It is hard to believe that I have now been home from India for one week. Sleep has returned to normal which is a welcomed event. I also had the extreme joy of worshiping with Trinity C.C., my home church, on Sunday. I am grateful to God for the weekly worship with my church! Sadly, this can so easily be taken for granted.
So, it’s been a week…
A week of story telling, picture viewing, working, catching up with family, eating, chatting with friends, and a few party events too. In the midst of it all I have heard myself repeating a few things about India that I want to share with you. This will also serve to be a long-term memory for me by logging these thoughts into this blog.
1.) “It is a different world”
Words do not capture the gravity of the above 5 words. I do not say the above as a little cliché. It is a reality. Everything is different. Everywhere you look is different.
When was the last time you were driving down the road and encountered an elephant, camels, monkeys, an entire family of four on a motorcycle, or women and children hacking away at large trees that fell over in yesterday’s monsoon? (Nope…. no chainsaws in Ahmedabad). How about endless trash, people scavenging at the city dump, soooo many people, dirty rivers, should I go on? I could….
2.) “I have no category for the things I saw”
This phrase is mostly in reference to the poverty. It is everywhere. A tarp that we might use to cover firewood or a lawnmower makes for a starter home for so many. Ten by twelve spaces are suitable for families of 4, 5, or 6. A kitchen or running water? What is that? A dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine or dryer for the clothes…. no, no and no. Vacuum cleaner? Why would you vacuum a dirt floor?
Many of the children in the slums do not know how old they are. No idea…. There is no birthday to remember or celebrate.
As our plane began its descent into Mumbai Airport (formerly Bombay), my son Tim looked out the window of the plane and said, “Dad, look at all the swimming pools.” We are from Florida; we are used to seeing blue specks, swimming pools dotted across the landscape. But, we never imagined swimming pools in India! Lots and lots of them!! As the plane continued its descent and the airport and surrounding areas came into view, we began to realize, those blue dots are not swimming pools. They are blue tarps. They are make shift roof tops and they are everywhere!
I was chatting with my good friend, Alex Bowman, yesterday. I said, “suppose Kim and I were to adopt a child from India, our family would take a financial hit. You know, maybe we eat out less, or watch our spending a little more closely, or even downsize our home.”
What strikes me is that if we were to ever do that, it would raise a child’s standard of living by what…. a thousand percent, a million percent? What percentage would it be? I don’t know….
I can imagine this child walking around my house saying… “I have no category for the things I am seeing….” Hmmmm, sounds familiar.
3.) “The contrasts are incredible”
Ahmedabad, India to Paris France
Their home compared to my hotel room
Their river compared to the river I live near
Trash pick up
4.) “I have a new favorite pastor”
Since returning, I cannot get pastor R and his wife S and their daughter G out of my head. For more data see previous post, He became poor… (I still need to write a post about some of the persecution they have faced.) It strikes me that this man understands what true success in ministry is all about. It is about faithfulness. It is not about notoriety, book sales, or preaching sermons heard around the world, etc….
This is a man you will never hear preach. He will likely never write a book. No, but do you know what he is doing today and will be found doing tomorrow? He is preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to people who live in the slums. No, he does not just visit the slums and return home…. He lives there – he moved there!
Tomorrow morning children will gather at his tiny home where R and S will teach them about the One who came to save them from their sins.
Yep, I have a new favorite pastor.
The above 4 things that I keep saying to people tells me that India has left a mark. It is a good mark, and a needed mark. I am grateful for it, it is a mark that I pray never goes away.
I am reading the Gospel of Matthew this week. This was a scripture I read this morning.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.