I am back, and you are still beautiful in many places and still broken in so many more.
So I have been in Kolkata now for five days now. I was walking the crowded street yesterday and Waterdeep's song "Everyone's Beautiful" was the soundtrack in my mind. I don't know if any of you are Waterdeep fans, but that song...I love it. I can't remember all of it, but the chorus is the important part: "Still they were beautiful, everyone's beautiful, all of us falling on hands and knees in need of You."
It gets me that there are millions of people in Kolkata, and yet God knows each person's name and story. That is not a profound thought, but I when I walk these streets and look into eyes, it becomes incredible. That man. The lady with the pink sari and a long black braid. The boy who sleeps under a tarp next to a building. The older gentleman who stopped me last night as I bought corn from a street vendor. "You are coming from America, yes?"
So where to begin? We're living with Beth, Kristin, and Sarah. These women are brave and compassionate and funny. They are all single, and Kolkata is not an easy place to be a single white woman. They live in Kolkata because they love the women trapped in the sex trade. They love freedom. They love Jesus, and Jesus is here with them. Their flat is on the fourth story, and they're graciously hosting our team until we move in with our families next week. From next Monday on, we'll be paired off to live with different host families for the rest of the time. We started volunteering at Mother Teresa's homes today. My roommate, Sheila, and I are working at Shishnu Bavan, a home for children. When we registered, they asked us if we wanted to teach. We said sure, thinking there would surely be a real teacher in the room already. Nope. Turns out we get to be in charge of a roomful of children who speak mostly Bengali and a few pieces of English. :) I'm actually really excited. The room is well stocked with supplies and curriculum, so we can take it wherever we want to. From my three-hour understanding thus far, we're gonna sing a lot of songs with motions, learn the alphabet, dabble in some colors and shapes and numbers, and color. We're gonna color a lot. :) The kids are beautiful. So, so precious. I wish I knew Bengali, and I wish I knew their stories--where they've come from and why they are at Shishnu Bavan.
We're trying to learn Bengali. Yesterday we visited the sewing business where the women work who have come out of the sex trade. Sitting with people but having no words is always incredibly frustrating. It made me want to learn the language as fast as I can. I squatted next to a patient and warm woman who taught me the words for needle and thread as I pointed. I'm not sure if those are really going to be helpful on the street, but it's a start. :)
Thanks for all your prayers. Continue to pray. Pray for a softness of heart. India threatens to make my heart hard. Because I meet a beggar, or because I pass twenty crude men who all turn and stare and perhaps comment, or because I see poverty on every corner. Sometimes my heart just wants to close up with the pressure of it all. Pray that Jesus will continue to be the hope in the midst of all this, and that I will believe more fervantly in Him and the redemption He brings than in anything else around me.
Someday this will all be made right. He makes all things beautiful. I've got to keep believing.
thanks for reading, and i love you all...