Tuesday, December 27, 2005

good days...

Well we brought two more women to freeset today..one is 28 and the other is 40. Asha who is 28 is ready to leave and said herself that she wants freedom and does not want to see her daughter enter into the trade by default. It is miricale in the making see three of the ten girls that we have been praying make the choice to leave.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

let there be HOPE!

the last couple of days have been so full...full of hope and joy and possibility...also filled with some disappointments. on tuesday we went to the gach almost right away we meet three girl who were interested in taking jobs with freeset and said they would come right then...but then i think they kinda freaked out and said they needed to take a bath and would meet us in an hour--they never showed up. beth and i were a little discouraged but saw a willingness to consider a new life and hope that maybe they would come another day. So last night, wednesday night, we went down the gach in our sari's...the girls totally loved it and we felt like beauty queens...they were super impressed that i can do my sari myself. On our way down the street on woman called us over and told me her friend had heard and wanted a job doing sly kaj--meaning sewing...so we arranged to meet them today and not one but two women met us to talk with freeset about a new job...we were so excited walking with them...it was like walking the road to freedom myself...they were unsure but as we went up the stair in the freeset building it was like hope washed over them and they could see themselves in this place--working--having freedom. Priya talked with them and asked some questions that made them pretty uncomfortable but slowly they warmed up...after talking with them awhile it seemed like it might not work...the women's expense would far outweigh what they could make at freeset..they are flyers...they come from the village daily..they have husband who have left them and they are each raising 2 children alone. they have high travel expenses (about 12 dollars a month) plus the cost of keeping their kids in school...but the women really seemed to want to change their work...so now they are going to think about it and see if there is something else they can do earn money along with working at freeset--since freeset will required they phase out of working the line in the next three months.

I went full of hope and left a little at a oss...feeling burdened for these ladies...frustrated at my inability to help them...angry at the poverty that compels them. these last days have been so up and down but so much is happening in the gach...light is penetrating...piercing the darkness and yet even as we win one battle we lose another...hoping for more light, more jesus.

last night at the christmas program put on by our friend ambika we saw so much hope and beauty as the children of the district danced and sang in the heart of the darkness of sonagacchi and all through out the crowd were the women of sonagacchi and even the customers pausing for a look...being there makes christmas more real. this is who jesus came to earth to be with...these ladies and their children and even the customer, the trafficker and the owners . he came for them and i am so blessed to be with them as we celebrate the coming of light into darkness...let it be as it was 2000 years ago when our emmanuel came as little baby...at first a small light and new hope...becoming a light that so overpowers the darkness that it overcomes it. jesus came for the world and eveyday i see how he most certainly came for sonagacchi and evey man, woman and child within it's boundaries.

tomorrow night we will go to the gach to bring beauty to our beautiful friends in the form of flowers...one flower for every girl..sundor phul, sundor meyer-er junno (beautiful flower for a beautiful girl). again may there be light in sonagacchi.

beth and i will go to the gach on christmas eve to talk with the ladies we took to freeset today --pray for them, pray for us. and pray that all 10 ladies that freeset is willing to hire will come in the next week!! that would rip my face off for sure!! let the kingdom come!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Super cool update on the GACH!

Just a quick but amazing update--kristin sent this out in a mass email and i am too lazy to share it my own words but really wanted you all to hear the good news!! Pray with for 9 more like Mani!

WE got to bring a lady to freeset!!! there is this group of ladies that are a tad older and i 9always say hi and talk to them some and call them all "didi" (itmeans big sister). i never invested that much time there but knew their faces. well when we found out that freeset was going to be highering 10 new girls from sonagachi and they wanted all women in the trade (no daughters this time around) andthey were taking any age i decided to talk to this group.This one lady Moni showed a lot of interest and after an unsucessful attempt to have her come she finally came. She has been in the trade for 25 years and is in her later 30's (so she was soo young when she started). She has an 18 year old son and no family to speak of. SHe rents this tiny, tiny room in Sonagachi and the 4thfloor of the building. It is literlaly the size of a closet. Adam and I took her to freeset and had her talk with Pria. We found out that her rent is only 800 ruppees a month which means that she can stay in the red light area. this is part of ourplan for community development. to empower the women to stay and slowly transformthe area. When she left Pria had this huge grin on her face adn said, "this ladywants to leave. she is really motivated." so training starts a couple days after christmas. we get to be the go between freeset and Mouni. She has a long road ahead of her. please pray for her. it is so exciting to know that her life isabout to change forever. she doesn't even know that God is giving her the familythat she never had.am having a great christmas season so far. our friends daniel and adam are in townand we are packed full with things to do.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Home again...Amen!


She came home yesterday morning...apparently the police somehow had the phone number of the man who had taken all of the girls and contacted him and they all returned home yesterday. I have not seen paki yet but Maya says she is well and was not harmed! I am in awe and so thankful for this amazing answer to prayer. I will post more details once i get the complete story...all i know now is that the police contacted the man and suposedly the girls were doing legitmate work catering but they believe that he may have still been planning on selling the girls. no sure what to believe but i am sooooooooo glad to have this little girl returned to her mother.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Update on Paki

Hey Friends---just wanted to give a quick update. Paki has not returned home as of yet. So we are still praying and hoping and trying to decide if we should attempt to go to her supposed location. Please keep praying.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

little girl lost

last night we came home to Kolkata after a month away in Bangladesh. It was a homecoming that we had been longing for--we actually really missed Calcutta. But it was joy short lived as the reality of a nightmare of many many girls was shared with me. I know the stories by heart of the girls who have been tricked or coerced into the trade...i have read, heard from the girls in the gach but i have never had someone close to me lost. Last night i went to spend some time with my friend Maya and she told me that my friend --Paki--was gone. Paki is Maya's neice and i have known her since she was 11and watched her grow into a beautiful young woman of 15. Paki's mother sat and cried as Maya told me that Paki and five other girls from the area had been taken/ or coerced by the promise of temporry jobs with good pay. Paki did not tell her family good bye but left word through the parents of the other girls that they would return on the fifteenth of this month. It is difficult to hope that this is actually true--that Paki will actually be able to return unharmed. I could not sleep for a long time last night as images and thought of the worst flashed through my brain...tears held back in my throat even now.

