India and Rising Star in particular has changed my perspective on life. One of our coordinators at Rising Star shared this quote and I feel like it sums up my change of perspective perfectly:
“There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. When I first visited, I was stunned by the richness of the land, by its lush beauty and exotic architecture, by its ability to overload the senses with the pure, concentrated intensity of its colors, smells, tastes, and sounds. It was as if all my life I had been seeing the world in black and white and, when brought face-to-face with India, experienced everything re-rendered in brilliant technicolor.”
- Keith Bellows
Before this trip I had let my perspective get a little skewed. India has woke me up to the beauty in my life. There is beauty and joy all around in life, and it is just a matter of looking for it. India is dirty, hectic and pungent with smells, horns honking, chaotic driving, spicy food, and lots of poverty. But in the midst of this chaos there is vibrant colorful buildings, green trees, unbelievably green rice paddies, rainbow-colored clothing, and beautiful, kind, loving people.
The people will be what forever stand out to me from this experience. The way they love so quickly and freely amazes me. The past few years I have had some losses that may have led me to become more protective of my heart. I can see now that I have let myself become more guarded.The people I met at Rising Star and in India were the complete opposite of guarded. They have suffered so much more, and have so much less then me and yet they are not afraid to love completely with out hesitation.
The beautiful people that stand out to me are:
The children of Rising Star.The moment they met me(or any volunteer for that matter) they loved me. They asked my name and almost in the same breath said "I love you." They are so affectionate and greeted me with excited cheers every time I would see them.They come from poverty that I can't comprehend. They live in leprosy colonies( in India they are treated as the lowest of the low), and they usually only see their families for one month of the year, when school is out. Often they come from situations where they were taught to beg for money on the streets. Their lives are so much harder than mine and yet they love so quickly, without reservation.I love these children. I want to love people instantly like they do.
The people in the colonies.They are so full of gratitude and love. We could barely communicate with "Hello" and "thank you", but their eyes said so much more. Their eyes said "I love you." They would grab our faces affectionately and kiss their hands and put their hands on our faces and hands. There was a few people that stand out in particular.
I have already wrote about the man who shouted "Hallelujah" and is so full of joy. He is one that forever touched me. But there were several others. One women would just smile and laugh whenever we came to visit her in the old folks home in the colony. She was just so happy that it was contagious. They have a ulcers, and are missing hands, feet, fingers and toes, but they are so much more happy, grateful and loving then me!
The strangers we met on trains or other places in India. One family in particular helped us so much the other day. We were getting into a train station in India pretty late at night and we had no idea how we were getting to our hotel. This cute eleven year old girl with amazing English was so friendly and kind to us. She got her father to help us. He made sure we got a driver for a good price. And the girl told us if we weren't busy the next day we could come visit. They instantly loved us and welcomed us as if we were family, even though we were complete strangers! I want to be more willing to help people like these people.
I am so grateful for this experience. When I said good bye to my girls in my house it was sad. They asked me when I am coming back and it was hard to tell them "I don't know. I hope soon." I would love to go back and spend more time there. I hope to. But if not I will forever hold India in my heart.