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 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 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.