Maya's family has filed a police report and they will be looking for her but they are not hopefull for paki or the other girls. Maya and Paki's mom believe that she has been taken to work in a bar or brothel--to dance--but i think they do not quite understand the depth of what could happen to Paki. I am sick with the thought of this 15 year old little girl being violated or lost in anyway....last night i prayed with maya and her sister...but i could not think of what to pray accept that jesus would protect Paki and bring her home. I came home from maya's and told kristin and beth and we prayed together--and because i could not pray--we prayed Psalm 10. This Pslam is for Paki...she is one of the fatherless--having been abandoned by her own father and she is now helpless in the hands of wicked men...pray this psalm with me for paki.

We are contacting our friends at IJM in Bombay and here in Calcutta to see if they can help and also to ask their advice. There is nothing that i will not do to get Paki back...we are now praying and if she does not return by the 15th then we consider going to the area that we believe she was taken and see if we can find her. please pray for wisdom and right direction on this...

Maya told me today that she believes that her husband and her husbands friends may have contributed to Paki being gone...i am not sure what exactly this means but she called her husband and his friends bad men. And both women are concerned that they will not be able to stay in the area because those in our area will assume that purity has been lost and make life very difficult for Paki and her mother...so much heaviness in this situation.

Right now, we will wait and pray and I will be fasting breakfast and lunch until the 15th or I will stop if paki returns before that...this email is a plea for your prayers and if you feel led please fast with me for God to bring about her safe return.

I will keep you updated as i have more information.

thanks for being with us in this...i have told Paki's mom that i would ask my parents and "the church" to pray and she covets your prayers.

with deep sadness...
1 [a]Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. 4 In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 5 His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. 6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble." 7 His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. 8 He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. 9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.
10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees." 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"? 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

Monday, December 05, 2005

More on sarifice and the consuming...

Yesterday, my thoughts were pretty jumbled and not really clear...i kind of verbally started processing but did not really finish till we left the email cafe. So i have continued thinking about what specifically i am called to sacrifice and what that means i will not consume in the choice to sacrifice. The obvious sacrifice is that i have left my family and my friends for a life that does not hold any tangible comforts but offers so much in other ways. it is, has been and will continue to be a sacrifice to be away from my family, to have neice that does not know me...but i make this choice not to "consume" because i am seeking to be obedient to the call Jesus has placed on my life. and truly Jesus requires obedience not sacrifice...but still sacrifce can be apart of being obedient.

On the whole choosing not to consume thing...i think that the temptation for me and maybe for many of us is to consume instead of allowing christ to fill us up. the empty place in my heart crys out for something and i often will choose to fill them with food or something new or a good cheap novel instead of the one thing that i will find truly filling and fufilling. I think i said yesterday that what i consume creates a false identity but actually i think what i consume outside of the context of obedience is something to creates a dividing wall between myself and God. I attempt to satisfy what God is waiting to fill with things that will never completely give me long term comfort and satisfaction. So i will choose not consume certain things for the sake of my relationship with jesus and because i do love him and want to be with him.

hopefully, that is more clear...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The meaning of sacrifice...

today in language we learned the word for sacrifice and the teacher defined it as the choice not to consume that which is yours or that which you might be entitled to consume for the sake of something... a person, a cause, a belief. I have been pondering...praying about what it means to consume, why i/we consume and what each thing that i choose to consume or not to consume means...you could say i am overthinking..but being a place where there is so little for the many and much for the few makes you constantly question your motives and what is truly important. in bangladesh 93 percent of the country lives below the poverty line in the rural areas of bangladesh--the poverty line being they make less than 2 dollars a day. the 7 percent have all the wealth and they live in the city of Dhaka where i am currently staying...anyone who visits dhaka expecially the diplomatic zone might leave with a skewed view of poverty...because they would see only the wealthy 7 percent. i keep thinking i am what i eat, i am what i have--i am what i consume. what I consume is worn as apart of the false identity i create for myself... still pondering so more on this later...if you have a thought on this stuff--please share it...

Friday, December 02, 2005

these days....

i have a ton of pictures and no way to post them...but i will as soon as i get back to kolkata...right now i am really missing calcutta alot!! the language is progressing but somewhat hampered this week by being sick...seems we all--beth, kristin, and i--picked up some kind of bug while treating ourselves to mexican food--i guess eating mexican food in bangladesh is not such a good idea...so i was laid out for one day on tuesday and got better but then i was down for the count again yesterday with a fever and possibly more "d" then i have ever experienced on a single day in my life--i think saying that i went about 25 times would not be an exaggeration...and seriously it was probably more...i basically was battling dehyration all day long with a headache--still felt pretty crappy and nauseus this morning but i forced myself to go to church (church is on friday in bandladesh--same day as the big muslim prayer day--sunday is a working day) and i have since felt much better....hopefully no more relapses. being sick in the states is much easier --there are so many distraction--tv and movies--yesterday i read a book and a half and was still bored and so discouraged by being sick another day. i always try to remember those who suffer with long term illnesses when i am sick and how hard and discouraging it must be --how if i lose hope at the end of 24 hours how does one keep hope through months and years of sickness...days like yesterday make me wish for the kind of TLC that only mom's can give....yeah so yesterday i really missed my mom alot! MOM I MISS YOU!! i still comfort myself with 7-up when i am sick just like my mom but they are missing saltines here in bangladesh so sour cream and onion chips where the best subsitute--i was totally craving salt!! must have been the dehyration. I pray three psalms this morning all with the common theme of the Lord being my refuge and strength..i guess that is the cry of those who suffer long...lord be my refuge and strength, hear my in my despair and deliver me from this sickness.

