India crawls over you. It’s impossible to be an observer from the other side of a glass window. You carry her dust and her dirt in your hair, on your feet, with your hands, in your eyes. It sticks to your sweat in the heat. You step out of the shower and immediately it clings to you again.
The first few days here were relatively cool, lingering from the passing of a monsoon rain. Yesterday was hot. The kind of hot you can’t wash away. I sweated all day in the sun with the children in the slums. Then I went up to my room and lay on my bed perfectly still with the fan running full blast and even then there was sweat. Yesterday was the first day I noticeably realized—there is no air conditioning.
But you don’t complain.
You come back from the slums where families live in cast-off, cement drainage pipes, where a seventy-year-old woman’s feet have turned to leather from walking barefoot all her life, where the eggs we bring them may be their only protein all week, and you realize that your small stucco room with a fan and water for a cold shower is like a palace. And then you wonder, what do I call the home I left a week ago?
There are moments it’s hard (and more than just a few), when I want to sit down and complain, to act like an American. There are afternoons when I don’t want to get up from my nap and go tutor children in the school. I’m too tired. It’s too hot. I want to eat something because it tastes good, not because I need it to survive. But every time I stop myself. I have to remember why I came, that all my needs are met, that I have more than enough—even in the simplicity I’m adjusting to. So even though my strength is less than one hundred percent from eating small amounts of strange food and interrupted nights of sleep on a bed that feels more like a board, I get up an go, and I pray that God becomes my sufficiency. I pray that he teaches me what it means to serve, shows me what it is like to watch him move despite everything about myself.
Loving India is a choice I’ve been given to make. And I do.