We are in India.  It is quite surreal.  I cannot believe we are actually here. 2012-07-23 summer 56687 Surrounded by all these cute kids at Rising Star.  Two-hundred-and-thirty of them to be exact.2012-07-22 India 56332 We got here on a Sunday afternoon and after us girls changed into our “Indian gear” that girls wear here at Rising Star to fit into the culture better: 2012-07-22 India 56325 …we went right out to greet the kids and hang out with them during their free-play time. I knew I’d love seeing my kids with them, but I didn’t realize it would actually hurt to feel my heart swell up with so much love for them as they have forgotten themselves and immersed themselves into what we’re doing here. 2012-07-22 India 562982012-07-22 India 56284 The kids are super into Elle’s braces…especially since she has big elastics on them right now.2012-07-22 India 56297 2012-07-22 India 562942012-07-22 India 56306 2012-07-22 India 56295 They are pretty into Dave too…especially since he got right in and played cricket with them: 2012-07-22 India 56313 …and our friend told them he is from Hollywood.  They think he is Iron Man.2012-07-22 India 56318 His “bionic foot” actually helps the cause (I don’t think I have written yet how he broke his foot playing tennis at Bear Lake…)2012-07-22 India 563202012-07-22 India 56291Yeah, they really like Dave.2012-07-22 India 56337 But back to our journey just for a minute, because not only can I not believe we’re here, I can’t believe all our baggage is actually here too… 2012-07-20 summer 56637 (That was just a little part of it with all the Eagle project stuff.) We had a fun loooooooooonnnnnnnngggg trip to get here. Aren’t these cool seats?  Max drooled a little bit as we walked by them.2012-07-20 summer 56642 We were pretty happy in the ones below though.  Man alive, it’s been so fun to be with these kids who are so darn excited.  And we’re loving having them all to ourselves.2012-07-20 summer 56644 We had a four hour layover in Hong Kong so we grabbed a train to the city:2012-07-21 summer 56653 …and happened to walk right into the fourth tallest building in the world where we could take in the view of the city. (We were really glad it was inside because it was raining pretty well outside and being on our next leg of the flight wouldn’t have been so fun being totally wet.)2012-07-21 India 562512012-07-20 India 56485 This may be a good time to introduce the Daltons (below).  They are our new neighbors (when we finally move into our new house).  When we told them we were going to India they asked if maybe they could join us.  We told them “you bet,” not thinking there was really a chance in the world that they would really come but here they are.2012-07-20 India 56489…and we are loving having them along for the ride.  They brought their two oldest of five kids too and are super smart and are giving us so much info. and history about India.  It’s awesome. This is the building we were in.2012-07-20 India 56487 Here are the kids taking it all in.2012-07-21 India 562522012-07-21 India 562532012-07-21 India 56255 Poor Dave….  Talk about brave to be here with that darn broken foot…and HOT.  (It is almost 100 degrees here with almost 100 percent humidity.)  2012-07-21 summer 56648 This sign and all the Indian people swarming the gate area made my heart jump a little bit.2012-07-21 summer 56654 After a delayed flight taking off from Hong Kong we arrived in Chennai at 2:30 in the morning.  2012-07-21 India 56490We were pretty excited to have all of our bags mosey on out of the baggage claim. We went to our hotel and slept for three hours and then headed to church.  2012-07-21 India 562592012-07-21 India 56262 One of my favorite things about church was being surrounded by all these beautiful Indian women dressed to the hilt in their saris and hearing them talk about how much they love God and Jesus Christ.  And I loved sitting in Sunday School trying my darnedest to figure out what they were saying through their thick accents and being able to hear the Primary kids on the other side of the wall singing “I Am a Child of God.”  My other favorite part was sending off Elle to Young Women.  She had quite an experience in there since no one spoke any English except for the Young Women theme.2012-07-22 summer 566552012-07-21 India 56265 From there we got in a van and headed here to Rising Star.2012-07-21 India 56266 Through streets like this:2012-07-22 summer 56657 Just in time for free-play time and dinner on the floor with these sweet kids, eating with our hands per their instructions.   2012-07-22 India 56344 I won’t ever forget that feeling sitting cross-legged surrounded by those smiling excited kids, a little jet-lagged with ants crawling all around us and noticing the abundance of lice on their heads.  (I guess there’s been a little bit of an outbreak since they got home from break back in their leprosy colonies.) It sounds a little daunting and it was certainly baptism by fire but sitting there by these cute kids and having my family around me interacting with all the enthusiasm and smiles you can imagine, it was the most amazing feeling ever. More soon…

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  1. Oh my Shawni…I cannot wait to hear more about your adventures in India….what an incredible thing to do with your children….xxx

  2. Thank you, thank you and thank you for sharing your experience. it is really inspirational for people that we are "still" sitting in our confort zone but intent to do a trip like yours one day… Enjoy this adventure!

