Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sometimes Things Aren't What They Seem...

Hi, Friends! Greetings from the other side of the world!

Hmm... I'm not really sure how to begin this email. First, I just want to thank everyone who has been praying. Thank you for covering me! I know God heard your prayers... wait until you hear my story!!

One of the biggest lessons you learn in missions right away is that nothing is as it seems. And that it's best NOT to have expectations, because things are always subject to change. My teams always joked about that (although, sometimes I wondered if they were joking to cover up their frustration), that my co-leaders and I didn't tell them plans right away. But whenever we did, we'd have to come back and say, "there's been a change in plans", because inevitably, something would happen. Sometimes it's minor, like finding out that you'll be leaving an hour later. Sometimes it's a bit bigger, like finding out a specific ministry location isn't going to work, that your transportation has not come, or a variety of other things. Sometimes it's a lot bigger... massive, even. Whatever it is, it always drives us to pray. Because while it might be a big surprise to us, God knew about it before it happened. It's always an exercise in faith.

So... there's been a change of plans. :0) And it's pretty big... of international proportions, I would say.

My flights went really well, actually, better than they've gone in a while. I had a minor problem at JFK, but it was worked out. That was a long layover, but I got to meet some incredible people... like an american airlines employee named Winston who used to live in Ga. Or a woman behind the counter named Claudia who could have been the twin of one of my dearest friends, who not only helped me, but reassured me that it was all going to work out. Everyone I spoke with at JFK was kind and welcoming. That was so cool.

My flight to Brussels was nothing short of amazing. I had a great seat in coach. The seats leaned really far back. The food wasn't too terrible. And best of all, I got to sit next to a pastor/missionary who was on his way to india (he was connecting to a flight to southern india). It started simply, with me asking about his kindle and how he liked it when compared to "real" books. That's when he mentioned pastoring. Then he asked me what I did. I told him I was a writer and a missionary... and the conversation went from there. He asked me about what I did and we talked about his church. We had an awesome conversation about missions in general. It was so encouraging.

I was actually able to sleep a bit on my second flight, in sporadic bursts. And my seatmate was a kind Indian gentleman who was concerned as to if I was comfortable in my seat and why I wasn't eating all of my food (my stomach was a bit upset). When I got to Delhi, everything started smoothly. I went through all the official stops, got my luggage, and found the departures terminal. I went to check in.... and that's where everything fell apart.

In order to save money, we pieced a ticket for me the long way around the world. Instead of flying west from ATL, I flew East, over Europe and through india. Then I was supposed to fly to Thailand and then Cambodia. But... I guess the easiest way to put it, there were flight problems. It's a really long story that I haven't fully processed yet, but the end result was me spending the night in the Delhi airport, calling Cambodia and the States, trying to figure things out. It didn't work. At 7am yesterday morning, my Indian host, the Director of Asha House, picked me up from the airport and drove me to the Sixty1 house, where I was welcomed into the room with ac and fell asleep for three hours.

We spent all afternoon yesterday skyping India, the U.S., and Bangkok, trying to figure out a flight for me. It didn't work... I think it was impossible. Finally, at 7pm last night, we all reached the same conclusion. I was to stay in India. I'm not going to Cambodia.

Eish, that is hard to say.

If you have a lot of questions, I understand. I have them too. Right now I'm just thankful that this happened in Delhi and not anywhere else in the world. For me to be stranded in a foreign country, this is the best possible place I could be. I had someone I could call and a place to stay. Since I was flying through here anyway, I have a return flight that's set. Now it just seems that I'm here a bit longer than i'd originally planned. And while I don't understand why I couldn't go to Cambodia when I truly believed with all of my heart that God was sending me there, I can only conclude that there is a reason/purpose for what happened in the Delhi airport. Maybe I'll never know why exactly. Whatever it is, this wasn't a surprise to God. He has taken care of me every step of the way. And he won't stop doing so. There is a reason why I'm here. And I'm going to spend my time in India ministering as before, loving on orphans and lepers and whoever else comes into my path. Though I don't know why this happened, I'm not going to miss the time that i'm here.

I've been thinking a lot these past few days about Eph 6, where it says that our battle isn't against flesh and blood but against the rulers and principalities of this world. As you know, in the past few weeks, I have been under some pretty intense attack. Yet I got on the plane on Monday completely calm, wth the assurance that I was walking in the will of God. That hasn't changed, even though everything else did. I don't doubt getting on that plane. I don't doubt the decision to go overseas, even though it hasn't ended up the way I expected. God has not forgotten me and he is not unaware of where I am. I only have to think about how he has taken care of me every step of the way.

So... India. That's new.

It's Thursday morning right now. Thankfully, I was able to sleep a lot last night, so I feel almost human. That's a praise! Please, continue to be in prayer for me! Pray that I will have energy and will be able to pick up relationships where they left off. Pray that I will be open to being used by God whenever and wherever, that He will show me where to go and what to say. Sixty1 is in the process of moving houses, so that's what i'm going to do today. Right now we're sleeping in a house wihtout furniture or running water, just ac, internet, and electricity. Today is the final move, so we'll spend the day unpacking all of the stuff, setting up everything up. I think I'll be able to go to Asha House tomorrow.

Also, please pray that there will be no problems for my flight back to the States. Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous about walking back into that airport, even though I know that ticket is set. I have a really short layover in London on the way back, so I really need for that flight to leave on time and there to be absolutely no problems.

One of my biggest concerns with what I do is being a good steward of y'all, my supporters. It's so important to me that you know what's going on, not only with prayer but for accountability. The Body sends me out, not myself. I don't go on trips just because I like to travel or want good stories. When opportunities come my way, I seriously pray about them, often for many days. I do everything I can from my end to make sure that making the right decision, walking in the will of God, and not just going somewhere because there's a need. That is what happened with Cambodia. It was something that I prayed about a lot and truly felt that God said to go. Maybe it was all so I could be here. I don't know. Like I said, I have a lot of questions. But while I am here, I will be all here, no matter what.

That's it for now. Thank you so much for your prayers and support. I'll be in touch... we will probably be without internet for a while because of the move, but I will try to email at least one more time. Thank you! Have a great day!

-Kristen Torres-Toro

Monday, August 10, 2009

Off to Cambodia (and India!!)

Hey, Friends!

How are you?

Well, it's the night before I leave and I just wanted to email y'all. Tomorrow, I'll get up crazy early and begin the grand adventure. In all, I have five flights just on the way there! So please, pray that I make them all... that no delays affect the others!

Now that the time has come, I'm pretty excited! Thank you to all of you who have been praying for me! Thank you for all of your support and encouragement, especially these last few crazy weeks! Thanks for reminding me of the truth of the Word of God. I am getting on that plane tomorrow in faith, believing that God will supply everything that I need for this trip. I am so excited because to do what I love again, what God has called me to do. So excited to see what He is going to do; what conversations He is going to orchestrate, who will be placed in my path. Please, pray for energy for me! Pray that I will be able to go all day and only crash at night when it's time to sleep. Pray for ministry--for deep, eternal ministry that only the Holy Spirit can do. Pray that I will be able to minister out of a heart of compassion and surrender, even though the stories I'm about to hear (and will then share with you) are heartbreaking. And finally, please pray for the rest of my financial support. As of this week, I still needed $1400. Any contribution can be sent to Sixty1, PO Box 2046, Boone, NC 28607. Checks need to be made out to Sixty1 but need to have my name, Kristen Torres-Toro, in the memo.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! I literally cannot go without you. Thank you so much for standing behind me; for going with me. Thank you for praying for me! I am so thankful for you!