Friday, November 25, 2005

You can not take anything from me...

You can not take anything from me because i give it to your freely. Nothing is mine---you can take my humanity and my diginity because i give them to your freely. They are not mine to protect they are God's. My humanity and my dignity are not mine to protect and hold and cherish--how can i hold so tightly to them when all around me some many are having their dignity and humanity stolen from them. I am not a victim. I have chosen to be marginalization for the sake of the salavation of the humanity and dignity of others. Nothing can take my diginity, my humanity, self esteem because i freely give them for the cause of Christ in the world--that he may be glorified daily in my life and even in my death and the death of the selfish and sinful parts of me.

I am stunned how small words of kindness can eliminate the most powerful barriers--the barrier between the beggar and the donor--the seperation is lessened by a human exchange of words and eye contact that can offer dignity and humanity to some whose presence if not dignified very often. There is a boy with a deep wound in his leg-now healed a scar but a horrible disfigurment and he begs. he begs from me. and for a few days i ignored him--walked by him and did not answer his request for a few taka...because i felt dehumanized by the beggars--by their hounding by the fact that they look at me as money and not a person--but i realized that i need to give it up again--you can not take my life from me because i give it freely and everything i have from my body to the money entrusted to me is not mine--so other day when he asked--i asked him name and where he lived and why he was begging and where are his parents...and he was suprised that i asked...and i then i gave him a little money but the money was not the thing that mattered to him--i think what mattered more was that i spoke to him and treated him like a person and he returned the favor not only that day but everyday since.

I wonder what i have been holding on to so tightly. Why have i been hesitant to give when God created me with an almost innated desire to share...i want to be generous. no one can take anything from me because i give it freely. I will not hold on to myself any longer--there is nothing to protect--my body, my things, my life--because none of it is mine.

An encourageing song from a friend...

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone, my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song; This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease. My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand. In Christ alone who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save; Till on that cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied; For our sin on Him was laid; Here in the death of Christ I live. There in the ground His body lay, Light of the World by darkness slain: Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the ground He rose again! And as He stands in victory Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me; From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No pow’er of Hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Just so ya know..

i am feeling a little better, a little more free and released to enjoy learning bangla. i have had some super sweet times with jesus that have lead to some good revelation--wanted to post some thoughts but forgot my journal so....i will just say if you are reading this...

Have a super happy thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2005

being human, raw and vulnerable

Okay so i feel really human, really flawed and really vulnerable today. i have 11 pages of new vocab to learn from the last week and i have been studying a minimum of 3 hours a day in addition to my classes making some days a full 8 hours of bengali...i really feel like there is so much to learn that i will never learn it on top of which the way in which things are said is so different from how a native english speaker would say them. also feeling a little isolated from regular bengali speakers...i miss calcutta!! i miss the girls in the gach, i miss sitting with them and just being apart of their day...i want to talk with someone in bengali besides my teachers...

So i thought i knew alot but right now i feel like i know nothing and then there is the fact pretty much everywhere i go in asia i feel assaulted and demeaned by men. i was walking down the street today and the oncoming man felt free to make comment on my chest size. probably because he did not think i would understand what he said...who does that? and can someone tell me why? so i do know that my value is not in how much bengali i know or what my body looks like but it is pretty hard to remember that today. so i am going to work on forgiving him and not letting satan get control of my attitude but i still feel wounded and yes, very human today and even more i feel vulnerable and inadequate. but i am hoping for the "Jesus strength being perfected in my weakness" thing to happen today and all the days after this...

i did the passage from luke 8 this morning for our devotion...the story of jesus healing of the demoniac...as i write i think that applies more and more to my day. i am an imperfect woman...isolated and desperately alone until i allow the master to enter in...cast away the demons--both mine and those from others that assault with comment and stares--he casts them away and says now tell everyone what i have done and yes, i will stay here with you until you can stand on your own but then tell everyone what i have done for you. he has done much and i am trusting Him for more of his amazing grace on me as i walk onthe streets and hope and pray to learn bengali so i can speak fluently at some point in the not so far future.

pray that my brain can grasp what my heart already seems to understand.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My bengali marathon

today kristin said we need to remember that language learning is like a sprint not a marathon--i say that all the time about stuff--especially about living in kolkata--but it was a good reminder that learning a language does not happen by osmosis--though that would be nice--it requires the same discipline and long term thinking that a marathon requires. so language school is off to a good start and i am really in touch with how much i do not know bengali. i am finally literate and can actually read bengali script but i am beyond help in retaining all the new things that i am learning everyday. i need to stop thinking like an english speaker and start thinking like a bengali speaker--which means that when i make trips home i will probably talk funny as my words will be all out of order.

doing an overland border crossing from india to bangladesh is also very much like a marthon and a world class marathoner could probably do a real 26.2 miler faster than we can get our passports stamped to leave india, walk across the border with everyone and their mother asking where you are from and wanting to see your passport--so many times that you are not sure if they are legitmate and need to see it or are just curious to look at your picture even though the live action figure is standing right in front of them--then once across the boarder--other people taking your bags as you hope that you will see them again as you hand off your bus tickets and go to the bangladeshi immigration and a number of other people handle and look at your picture and finally stamp your passport but then someone else has to sign it--and then one must grab a risckshaw-not knowing where our bags have gone to the next bus--which is still not leaving for another hour but thankfully our bags are now in sight and heavly protected by a 10 year old boy. so yes--i think i can be sure that there are some runners who could run a marathon faster than we crossed the border but i know that i can not run a marathon faster so i tried to keep the humilty that saying you ran a marthon in 6 hours requires. really travel in asia is a lesson in humility, patience and thankfulness. thank God for these lessons.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Lament for Today

You are with me God. Are you for me? Are you for them?

