These thoughts are excerpts from my journal from my trip to India:
Tara and I started out the morning by giving the girls a few of the items that the team and I brought over. She explained that they don’t get everything at one time because she wants them to appreciate it all. So we gave them a few things: hairbrushes, hairbows, a few new dresses, some candy. It felt like Christmas morning – it was so much fun to see their reactions to it all. They kept saying “Thank you Akka!” while touching my face and giving countless hugs.
I also met a couple from Zambia this morning, Faith and Camba; friends of Isaac and Tara’s. They were on a vacation in Singapore, so they stopped in Chennai for 24 hours to rest before flying home to Zambia. Faith has around 4,500 orphans in Zambia that she works with. They stay with their own extended family, and Faith raises the money to pay for their basic necessities and schooling – that way they don’t have to go to an orphanage, but are not a burden to their family. What an amazing lady of God!
After a brief stop in the office, Tara took us to the slums. Their church has a sister church in the slums, so they do ministry in that area of the city. Two of their office girls live there, so we visited their houses. First we visited Lata’s house, and she was so excited to have us there. She told us that not all of her family members are Christian yet, so asked us to pray with her. Then we walked over to Bomi’s house to pray with her as well. A typical house in the slums is about 10×12 feet, and has a bed, some storage, a few pots and pans, and a TV. There are no bathrooms and no kitchens. Isaac explained that the TVs were part of a political campaign and everyone who voted for a specific man got a free TV. And all along the way we met many children.
Having been to other countries, such as Mexico, where fair skin is prized, I was prepared for the fact that I would most likely be stared and pointed at in India. I was not, however, prepared for the mobs of small children that would surround me, giggling and touching me. They were simply fascinated. One particular small mob of girls in the slums didn’t speak much English, so that made it a little awkward, because there wasn’t much I could talk to them about. One little girl just kept pointing at my arm, saying “beauty” and giggling. Then I took off my sunglasses to get a better look at something and my blue eyes sent them into more fits of giggles. They were such beautiful little girls, too.
We headed back to the office where Isaac and McDonald’s for us. Then Tara, Gail, and I headed out to go shopping for the wedding so that Gail and I could get something a bit less American to wear. Sadly saris take too long to make (because the blouse has to be custom fit), so there wasn’t enough time to get those. So we went to a chula store instead.
When we got back to the house, I got to watch the girls dance lesson – they were learning some traditional folk Indian dances. It was too cute. Then I went upstairs to get ready for the wedding. I was able to borrow a hairdryer so that I could wear my hair down for the evening (since I had been wearing it up in a bun all week because of the heat). I put on my new chula and headed downstairs to spend a little time with the girls before we had to leave. They hadn’t seen my hair down yet, and they kept touching it. They loved that I was wearing a chula – it just tickled them.
We said goodbye to Faith and Camba, and we left for the wedding. The groom, Albert, works in the office for Isaac and Tara; the bride, Mimi, used to work there. It was a small wedding with only 60 people since their families are both from the north of India and couldn’t make it. A typical Indian wedding usually has about 3,000 guests. The wedding was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the experience – it was so sweet of the bride and groom to invite us.