This post has been a long time coming. I have thought about what to write dozens of times...for nearly months now. I know it's just a blog, but so many important things were evolving in my life that I was nearly too overwhelmed to form my experiences into words. This is also my hundredth blog post, which, for my nerdy self, feels significant. So, without further adieu, I bring you post 100.
It is 5:45am in Tenali, India and contrary to my usual ways, I am awake...by choice. Living in India shifts everything for me, the bad mingled with the good...but this is one of the good things, getting up early and enjoying the pre-dawn quiet of the day. Ironically though, my alarm clock is the neighboring mosque and their loudly projected call to prayer. Though I am not Muslim, there is something reverent about being woken up to pray before dawn, so I have decided to adopt this habit as much as possible. Living in a house with many other people also makes alone time rare and this seems to be just the cure for that.
When I arrived in India merely four small days ago, something epic happened within me. A shift that I had waited my previous 6 months here to feel, finally released and I felt something I had never before felt in India...
that I was home.
It was an incredible revelation for me to feel this way, because, as you may know, my previous 6 month stint here was difficult, to say the least. It was wrought with tough lessons, culture shock, and struggling to find myself in a culture that relegates women to something I was not used to. I was thankful for what became known to be my 6 month India "boot-camp" and shortly after arriving back in the States last June, I realized that the Lord had merely been priming the pump for me to enter into long term ministry in India, which very much surprised me. I immediately knew I was going to come back, I just didn't know when or for how long when suddenly the RockHarbor India Residency was on my radar...and, well, the rest is history.
Despite the small areas of discomfort here (which are of little concern to me at this point), there is so much about this country to fall in love with. Now that I am past the portion of myself that reacted negatively, I can feel that process happening, as I was trusting it would the second time around. God's plan is so beyond perfect and beautiful, it is intricately poetic, despite my best efforts to screw it up at times. For example, yesterday, our first full week day here in Tenali, we were told that we would be visiting one of Harvest India's elderly homes. When we arrived, I was overjoyed to find it was a home I had visited just over a year ago on my first trip. During my first visit there, some of the elderly people got up and shared their stories, many heartbreaking, about poor health, being forced to beg, and being disowned by their families because of their old age or windowed status. Each person that got up to share walked directly over to me and locked eyes with me as they talked. I was unsure why any of them did this, as I was sitting among 15 other people. Others on my team noticed and later shared that they felt that was God confirming through that my choice to stay in India as a missionary; I personally felt as if my heart had been captured in a way it hadn't before. It was an incredibly touching experience and I felt that truly was one of the early formative moments that started me on my journey back to India. So, needless to say, it was extremely special for me to go back to this same elderly home and see once again many of those same faces. I was also able to share this story with the elderly people and thank them for blessing me in a way that ultimately God used to help me come back to India.
I am thankful that the Lord has allowed me to begin to experience the true magic and beautiful intricacies of this place that has captured me. I knew before that it held my heart but it was difficult to even express why or how. I am suddenly feeling that the mystery of India is being revealed to me and the locked door that kept me out and in the dark before has been opened and the light of understanding has flooded over me. I see myself here, not in the sense of seeing myself living here but rather that I have been given eyes to understand myself within the context of this culture...and it makes sense. I am finally finding my identity here...finding my voice.