Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beauty. Glory. Redemption.

My Easter was spent in Darjeeling and Kolkata. If I were to express the vastness of God's glory that we experienced and His sweet redemption, it would take pages. Here are a few snippets:

Darjeeling is in the Himalayan Mountains. I always loved the ocean more so than the mountains; I grew up near the ocean. Until now, I realize they each display different aspects of God's heart. I have never seen mountains like these before, and we were only at the base. I have never felt such an intense feeling of God's true glory...

Friday, April 2, 2010
I sit here looking at the same mountains of Darjeeling that Mother Teresa looked at way back in 1931. What is it about mountains that so display the majesty of God? Their vastness and beauty I suppose. It's not a wonder that Mother Teresa heard from God in this quaint little city of Darjeeling. These mountains display God's heart in a way I rarely experience. These mountains emulate peace. It's as if they were saying, "I'm here Michelle. I'm here." I feel God's comfort in their vastness. Sitting here I am reminded of the extreme hopelessness and need in the world, but somehow know it's going to be alright. Though these mountains are enormous... though poverty, disease, slavery, abuse, hunger are enormous... "If I have faith as small as a mustard seed, I can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing is impossible for God." ~Matthew 17:20

Saturday, April 3, 2010
My stay in Darjeeling was short but refreshing. I'm sitting in the Badogra airport again after our long, rather bumpy ride back down the mountains. Yesterday was spent wandering down the streets of Darjeeling. What a lovely, quaint little city. We wandered down to Happy Valley, a 260 acre tea plantation, and drank real Darjeeling tea. The rest of our time was spent walking and enjoying the fresh air.  We don't realize how much we suffocate in the big city, until we get out. Weekend retreats are quite necessary to survive our work in the crazy city we live in. The views provided by Darjeeling are absolutely gorgeous. I drank them in. I wanted to drown in it's beauty. Add to it the beautiful brokenness of humanity scattered throughout those mountains and it displays God's glory and holiness ever so much more. I wandered through the oldest church in the town, built in mid 1800's... an old building, slightly dilapidated, but oh so beautiful and still functioning. It was quite peaceful with no one around except a few monkeys. Maybe I'll get married in a church like that someday.

This morning we woke up at 3:30 AM to catch the sunrise at Tiger Hill, over the Himalayas. Our night was rather interesting as we all had large rats in our rooms, and even some in our beds. But all that was quickly forgotten when we were met with the breathtaking view provided by our God just for his children. The hill was crowded with so many people wanting a glimpse of the sunrise. It was quite cold, freezing actually, but the overwhelming sight of beauty shot warmth threw my body. It was very foggy, making it difficult to see all the peaks, nevertheless, the sun slowly found it's way over the mountains revealing several majestic peaks, ones that make me feel miniscule in God's vast creation, yet loved that he would create such divine beauty for me to see. When those snow capped peaks began to reveal themselves, I couldn't help but giggle with joy. This is my God. This is MY God. My sovereign, loving God. And he brought me here, he created me "for such a time as this."

Sunday, April 4, 2010
It is Easter sunday and I am sitting in the courtyard of Mother Teresa's home, the "Mother House." There really are no words to describe the feeling here. Though we did not get to volunteer, we were greeted by a group of nuns gathered around several mentally handicapped children singing and banging their tambourines... praises to God. It took everything in me to not burst into tears as we watched these little ones all dressed up for Easter, some wearing new little shoes that squeaked when they walked. You could tell they weren't used to wearing shoes and were so excited to have them on.... "And this is why Jesus not only died, but rose again... for them."

After visiting the "Mother Home," we attempted to go see her home for the dying, though it was closed to visitors. So instead, we quickly walked through Kalighat temple just down the street. What an incredibly eery place. We were advised previously by some people not to walk through, but I wanted to see it for myself. It was craziness... people screaming and yelling everywhere, trying to sell you things. We had to take our shoes off to walk in, who knows what we stepped through. As you walk through, there are people pushing and shoving. A man was standing on a pedestal, touching people on the head and throwing some sort of powder on them. Around back there were even animal sacrifices. I don't know if it was a good idea to go in, but I wanted to feel it. I wanted to feel what God feels and sees when his children worship idols. I wanted it to break my heart like it breaks his heart. It did. The irony that I saw this on the day that my savior rose from the grave, was quite heart wrenching. I've never fully been able to comprehend idol worship. Now I do.

Finally, that afternoon, we made our way to Mother Teresa's orphanage. The nuns let us in and let us hold and play with the babies. Many of them were mentally handicapped, some were malnourished, and some I'm sure had some sort of illness or disease. I happened to find a girl off to the side, crying. She was probably two or three, rather overweight, and slightly mentally ill. I picked her up and just held her for awhile, calming her nerves and whispering in her ear how beautiful and loved she is. I know she didn't understand, but there is power in words and blessings. I didn't know what happened to her parents or what she had been through, but I prayed that she would be loved and would know the love of Jesus. I finally put her down and found the tiniest baby with the biggest eyes. She was beautiful.  I was able to hold her, whispering in her ear as well, praying blessings over her life. I spent the remainder of our short time there holding this little girl. Those children are so precious. They are closest to the heart of God as one can get I believe.

"If only one little unhappy child is made happy with the love of Jesus, tell me, will it not be worth all of us giving all for that?" ~Mother Teresa

Monday, April 5, 2010
Today we went back to Mother Teresa's home for the dying. It is just around the corner from the Kalighat Temple. How ironic. It's quite the small building actually. There was another group of white people there and it felt kind of awkward "touring" the place. I didn't want the patients to feel like they were on show or in a zoo we were going to see. There was one ward for the men and one ward for the women, that's it. They were all mostly in pretty bad condition, but somehow, someway, there was no sense of hopelessness there. There was actually a sense of peace and hope. These people were dying, but they were being taken care of, they were being loved. People who would otherwise be suffering and dying on the streets. Literally. Alone. Now they would die with dignity. I desperately hoped that they were hearing the truth of the gospel as well. Oh how I hope they do. There were nuns and volunteers seeing to their needs. They would bathe them, feed them, do whatever was needed. It was so simple, nothing elaborate, nothing fancy at all. Just rows of beds. I hope to go back to both this home as well as the orphanage someday to volunteer. What an incredible honor.


How blessed am I to have the experiences that God is giving me? I often feel unworthy and unqualified. I'm learning more from this land than I am contributing. But that's okay. We are God's workmanship, and he is never done working on us, teaching us. Mother Teresa has become one of my heroes. No, I don't claim to know what her biblical theology was, and I'm not saying all her beliefs were true. I know many people look at her life and all the good works she did, thinking that's what gets one into heaven. I know it's not. A relationship does, as long as we remember that. We can learn so much from her life, her selflessness, her commitment, her passionate love. Look at what God can do with a life not lived for ourselves. There are no limits.

"Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you - you cannot begin to know who he wants to be for you, or who he wants you to be for him." ~Mother Teresa

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