My heart is burstring with joy! It probably sounds strange since we spent the entire day in Kalphar slum. The people we met were so full of joy and hope. The project that SEED started there in 2009 has gradually but radically changed the face of the commuity there. Children of all ages now attend school, there is light (literally - solar lanterns) where there was darkness, new toilets are installed, and many of the people there attend church on Sunday's because they believe in Jesus.
We spent the morning with the school, learning about them and doing a mini Bible teaching. They showed us dances and skits and we acted out the story of Joseph. Language barriers made us see their eyes and hearts more than their words. They were so excited to have us there and welcome us. They took time to make us special gifts - trinkets that in the U.S. might be discarded. To us, they are special pieces we'll cherish. Without knowing anything about us, the students wanted to be near us and love us. It was unconditional from the moment we walked in. They would invite us to sit with them, give hugs and fist bumps, and they loved taking pictures and looking at them on the camera screen. It was all about being together, not who could offer something to the other. Even with the conditions they live in, each of the children has hope and you can see it in their eyes.
In the afternoon we dedicated the new toilets. Yes, I said toilets! Cross Point and One Life (our leader Andy's non-profit that supports SEED from the U.S.) raised money to install new toilet stalls. Instead of being directly in the ground where the waste sits and eventually gets back in the water supply, the new ones use bacteria to turn the waste into safe drinking water. We dedicated 5 yesterday, with 4 more on their way soon. They will still need another 5-10 after that to support the number of people who live there.
Walking around the community is the hardest thing I have ever done. I haven't felt that kind of heart break before. My words can't truly give it justice. People lived in small huts that house anywhere from 4-10 people. Barely clothed or completely naked children are everywhere. Even though there is a school, many families don't send their children there because they don't understand. Dogs and goats wander and pick at trash. Several women handed us babies to hold, which we gladly did. I held a little girl name Pushpalia. Her mother and grandmother tried to have me keep her. I don't know if it is because they could see my joy in holding her or because she is considered a burden to them. All I know is that handing her back was herat-wrenching.
In the afternoon we saw work from the vocational women and heard many of their testimonies. They have become a community of believers with faith stronger than almost anyone I have encountered. None of the people here have grown up knowing Jesus and His grace. Unconditional love was foreign to them until Piyas and Jaishree came in and taught them. There is a distinct difference in the eyes of the women, men, and children who are in the school and vocational programs and know Christ compared to the eyes of people in the rest of the slum. Please continue to pray for our work and SEED that we can reach more people and do more good in that community in the long-term.
I will leave you with a passage that came up twice yesterday. We discussed it on the bus ride to Kalphar in the morning, then later one of the women told us it was her favorite story. Matthew 6: 25-34. I encourage you to look it up and pray for the people here because this is what it's all about.