Thursday I went out to a school for the first time. It was a two-hour commute from auto to bus to school bus and then back again. As I sat on the bus, dipping and rising, thumping along, listening to the thrumming and protestations from the engine as we groaned our way through small villages, one-lane roads, and beautiful countryside, my mind was taking a journey back in time.
I could not help remembering. A group of youth in the Davy’s living room discussing The Treasure Principle, a small book by Randy Alcorn that changed our lives. Sud.z, in an auditorium under construction, eager faces determined to fill a thermometer on the wall to the top. Emptying our pockets week by week. Fanning across town to sell Coke products. Spray-painted worms made from dryer hose. A school. This school. And while I’m not in India to visit this school every day, I realized that if not for that book, that room, those people, I would not be here today. India would just be a spot on the map. When I look back at the threads God chooses to weave into my life, the thousand small decisions that could have taken me anywhere but here, I am awestruck. God is good. He is wise. Provident.
I could not stay in my reverie for long. India bumps and jolts you, jostles against you, demands your attention. The bus drove down a road I would never have thought a bus could maneuver. We passed vineyards, rice paddies, cornfields. At the last my heart fluttered with thoughts of home. Several times we stopped to wait for herds of goats and buffalo obstructing the road.
Because of the monsoons there was water everywhere, sometimes temporary lakes on either side of the road. In one such place we needed to pass another bus coming the opposite direction. There was not enough room, but the bus drivers made room. We backed up and inched forward, pressing further and further to the side of the road, making tracks in the grass. I prayed we would not slip and topple into the watery ditch. I could’ve reached out and touched the faces in the other bus.
The school is under construction. One classroom eagerly awaits the completion of the second story while they meet in the open hallway down below. The manager is excited I have come, but he wants more. “You are from Nebraska,” he says. “We are family. One day a week, not enough. You must come two days.” He leaves no room for any other alternative. I think through my week and offer Saturday, the only day I have free.
I don’t yet know why I am here. My role is not yet clear. The children here are very used to Westerners. I compare their faces to the ones of children in the slums and I am tempted to wonder, why am I here? I am tempted to think they don’t need me. But I sense the link I hold between this place and home, the hundreds of faces that are bonded by another thread because I stand holding the hearts of each within my own. I trust that the what will become more clear with time. I’m learning that anything new in India requires a window of observation and familiarization before it really comes to life. So I’ll wait, test the waters, watch for something to move.
And then I ponder… maybe someone else’s life will be changed by my presence here just as my life was changed by all those who came before me to this place. Perhaps…