-- I wrote this on Tuesday, but since I had an Indian man looking over my shoulder, I waited until now to log onto my blog to post it. --
Today is a relaxing day...we moved hotels to be closer to the river, which is downtown. We are closer to the children this way as well. When we first arrived to our new hotel, the power was out and they were running on a back-up generator which meant no A/C. Eric panicked for a moment (or three hours) but now the power is back on and our room is cooling upstairs as I type. It is definitely HOT with temps over 100 during the day. The only relief is around 7-8 pm when the sun goes down, it probably dips into the 80s which is very tolerable. What is crazy is that it will continue to heat up for their hottest season during May-June. I can't imagine what mid-day feels like during those months.
The time with the children yesterday was very touching. Eric and I went with Ravinder to collect the boys from the station (the ministry is held outside 1/2 mi from the station). It was just as humbling to see their dire conditions yesterday as it was last October. The smell of the station as these sweet boys sleep on the filthy planforms, their only cover (if they have one) is a stained, soiled wool blanket. Flies swarm any skin or hair that is exposed. We came upon one boy that has especially captured my heart, Sahid; his sleepy face lit up when he saw us. One of the first things he said to me, which R. translated, was "you are good because you are one who came back". I was obviously touched that he remembered me from October but immediately my yearning for the last 5 months to return was affirmed by the fact that it means as much to the children to be reunited as it does me. Eric and I attempted to teach them kickball with a ball we brought with us...soon it became a free for all which R kept calling, 'kickball "Indian rules"'. :) It was fun to see them laughing, getting energy out, and having fun. Eric shared the story Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with them and I sang Father Abraham as well as a few other songs we taught them back in Oct. We will see them again tomorrow morning.
One observation that I want to note is that both at the rail station and with the slum children, I was surprised, shocked even that my memory had forgotten how TINY these children are. I was struck by their small limbs, frames, under-nourished bellies, poor hygiene, you name it. R. showed us some photos of past trips over the last three years and honestly? The children looked the same in those photos three YEARS ago. I commented on how little the children have grown in three years and he said that is what happens when they have such poor nutrition, lack of food, improper medical care, etc. We are so accustomed to being blown away at how quickly children in the western world grow, even my own nieces & nephews seem to shoot up like little trees in just a few weeks time. In the past 5 months from when I was here, these children seem to have shrunk and my heart sinks so deep within me because of it.
Last night we taught the slum children to play kickball as well, they had a better attention span and the behavior necessary to explain most of the rules. It was a big success, hopefully we will play again tonight.
They sang for us and recited memory verses, what a sweet time it was to listen to their little hearts praise the Lord and speak His truth by memory.
As Eric mentioned in his post, we had the opportunity to have dinner as the honored guests in an Indian home last night - it was very humbling. We were fed delicious food, so good! After accepting heaping upon heaping of everything, we balanced trying to be polite while stomaching the sheer quantity we were given. As code near the end, I asked Eric if he remembered the song "pop goes the weasel" he smiled and agreed that he was feeling the same. Each time we said, 'this is delicious, thank you!' we earned ourselves another helping. We are struck by the generousity of the people here despite that they have almost nothing. We are praying for supernatural cultural awareness and that grace would transcend any natural cultural barriers there might be. Our hope is that our gratitude would exude from every single part of us.
We are so thankful to be here and look forward to seeing the children again tonight. We are so blessed by all of your thoughts, comments and prayers. Thank you all for being such a blessing of encouragement! :)
Lots of love - B
Today we went on a sunrise boatride on the Ganga...very eye opening. We are now getting ready to head out to visit the V. Fort and some temples. It is sad to know that tomorrow we are leaving already, but we have soaked up so much culturally and spending time with the children so we are very thankful. Goodbyes are especially hard to say when you don't know when the next visit will be...having to just trust the Lord with that. :)