Friday, July 12, 2013

A brief catch up

This time last year I was still adjusting from the jet-leg of a 22(ish) hour plane ride from Mumbai to Dubai to Dallas to Denver.

The return flight from Dubai was perhaps one of the deepest times of reflection and prayer I've ever experienced. Unable to sleep, I tried to preserve every memory I had of India by writing it down in my journal, but every time I delved too deep into what I'd seen, I began to weep.

The line from the song "Awake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons served as what I thought was a confirmation that I needed to go back to India very soon.

"And now my heart stumbles on things I don't know/ my weakness I feel I must finally show
... Where you invest your love/ you invest your life"

Looking back on that time, I was convinced that in order to right the wrongs I'd seen, I needed to return to India as soon as I could to fix all the world's problems. I wanted to prove to God that I was a good person and in a sense, I was trying to earn my salvation.

I remember becoming annoyed when I read in a book about Mother Teresa that she would tell foreign missionaries to find their "own Calcuttas" and serve Jesus where they were. How could I ever do as much good in America as I could in India? I'm not "special" enough here. I'm not doing anything "radical" enough here.

Now, just one year later, the names and faces have faded considerably in my mind and are only reintroduced with the smell of curry or jasmine flowers. I still ache for all those people, especially the elderly -- those who have lived their entire lives being told they are nothing.

But, at the same time, I see how self-centered my desires were. I wanted to serve the poor, not entirely for their sake, but partially because I wanted to be "that one girl who went to India for a year to serve the poor."

A colleague of mine helped me come down from my cloud of self-importance and idealism by saying something along the lines of "It's easy to love a foreign place where everything is new. There's something euphoric about traveling, but it's what you do and how you treat people when you get back home that matters."

I still hope to return to India one day, but I know that God has been using me in different ways right here in my own neighborhood. Smiling at strangers, trying to go to daily Mass more frequently, reconnecting with my family.

No, this isn't what I envisioned myself doing this time last year, but this time has been trying, humbling and purifying in its own way.

Do the people I met in India still need help? Of course!
  • You can help sponsor a child's education -- which is the best way to help prevent them from being trafficked -- through the Dalit Freedom Network.
  • You can support International Justice Mission -- a group dedicated to fighting injustice throughout the world by freeing people from human trafficking.
Every little bit of awareness and financial support helps! The worst thing we can do is nothing!