Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ohhh Sudha... I am going to cry when I have to leave you....

Priya is the cutest!

These girls are all in my house. Yesterday was their day to ride bikes. Gracie is on the far left hand side. I LOVE her!

I Love You, India!

Our time here in India is coming to an end and I have to say Drew and I are VERY sad to leave. It is has been an unbelievable experience getting to know the people of India-- not only because of how beautifully unique their culture is, but also because of what truly wonderful, kind, loving people that they are. After being here for (almost) 3 weeks, it is hard to imagine what my life was like without all of these experiences. I cannot tell you in words how I have changed, but I have. India has changed my life immensely and I am so glad that it did.

Before I left for India, I was told that you cannot imagine India until you get there. You think you know what to expect but you don't, you just have to see it for yourself. But when I first got here I don't think I fully understood exactly what that person meant... Because a lot of India seemed to be exactly what I expected. I had seen traditional Indian clothing, and tasted pretty authentic Indian food. I had pictured pretty accurately the squatter toilets and bucket showers. I had seen movies like Slumdog Millionaire and The Darjeeling Limited. So in many ways it felt like India didn't really surprise me. But the one aspect of India that you will never fully comprehend until you get here is the people. And I don't mean what they look like or how they talk, but rather how they love. The people of India are truly the most loving people I have ever come into contact with. Our coordinators have asked each of us to share one thing that India has taught us (tomorrow night at dinner) and that is what I am going to say. India taught me how to love. India taught me how to love selflessly and irrevocably with no regrets and no worries of the future. Just love now and love everyone now. Love your friends, love your family, love your neighbor, love stangers. Love someone you will know for only 3 weeks the same way you love someone that you will know for 3 decades. It does not matter. Just love.

Today we visited a colony and did some medical work for about 20 or so leprosy patients. One of the men (whose name I never got) attached himself to me pretty early on in the visit. He is an example of someone who knows how to love. He held my hand through all of his medical work and did not leave my side. I helped him walk from station to station (which was definitely a struggle for him) as he got his blood pressure taken and medicine prescribed. When he was finished, he had to walk back to his extremely humble home just a few blocks up from where we had our medical aid station set up. I knew that walk would be a struggle for him so as he walked out of the medical station, I didn't let go of his hand. With mostly "sign language" (because he didn't know any English) I told him that I would help him walk to his house. It took us probably 10 or 15 minutes to do a 1 minute walk. And although we walked in silence, it was one of the best walks of my life. I could tell that he was grateful to have me there and I was so grateful to be there. When we got to his house, I expected to part ways with him then. But he would not have that. He invited me into his two-room, empty house where I met his daughter. Through watery eyes and huge smiles they thanked me for what I had done for him (which in all honesty was pretty much nothing). Then his daughter (who knew about 3 English words) said to me, "cooler," and disappeared out the front door. I had no idea where she went but she reappeared a few minutes later with a "cooler"-- a refreshing 7up! A 7up may not sound like a big deal but it was AMAZING. It was flat and not very cold, and yet it was the best 7up I had every tasted. Because it came from a woman who has no money. A woman whose father has been banished to colony, shamed by his own people, and labeled a 'leper'. But he is not a leper because leprosy is not who he is and it does not define him. He is a leprosy patient, one who is inflicted by leprosy. But he himself is not leprosy. That 7up was delicious because it came from someone who taught me how to love. I will never see that man or his daughter again but that did not matter to them, they still loved me. They loved me enough to spend their money to buy me a 7up-- A drink that I guarantee you they never drink themselves because they cannot afford it.

Anyways, I feel like I have been rambling and that probably didn't make a lot of sense. But basically today was amazing. This trip was amazing. I've learned many things since I have been here, but mostly I have learned how to love. And for that I will always be grateful. I love you, India.