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.