Right now, I'm not sure as to how often (or if at all), I'll be able to get to the internet while I am there. But I will try to email out and let you know what's going on as soon as possible so you know how to be praying. If nothing else, you'll get a full report post-Aug 24, when I'm finally able to sit and type without falling asleep at the keyboard from jet lag. :0)

Love you all! Talk to you soon!

-Kristen Torres-Toro, excited missionary writer

P.S.... On the way back, my flights take me through Delhi once again. So I'm going to stop in and spend a few days there. This will be great because I'll be able to stop at Asha House and see my little ones there! WOOHOOO!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cambodia News and Prayer Requests

Hey, Friends!

How are you?

Hopefully this post finds you well. I'm so sorry for not writing sooner. It's really been a crazy few weeks. I came back from Guatemala pretty sick. It knocked me out for almost two weeks, actually. I've just started to get my strength back in the last week or so. There's been a lot going on, and once I wasn't as sick, there was a lot that needed to be done/worked out with Cambodia. It's been many days of calling overseas, once-a-day emails, and a lot of prayer. Things are finally figured out, praise God.

Because I was so sick, I was unable to speak anywhere, to meet with any of you and catch up on your lives, etc. I've just had to pray that God would bring it all in. Some have asked if I still need financial help, and last night I got a new update on my support. I wanted to send it to you so you know where I stand.

As of this week, I still need $1400.

Missions work is definitely difficult at times. There's a lot of spiritual warefare, a lot of stuff that happens overseas that can be stressful. It's what I love to do, it's what I know I'm called to do, and it can really be a lot of fun too. I don't do it because I love to travel or because I want an adventure. I do it because of Christ and his call on my life. I do it because there are people all over the world who do not know who He is and unless they are told, they will die without Him.

But one of the hardest parts for me is asking for financial support. It's something I've struggled with for years. I've wished so many times that I didn't have to ask for help because I know that all of you have financial burdens and responsibilities. I know y'all have families and bills and unexpected things come up, and that the economy stinks right now. I know the incredible sacrifice you have made to send me out so that all of us can minister overseas. I am so thankful for you--thankful beyond words at how you have given to me over the years. I don't take it lightly. Every time I write with a new trip or a new need, I have to just step back and pray that God will provide again. Ultimately, that's what He does. He provides it through y'all. And it's taught me a lot. First, it's taught me to rely on Him and walk by faith. Second, it's taught me how important it is for the Body of Christ to send me out.... that if I just had the money I needed and didn't need to ask for help, it would be a disservice. I'm not supposed to be a rogue minister, sent out to do this all by myself. We're doing this together. It's never been my ministry. It's been God's.... ours, through Him.

I just... I really need help. What happens if the money doesn't come in before Aug 10? That's okay! I can keep raising support for as long as I need to. My plane ticket is nonrefundable. It was booked with a credit card. And the truth is if it's not in before I leave, I'll need to keep raising it until it is in--even after the trip is long over. Honestly, I'm really nervous at the thought of leaving with this huge gap in support.

Please know that I am so thankful for the fact tht half of the trip has come in! I'm not belittling that or not grateful for those of you who have given towards it already. I know it was a quick thing... that though it was something I'd been praying about a lot so I almost felt it coming, y'all didn't know until mid-June. And then with working up in North Ga, I wasn't able to be in constant communication with y'all. Right now I just needed to let you know where I stand and that I still need your help. I am so thankful for all of you. I am so thankful for those of you who tell me that you pray for me often. Any support for me can be sent to Sixty1, P.O. Box 2046, Boone, N.C. 28607. Checks need to be made out to Sixty1 and have my name, Kristen Torres-Toro, in the memo line.

As for Cambodia itself, I feel like this trip is going to be huge as far as ministry is concerned. One reason why I believe that is the amount of warfare that I've been under concerning Cambodia itself, what with being sick and laid out for so long and all the other details. I have only been on a few trips where the attacks were this bad before I left, and looking back, I can say that those were always the trips that HAD to happen, the trips where INCREDIBLE things happened... like my gogo, Sarafina, getting up and walking after two years as a lame invalid. Like the AIDS patient being healed. Like my participant's knee injury, which the doctors said was only fixable by surgery, actually moved beneath my hand as we prayed, the joints came back together, and the pain was gone for the first time since she was a child... and then that student went out into the jungle and touched so many lives with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Cambodia is one of the darkest places in our world today. Children, from the time of their births, are sexually abused in the most horrific of ways--boys and girls. It's considered normal for them... "healthy," even. The organization that we are going with works to rescue and minister to these girls. While I am there, I'm going to be given an indepth view of this horrific situation, I'll be able to see how the organization is ministering to and working with these children. And I will spend my days doing that as well.

That's why I am going--to love on as many children as I can, to pray for them, and to tell them about Christ. I appreciate y'all so much.... Thank you for sending me out. Thank you for believing in what God has called me to do. Thank you for how you have given so freely so those on the other side of the world can hear about Christ and know Him. Thank you for how you have covered me in prayer, for your friendship. Thank you for your support--and I mean that in every way. Please, be praying for me as I go. Please pray for protection and that when the enemy attacks, that I will stand firm and be able to walk by faith. Please pray with me that God will continue to provide what I need. And if you would pray about helping me raise the rest of what I need, I would be really thankful. Happy Wednesday! I'll talk to you soon!

-Kristen Torres-Toro

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What God Did in Guatemala....



It's Sunday afternoon, and I can't believe that just a week ago I was still in Guatemala, walking through the beautiful city of Antigua. The adventure I never expected has become such a huge part of me. I miss it--and my team and co-leaders--a lot!

One of my tasks for this particular trip was to write about it. The Ambassador directors dreamed of being able to document it from training camp to debrief, using both photography and the written word. It took a few days for me to get my swirly thoughts straight enough to put them down on paper; after all, fevers often take a mind of their own. But my wonderful friends took what I wrote and put pictures to them. For that reason, I'm not going to re-post them on this blog. But please, go check them out. The link is http://09gu0630yi.myadventures.org/.

What I will write here is how much I loved Guatemala, how beautiful it was. Lake Atitlan (pictured below) literally sits in the heart of a volcano and it has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. The people who live nearby are so kind. But they carry great pain deep in their hearts. Many turn to drugs, while others turn to religion, the kind with ritual and statues, a lot of death and almost no life. It's a beautiful, colorful world, a place that shouts with the truth about God--but still, He is missed.

My team of 16 (that's us up above!) lived in a pueblo called San Pedro, but we visited several other villages while we were there. We were able to do children's ministry and also attend several local churches. We prayer walked and sang just about everywhere we went. We walked through the village and talked with people. We sat with vendors at their stands and played with their children. We spoke of Christ--and loved on those we met--with everything we did. Though it was difficult to leave, we know without a doubt that every person we met was able to hear the gospel. And that's a great thing!

