Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To the Ends of the Earth. . .

Just a little over a week since I stepped foot back on American soil, I was buckled into four different planes, totaling 24 hours in the air for my return flight and I'm still trying to describe the experience I had in Kolkata, India!  I've been asked many times about my trip and honestly, the only way I know how to truly describe it is by saying, "It was awesome, devastating, beautiful, breath-taking, depressing, hopeless, filled with hope and an unforgettable trip."  There are no words to describe it.  Some of my pictures "might" shed a little more light, but to truly understand India, you have to experience it for yourself and take it in through your five senses. . . without a doubt, it will continue to take time to really process through everything I experienced.
One of the many beautiful faces of India!
Just to give a little glimpse into the city of Kolkata, India, There are 16 million people who live there and 2 million of them live on the streets! Two weeks I was there definitely gave me a different lens through which I view things back home!  Though I "enjoyed" aspects of my trip, I think a better description of the trip would be that it was life changing! I "enjoyed" the children and people I met, the places I was privileged to serve and my favorite aspect was simply loving on those who were so desperate for help. . . that's what I "enjoyed"!

Come take a little photo tour through the sights I took in. . . they won't come close to capturing India, but a least it will give you a little taste of these amazing people!
I love the little pop of color in front of the boys in school uniforms on their way to school in the morning.
 A little boy drinking up the last drop of milk at the Dump School.  These children are picked up from an actual dump where they live with their families. We were able to be a part of their lives as they came to this little school where we gave them a bath, taught them English, made a craft, played and share sweet stories of hope with them!
 Giving thanks for the daily "bread" he was about to receive.
Being served a hot and healthy meal. . . since they live at the dump, they also eat at/from the dump. They understand the gift of a fresh meal prepared just for them!
 Their beautiful colors always amaze me!
 A woman begging.
 A family standing outside their home.
 Slum homes.
This is a "normal" sight. . . trash and garbage are seen all over the place.

Having been to Bangalore in 2005 on a medical missions trip, I knew what I was in for as I set out for India again. . . but from what I had heard, Kolkata was supposed to be harder, filthier and more poverty stricken. . . I found that to be true.

 This group of boys have been rescued by a sweet India family who have a tremendous heart for boys living to survive at a large train station.  Many have been abused by their parents, have fallen into the "gang life" to try to provide that sense of "family", drugs and they end up living like animals as they "fend" for themselves. Their stories of gratitude, hope and a changed life were absolutely amazing since they really were experiencing a genuine and true love for the first time in their lives.  They didn't take their "adoption" into this awesome and self sacrificing Indian family for granted!
Due to a generous cash gift from a Structures family member and a Structures client, 10 "train station" boys will have new clothes for Christmas! They also enjoyed some yummy ice cream after we took them to a Science Center! Something they had never experienced before!

Teaching in a slum school.
 Due to another extremely generous financial gift of someone else from the Structures family and a dear client, over 60 children in this school will have new math and English books!  They were finished with their current books and were specifically praying that their need for new books would be met. . . Wow, were they ever blessed and encouraged!!!

 A precious little girl I wanted to bring home with me!!!
 Learning to enunciate each letter in the alphabet.

As I said, this can only shed a little light on this huge land of beautiful people. . . I'd jump at the opportunity to sit across a table from each person I know and give them a full verbal and visual rundown of the trip!  It would be full of heart gripping and amazing stories that filled each moment from the time I stepped foot into India until I arrived back home. . .  I'm still so grateful and overwhelmed by the privilege I had to be a part of some really awesome and beautiful things that are taking place in India!

Forever changed. . .

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Everyone Smile in 1..2..3!

We recently ventured out of the office and off our project sites for a Structures family photo session at Mt. Pleasant's Memorial Waterfront Park! We were able to get some great shots - we do, after all, live in the city that was ranked by Travel + Leisure Magazine as America's 2nd Most Attractive City. I think you'll agree that we were robbed of Travel + Leisure's #1 spot as you enjoy some outtakes from our day :

Who knows what on earth everyone is doing in this picture! Steve and Amy are having a staring contest, Deb looks like she's all in Dave's face and Justin just looks totally bored and decided to text someone while waiting for every one to get ready to say "cheese"!
Marty needs reindeer antlers on to complete the pose!
Striking a pose.
No words can capture the emotion here. . . :)
And finally...I think we have a keeper!

L-R - Jennifer, Deb, Roger, Dave, Marty, Steve, R.P., Amy, Knox, Kathryn, Justin and Cara

Monday, December 5, 2011

Structures Turns 12

Last week, we celebrated a great milestone as a company – our 12th anniversary! Steve Kendrick began Structures Building Company in 1999, and we’re happy to say that 12 years later, we are still building and remodeling quality custom homes in the Charleston area. This is an exciting time to be a home builder, and we are thankful to our wonderful clients, architects, trade contractors and suppliers, and everyone who supports the work of Structures! Happy Anniversary Steve – here’s to many more years of success!

Read more of the Structures Story HERE.