So, my time here is drawing to an end. What have I learned? I’ve learned that when your phone packs up and you don’t have TV it’s a whole lot easier to hear from God. That’s one thing that won’t be hard to replicate when I get home. I’ve learned that when you give Jesus your packed lunch, He uses it to feed a crowd with enough left over for you to carry home with you. I’ve learned that when you look into the eyes of those the world dismisses, you see Jesus looking right back at you.
When I first thought of coming out here, I told my pastor that this project with the girls’ home had so touched my heart that I just wanted to serve them in some way, and I would come and clean their toilets if it would help. I never imagined I would be sharing my testimony, teaching on pornography, addressing state school teachers from around the city and training local teachers in techniques that should make it easier for them to achieve their outcomes. Those who remember me nearly having a nervous breakdown over being forced to teach Geography at school would have been amused this morning to see me taking a lesson with one of the older, abler students on tectonic plates, formation of mountains by compression forces, and volcanoes! And I have just come back from running a report writing workshop, although I feel that there is much the people here could teach me about writing reports – I hope at least that they got something out of it. But my offer to clean toilets has been multiplied into all that, and I’m coming home full to overflowing with all God has done in me.
The girls arrive at this home often traumatised, having learned that they are worthless and their lives don’t matter. And I don’t want to minimise that or pretend there are magic, easy solutions, or that there’s a 100% success rate in diverting these girls into a permanent, worthwhile lifestyle. But the work here is making a very real difference, and there is a lot to be learned from girls who shut the door on the past and refuse to dwell there. You would hardly guess, from the laughter, song and dancing that fills this home at all times (and I mean that – at least one of those three things is always going on), the sorrows out of which the girls have come. Above all they are being given hope, hope of a different future. And I observed to S today that I find it quite remarkable that 11 girls can live together like this with, apart from the occasional slight shimozzle, really no friction or bickering. There is an atmosphere of peace and lightness here.
Since my last stay, two new Indian staff members have joined S and E in the day to day running of the home. They are sharing a bedroom with the Australian volunteer, whose birthday is today. So they stayed awake last night when she went to sleep, and as soon as the clock passed midnight they woke her up to wish her a happy birthday, produced a chocolate cake with a musical candle in it, and had a midnight feast in their room. I slept through the proceedings in the room opposite, but enjoyed a slice of the chocolate cake at lunchtime today. Now we are waiting for the birthday girl to decide what kind of birthday meal she wants so a take-away can be ordered in. Her suggestion of rice, dhal and sabzi was less than enthusiastically received, since we have that for lunch and dinner every day!
This will probably be my last blog post from here, and as I have no more preparation to do for workshops, I can relax and enjoy an evening with a nice meal and a movie. I will be leaving a huge chunk of my heart behind (along with the French knitting dolls which are still being used all round me as I sit here typing – it’s definitely become the latest craze). I wish I could tuck every one of these girls into my suitcase and bring them home, and yet I know that here is where they belong, on their home soil, to be beacons of light and a testament of hope, of what can happen when man’s inhumanity collides with God’s redemption.