So, what's happening now?

I came back from Guatemala sick, so I am resting and trying to get better. Though the trip was only two weeks, I'd been away for more than a month because I spent most of June working the training camps at AIM. So there's a lot of stuff that I need to do here in the States. And I need to get ready, because on August 10, I'm headed to Cambodia.

I'll post more about that in a couple of days, when I know more. But right now I just wanted to mention it and also a big praise. I got a phone call a few days ago with the news that I've raised $1000! Praise God! But I still need $2000 to go, so that's also a big prayer request. If you're interested in supporting me financially, you can send any contribution to Sixty1 at:
Sixty1
PO Box 2046
Boone, NC 28607

Please put "Kristen Torres-Toro" in the memo line.

Thank y'all for everything. Thank you for believing in this calling God has placed on my life, and for sending me out. Thank you for your trust, your prayers, your encouragement, and your friendship. I am so thankful for you!!!

Have a great day! Love ya!

-K






Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Adios, Guatemala!!!

Hi, Friends!!!

Just wanted to check in and say that I'm back from Guatemala. It was incredible and I cannot wait to share with you all that happened! Unfortunately, I woke up this morning sick and my fever is still rising. So it might be a few days before I can post anything. Thanks so much for praying! I love y'all!

-Kristen

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Guatemala!!!!

Hey, Friends!!!

This is going to be short because I don't have much time, but I wanted to post really quickly. I can't believe I'm going to Guatemala on Friday! I can't believe that I'm leading again!!!!

This has been a really short training camp due to many reasons, so it really has been a whirlwind. The teams arrived yesterday--and we leave tomorrow! Yebo! But I am getting really excited. I really enjoy my team! We are 13 girls and 3 leaders= 16 total. And we are so excited about taking the gospel to the nations!

Please pray for us as we go! This trip will fly by so fast. Please pray for safety in traveling and for good health, for solid ministry, and that the Lord will lead us where He wants us to go. Please pray for unity amongst this group--and that God will bring Spanish back to those of us who have studied it in the past!!!

I don't know if I'll be able to post from Guatemala, but I probably doubt it. Either way, I'll definitely come back afterwards with pictures and stories. Until then, adios! Vaya con Dios! And as they say in the jungle-- a su nombre, gloria a Dios!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Come What May

God has an awesome way of putting things into perspective.

For the past few years, the state of Georgia has been in a serious drought. We've had such a grave problem that there were strict limitations on how people could use water in our state. Basically, many have gone several years without washing cars by hand, watering lawns, etc., simply because the window of opportunity for such activities was so small that we always missed it. As a kid, my parents used to put the sprinkler on and let my brother and I run around in on a hot day. For years, that wasn't possible. It's such a huge shame for children to miss out on the simple pleasure of running through wet grass, listening to the constant stream hit trees, bushes, and their own bodies, and feel the cold pins and needles of getting too close to the sprinkler.

Ah, summer.

But something interesting has happened this year. Here we are, in the midst of one of the worst financial crisises in our history. People are losing jobs right and left, stores are going out of business, budgets are getting tighter, and those applying for jobs simply can't find any. America is learning what it means to not consume constantly, to save and spend wisely instead of without thought. We're being drawn back to a much simpler life.

And God has brought the rain.

It started in the spring, with days upon days of storms. April showers made way for May thunderstorms and now the June sky is pregnant with more rain. The earth is green. The colors--when the sun does shine--are brilliant. Here we are, in a recession, with just what we need. With plenty, even. Because, you see, Georgia is no longer in a drought. After several years of thirst, we are entering a surplus. The dry and weary land is once again becoming a verdant, beautiful garden.

God doesn't depend on the economy. Neither does His timetable. It is as He says in Matthew--as He provides for the sparrow and the lily, so much more does He care and provide for us. We don't have to worry. Come what may--job loss, dwindling bank accounts, changes in lifestyle due to our nation's current situation--and we do not need worry. He will provide. He will bring abundance in a time of drought. He will bring that life-giving, beautiful rain.

And speaking of His timetable, I got a surprise last week. It's a bit of a long story that I will spare you, but the conclusion is that my summer is going to be even busier than I expected. I'm returning to AIM for a few weeks to help out there, and then off to Guatemala for two weeks in July! I'll be leading again, this time an Ambassador (high school) team. And then in August, I'm going to Cambodia with Sixty1.

I'll give more details about that in the future. I am still coming on staff with them this summer/fall, so details about that will be given as well at a later date. As to now, I just wanted to mention both trips and ask for prayer and support. Financially, Guatemala is taken care of. This is such a praise because I only had the chance to speak about it to a few people, but God gave me exactly what I needed! Cambodia, however, is a different story. I need $3000 by August 13, 2009. If you would like to support me financially, please send a check made out to Sixty1 to:
Sixty1
PO Box 2046
Boone, NC 28607

Please put "Kristen Torres-Toro" in the memo line.

Thank you so much!!!! I appreciate you, your encouragement, prayers, friendship, and support more than you can know. And though I was not expecting these two trips to come up, I am very excited about them! Please be praying for me this summer as I lead once more and then minister in a country that is heavily involved in sex trafficking.

And--though all of y'all know me and know how much I love the sunshine--may He continue to bring on the rain.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Creative Essay: Hope in India


Hope in India

 

The hot dusty streets, covered in trash and heavy with traffic, beat under a relentless sun. Red, blue, pink, green, yellow, orange, and purple—the colors of India move about as phantoms. They clothe the women, decorate the vehicles, and permeate the very air. There is no such thing as bleak here. No such thing as colorless. Even taste has color in India—the spice of fire, the aroma of garlic, brown grit of the dirt as it settles about clothes and through the air. India wraps around us from the inside out; it doesn’t so much invite us into her bosom as it pulls herself into ours.

             This country of millions, with almost as many gods as there are people and more holidays than there are yearly rotations of the earth around the sun, goes about its day as if nothing is different. Sundays are not days of rest here as they are in the West; after all, Christianity is forbidden. They are business days just as any other—that is, unless the shop owners and businessmen observe a particular Hindu holiday at random.

             Motorcyclists race past at breakneck speed, recklessly cutting corners and swerving in front of vehicles without care to the order and laws of driving. Cows languish in the already hot sun, chewing sedately with the rhythm of the morning. Camels, donkeys, and horses line the streets and pull carts of their own; other motorized wagons are overloaded with burlap sacks of petrified dung that is to be used for fuel. The sounds of the city fill the air—the insistent honking to indicate right of way, the yelling of those bartering at the market, the conversations of the pedestrians as they transverse the streets. Activity is everywhere; movement fills the air.

             A white tent is erected in the middle of a village. Elections will come soon. The landfill has been covered with dirt and then again with carpet, the kind of plastic grass common to putt-putt attractions in the West. Chairs are lined up, empty save for the hopes of those who will fill them in just minutes. For now, the empty tent testifies of what is yet to be.

             Minutes down the road, the lane is crowded with people. They wave the flag of India while dressed in saris and western wear. A banner hangs in front of them and drums pound their steady rhythm—one, two, three, four…and again, one, two, three, four…. It is the beat of attention, the calling of all who will watch this parade to take note: the candidate, the one who could save India, is here.

