July 10, 2012
Firm through the fiercest drought or storm.
Sitting on the roof, looking over the city of Kolkata. The air is cool, and about five floors high makes you friendly with the clouds. The laundry sways in the breeze on weighed-down clotheslines. The night sky makes all the dim lights in the apartment buildings stand out. Usually the background music is honking horns of taxis, beeps and bells of rickshaws, auto rickshaws, and motorcycles, but tonight Nathan’s wooden flute sings louder. The melody is like a prayer into the night, cast musically over the city. As I listen, I can’t help but to sing in prayer over all that I see. It’s as though the honks and ear-splitting horns of the train sing, but have no true song. Somehow the quietness and smallness of a flute that knows a tune of truth seems so piercing and profound in this moment. In Christ alone, my hope is found.
It’s our second week here in Kolkata, first week of placements. Everyone has consistently been on different schedules, going and coming at different times. Almost everyone has gotten sick this week, and it spreads rapidly through the apartment. It varies from diarrhea, upset stomach, to some unknown virus. Two or three of us were taken down by a virus and held behind for a few days while the rest of the teams went to their placement sites. As I laid on my mat, going through periods of hot fevers and sweating, I was angry, upset, and disgusted. It’s lonely to be sick, and it’s as though loneliness and discomfort is compounded when you aren’t around familiar people, a familiar place, and when you don’t have tissues. My prayer was consistently, Jesus can you please heal me? I felt lonely and uncared for. As I opened my Bible, I kept reading about those who were prayed for and healed, and was ever so hungry for prayer. I asked Dana, a fellow trekker who was also sick, if we could pray, but I didn’t know how to ask. I started out with commenting on how long our leg hairs were, then we compared armpit hairs, and then I asked if we could pray together. We asked Jesus to heal us and then asked Jesus to heal those who were sick here. In that moment we understood the weight of what the least in this city experience perhaps all the time. I deeply understood the weakness, debilitation, and loneliness of those lying on the side of the road here in Kolkata, because I felt like them. Only Jesus could restore us holistically.
Against the backdrop of bleak sickness and misery, the kindness that the team showed stands as a bright contrast. Some simply came over to engage me, another offered me the same exact biscuits I had been praying for (I was too weak to go buy some), and the staff from Kolkata City Mission, our ministry partner, came up to see how I was doing. God showed me his care and love through biscuits, words and prayers of the team, for which I am so thankful and blessed. My heart goes out to those who don’t have these luxuries.
Although I couldn’t spend much time working with the ministry partners, I was completely dependent on Jesus for everything. I wasn’t self-sufficient in any way and had no way to restore my own body. God holds each day we have here in Kolkata in His hand, and he’s keenly aware of our frame. Just as he knows this team, he loves and tends to those here in this city. He gives friends, legs to walk, a stomach for eating, a mouth for smiling and singing, and most of all, a hope in Him alone. He is my light, my strength, my song.