Thursday, December 24, 2009

making christmas bright...

bright lights on christmas day so far...presents with the watermans, new prayer books from mom and dad, phone call from one of the newest sari bari women (made me cry), cinnamon rolls that turned out flat but still taste like christmas morning, and bing crosby wafting down my alley in kolkata mixing with Chris Tomlin's Christmas album. off to celebrate with the SB ladies in some more christmas cheer!

Monday, December 21, 2009

the one that was lost

As I have looked toward Christmas this year, i have been anticipating the ways that Jesus could come in new ways in my own life and new ways in which he can come in the lives of so many of my friends in the red light areas. I have looked toward rest and creating spaces of peace and spaces of celebration for our community. And i have enjoyed the process and buying about 50 sari's to give as gifts to the Sari Bari women at our christmas celebrations on the 23rd and the 25th. ( We will have about 60 people at each event including the husbands and children of our women).

I was thinking mostly of the joy of christmas. celebrating the people I love and reflecting on the HOPE of emmanuel. Last night, as i walked down the road a few women stepped in my path and told me about our long time friend who has HIV. Her condition is serious and she has refused to get help or let herself be helped. she pulled her kids out of a great school situation and they have become her caregivers. We have not seen or heard from this woman in many, many months. And after hearing the sad state of her current situation, i agreed to visit her on christmas eve and hopeful be able to connect her with the help both she and children need

Suffering entered my picture of Christmas for this year, not suffering i am afraid but suffering that was unexpected. The broken body of my friend, the isolation and lack of support for her children, the loneliness of all it.

i was not able to sleep last night, wrestling with my sadness at the whole thing. And all i could think of today was the story of the lost sheep. 99 doing well and the one that was lost. Sitting with the Sari Bari women in the sona....gacchi, i was overwhelmed as i looked at their faces, they too were lost at one point and are being found. I saw in their eyes hope and renewal that was not there three months ago. they have been found. The are secure in the embrace of the master....loved and growing in security in that love. and yet, are many of their sisters just outside on the lanes are still very lost. and all i could think of was the one who is still friend,the friend of our community, a woman whose picture i keep in my bible. I welcomed her into my heart long ago, and now it deeply hurts to know of her suffering, it deeply hurts to know that our many pursuits have not brought her yet into safety, it hurts to know that she is still lost, and that her children suffer with her.

It will be my honor to pursue her once again with other members of our community on Christmas eve and hopefully be able to bring her home to safety. Please pray for the miraculous return of this dear lost friend that she may know the healing and restorative embrace of our Emmanuel.

This christmas I will certainly be celebrating the joy of salvation in the form of a child savior and i will be marking the suffering of the those who are still lost who do not know that they can be found. We in kolkata will continue seek those who lost so they can know that they are sought after and deeply loved.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Broken Body

These pages are to tell you,
my dear brother, my sister,
not to run away from people who are in pain
or who are broken,
but to walk towards them,
to touch them,
Then you will find rising up within you the well of love,
springing from ressurection.
In waling along this way
I have had to meet my own darkness and brokeness
in the deeper knowledge that i am loved,
and so , though i have had to let go
of many dreams for our world
and many illusions about myself,
still i am growing in hope and trust
in the light that shines in each person:
believer or nonbeliever.
Yes, in that broken child,
a light is shining;
in that man in prision,
a heart is beating;
in that women, victim of prositution,
there is yearning for life;
in the rich and greedy person, seeking power,
there is a child of purity;
in that young man dying of AIDS,
there is the light of God;
in every person, no matter how broken, sinful,
hardened dominating and cruel,
there is a spring of water waiting to flow forth.

If you walk with Jesus along this path,
he will lead you
to the poor, the weak, the lonley and oppressed,
not with fear and despair,
not with feelings of guilt and helplessness,
not with anger or revolt,
not with theories or preconceived solutions,
but with a new and deeper
peace and love and hope.

Jean Vanier, The Broken Body

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December Prayer Letter 2009

The sunlight is streaming in washing us with light. The Paki Tara (bird star in Bengali aka. WMF Logo) flys above us and all of Sona—gacchi. Kyle is playing the guitar as we worship with the women in our Gach unit, our mostly female voices lifting high the name of Jesus, and I imagine the streams of light and hope that are carried out into the lanes of the red light district with our voices. It is a moment of beauty and perfection as I reflect on all that has lead us to this point. We are almost 4 months in at the new unit in Kolkata’s largest red light area, the women are full time now, finding their place and we are finding which product suits them best depending on speed and skill. We are discovering their hearts, learning their burdens and sorrows and enjoying these new friendships and cherishing even more those that began many years ago when the seeds where first planted.