             Just kilometers away, in a quiet room, fans circulate the warm air, desperately fighting a losing battle to cool the room. Orphans sit cross legged, barely fidgeting, their high pitched voices raised sweetly in song. A man stands at the front with an emerald green guitar. His eyes are closed and he sings fervently, proclaiming his praise and adoration of the Messiah.

             These are the forgotten, the outcasts of India. Some of them have no home other than this one; others came here because they were abused, mistreated, or their families were too poor to feed them. Here they have found love, safety, protection. Here they have found Him.

             Flies buzz throughout the room, landing on feet and tickling bare necks. Brightly colored silks lay against dark brown skin, highlighting the deep, rich tones of their flesh. Feminine dark hair hides under beautiful shawls and hands wave in adoration. The One they sing of is not welcome in India, just as He was not welcome in their country and as they are forsaken by their’s. But He sees them. He loves them. And He is their King.

             When He came so long ago, his people almost missed the significance of his short years on earth. They were looking for someone else—a mighty, conquering King, someone to come and deliver the followers of Yahweh from the oppression of a powerful and sometimes cruel government. They wanted freedom, not foreign occupation; celebration instead of crucifixions.

             They were a people plagued with exile and slavery, first in the desert and then again in the pagan lands of Babylon and Assyria. Their temple was destroyed, their homes were no more, and the land of their birth had been laid to rubble many times over. They’d experienced the vilest of offenses as those who occupied their lands took captives, raped women, and violated the Holy of Holies. As unclean blood ran down that altar, they wept at the abomination.

             For centuries they waited. Heroes made of flesh came; men who did extraordinary things for the people. Their gaze turned not from the impossibility of God to the limitations of man, expecting a carbon copy of what they had seen—only on a grander

 scale. This Messiah wouldn’t just help them for a short period of time; He would overthrow the mighty Roman Empire and establish His reign. His people would not be enslaved ever again. They would not be exiled, tortured, or imprisoned. They would be free.

             So they waited. And they looked from one hero to the next, never expecting that their Messiah would be born in a manger surrounded by cattle—that his first breath would be polluted with the fragrant aroma of a stable in full capacity. They didn’t think that the first to bow before this King would be lowly shepherds and they most definitely didn’t expect this King to die on a cross barely three decades later. They wanted the messiah of their own image. But He was no such thing.

             Instead of physical beauty, He was unattractive. 

Instead of the widespread acceptance of His people, He was ridiculed, persecuted, and crucified according to their demands. Instead of physically overthrowing the government He spent three days in the grave. After He rose again and ascended into heaven, His people were sure that nothing would change. They were under occupation. They were not free. This man who called himself the Son of God could not have been the Messiah. They missed it. They missed him. And two thousand years later they still seek this Messiah, thinking that He is still to come and will finally do what they expected him to do all along.

             As the parade marches down the street and music fills the air, the tent in the Delhi village will fill with people. They will hear fancy words and grand promises, lofty claims and even entreaties for their vote. The candidates know what they want to hear. The people want to be free—to be happy. They are tired of this difficult life. They want a messiah to help them from the cruelty of survival. They want a form of salvation that man cannot give.

             Just kilometers down the road, a young orphan bows her head and folds her hands, squeezing her eyes shut. The drum echoes from far away, barely entering the room before being silenced by the whir of the fan. She stands and lifts her voice, proclaiming her belief in the Son of God and her love for Him. She thanks Him for what He has done. For today is the celebration of His death and resurrection, the cornerstone for her belief.

             Once again, the outcasts, the lowliest of society, have found Him.

 

 

 

 

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one form whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

 

Isaiah 53: 2b-6

 

Monday, April 20, 2009

WE HAVE WATER!!!!

PRAISE GOD!!!

I didn't think it would happen for another week!!!

WOOHOOO!!!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15th


Asha got 9 new kids today!!! Please pray for them. They are so scared!!!! None of them speak Hindi (they all speak another village language) and they are so overwhelmed. So frightened. Please pray for this transition for them.

Also, with some sad news, Maryam's family came to get her. She probably won't come back. I'm really bummed, especially since I was there just yesterday and there was no indication that this would happen. Please pray for her--for her safety and wellbeing. She is so young. Pray that she will remember what she was taught about Christ. It breaks my heart that this little one--or the others that have left--could return to Hinduism. 

Here are some pictures of sweet Mariyam...







Tuesday, April 14, 2009

107 and No Water!!!

So, the fun adventures keep coming... 

Our water pump broke randomly the other day. Some men came to fix it today but said that the problem was actually below ground and would take until at least Friday to fix. This means that we have no running water for washing dishes, washing clothes, flushing toilets, and showers. Have I mentioned that it was 107 degrees here today?

It's one thing to not have water and live in a hut, use squattie potties, and bathe from a bucket regularly. It's another thing entirely to only have a toilet and not have the water to flush it. Western/modern conveniences aside can actually be more burdensome when something like this happens.

We are blessed because there is a house down the street where we can go and shower. And we're gonna talk to our landlord about getting water delivered... with it being this hot, sleeping is pretty much impossible without using the water coolers (which are no where near as cool as ac but are helpful at least). Anywho... oh, btw, here's a fun article....

OH WAIT!! As I'm writing this, they've figured out a way to fill our tank manually, at least for this day. PRAISE GOD!!!! That means I'll get to sleep tonight!

Okay, now for the article...

India Heat Wave Could Last for Weeks
Updated: Monday, April 13, 2009 4:56 PM
Intense heat has spread widely over the Indian Subcontinent during the last few days. At Mumbai, the temperature topped 100 degrees each day on Friday through Sunday. On Monday, central India had hot spots of more than 110 degrees; Akola reached 111 degrees. Persistent high pressure affording widespread hot sun will dominate the weather through the week. Most of the Subcontinent will reach 100 to 110 degrees daily. April is normally very hot. And May is usually even hotter than April in the northern half of the Subcontinent, so the ongoing is not abnormal in and of itself. Still, temperatures have been somewhat above normal and will likely continue to be a few to several degrees above normal through this week. Moreover, odds are likely that this trend will hold until the onset of summer's Monsoon rains usher in marked cooling, as usual.

:0)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter from India!!!

Happy Easter, Friends!!!! He has risen!!!

I'm sorry that it's been so long since I last wrote. So much has been going on that I didn't know how to process or explain it all over email! But I wanted to write on this very HOT Sunday afternoon and wish y'all a wonderful time of celebration. Eish, I love Easter. It's the whole reason for EVERYTHING!!!

Today is Easter and perhaps more than ever, it has such meaning for me. Maybe it's because that though India is very much Asia, it has a definite middle eastern flair in certain areas... it's easy to imagine Christ emerging from the tomb as we drive by camels, donkeys, and horse drawn carts and as we go out on our roof in the cool of the evening! Maybe it's because the name of Jesus cannot be openly proclaimed in India.. and here we are celebrating the greatest act of grace ever give. Maybe it's because here, without all the commercialization of the West, without candy, plastic eggs, and pictures of fluffy bunnies everywhere, we are able to really focus on the meaning of this day. Sitting in the church service, surrounded by Indian Christians who everyday risk their lives to serve him and by precious orphans who are being raised in his name, it was so simple... so beautiful.

