From India to Kosovo With Love
|Here is a Picture of My Granddaughter|
the Indian Barbie I Bought for Her In Mumbai
Four years ago this month I traveled to India with my daughter. I’ve shared that story before (Click Here to See Pictures and Read That Entry) but some experiences, like a good cup of tea are better when steeped a bit over time. It’s only then we can enjoy the richness of what has been placed before us.
It was late in November…Tom had been gone barely a month…if that…when Kendall asked me if I wanted to go to India with her to help girls who had been rescued from human trafficking situations. She said the trip was “next year in April.” To a person living in a fog, next year or even April sounded like light years away. I figured I’d probably be dead by then, myself.
I agreed that evening, though my level of commitment wasn’t very high. I went to bed later that night apologizing to God for not consulting him first. I realized however, that ever since Tom died I had been praying with every breath I drew in. It was how I survived.
The first meeting for those of us signed up for the Go India project was in January. I still must admit I wasn’t “all in.” I prayed that if God didn’t want me to go, he’d get me out of this. Seriously. Sounds horrible to admit now, but that’s where I was in the process.
One of the requirements for the trip was a valid passport. I took my passport in for inspection knowing that wouldn’t be the stopping point. My passport was valid. One of the team leaders looked it over and told me I needed a new passport. She was something like… maybe twenty years old so I was pretty sure her math skills or reading skills were off. I pointed to the date issued and the date it was to expire.
“Your passport has to be valid for six months after the return date.”
What? That’s ridiculous! Your passport should be good as long as it’s good! (I felt like Tom in that moment, borrowed his attitude and threw a little internal fit.) I studied the date and did the math myself. My passportwas good for five months, three weeks, and four days after our return date. Three days shy.
Reluctantly, I forked over the money for a new passport. I mean, they hadn’t kicked me off the trip because I was too old. Nor had they kicked me out because of funding or the fact I was a widow. To not go because of a passport issue seemed silly. If I didn’t get it renewed at this point, I knew I would likely let it expire and never travel again anyway.
I went to Mumbai, India in April 2015. The experience there was remarkable. I hope I was helpful. I know serving there with my daughter helped me in my grieving.
Two particular instances stand out for me as I write this today. Both tell me that God intended for me to be on that trip.
One experience happened at “church.” It was a small gathering of people in what looked to be an apartment. We had been told that a man in our group might be asked to read scripture, speak, or pray. Women weren’t asked to do these things. The men in our group gathered one night to get information on what they should or could do. We women chatted for a bit while they met then headed off to bed.
The next day, at the end of our church service, the pastor looked directly at me and asked if I would offer the closing prayer. I looked around. I thought he meant the man behind me, but no. I was the one. I walked to the front and prayed a sort of double prayer. I call it that because even as I spoke words audibly I was praying silently for God’s words to be shared. I left the church feeling loved by God…that he would trust me with this honor to pray for these people.
By the way, I am always praying that no matter what I say people will hear what God wants them to hear.
The second powerful experience for me happened that same week. It was an affirmation that I was exactly where God wanted me to be at that moment.
We had completed a floor activity with the girls. My group finished early and I leaned back on my hands, my legs stretched out. A voice…nearly audible washed over me saying, “You are exactly where I want you to be right now.”
|A Relief Map One of My Students Made of Kosovo|
It was so close and so real, I turned to see who said it.There was no one there. I knew it was God telling me I was where I needed to be. At the same time I knew he wasn’t suggesting I become a missionary to India. He was telling me I was being obedient.
I know I’ve shared bits and pieces of all of this here and there. I think pulling it all together is important. Our lives are like tapestries. It is important to see the threads that make up not only who we are, but the plans God has for us as they unfold over time.
The path to eventually serve in Kosovo was paved long ago.
· They needed a teacher. I prepared for that role first at the University of South Florida and then through my experiences at Fairfield City Schools.
· Tom and I visited Kosovo in 2005. It wasn’t totally foreign to me.
· But most importantly, when I was contacted to come to Kosovo, the start of school was a few weeks away. I arrived in time. I had a valid passport.