Each week we travel to a new village and live in a children’s home with a Pastor, his family, and about 10 other children. These kids are selected to live there so they may have an opportunity to go to an English-speaking school, live in an indigenous community, grow in their faith, and be mentored throughout their lifetime. Each week, we serve the home and community by organizing activities including: worship, games, reading, art, gardening, praying in the village, and cleaning. At the end of the week, we invite the entire village to a special church service.
The difficult part?
I find myself living in humility, nearly every moment, of everyday. Maybe it is because I am sweating 24/7? Modest really is hottest when we have to be covered from our shoulders to our ankles in the 100 degree heat.
During mealtimes, we eat on the floor and scoop up the food with our rights hands. I’m left-handed, but not in India! And of course, the spicy food makes me sweat even more. But it’s worth it because it is sooooooo good :).
We use a squatty potty, which is basically a hole in the ground. In the mornings we bucket shower; and usually, the shower is in the same small room with the squatty potty. It was definitely a growing experience sharing this space with 10 boys or girls.
Every day is filled with something I have never tried nor seen before. While I’m in it, it’s uncomfortable, but at the end of the week I am grateful for it.
We hear the endearing name, “Sister, sister!” about one thousand times during the day. It is a term of respect and honor. It was so precious to see how fast these boys and girls showed us love. And it just so happens, we fell in love just as quickly.
After a long day at school, they would jump into our arms. And before bedtime, they would hug us with an enthusiastic, “Good night sister!!”. Even before sunrise, on my way to the restroom, I would be greeted by these sweet voices. I was not ready for a good morning, but the kids were more than ready. They were wide-awake, already hand-washing their clothes and slapping them on the concrete to dry while shouting, “GOOD MORNING SISTER!!”
If we needed more water, they would reach for our water bottles, and with a smile, ask, “More water, sister?”. Instantly, I would think, no it’s ok, I can get it myself! We would sit on the ground and not a second later they came out with a chair, “No sister, sister, sit here. Please!” It’s ok, I don’t mind, I can sit on the ground! We came here to serve you! We want to bless you, but you keep giving us so much.
And as each week carried on, the honor, servitude, and blessings from our new brothers and sisters multiplied.
Last week, we stayed at girls home where we had the blessing to grow very close to the Pastor’s daughters who were thirteen, seventeen, and nineteen. Throughout the week, we discovered just how different our cultures were. “You’ve never had peanut butter?!” we exclaimed. Our new sisters were in for a treat because my teammate carries jars of jiffy peanut butter in her pack (we all have priorities for what to carry and I definitely appreciate hers!).
Our last morning there, we handed over the jar of peanut butter and a box of crackers. “No sister, no, no! You take that with you.” the oldest replied. After going back and forth a few times, she quietly replied with a smile on her face, “Thank you sister.”
We all sobbed as we said goodbye. Our team, Ama (mom), and the pastor’s daughters were in tears as our taxi pulled away. All week these women served us with their entire heart and soul. They welcomed us into their home and spent every moment honoring and loving us. And still, they expected nothing from us. Not even the smallest gift that we could offer. There were no strings attached, just the pure love of a servant heart.
And what exactly is a servant’s heart?
These girls have it. It is the heart of Christ. The heart of a Savior who is humble and meek enough to come to earth to serve mankind. Yet, even though He took on the nature of a servant, He was strong enough to take on the sin of the world and overcome death.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! -Philippians 2:1-8
I never imagined peanut butter would play a role in our ministry in India, but I also did not expect to find sisterhood halfway across the world. Oh the joy of the World Race.