Welcome to My Story Monday! Mondays are the day I invite you in and turn the camera on my life so you can see some of my family’s story! I have done it randomly before in THESE POSTS, but now I will be writing weekly on Mondays.
As I told you I am starting this series by writing about India. I think it is SO fitting as a small team just arrived home from another trip to Chillakalu, they were there conducting a discovery and listening trip. They are hoping to listen and get an idea of how we can do our trips better and have more of a continuing presence even when teams are not in country. Hoping to create lasting care, and just in general help in the best way not just OUR way:-)
Today I want to share a little about our experience in country, but aside from our clinics, I will cover the clinics next week and TRUST me they deserve their own post! As I stated before we arrived by bus to the Children’s home in Chillakalu which would serve as our home, and command center while we were in country. The home houses 100+ boys and girls who needed homes, food, and love when they arrived. Pastor Prabhudas and Ruth have brought them into their home, fed, clothed them and most importantly LOVED them and taught them about a God who loves them:-) Also, as I said before, we arrived in the wee, still dark hours of the night, and were greeted by the older boys who live in the home. It’s something that is impossible to explain, but each one came up to us and asked us our name and wanted to tell us their name. And Tom told me I should try to remember their name. I had no idea why until we emerged from our rooms after a few hours of sleep and were greeted by the same boys who now greeted me and said, “Good Morning Sister, what’s my name?” I wish I could have learned each boys name, each girls name, but most of the names were hard for me to pronounce and I learned only a few. But in this country, being known was important, as many of the people we would meet were the ones people look past, or avert their eyes, definitely not the ones who know love.
We awoke to an amazing breakfast, and some of the team who had been here already got right into games and fun with the kids who they had seen only 18 months before. It was sweet to watch. As we had breakfast we sat and got debriefed a little on what our days here would look like and what we would be doing. We had a little more cultural training, and then we headed on a tour of the New Hope school and the village of Chillakalu.
Education in India is not free. Many families make decisions regarding educating their kids like most household decisions, only in a lot of places, the decisions to feed and house their families outweigh the ability to send the kids to school. Still many families have no ability to make any decisions, they are simply surviving each day, so school would be the last. Many children are found in the streets during the day. SO New Hope has a primary school, where the students are sponsored by donors all over the world, just like the kids in their children home are sponsored too. It was crazy to me the small (to us) amount it takes to educate and supply a student with materials for a whole year, and so sad that many families couldn’t afford to pay that amount when we might spend more on coffee, or eating out in a week or a month without even blinking an eye.
Two of the ladies from our team had spent 6 months here a year or so ago teaching in this school, SO they were very LOVED by the kids, and the kids sang for us and were eager to share with us, and of course learn our name and tell us theirs:-)
The school is located above the church that Pastor Prabhudas and Ruth minister through. And it is right down a dirt road from their home, the children’s home. Along that road we saw tent “cities” on the church’s empty lot, and many kids and adults came out to greet us on the way. I was VERY popular with my camera:-) EVERYONE wanted a picture, and then they wanted to see it. Thank goodness for digital cameras! The trip down the road was eyeopening to say the least. My heart was opened and love for the people in this country was overflowing out of it. I wanted to capture each child in a hug and let them know they are loved, and greet the parents and adults with a smile and assure them, I saw them, and they are loved. It’s an interesting place to be when you realize that the most desired thing on a mission trip is not the need we see needing to be “fixed” but for us to just be, to look, listen and care. It’s so far out of our “doer”, “go help”, “bring them what they need, what we have that they don’t” American attitude.
This group grew and grew, as more little one’s realized I was there AND that I had a camera!
Once back on the grounds of the Children’s Home, we got a short tour, saw the new girl’s dormitory (pictured below) and then met to get trained and briefed on our clinic days. We arrived not knowing what exactly we would be doing on clinic days, and there was some equipment we needed to be trained on. I will talk more about that next week:-) We also got to meet some of the sweet sweet girls that live in the home. I knew before I stepped foot on India’s soil I would absolutely LOVE the little girls. And I was right. They are so beautiful, so kind, and just want to spend time with you! So we did that as much as we could. Especially the women on our team whose husband’s had stayed home with kids, or who were single. They stayed in the girls dormitory and treated the girls to girly things like nail polish, and in return some of the older girls treated our ladies to henna:-)
In the afternoon (I think it was the same day, it seemed never ending due to us arriving and sleeping only a couple hours before hitting the road running!) We (the women, some interpreters, +Tom because I asked him to come with me) were driven into a nearby “city” to shop for Sari fabric, and look around. The Sari’s were for church on Sunday. The city is not like the cities I have been to, it is much smaller and India is just so different than America. It has a beauty that is it’s own. BUT it is certainly a new experience to see white cows roam the road freely, and rickshaws swerve in and out of the CRAZY driving, women carry baskets or bowls on their heads down a main street. The colors are amazing here, between the clothes, the fabrics, the flags, and the food it is SO colorful:-) Pops of color amongst the gray of the dirt and smog.
Again we were very popular, being that we were obviously NOT natives, and with a few blonde haired ladies and cameras, people literally stopped outside the stores we were in, gathered and stared. And if I had my camera to my face, people would stop and pose with a smile, or even tell me their story. The little boy was getting a birthday cake:-) The girls were students at university.
I caught this of the sun while we were waiting for everyone to pick their fabrics out:-) I love how the starburst adds a contrast to the “city” image.
The sunrise and sunset in Chillakalu are forever engraved on my memory. Each morning we would awake, grab some chai or “coffee” (Coffee was treated much like the chai here, so it was coffee with A LOT of sugar and water buffalo milk, which is not how we drink our coffee, so I became a chai drinker:-)) and head up to the rooftop to catch the sunrise and read your bibles. A rooftop in India is such an amazing way to start your morning, you feel a little bit like you are that much closer to sitting face to face with God:-) It was one of my most treasured memories of the trip, getting up with my husband to experience all that was laid out for us in that day, and to collapse tired at night, but to go to bed with anticipation of the next days sunrise and the experience that awaits us!
I could see why Tom came home from India talking of his rooftop experience and wishing for that here.
We had amazing weather when we were there, it was a cold front for the area, but for us that meant mornings were mid to low sixties, and highs were 80’s and thankfully humidity was low as well! Sunday was church day, the ladies of the home helped us all get into the saris that we had bought and had tailored, and after a brief photo session we headed out to church. Church in India is an all day affair, we attended a couple of hours of it. It was a beautiful experience to worship together with our “family” in Christ, even when we don’t understand the language or the customs.
Every moment is a photo op:-) The boys wanted a picture with Tom, he is well loved there, just like here;-) And I believe SOME of his popularity has to do with his pale pale skin:-) I treasure this image. These boys are the sweetest, and super helpful!
On our last morning there, I was not feeling well and couldn’t sleep, so I got up early and played with my camera a bit:-) I love the streaks of light the rickshaws left behind in the early morning light!
Well that is just a tiny snippet of our in country experience, I hope you are enjoying the series. Remember YOU all are the reason I was able to go on this life changing trip, and I am forever grateful!
Jump ahead to the rest of our trip!
Like MY STORY and want me to tell yours? Do you need new family images to tell that story on your walls, or in a book on your coffee table? Are you looking at your kids and wondering, where the time goes, and how they got so big? Do you want to celebrate who THEY are RIGHT now? I would love to tell YOUR FAMILY’S story, and CAPTURE YOUR LIFE! Send me an EMAIL, and we will grab a coffee and get to know each other!