There is another girl here with Sixty1. Her name is Jules, and she is awesome!!! She's been going to school in North India for Hindi. She told me that the other day, on Indian National Television, they aired The Passion of the Christ without a commericial break! It went to all of India!!! How incredible!!!!

We all decided to wear saris to church this morning since it was Easter. It was so much fun--the actual outfit was very hot--but we kept joking about how "royal" we felt... while Paru just laughed at us. I'm going to try and upload pics onto my site soon... also there are some pics on my blog. Hope you enjoy them!!!

We're all doing well here... just taking life one day at a time. We had a big blessing earlier this week with MUCH cooler weather--like around 90degrees (i know.. y'all must be laughing, because I heard it actually snowed in Ga this week, which is pretty much unheard of for April in the South). But now the heat is back full force! On the nights that I work out/run, I have to wait until after 6pm because it's just so hot. But that's another story altogether... let's just say that running in India is never boring. :0)

Anywho, hope you are well! Have a great Easter! In the midst of all the hurry and the commercialization of the day, I urge you to remember--and rejoice--over what it's all for!!! Love you!

-Kristen Torres-Toro

P.S... I thought you would enjoy this story: Paru asked Jules and I what Easter was like in America. As we tried to describe it, all the meals, the traditions, etc, we told her of the time with friends and family--and the incredible food! Both of us mentioned green beans in our description of the food we might have in America... and so when we came home for lunch, Paru made a special batch of green beans just for us! This woman of God continues to humble me with her joy and thoughtfulness. I love this friend and am so thankful for this time with her!!

Mariam and I: this picture was a "mistake", but I love it!!Me, Mariam, Wandena, and Jyoti:

3 Indian Princesses: Me, Paru, and Jules

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Happy Palm Sunday!

Hey, Friends!!!


Happy Palm Sunday!!! I didn't even realize that until I got to the orphanage this morning. This time last year I was sitting in an internet cafe in Swaziland watching people riot in the city, hoping the half of my team that was on the other side of Manzini had enough sense not to leave the building they were in. This year, it's sweaty India!!!



The weather turned a corner this week and the heat is most definitely here. It's now to the point where being inside during the day is uncomfortable as well. But we are making the most of it. That's all we can do, really, because we still have about 30 degrees to go... oh, and did i mention, we're just shy of 3 digits (fahrenheit) now? :0) I hear it might get cooler for a few days... that will be nice!! :0)


Here are some pictures I took today at the orphanage.... Enjoy!!

Mariyam..

Sonya...






The three of us....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tricksie...

I've decided to play a game in hopes that my annoyance level will decrease greatly. You see, just about anytime I go anywhere in india, i am searched and told that certain random items are unreasonable. To go on the train, into any mall, many western stores, the movie theaters, etc, you have to check your bags at the door, go through a metal detector, a feel down that almost qualifies as a cavity search, and an inspection of whatever you are bringing into the store with you. since penjabis don't have pockets, some purses are allowed. it really depends on if the security guard is having a good day or not.

i find it so strange that there are so many "rules" here--like you have to sit in assigned seating at a theater, when the country has no idea what traffic laws are. and that security is crappy, even though i have to relinquish my crackers, a book, etc at every turn. Ironically, it seems that the movie theater is stricter than the public transportation system.

The other day, Paru had gum taken out of her mouth because "it wasn't allowed." In a theater.

For this reason, I am playing a new game. It's called "Take Random Items to the Theater and See if They are Confiscated." To this end, I need your help to come up with ideas. The items need to be relatively small and light. but other than that, there is no limit. I shall make a list alongside a posting of "victorious" or "sacked" and various anecdotes as the situations allow.

Basically, I'm doing this bc if I don't, I might scream the next time a female guard gets too friendly. I've reached that stage of culture shock known as frustration.

So far...
-4 grilled cheese crackers: sacked
-Paru and Sajedeh's gum that they were chewing at the time: sacked
-ipod: victorious
-cell phone (without camera, of course): victorious
-chapstick: victorious
-small wallet: suspicious item, but finally allowed through after the guard had practically counted the rupees inside
-train pass: victorious
-wilson's reading book: Bourne Supremacy: almost sacked as Paru held it for him and got a particularly vicious guard. Wilson's guard was scared of him so let it pass.
-camera: don't even think about it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Some more pictures...

I'm trying to learn how to take pictures manually, which is really difficult on my cheap camera. But I really like these two. The first one of is of Travis and Jyoti. The second is of Suman. Please check out the journal entry below this one to read news about her.

Pray for these Kids

Hey, Friends.

One big thing you need to know about the orphanage is that not all the kids are true orphans here. Actually, only two (Jyoti and baby Tabitha) are orphans. The others are here because their families can't take care of them or they have been abandoned, abused, and/or neglected.
Yesterday, the parents of 4 children came to Asha for their kids. Suman and Shivam are brother and sister. Their father was sick and blind, but his recent surgery restored his sight. Maybe he felt that he could take care of them now. Anyway, they are gone now. Please pray for them--for their adjustment and well being. Pray that they won't be abused or neglected; that they will be safe and okay.

Flora and Sweety are gone as well. I love all the children equally, but have spent a lot of time with Sweety this past week. I'm not looking forward to returning to the orphanage tomorrow and not seeing her (or the other three children).

Flora:
Sweety and Suman:






Sweety is the child on the Sixty1 Website header, the one looking in the window.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pictures from Asha

Hey!!!


So, Wilson has this incredible camera and he let me "play" with it today at the orphanage. Here are some of the better pictures:

These are the youngest girls all lined up, waiting for their snack.


Here is Shanu. He is a lot of fun!!!


Jyoti: this girl is a miracle. When she was a baby, she ate dirt that was infected with worms. Last summer, she was hospitalized because she got so sick. But now she is well, running around, laughing, and lighting up the world with her beautiful eyes.

I just like this picture. Wilson's camera is pretty much incredible.


This is the best--they are praying for their food. i LOVE it!!!!





Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Virtual Tour of my Life Here in India...

Welcome to my home in India!!! We don't really have an address, but it's easy to find us. All you have to do is find our village and ask for the foreigners (white people). Just about anyone will know where we live.


This is our street. Our house is on the other side of the tall building that is being constructed on the left.







This is our front door. Welcome!!! Come on in!!! Yes, other than the iron gate, it's "open air." We also have a vent in our ceiling to let in air. All houses have gates and all windows are barred, just as it is in most of the rest of the world.



Our bathrooms are to the right. This is the shower. It's just a room with a drain on the floor. We have to squeegee the floor dry after every shower because of mosquitos. But that's okay, because we also have a very handy electric bug zapper that is quite fun!!!! I tried to take a picture of the bathroom with a toilet (it has a shower in it too, right beside the toilet), but it wouldn't fit in the frame. Most of the time when you go to the bathroom, you leave with wet feet.













