We are not called to live comfortable lives. We are called to "ask justly, love mercy, and walk humbly," Micah 6:8. In doing so, we can't expect to always have access to the conveniences many of us [westerners] are used to having in our daily lives- cozy homes, hot water, convenient transportation systems, reliable communication and internet, laundry machines and dishwashers, etc. We are called to live outside of our familiar bubbles and be the light and reflection of Christ, to all nations. As I prepare to head back to India in just over two months I think about how 'uncomfortable' of a culture it can be to live in. As a white western female, maneuvering the streets of India can always be a bit dodgy. The locals stare, a lot. Particularly the men. Many of the areas I have spent time in are not accustomed to hosting foreign visitors, it always seems to be a bit of a shock to people to see an American girl with light skin and light hair sharing the same road or occupying space at the same samosa stand as they are.
In general, living conditions in India are not as easy as the states. It's hard on the body. The Indian air is polluted and smoggy. The humidity in the summer is almost unbearable. The streets (yes, even in Delhi) are lined with gutters that flow with human waste. The tap water is undrinkable to us soft-stomached Americans, and the dusty streets make it nearly impossible for you to stay clean. I have been lucky only to have experienced the infamous 'Delhi belly' to a small degree, and the only other 'illness' I have suffered as a result of my Indian travels has been head lice. Which is a funny story I will have to tell you at another time, and don't worry- I got rid of it.
To live in India you have to be willing to do unglamorous things. Like sticking your entire arm into a sink filled with curdled milk to unclog a drain, or walking along streets that large mammals use as the toilet, or spending hours at the market trying to track down ingredients to "whatever that dish was we ate the other day", or being looked at like you're an idiot for trying to do business as a female. You have to be willing to give up any and all personal space. (It's a country with 1.2 billion people. Just think about it.) To live in India you have to throw out every expectation you've ever made about what a toilet should be. Because in India, more often than not, it's a literal hole in the ground. You have to be willing to be woken up at night by the sound of trucks, with no suspension, filled with rocks, go hurtling down pot-holed streets outside your window. You basically have to learn how to ignore anything that your senses don't find appealing.
But those are all just little things.
I am more than willing to deal with these little nuances so that I can skip down the smelly, dusty streets and bang on the steel doors of Asha Mission. The sound of dozens of shuffling feet and voices saying "Hannah didi" before they unlock the doors to greet me is enough to fill me with a week's worth of joy.
I am more than willing to step out of my comfortable life in middle Tennessee and into an environment where I am the foreigner, where I'm the one gawked at like a weirdo so I can help give a voice and a platform to stories that otherwise might not be heard. I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to continue working with Ashraya Mission. What I learned from my three months working with them in the fall of 2012 is more than I will ever be able to articulate. To continue on the journey, as the home grows and changes with every season God leads us through, is surely an opportunity I will not take for granted.
So, here's to living outside of our comfort zones. To not knowing what the days or weeks ahead may hold. To acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.
*I am raising funds to make my upcoming trip possible. If you would like to learn more about how you could support me or donate, head over to the DONATE tab at the top of this page.