Friday, December 28, 2012

I left my heart behind // Testimonies from my India Travels

I left part of my heart in India. It was so at home there, I couldn't convince it to return to the States.

For a girl who doesn't care much for change and gets stressed about the unknown, going to India, where the culture and climate is so opposite of my snug little Midwest life, should have been uncomfortable, stretching and maybe even miserable. There were uncomfortable moments, but they didn't last long. I was stretched, but in a slow and steady, almost unnoticeable, way, spread out over the entirety of the trip. I was miserable in body as I went from one physical ailment to the next over the two weeks we were there, but in spite of that I was so full of pure joy.

I loved waking up with the sun, watching the day become hot and hazy. I loved the cool concrete walls and tile floors of our guest house and the children's home. I loved the sound of prayers being chanted early in the morning (not to our God), thinking how many souls there are that are longing for my God -- the only true one. I loved seeing children's faces out our kitchen and balcony widows as they peered in, curious about the white girls inside, and tickled with delight when we smiled or waved at them. I loved getting in our quiet, faithful driver's van and waiting, with an excited expectancy, for his adult heart to let down its guard and surrender to the childlike yearning that stirs in him for the Father I have. I loved watching him observe us as we loved the people in our path, it was as delightful as seeing seeds planted and little green stems begin to sprout.

I loved walking into the children's home and feeling entirely in-place, not questioning that I belonged right there. I loved the exuberant and trusting embraces and greetings I was welcomed with each day by the kids. I loved to see on their faces a complete abandon to love. I loved seeing them light up when they recognized me, loved their hands sliding into mine, loved their contentment to sit on my lap and just be held. I loved giving all my attention to them one at a time, all my affection to each one who was in front of me, all my love for them gushing forth in prayers. I loved seeing the children learn and sing and play and create. I loved hearing them cry "Big Sister! Big Sister!" in Telugu over and over. I loved having my heart silently stolen by two young sisters at the home. I never got it back from them, and I never want to. I want them to have all the love I can give, forever.

I loved the chaotic traffic of those desperate Indian streets, and getting a peek into so many lives as we passed homes and shops and people headed somewhere. I loved every jaw-dropping glance of God's incredible creation. I loved feeling thankful from my head to my toes for every warm, delicious meal that was labored over for us three times a day. I loved being tired from my head to my toes every night to the point that even my hard bed with one blanket was truly warm and inviting. I loved every western toilet I encountered like you cannot believe.

I loved heart to hearts in our rooms with my team mates. I loved that God provided wifi for me to keep in touch with my family because He knows how important that is to me. I loved looking up at the moon and remembering how my mom, as she drove me to the airport, had said, "It's the same moon in India as it is here."

I loved the dirt that got on my shoes and clothes as I sat in the slums with children who spoke with me even though we didn't understand one another. I love that even now my flip flops are coated in red sand from our trip to the beach with the children. I love remembering that night on the beach at sunset, holding one of my darlings on my hip and having her lay her head on my shoulder, completely secure with me... And how on the ride home my other little dear was sitting in the seat beside me and nodded off so I scooped her into my lap and put my head back and we both slept the whole way back. I loved our goodbye, my darlings and me, how I hugged them tight, with one in either arm, they nestled their faces into my neck and I kissed their cheeks and they kissed mine and we all were FULL of hope and of peace. And as I said goodbye and whispered "I love you" in their precious ears, I was aware of a whole new level of love that one can experience. That is where I left a portion of my heart, and that is where it will stay -- there with my Beloved and our girls.

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