Good bye, Chennai.

21 Apr

Tonight, we are getting on a train to ride 24 hours to Pune. We are saying goodbye to the city that has slowly become a temporary home the past few weeks. The faces I have met will stay with me.

Joshua* had a flashy bright blue shirt that made him stand out from the other kids. He was HIV positive, like the rest of the 13 kids he lives with, but it didn’t stop him from running around, popping balloons and grinning. Years earlier, his mother was in the final stages of AIDS. She couldn’t get treatment, and soon the pain became unbearable. She set fire to herself, burning alive in order to escape this world. He was three years old at the time, and with her.

Pria*  looks like a bollywood version of Shirley Temple with her bouncy black curls and infectious grin. She is six years old and the size of a three year old, because when she was 2, her mom didn’t want to take care of her and her brother anymore, so she decided to starve them. She locked them in a mud hut and left them alone for weeks. They managed to survive on leaves that blew in under the door, and mud that washed in when it rained. Pria still goes by the nickname “baby” because of her size when she was rescued.

As I sit in these children’s home’s in India, listening to incredible stories, I feel humbled and honored. I am amazed God would chose me to be the recipient of such redemption and grace showing in these kids lives.

The redemptive lives of Joshua and Pria may never be best selling books, but now because you have read this, one more person has entered into their stories. As any good story, it spreads and multiplies one person at a time, a whisper in an ear, a chat over coffee, a shout from the rooftop. Light enters into dark corners, truth beats deception, what was unknown is suddenly known.

I wrote this the other day about a woman who sat next to me at the slum church we ministered at.

What stories are hidden behind those old eyes?
That face, scarred by burns?
If I could decipher your foreign tongue, I would.
If I could open your heart and read it like I book, I would.
What brought you here, to this time and place,
to intersect your life and mine?
Have you ever found love?
What are your dreams, your hopes?
How do you see the world?
In a moment, a flash, a look, a nod,
tears flowing at the same time
I know, perhaps beyond all differences
we are made of the same ingredients,
just slightly re-arranged
Maybe 8,000 years from now
we will be neighbors
then we’ll sit on my front porch, drinking wine
and I’ll finally hear your story

On a lighter note, I have been working on a list of reasons why India is great in my mind. Here is what I have so far:

Surprising Things About India That Make Me Smile

*It is perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) to eat rice with your hands, but when we had a pizza party, the kids ate their slices with a fork.
*You can be 40, wear bright pink polka dots, stripes, gold jewelry and flowers in your hair and not be considered gaudy.
*The endearing head bobble. (although it still confuses me “Do you mean yes? Or no? huh??)
*Ice cream stands on every corner.
*Posted rules (such as traffic rules) are more like suggestions. “It would maybe be a good idea if….”
*Appy Fizz. (Fizzy apple juice. Not just for new years.)
*Every little girl is allowed to dress like a princess every day. Even when your 20.
*Sweet green jelly and red onions mixed into chicken and rice.
*India is very much their own country- even the youth don’t seem to be trying very hard to be western. It is refreshing.
*Random kids calling you auntie and wanting to shake your hand.

Please be praying for compassion and creativity for my team. It has been a struggle and a fight to write. We know there are so many more stories to tell in the  next month and we don’t want to grow calloused to it.

“The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! ” – Luke 12:2-3

I believe storytelling is much more then an ancient art around a campfire, or a group of kids in a circle at the library, it is eternally important, it is spiritual warfare. The act of daring to  speak out truth or put it on paper is a brave one, it is lighting a candle where there was only darkness before. In doing this, we bring the kingdom of heaven to earth.

*Names changed.

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One Response to “Good bye, Chennai.”

  1. Jeff April 25, 2010 at 2:57 pm #

    Praying for you, Brooke–and for the storytelling inspiration! We’re proud of your team’s work there. Though I imagine it’s difficult, God’s going to use your sacrifices. -J

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