Steve and I were there along with a team of high school students from our church. And as we made our way to the compound where we stayed for the 2 weeks, we became overwhelmed with the beautiful dichotomy that is India. On the same real estate can sit a beautiful, colorful mansion and a small shack village of pieced together dwellings. We would be enthralled by the beauty of a scene only to be slapped in the face with the reality of poverty sharing the same moment. There was so much to take in.
One of the opportunities we had while we were in India was to develop and lead a youth conference. Our team put together dramas and songs and games to share with our new friends, and through the help of translators, we were able to encourage them in their lives and learn from them as well.
Many of these young people were extremely poor and traveled for 2 days on long, hot bus rides just to get to the conference. I instantly connected with one of the girls, a precious 12 year old named Aruna.
She spoke no english. I spoke no Hindi. We spent the day drawing pictures back and forth, taking photos on my camera, walking around together, eating together, drinking chai together. It truly is amazing how love can transcend a language barrier.
We spent 4 days together and on the last day of the conference, she handed me her cell phone.
I placed it up to my ear. "Hello?"
I never thought I'd be receiving a phone call from someone in India :) It was her pastor from her village. He spoke some broken english and wanted to tell me how much Aruna learned from the conference. It was a great and encouraging conversation. Aruna and I said our tearful goodbyes and we parted ways back to our homes.
Fast forward one year to the summer of 2008. I had the opportunity to return to India with a different group of high school students. to lead another youth conference in the same place. I thought about Aruna a lot over the year, but never dreamed that I would ever see her again.
We weren't there long when one of the local leaders of the conference found me and said, "Kate, there is someone here who is anxious to see you." And out walks Aruna, along with her sister and her mother. "Hi Kate", she said. "How are you?"
Aruna had spent the year learning english in anticipation of seeing each other again.
It was a beautiful reunion. She introduced me to her family and we again, enjoyed the days together. This time, on the last day of the conference, Aruna and her family invited me back to their room. They presented me with a beautiful Indian garment called a salwar. It was one of the most difficult gifts I have ever had to receive because I knew the cost that went into the gift.
Who knows how many months wages went into the purchase of this gorgeous outfit?
I tried it on and then they rubbed oil on my arms and braided my hair with flowers. I sat there with tears streaming down my face as these 3 beautiful women blessed me. I was so humbled in that moment. I came to India to be a blessing. As it turned out, I was the one being blessed.
In many ways, I feel like this is the story of our adoption. We enter the journey with a motivation to bless, by "rescuing" a child from a dire situation. But the reality is, we are far more blessed by the gift of parenthood.
I feel strange sometimes when people say things like, "wow, this little girl in India is so lucky to have you take her out of these circumstances." Or, "Dima is so lucky to have been rescued out of the orphanage. He is so blessed." But, the truth is we are the ones who are blessed. I would not be a mom without Dima or our little girl. Their very lives are God's precious gift to us.
I so look forward to the day we bring our little blessing home from India. Though it seems like such a distant hope and dream, it is the memories of people like Aruna that remind me of the joy that is to come. I hope to tell my daughter the stories of her country and all of the beautiful people we've met there. And what a special day it will be when I can sit in our living room and braid my daughter's hair with flowers and tell her about another special Indian girl named Aruna.
- patience - it's frustrating to think how long this process will take
- for our little girl - that God would be preparing her for us and us for her
Until next Monday,
love: Kate, Steve & Dima