I Found Myself In India
The air was was muggy and smelt faintly of spices.
I knew I had stepped into a different world the moment I stepped out of the plane.
I heard it would be weird and I heard it would smell different. I heard it would smell, period.
And they weren't wrong. But to me, it smelled wonderful.
It smelled wonderful because it smelled like a dream coming true.
There's something about India that has either begun to lace itself into my heart... or perhaps it was woven in to begin with. Maybe its always been apart of my DNA. I'm not sure.
What I can say is that the parts of me that seem nomadic and have never seemed to make sense all growing up seem to culminate in to this country. In to this place.
And then EVERY thing seems to make sense to me about who I've been and who I am.
Now don't get me wrong. I grew up in a pentecostal church and I know what it is to be on a spiritual high from things. And I gotta tell you. I haven't had a spiritual high since I became a youth leader at those retreats. Some say its maturity. Some call it skepticism. Regardless, I can promise you that things like this only put my heart in turmoil as I work through both the offenses of God's moving and also my lack of understanding of what God is doing in me. I then have to wait it out and see what grows from the soil.
This trip is no exception. (On the flip side, I'm looking forward to how God will reveal all I need to know, in His perfect time.)
With this being said, I feel I can thus share more safely the things I am about to write.
I was 10. I was holding a conversation with a Spanish-American woman who agreed to teach me her language if I agreed to help her around the house.
She asked me what I pictured when I dreamed of my future.
I told her that I wanted to live in a comfortable apartment with my husband and that I wanted to be an archaeologist. I pictured my home filled with warm, earthly-toned household items and a loving glow.
My lady friend responded in amazement.
Little girls don't normally say such things, she said.
But than again... what normal 10 year old little girl wants to be an archaeologist?
Its the story of my life.
Swapping stories and getting to know some of the young people in Delhi and Dehradun has shown me a few things about myself and others.
Firstly, since I'm not even considered your average American Christian young woman, I can't even refute someone from India who tells me I am different by saying, "Yeah, but you'll find a bazillion other girls like me in the states!" Because the truth is... ah. You can't.
I mean heck. When I grab wings with the guys and they ask me girl questions I answer, "Do you want what most girls think or do you want what I think?"
So just in case I had a hard time acknowledging that I'm not normal at home, sending me to India will practically force me to look at the truth.
Since however, God saw it fit to direct me towards this truth before I went to India, taking these observant mental notes has only fascinated me all the more.
I'm different in India, not because I look the part (which is inevitable to say the least) but because I fit more than one could suspect.
It kind of blows me away. All of my life I've felt different and always struggled to fit in or feel like I'm part of this particular puzzle all together. Its always ever felt like swimming upstream for me.
But in India, its like I made it back to the right puzzle box.
Does that change the culture shock? Not really. But the shock for me wasn't how different I was from the people, but rather how similar I was to them.
I've never felt so thrilled or happy in my life. Not that happiness is always lasting, but I'm talking real joy that goes deep, deep down.
Does that mean I'm called to India?
After all, I have a heart for Cleveland, right?
Right. I do.
But that doesn't mean that God isn't a Game-changer, folks.
See, it isn't that I have just discovered a heart for India and missions work and all that.
I absolutely believe that a good Christian will develop a heart for wherever they're placed.
For me, it was, "Wait. Wait, wait, wait." and "You are here."
And my heart grew for this city I now love.
But that was something I fought the Lord on for a long time.
I tried going away so many times. But I've always gotten a shut door and a "Wait. I've placed you here."
Going to India, I realized that God knew that no matter where I went, I'd love it and have a heart for the people. That's why its deliberate that He would close so many doors - even my trip to Mozambique - but open this one.
Its not just a "Hey Sarah, you've been a good girl so I'm going to finally let you travel to a different country now to minister to others," kind of trip. God knew it couldn't be that way because God knows me.
And as I said in my previous post, this trip was about more than just doing good deeds and bringing back great stories and experiences for me. This trip was the first major "Yes" I've gotten from God in my life as an adult.
