Sunday, October 12, 2008

Home sweet home...

As you can see, I have changed the name of my blog from Stop Caste Now! to World Next Door. This is my attempt to better reflect my new vision. Same blog, bigger purpose... Enjoy!


Wow. I'm home. That fact still seems a bit unreal. Less than a week ago I was chilling in New Delhi, sweating in the sun and eating with my hands. Now, I'm back in Indy driving my own car and catching up on The Daily Show.

Did I really just spend three months in India? Crazy...

Well, seeing friends and family has been great. I got to attend a service in the new sanctuary, and it was awesome! Apparently absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

The Fam reunited down at Lucy's school.

Anyway, I've loved catching up with people, but it's going to take a while to see everyone. So I've decided to answer a few of the common questions I've been getting. This way, in case I don't see you for a month or so, you won't still be wondering about my return home...

How was India?
It was great! Fantastic! I learned a ton.

What did you do there?
Ok. You didn't read my blog, did you? :)

What was the first thing you ate when you got back to the U.S.?
Well, I had coffee and a muffin at a Starbucks in O'Hare, but Tuesday night, Mom made brisket and mashed potatoes. Un-be-lievable...

So, was the trip totally life changing? Are you a new man now?
Actually? No. It didn't really "change" my life. At least, not the way Kenya did. My year in Nairobi radically reoriented my life's direction. I got good and truly wrecked there. India, however, was much more of a continuation of where I was already heading. Sure, I grew and learned and matured, but the trip really just propelled me along a path that I had already started walking.

My last few moments with the Truthseekers guys...

Are you still recovering from jet lag?
Actually, I'm doing surprisingly well. A couple of tired days and I was back on my feet. Just as chipper and perky as I usually am in the mornings (in other words, not very). Hah.

What did you learn?
Woah. Ok. That's a pretty big one. I mean, mentally, the answer is easy. I learned a lot about the history of India, the ongoing struggles of its people and the causes of systemic injustice. I learned what south Asian slums look like and saw first hand the dangers of overpopulation.

As far as what I learned emotionally, however, I still have some processing to do. I know I learned about my capacity for selfishness and had my life's calling confirmed, but there are still a few unresolved issues in my heart.

As much as I loved the people of India, I was honestly quite discouraged a couple of times. There are so many problems there with so few people doing anything about them. I wanted to walk away from this trip abounding in hope and excitement, but the apparent indifference of the rest of the world has left me scratching my head.

Let me get back to you on that one...

Now that I'm home, I can play around with my fast computer again!
And with the magic of Photoshop, the Taj Mahal seems just a
bit cooler...

Finally, the most important question of all...

Can I buy you coffee or lunch and hear all about your trip?
Yes. You definitely can. I wouldn't mind that one bit...

Monday, October 06, 2008

The road ahead...

Well, my time in India has come to an end. Just a 15 hour plane ride, a 4 hour layover in Chicago and a last little 1 hour hop, and I'll be back in Indy!

As promised, I want to share with you all what my plans are for the near future. Two months ago I didn't have a clue what was next, but now I'm pursuing a vision so huge that it keeps me up at night! It's exciting, it's unique and it's just a little bit crazy.

Here it is: I am going to start a journalism ministry focused on social justice issues! For the next few years I plan on being an "Ernie Pyle" for the kingdom.

Basically I, and a team of other writers and photographers, will travel around the U.S. and the world, "embedding" ourselves like news correspondents in different ministries and locations, and then capturing the things we learn and experience on a central website.

We'll use many different mediums such as written articles, photographs, videos, podcasts, books and more to get people in suburban Indianapolis plugged in to issues around the world.

We'll travel to Kenya to capture slum life. We'll travel to downtown Indy to capture homelessness. We'll travel to Ukraine to capture the stories of orphans. The possibilities are endless!

Essentially, we will be taking the success of my India blog and multiplying its depth and scale. Just like I did for Truthseekers, this ministry will allow us to give readers an inside look at these ministries they've heard so much about.

One of the comments I've received a lot from my blog is that many people would love to travel around the world and immerse themselves in these issues, but they just don't have the flexibility (Um, yeah. It is sort of hard to run off to third world slums when you've got kids to take care of...).

Well, I want to provide these folks with the opportunity to expand their worldview, get engaged in kingdom issues and get "wrecked" without having to quit their jobs and move halfway around the world.

Of course, there are several other really awesome possibilities that might come from this too. First, I want to take groups of young writers overseas for 2-3 month full immersion experiences. It will be a chance for them to be developed as writers, but also a chance for people back home to journey along with them as they get "wrecked."

Second, I want to take groups of high school students into the city to spend a weekend with homeless people. They'll spend their days walking the streets and hearing the stories of men and women who live there. Then, they'll write what they learned or experienced, and I'll publish their work and photographs in a book for their families to keep.

Third, I want to develop a team of "free-lance" writers who can contribute even without having to leave their everyday lives. I know of a whole lot of great writers who could capture their experiences at Third Phase or Shepherd.

And of course, there could be a lot of other really great stuff like storytelling nights, live video webcasts, etc.

All in all, I think it has the potential to become a really fantastic ministry. Now, I don't know if or when it will go full-time and I don't know if or when it will become a non-profit. But I do know that I'm going to start writing for it as soon as I get home. Within a few weeks, I expect to be posting about the realities of inner-city Indy.

So buckle in, my fellow adventurers. I may be on my way home, but this journey has only just begun!