Sunday, October 16th
This was our first full day in Kolkata and this is when I feel like it is going to get hard for me to try and describe things and do it justice. I hope I can do a decent job so that each of you can get a look into what we saw and experienced. So here goes nothing...
Sunday was a day that God completely showed up and granted me so much grace that I am still humbled by it. God knew exactly how much I could handle and it is amazing how He placed me and guided me that day.
The day began with myself and my roomates Amanda and Eva getting picked up by Ms. Monique and her family to go to church. We got picked up because Eva was singing and we needed to get there early so she could practice, the other 6 women walked to church later and met us right before service. We attended one of the english services. English is 1 of 8 different language services they have, I find it simply amazing that every Sunday the word of God is being taught in 8 different languages on one campus. After church we took a taxi to a local restaurant. This was the first time we rode in a taxi and we quickly realized a couple of things. There are no traffic laws. This means that you drive on which ever side of the road you want, you do not have to stop at red lights if you don't want to, you go whatever speed you want aaannnnd you beep your horn constantly.
Thankfully we got there safe and sound. We had to walk about half a block to the restaurant and this was the first time I had actually experienced being out in public on the street. This was a side street so it was not that crowded by Kolkata standards but by our standards it was packed. I noticed that we stuck out like a sore thumb and thought that I better get used to it because there was nothing we could do to help it. We walked past people sleeping on the street, people working, people socializing, and lots of trash... trash everywhere. So off that street we stepped into a beautiful restaurant, totally westernized and modern, the contrast was unsettling. We had a great lunch and then left to walk to a nice restaurant that sold chocolates. On the way we saw several small monkeys on ropes that looked like they would attack you if given the chance so we all stayed far away. When we went to get back into cabs to go back to our the place we were staying which is called BMS there was a small boy who came up to us to ask for money or food. We knew this would happen a lot and we prepared for it but I don't think it matters how much you prepare yourself, it is always hard and it always breaks your heart. I was the first to slide into our cab and slid all the way to the opposite side. It was myself, Amanda, and Eva at the other door. Eva's window was open and as we sat in the cab waiting for what seemed like hours but was probably only seconds that little boy stood at Eva's window with his hand resting on the window saying "please Auntie" and then motioning that he was hungry. The moment was overwhelming and it would be the first of many. I felt so helpless, I knew we could give him money but so often kids are used by their parents to beg for money and then the parents use the money to buy drugs and alcohol, not food. So we knew we couldn't give him money.
We returned back to the BMS and got to rest for a bit before we returned back to church for their evening young adult service. It was an amazing service, I think we were all touched.
At the end of the day as I was processing the days events it was evident to me how much grace God had granted me that day. First He allowed me to be picked up that morning versus walking, the women who walked to church that morning had a much different experience that than I did. Second, by God's grace I got into that taxi first so I was not the one how had to sit face to face with that little boy who hung onto our cabs' window. And lastly God completely shielded my eyes from something almost every other women saw and I think God knew it would have been too much for me. As we were standing waiting for our cabs, when the little boy was begging a couple feet away there was a very small baby, probably only 3 months or so the other ladies said just laying on the street. Many of them cried later when recalling that image, it was the low for the day for many of our group and I somehow completely did not see it. One of the hardest things for me to still come to terms with are the children and babies that we saw on the streets.