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---


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!!!


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!