Kate Wurm
Kate Wurm
Southeast Asia, 2019 - 2020
I graduated from Belmont University in May of 2019 with a Major in Religion and the Arts and a Minor in Photography. My roots are set back home in Detroit, MI, but a piece of my heart will always belong to India. From September 2019 to September 2020, I will be an International Justice Mission Communications Intern in the South East Asia field office.

Potluck Resume

The decision has officially been made: we (interns) won’t be able to return to India to complete our internship. 

The good news is...

  1. We will absolutely be able to return to India one day when international travel is cleared.
  2. We are still working for IJM remotely.

Even with the good news, the final decision has been a hard pill to swallow. I remember when we were being sent home back in March, my roommates and I were making bets on when we would return. I think one of us guessed May and another guessed June, but in the back, back, way back of our minds, I think we all feared the possibility that we were packing up our things for good.

This decision means that we have to start transitioning into the next season way sooner than we hoped (and had planned for). I was just beginning to ask myself the ‘what’s next?’ questions: Where will I live when I return to the US? Where will I work? Will I go back to school? Will I crash with my parents? 

During the first month of being home, I didn’t do much. I did my laundry, unpacked, called a few friends, cried, and journaled. Once the news came that lock-down was being extended, I knew I had to start thinking of those questions again. 

So, in the midst of tears and anxiety and heart-break, I moved back to Nashville with the hope of beginning to find some answers. I moved into a new apartment with an old roommate, and I started applying for jobs. I’m currently living off of savings, which is quite a test of my trust in the Lord, but I know I’m not the only one in a situation similar to this. Some days, I drive for Postmates (a food delivery service similar to DoorDash, Grubhub, UberEats, etc.), and that’s okay, but it’s definitely not a forever job. 

I’m still working with International Justice Mission, but it looks extremely different. Along with the 11 and a half hour time difference, there are technical issues, confidentiality issues, and miscommunications. When I was physically in the office, it was easy to get in the mindset of the work we were doing – I was surrounded by the stories that I was writing, and I was constantly in conversation regarding our mission as an organization, but now, my days are so different. My mindset is a balance between past, present and future, with many moments of paralyzing confusion about which one needs to be the priority. 

I’m struggling to stay present in all areas of my life at the moment, but I’m doing my best to take one step at a time. 

The other day, I woke up at 6:00 am for a zoom call regarding a story I was asked to write this week. I rolled out of bed, made a cup of coffee, and clicked on that zoom link. An hour later, we sorted all the details out and concluded by stating that we would stay in touch. 

Within 10 minutes, my dad called. The company that my dad works with has been in contact with a non-profit over the last few weeks, and he’s been telling me about a new job opening in their nashville location. He called me that morning to help me refresh my resume, so that I could send it off to this non-profit. 

After a frustrating 30 minutes of technical issues, my dad and I finally came to a presentable resume. Almost immediately after saying bye to my dad, I got another call from the IJM office. This all happened before 8:00am. 

Let’s just say, I overstepped my self-enforced boundary of two cups of coffee per day that morning. 

I’ve been applying for jobs each week via LinkedIn and other similar sites. It can be daunting, but also slightly exhilarating. My resume resembles a potluck lunch. A table full of random, but thoughtful, dishes all squished together. Fruits and salads and meats and desserts. I’ve had experience in all sorts of things such as, administration, waitressing, personal assistance, photography, worship leading, camp counselor, management, etc... 

When people ask what type of job I’m looking for now, I respond with an honest, “I don’t really know.” It’s hard to transition into something new when that transition comes completely unannounced. I’m hopeful for the future, and I’m hopeful for my little potluck resume. 

This year is far from what I imagined it to be, but again, I know I’m not the only one grieving loss and unmet expectations. I’m praying for the strength to begin re-imagining what this year will become. 

-kate

How Do You Feel About Feelings?

I have been back in the US for over two months. 

That’s a wild concept to grasp considering I had a pretty solid plan of living in India until August – but how often do things in my life go according to my plan? Not very often. 

...enter Covid-19…

Along with the rest of you, I have used this time at home to learn how to make my own carbs. My first attempt : BAGELS.

Despite my desire to lay low and transition in solitude back to the US, it only took a few days before others found out that I had been called home from India. I’m thankful to have people who were thinking of me in the midst of everything, but each phone call and text stung a bit.

Re-living the experience was quite painful, and I hadn’t come to an agreement with myself about how to respond when people ask the infamous, “How was India?” 

I’m still unsure of how to answer a question that involves me summing up an entire country’s well-being, but until I find an appropriate way to articulate how these last few months have been, I’ll stick to the common, “It was good.”

To put it in a fairly mediocre metaphor – this pandemic feels like one giant speed bump in the road of life...and to make matters worse, not everyone has the means or resources to make over to the other side. 

I had lice for about 2 and half months. Brushing through my hair was a nightmare, so my mom grabbed some scissors and CHOP CHOP!

There’s a huge sense of loss all around the world. A loss of loved ones, a loss of jobs, a loss of shelter, a loss of celebrations, such as, weddings and graduations, a loss of opportunites, a loss of sleep, a loss of motivation, a loss of hope, a loss of well... whatever it may be for you.

For me – I lost 6 months of living in a place that I loved, with people that I grew to love, and along with that – I lost an extremely important internship that I had been looking forward to for over a year. Many little losses fill the cracks between the big ones, but at the end of the day, my overall loss is quite small in comparison to what others are experiencing.

I don’t feel any anger towards this, which isn’t uncommon, because anger and I aren’t very familiar with one another; but saddness and I go way back. 

Another skill I can now add to my resume: I know how to make Panda Express Orange Chicken. Thank you Youtube.