I know not many people get to see their dreams come true and their hopes finding feet but it is a profound gift to live in the reality of a place where dreams really do come true. And it is not a Disneyland reality, of fireworks, color and candy but a fleshed out reality of life being made new and heroes being formed out of real people, real women whose only super power is love and their story!

This week as I was reflecting with the women on stories of Faith, I caught my breath a little bit. There is always something about relating new scriptures to the women that reveals new things as I think about what it means for them, in their context and the realities that they face every day. Both are stories of deep faith. One of the faith of a man for his daughter’s healing and one of a woman, caught in deep suffering and frustration over a long term illness. The woman’s faith revealed her strength of will and committed desire for healing. She believed so hard that only a touch of Jesus robe was enough for complete healing. Her faith is the way faith works sometimes, straightforward, committed, and certainly profound. It is however, Jarius faith that made me catch my breath a little. He was not seeking healing for himself but healing for his daughter. His daughter, her body too weak and broken, to come before Jesus herself; she may not have even had consciousness, awareness, such that we could see or name the presence of personal faith for healing. But Jarius had faith, faith for one he loved. He had faith even when others called upon him to give up hope. Jarius made me think of several of our ladies who are becoming our heroes. They in fact are very much like Jarius, having faith for the freedom and healing of those who remain in bondage in the red light areas, coming to Jesus on behalf of ones they love. Sitting in front of the women, it was beautiful to be reminded together of the one thing we all need to hear sometimes. We are not alone. And in Sona----gacchi when you cannot have faith for yourself, here beside you at Sari Bari are all these other women who will have faith for you. Here at your side, are the Heroes who have gone before, who have faith for your freedom, because the God of Hope, has begun His healing and redeeming work in them. They can tell their stories of faith and restoration. Our Heroes can tell the stories of those who loved them deeply and believed for them when they could not believe for themselves. And I must tell you my friends; you too are a part of this story of Faith. Your prayers for the women still trapped in bondage and those coming into the arms of love, have and are making a profound impact. You have believed for the Sari Bari women when they could not believe for themselves and Jesus has turned them into markers of Hope, reflections of Himself, and those who will point the way as the Kingdom continues to come in Kolkata.

Celebrating this season of Hope with Joy, Merry Christmas to you! Love, Sarah

A few of my favorite things

1. The enneagram personality test: scarily accurate and really "rips my face off" as Kristin Keen would say. The WMF kolkata community had a great retreat last week in Gangtok and as we "looked into our cup" so to speak, we were able to celebrate and encourage each other in all the ways that we are different.

2. Closing time at Sari Bari: We pray together, sometimes holding hands, sometimes noi. At SB Sona...gacchi, about 7 or 8 ladies wait around and we all walk out together, talking, laughing and I like to think offering a little bit of Jesus presence to the girls we pass who have not yet been able to take those steps toward freedom.

3. Beth Waterman becoming the Kolkata Field Director: Beth and I just spent 2 intense days doing the symbolic hand over of responsibilities. And I am really so excited to see Beth lead us and shepard the community in the coming years.

4. Talking to my mom and dad: I get all filled up to the top when i get skype time.

5. Making beauty: I am on a crochet kick right now, it must be the freezing 60 degree weather! also designing a few new products for sari bari...and working on some sketches for a friend.

6. Upendra Prasad Saha: Never met a man with a bigger smile, a bigger heart and a more profound gifting for what he does at Sari Bari as the Operations Manager.

7. Christmas in kolkata: I have decorated my little tree and i am looking forward to celebrations with our women at Sari Bari. I feel I really get the "when you leave houses or family for my will receive a hundred fold", i receive a hundred fold everyday.

8. My new sari bari king size bedspread: I almost never buy any Sari Bari Products because i want to get them out there for the world to see but I finally bought myself a sweet, gorgeous blanket of many colors. I am sitting on it right it!

9. Spiritual direction: Someone who constantly points you back to Jesus. Who asks the right questions but does not give the answers, who listens with you and for you.