There are some pretty frequently asked questions people have asked as we have prepared for our trip.  Here are the answers.  (And remember, I’m so far from an expert, but I’m trying to learn all that I can.) Why are you in India? I explained my Indian fascination back here. What is the population in India? 1.2 billion people live in India. That is more than in South America and Africa combined.  And India is about the size of Alaska.  That equals a lot of people. What is the main language spoken in India? The main language is Hindi but man alive there are a LOT of dialects spoken in this country.  Our cab driver told us there are 235 of them.  He showed us how on Indian money they have listed the thirteen most spoken languages along the left hand side so the majority of the people can read it.2012-07-24 India 568612012-07-24 India 56864It’s pretty money.  I like that Gandhi is on it. What is the main religion in India? Mostly Hindu (about 60%), with about 25% Muslim (as per our little tour guide).  There are more Christians in the South…catholic People come from all over India and the world to visit the tomb of St. Thomas who died there.  We are now in Jaipur and visited the most amazing temple yesterday just in time for prayer.  One of my top highlights so far. What is the time difference there? We are twelve-and-a-half hours ahead of time back in the desert.  I’m serious about that extra half hour.  I thought leprosy was eradicated years ago… Leprosy can be treated but there are still quite a few leprosy afflicted colonies in the world, especially in more rural, poverty-stricken areas.  What are the accommodations like at Rising Star? They take really good care of the volunteers at Rising Star.  I think that’s why so many parents feel comfortable letting their college kids go on a trip like this alone.  That’s also why we felt great about bringing Max and Elle.  Everything is really organized and thought-out.  The volunteers stay in the “Elephant House.”2012-07-26 India 57435 …which opens into a courtyard:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57246 …lined with bunk rooms to sleep in with a/c…which is HUGE. Here was our girls’ room:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57137 Elle, Brynne and I slept in there with four of the sweetest roommates.2012-07-26 Rising Star Outreach 57416 Here are three of them working on staying in touch with family at home.  The Internet connection is pretty good most of the time so they can keep up blogs and communication with family back in the states.2012-07-24 Rising Star Outreach 56951 Here’s the boys’ room:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57148(with Elle joining them for a little read during a break after one of the rotations)2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57146 Here’s the ladies’ restroom:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57155 …where we took great refreshing bucket-showers:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57154…and where Elle and I perfected our “squatting skills:” 2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57151(Grace, that last one’s for you babe…remember how you about died with the squatting toilets in China?) Here’s the kitchen:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57156 …where Elle and Taylor whipped us up some great eggs and pancakes one morning.2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 572432012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57248 This is the place where all the girls pick out their Indian clothes each morning.  2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57140Each day some sweet ladies do the laundry so there are fresh choices every day. Here are the long-term volunteers who help run the show around Rising Star. 2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57178I don’t know how you could find six more on-the-ball kids to run things. I am so grateful for their awesome examples to Max and Elle. Each morning they have a little meeting to coordinate all that needs to be accomplished.2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57241 …and each evening there is dinner on the roof with instructions and everyone going over their “highs” and “lows” from what they experienced that day.2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57234 Here we are at our last dinner there:2012-07-25 Rising Star Outreach 57235 How can I start sponsoring a child at Rising Star? If you are interested in sponsoring a child just click here for all the info.2012-07-24 India 569452012-07-24 India 56946 We LOVED getting to know our boy we sponsor, Krishnamoorthy.  The kids had such an instant connection to him.2012-07-24 Rising Star Outreach 56961He’s a cool kid.  And so darn smart too. Right now we are in Northern India which is going to be rough to explain.  I am not going to be able to keep up on this reporting from the road because we don’t have much internet.  I love writing about things right when they happen because I don’t want to forget the amazing things we are experiencing every second but I’m going to have to revert to scheduled posts ‘til we get home. As we drove around today we sat upright in awe all day long at the things we witnessed outside our van windows. I’ll let the pictures tell the story soon but I’ll just say that when my sister described India, she told me to imagine the craziest place I possibly could. Then she said, “India is even more crazy than that.” I must say, she was right. We are loving it here but my heart still aches a little bit about leaving those children at Rising Star.  They will always be in our hearts. 

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  1. I love reading about your adventures. I have lots of Indian neighbors here in Redmond, WA where I live. They all mostly work for Microsoft. It was great to learn more about India and helped me to understand my neighbors better.

  2. Good luck on your travels. Stay safe. We have a Hindu family that lives across from us in our neighbourhood in Edmonton. They are the nicest people.
    Take care.

  3. Shawni! I had no idea you went to Rising Star! (It's obviously been a while since I checked your blog – ah, the craziness of summer!) We have been to Rising Star twice in the past two years (most recently was Feb. of this year) and our daughter was the Medical Supervisor there 2 summers ago! My husband is a dentist and we go to RSO (along with two other dentists), set up our "MASH" dental clinic there in the boy's hostel, and fix those sweet kids' teeth. 🙂 We always leave a part of our heart when we leave RSO. Such an amazing place that words cannot describe, as you now know. I LOVED looking through your pictures as we know most of those children. And yes, Krisnamoorthy…what a fantastic kid! I loved seeing the children, the members at church (and their beautiful new ward building!), Bindu art school (our walls here at home are full of their art), the junction (crazy place!), the Star Store (that I stocked with Costco Fruit Leather and the kids went nutso), the parota place – (we sat at the same exact table!), and even the bucket shower and the squatters! Thanks for sharing YOUR experience. I can't wait to go back!

  4. I stumbled upon your blog through a friend of a friend of a friend. I've been reading your India posts for the last hour, only to find this one that included a picture of the volunteers at Rising Star. The world is small, as the girl in the middle (Julie Domm) was in my singles ward back home. Your pictures and stories have been a joy to look at.

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