Why Kolkata?

"Wow you're going to Kolkata?"

"I heard it's hard."

"Why did you choose Kolkata?"

Being one of only four students going to Kolkata, the same question pops up in my own mind. I usually answer "The city and the people intrigue me," or "I've heard a lot from my friends who have gone." But my own answers never quell the nervousness in my stomach. It sits there, clinging to each thought and process in my head. Will I get along with my small team? Will I be angry, distraught, sad, apathetic, or hopeful in the midst of poverty? What am I getting myself into?

I'm in Bangkok, Thailand right now for Orientation. It's been four enriching days full of seminars, friends, and food. Something I've noticed here is the rain hits hard and fast here. It begins drop by drop, and then boom! The rain pours like an outdoor shower. But what draws my attention is not the rain, but what the Thai people do. Or more accurately, what they don't do. Motorcyclists don't pull out a rainjacket and street vendors continue selling their goods in the rain. The rain thoroughly soaks the city and people of Bangkok.

Rain often represents new life. In Genesis, rain brought about massive and destructive change but also new promise. There will be rain for me and my team in Kolkata. There will be despair, anger, hopelessness, and pain from the poverty we will see. I choose not to insulate myself from the rain, like the Thai. I choose to sit in it, feel it and experience it, knowing there will be a glimmer of hope, promise, and restoration. Feeling the sprinkling of rain on my skin, I am nervous, anxious, and unprepared to meet poverty. But I am also expectant, thirsty, and willing to see hope and Christ's movement in the city.

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
- Isaiah 60:2