Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reflection upon India Culture - a special journal writing

On this particular day (while in India) I began to process the sights and sounds of India – because the culture was heavy on my heart. Here is what I wrote in my journal. Ironically, all you “blog stockers” out there – I pray the timing of this post will bless you and help to prepare your heart for what’s to come….just remember – it is all good. (Plus, it gets much easier at home – I guess in some ways :) - at least you have the comforts of your own home to rely upon). Please know I do read all your comments and I’m thankful if in any way this may help you – I just may not reply because of time limits.  I am always open to an email if you want to write me offline with any questions, etc.

The Streets of India

Here is what you see in India- much like Nairobi, Kenya there are street vendors with bright signs selling everything from fruit to belts, to cell phone chargers – one thing we noticed was they sell mostly necessities. As we were looking periodically for children’s toys – that were authentic India toys – we didn’t find any. Vendors sell what is in demand and what is needed to survive, similar to Kenya. (And in the malls – it’s American –type toys like Leggos and Cars toys – which I refuse to bring home something like this for Joshua). The street side vendors are inspiring to me – both here and in Kenya because of the determination, drive and entrepreneurial spirit. (I guess it’s an extension of the “go out, kill it, bring it home to eat” – mentality.… before business and technology, etc)… humanity went out for their food or grew it in their back yards. – These small businesses are humanity’s way of “making it” – survival, food, prosperity.

These are not the greatest pictures - but it's hard to get out that camera on the streets and take feels so personal and imposing on the people and culture. 

In Mumbai, the rain kept coming; Monsoon season (although it wasn’t as stormy as I would have expected – just wet and gloomy, and grey). The streets are wet and people tend to just walk the best they can – but sometimes right in a mud puddle – it’s either that or get clipped by a motorbike or “auto”. (recall – I don’t think pedestrians have any right of way). The street people (homeless) are present – but honestly tend to blend in because there are sooo many people walking everywhere on the streets. Naked children don’t seem to faze anyone; garbage is everywhere as it is collected by the wind along fences, walls, streets, overpass concrete poles, etc. There isn’t much green here – which makes Bal Asha a really special sanctuary of trees tucked away. On the streets, sidewalks around bridges are often found with a make shift tent of plastic, cloth, and sometimes a board to lean the structure somehow in upright position. And that is what some people call home….each time we ventured out - we would see at least one or two of these makeshift tents (sometimes a row of them along the sidewalk).... it's fairly common. It’s mostly women and children in these settings – but sometimes men too – all a very dirty, dark, and sad sight. But what amazes me about this sight is the fact that the naked baby doesn’t run into the traffic – as the momma sits on the ground just at the edge of the tent, baby is exploring just outside of the tent – playing in the dirt …but doesn’t go further than what is clearly an invisible line….. gridlock traffic inches and feet away going about the daily commute.

When people ask why we adopted from India – (instead of US) – we have many reasons, but I’d like for them to just for one day see the life of an Indian street kid or young woman on the streets. We have poverty in the states – but I don’t see ANY of these poor carrying a cell phone or have cable TV like so many of the “poor” in the US. I don’t want to diminish US poverty – but folks this is a whole new level of poverty in the slums of Africa and on the streets of India.

At a stop light we are approached while in our car – by a young girl – tiny – I’d say maybe 7 or 8 (only because of the maturity in her face) – she is hand washing car windows and begging for change. You can tell she’s of the deepest level of poverty – her hair un-kept and matted, clothes dirty, and no shoes. She’s working for either her family or for herself to eat – and she’s cute. We took off before we could even think about giving her money. She’s not fazed as we drove away – as she smiles back at us dodging out of the traffic as the light changed – she’s rejected millions of times each day. We asked our driver if many people give money to the children on the streets and he said, “no”. The survival –spirit that God gives humanity should not be taken lightly.

Children are also seen in school uniforms walking to and from school – just like Kenya. And the haves and the have nots just seem to blend together in the crowds. I am so thankful that I’ve had the two Kenya experiences because in many ways it has prepared me emotionally to see the sights of India. (As you can imagine – I am a very emotional gal – tough on the outside (yet marshmallow on the inside).

