Tuesday, March 31, 2009

love, love, love...

Kristian Stanfill opened with that beatle's song at the Student Life tour...the song that starts, "there's nothing you can do that can't be done..." It just popped into my head and has nothing to do with what I will say other than I am thinking about it 2 months later lol. One of my last memories of home. So I've been going to Kalighat now for a couple of weeks and I'm starting to get the full experience. I'm sure many more intense things are coming, though. Today was cleaning day, which made everything hectic. They moved all the men into a very small area and all the beds out. Then they cleaned all the beds and floors and put all of them back. So, it was a good day for sure. I'm for sure liking Kalighat more than Prem Dan at this point. I think I enjoy the more intimate environment. I guess I like having some semi-familiar faces and I love getting to help some of the guys with ...well rehab basically, just helping them walk and guiding them. It is for sure intense though. These tourists came in today who weren't volunteering but just walked in to see it and there was a new guy sitting there with a huge wound going from his knee half way down his leg. I laughed to myself because I was thinking about how I would react if that were the first thing I saw at Kalighat. I would have flipped out in my mind. But it is for sure a beautiful place.

It is getting hot here, for the record. It is only March, but it is hot. I don't bother checking how hot, partially because they will tell me in celcius, and partially because I don't even want to know. Last night it rained randomly and brought in cool air, which felt incredible. I am crossing my fingers for the same to happen in about a month, when it is really summer time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The title is crows, because there a bajillion crows in this city. Just so you know, crows are ugly birds. They look like little demons flying around and pooping all over the place.

Ok, so I have officially done two mornings at Kalighat and I pretty much love it. It is so much more intimate than Prem Dan and I feel like I come here to work at Kalighat so I am doing what I came here for. The days will typically go like this: First, we get there are do laundry, hand washing all the patients clothes/rags, etc... and then after hanging up the laundry on the roof to dry, we will go hang out with the patients. This means bringing them water, massaging them, shaving them, clipping their nails, whatever really. Also, for the patients who are recovering, we can help them walk some. Today I got to help a blind guy walk and it was really cool because he was just laying in his bed and he seemed really happy when I got him up to go walking. I guess it was encouraging for me to see that I was making this guy happier by helping him out.

This afternoon I am going to Beth (my leader)'s house and talking about Guilty Without Trial, a book about the sex-trade in Calcutta. Reading that book totally opened my eyes because before this, I always just tucked prostitution into the category of "bad people" and moved on. But now I've been forced to look it in the eye and love it. The truth is (in India anyways) that these prostitutes are not there for the glamour hardly EVER. They are there because of poverty or because of sex traffiking. To know that calcutta is a hub for sex trafficking all over India is pretty disturbing. So, when we visit the gach it is going to be really cool to meet some of these ladies and offer them hope through SariBari because the contract has been given to us! Sorry, I totally forgot to update and say the we got the contract, and this is partially because I haven't gotten to help out any with the building process, and I am doubting that I will because they will just hire some Indians to do it all. Nevertheless, it is extremely exciting to know that a new branch is going to be starting up that targets one of the biggest red light districts in India. I love going to SariBari because I feel like I get to be a very small part of something that is so beautiful.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kalighat = intense

So yesterday I went to kalighat for the second time in the afternoon, and I will probably head there this afternoon too. Just the walk up to the building is really intense. There are tons of people living on the streets in that area. Also, I think yesterday was much more intense than my first experience, partially because a lot of the patients seemed like they were in a much worse condition. It is really pretty intense for me right now. I also find it funny that I spent a month at Prem Dan and now that I am experiencing the home of the dying I'm going through much different thoughts. Anyways, it is for sure a great experience, and I am glad to be getting to go this afternoon again. Most of the volunteers at kalighat are long term from what I have seen in the afternoon shift, which means that they are much cooler to work with.

Friday, March 20, 2009

40 hour train

Well, if you want to see any photos then you should check my facebook. It is about 1000 times easier for me to put them up there.
But for the 40 hour train ride. These trains do not have cabins, they are quite open aired. In fact, completely open aired. (For the record, I should stop and say that we road in a sleeper class, there is in fact an A/C class with tinted windows. If you come to India, you should take the sleeper class and get dirty like I did.) So, the beds are not really beds at all. We got on the train at a little after midnight and stayed on all the next day, and until about 6 of the following day. So, on day 3, you are guarenteed to look and feel gross. It makes coming back home to a bed quite a nice thing. Anyways, we road all the way through the country of India twice and so after looking out the window, I saw that there are in fact a few random hills in the southern part of India. But much of the scenery looked like Africa would in my mind.