Today, and yesterday, and the week before, I have felt sad. Sad, with a hint of fear. Some days, I’m not even sure what I’m sad about or what I’m afriad of, because even now, I have more than I need. But, I still feel sad, and my sadness is accompanied by an arena full of other feelings.

More specifically – I feel lonely, because my current situation isn’t always relatable. I feel confused, because I felt that the Lord had placed me in India for such a certain purpose, and I didn’t leave feeling like that purpose was accomplished. I feel nauseous, because when I grow unsettled, I carry it in my stomach. I feel tired, because I haven’t slept through the night in over a year. 

Feelings can be incredibly deceptive, and persuasive. I wish I had the same determination and motivation in life that my feelings have on me. They can convince me of almost anything, no matter how true or false their statement may be. My loneliness, confusion, nausea, and exhaustion, may seem valid in this particular season, but I’m trying to not give up and give in to these feelings. My feelings don’t have to have the last say about who I am or what it is I am going through. 

India didn’t have a huge supply of Oat Milk, so I’m catching up. Also Decaf has been a new friend of mine (that’s another story for another day).

In an earlier blog, I shared the family motto we had growing up, “Wurm Girls Are Tough.” When we fell off our bike, I would hear my dad shout from the end of the driveway, “it’s okay, WURM GIRLS ARE TOUGH.” When we lost a volleyball game, “Wurm girls are tough.” When we didn’t get into the college we wanted, “Wurm girls are tough.” When plans changed and things didn’t go our way....”Wurm.girls.are.tough.”

Did that mean we didn’t get hurt, feel sad, or become a bit bruised from the impact of whatever it was we were being “tough” about? Not at all. I think part of being tough was feeling the pain that came with the circumstances. The other part of being tough, was recognizing that whatever it was we were experiencing, we were going to be okay. Being tough can be about having the courage to both feel the impact fully and respond with hope (and maybe some tears and ice cream). 

I hummed this phrase through my last few moments in India, and all the way home. As I nearly barfed all over the seat in front of me on my plane ride back to the US two months ago, I walked off that plane with my breakfast still in my belly hiccuping, “Wurm girls are tough.”

In this season of fighting to feel okay, I whisper to myself as I continue to lie awake in the middle of the night, “wurm girls are tough.” Don’t me get me wrong – It’s not my strength, or the strength of being a Wurm girl, that holds me together, but it’s the strength of Jesus in me. My weakness – His strength. A silly sang from my childhood is what’s getting me through this strange time – I often wonder what it is that’s getting you through all of this?

I don’t think our world will be the same after this, and some are saying that that’s a good thing. I think I agree. I am not unaware of the heartbreak and extreme pain that some are experiencing because of this virus, but I am aware that I’m not in control. And if anything, Covid-19 has taught us just that : we are not in control. And that’s the best news to me. 

There’s a city in northern India where, for the first time in almost 30 years, the residents can see the Himalayan mountain range from their villages, because the lockdown period has allowed for air-pollution to lift. 

A fog is lifting from our earth. I hope our eyes will be opened in response. 

 

I’m Home For Now

As of a few weeks ago, I am home.

The view from tiny floor bed. I took this photo before we heard the news.

There’s a lot of joy and sorrow in that sentence. I left India about three weeks ago within 48 hours of receiving an email requesting all IJM field interns to return home. The week leading up to our departure was already a bit odd. 

Every news station seemed to favor any and all virus-related news, simulating an overwhelming, surround sound system of VIRUS VIRUS VIRUS. At that time, about a month ago, it hadn’t really hit India. There were maybe 20 cases in the whole country, however, in anticipation for what was to come, a decision was made to close the Indian border to tourist visas (this didn’t include our visa). 

Towards the end of that week, our director made an announcement that the following week, all of our offices will be working from home. I’m thankful that IJM was ahead of the game in making that call. Even though the immediate impact of the virus hadn’t felt tangible in our neighborhood, our leadership team knew that there was a battle on the horizon.

Just a glimpse of our weekend shopping spree.

After a weekend of bulk shopping for our week (possibly weeks) at home, we settled in on Monday to begin working from our apartment living room. On Tuesday morning, Kyla got sick. Some sort of stomach bug/food poisoning. By 9:00am, we had received the dreaded email from IJM headquarters: 

“The COVID-19 Core Team has decided to direct all deployed international Interns and Fellows to return to their home countries immediately.

At first, we just stared at our screens in disbelief. Shaking our heads, we took turns mumbling, “this is a joke,” “this can’t be real,” “we can’t be going home.” After contacting a few members of our leadership team, the message was confirmed. The IJM intern team had to make the difficult decision of sending us all home in case the countries we were located in began implementing lockdowns. Our office admin team handled the whole situation with such patience, understanding, and care. They made this incredibly difficult situation much easier to bear in the moment.

Working from home on the Monday, the day before we were told to return home.

We had to pack up, book a flight, and say goodbye to India. With the uncertainty of the virus, we had to pack  e v e r y t h i n g due to the possibility that we might not be able to complete the internship.

The shock carried us through those 48 hours. That Thursday, our departure date, Emma got sick. It was similar to what Kyla had, but even in the midst of their illnesses, we still managed to pack up our entire apartment. 

The first day I arrived in India I had a dragonfruit. I ate one the day before I left without even realizing the connection. A special fruit indeed.

I would be lying if I said our bags were the acceptable airline weight. Even after sacrificing a few items here and there, leaving behind memories I had hoped to bring home, I still ended up having to pay extra for overweight baggage. That incredibly dense fee was well worth it in the end. 

Jeshua and I, the two interns from the US, were the first to depart. Emma could barely stand to give me a hug goodbye. Tears rolled down my cheek as I tucked a handwritten letter into her backpack. Kyla walked us down to the car. More tears.