I wrenched with sadness that a 19 year old girl will allow herself to be treated like crap by the man who lives off her—he hates her for what she does and yet he makes her do it. She has no reason to be kind—I think I would want to tell the world to go to hell for treating me this way—for allowing this injustice—this oppression for blatantly pressing my face into the dirt.

Do you stand far off God or are you here? Are you with her? Will you save her?

I am angry that someone who should know better—they all should know better—they are men—they are adults—they have mothers, sisters and daughters—will satiate their lust with the body of 14 year old girl. They will call her a whore and will not acknowledge her on the street but they will violate her body—her temple. They make her body a market when it should be sacred. I wanted men to be better, to know better, to see what I see when I go to the gach…beautiful, tender, broken woman who need love and empowerment not to be used…

God will you allow this continue? Are you here? Will you be the Emmanuel of Sonagacchi? Be here God—be here with the women…be here with the men.

I am broken and destroyed that I can walk up the dark unholy stairs to my friend’s home to find her with a western customer. Her sister and her children waiting outside… I saw the man escape down the stairs. His white skin, pony tail and striped shirt blurring past down the stairs away from his sin, his lust, his defamation of the body of my friend. I stood there for a second baffled and then I chased him to find him to ask him…what the heck he was doing and why he felt entitled to have five dollar sex with an 18 year girl...a girl who confesses that she no longer has a heart….who will not leave the trade because she believes that there is no salvation for her, that the darkness of her heart matches the darkness of the stairs that we climb to get to her room. But he was gone when I reached the street.

God did you see what I just saw? I need you to be here with her. Will you return to her what has been stolen not only this time but all the times before this one?

We travel in a mixed world…worlds we think will never collide. But today they collided. Even as we talked about what we would have said to the western man we saw escaping from our friend’s room in Sonagacchi we encountered him. There he was leaving and we were entering for lunch. And the words we wanted to say, to scream, to shout—who do you think you are? Why are you having sex with little girls you creep? But angry words did not come out of our mouths—only “Sir, we saw you today in Sonagacchi” first he smiled and then he turned and walked away as we called “what were you doing there?”

Jesus will you forgive him and help me because I can not. Are you here? Do you see that man’s heart? Do you see mine?

Why would the western man know better…we are all the same. I sat down and prayed for him, forgave and then cursed and hated him. I abhorred him because I know that he represents some part of me—that part of me that can dehumanize another, the part that chooses not to see everyone as valuable, the part that is selfish and lustful. But I am not him but by a grace—a thread of belief, redemption and hope.

Jesus forgive me, help me to forgive him. Love him and pray for him. My hope is you God…the only hope of Sonagacchi is you Jesus. I hope because you are my Hope.

Kristin's Poem

Your Shoes

Sir, I stand outside my friend?s door and stare at your shoes, I wonder who you are and where you came from and why you think that it okay that youcome and have sex with my friend. I wonder, Sir, what has been done to you or what lust controls you that you thinkcoming here is okay. Sir, do you know that my friend?s parents died when she was 12? Do you know thatshe has been working here since she was 14 years old? Do you know that she told meonce that at the age of 17 she had no heart? Sir, I stare at your western shoes and wonder if you think you are getting a waywith this. I wonder if you understand that your momentary satisfaction you gainfrom sleeping with my friend steals another part of her soul. Sir, I see your shoes and they represent to me what I hate. I see your shoes and amreminded how in this place oppression reigns. Jesus says that ?beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?. But Sir,your feet are ugly and despicable. Your feet bring oppression and fear. They bringlust and selfishness. When you look in the mirror do you hate the man who wears theshoes that sit outside my friend?s door? Do you long to be free from the lust thatentangles you or Sir, are you so lost inside your selfishness that you can only seehow to meet your needs. Because, Sir, You are missing out on life. You are cheating yourself and the othersaround you. You, Sir, are lost. My Jesus is big enough to hold you. My Jesus is big enough to forgive what I feel Ican not. My Jesus is big enough to change your heart and take your shame.So, Sir, I ask you was that five dollars and that hour of your life worth what itcost my friend? Sir, do you know the cost that was paid for your sins? Do you know the love of aFather who weeps over you, who longs to hold you like a son? Do you know that youare the beloved of God? Sir, do you know?

Monday, November 07, 2005

everyday is a lesson in something

We went to the gach today. I went with Kiran and kristin and beth went together. We spent several hours on opposite ends of the street meeting and greeting those we call our friends and those we hope to call our friends. It was really a good day. We spent time in a couple of brothels with some of the ladies--drinking cha and talking about why i am not married and how in america everyone has a "love" marraige not an an arranged marraige. This is a stunning concept to most of the ladies i talk too. if i told them how old i am then they would be really shocked...i try to keep the fact that i am 32 on the down low--women in india who are not married at 32 rarely get married ever...i am hoping that is not the case for me.

We have spent alot of time with one of the girls in her room over the past couple of weeks. i have never seen her out working the line before today--i almost forgot what it is she does to support herself. She keeps telling us that she is leaving the trade and that she is going back to her family in bangladesh--which is great---but she keeps delaying --we are hoping that we can see her at her home in bangladesh on our way home from language school in december. keep her in your thoughts and p's.