Yesterday it was Alem, my roommate's birthday; He turned 30. We were talking and he told me some about his experience in northern India by the border of Nepal. He used to go to the train station and hand out tracts and try to share the gospel with the Hindi that he knew. Sounds really dang intense, especially when you think about the fact that the group he was targetting was Hindu's who were going to large, famous Hindu temples in Nepal. So, from this he was eventually told by the police that he had to pay them 50 rupees a day to preach there. So, he would pay 50 rupees and preach all day. This was after being chased away by the police multiple times. He played soccer at this time and he went to a tournament and they won and he got man of the match. So, he got his picture with the chief of police on the front page of the local newspaper, and from that point on, the police said he could preach wherever he wanted to. I find this quite funny.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

bangalore! and a crazy auto ride

Ok, so I thought I would go ahead and write about my odd auto rickshaw ride that I had home the other day. I get into an auto and I am jamming out to some Robbie Seay (sp) Band and the ride takes about 30-45 minutes. About half way through the ride, the driver turns around and says, "Hey where are you from?" So I say, America, Mississippi. And then he says, "why are you here in calcutta?" I said I was here to serve at Mother theresa's. He replied by saying, Oh so your a missionary? And I said, well uh yea. And he said, I don't understand why Christians have to keep coming here and giving good things to poor people and then forcing the gospel on them (this is obviously a paraphrase). I was like, uh, I don't think it is right to shove the gospel down someones throat, but I do think you should believe in Jesus because there are 2 possible places to go when you die, heaven and hell. He immediatly was like, "NO there is no afterlife!" lol. I am sorry but this was quite comical to me. Really it isn't funny at all, but it was funny at the time, you just had to be there. So yea, the conversation kept going but it never got past that point. He would continually return to the point that he wanted to make of "you can give good things to the poor, just don't give them the gospel." and I would say, well, I want to give them the gospel because that gives them much more than just good gifts. He really didn't want to hear what I had to say so I kindly responded with "ok" and left. But hey, he gave me the rickshaw ride free, I think to prove that Hindu's can be generous too. Lol, I tried really hard to pay but it was no use. Btw we were talking after everyone got out and another rickshaw driver asked to listen to my music and he did and was like, "oh its very good"...sooo, the best thing you can learn from this is, Indian people like robbie seay...not really. This was a kinda cool and funny experience for me for sure.

Anyways, bangalore. I saw the blue sky there and was about to cry because it was so blue and not smoggy like calcutta. I don't think I could live in England or Seattle after having this experience of joy in a blue sky. It was an incredible trip though. We went to Kirubai Children's Home which is run by a lady named Tammy. There are 45 kids there and they are all either going to go to school or are in school. Their ages range to an infant girl with HIV to an 18 year old who is attending college and wants to be a pastor one day. I also talked to a guy named Kiren who is in 12th grade and wants to be a missionary in India wherever God calls him to. These kids were all brought off of the streets or by a social worker. They have terrible pasts and this home is bursting with life. These kids are nothing short of amazing and they offer hope to India. In short, I feel like that place is ridiculous...in a good way. I'm really glad I got to see it and experience it. Tammy said that they pray as a staff, both the Indian host parents and the American staff, before accepting any children. If they don't feel like God is in it, then they will say no. She says they have turned down probably 100 kids and they are currently full at 45. In a nutshell, the place is amazing. We had fasting and prayer on sunday night, which is where the kids don't eat dinner and we spend about an hour praising God to some worship music and praying for different things. We prayed for the 10/40 window and shouted out the names of countries in that window asking God to bring life there. I'm telling you, this place shocked me. The kids in that home are so flipping talented too. We played "Indian Idol" where the kids got up and sang and were "judged" but just seeing them sing was so cool. Some of their voices were so good. And I continually kept thinking, these kids would be on the streets begging me for a few rupees if this place didn't exist. Naturally, my mind then progresses to, "more of these places need to pop up!!!" Tammy never has "raised support" or done fund raising for this children's home. She never asked people for money, she just asks God for money, and he brings it in amazing ways. They needed $75,000 to build the new home that they are currently in, and God brought it. They never told anyone in a mass email about needing this money, it just came, in one big chunk someone gave it. There are a lot more stories that I heard that are similar to this one if not more amazing of where God provided in Tammy's life. She really seemed to me to have a ton of wisdom to offer. She talked about how our first priority in life needs to be to love Jesus and wherever we go its just context. So in India, my first priority is to love Jesus. She was just talking about how so many ministers and people in general get their identity wrapped up in their job or ministry. God looks at you and sees your heart, not your job. I feel like she had a lot of wisdom to offer, and I feel privileged to be able to just see this children's home. The kids were amazing. They had great attitudes and they minded better than most American children that I have seen. I got to play some soccer with the teenage guys on Saturday and they were really good. It has been a while since I've played a good soccer game...so much fun.
So, Bangalore rocked. I am refueled for sure. Btw my birthday was good. Just missed girlfriend and family more than usual. But yea, they got me a cake, which was very kind. Yea though, God is pretty amazing. I think my next blog entry will be on the 40 hour train ride home. I could talk forever about that.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


So, Khalighat was a great experience for sure. I got to help take some guys to do some rehab on the junky little stationary bikes they have. It was really funny because the guy didn't want to get out of bed and he kept threatening to punch the other volunteer. After a while, we fed the patients by just handing out the food and then we did the dishes and had tea time. One of the sisters that works there right now spent a few years working in Memphis in one of mother teresa's homes.
That reminds me, it is astounding how much they will praise mother teresa. I mean, she was an incredible person no doubt. But to sit around praying to her and about her is kind of ridiculous. I would rather pray to Jesus and tell him that I love him. I may be speaking out of complete ignorance in this because I just saw the group of nuns praying around mother teresa's tomb, which is inside. I also can never get over how much Catholics like to pray to Mary. I really don't understand why they always pray to mary when the Bible clearly teaches that we should pray to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.