This is our living room. Wilson and Travis constructed these "couches". The wood had to be specially purchased. The mattresses are typical Indian mattresses, which means they are as hard as a rock. We have electricity, a generator for when the power goes out 20 million times a day, fans to cool off the room, and most recently, wireless internet. This is a BIG blessing because that means I can stay in much with y'all even more than usual!!!





This is my room. The other girls on the other team are together in a different room, but they put me by myself since I'm gonna be here for 2 months. I'm thankful for it... it gives me a nice, quiet place to have devos, write, and since I'm still jet lagged, sleep. :0) But mostly I'm in the living room with everyone else, enjoying the beauty of community.




This is Putin, Travis' puppy. She's only 3 months old. I cuddled with her in January when she was smaller than my own dog. This german shepherd is going to be BIG!!!! Oh yeah, and that is "Putin," as in, Vladmir Putin, the Russian dictator. But this Putin is a girl. :0)

Here is our kitchen. It's barely big enough for 2 people to stand in a one time. But it's a blessing. Our fridge is in the living room.

Here's the view from our roof. We hang clothes up here to dry. It's also a good place to come up, pray, have bonfires in the winter, and view the rest of the world. I love how this part of the world utilizes the roof... makes me think of those Bible stories depicting them. Or Ray Blackston's A Delirious Summer, but that's another story altogether. :0)

That's it!!!! Here's a picture of Paru and I, which was taken after church today at the orphanage. Paru is a wonderful, funny friend and I'm so thankful for her! She is Wilson's wife and a beautiful person; just a wonderful woman of God. Thanks for reading!!!! Hope you enjoyed this tour of my life!!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

INDIA






Hey, Friends!!!


Just wanted to thank you so much for your prayers and your encouragement. Thank you to everyone who emailed me with the Word of Life, for those who have been praying. I am so thankful for you!!!

So, it's day 2 in India and it's pretty great. I got 10 hours of sleep last night so i'm feeling pretty awake. And thankful. The cell phone thing will be worked out, I know. After some sleep, time with the orphans, and some incredible chicken curry, I'm most definitely not overwhelmed any more--which is a nice feeling!!!
Yesterday we went to Asha and just played with the children. It was so great to see them again! Many of them remembered me, so when i knelt down to say hi, they said, "Kristen Auntie!!" That felt soooo good!!! My little girl, Ragina, was laughing and playing; completely different from how she had been just a few months ago.
The group I'm here with is working on videotaping and photography for Sixty1. One person, Kate, is the friend I brought with me from Ga. She's a professional photographer and is incredible. She's gonna take awesome pictures of the kids that will be used for profiles for support. So be watching the website and such in the next coming months!!!
And speaking of the website, the man who has designed the current website is here with his wife and daughter-in-law. He's also working on video, so that supporters can see the kids in action. Yesterday we pulled out balloons so the kids could play and we could document it all. It was fun!!! I mostly watched bc i could barely keep my eyes open. But it was still fun!!! And I took a few pictures, which are on my picture site: www.photobucket.com/ktsummer. Scroll down to where the albums are, and you can click on "India 2009." I'll update it regularly, hopefully.
That's all for now. Thanks so much for praying!!!! I'll write in a couple days and let you know what all is going down here.
Love you!!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Off to India!!!!


Hey, Friends!!!!!

How are you?

So, today is epic because it's 80 degrees in March in Ga. The trees are starting to bud, tiny blossoms that surely will have a lovely dead fish smell sometime soon. The first flowers are already here and that means that pollen season is well on its way. Soon our world will be green again! Hooray!!!

Despite the fact that I hate winter, it's been good to be back. Especially with all the places I went to last year... I didn't really have a winter 2007/2008. My mind was really confused. But I'm so glad it's over because I have missed the sun!!!!

And now that it's here, I'm leaving!!! This afternoon I'm getting on a plane and am off to India for two months!!! WOOHOOOO!!!! I'm ready. I don't know if I've ever felt this "ready" for a trip before. Two months is the longest I've gone anywhere in almost a year, so this is exciting and big for me. Packing hasn't been too fun, but I think everything has found a place :0)

When I arrive, there will be a small team of 5 that I will be working with. Some of them have been there before with Sixty1 and AIM, some are new. But they will be gone by on March 24, and then it'll be ministry as I've never done--or lived--it before! I'm very excited about whatever God has in store... and have no clue what that will be! This will definitely be a faith building experience! I'm just gonna take it day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Please be praying for me--for health, safety, rest, solid ministry, wisdom, etc. Also, for support. It's almost there, but not completely yet. I don't know exactly how much I need yet, but should get the amount via email in the next few days. As soon as I know something, I'll let you know. Thank you so much for your generosity and your support. It means so much!!!!

I guess I better go; there's a lot of stuff to do before I leave this afternoon. I'll see y'all in May! Have a great day! Love ya!


-Kristen Torres-Toro

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

For those Who Were Asking...

Hey, Friends!!!

I just got this information, so I wanted to post it as soon as possible. As of right now, I've raised a total of $1540 for India. This means that I still need almost $1300. Any donations can be sent to Sixty1, P.O. Box 2046, Boone, NC 28607. Please make all checks out to Sixty1 and put "Kristen Torres-Toro" in the memo line.

THANK YOU SO MUCH--for your prayers, your encouragement, and your support. It means so much. . .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fountain of Life

So, yeah, this blog isn't very old but I decided to give it a little facelift. I don't know how many people actually read this, but every time I got on and looked at it, the empty spaces on the edge of the screen annoyed me. All afternoon, I've played with this combination and that, this picture and that font, this background and that layout. The challenge was to keep it something that would look like me, something that would be "summer-y", something bright, eye catching, and most of all, beautiful. This is the result.

And just to add humor to the situation, I realized tonight that these colors, though definitely matching all of those characteristics above, also match one more thing: Africa. These are the colors of Africa--brown and green and blue. And of course, the picture itself. The one I've chosen for right now is of Victoria Falls, a place that I dream of seeing in person one day. It might be in the top five on my list... actually, scratch that... the top 2. I think it would be the only place in the world I would consider bungee jumping. :0)

It's so funny. I know that God will continue to send me all over the world, not because of my own wunderlust but because of the ministry He has called me to--to walk as an evangelist and to be a minister of healing as described in Isaiah 61. People all over the world need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ; they need to experience healing that only the Holy Spirit can give. I welcome that. And I am so incredibly excited about India. But I still can't wait for the day that He sends me back to Africa.

For right now, I will be faithful in this... in this moment... and trust that He will send me back to Africa one day. That is not for now. I WILL NOT "miss" India because I am longing for another land. While I am there, I will be all there.

As of right now, I have no clue where I stand as far as support for India. I'll let you know when I find out something, which should be sometime soon. Thank you so much to all of you who are praying for me, encouraging me, and even sending in financial support. It means everything. For right now, I just wanted to explain why this blog looks so different and post a verse that I found last week. It seems kind of appropriate, given the gorgeous picture above...

"For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light, we see light."
Psalm 36:9
Behold that fountain...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Something to Pray About

Hi, Friends--

Due to circumstances beyond my ability to control, the flight I purchased for India (which I have purchased--Hooray!) is more than the original flight I found. Because of this incredibly disappointing event, I need to raise a total of $2835 by March 10, 2009 instead of the original estimate.

