So, I hurt myself while playing a mean game of freeze tag. There was a slight dip in the ground and that was enough for my weak ankle to fold in and take me down. Ice Packs are cold, compressions are alright, sitting for hours is not my idea of how I wanted to spend time in Bangalore. Limping and not putting my ankle in a perpendicular angle is how it went and now it’s even more swollen in the Kolkata humidity and the bruising is showing quite well. At least we had down time when it first happend so I could let it R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress it, and elevate it… thanks Kels)
A group of 6 of us arived Thursday morning after a 2 day trek on a train. I enjoyed seeing unpolluted blue sky and green fields as we spent many hours talking, reading, napping, eating, snacking, and just hanging out on our two benches. I slept on the top bunk out of three on each side. It was like the muppets in one of their movies where they all sleep in stackable lockers or something. It was homey? Maaaaybe.
We stopped in Chennai and went to Sparkey’s to eat during our 5 hour “layover”. This restaraunt was started by YWAM, serves great internal/American/Mexican/Italian food, has almost a Harvey Hinkelmeyers collective decoration feel, and customers are in the middle to upper class. Oh- and it has airconditioning (if only you knew how lucky you were back in your AC houses).
I had a chimichanga, which I had been craving, and sweet tea. We shared an Apple Cobbler slice with ice cream and it was beautiful on our taste buds. We felt slightly guilty for going to a nice, expensive, good American food serving place, but one time in a month of being here is fine with me 🙂
After another night on the train, we arived in Bangalore and took a taxi/van to a children’s home slightly out of the busy part of town. T-Ma, the lady in charge, started it 10 years ago after seeing a need and a vision. I’m guessing she was about 26/27 when she took the first kid in. Right now, there are over 40 kids ages ranging from 9 months to college age. There are two larger buildings/houses that seperate boys from girls. The 2 floors of the houses are seperated into “families” which comprise the larger family of about 50 people.
I asked one of the girls at dinner what made it feel like home, and she said “T-ma” and the other girls in the group said the same. T-Ma may not have any biological children, but she has 40+ kids that love her, obey her commands (or get strict discipline if they don’t) and have her sarcastic personality. The young people behave extremely well and are at the top of their classes. They know how to take care of each other and how to love one another. They even follow the “no whining” rule!
In my sociology of childhood class, we discussed the nature vs nurture debate. Do we become who we are because of our inherited biological genes or because of our the environment and the people we are placed in the care of. After our trip, I am amazed by how much nurturing a child can make to shape those biological tendencies.
Each of the kids there have different backgrounds. Some were found eating out of the dustbins, some taken out of extremely abusive situations. A lot of the time, social workers from India would bring kids and the house would pray about whether or not they were a good fit. I didn’t ask about any specifics for a kid because the simple knowledge that these kids were born into environments without hope of an education, an environment that was chosen for them, one that society would write them off.
It was either a teacher or the principle of the school that called T-Ma to their office and said how the kids were “overly confident” in their studies, athletics, extra curricular activities, and whatever else. Instead of hearing this as a criticism, she took this as a compliment. To think where the children came from to where they are now is amazing and such a God thing.
Friday night, we played Indian Idol and I was Randy. Oh my goodness, hilarious. Who would have known that they would know the song from Titanic, We Didn’t Start the Fire, Rhianna, and some others that just cracked me up. On a different note, Saturday night, T-Ma took our group up to her place and told story after story of God’s provision. Her faith in asking God and him actually giving her money for tuition, a car, all sorts of stuff challenges me to pray and not doubt.
On Sunday, all 40 something kids and a few adults had prayer and fasting night. It warmed my heart to see kids so young praying with such a passion. Little kids worshiping God with their arms raised singing that all they need is God. Beautiful.
Although my ankle is even more swollen now with the Kolkata humidity and the bruising is showing up a bit more, this trip was refreshing and challenging. Seeing how love and can change the lives of young people was revitalizing. And then there was the 40 hour train ride back…