India was amazing. I may have had the best week of my life thus far. I touched down at 6am, finished unpacking my bags at 8am and slept till 6pm. The moon, lightning bolts, thunderclouds and stars were too distracting for me to sleep on the plane and I was uncomfortable about coming back.
After the tsunami, families were displaced and moved into government funded squatters, children were orphaned, husbands and wives widowed. From afar, the squatters looked neat with nicely painted walls but as you walk into the village you see and smell bad irrigation and sewage. Running water was not as common as cow dung. There were puddles of mud, feces and urine in front or next to the homes where the children took their toys into and made into bathtubs.
The people here walked around with a toothbrush in their mouths. I felt at home.
We entered the homes of many and listened to their stories. So many were desperate and hungry for goodness and grace to happen, it’s hard to not hold them and cry with them. Although I had a translator with me most of the time, I really sensed a lack of unlikeness. We do not share the same culture and language but we were able to laugh and cry together… pain, loneliness, love and joy are universal experiences that don’t discriminate against race, nationality and religion.
I’ve met some of the most amazing people as well. People who’d walk into an ankle deep sewage puddle to greet a woman on the other side, people who risked everything to follow Jesus, people who are able to love orphans as their own flesh and blood, people who’d pray hard for electricity and people who gave up marriage to serve the underprivileged. What they experience daily I was allowed to experience in a week. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
My mind was constantly being renewed. There were times (and this happened very often) when a prayer was not as powerful as a hug or embrace. When you begin to understand why Jesus touched the leper when He could have simply said a word for the man to be healed. When the skin is unfamiliar to touch, a touch is what it needs. When the hand is empty, another hand needs to fill it. When words are unnecessary.
It’s true that there is no such thing as a godforsaken place, only a church forsaken place. So God was already there and all we did was show up.
Here’s a glimpse of my week.
This was a common flower found by the road and pathways. I asked our guide what kind of flower this was and he said it is used as a female infanticide. It contains a sticky sap that is mixed into the milk for the baby. It’s heartbreaking to see how something so beautiful can be so lethal. As soon as he told me that, we passed a bunch of young boys hanging around a sweatshop.