3 of us are still scrunched into 2 rooms--sleeping in one room and living in the other. our beds are pressed together with no room in between--maybe i should put up a picture so you can see...but we are hoping to finalize the details of our new place this week before we leave for 4 bangladesh...seems like it might happen. things sure do take a long time here...it would be great to come home and paint and get the place finished and then have a christmas party.

i had lunch with my friend siara yesterday--a feast of beef biriyani--very yummy and a very labor intensive dish over a clay stove with only one burner. I was hoping for lunch by 2 but was super excited to eat when i did at 4pm. nothing like some serious hunger make something good even better. siara is an old friend from when i lived her before and it was a very relaxing afternoon sitting with her while she cooked--talking, drinking masala tea--that is tea with salt in it...talking to the occaisional passerby who very intrigued by a foreign girl sitting on the street enjoying sometime with friend.

still glad to be here...everyday remains a lesson in something....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Kolkata Friends

Some Kolkata Friends
Dillion and Molly (Above)
Maya and ME ( Below)

Diwali Pics--Festival of light

Today's News

The Sad News...
Our friend who we were hoping to plug into a new job with Freeset was again resistant and made excuses about why she could not take the job...we are sad but not hopeless. We remain hopeful and trust that with our encouragement and maybe some prompting from Jesus she will come with us some day soon.

Hate the Drum, not the drummer
Every Puja (Hindu holiday celebrating a god or godess) is marked with very loud noise going very late into the night. And yesterday was the start of DIWALI--festival of light and boy did they drum straight into the middle of the morning. this morning on our 530am run we ran past the drummers sleeping and my first thought was that we should wake them up since they kept us up but then i was reminded that we need to love the drummer and hate the drum.

Still no house
We are still waiting for word on whether we can finalize the contract on our house...we really want to get it done and moved in by the 12th when we leave for language school in bangladesh. pray for us...

The miracle of garbanzo beans
Last night we accomplished the feat of making hummus in India. We soaked dry garbanzo beans and mash them with metal cup and then added olive oil, water, garlic, salt and lime. it was fabulous!! if you want to come and visit i promise to make it for you!!

The train station
I worked at the train station at Sealdah on monday to help out as they were a little short. It was strange to be back walking the platforms...looking for those who are sick or dying. Trying to distinguish between the dying and the sleeping--both postured in the same position. both in need but not in the same way. it is easy to forget how bad the suffering is here...hard to let your mind linger for long on 12 year old little boys sleeping everywhere you look and the one wounded and disfigured who is afraid to look you in the eyes. It is easy to put aside the suffering and exchange it for comfort. It is a very physical spiritual battle that we fight at the train stations...everywhere satan is seeking to marr the face of God by marring the face of a humanity made in his image. It is an honor and priviledge to step into the fray and say--not this man--not today-- at the train station.

and yes, so much an honor to tell a little girl or a struggling mom in the gach that this is not what things are supposed to be like--we were not created for this--they were not created for this...there are glimpses of the garden to seen and lived and a God who can handle our laments and their broken hearts outside the walls of the brothels.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A good story from the other night...

Below is an excerp from Kristin's blog...sometimes there are people looking out for you here. We are super thankful that everything turned out alright...

I was actually stolen from on my way home from the metro last night. i had my bag full o groceries (well...i admit...groceries and 5 diet cokes!!) so my back pack was really heavy. this young guy was walking really close to me and two times stepped on my heels. honestly i though he was just aperver who want to stare at an american woman (this happens regularly). he stepped on my heels twice and i just glared at him from the corner of my eye and though that i will let it happen one more time and then say something to him. well i got home and went to get my keys and found my phone and my wallet gone. I was soooo pissed. it just made me so angry.

the next thing i know the landlord's daughter, moitri, runs up stairs to my house and says she is on the phone with the men who caught the guy who stole from me.

we went down to this small cigarette/ pan store and they told me the owner would come in 15 minutes with my phone.,...and he did.

the men had been watching us walking on the other side of the street and had seen the man take my wallet and phone. they proceeded to catch him and then beat him!!!!!
this indian man told me that he has seen me on sudder st. and knew that i did charity work. everyone knew we spoke bengali and where we lived.

they even knew to call Moitri (how...i don't know). and the most ironice thing is that there was only about 110 ruppees in my bag....that is the equivalent of about $2.00!!!!
it was one of the only times i praised Jesus for being a white girl in India. i actually felt really humbleded afterwards and felt bad for getting so angry.

Pray for Freedom

Kristin who has been here for 2 years and some of the previous WMF staff have established a pretty good relationship with a family of sisters in the Gach. There are three sisters...2 of them live together with the older sisters 4 children in a small room in the Gach. They pay ridulous rent ( a way brothel owners keep the women in bondage) for the small room which is more than what we pay for 2 rooms and a bathroom and a kitchen. Both the women are prostituting but it seems that the older one is ready to leave but she is afraid. Kristin was able to arrange a job opening for her immediately and we have contact that knows of a cheaper place for her and her children to live. if she takes the job working for freeset ( http://www.freesetbags.com/) and moves she will be able to support her family well and be free. she wants to be free--she has said she wants to be free but everytime an opportunity is offered she seems afraid to take it--she told us not today but on monday. so i want to ask you to pray that she will come with us on monday and that she would take hold of the freedom on so many levels that is being offered to her and family. we are hoping that if the older sister takes the first step the other sisters will follow. This family can have a new and better life...this step could protect the woman's 10 year old daughter from a similar fate...please be praying. we will go see them again at around midnight your time on sunday night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Earthquake Orphans sold into the sex trade

Psalm 10

1 Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? 2 In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. 3 He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. 9 He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. 10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength. 11 He says to himself, "God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees." 12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless. 13 Why does the wicked man revile God?Why does he say to himself, "He won't call me to account"? 14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out. 16 The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. 17 You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, 18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.


