I went to India.
And it changed me to the core.
It was nothing I had ever seen before and meant everything to me. It is so different from the comfortable American lifestyle we all live. There was no air-conditioning, I slept on a mattress two inches thick filled with hay, I bathed out of a bucket- but those "discomforts" meant nothing to me.
The kids... They are so incredible. They have lived through pasts you don't even want to imagine, but are so full of life and joy. They don't let their past define them. They are moving on from it. They embrace the fact that they are set free. They have real, authentic joy. I love them so much, even after spending just a week with them. I grew especially close with the little girls (who's surprised?) and I miss them all dearly. I miss playing cards, four-square, and the "lap game." I miss attempting to play badmitten. (I was SO bad!) I miss hearing "Nicole akka, come play with me!"
These kids are so very in love with Jesus. They live in a country that discourages Christianity; less than 2% of the Indian population is Christian. Yet they love Him with everything. And here I am, in America, where Christianity is more "common" and "acceptable," and I have such a difficult time giving myself to Christ. They are unafraid to minister to their brothers and sisters, and to us- practically strangers. They are open to what the Lord is telling them and they freely speak what they have heard. These kids spoke words into areas of my life I've never talked to anyone about. It was an incredible experience and I have so much to learn from them.
We spent two awesome nights with them in prayer and worship. I was moved to tears each night. They sang this song both nights...when I listen to it I can still hear them singing it. This song is so incredibly fitting for the home. It's called The Anthem by Jake Hamilton.
The hardest part about this trip was returning home. Back to the high-maintenance American lifestyle. Back to buying more groceries than we ever need. Back to living more comfortably than people can even imagine. Back to buying new clothes, when we have clothes we don't even wear. Back to caring more about tabloids than what's taking place overseas. I have so much, but I still want more. Now that I have experienced a third-world country, I have such conflicting feelings. Is it wrong that I have so much, when some people have so little? I was praying about my guilt of having so much, after experiencing a country with so little, and came across Ecclesiastes 5:19- "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work- this is a gift from God." Multiple people have said that I don't need to feel guilty... if I did not have the resources, I never would have gone to India. I can take what I learned during my time in India and encourage and share it with others. It's time to start believing it and living it out.
I think of India and the kids every day. On my last night there, one girl said, "See you in the years to come, akka." They will be seeing me again... They have six-month internships and that has really been on my heart. It's time to start praying.
Writing this was really hard...SO MUCH happened. I don't know how my brain holds it all- if you want to hear stories, let's hang out.
You can't change India in two weeks, but in two weeks India can change you. -Andy