The ride to the airport was surreal. I didn’t want that to be the last time that I drove down those streets. I played memory over memory in my head, not to reflect, but to engrain them into my mind. I feared losing the memories made with the lack of closure from the season. 

Masks on at the airport.

As we approached the airport, our driver signaled for us to put our masks on.

The airport was empty. The big glass doors slid open exposing an even emptier interior. The airport, once full of such excitement and adventure, was now tainted with warning signs and frightened faces. One single line formed in the middle of the building – an international flight to the US. No other line in the sight.

We slowly pushed our bags to the counter. After checking our bags, we shuffled through security. There were no fever checks or sanitizer zones or questionnaires. Everything felt too normal. We slowly made it to our gate, then onto the plane.

A few empty seats sat between the masked passengers, but the flight was almost full. 

As the plane took off, I peered through the smudged window. Tears welled up in my eyes. I watched the city until it got smaller and smaller and smaller. My eyes lingered out the window, even after the clouds covered the fading lights.  

“I’m so sorry,” I thought to myself. I’m not sure why, but I felt the need to apologize. Maybe to India, maybe to my parents, maybe to myself. At that moment, I felt like I had failed. I didn’t make it to the end. I couldn’t keep my promise of living there for a year. There were a multitude of things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go and friendships that I wanted to deepen. Within 48 hours, all that changed. 

These are the streets I will miss.

I’ve always had high expectations for how I spend my time on an airplane. It feels like such an intentional time to sit and think, but no part of me wanted to reflect during those 16 hours. 

After a few movies and meals and ginger ales, the plane landed. Walking into a US airport felt so strange. It was just as empty as the airport we flew out of, if not more. Going through customs took about an hour, but waiting with all the other masked passengers from our flight wasn’t that bad. Anytime I felt the urge to sneeze or cough, I swallowed it with all my might to avoid the death glares from those around me.

I’ve never had to run to a gate before, but on that day I had to. Out of all the days I’ve spent in airports, that was not a day that I was in the mood to run from one end of the building to the other. Thankfully the airport was empty so I didn’t have much of an audience. The “Doors Are Closing” announcement was made as I practically threw my body down the escalator leading to my gate. 

Taken a few weeks before we left- this is us grabbing bananas on the way home. One of the things I will miss the most.

I entered the plane to see only 6 other passengers. The flight attendant told me to sit anywhere I would like. That flight was the most miserable 2 hours I’ve experienced in a while, which is saying a lot – let me remind you of my throat fungus.

I was on the verge of throwing up almost the entire flight, a mixture of turbulence, nerves, a migraine, stress, and sleep deprivation. From the moment we took off until the moment we landed, I muttered the name of ‘Jesus.’ 

My mom greeted me just outside baggage claim with soup, making even the car ride feel like home sweet home. 

IJM staff followed along with my whole journey home, making sure I had what I needed along the way. They reimbursed part of the flight cost, and even offered further financial assistance for those who didn’t have a place to return to. Our admin team in India did everything they could to get us home safely as well, including connecting with our landlord to tie up all loose ends with him. 

There are many more loose ends to tie up, but for right now, I’m home and that’s really all that matters. I hesitated even looking in the general direction of my laptop when I first got back to the US, because I didn’t know where to begin or what to say or who to call, but I’m realizing that no one really knows what’s next – and we’re all calling everybody at this point out of a desire to feel some sort of connection. 

My buddy now that I’m home – huckleberry the corgi.

Honestly, I feel quite disconnected. But I know things won’t be like this forever. 

If you’ve made it to the end of the blog, I’m impressed. In the next few weeks, I’ll be writing much more, processing things like being home, Covid-19, and, everyone’s favorite, the future. 

Until next time – stay safe, stay healthy, and keep muttering the name of Jesus through the turbulence. 

-kate

Bring It On

Back in September, I was fairly confident in my ability to keep to the promise of maintaining the “bi-weekly” part of a bi-weekly blog; however, I’m afraid my confidence was a bit pre-mature.

Although inconsistent, I hope you (whoever you are) are enjoying my updates from this year in India.

My “first look” moment with the Taj.

One of the coolest updates from the last few weeks was actually a bucket list item for me: I finally got to see the Taj Mahal! And on the same trip, I got to see a whole bunch of beautiful buildings, cities, and faces. The highlight of the trip was eating dinner with our local driver/tour guide and his family. That meal consisted of some of the best Indian food I have ever had.

After that trip, it was back to work.

I know some of you are just  d y i n g  to know about the big work update referred to in my previous post. I think I said something along the lines of, “a big change is coming!”

A sweet face from our trip to Jaipur.

It’s coming was a bit bigger than I expected, but not too big for this little Wurm to handle.

As of last year (2019), the communications department in our office was made up of 3 people: the manager, the designer, and the intern (me!). As of 2020, the communications department is now made up of 2 people: the designer and the intern (still me).

The manager of our department moved to New Zealand just two weeks ago to further her studies. She made this announcement to our team a while back, although we were a bit anxious for what this transition would mean for the team, we were also excited for her next adventure.

A large portion of our communications department falls under the category of “content writing.”

Whether it’s internal communications or external, we’re are always producing content. Breaking news about a rescue, an update on a new partnership, a press release for an event, or restoration story for our website. Those are just the weekly tasks, which take priority over the somewhat-just-as-important daily tasks, but the work doesn’t end there. We also have the monthly tasks and the yearly tasks. It’s a lot of tasks.

One of my favorite views in Jaipur.

The content writing aspect of our department was mainly what our manager handled, and she was dang good at it. I’m guessing you’re maybe wondering who will be handling the content now that our manager is gone

Well… I was wondering the same thing. Until I recently got word that I was the chosen one.