The Sunday Times October 23, 2005
Earthquake orphans sold into sex trade
by Dean Nelson, Islamabad

SIX-YEAR-OLD Aisha loves the orange blouse and jeans given to herby the kind woman who rescued her from the chaos of the Kashmirearthquake. She snuggles up to her, trying to forget thedevastation of her village home and the deaths of her parents 15days ago.What Aisha does not know is that the woman, Kausar, is aprostitute who has bought her from relatives for 50,000 rupees(£500) and plans to put her to work in the sex trade as soon asshe reaches puberty.Aisha is not alone. According to welfare agencies, many of thehundreds of girls and boys orphaned by the earthquake are beingtargeted by gangs intent on turning them into prostitutes orstreet beggars.Other children are being sold for adoption by their parents inacts of desperation prompted by the destruction of homes andlivelihoods.The Pakistani government is so alarmed by the threat to vulnerablechildren that it has placed armed guards at all hospitals andordered that no child is released to anyone until proof of kinshiphas been verified.A complete ban on adoption was announced after hospitals andemergency shelters were besieged by people offering to takeKashmiri orphans. Staff at the PIMS hospital in Islamabad say anumber of people posing as relatives were caught trying to abductchildren.But according to Manan Rana, a child protection officer workingfor Unicef, the United Nations children's fund, in Muzaffarabad,near the epicentre of the earthquake, local government in Kashmirhas collapsed and officials are unable to provide protection.No official appears to have noticed when Aisha disappeared. Afterher home in a village called Arja was wrecked, she was taken toher grandmother's house in the nearby city of Bagh. Kausar, hernew "carer", who claims the little girl is a distant relative,heard about her plight from family members."Her grandmother was too old to look after the girl. I went toBagh on October 12 and I got her very cheap. A pimp from Lahoremight have paid 100,000 rupees," she said."I will provide a good education for her. I would not like her tobe a cheap, third-class prostitute. I do care about the girl. Iwill take good care of her, and then reap the benefit. I'mproviding for her protection and I don't care what Allah thinks."Kausar said she was earning £200 a month from prostitution, butcould earn thousands more from Aisha. She will sell the girl'svirginity to the highest bidder when she reaches puberty andexpects to get up to £2,000 for that alone. "She could start workas soon as she has her first period," Kausar said.If Aisha refuses to work as a prostitute, she will be sold to apimp, Kausar said. She may sell Aisha sooner if she is offered£1,000, but she would not pass her on to whites or non-Muslims,she said, and she would not consider any intervention by thisnewspaper.By contrast the family of Summaya, 7, managed to escape thedestruction of their house in Muzaffarabad, but her parents nowplan to sell her for adoption so that they can buy a new one.Her mother, Rafia, 38, said they were hoping a good family wouldpay £2,500 for her and would allow them to visit her."My husband is a daily wage labourer and he's been selling bloodfor 400 rupees (£4) a pint," said Rafia. "If our problems areresolved, we will not sell the girl. I love her. I know anotherfamily will never be able to give the love a real mother can, butwe have to compromise."Mohammad Hassan Mangi, director of Pakistan's National Commissionfor Child Welfare and Development, said the government had setaside funds to make sure every family affected could rebuild theirhome. He asked to be put in contact with Summaya's family."The government is giving $10,000 (about £5,650) compensation foreach person killed in the quake. If this woman is affected, shewill definitely get a home," he said.For Aisha, however, there is little anyone can do. After beinginterviewed, Kausar vanished into Islamabad's vice world, takingAisha's future with her. o The first of three Chinook helicopterssent by Britain to help ferry supplies to remote areas of theearthquake zone left RAF Odiham in Hampshire yesterday. The twoother aircraft are due to to be airlifted out today aboard C-17transport planes.
The rising death tollConfirmed deaths: 51,139Injured: 70,000

This is message is forwarded to you by the:Initiative Against Sexual Traffickingc/o The Salvation Army USANational Headquarters

Monday, October 24, 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005

beyond mere existance...

Now for more than three days straight it has been raining. everything is damp and we can not do luadry because it may never dry. the rain in calcutta slows and dampens everything from the ability to travel to your clothes. this rain could steal my joy but the rain is only rain and today i feel so grateful for my parents, my friends and family who have loved me well. because of that love i am be where i am now....if have been given dignity, love and value from my birth till now and there so many here who do not know life beyond mere existance.

My main thought today is that the greatest gift we can give each other and our to the children we love is diginity and value....modeled after christ...the ultimate giver of worth as we lives as sons and daughters of the king. We have the opportunity to instill a deep sense of value and self worth, critical thinking skills and an internal motivation (because God loves me, because someone loves me, because i love me) ...something that we do not see very much of in sonagacchi...the women exist only. they cook, they clean, the work but they do not see much joy, or feel free to make a choice or welcome a opportunity to move beyong where they are right now. An opportunity for a better life is a scary choice when no one has taught or instilled in you that you can make good choices, that you deserve good things and that you even if you fail you are loved. So love each other well my friends and you can change the world. pray that we can love the women and children of sonagacchi into a new life beyond mere existance.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


So it has been raining for the last 24 hours and Calcutta being basically on a swamp is flooded and extra fun today. We have seen people waist deep and have found ourselves walking in water as deep as just below the knee. It is still raining...rain kind of slows everything down makes getting around more difficult as we walk most places... we have found ourselves wet alot. sad i do not have my camera today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

New day, new thoughts...

