Well here I am in India…yes India, a place I didn’t imagine ever visiting, but here I am. I am not much of a writer (like my sister) but felt the need to write down what I am experiencing and seeing to remember and to share with others. Please don’t expect full sentences or a great witty storyline – I’m really just going to ‘vomit’ all my thoughts and feelings here. So here we go!
We arrived in Kolkata early this morning around 5:30AM local time, (10 ½ hours ahead of the states) after 33 hours of traveling – we were exhausted and stinky to say the least but all very excited to finally be here. Two Compassion representatives, Sam and Phatboi, met us at the airport and we loaded up in a bus and headed to the hotel. We passed through what is called the ‘New Town’ of Kolkata – an area of new growth and lots of construction all due to the technology boom that is supposed to happen. We passed lots of people walking to work and just outside even though it was only 6:00AM. The driving here is pretty different than the U.S. – horns here are used like turn signals and announcements saying you better move because I’m going to pull in front of you! We shared the road with cars, taxis, motorcycles, rickshaws, and bicycles. It took us about 30 minutes to get to our hotel, during which Keith our Compassion Representative, told us some information about India. Our hotel is called Hotel Sonnett – a very nice place with modern furnishings. The buildings neighboring the hotel are very different though – we have construction going on next door to an old building and across the street are huts and shacks where people live (with I’m assuming no running water or electricity). These drastic differences are everywhere here – you will see beggars and little huts right next to a Land Rover dealership! Tonight, one of the Leadership Development Program students said that in India the rich keep getting richer and the poor, poorer and that is the problem with their economy.
After having some breakfast (I had the best oatmeal ever and some great coffee and fruit), Lesley, Audra, and I took turns getting showers (I felt like a new person!) and then took a three-hour nap. We didn’t want to sleep all day as that would throw off our time schedule. After our naps, we had lunch with the group – a much more Indian like meal, but I couldn’t tell you the names of what I ate! – and then we headed to the Mother House – Mother Teresa’s home and burial site.
Mother Teresa’s home is in the middle of old town Kolkata where there are lots of people and street vendors. It is not a big place but houses the sisters that are working and learning at the home. I got to see the room where Mother Teresa lived – it was very modest with a small bed and desk. It was also very hot as it is located over the kitchen but a note said that she never used a fan. I learned from a museum like room about Mother Teresa’s life and what she accomplished for the Lord. Mother Teresa was born in Albania, became a nun in Ireland, and then moved to India where she taught school before beginning her work for the destitute and dying. We attended a mass there in the room where Mother Teresa’s grave is – the man who led the mass (either a brother or priest) spoke on John 5:1-15, The Healing at the Pool. He explained how Jesus chose love over laws (healing on the Sabbath) and that Mother Teresa did as well and that we should all choose love.
After this I saw the chapel where there is a life-sized statue of Mother Teresa. It sits in the back of the chapel where she usually sat during service. After her death, the sisters wanted her ‘presence’ to still be in the room, thus the statue. The statue was little as Mother Teresa was very small.
Our group went to a classroom setting then for volunteer orientation as we will be serving with different homes the Mother Home has set up this Friday. The sister who trained us was named Sister Mercy Maria. She is originally from El Paso, Texas and became a sister at the Mother Home in 1999. Bethany, Becca, Lesley and I will be volunteering in a girls home where teenagers with special needs live. I am eager to meet these girls and show them the love of Christ!
After training we walked to the Mother Teresa orphanage down the street but were unable to get in because visiting hours had just ended. We did get to wave at some children through the windows though J.
We came back to the hotel and had dinner with four Leadership Development Program students from Compassion. Sandeep, Vicky, Nehe, and Sudi are all in their final year of college and have been through the childhood development sponsorship program and now a LDP. Once Sandeep, Vicky, and Sudi get their visas they will be coming over to the United States to represent Compassion and Jesus on each of our summer staff teams. We do not know about Nehe as she has to take exams. It was so wonderful getting to know these students. They are so passionate about Jesus and sharing their story with others for God’s glory. I enjoyed getting to know them and look forward to working beside one of them this summer!
And now it’s the end of Day 1 in India and so much has already happened. This trip really just came upon me so fast and I did not feel prepared but here I am sitting in India typing out what has happened. I had not prepared my heart as long as I would have liked to and that stressed me out. But Wednesday before the trip, I got on my knees before the Lord and begged Him to prepare me and my heart for what He is going to do here, for what I was going to see and feel, and whatever He was going to call me to do because of this trip. And the Lord is SO faithful! He answered that prayer by giving me a love for these people that I know is not of me and can only be of Him. He has given me a heart of love and compassion on the people I pass in the street who look, act, and smell different than me. I am so grateful that I have a strong, BIG God who takes care of the small and big things in life and who is always with me. I give Him all the glory, honor, and praise and look forward to what He will continue to do these next few days.
And now its off to bed – nearly 10:00PM here – Lesley and Audra have been asleep for about 20 minutes but I wanted to get this all out I remembered it. Again please don’t judge my writing (incomplete sentences, run-on’s, etc) – I know its bad but I’m jet lagged and really just lazy to go back and fix it all!