Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February Pics

Here are few highlight photos from our Beach trip plus some. Wish i could show you all the best ones of all of the beautiful ladies faces...but this will give you an idea. plus you got keen in her bo derek out of the water walk and bethie smilling while she drowns...and of course tea and then breakfast the Charlotte and Julian.

The Rooftops

Coming down off the rooftops is hard. We visit one brothel in the gach every week and we have the most amazing conversations sitting on roof, looking at the sky as the sun sets every Tuesday. I forget that it is a brothel and that the women who live on the floors below are selling themselves and that the streets below are being filled with darkness as the sun sets. Coming down from the rooftop, I remember that I am in brothel, in red light district whose dark slippery stairs contributed to the death of one of our friends. Coming down from the rooftop is hard.

This week we celebrated the amazing 2 year anniversary of Sari Bari. We took the ladies out to eat at a nice restaurant, all of us dressed in Sari’s to mark the occasion. We went from the restaurant to the movies to escape into the Bollywood reality. It was great. After two years, it was easy to see the marked changes in the woman who have come to be apart of our community over time. They are healthy, many recovered from multiple serious health issues. Two women were hospitalized when they first came to work with us but now stand as a testimony of healing and life literally being recovered and made new. All the women, including the trainees, a reflect a glow that they did not have when they first walked through our doors. They love each other. Some of them love Jesus and it really shows. They have begun to know that they are loved. If you ask them what kind of business we have, they will tell you “freedom” is our business. If you ask them about their life they will tell you that is has so much value and they are starting to believe it. The woman we shared our celebration meal with and the women we stood with at the entrance to movies are not prostitutes, they are not rejected, they are not without value. No one could recognize them as anything but beautiful Indian women on a day out. It was beautiful…a picture of profound redemption. It was the rooftop so to speak.

But Kolkata sneaks in a reminds me, even on a day like our 2nd anniversary celebration that we do not get to stay on the rooftops watching the sunsets forever. I was distracted by a small boy while waiting for entrance to the movies. He was covered in scabies and in a really bad state. He was begging, asking for money with a sad face that marks a beggar on the Kolkata streets. I felt my heart harden…I wanted to say don’t you see who I am with, I am serving these ladies, loving these ladies, giving my life to Jesus for these ladies. But there he was demanding my attention, my money, my life. And I just at that moment was not willing to let anyone take my life from me, nor was I willing to give it freely, I wanted my moment of joy to be free from suffering and relish in the moments of redemption and hope. I asked the little boy where his mother was and thought I might give her a piece of my mind about letting her small son get in such a bad physical condition. He said he did not have parents. My hands had to open a little…to see the little boy. I had to let him into the inner circle of the redeemed when in my heart I wanted to keep him out. We were able to get the little boy some food and find out that he also had and “owner” (like many of the women we know who still work in the trade) who controlled his begging and his earnings. I am still thinking about that little boy. Thinking about my hard heart and my desire to hold on to my earnings, even my kingdom earnings, when they are not mine to begin with and never will be. What has happened at Sari Bari and in the relational ministry in the red light areas in the last two years is Gods gift to the women of those places. His gifts are not only for them but for the little boys who beg and who need a savior as desperately as the women, as desperately as I do. I realize again and again that I can not open my hand and my heart to one and close my hand and my heart to others. The gift is an open gift for all to receive.

I have been given the gift of compassion. It is hard gift because as Nouwen says it often open to receive another kind of gift which is the gift of self confrontation To suffer with, we must suffer. The little boy confronted me with my pride and selfishness. The women confront me with my impatience, fear of rejection and my own struggle with value. I have to let them in to let God change me, I have to open my hands and let the rooftop moments mingle with the moments in the dark alley.

“God’s compassionate heart does not have limits. God’s heart is greater, than the human heart. It is the divine heart that God wants to give us so that we can love all people without burning out or becoming numb.”

My prayer is always that my heart would be just little like Jesus for those that He loves in Kolkata. I am looking for 100 people to come alongside me as prayer partners this year and in the coming years. The work continues to grow and good, good fruit is coming but I continue to see the need for more of God’s grace and His love and His hand in all the work that we do and in my own life. If you would be interested in praying for me on a regular basis please let me know.

