Before going to India, I’d seen photos of the kids, the streets, and the poverty, so I thought I was mentally prepared. In a way, I was prepared enough to the point that I wasn’t totally shocked when we arrived. (One of my roommates on the trip even told me that she was so proud of how I was handling everything a few days into the trip). However, pictures can’t replace the feelings that come along with experiencing India firsthand. Feelings of sorrow. Feelings of darkness. Feelings of rejection.
And yet, the children somehow still have joy to share. The children are I think what impacted me the most. About eighty percent of our outreaches while in India were at schools and in villages (with lots of children). To see where these kids live, where they come from, and then to see the joy that they have regardless of their circumstances is absolutely overwhelming. Within five minutes of meeting you, they are jumping up and down, grabbing your hand and wanting to be your best friend. They want to dance with you. They want to play with you. They want to love you, and to be loved.
There are so many stories I could tell about the children in India, but nothing sticks out to me like the day that we went to the Red Light district in Mumbai. The Red Light district is the area where prostitutes and widows live with their children. We spent hours in this village, loving on the children and women, performing and ministering to them. The children would jump in our laps and grab our hands to hold. They wanted to be held, and they wanted to play. The little girls even decorated our hair with flowers. The light in their eyes, even within the darkness and sickness that they live in, shined brightly, and yet dim at the same time.
Their joy is definitely something the Lord was showing me the whole trip. Many of them have nothing, and yet they are so grateful and happy with what they do have. Coming back to the states was as much (if not more in some ways) of a cultural shock as was going to India. We take so many things for granted here. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t know why God has given me the life that I have – I’m definitely not worthy of it. I’m a clutz, a mediocre dancer; I’ve messed up, and I don’t even know how to adult correctly, but somehow He finds me worthy. I want to live in constant thankfulness. I want to have the joy and appreciation that those children have. And then I want to be able to turn around and give it away to those who need it.