When I was 12 years old, I told God that since I really wanted to be an archaeologist, I wanted to do His work too. So I told Him I'd compromise (because I was a little brat, haha) and said I would be a missionary first and be an archaeologist on the side second.
From this young age, I had the middle east and south Asia in my heart.
The more I thought about being a missionary, the more I wanted to be one.
But the day came when all that shifted. I was 14 years old and I answered an alter call. I knew I was called to be in full time ministry and God told me He was calling me to the states. All notions of going to the nations evaporated as I believed that my desires became null and void the moment God's words were spoken over my life.
It never went away though. By the time I was 19 years old, I was talking with the Lord again about being a missionary only this time, I'd be one to my city. He was showing me that full time ministry wasn't just in the church building. It was everywhere I went. I began to see myself as an undercover local missionary. Always praying over my work places and my co-workers and loving the people I could around me by caring enough to know them and draw them out.
My mission field became anywhere I went.
And it should be that way for those of us who love Christ and dream of seeing God's Kingdom come.
People say things like, "now what you did there in India, bring it home."
But I don't think they understand. What I do here, I brought there. And it fit.
Does it fit here? Anyone would say yes. I say yes. It fits like a stone fits snug in a stream bed as bubbling currents drive around it.
But what I do fits there like a missing puzzle piece.
Two different fits. One is always going against the flow - if one person isn't doing it, than who is?
And the other is like the long lost missing puzzle piece that brings a whole picture together.
Does it mean I meant to be in India?
I don't know. I have long believed that it is better to lag than to run ahead of God.
Having a heart for India doesn't contradict my heart for Cleveland, Ohio, and this is an important statement for me to make.
When the Father weaves our God-given desires in with His perfect will and plan, things we thought would never work together seem to coincide in perfect harmony. It becomes the gift of His Best for us.
Who knows. I am praying hard about whether I'm meant to go back to India for a more extended time. There is more about this story than I am even sharing. So many confirmations that point me to the idea that maybe I was created for longer term mission work. Funny how I never thought about all of this as even a possibility! But now the possibilities are endless.
Two things have been said to me that have touched my heart immeasurably so far.
The first was said in very broken English by a villager woman, "I'm sorry, my English is very bad. But I feel you understand my heart. Your heart, my heart - same." She touched her heart with one hand and my heart with the other. And I knew she was right.
The second was said by an Indian friend who is becoming very dear,
"Your heart is Indian. We are the same."
And they're right. We are the same. I don't know how it happened. Was it all the tears and the hurts and the feelings of being misunderstood? Was it seeing the others who got left out or making friends with the misfits? Was it delighting in the flowers on the side of the road on a normal day to work or was it when
I did my dishes again for the 10th time that week? Was it when I prayed for someone else when I meant to go up to get prayer myself or was it when I danced to a worship song that one sweet night in my bedroom before the Lord? Defining, simple moments. But they make up who we've been and who we are.
I mean guys. This is normal life. I'm just a normal church-kid.
There's something to be said about two different twelve year olds coming up to me before this trip just to tell me, "You were made for this, Sarah."
Interesting since it was at their age I was dreaming about being a missionary.
I wonder if this post reminds you of the things you used to dream about before the Lord at a young age...
Maybe this is a vague post for you. Its possible you would like to see more pictures and here more about the itinerary and the healings.
But I told you this post wasn't about a mission trip high. Not at all. It'll all come out eventually.
I promise. But you got to let this girl process a bit. It hasn't even been a week yet.
This time last week I was in Delhi, India. Today I find myself in Cleveland Ohio.
It kind of reminds myself of the saying that makes my heart chuckle every time I think of it,
"Wherever I go, there I am."
And today I think, "Wherever He is, there I find myself." And its true. I find myself here. I found myself in India. No matter where I find myself, its because I'm standing next to God.
Yes and Amen to whatever is in His heart.