Monday, March 19, 2012

Making a Difference in the Life of Another

There is so much to write about- I'm having a hard time wondering where to start.  I could write a novel about all that we have seen and learned these last 3 weeks.  Our time in India have profoundly impacted our family.  We have seen more abject poverty than you could ever imagine.  I am so grateful for the feelings of compassion and genuine love for others that has taken hold of our hearts.  All of a sudden our lives and our needs do not matter anymore.  I feel like I have woken up and been enlightened to a kind of life that other people have been living,  but I didn't know really existed.  It is a life that is focused on caring for the needy in whatever small or large way they can.
Being on this trip we have crossed paths with some of the most selfless souls on earth.  They use what they have to make a difference in the lives of those in poverty.  Melvin J. Ballard said, "Unless we lose ourselves in the service of others there is little purpose in our own lives."  Here is one example...

Wendy, mother of 5, for the past 10 years has helped impoverished women in the Philippines make jewelry.  She then sells it all over the world for them.  She started another one in Thailand and now in India at one of the Leper Colonies.  Her foundation is called "Pearls with a Purpose." She is so inspiring to me.  She is just like you and me.  She had no special degree or connections.  She just started from a couple of emails and it has led to a foundation of hope for women.  If you need a mother's day gift, or a birthday gift, this is the best thing to spend your money on.  They are beautiful, well made, and most importantly you are supporting a great cause.  To order go to
Last night I brought my computer into my "family house."  There are 200 children here and they are split up into families for their rooms and where they sleep.  The 25 girls in my family all call me mom and they are so dear to my heart.  We spend every evening together and I try to show them pictures of the different colonies I go to during the day so they can see pictures of their families.  Last night I was showing them pictures of these women and one of the girls eyes got bright and she yelled, "That's my mom!"  So Wendy, thank you for giving my "daughter's" mother a skill that is affecting generations!

Would you like to hear another story? One of my favorite parts of this trip is hearing the stories of the people.  I love hearing about their lives and their families.  The lady in the above picture with the pink and green Sari on is one of the fortunate ladies to make the jewelry.  Wendy started out with about 50 women who were making the necklaces and bracelets, but she could not get them all sold.  So, she had to let some of the women go.  She watched them and picked the ones who understood what to do and were good workers.  This lady in the pink and green was slower than the rest of the girls and so Wendy was going to let her go with the others.  One of the other girls there told her the reason she was slow was because she was deaf.  The deaf lady said, "When you talk you are not looking straight at me, so I don't know what I am supposed to do."  This lady had 2 children and a husband that made 100 RS a week-that is $2.  She really needed the money and after hearing this Wendy was not about to let her go.  I'm not sure of the timing of this but, soon there after when they were making jewelry an elderly lady came up to Wendy with 2 small children.  She kept saying something over and over again to her but Wendy did not know what she was saying.  Someone translated for Wendy and told her that this elderly lady had traveled 6 hours by bus to come and thank her for giving her deaf daughter a way to make money for their family.  She thanked her over and over again and told Wendy she was a miracle in their life.  Wendy buys every necklace from them and then hopes to sell them abroad.  She has helped countless women be raised out of destitution.  The deaf lady told Wendy that she is saving as much money as she can to get her family out of a grass hut and into a cement home.  I.Love.Wendy.

One more inspiring story.  At this same Leper Colony (it is one of the bigger communities) a man from Austria noticed that these lepers had NOTHING to do all day.  He was an artist.  He came back and set up an art school and taught them how to paint.  It was a very optimistic thing to try because most lepers have no fingers and no feeling in their hands.  But look what he has done...

These are the artists that my children chose artwork from to hang in their room as a reminder of what they have learned and felt here.  I love that one man came here, taught them how to paint, and has given them something to bring them joy in their life.  They make money and they have something to fill their day.  Incredible right?  Those are just 2 of the examples we have seen on our trip of people taking the starfish analogy to heart!

But amidst this joy, was something that literally stopped me in my tracks and I couldn't do anything but just stare.  I was in disbelief and my heart dropped.  I had an inner battle of what to do.  Do I pick her up and try to find her a place to rest?  Do I leave her there because she looks so fragile and I might hurt her?  Will she be upset if we try to move her? I wondered how on earth people could be walking all around her like it was no big deal--like it was normal for her to be lying there in the dirt moaning.  The thing is, it probably is normal.

Look at the ground in the above picture.

There are no words.  To see this elderly lady lying on the floor on an uneven surface with rocks and dirt under her was absolutely heart wrenching.  How does this happen to someone?  There is such surplus in the world.  We need to figure out better distribution of goods.  The doctor came over and helped her and cleaned up her wounds while we took care of the other patients.
I have so much more to write, but I'm feeling pretty sick to my stomach from the Malaria medication.  I better make a run for it!