Up until the day that we find a new manager, I’m responsible for making sure that everything that got done when we were a team of 3, is still getting done now as a team of 2. It’s a humbling job, and I have to ask for help at least 7 times a day – maybe more. My eyes feel strained by the end of the day from looking at my desktop screen repeatedly, and my fingers feel a bit stiff after being glued to the computer keys, but it’s been an official week and a half on the job and I’m still alive. I owe that to Jesus. And to our designer. And my roommates. And the McDonalds down the street from our office that serves hash browns in the morning.

Pretty pink building in Jaipur.

 

I knew coming to India would be challenging, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but part of me believed that the easiest part of this year would be the work done within the office walls. I’ve worked in an office-like space before, so I thought it would feel more familiar than the rest of India, but quite honestly, it’s just as much of a challenge as directing your hindi speaking rickshaw driver to your apartment when your gps stopped working and you’re stuck in the 9:30pm rush hour traffic jam (not easy).

But I’m okay with a challenge. As my dad always says, Wurm girls are tough.

Never too many Taj photos.

I’m learning as I’m going, and I have a feeling that life will be that way for some time – perhaps forever. I will continue to make mistake after mistake, but that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m worried about how I need to respond in the midst of this. I can choose to pout and be frustrated with the impact of this change, or I can choose to celebrate the opportunity, laugh at my inabilities, repeatedly give myself grace, and accept this new challenge.

If His power is truly made perfect in weaknesses, then OH BOY I’m about to experience a  w h o l e  new level of the power of God. Bring on the weaknesses.

-kate

As For Now…

I’m back in India! After I developed a gnarly throat fungus (refer to previous blog post), I flew home. I saw two doctors while I was in India, and they recommended multiple steps towards a full recovery; the most important one being REST. So I packed up and headed home to the US for about three weeks. 

Decorating the Christmas tree at home in Michigan!

Those weeks  f l e w by, but I knew that if I stayed at home any longer, leaving would become more difficult. Being home felt so comfortable, and all the things that I missed while being away were now at my fingertips. I drove to Trader Joes and Target more times than I’d like to admit. I also ate a few dozen servings of my mom’s chicken tortilla soup and spent hours constructing christmas puzzles with my dad. 

 

After Christmas, I celebrated the New Year with my dear boyfriend, crafted a list of mostly achievable resolutions, and spent one more afternoon at my favorite coffee shop. By the end of the week, my giant suitcase was full of Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups, Lush shampoo, and any other essentials for my remaining time abroad. Within 30 (ish) hours, I was back in India.

The 16 hour flight never gets easier...but the movie options continue to impress me.

 

 

 

Those moments at home now feel like months ago. I arrived early last week, and in a way it feels as if I’d never left. The daily routines my roommates and I had built before we left for Christmas now feel so recognizable: our weekly call to the man who brings us water, picking up bananas from the street vendors, walking home after work with the regular rush hour crowd…

 

 

Emma (roommate from London) carrying our fruit home. The building behind her was repainted over Christmas break! Vibrant is always in style here.

 Work routines feel just the same as well. My desk feels familiar, and my tiny white board is already full of tasks. I’m back to logging the Indian news each morning, as well as, organizing our overflowing hard drives. This week we are beginning the core work for our 2019 annual report, with hopes to have it published by the end of the month. (I understand it’s already 2020, but with the goal of getting every detail, event, report, etc of 2019 cataloged, we wait until the beginning of the following year to send out the previous annual report).

In the next month, there’s about to be a fairly huge transition at work. I’ve known about it for about two months, but in the last few days I’ve had more conversations and meetings about the specifics. I’ll share more details once the transition is in action, but for now, please be praying for our team as the change takes place. 

 Sorry to be so vague – I promise it’s nothing crazy dramatic. I just can’t say much until everything is in motion.

A shop right across from the office. They have THE best poha samosas.

 

In other news — there are two IJM interns/fellows joining us at the end of March! Our crew is expanding from 4 to 6, and I’m so excited. I love new friends. The office hit the ground running after Christmas break, so I think the extra hands will be extremely helpful for this year. We already have a few events marked on the calendar, including one for this Friday! Just yesterday my team designed a 6 foot banner for it! It’s exciting to create things taller than yourself. I’m realizing how insanely huge the design world is, and how incredibly small I am compared to it. I’m still watching youtube tutorials on how to use the design software installed on my computer….It keeps me humble. 

A few days after we returned to the office, I got to share my journey as to how I ended up working with IJM! #noshoes #coffeeinhand

 

It’s odd to think that in a year, I won’t be a part of this team anymore. I’m not even half way through the year yet so I won’t dwell on this thought too much, but I’m not looking forward to the day when I’m going to have to say goodbye to the ones who I work, eat, live, and play with here. 

 

I’ve been brainstorming and daydreaming about what’s next, but as of right now, my canvas is pretty blank. It’s hard to imagine myself anywhere besides India right now, because for so long, this was my “what’s next.” I do hope to be taking photos and videos somewhere down the road, and I’ve always adored the chaos of working with a non-profit, so who knows… maybe those things will collide in the near future. 

 

As for today, I am here. 

 

I’m recovering from fungus/mono, I’m eating lots of bananas, and I’m typing away on my little desktop. 

 

 -kate

 

2020: The Year of Polly Pockets

I feel like just yesterday I was typing up my last blog post. 

After our big November events and Thanksgiving, I assumed life would slow down a bit, but...not exactly. 

Two weeks ago, our office partnered with an organization to create a day of painting, dancing, jewelry making, and magic shows for current shelter home residents. Our office split up into 11 groups, and spent all day with the children and the girls. The group I was in was small, and the percentage of English speakers within my group was even smaller, but that didn’t matter at all. Getting to interact with the girls and eat lunch with them was...well, beautiful and hard. 