Please pray with me in this, as this new event is making God's providence that much more great to me. He's good at doing this--a big challenge in a small amount of time. I, however, still get nervous when things get close to the wire.

But I choose to trust him.

I'm going to India! Yebo!

Financial support can be sent to Sixty1, P.O. Box 2046, Boone, North Carolina, 28607. You can make the checks out to Sixty1, but please put my name in the "memo" line so they know who it goes to. Their address is also available on their site, Sixty1.org.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Return to India!!!


Yebo!!!!




Hey, friends! I'm so excited!!! I'm going back to India!!




The opportunity has arisen for me to return, this time for 2 months in late Spring, March 10-May 8, 2009. I'll be staying in the same place and going to most of the same ministries that I went to last month. And I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe that another chance to go has come up so quickly! This is all God!




If you would like to support me financially, I would definitely appreciate it!!! I need around $2500 total. It can be sent to Sixty1, P.O. Box 2046, Boone, North Carolina, 28607. You can make the checks out to Sixty1, but please put my name in the "memo" line so they know who it goes to. Their address is also available on their site, Sixty1.org.




Also, please be praying for me again!!!! I cannot go without y'all behind and beside me! Thank you so much for your ministry to me as I go and love on those in India! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Link to Pictures from India


Hey, Friends!!!!

I'm home and am trying just to adjust from jet lag. My body is taking it kind of hard, like it usually does. Not fun. :0) But inbetween naps I was able to upload my pictures onto my pic site, so I wanted to go ahead and post this. I hope you enjoy them! Let me know if you want to hear stories behind particular ones.
This little girl is Ragina, from Asha House. It was taken my last day there, and I can't believe how beautiful it is. Her eyes speak far beyond what my simple camera was able to capture. By the way, this was after 2 weeks of seeing nothing but sorrow covering her features. I'd arrive at Asha, sweep her into my arms, and hold her until it was time to go.
But look... is that a smile on her face?
That afternoon, she smiled at me. And she sang me a song in her sweet, little girl voice. A song in Hindi, so soft that I could barely hear it. But she sang it. And I didn't see the sorrow after that.
Oh, I almost forgot. Here's the link: www.photobucket.com/ktsummer

Thursday, January 8, 2009

India, a colorful blur---


Namaste!!!

How are you?

I hope you are well and that your days are full of joy. For me, the trip is going fast... too fast.... Right now, it's thursday morning (by the time you get this it will be thursday night here) and I leave on Saturday! NOOO!!! Oh well... I'm thankful for this time and can't wait to come back, whenever that might be!!!!

Since I last wrote, we've had some very full days. Here's a short rundown of what the last week or so has been like....

On Friday, we went to Asha Mission, another orphanage. I got to spend time with Grace, Saji Abraham's wife, (they run the orphanange), who just made me smile with her beautiful spirit. It was great to see a different ministry because I had never been there before.

Saturday was a "free" day for us... we went to Connaught Place, a popular market for tourist shopping and then to Hi Murchee (my favorite restaurant), for dinner. It was the birthday of a girl on the other team. We all dressed up in beautiful Indian clothing and had so much fun!!!

Sunday, we went to church at Asha House and spent the day with the precious children.

Monday, we spent all day at Asha House again.... it was the lice party! And yes, that's exactly what it sounds like! I washed my hair in the stuff after and dry cleaned the clothes I was wearing, so hopefully I didn't get them in the process! I felt so bad for the poor children, because it was so cold and the water was as well. But they didn't complain or run away. And unfortunately, they have it again. But at least we were able to tame the problem and also spend time just loving on them. That night, we went to see a movie! My group saw Australia, which we determined was a Hollywood-bollywood movie... I just thought it was hilarious to be watching a movie about cows (and the sale of cows for food) in India!!!

Tuesday, we went to a different leper colony, the one we went to last year.

Yesterday, we went back to Asha House (oh, Asha means "hope," by the way) and played with the little ones in the morning. When they went in for lunch, we left and went to Emmanuel, where I got to see my girls, Neha and Bavita!!!!! They are so tall and beautiful! Both of them are 12 years old now, so they are some of the oldest girls in the orphanage and are leaders there. It was great to spend a few hours with them... they said they recognized me because of my sunglasses. :0) Anywho, we took a lot of pictures, read some of the B, played a lot, and Neha even danced... turns out it's her favorite thing to do.

Today, we are going to Asha House for a bit and then back to Tikeri Border, the first leper colony we went to. All of us are excited because we are trying to print pictures of our last visit so our friends can have them... and this time I'm bringing nail polish. Last time they asked for it and I didn't have any with me, so yeah... we're gonna have a "beauty" day! I LOVE it! So excited!!!

Tomorrow, we'll go back to Asha so the rest of my team can say goodbye. They leave really late that night. Around the same time, a new team comes in. I'll stick around until the next afternoon...

Okay, gotta go. Sorry this was fast!!!! Just wanted to say hi and let you know what life has looked like the last few days! Have a great day! love ya!!!

-K

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Face of a Beggar

What is it about beggars that make us so uncomfortable?

It doesn't matter what country; it's hard to see. Maybe it's the blatant suffering, the violent poverty. Maybe it's the reminder of how much we have, that the ipods in our bags cost enough to feed an entire family for years. Or is it the intimate connection of humanity, that there is a child, a mother, a father, who is in pain? And what if we can't do anything about it?

In India, rich men brush past beggar children without even looking at them. But it isn't all their fault. Many children are "rented" or "pimped," used to get money. They dirty their faces, snarl their hair, and clothe their bodies in rags. Then they press close to vehicles, pound on windows, grab passersby, and point to their mouths. "Please," their eyes ask. "Please." And they don't let go. But when given money, it's immediately returned to their owners, not their families.

Some beggars simply beg because they know they can get more money begging than working. And they know the white people won't hit them the way Indians do, meaning they will be extra persistent. A woman called my friend and I "moneyboxes" the other day... something I still can't understand. Like that would make me consider giving money when simple compassion wouldn't?

Many Indians give out of guilt. Or just to appease, because if they give a coin, they will be left alone. But they don't look in the eyes. They don't see a person. They just see another hash mark on their account for "good."

One morning, my team went to a market to look at heaters. It's cold here, and the marble floors make midnight bathroom runs almost painful. As we left our vehicle, two girls latched on to us, begging. Kim ran her hands through their hair and asked their names, teasing them. We couldn't give them anything. But even our small affection caught the attention of a well dressed man. He came over and scolded Kim, saying that she should ignore the children, that they are a disgrace to India, which is so beautiful and full of life. He said he wanted us to go back to America and tell people of this amazing country, not of the beggars and the children. That there is so much more to India than them.

But these children are India. And they are "us." And J saw them. How can we not, when he sees us?

That evening, we drove back through the same market. At the intersection, there was an old man. He had dark, almost black, skin and and a raggedy beard. He walked with a cane and beneath his rags, (which were too short and thin for any warmth), his legs were thin. Too thin.

My heart broke. As he came to my window, I looked into his eyes, this hungry man. Man, not beggar. There were some crackers in my purse, so I opened the window and passed them through. He looked at me and asked for money, which I could not give. And then we drove away.