Today we got to see what will hopefully be our new apartment. It is huge with 6 rooms and 2 bathrooms. and a nice large kitchen...we are really excited and hopeful that it will not only be home to us but to many others in the future--whether it be girls or teams or just all you lovely people are going to come visit.

today was a really good day. basically because i felt normal and it was as normal as a calcutta day can be. We did pilates, we prayed and worshiped jesus and then we saw the new apartment and spent several hours in the gach with some sweet ladies and i got to see kiran have a wonderfully deep and meaningful converstation about faith with one of the girls. it was a hope full day.

I have been using an amazing devotional book that was given to my by Emily Timm that keep rockin my world every time i read it...call instrument of thy peace by seabury. He basically reflects on the st. francis prayer...lord make me an instrument of your peace...probably my favorite so far is the reflection on...

Where there is hatred let me sow love.... St. francis

"The petition of st francis may be taken for the moment in an easier way, namely that asks to be the reconciler of those who hate one another, or that he asks to be able to soften the heart of the one who hates and to heal the grief and resentment and lostness of the one who is hated. This is something that we can ask ourselves. we can plead with those who hate, and encourge those who are hated; we can mediate between those who hate one another...To be an instrument of God peace is not to confine oneself to the field of personal relationships but to concern oneself also with the problems of human society, hunger, poverty, injustice, cruelty, eploitation, war."

I have been really challenged as the author reflects on the individual parts of the prayer--where there is doubt bring faith, where there is despair hope....I am sure i will have more reflections as i continue to read.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ring around the moon

Okay these pictures are not posting as well as they did on my laptop. They are of the moon last night. I went out side to get my laundry from the line and the moon was right in the center of the sky and surrounded by a huge ring that extended itself across more than that half the night sky. it was amazing. i have never seen anything like it in my life....there was a partial lunar eclipse here yesterday at 530pm that was no visible because of the rain but i am wondering if the amazing night sky had something to do with it.

friends and co-workers

We have been to the gach a couple of times now and I am begining to adjust. I am shy with my Bangla and certainly very rough after not speaking for more than 2 years. Yesterday was good. I met alot of girls i have never met before along with several that i knew when i was here before. I longing for better bangla skills and deeper relationships with the girls but i know that both will take time--probably alot of time. this picture is of kristin and kiran--the amazing women who are currently spending time in the gach and have been for some time. Kristin is my amazing, visionary friend whose passion for the women in the gach is amazing and kiran is a bengali christian who began working with kristin several month ago three days a week. I am looking forward to great relationships with both these ladies and we seek to serve and love the women of the gach.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thoughts for today

I wrote the last post as my prayer letter and then still had so much time that new things to share cropped up so i decided to post this one on my blog and use the new heart revelation for my prayer letter. things have been going pretty well over all.

kristin and i have been doing this intense work out for two days and then we were both super sore yesterday so we had a rest day...not as sore as if i ran a marathon but sore in more places...here is the work out if you want to try it...

One set:
100 juming jacks
100 jumps
Three sets:
15 push ups
45 seconds wall sit
20 chair lifts for the tricep
One set:
100 juming jacks
100 jumps
Three sets:
20 crunches
20 butterfly sit up left
20 butterfly sit up right
20 toe touch crunches
20 plank leg drops
One set:
100 juming jacks
100 jumps

if you do it let me know what you think...maybe i will take pics next time so you can see how we do it...that would be funny.

I am mostly recovered from jet lag but today for some reason i feel weary and nearly weepy...reading my emails today made me feel very loved and maybe reminded me of what i am missing just a little in choosing to come here.

Getting my heart cleaned up

“A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

“His word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:9

It is always painful to confronted with our sin…I have been in Kolkata for only few days and I am overwhelmed with the darkness and poverty of my own heart as I begin to be confronted again with the physical and spiritual poverty around me.

I am in pain as I consider some of the selfishness with which I have lived in the last two years. The last two years have been amazing and healing in so many ways and yet I see how it is marred by allowing so many alternatives to being with Jesus to distract and sooth me. I have not forgotten Kolkata but I have forgotten how to live sacrificially and with daily encounters with suffering…this is lesson that I am sure I will have to learn over and over again my lifetime. I have had everything that I have wanted or needed in the last couple years and yet I lacked some thankfulness and humility in receiving what has been mine to steward. I think every time I come to Kolkata there is period of refinement and period of stripping away the superficial things that I can so easily cling to for protection, the false gods in my heart are being knocked down and my selfish and lying heart is exposed and I am thankful and deeply humbled. I do not think it strange that my time here is starting with a time of repentance because I know repentance will lead me to adoration and praise so that my heart will burn as Jeremiah’s and I will not be able to contain it.

I left the USA to be with the beloved women and children loaded with three heavy bags so that I can be comfortable. Comfortable and safe in my home…yet I now I am reminded again that all I need and have ever needed is Jesus. The abundance contained bags will not be my solace or protector only Jesus will satisfy. I am reading “The Heavenly Man” by Brother Yun and I am overwhelmed by the sacrifices of Chinese believers for the sake of the kingdom. Their obedience and sacrifice is a testimony for the entire world. I sit here now asking God what will my testimony for the kingdom be…will it be one of selfishness and lies or one of obedience and sacrifice.