Also if you would be interested in supporting me personally or in supporting the work at Sari Bari please send me an email and I can tell you how to do that as well.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Looking very much like my mom!

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reflecting on my very bruised and also dirty leg!!

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this bruise actually got much worse before it got better...it has all but disappeared now a week after my encounter with a motorcycle on the kolkata streets! There was also one on my bum but i am not sharing that!

Friday, February 08, 2008

i wish...

for starry skies, and dreamy nights, and good, good friends, and lazy days and easy conversation. i long for intimacy deep and true, free and bound in love. i dream of not being selfish or of being selfish because someone else has told me i can for just today. i wish for unfrizzy hair and clean feet and empty streets and coffee, coffee, coffee all the time...cold or hot. i wish for gentleness and kindness and faithfulness for myself and my friends. i dream of strong embraces and closed back doors and places where no one leaves you. i wish for newness everyday. i wish to make right the things that were not right before and then i wish i could let them go. i wish for dancing bears, and calling monkeys and finished financials. i wish for more....

Monday, February 04, 2008

The wide open spaces

the wide open spaces of God's grace...so freeing and so scary really. I am not good at grace. giving it or receiving it really, but the last months has been full of lesson after lesson of grace. i can not problem solve my way through everything, i can not make it alright, or perfect. i can only be myself and wait in the wide open spaces. I can ponder the aquarium in my belly...the one i have been so afraid of sharing because i thought it might full of sharks,darkness and sludge but am finding the more i reveal the more beautiful and quiet the aquarium becomes....this may not make sense to you. its all about transparency...most importantly being transparent with myself and not so afraid of who i am or who i might reveal. if i only believe in the sharks and the sludge maybe thats what i will be...but if i believe in the beauty that comes from living in grace maybe thats what i will be.

i have been given a really sweet gift the last 6 weeks. i have been dating an indian/ swedish guy named michael. he leaves to go back to sweden today actually. and i have been having fun...so much fun. if feel like he is God's gift to me to reflect back to me things about myself i do not believe. i am not foolish to believe that in six weeks a guy can really know me but michael really reflects thing back to me about myself that i want to believe but struggle too...such as being able beautiful to someone, or being one who is gentle and kind, or being fun to be around. i feel like some of the lies i have been believing about myself are being crushed under the feet of kindness and friendly coffee dates. it has been a gift to escape my very full work weeks in the middle of day for a coffee or take the time that I worked extra last week and use it another day for something that has been super life giving. i am filling up on goodness and it is affecting every part me. its not all about michael at all...he is just part of it. he is just a key that helped open another locked door in my heart. for you curious people, this is nothing serious and will basically end with friendship since i am not really interested in long distance but still i am celebrating the gift it has been. and i am ready and open for another gift of this type soon!!

there is much i want to leave behind from the last six months...to throw off the lies i have believed, the hurts i have ingested, the darkness that left me empty. i often talk about the ladies becoming new...but i think i am becoming something new and i will be able to shed the dark shroud of fear and pain for the wedding gown of beauty and full live, so to speak. there are many losses to be aborbed this month...my dear friend charlotte and julian leave in just two weeks, michael leaves today, our friend abishek leaves at the end of the month. i have already had many tears over these losses, especially over charlotte and julian but i think in the wide open space of grace i can trust that God will meet in the losses, and restore in some unseen way these friends and still allow me to wear the wedding gown in midst of it.

God is my protector and defender too!! i was hit by a motorcycle on sunday (mom and dad don't freak out, i am very much okay)...by a policeman. i got knocked on my booty and i have the serious bruises to prove it but i walked away. the ladies have scolded me for not causing a riot and getting the policeman beat up for hitting me...but i told them i forgive him and that i am just thankful to God that it was not a bus!! so thankful to be alive, healthy, growing in grace in kolkata!! (will post a bruise picture at a later date)

may you all grow in grace and the knowledge of jesus!!