It's an odd feeling, writing this blog... The word keeps spreading between family and friends that I'm writing it and I'm starting to realize just how many people read this thing. It's odd because I started this with the full intention of making it a public space to update everyone on what's going on and how I'm doing. But recently I realized that I've been holding back on what I say the more people I realize are reading what I write. Anyone who's read my previous blog knows that I will often write pieces that include a lot about my feelings on things at any one moment. And now I write about bugs and sewer systems. So if I don't get as blunt and honest as you would expect me to be, just know that I'm a little more private about some things when I don't know who will be reading things. Especially since most people don't respond in any way with comments or emails and I don't know what they're thinking.
I know there are a number of you out there wondering when I'll get around to writing about my experiences in India. I really want to, but I'm still not sure I can express it all properly. Also, we had to be so careful with a couple of the organizations we stayed with that we not mention that we stayed with them, that to be honest, I'm trying to avoid betraying trust.
I'll tell you a bit about the people, the atmosphere. We saw a wide variety of conditions, and when we first arrived it was easy to complain. In Delhi, the place where we stayed we heard people up and active until all hours of the night, there were water restrictions because of the drought, we couldn't drink tap water, and the driving was atrocious. By the time we reached Calcutta (our last stop) we had a completely different attitude. We were thankful that they had a special set of taps for drinking water (even if we had to collect it once a day while it was actually running). We were thankful to be a hundred meters from the street so the nighttime noises were a bit more muffled. We were thankful for a map to navigate the streets on foot, and wise to the taxi drivers and what they were actually allowed to charge us. By the time we reached Calcutta (now spelled "Kolkatta" officially) there was a difference in our attitudes and our knowledge of the country.
At the orphanage there was an attitude prevailing that you couldn't miss. One of service, sacrifice, and most of all of dedication to a vision. There was complete dependance on God's provision in a way I have never, ever seen in any western church. There are no regular givers, no steady income, no knowledge of how or where the money for this months' expenses will come from. Instead there is prayer, trust, and a willingness to let God lead and provide. We were challenged in many ways as we stayed there. Time for corporate and individual prayer was a regular part of everyone's schedules, as well as various service opportunities. How special it can feel to do study hour with the children.
We exclaimed to each other over and over about the utter beauty of the indian people, especially the women and children in their colorful dress. And some of the most willing photography subjects that you will ever meet. And yet try as we did, we rarely if ever were able to capture the beauty we saw in the pictures we took. The glowing smiles full of white teeth would change to a pasted on smile without a tooth showing. The posture, the attitude, the glow would disappear. It is the personality, the child of God showing through that we were unable to capture. Oh, do I ever hope that we will never forget the people, and the beauty of their smiles, and their personalities. There is something that being poor does to a person, far beyond the physical cost to the body. The people who have the least give the most of themselves, for what do they have to loose? They embrace you with open arms, they expect nothing from you but find the greatest honour in being able to do something for you. You can step into the house of one of the poorest people in town, and they will offer you food they can't truely afford to share, but be offended if you don't take any. It is the rich who grumble about what they don't have, and the poor who rejoice in what they do have. Or perhaps I should switch that, for you're rich if you can rejoice in what you have, and poor if you only grumble over what you don't have. India currently has a fast growing economy, and a lot of room for workers of all skill stations, espcially if they are willing to work hard. The beggars on the street have the choice to work, or most of them do, but can actually make more money begging from rich tourists and hindu's who are required to give to appease the gods, than in an honest day's hard work. (A hard working fisherman will make around 60 rupees a day, which is barely enough to survive. That amounts to about 1.50$ american per day).