What a trip it’s been so far.
If I had to describe my experience in India up to this point in two words, it would be “Mutual Fascination.” I have been absolutely fascinated with the people, the culture and the polar opposite nature of India. And the Indian people, especially the children, have been equally fascinated by me as an American. In fact, I’ve felt more or less like a celebrity everywhere I’ve gone.
I’m absolutely floored by the photos I’ve taken. There’s no doubt about it, my happy place is behind my camera. The color of this country is absolutely amazing. Everywhere I turn, dozens of distinct colors jump out at me screaming “take my picture!” As a photographer I’ve always shyed away from having human subjects in my photos. As such, Ive been pleasently surprised at how immensly enjoyable it’s been to photograph the Indian people. Perhaps it’s because they look completely different than me, or because the activities they engage in seem foreign to me. Whatever the reason, my camera has been drawn to them like a magnet.
It blows me away to travel to the other side of the world and interact with people where our only commonality is that we’re both human beings. I’ve struggled greatly at times to communicate with the Indians. Many of them do speak some English, but many of them don’t speak any at all. I confess that the only time I studied Hindi, the local language, was for about 3 minutes on the plane ride over. Now I find myself wishing I’d put in the hard work of learning the language. Nonetheless, my interactions thus far have been intriguing. Most of the people I’ve met have had a genuine interest in learning more about me, which of course I’ve reciprocated. They ask questions like, “From what country are you?” and “Do you have a Facebook account?” Not surprisngly, I’ve taken a special liking to a few of the children I’ve met. Little Vinita has been my favorite so far!
The Ashraya Mission team has had quite the adventure since arriving here. From a travel standpoint, we’ve been all over the place, literally. In 5 days, we’ve been on 3 flights, 3 road trips, and visited 5 different cities already. Speaking of travel, driving in India feels every bit like playing that Crazy Taxi videogame. It’s utter insanity. I love it!
From a spiritual standpoint, our team has definitely felt the presence of the spiritual warfare that’s to be expected on a trip like this. We’ve come with a specific mission and purpose as a team, but it feels as though there are forces beyond our control trying to sabotage that mission. Personally, it’s forced me to be vulnerable and to spend some time seriously examining my own heart and my motivations for coming on this trip. That’s been difficult, yet very good. Sometimes the hardest parts of the trip are the sweetest moments in disguise.
For all of my life, I will never forget the first moment our team spent on the roof of Ashraya Mission. Founder Katie Beth Gill has been in India for nearly two months of her five month stay. However, unforseen circumstances have kept her from seeing the first Ashraya refuge home until our team arrived this week. After a quick tour of the home, we ascended to the rooftop where the girls immediately fell before the Lord in prayer. I witnessed tears of joy and cries of thanksgiving. I saw the start of a new chapter in the story of the redemption that runs deep in the heart of Ashraya Mission. Almost as if on cue, the sun pierced through the clouds for the first time on this glorious day. Amidst the chaos and the darkness of this place, God chose to shine down his light on the inception of Ashraya Mission. What a special, special moment.
I am looking forward with eager anticipation to the remainder of our time here. I can feel the Lord enlarging my heart as I witness his hand at work and build relationships with fellow believers here. I can’t wait to share the rest of this experience with all of you. May God continue to be glorified by the work of our hands.