Tuesday, August 21, 2007

back in india

Oh India.

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...


  1. Lara, I'm thrilled to be your first comment maker! But I'm even more thrilled that you're in Kolkata and experiencing life that's somewhat familiar and yet totally foreign. What a place to see and live the Gospel.

    Language learning is rough, especially since it's not like you studied Bengali in high school (like I did Spanish). As my Mexican friends tell me, "Poco a poco!"

    Praying for you, friend!


  2. I enjoyed reading your post. We are praying for you.

    - Jennifer (Credille) Kaylor

  3. oh lara i love you! and i'm so excited for you and the people of kolkata. especially them, really.

    i know the Lord is using your wonderfully sweet personality to show them His love-you are such a blessing to them.
    when i read about your "sewing circle" and your immediate efforts to learn bengali i thought-yes, they love her, and Jesus has set her ablaze. what a combo for the effective spread of the Gospel!

    love and prayers!


  4. ps i was so VERY glad that you took the time to stop by-twice-last week! i can't tell you how good it was for my heart to hug you before you left. you are a dear!

  5. Hi Love.

    It was so good to hear your voice even if it was through type. You are so in my thoughts! Lyn read your e-mail at church and there are many praying for you. I love and miss you so much. I know that Jesus is shining His love through you.

  6. Lara, This is a test to see if I know how to blog. I've never done any blogging before. It may be the only time one might be allowed to be proud. Hey, don't blow my cover on the ID thing. You'll figure out who this is soon enough. Let's just keep it between us as to my identity. At any rate, I too am praying for you. I find what you're doing to be really inspiring. I'll stop there for now.

  7. Lara, I almost felt like I was there with you while reading your post. Your picture is affixed to our refrigerator and we are praying for you!

  8. Oh Lara! Thanks for your post! It's probably the best way for you to communicate right now since your time is limited. Wow...you get to be a teacher! Cool:)
    Jen left today...it was harder than I thought to say goodbye. I thought I'd just say "Bye Monkey Lips" and I'd be great...but not so much. Anyway...loving you and praying for you! Thanks for being so specific!