Exactly a year ago I left for India. When I came back home and people would ask me how it was I didn't have a real answer for them. I think I still don't know how to answer. India has a way of impacting you...even a year later.
Looking through these photos I have memories rushing back and I can almost smell the smells and feel the intense heat. Maybe that's why I'm still at a loss for words because it's a place that is a sensory overload. I can't describe in words what it's like...you have to experience it yourself. Walking through a red light district leaves you with no words. There are no words to describe the emptiness you see in a young Nepalese girls eyes. There are no words to describe to you the smell of that district...the heat...the darkness. The feelings of intense anger towards the men wandering through. Since then I have experienced that same anger towards people in my life. Watching people choose the darkness and death that I saw first hand in India...and it makes me angry. Angry that we have to live in a world like this. Angry that we have to watch dear friends hurt and families torn a part. Sometimes it makes me want to hide and run away and become very cynical.
But then...there is hope. I think I was taken back by the amount of hope that I did see there. I should not have been surprised, but I was. Sweet hope. There is hope in what Sari Bari does. There is hope sitting in a room full of beautiful women listening to them sing hymns. There is hope watching them interact with each other knowing they have been given a chance at a better life and they are grateful for it. There is hope in the actual building of Sari Bari in the midst of that red light district. There is hope because God is there. He is in that red light district and he walks through those streets and he asks us to walk with him there. (whether it's an actual red light or some other darkness.) He knows every single name and every hair on their head. He wants us to be his hands and feet and offer hope. Even look at those men and remind them that he knows their name too...and as much as my selfishness doesn't want it, they also have hope. He has already gone before us, he has already won. There is so much hope in that truth!
So...I guess I do have at least one word to describe my experience. It has taken a year for me to wrap my brain around it. The word would be "hope". The last picture in this post is not from India, it's from my church, radius, on Good Friday. I held that rock hope in my hand for a really long time, because for the first time ever I think I finally understood it. It took me walking through a red light district all the way in India for me to finally get it. I want to offer hope to the people I love, to not be angry and cynical, but to be known as a person of hope.
With all of that said...wow...here are some of my favorite photos from India. I was not allowed to take any photos within Sari Bari or the red light. Maybe one day.