I can't forget his face. I can't forget his poverty, his lack of dignity. When we look in the eyes of a beggar, it changes us forever. Maybe that's why most people won't look.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

At the Foot of the Cross


After over an hour of travel, breakneck speed and screeching stops, dodging motorcycles, pedestrians, and other vehicles, we turn onto a crowded Delhi slum. Population: thousands. Crowded, tiny buildings, made of brick and mud, hold entire families in their single rooms. The streets are tiny, nothing but packed mud and alleys barely big enough for a child. Sewage runs in the streets, trash litters the ground, and everywhere, there are people. The air is cramped, cold despite the close setting; dismal.

In the middle of a street, mats line the ground. Barefoot, dirty children crowd onto its "clean" surface, singing and shouting in response to the man that stands before them. The men stand in the back, the women to the side, dressed in rich colors. This is the chu---, because they are behind on rent for the building they used to meet in. Now, they meet on the street.

Dirty, young faces look up at me. Chubby cheeks and rounded eyes, some young ones are scared of the unfamiliar pale skin of foreigners. They widen their kohl-lined eyes and look away, a cry on their lips. Others bounce, excited. They know the "white people" love to sing and play.

As the parents look on, we lead them in singing songs of the Son of God, the One who came and died for them. We clap our hands and shout, not afraid to proclaim the name of the one who saved. The songs end and the P---- asks for someone to speak. Hundreds of eyes, all around me, look in my direction. As far as my voice can carry, people are listening. And then, the words of life come forth and He is proclaimed in a land where He is not welcomed.

There, in the dirty slums of India, there, at the foot of the Cross.

The Himalayas or This?


Hey, Friends!!!

Happy New Year from India!!!

So, I've been here for a few days and finally feel more accustomed to the time change. Now that I'm not a walking zombie, I basically spend my days laughing and completely captivated by the world around me.

India has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Physically, Delhi is dirty, polluted, and crowded, full of animals and people. It has a very interesting smell--sulfur mixed with spices--that I can only imagine explands as the heat comes ands trash and b.o. to that. But, the colors! This place is a feast for the senses. The colors the women wear, the decorations on the vehicles and the adornments on the buildings are stunning. As someone who is entranced by color, India is paradise, albeit quite a polluted one. :0)

These last few days have been so much fun. We've spent time at Asha House, playing with the children and holding them. They are so sweet, even to each other. After my experience in the DR, it's wonderful to see!

Monday night, I got to help Paru make chicken curry. Oh my word, it was so good! And to my American taste buds, it was HOT! But as we were making it, she told me that for us, she was only using half a scoop of some "fire" spice.... she uses 2.5 scoops when it's her and her husband! Looks like I have something to aspire too! Have I mentioned that I LOVE Indian food? :0) YUM!

On Tuesday, we went to a leper colony that I have never been to before. It was more open and cleaner than the others I've visited in the past, with fewer residents. Those with the disease weren't as far along as those in the ther colonies. But what sets this colony apart is how open and welcoming the people are to us. They love having relationships with us! It was so cool to go and see the fruit of others' months of ministry.

We spent the entire day with them, cooking lunch that was still cooking (and still had hours to go) by the time we left at 4:30pm. That's India for you. Please go to my blog (ktsummer.blogspot.com) and read the story about that-- "A Feast Fit for a King." But the story I will tell here is about a woman named Patima.

Patima is elderly, and so far she only has leprosy in her left hand, although she still has all fo her fingers. When I first saw her, she was sitting on the edge of the Hindu temple, a thick gray blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She looked at me, pointed up, nodded, and pointed to her heart with a sincere expression in her eyes. When you don't share a common languge, that is the kind of conversation you only dream about having in India. She believes! Later, she let me pr-- for her and her hand. It was incredibly progound to hold her hand in mine and see the beauty that she doesn't know is there.

On the property of this colony is a Hindu temple and a separate ch----. My friend, Kim, told me that in the past, there were Hindu gods mixed in with J in the ch----. But when she went into the chu--- this time, only a picture of J remained. That is a HUGE step! Praise Him!!

On Wednesday we drove out to the slums to visit a pas--- of an underground chu---. It was the same place we visited 2 years ago when I got to meet my Hindi mother, Raka. We had such a strong connection after only a few hours that I knew I would never forget her. Or vice versa. Even though she didn't speak English and I speak no Hindi, we were able to communicate. I still remember her waiting for us to drive away, pointing to heaven, and making the "pr-----" motion with her hands. She called me "Daughter." That was 2 years ago.

The first thing I saw as I walked through the slums was a crowd of children sitting in a giant square, on mats that had been laid in the mud road. Houses pressed on every side; sewage ran in the streets. Adults stood on the outskirts, wtching the pa---- speak. And then, there was a glimpse of a face.... (what's that line in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? "A dream of a dream?") Familiar, yet from a long time ago. I called her name, said the Hindi word for "Mother," and she smiled. It was the coolest thing, something I never expected. And she did remember me!

Our team put on a small program for the kids, singing songs and then I shared the gospel. That was a last minute request--that someone speak to the children--and I hope the L spoke through me! It was so cool to proclaim the name of J in the slums of India, a place where persecution has happened in the past... as place where I've seen tension bc of J here.

After, we got to pr-- for children who were sick. The girl I pr---- for ended up being Raka's daughter. Then we were invited into their small home, where we got to sit on the floor and hear her testimony. Raka came to C while she was sick in the hospital 4 years go. A M came, gave her the Word, and led her to C. She then led her husband to C. Y'all, this woman just glows! And if she hadn't been sick, she would have been at work (she works for World Vision). I wouldn't have seen her. How's that for timing!

When we left, it was the same. She pointed at her children and pointed at me, saying "sister." And then she pointed to heaven and nodded. I made the pr----- symbol with my hands and she smiled.

We stopped at McDonalds on the way home, then drove through the crowded streets of Delhi. After dinner (indians eat late), we went to a neighbor's house for New Year's Eve. It was a lot of fun, though. many people there spoke excellent English and we had a great conversation.

We left well before midnight, admist laughter. Indians know how to have fun! They had to leave becuse they were going to a dance party. We just wanted to go bed. But as I went to bed, I was thinking.... Originally, part of the plan was for the five of us to travel north to the Himalayas. It would have been a time of ministry, but also of play, to enjoy the beauty of the country away from the city and see a different way of life in India. But it turned out the only time we could have gone would have been Mon-Wed of this week. Because of the holiday, it was 2x as expensive and plans just fell through. I was a bit disappointed but also excited at more time at these ministry sites, time to build relationships. If we'd gone to the Himalayas, none of this would have happened. Raka wouldn't have been at the slums because she would have been well and at work. We would have missed the NYEve party. And the leper colony would have been different as well.

It was so worth it. I wouldn't have traded this for anything, not even the Himalayas. :0)

I hope everyone is doing well and had a great new year's! It's a lot colder here now and our tiny house--1 toilet, one shower--will soon hve 20 ppl in it! I guess all that African training will come in handy! Please pr-- that no one will get "delhi belly,' bc that would make bathroom logistics a nightmare!!!!

Love ya! Have a great day!

-K