Taken the day we spent at the shelter homes!

As someone who relies on words for connection, I was at a disadvantage; however, my below average dance moves and jewelry making skills were quite the conversation piece for the girls. They giggled as I repeatedly embarrassed myself, but they loved to teach me. 

It was sweet to return to the office on Monday, and hear about everyone’s experiences. The following days, however, were not so sweet… 

Did you ever take middle school science? Do you remember studying things like fungus and bacteria? I barely remember the school lessons themselves, but I do remember thinking, “fungus…? GROSS!” 

I should have paid more attention back then, because about 10 days ago I was diagnosed with a fungus infection. It started on the roof of my mouth and slowly spread down my throat. It was...well...just as my middle school self imagined...gross

*I have some oddly interesting photos of my throat for those who dare to face the fungus.

After 24 hours of pretty intense discomfort, inability to eat, and a few tears shed, my roommate, Emma, took me to a nearby hospital. A number of people examined my throat and came to a consensus on the diagnosis. Thankfully, along with the diagnosis came the prescriptions! I walked out of the hospital with about 7 different medications, syrups, painkillers, etc. 

I’m feeling much, much better today. And I’m feeling extremely thankful to be able to swallow things other than bread dipped in tea (you don’t want the recipe, trust me).

The good news is, in the midst of the hospital visits, we hosted our first official visitor! Kyla’s sister flew in from South Africa to be with us for a few weeks, and she is an absolute rockstar. She spent two days escorting me to and from the hospitals while the girls were at work. 

Alongside our visitor, the last few weeks brought us the gift of FURNITURE! The highlights being: a couch, a cabinet, a kitchen table, and one dining chair. We’ve decided that whoever has had the worst day gets the honor of sitting in the chair for dinner that night. 

That’s about it for updates, considering I’ve spent a majority of the last two weeks in bed, but there’s a lot to come in the new year. I can remember purchasing a tacky pair of 2010 NYE’s sunglasses as if it were yesterday. 2020 still feels forever away, and maybe that’s because when we were younger, it was the year that distantly represented adulthood. By 2020, I assumed there would be flying cars, world peace, and robots. Okay...maybe no robots, but I did I assume some pretty big things for the year. I assumed I would have almost everything figured out by 2020. When I was 12, I was so excited for future me. I was excited to be driving and working and falling in love and doing big kid stuff. I think it’s fair to say that the big kid stuff, like paying utilities and navigating human relationships, seemed a lot more dreamy from afar. 

Kyla’s sister, Kyla, and I sitting in my room reflecting on the past three months. (Emma took the photo!)

Although I may not be where I thought I would be, and even though I am not even one step closer to having everything figured out, I think 12-year-old Kate would still be proud of me today. She would probably moan at the amount of vegetables I actually enjoy and she would most likely gasp at the lack of time spent playing with Polly Pockets, but she would be impressed with all the big kid stuff I handle. I think she would even tell me I’m putting too much pressure on myself. 

The last two paragraphs are the very beginning of my 2019 reflections, but I really am hopeful for the next year. I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that I will be spending most of 2020 living in India, but either way, I hope it’s a year of surrendering to Love and laying down the pressure that I’ve been carrying around for about 8 years. 

So, here’s to 2020! May it be filled with hope, vegetables, robots, Love and less fungus.

*and hopefully, very few days of sitting in the ‘bad day’ dinner chair

Until next year,

kate

 

Gym Class Dodgeball

These last few months have me all confused with the concept of time. The days feel like weeks, yet the weeks feel like months, and each month feels like a day. So technically I’ve either been here for 65 weeks, 8 months, or 2 days. 

(realistically, I’ve been here for a little over 2 months)

In the midst of everything, there’s always time for a dosa and some chai. (pictured: Emma)

I cannot believe it has been two months. Two months used to feel like nothing, but somehow the two months I’ve spent here have felt like a game of gym class dodgeball where I’m the only one left on my team being pelted by giant multi-colored, rubber balls.

The small battles, such as: not having a working sim card, upset stomachs, running out of rupees, being away from home during the holidays, etc., feel much bigger when you’re approaching them alone. My home team has been preoccupied with, well, home. But that makes complete sense. The world didn’t go on ‘pause’ the moment I packed up my bags. Most days, I wish I could’ve packed up my people with me.  It can become quite lonely in this extremely populated city; however, I made the choice to be here. It’s been the best, yet hardest choice I’ve made thus far in life. I’m grateful for my roommates, Kyla and Emma, who have made the same choice. So maybe I’m not alone in my game of dodgeball. 

I feel like all of my previous blogs have stated this quite clearly, but living abroad isn’t easy.

 

 

All of the events were fancy, pancy, meaning we had to wear traditional Indian saris.

These past two weeks have brought new battles to the field: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

Recently, the biggest battle has been exhaustion. Most weekdays are fairly tiring. Our walk to and from work each day is like a real-life video game: dodge a rickshaw, turn sideways to squeeze between an approaching crowd, jump over a dog, dodge another rickshaw…

By the time I walk through the office doors, I’m red-faced and sweaty. My makeup is melted down to the collar of my kurta. But truthfully, I don’t mind it. I like being able to walk to work with my roommates, and my body is already beginning to adjust to the heat. (also my reflexes are improving at an insane rate)!

Alllll of the ladies get ready together in the bathroom so they can help one another tie up their saris. It was like getting ready for high-school homecoming, only better.


