I have found that there seems to be no end to the lessons I have been exposed to, and presumably learned from, over the past few weeks. There are lessons in cultural nuances such as: when to take off your shoes, when and how to address various people, how to eat with your fingers, when to take food that is offered, how to avoid getting hit while crossing the street, how to get on a bus (it can be a peculiar art form—not for the faint of heart). There are lessons in healthcare, specifically occupational therapy, in a foreign land such as: how to improvise with limited resources, when to take off your shoes, how to treat someone with a complete C4 spinal cord injury (I had not been exposed to this particular patient population before I arrived here), how to count in Tamil, and much, much more. There are also lessons in faith such as, faith that I will be kept safe despite walking home alone in the dark (I do try to avoid it), faith that my housing situation will be resolved, faith that I will be willing to go when my Lord says “go” and “do” when He says “do.”
I am reading an interesting book about a pair of doctors who set up a hospital in Ethiopia. (Thank you Aunt Sharon for the great read.) I just read a bit about an attempted coup of the Emperor Haile Selassie. Over the course of a few days, the city suffered bouts of random gunfire that forced this doctor couple and their eight-year old son to dive for cover under any close piece of furniture. During one siege, the young boy asked to pray. His prayer went something like this: “Lord, and now we will be safe. Amen.” I’m most certainly not dodging bullets here, but the faith of that young boy struck me. I have thought about that prayer many times since, and have found myself starting to use it with my own variation. “Lord, and now I will wait for You to tell me how you are going to solve my housing situation.”
A note about my housing situation: I am living at the same hotel I described earlier. It is clean…enough. The water is hot… enough. It is safe… enough. It provides me a place to rest my weary head. I am thankful for it. However, it is off campus and I often cannot avoid walking alone, in the dark, to my hotel. The distance I have to walk off campus is not much, maybe a hundred yards, and it is near the Bagayam police station. Some of the staff at the hospital have expressed concern about my walk, and have been advocating that I get housing on campus. I have been emailing the directors of housing on campus, and have actually visited their offices (numerous times) during my lunch break to see if there are any new vacancies. The answer has always been a disheartening “no,” and yet I have had confidence that something would come up and until then the Lord would keep me safe, and he would keep me safe even after alternate arrangements were made.
And so it has gone. I plead with CMC for campus housing, and plead for safety for my Savior. Then I met Charlie. Charlie is a bubbly character from England who is here as a volunteer in the physiotherapy department. Charlie will be here until April 5th volunteering in many of the same areas I have seen during my orientation, and has been living at the CHTC (Community Health Training Center) on campus where the accommodations are swell. Charlie has a week’s worth of accommodations at CHTC at the start of the posting, and four weeks accommodations at the Modale at the end of the posting, leaving about seven weeks in the middle with nowhere to go. After hearing about this predicament of the new volunteer, I realized that this might just be an answer to prayer. I had been sent a roommate, and a strong Christian one at that. I may not be on campus, but now I would have a buddy to walk with me to and from campus in the day, and in the dark.
Charlie and I then banded together to figure out where the two of us would live. We still wanted to be on campus, but would settle for fair accommodations off campus as long as safety could be secured. If it came to it, we were content to live together in my little hotel room. We continued to ask around at the CMC and just this week I was sent a letter stating that a room had opened up at the CHTC for the month of February and a week at the end of January. When Charlie and I walked out of the housing office with this news, we both looked at one another and said, “Well, this is what we prayed for, so we’re not surprised yet I can’t believe that just happened.” We will have to move out of the CHTC from February 5th to the 8th, but as I have already reserved a room at Ananda Bhavan hotel, this will only be a minor inconvenience.
As I sit here and write this, I am thinking about my original prayer and this verse comes to mind, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we may ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20) That last part hits me “right there”--- infinitely more than we may ask or think. I asked for safe, secure housing on campus. He provided that and threw in a fantastic Christian roommate (with an incredible accent to boot!). Someone who will be with me until I leave the CMC; an international friend who won’t be leaving me here just as I’m getting acquainted (as many of the other international students do); also someone I can “talk therapy” with while I am here.
Charlie is an answer to more than one prayer; and I am beyond thrilled. Charlie makes me laugh, challenges me, and is willing to explore India with me. We have plans to travel together on the weekends as neither of us wanted to travel on our own. Charlie and I have begun to form a unique bond and are watching one another’s back as we navigate this funky world we find ourselves in.
Thank you for all the prayers as I continue on in this adventure. I am enjoying all the lessons I am learning, through many of them are not easy. Life here is hard, but it is beautiful.
|Meet "Charlie" (aka: Charlotte)|