My first day to the village in Kenya on our mission trip, we passed young children – Anjali’s age and size digging through garbage for food – I silently cried just taking in all the sights during our 30 minute drive to the Rift Valley where Mwemotoni Village is located. The van was silent as my teammates were surely feeling the same way. So similar to Kenya, are the sights of India and people sifting through garbage, although in India it’s a bit different because garbage isn’t being burned everywhere – (imagine the Kenya sights with the smell of strong, stinky charcoal everywhere – it is senses overload for sure)…not in India – thankful there isn’t burning garbage to add to the sensory challenges.

As I’ve watched out the windows during our drives – honestly looking at many people’s feet – so taken by the dirt and dust – it’s such a stark contrast to the beautiful women in beautiful sari’s – I’m amazed that they too walk through the dirty streets in their sandals. In the quiet of my heart I hear the Holy Spirit say to me – “I too walked dusty streets in sandals – and I am the “I am” – don’t judge them for the life they have”….. ouch – I love it when I hear a clear message from the Lord, even if it hurts! “recall my teaching on foot washing and serving others” – so with a message like that from our Lord – what do I do with that??? - And as I transfer my journal notes as we speak I can’t help but wonder if the purpose of this message was just what I needed to prepare for the endless servant heart I will have to grow more and more into as I parent Anjali. It’s been 7 years since having a newborn – and Joshua was a very easy baby – he’s independent even now to some extent – so it’s like starting all over again….although she’s not a newborn – needy, but mobile, high energy, and very curious. (AHHHH!).   And I think I may have mentioned a time or two on this blog .... I'm a selfish person!  Honest - I need some me time... guess what, that will have to be on hold because this little child needs me (or at least tabled until those daily naps) - as Brad has put it to me a few times, "you are her oxygen"... no pressure or anything.... :)  I gotta do this right, and guess what I'm certain to mess some things up! "God is good, God is faithful".... keep saying this...over and over, Lord give me your grace. ...enough of the sidebar....see my BLOG even becomes about me!! :)...back to the journal.

Meanwhile I’m reminded that Anjali seems to be a bit obsessed (perhaps too strong a word – but can’t think of another) with having her hands clean, her sucker clean, the lint off the coach in the hotel room, the biscuit crumbs off her side of the bed and I’m thankful that some of her training at Bal Asha must’ve been cleanliness, perhaps a bit of nurture and nature of who she is, but if this is taught – I’m thankful because she’s SO VERY healthy, although I fear at times she may go nuts when seeing our kitchen floor :) - cheerios, goldfish, wheat thin, remnants of cooking, etc. I bet she will be happiest when the cleaning lady comes every two weeks – but hey, that’s when I’m happy too :)

Remember to pray for the people of India – the rich and poor, - the close proximity of people, traffic, and buildings must be an extremely stressful life. I’m longing for my bluegrass and my old Kentucky home.


  1. Okay, you know how you would tease me that I needed to come with you and take pictures of your experience in India? You need to come with me when I go, so you can journal my whole experience. I am horrible at writing. :o) I love how detailed you were in capturing everything. So precious.

    1. too funny - my pictures totally proved that I needed a photographer :)

  2. I love that inspired insight: "I too walked dusty streets in My sandals . . ." That one line just did me in. It drives home to me the reality that every one of the thousands of people you saw was lovingly created by our Father.

    That was one thing that was overwhelming to me about India -- just the sheer number of people present at all times. One of the Indian moms at our school said that's why she only has two children -- there were just so many people around all of the time in her city, that she never considered having any more than two children.

    We traveled in December, and one of the smells present in winter is wood smoke (and whatever else will burn), from fires people build on the streets to keep warm.

    1. I wondered how they stayed warm in the colder months.

  3. Renae,
    I hope you are feeling better. I really like your "daily lesson" and "must have" parts to your posts. I will be looking back through them to make sure I don't miss anything in the future as we plan for our trip. We watched Slumdog Millionaire last night as it was suggested to us by some Indians. They told us that, much to their dismay, there was so much truth to the way street children live in that movie. I found it SO disturbing! You are right, American poverty is on a whole different level than poverty in many other countries.

    1. I've been wanting to watch that - but just haven't yet. Have to find a private time to watch - it's rated R isn't it?

    2. It is R rated. But the rating is more due to the violence and disturbing content than stuff like sex scenes, cursing, and general garbage like in most movies. I still would not watch it with the children because the lives of the orphan children are VERY disturbing, and what I could not get past was that it is not just a movie, but REAL life for so many children according to several of our Indian friends. It is heart breaking and I don't suggest watching it right before bed because I couldn't sleep well after watching it.