Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 5 - The heart of the matter

On Thursday we once again split our team in half with half going to the brothels and the other half going to the jewelry unit. This would have been my day to go to the brothel but because of how everything played out I opted not to go so that I could return to the jewelry unit to discuss a long term project with them. Ms. Tammy and I were honored to be able to present our idea of a bracelet that they would make there in Kolkata ship here to the states so that we could in turn sell it here and then return all the profits back to them.

It was an amazing meeting with Ms. Tammy, myself, Kaitlin, and Ms. Monique. This is where I felt I was in my element, creating, presenting, getting people excited, this is what I love to do and I believe why God called me on this trip. We were able to look at all their beautiful semi precious stones and as a team picked out 9 different colors for the 9 different bracelets we would love them to make. We hope to have the "Navaratna Project" bracelets here in the states by spring. If you would like updates on this line, if you have a blog, store, or group of ladies you think would love to support this amazing cause please leave a comment and I would be happy to keep you posted.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Guest Blogger- An Afternoon in the Brothels

I am so excited to have my first guest blogger and am overjoyed that it is someone who I respect and love so much. Deb is one of the 9 of us who went on this trip and personally was one of my rocks. Deb has one of the most beautiful and loving hearts. She is also funny and sassy. I am blessed to know her and have her in my life.

As I stated in the previous post our group split up on day 4. I really wanted to share the experience that the other group had with you all as well so I asked one of those ladies if they would like to share their experience and Deb stepped write up offering her account from that day in the brothels from her personal journal. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful account from Deb's point of view.

"Today we traveled to the Red Light District where the brothels are located. Our guide for the day, Chandra, was a bold Christian who prayed for our Muslim taxi driver and gave him a brochure for the A/G Church. Pastor Noel was amazed and said it was dangerous to do that. Chandra knew many ladies in the District and introduced herself to everyone she had not met (and of course encouraged them to attend church!). She took us to the home of a “Madam” who is paid a fee for rent and for each customer every girl sees per day. The madam’s mother was 80 years old…very frail. She was a follower of Jesus and asked us to pray for her knee, which was swollen. Praying for that sweet, dear lady was an experience I will never forget. She didn’t speak English but looked into our eyes with great love and understanding of the prayers we prayed for her. She pointed to a poster of Jesus she had taped to the wall.
We met the son of the madam. He had just married a Hindi girl the week before, and is a Christian. He has attended Bible College and has a vision to start a Christian church in the Red Light District. We prayed for him and his wife and also his sisters-in-law. We sang a few worship songs and he played his guitar. We encouraged them and enjoyed their company. When entering the homes, we removed our shoes and sat on the floor or bed. This home had two rooms and a sofa so we sat on the sofa. This was considered luxurious. There is no air conditioning in any of these homes and the heat and humidity is stifling. Lots of sweating going on…
We crossed the “Holy River” on a primitive wooden boat for a small fee. There was very little water…more of a filthy stream. The smell of human waste was so strong that I had to fight not to cover my nose and mouth. There were actually children playing in the sludge and men “bathing” in it.
When we crossed over, we saw temples and shrines to the various Hindu gods. People were burning incense, bowing down and placing flowers in front of the idols. There is a huge temple named the Kali god temple. Animal sacrifices are still made here daily. The blood pours out on the ground and live goats (not for long!) wander around. Kali is the god of death and destruction—this is what Kolkata has been described as: the City of Death and Destruction.
We were introduced to a few more young prostitutes. They have beautiful smiles and they are quick to laugh. I think in my self-exalted American attitude, I believed that I would step in and see their suffering and make some grand gesture to lift them out of their “situation”. I imagined they would beg me to save them from this lifestyle. I expected weeping and sorrow. ​​James 1:9 NCV
 "Believers who are poor should be proud, because God has made them spiritually rich.
James 1:10 NCV
 "Those who are rich should be proud, because God has shown them that they are spiritually poor. The rich will die like a wild flower in the grass.
" God showed me in this moment that He loves each one of us equally and that people are really not very different, regardless of where you live. Ephesians 2:18 MSG
"He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through Him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father." We all suffer, but we all find joy in our lives. We all long for something more….we long not to be lonely or sad or afraid. In the end, God is the only “thing” that truly satisfies our deepest needs and longings. This was yet another lesson in humility: God was showing me that I am no different from my Indian sisters or anyone else in the world. This trip was not about me…
We sat crossed legged on the bed –the only furniture in the room. This, of course, is the bed where these young women earn their income. They insisted on giving us cookies and tea. They have so little but are anxious to share the little they have. They all ask how old we are, do we have children, etc. They want to know about us and want to practice their English with us. In the early afternoon they need to sleep because they are awake all night. Each girl entertains 10-25 men per night. 5-10 minutes per customer. Again, their lifestyle and way of earning a living seems so sad yet we feel their hope; their dreams for a brighter tomorrow. So we hug them, kiss them, pray for them and say goodbye. We pray that God's love touches them through our prayers, and the people God places in their lives. We pray that we will see them again one day and that they will experience the Truth of God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ."

Here is picture of gorgeous Deb (and this picture was taken in NYC, not Kolkata, lol)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Four Precious Jewels

On day 4 the group split in half with 5 of us going to work with Ms. Monique's jewelry ministry which I will call "jewels" since they make jewelry and the other 4 went with a member of the ministry to the brothels. I was in the group of 5 who went to meet with the ladies of jewels. We traveled to an area called "China town" where the jewelry studio is located within a large building which used to be a tannery. The building has many great ministries in it which includes a slum school during the day as well as the jewelry studio and a couple of other things. Below are some of the pictures of the drive through China town. When we got to the building which was HUGE and went inside, we traveled up some cement stairs and traveled down a hallway until we reached a beautiful glass door. We stepped inside onto wood floors into a very bright, beautiful, brand new modern studio space. We walked in to see Kaitlin, Ms. Monique's intern sitting on the ground with 4 Indian women. They all immediately stood up and created us with smiles and warm embraces. We all introduced ourselves and joined them on the floor where having praise and worship time. We sat in this beautiful room and listened to these women sing worship songs in the native tongue. It was an extremely moving moment because although we could not understand the words they were singing it was almost as though my souls new what they were saying. You could feel the Holy Spirit in that room and it was so strong it brought most of us to tears. I remember thinking to myself in that moment how honored I felt to be there, that God had chosen me to travel half way across the world and how similar we were to these women. We all love the same God, He created each of us in His image and I couldn't help but think how pleasing that worship session had to be to Him.

After our time of worship and devotions we were able to work with them and help teach them English. We went back and forth asking each other questions. The four women were so sweet and loving to us and were so happy we were there. We were the first American women to come work with them so they had lots of questions for us. It was a great time of fellowship just sharing our lives and stories. After that we ate lunch and then they started working on their jewelry. They were extremely focused and a lot different then the chatty ladies we had just spent time with. They were all silent and very involved in their work, it was so nice to see how serious and determined they were. It was an amazing day just getting to know these awesome women.