third wheeling it hard core. I spend as little time with them as possible. Besides them everyone else is awesome. The group works really well together and we are constantly laughing. Have to say I haven't laughed this much/this hard in months. It's been a blast. Today I spent a lot of time with this little girl names Ashu. She is 6 years old and we are pretty sure she has fetal alcohol syndrome and probably some sort of learning disability. She definitely isn't all there. But she is hilarious. She always is just talking to herself and laughing. She has a really deep and raspy voice that is adorable. She was constantly clinging to me today. At one point I was holding her and she kept on trying to lick my face but I got it so whenever she would try she would end up licking my shirt instead. She would just literally climb up my body until she was in my arms. She is a crazy little girl that's for sure. She also doesn't speak Hindi. She speaks Chambian so no one can really communicate with her. There is one translator that sorta understands her. She also has scabies covering her entire body. We are going to try to take her into the doctor while we are here to get some medication for the bites. She only knows one phrase in English, "VHAT IS VOUR NAME?" it is SOOO funny. I'll try to attach the video, either way I'll put a picture of her on here. Video didnt work. but the photo is here.. Today has been a REALLY long and tiring day. I'm ready for bed. This morning we left the NHPC at 6 to go over to this metal basket and ride it across the river. It was more like a really fast scary river. It was a blast. I'm already planning my next trip back here. I want to come back right when I graduate and live in either Kullu or Chamba. But I want to stay for at least 4-5 months next time. These two week trips are great, but not nearly enough time. I gotta head off to bed though, Can hardly keep my eyes open.

Goodnight! Love you guys. MISS YOU!

Ps. The shopping in Chamba absolutely SUCKS. Nothing. Hopefully there
is something good in New Dehli.

On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 10:37 AM, Rabdau wrote:

Sounds like you are having lots of fun. That little girl is so cute, it's too bad about her circumstances. She hangs onto you because she is starved for love. She's lucky to have this time with you, she'll remember it forever. Too bad about the shopping. No pressure tho, just have fun doing it. You're not going to bring home bed bugs are you? Yuck! Keep doing great work! We love you and miss you so much!

Love Mom
Sent from my iPhone

noo noo noo! i wont bring home any bed bugs. even though our beds are hard as ROCK. ashu is adorable. im excited to continue working with her, hopefully we can improve her english. shopping, well we will see how the rest of shopping goes. it's always rainy here in chamba. maybe it's just because it's monsoon season but we've only had two days of sunshine the rest have been torrential downpours, pretty cool to see though. the clouds just nestle right into the mountains. ive never seen anything like it. we think out mountains are cool in utah. no, THESE are cool mountains. i think we may need to
take a family humanitarian trip to chamba. you would loooove it. and dad would take so many pictures and eat soo much food. tell hailey that the sheet she helped me made has saved my life from cockroaches 3 inches long from a spider that was no lie as big as my hand. ill show you my picture when i get home. it's also saved me from picking up some sort of std on the train. i gotta run though, the day is about to start. love you guys!


Photos from Evan's birthday, courtesy of Casey's new camera. I love my Canon, but it definitely can't do this. Also, doesn't Hailey look British?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lazy Sunday

We were going to go on a hike. We didn't. Next time?
Tracy made macaroons (I told you she baked something every week).
I overslept and photographed things around or above the yard.
Eden stressed about fundraising for India.
Hailey dropped by for dinner.
Evan read comics online and watched Battle Los Angeles.
Not the best day, not the worst.