  3. As a mom, I would be a little worried about the lice thing:) if you can find shampoo with tea tree oil in it, it will repel the lice. I know Paul Mitchell makes some, but I don't know what they would have over there. Good luck with the rest of the trip, looking forward to reading about it!

  4. i bet this is a great experience for you all. i wish i were so strong and brave! the trip seems sooo long! i will be in hong kong for 6 months starting in september so seeing your quick stop there made my stomach lurch a bit! keep us posted on this trip and your impressions!

  5. I am so excited for you!
    How neat that you are living a life long dream 🙂
    What an amazing experience.
    The pictures you shared of your family with the Indian kids are awesome!
    I'm excited to read about the rest of your trip!

  6. What an amazing opportunity! Our family just relocated to Hong Kong (from California) about a month and a half ago. That is wonderful your kids were able to experience a little bit of Hong Kong too. India is a life changing experience. I don't think once you have been there, you will ever see your American home the same. My husband's company had him travel to India and Hong Kong in the last year quite a bit, so I had the opportunity to go with him. Enjoy your experience and be safe! (:

  7. Oh my! You are really an inspiration to me. Actually getting out there and living life with a higher purpose and getting the kids out there to feel it too. One day I hope that I can do a similar trip with my children. This post actually brought tears to my eyes!

  8. Love the update! I teared up seeing the pictures of your teens with the children. You've given me a goal and a dream to work toward with my children, too. Thank you!

  9. Beautiful! My best friend whose family is from India, spent a month there this summer volunteering with kids with special needs. She spent time in Tamil Nadu and Chennai. Perhaps you are near there?

    Anyway, it looks like you're having a fantastic time. If you need any tips, etc., let me know! She also has great photos on her instagram: anusharamaswami.

    Safe travels! 🙂

  10. Please say hello to Mike and Brynne for me (Elizabeth Harris– I live in San Clemente with the other Pothiers ;)). Brynne is my mothering inspiration. She is a ray of sunshine and I'm sure is a joy to travel with! We donated a book or two for Taylor's project. I hope your experience is a wonderful one!

  11. That seems like such an amazing experience to share with Max and Elle! I really hope to be able to do something like this with my kids (a long time from now, considering I have a 5 month old- our first).

  12. Hi Shawni! I met you 2-3 years ago when you were a TOFW presenter with your mom in Ogden. I went straight home from that event and looked up 71toes and have checked in on you almost daily ever since! I LOVE you and your family, even though I've never met the rest of them.

    I also spoke with your parents back in June when I saw them at the Music and the Spoken Word. I told them I followed your blog and they were so sweet!

    I've had issues with my email address/not letting me post a comment until now, but I'm a faithful follower and enjoy each post.

    Just wanted to let you know that my amazing, sweet neighbor girl, Katie Miller, is over there with Rising Star right now as well. She's been there for about a week already and I believe she's over there for 2-3 weeks. She's gorgeous, tall, and blonde (pretty hard to miss), and their family follows your blog as well. Hope you gals cross paths over there…

    Take care–SO excited that you're getting to finally fulfill this dream!!!

  13. I've seen pics of friends trips in India visiting the Taj Mahal and such..it's really great to see all of your pics of daily life there. looks like you had a great time!

  14. Thanks for sharing! Great photo and information about everything you did! And, I have a boot on my foot exactly like Dave's! I saw it first thing, and wondered what happened. So, thanks for explaining! You are awesome parents – keep it up!

  15. What an experience! It's so fun to see these fab pictures that bring back such magnificent memories! There's only one way to learn what you're learning and that's to do what you're doing! Love the kids' expressions!

  16. oh my goodness, i am bawling reading all of this, what an amazing experience with your two oldest, i can't wait to learn more!! I am loving the expressions on your kids faces as they interact with the sick people, play with the kids, etc.

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