Tomorrow at 1 pm I will begin the 30 hour train ride and a trip to bangalore that I hope will refuel me a lot. One of the guys I met at Khalighat was saying he went on a trip to Nepal after a month of working here and it really helped more than he expected. He works at Howrah station walking the platforms every day. He said there are a lot of long term volunteers who he goes with and they just find people who are left for dead at the station. It is pretty crazy. He said they find a person about every other day. Then they either care for them there, or if they are bad enough, then they send them to Khalighat. I am really excited about switching to Khalighat after the trip to Bangalore. But I'm also nervous because I don't know how I will react when I come face to face with a dead person (and I am sure that I will there).

Today I am going to SariBari for the 2nd time. I am pumped about going and hoping to get to know the ladies a little better (maybe try to start knowing some names this time lol it is so hard when there are 28 of them). Yea, so I am excited for what God has in all of this and looking forward to another 3 months of Calcutta.

Friday, March 6, 2009

getting adjusted

I think I am finally getting more adjusted to living in this dirty city. For sure it takes a few weeks. However, I am pumped that next week I get to retreat out of the city to go to Bangalore, which is southern India, for about a week. This is going to include a 30 hour train ride where I will get to see some country side!!! I think I am not quite used to so much city. So, I can't wait to sit around and read and play cards with my new friends on the servant team. When we get to Bangalore, we aren't going to really be inside of the city because we are staying at a house that a lady started to get street kids off of the street. Beth has said that the lady there has tons and tons of incredible stories. I am super excited to hear them and to meet the kids that have been brought up in a Christian environment rather than on the streets. What a beautiful thing! I'm loving getting to be a part of something that is so literally the gospel. There is so much need in this place, and it is fun to go and see the places that are offering redemption and the gospel in a real way.

Tonight I am planning on going to Khalighat for the first time to volunteer. This is super exciting, because when I came I was expecting to spend all 4 months at khalighat. The reason that this house is called khalighat is because the Hindu temple khali is right around the corner from the house. Khali is the god of death and destruction I am pretty sure. How crazy for that paradox to exist...You have the temple of death, lead by demons, and then you have a house offering life to people who have no hope physically right around the corner! Can't wait to experience this, and I really am excited about switching to this house in April too. I think it will be good to finish up March at Prem Dan and continue to reach out more and more to the patients there. It is really fun to sit and talk with the ones who know a little bit of english. Their faces are definitely imprinted on my mind. Many of these guys are mentally messed up or have some sort of disability. For example, there is a guy with 2 big bulges hanging from his neck, I think it is elephantitus, but I really have no clue. Somehow he finds kite string that flies in from kites that are broken in the area and he weaves them into bracelets. I think he offered me one, but I looked at it and wasn't sure what to do so I gave it back lol. If he offers it again, I think I will take it. I thought he was just showing it to me. Oh well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


So yesterday was my first day at SariBari. I got to do a little cutting and tying of knots to help put on the inside pocket to the bags that they make. It was fun being a part of the amazing redemptive process that SariBari is. The cool thing about it is they do a great job of making very professional products so it is very much a business. The wmf staff here are praying for a contract to come into their hands soon (meaning now) so that they can start another branch in another part of the city near a bigger, more prominent red light district. This would be a huge thing if God allows this. They of course were supposed to get the contract some time around last October, but the owners have continually put it off to stall the process. I personally want it to happen also just because I will get to be involved some in doing some renovations to the building that they get, which is really cool. I would love to be able to say, hey I helped make that happen.

Yea though, I am getting used to living in the nagahouse which is cool. There are some super good things about it (such as the mosquito net, and real shower, and fan in the room). I am very thankful that God has let me move in with these amazing guys from nagaland. I have gotten to know them a little but I am usually gone all day and at night I almost always want to just sit by myself and do nothing so I haven't gotten to know them super well yet. I definitely find myself much more of an introvert at the end of the day in this city. I really do love the time that I can spend just sitting there writing or reading and having no crazy horns around me.

Prem Dan was great today and I am continuing to love it more and more. There were more volunteers there today than I have seen yet. I think there were around 18, which means that there is less to do, which is disappointing. I am pretty surprised because it is starting to get hotter here and it makes sense that less people will come then. I think the month of April will be a non-volunteer month, but we will see.