The last 14 days have been the busiest work days since I’ve arrived. We had some huge events, including a conference for Judges and Police Officials and NGOs to gather together to discuss how to secure protection and care for victims of sex trafficking, and how to do so as a united community. Two days later we had an amazing ceremony to recognize and celebrate a few survivors. Tears were shed and standing ovations were given. I even joined a few of my co-workers in singing a half English/half Hindi version of Michael Jackson’s “We Are the World.” That moment is currently in the running for my list of Top Five Best Moments Ever.

(I have a video for all those interested). 

Lunch at one of the events this month. It was AMAZING!

The weeks leading up to the events were mega stress filled. My communications team was typing and designing so fast that keys were flying off the keyboard left and right. Okay not really, but that’s how it felt some days. We were designing invites and powerpoints and banners, all while coordinating who was taking photos and who was connecting with the professional media teams and journalists that were attending. I ended up being appointed to assist one particular journalist...who I accidentally hugged at the end of the event instead of shaking hands like normal professionals. This occurred minutes after our “We Are the World” performance, so I was at the peak of an energy high. I think (hope) the journalist understood.

Nursing students from the partner organization.

A day after the event, a team of us visited a partner organization a few hours north of our office. The community that makes up the organization is a cool variety. On one part of the campus is a nursing school. Once the girls graduate, they have the option to work at the on campus hospital. Next to the hospital, is home for those with leprosy. A few steps away from that, is a small building where the teachers and caretakers stay. That day consisted of dancing and singing and more dancing and learning and conversation and more dancing. We drove home with happy hearts and tired eyes.   

Following those long string of events and campus visits, we returned to our cubicles. Our to-do lists are a tad bit smaller than before, but our office is never not working on something. Today is the first day in a while that I made a cup of coffee and had time to drink the whole thing. I also finally finished my first book since being here. I didn’t understand why my mom was laughing at the 26 books I originally had packed in my suitcase, but I’m glad she made me take out 16 of them before I moved. I don’t have as much down time as I thought I would, or maybe more honestly, I don’t spend my down time doing as much reading as I thought I would. 

Another photo of the partnership organization. The whole campus was so beautiful.

It’s been a whirlwind. I feel like I haven’t taken a full breath in a while, but I know that time will come. I’m thankful to be alive and healthy. I’m thankful for this journey.  I’m thankful to have no idea what I’m doing. I’m thankful for the Lord who knows me. 

I’m also thankful for co-workers and roommates who buy me turkey sandwiches from Subway on Thanksgiving day.

 

-kate

 

 

Emma, Kyla, and Ronny with our thanksgiving day lunch! (it was all their first time celebrating thanksgiving!)

 

 

 

It’s been over a month and a half since being here. 

Some days it feels like it’s been a week and some days it feels like it’s been 148 weeks.

So much has happened in such a short amount of time, and it’s hard to put any of it into words because most moments feel like those “you had to be there” type of moments. 

Me trying to make pizza friday’s a thing in the office.

Here are a few good news/bad news updates:

Good news: I finally got a real mattress after being here for over a month! (I still sleep on the floor, as do my roommates, but the mattress makes alllll the difference. My spine is grateful). 

I ordered coffee from a restaurant and was handed this bag! Convenient. Very good for on the go.

 

Bad news: I got sick this past week. I self diagnosed it as a fever, and I’m assuming my hypothesis was correct because the fever reducing Tylenol I took worked like a charm.

Good news: We live near a little park, and every Sunday there’s a big group of kids who play cricket on the grounds. It’s soooo cute. 

Bad news: They play at 6am, and Sunday is the only day we’re consistently promised the morning off. The loud cheers, as well as the morning light, leak through my curtainless windows every Sunday. That part is not so cute. 

 

 

Good news: there’s a man that works in our building who, every afternoon, likes to go to the rooftop for a nice smoke break, while simultaneously singing at the top of his lungs. He’s an incredible singer, which is great news to those of us who sit on the floor below the roof. 

Bad news: The work that we do each day stimulates a need for a smoking, sing-along type of break. The man who spends his time blowing off steam, quite literally, on the rooftop works for another organization that our office shares a building with; however, everyone on our team has immense sympathy for his midday break routine. 

Part of my job as a communications intern is to track the news. I follow along with all the local newspapers, magazines, blogs, broadcastings, etc, as well as, all the global media. I spend a good two hours doing this each morning. The articles and posts I read are all in relation to some form of human trafficking, whether it be sex trafficking, online cyber trafficking, or bonded labour. I do this to increase our awareness of how the government and law enforcement, both locally and globally, are responding to these realities. There’s more logistics I could bore you with about how I track and monitor these articles, creating stats and excel spreadsheets, but those details aren’t the things that make me ache for a break. It’s the actual stories I spend hours scrolling through that make my stomach churn and heart stop momentarily. 

Last week, I read an article about a woman and her husband being brutally beaten by police officials in northern India (It’s important to note that the article began with the woman’s testimony of that night).


The woman was 8 and a half months pregnant when the officers showed up at her doorstep for no reason. The beating, at its extreme case, resulted in the baby being kicked out of the woman – a premature birth. Both the woman and her child were rushed to the hospital by neighbors who overheard what had happened, but in the midst of everything she was separated from her husband. My stomach grew knots by the second as I read her words. I had to get up from my chair twice in the midst of reading it to take a walk and get some water, holding down whatever it was I had for breakfast that day.

I spent the rest of that day thinking about those officers. What in the world causes someone to get to a point in their life where they can do something as horrific as what they did that night, and yet walk away feeling as if they’ve done their job?

Surprisingly, this story made me think about the gospel. 

Jesus was always on the move. 

Don’t get me wrong, He also spent a good amount of time resting and eating and praying.

But He was on a mission. 

So that we could get complete access to the Father for f r e e. 

So that we no longer had to carry the weight of our sins. 

