Wednesday, September 5, 2007

choto chobi, or small pictures

Important matters of business first.

Who wants to adopt nine Indian children?

'Cause I know of nine kids who are pretty special. :) I loved school today. Today is the 10th anniversary of Mother Teresa's death, hence, a holiday of sorts, and all the children were dressed up. Raju has completely stolen my heart away. You know those long tunic tops that Indian men sometimes wear? Maybe you do, maybe you can't picture it at all. That's okay. Anyway, Raju was wearing a white one with white pants, and when he asked me to pick him up and hold him, my heart was his. I think the Mother Teresa homes have a policy that volunteers can't take pictures until their last day, so I can't show you what Raju looks like. But folks, he's cute. We colored an extra lot today, since we weren't really having true school. Yay, holidays. Flowers (phul) and cars (gari) are in high demand on the Sishu Bavan coloring market.

Another person I wish you could meet is Uncle Das. Uncle is my house-dad, and he is one of the funniest men I have ever met. He's a tiny man, and he's 58, although he looks older. He has glasses, and he chews tobacco, which he calls his medicine. "Oh Lah-rah, Seelah, this is my medicine," he tells us as he taps it out of the little blue container. We're onto him. This morning he walked me to the main road to catch the bus. Actually, the last six mornings he has walked me to the main road to catch the bus. I wonder if he's afraid I'll take the wrong bus if I go alone. Sometimes, though, this feeling of being well taken care of and protected is a nice one. Uncle hails the bus, shouts something to the driver in Bengali, and fifteen minutes later, I am dropped off safe and sound at Sishu Bavan.

One thing you could pray for. I'm a little bit stumped on how to find quiet time here. As I process many things and ask just as many questions, I would love to have a quiet place to retreat to. So far, I haven't stumbled upon many places that meet that description. How to know Jesus better when I don't have a space to pour out my heart to Him? I know that He will provide for this. I will probably have to get a little creative. Sheila and I tried to find a place called the "American Centre" yesterday, where for ten rupees and passport in hand, one can go and sit in an A/C library-ish setting. In receiving directions, we were told to look for the "big white building that has men with guns out front." Hmm. We passed a few buildings that looked promising, but in the end, no American Centre. We think it's a phantom. Too good to be true. But, back to meeting with God. I read an article by a WMF staffer the other day, and she was writing of this same dilemma in her big Brazilian city. She pointed out that in Psalm 42, David doesn't say, "Where can I go and meet with my God?" but "When." Maybe, she said, knowing God better is not so much a matter of place, but of time. There's a prayer stuck in-between the pages of my Bible that a very dear friend once gave me, and when I read the words on this tiny piece of orange paper, I am reminded to pray that I will find God. In unexpected places. All throughout the day.
Let me seek Your face always and with ardor...
Let me remember You
Let me understand You
Let me love You.
Increase these things in me until you refashion me entirely.
-St. Augustine

On a less important topic: I miss coffee so greatly. Indian coffee is, for the large part, only instant. With a lot of milk and sugar added. In very tiny cups. A bit traumatic for a girl who likes strong, black coffee in BIG mugs. But although the coffee situation is disappointing, the street food situation is amazing. I can eat lunch for about 25 cents.

We're staring to interact more with the women who work at the sewing business. Yesterday I spent four hours there, asking a few timid questions with my primitive Bangla collection, watching the women sew, and trying my hand at a few stitches. The business is such a place of hope! I love that! I love that these women aren't trapped in the sex trade anymore. I love it that they get to work in a safe place, get to laugh, get to eat lunch together, get to take a small nap after lunch, get to make beautiful blankets out of old saris. The WMF staff here talks a lot about how the blankets are an image of the women's lives. Old and discarded things that are being made new and lovely. As we learn more Bangla, we'll gradually spend more time with these women and less time at the Mother Teresa homes. We'll also get to start visiting the red-light district later in the month.

Dekha hobe, my friends. (Th literal translation of dekha hobe is "seeing will happen." They don't really say "good-bye" in Kolkata. Just promises to meet again soon.)


  1. I definitely chuckled at your description of Uncle Das. He sounds like Kristen's house-dad, Arturo (only without the tobacco): always making sure you're taken care of.

    I understand your coffee dilemma, friend. I'm suffering a little as well. I wouldn't say I'm as addicted as yourself, but I've definitely missed my morning coffee. I can get some at the school, but it costs 8 pesos per cup, and that's 1/300th of my bi-weekly salary. Ok, I'm a cheapskate, I admit it.

    After spending a month in Mexico, I've come to the conclusion that American Christians are much more attached to their "quiet time" than Christians in other cultures. Although I'm generally able to have my private space/time, I've noticed that collective space/time is far more important to the Mexican Christians I know. That's cultural differences for you, I guess. The Lord's your Shepherd, friend: He'll guide you to those green pastures and quiet waters.


  2. Instant Coffee will grow on you. I felt the same way in Sierra Leone! Thanks for so faithfully posting, I love reading your thoughts