I am hoping that it will be one of faithful obedience and sacrifice. These last two years have been preparation for these years ahead but I am not done, there is still so much I have to learn, so much to confess, so much to lay at the feet of the Master until I am fully His with boundaries or barriers. I have said over and over as I prepared to come to Kolkata that my desire was not to be needs driven but Jesus driven so my prayer is that I would allow Jesus to drive my steps and refine my heart daily for His glory. I pray that I can live a life of vulnerability and sacrifice so that these special women in Sonagacchi can know the amazing, redeeming love of Jesus.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Dead Cockroachs on the Stairs

So this morning when i went downstairs there was a dead cockroach on the stairs...pretty gross, just lying there. And it is funny because this morning was a little painful and some areas of brokeness were revealed and that painful refining process that happens in situations unfamiliar started taking place. it became a time of repentance...it was painful but good. but seeing that dead cockroach that no one cleaned up reminded me that is how i live i leave the dead cockroachs on the stairs instead of cleaning them up and leading a redeemed life. so i guess when i go home i will do the dirty work and throw that roach out on the street and remember that my owns sins once confessed can also be thrown out and left behind as i repent and walk the redeemed way. weird analogy but it makes sense to me right now.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

First Journal Entry 10/8/05

strange to be here again...sitting with Jesus on the verge of tears in calcutta. praying thankfulness for love...his love. wanting,hoping to see the word made flesh...wanting to proclaim the way of jesus as john the baptist. want to annouce in a loud voice satan you have no power here and the lord is here and his light will not be overcome by your darkness. promising myself hope with these words. hoping jesus will prepare a way in my heart as he prepares the way...the way in calcutta. i dragged myself in to this time this morning...afraid of what might be here or not be here...already on my first day fearing that Jesus might not be enough, he might not meet me, be with me, love and light me. but he is near, so near telling me of love and life... john 1...follow me he say...so here i am feeling his embrace, dark is light, depths are heights, far is near. he is near. simple beads lead me here to hear him...love him and be loved by him. i am a vessel...a empty chalice to be filled and poured out in the hands of my master. today his banner over me is love.

Top Ten from the first 24 hours

10. Always good to see fat indian men in unitards as the poster boys. for a circdusolie type event. Makes me want to go for sure.
9. Sudder street is not for sissy's.
8. Nothing beats indian hospitality...chai, chowmein, and some heavy lifting on my behalf by a 9 and 11 year old.
6. Thanks to the disorganization of Indian airlines...i did not have to pay another $144.00 for my extra bag. The bangkok people tried to make me pay but i did not have the cash so they said someone would meet me in Calcutta...no one met me...and i did not go looking. I guess there is a chance they could get me the next time i fly indian airlines.
5. My trip here was probably my worst travel experience ever...so either satan is trying to discourage me or jesus is trying to teach me patience and submission. probably a little of both.
4. Fast fans are a gift from God.
3. Kolkata air is enough to make you smoke or make you quit... just suck up the sweet calcutta air!
2. Kolkata'te onek beshi lok ache (calcutta has a lot of people)!!
1. Friends to Welcome you home! Super glad to be with Maya and the Tollygunge folks.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Ouch! Painful to look at...10 hours into my 14 hour layover in Taipei. Posted by Picasa

Taipei Sky

Nice to wake up after a long night in the aiport to a little beauty and some free wireless. Check out the Taipei sky !! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 29, 2005

All that remains... Posted by Picasa

What was lost... Posted by Picasa

the frond and the sea Posted by Picasa

Sweet coastline Posted by Picasa

Boarding in Sri Lanka--GO MATT! Posted by Picasa

Some beachy pics from Sri Lanka Posted by Picasa


My time in sri lanka was exceptional...a really sweet
time of fellowship with those i worked with and a
blessing to see what has happened since we started the
tsunami relief project in february.

a few things that struck me--while i was there and
even now i feel small... to see the destruction and
to swim in the ocean that took so many--to make sense
of what it must have been like -- at some points i
felt like i was having a little post tramatic stress
and could sense anxiousness in my own heart about
whether it could happen again...and even this week
with the london bombings i was reminded that the violence
and loss of human life goes on around the world...we
are small and fragile whether it is a tsunami or a
terrorist... so like i said i felt small...very much
not in control and very fragile in this very large out
of control world. events like the tsunami remind us of
our humanity , our fragility as human beings--as much
as we would like to think so we are not in control.
but though i am small and what i have and who i am can
be stolen at any moment of any day i realized again
that if all was lost--jesus is enough. that may sound
easy and maybe even cliche but the simplicity of it is
profound . i am small--god is bigger and big enough.

the other thing that kept occurring to me was the song
that i learned in sunday school--you know the one--the
wise man built his house upon the rock--the foolish
man built his house upon the sand--but my thought was
that the poor man built his house upon the sand and
floods came up and the house on the sand went splat!
in sri lanka one house might be standing and the one
next to it flattened with only the foundation left.
even still it is the poorest who remain in tents and
along the train tracks with nothing and no rights to
rebuild what they lost because they did not own it in
the first place...while much progress has been made so
many still suffer...the poor were made poorer and the
middle class poor by the tsunami--the poor man on the
sand does not have a tsunami waring system....this is
not a completely developed idea yet so if the above
does not make sense i am sure i will talk about it
more in my next prayer letter.

lastly, even in all the destruction, i still walk away
with hope. hope becuase the homes that we have the
opportunity to build with habitat in sri lanka are not
just a sub standard replacement to what was lost but
something new and better. we have a unique
opportunity not just to rebuild the nations devastated
in the tsunami to to BUILD them...to see the injustice
and desperation that was there before and say we will
not let what was be the future...i hope for the people
sri lanka and i hope for those who yet to receive the
help the need.

continue to pray for the tsunami affected
nations--there are years to come of building was lost

The new home next to the one standing white wall of the old home. Posted by Picasa

Building Homes in Sri Lanka Posted by Picasa