So that we could have life, and have it to the fullest. 

Imagine for a moment what it would be like if Jesus forgot this mission.

He comes down to earth, is raised in this sweet little family, just living and enjoying life in His Jesus sandals and linen robes...then one day...He’s sitting at home and God says, “okay Son, I need you to get out there. Tell people about who I am. Bring the mission to the people. Share the good news! There are people out there who are lost. Who need hope! They need to know how much I love them. And I want You to be the one to tell them!” 

Then Jesus, all snuggled up on the couch with a cup of coffee in His hand, takes a deep breath, and says, “That’s so beautiful, but, oh I don’t know. Isn’t there someone else who could do that for you? Someone who has more access to bigger crowds? Or someone who’s a little more put together than I am? God...I mean, Dad...come on. Look at everything else I’ve got going on. Can we maybe try this again next week?”

 

….

 

Oh man. What a big bummer that would’ve been for you and me.

But thankfully, that’s not what happened. He did it. He did what He was sent to do.

And now it’s our turn.

 

That might have been the most dramatic way to simply state this thought that’s been floating around in my head: 

I’m realizing that the gospel is much, much more about the message than it is about the message carriers (aka less about me) (super about Jesus and what He did). I don’t care who gets the message of Jesus to those police officers, but I hope and pray that someone, somewhere, someday meets them and tells them about the gospel. The police officers who brought me to tears with anger, are in the same family that I am. And in a weird, but beautiful way, it’s my responsibility to be thinking and praying for the day we hopefully get to dance through the gates of Heaven together.

 

I’m sorry, but also not sorry, for this super long post.

I’m still learning and thinking and processing and growing.

I hope something in here made sense to you.

 

-kate 

 

 

A few more photos for you! (and by you, I mean my mom and dad, HEY MOM AND DAD!

 

We had a team retreat this past week! There were games, and our team got third place. Not mad, just disappointed. We’ll get ’em next time.

A near by beach city, Nagaon.

 

 

Found a coffee shop near by where we can buy beans!

 

A Bug’s Graveyard: RIP

After spending a little over a week in India, we have officially moved into our apartment.

Out of the four interns placed at our office, I was the third to arrive. The fourth, Emma, arrived a few days after me. Within a week of her arrival, Emma, Kyla, and I were signing lease papers for our new home. The filing system here in India is mind boggling. I won’t go into too much detail, but just imagine every important document you’ve ever owned stacked into dozens of piles, each standing at least 7 feet tall.

A walk in the neighborhood.

The day after we signed the papers was an Indian holiday, meaning all work and school was canceled. This was the best news, as our move-in to-do list was about the size of one of those 7 foot tall filing piles. Before we could begin buying, we wanted to stop by the apartment to drop off all of our bags.

The apartment was completely bare when we arrived that holiday morning. It had a smell to it as well, not a pleasant one.

“Easy,” I said, “we’ll get some candles.”
Little did I know the smell would be the least of our problems.

We then walked into the kitchen to find roaches crawling out of every crevice. The stove, the refrigerator, the cabinets, the drain in the corner.
*a shutter was sent down my spine*

We still don’t have any furniture, but we work with what we’ve got.

We moved into the bedrooms. The apartment has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Truly a goldmine here in India. The rooms are all arranged differently, but in each one are these beautiful windows. The natural sunlight coming through the windows made me forget about the roaches for a moment. Each room also has a small ac unit, PRAISE THE LORD!

Good news: the first night we spent in the apartment was the first night since being here that I didn’t wake up drenched in my sweat (tmi?).

Bad news: my AC unit leaked water whenever it was turned on. So it was no longer the heat that was keeping me awake at night, but the dang water drops hitting the bucket.

My AC set up for a few days.

I’m happy to report, a few days later, the leaking was fixed.
AND the bug situation has also come to a resolution. A bug professional came to our apartment and sprayed bug poison e v e r y w h e r e. We had to evacuate the apartment for a little bit, to avoid being poisoned with the rest of the critters residing in that apartment, but we had quite the surprise when we returned home. I’m talking a full on bug graveyard. Bug carcasses in every corner and on every counter. I still have nightmares about the little twitching roach legs. RIP.

Quickly we swept them all away.

Our apartment is slowly beginning to feel more like a home.

It’s been a little over two weeks since I arrived in India. It feels much longer than that, but I can only imagine what it will feel like two months from now. Riding in rickshaws (Indian taxi) is beginning to feel a little more usual. Bargaining for my fruits and veggies is more common here than back home, obviously. If I tried to bargain with the Kroger cashier about the price of a mango, I don’t think it would go over too well.

Our fruit vendor. We pass about 6 or 7 of these on our walk home.

I know I’ll look back on these beginning stages of adjusting to life in India, and think to myself, “man, I had no idea what was to come.”

On top of getting adjusted to living in India, I’m also navigating working in India. The first few days in the office have been a lot of logistics. Even though I have my Indian visa, there are a few more hoops to jump through before I can officially settle in here. Thankfully, the IJM team has stepped up in every.single.way.

Whether it’s a trip to the bank, to the grocery store, to the train, etc, I am always accompanied by an employee, and even though I know I’ve asked a million questions, they never make me feel like a burden or inconvenience.

The office is made up of consistent employees, but the interns cycle through, meaning that each year the staff encounters a whole new team of eager interns from all around the world. For the interns, the year is full of adventure and new things and crazy cultural experiences. For the employees, it’s just another year in India.

I wonder what it’s like for the IJM employees in this office to watch some young 20-somethings move to, adjust to, then leave all that India is. They have made us, Kyla, Emma, Jeshua, and I (the intern team of this year), feel so incredibly welcome.

