I am certainly glad that my time spent here in India pushes past the honey moon romantic stage of being in love with everything and anything. The longer I’m here, the more I’m able to place puzzle pieces beside each other in an attempt to understand the culture and people. Time also pushes my eyes to see deeper into the intricate problems as well as finding hidden beauty. We have this love/hate relationship which is probably pretty healthy 🙂
Joyce Meyers was right when she said “if you are looking for a fun little mission trip, keep India out of your travel plans”. Then again, you might be able to fall in love romantically and keep the “missions trip high” with India and its charm if you are only here for a short time. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a team from Nepal come and visit and also a team from the states. It’s great to see the expressions of bewilderment on their faces as they walk the streets and absorb the colors and sounds. They took a lot of photos. Photos of places that are just life here and I wouldn’t think about taking photos of. But that is another thing in itself…
We have this love/hate relationship because every time I get frustrated with some new corruption or deeper understanding of an issue, I also learn a new lesson about life and what it means to live with a purpose larger than ourselves.
It can be easy to ask why God let’s these horrible things happen to undeserving people. If you look deeper into that though, 1- we are the idiots that sinned in the first place to bring the corruption into the world, 2- God is a God of justice and hates what human kind does to each other, 3- when will God’s people take action and do something about it? We can push the blame and the responsibility onto something we can’t see with our two eyes. Eh, it’s still scary.
The book Terrify No More was a challenging book to read. Actually, it made me excited. It is about an organization made up of lawyers, former police, social workers and the like that is based on bringing justice to those around the world that are simply doing bad things such as having little kids roll cigarettes 14 hours a day, slave driving men women and children as they bake bricks, selling small children into brothels. Since I think the book was written well, here is something he wrote very condensed and not hardly like he actually wrote since I had to make it shorter and add the basic ideas:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
If that is true, then why do good men and good women do nothing?
As I consider this question, I find 3 deep sources of poverty that conspire to keep me and my good neighbors on the sidelines in the great struggle against evil:
1.) a poverty of compassion (and passion for others)
2.) a poverty of purpose (we choose to walk towards petty purposes and walk away from the grander purposes outside ourselves)
3.)a poverty of hope (where we feel powerless in the face of overwhelming evil and injustice resulting in paralyzing us and stealing our hope)”
It’s true. In our individualistic society, it is a hecka lot easier to just worry about ourselves or to send a simple “get well card” when someone is sick. We are more worried about new gadgets and getting that great job than to maybe “settle” for something “less”. Even if we did want to do something, we have this sense that it is beyond us and aren’t capable of making a difference. We are hopeless.
For me, I want to do something. I have this fire burning within my soul that has been trapped for way too long. Actually, having compassion for others and looking at the larger picture and living for a purpose which is larger than myself are things that I hold on to dearly. What get’s me though, is the last point that the botched up part from Terrify No More makes. I want to live out God’s character on earth. I want to show others hope when they have only known despair, love when they have only felt rejection.
Yet, in the midst of being here, I let a sense of hopelessness come over myself. T-Ma, the lady that runs the children’s home that we visited in Bangalore, said something to the effect that if you come to India trying to fill the need, you will get eaten alive. I can see the overwhelming amount of need and understand that it would take a miracle for my simple life to make a large impact on India. I know that ministry, er, helping and serving others is about building relationships with individuals. I’ve been programmed though to care about statistics and numbers though which creates some conflict. We care about the statistics of kids in anti drug programs, the number of youth going to our Wednesday night programs, making sure that the benefits outweigh the costs.
What happens when the statistics aren’t the large numbers? What happened to valueing a single human being rather than clustering them into statistics? If the cost is very weighty, does that mean we should just give up and forget about the 1 or 2 people that we could have helped? I think our American Pride and showing off to the world has gotten us into a heap of trouble and twisted mentallities. It makes us confused on what to value and where to put our effort. Or, maybe I’m the only one that struggles with this occasionaly.
“We are paralyzed in a poverty of hope because, first, we underestimate the value of what God has given us to transform lives. Second, we underestimate the value of a single life. And third, we underestimate God’s determination to rescue us from trivial existence if we will just free up our hands and apply them to matters that make a difference in someone else’s life.” TNM
In my last blog, I wrote about Nasrin. “I don’t like my life- all I want is death”. Sometimes I wonder why I’m here in India and then I think about the individuals that I now consider friends. I may not have much to offer Nasrin other than a smile and whatever words of wisdom God gives me at the moment, but I can’t let that stop me from being in relationship with her and valueing our time together. I value her. I value her as a human being and as someone that God loves. God loves everyone in this world, but I have the opportunity to show her Gods love in a physical form. With her, she encourages me just as much or even more than I am to her with her words.
Sidenote- Wednesday when I went back to volunteer, I asked if anyone had died in the last week and a volunteer said yes. One old lady was gone when she came on Friday to volunteer. Last Wednesday, I had sat next to my little old lady, Haniepa, my first friend at Prem Dan, and quietly held her hand as I said who knows what while she laid there in pain. Nasrin had asked for death on Tuesday, yet it was my little old lady that passed away that Thursday. Nasrin and I talked about it. She had me wheel her over to our quiet area in the shade and again I reinforced hope in life. I watched one friend quickly die after her health had gotten slightly better a month earlier. I thought about later how the two songs that I would usually sing to her were ‘Castle on a Cloud’ from Les Mis and then His Eye is on the Sparrow- how fitting. I will never know what she thought of our friendship or this silly American girl trying to cheer her up. I will choose to value her life and our time together though.
“When weary Washingtons say, ‘so you rescued one, there are millions of others. What’s the point?’ I say ‘I think Elisabeth understands the point. Elisabeth is the point.” – Sharon in Terrify No More.
Nasrin is the point. My little old lady is the point. When society makes us feel discouraged or feel hopeless, we have to remember those that we are in relationship with and know that THAT is the point. We can’t give up. We can’t let the overwhelming appearance of need paralyze us into doing nothing. We are the good people that need to be God’s character on earth bringing justice to the oppressed.
See, if my time here was short , I would have never been pushed to put puzzle pieces together and go through some of the hard times, which I hated, into learning lessons that I love. It’s not easy. It’s stinkin tough at times. I pray to never lose hope in the value of a single individual.
Thank you for the encouraging emails and words of wisdom. At times, I am the individual that needs rescued and I am very thankful and blessed for having family and friends that get the point.