The interns and the guys who fixed our office wifi (lol).

Do I miss home?
Absolutely.
But do I want to leave?
Not quite.
I miss chips and queso.
I miss fall weather.
I miss sleeping in my bed.
I miss target.

And most obviously, I miss my people. More than missing the U.S. I miss those that make the U.S. my home. No one here really knows who I am back home. I think they’re all still warming up to my odd sense of humor and coffee addiction, but soon enough, the people here will similarly make India feel like home, just as those in the U.S. have done.

A local train station.

The last two weeks have been challenging.  I wish I could boast about how easy transition is for me, or about how magical it has been to live abroad. But man, this is  the toughest thing I have ever done. My roommates and I are from 3 different countries, meaning we are navigating our cultural differences all while trying to live in a fourth culture. That’s a lot of newness.

But the same thing brought us all together, and that blows my mind.

Jesus stirring our hearts for the purpose of justice.

The stories that our work revolves around make me want to scream and cry simultaneously.  People being sold and exploited. Children being taken advantage of in the most horrifying ways imaginable. Young girls and boys being sold by their own family members to customers for sex. Men being trafficked across borders and tortured  to work under inhumane conditions. The list goes on.

IJM fights hard. The team I get the privilege of sharing a lunch table with is full of tough skinned, tender hearted warriors.

It’s not about making IJM’s name known. It’s about acting upon God’s call for justice.

And it’s about the individuals.

The move to India has broken me down in a lot of ways, but it’s all worth it to be near an organization so actively responding to the scriptures.

-kate

 

Prayer Requests:

-Pray for the IJM team. For unity within the office, as well as, unity for the office and the local authorities (the Indian government and police officials).

-Pray for the cases that are unknown. For details to be revealed, so that rescues can be initiated.

-Pray for my family. Sarah and Clint are living in Scotland, Emily is living in Germany, I am here in India, and my parents are back home in Michigan. Pray for our family bond to stretch wider than all the oceans combined.

-Pray for wisdom and patience for me as I settle into this temporary new normal.

AND Praise the Lord for all He has done for the last few weeks!

You guys are the best! Thank you for being a part of this journey.

 

 

Finally Arrived in India.

*this post was originally written on September 26, but posted on October 1, because wifi in foreign countries is tricky*

 

I can barely keep my eyes open, although it feels like all I’ve done in the last 24 hours is sit on my butt and close my eyes. Travel days, long travel days, can put you in a trance. One in which I hope to be released from soon. 

I want nothing more than to be wide awake for my first full day of living in this city, but I can barely think to type these words. 

Jet lag, you will not get the final say of this first week. 

*glugs other water bottle*

*rubs swollen eyelids*

*takes bite of 5th granola bar*

My body is feeling all sorts of things.

Exhaustion from the 5 hour road trip followed by the 15 hour flight to get here.

Jet lag from the 9 and a half hour time change (yes, 9 and a HALF).

Exhilaration from the last few hours of taking in the city that I now call home.

India is just as I remembered from my last trip here in May of 2018. The vibrancy, the smells, the subtle spiciness of every bite, the impossible driving structure. But even in the recognizable aspects, this time around, India seems different. It feels like I’m stepping foot in this country for the first time. Maybe it’s because my trip is, well…not exactly a trip. It’s a move. 

I am currently sitting on a bed in a small apartment in Mumbai, India.

My things are slightly spilling out of my suitcase, yet still somewhat packed, indicating my transitory state of being at the moment. 

Early next week, I will be moving into an apartment for the year. 

I’ll be living with two of the other interns, Kyla, a girl from South Africa and Emma, from London. 

Until then, we are all scattered in different homes, provided by families and friends from the IJM office. 

It’s been about 24 hours since I landed in Mumbai, and I’m already super ready to be settled in. I am thankful for this in-between home, but I am ready to hang a few family photos on the wall and to not have to pack up my toothbrush after each use.

Today was a full day. 

I met almost everyone in the IJM office.

The office is made up of 8 different departments, and within each department in 3-8 employees. The department i’m a part of, the communications department, is made up of three people (including me!). I thrive in smaller groups, so thank you Lord for placing me in this sweet little (but powerful) team. Overall, the office crew is a bigger crew than I expected, but the community aspect still stands strong despite the large numbers. Every morning we meet together for half an hour, and most days we eat lunch together at a family style table. 

I’m eager to get to know and do life with these people for the next year. 

This Sunday, I’ll be checking out a local church. It’s near by both the office and the apartment we are hoping to rent. Kyla, who has been in India for a little over a month, has been attending this church and loves it. The only church I’ve visited in India previous to this was located in a small village in south india. There were about 20 people sitting on torn up blankets in a small concrete building. Far different from my church in the states, but same Jesus. I am eager to experience whatever this Sunday may bring. 

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In my first entry about a month ago, I mentioned an overview of who IJM is and what they do. Scroll down to that blog for more information, and if you’re interested in reading more, go to ijm.org. 

The mission statement of IJM rests on an extremely sensitive field of work. What goes on inside each office is confidential. The work that IJM does is so good, therefore, it should be known! And I hope people are moved by the mission of IJM! However, the cases that they cover in relation to modern day slavery contain sensitive material. To respect the privacy and honor of the victims, names and details cannot be shared. To carry out the work and mission of IJM, so much of what we do must be kept inside the office, at least until cases are closed and information is cleared for publication. 

I say all of this because my blogs may seem a bit vague, or ambiguous, at times. I cannot post specifics about the work I will be doing each day on this particular page because it is public, but there’s some good news! I can share information about IJM and all that I am doing here via email! Once I get a bit more settled into life in India, I will be reaching out and collecting the email addresses of those who are interested in hearing more about IJM India. 

-kate