Agony and Ecstasy

I so wish that I had the time right now to respond individually to each of your comments.  They have all been absolutely amazing and your generosity has already astounded us.  We heard from the Compassion office that yesterday was the highest day of child sponsorship of any Compassion blogger trip.  A great number of you from the LPM blog were a part of that and I wanted your joy to be complete today knowing that piece of information.  It is an exciting thing that our blog community has already proved this week to be a small yet significant part of a massive effort to release children from poverty.  Each and every child counts. One of my favorite comments from yesterday’s post was from Donna who had never heard of Compassion International until this week.  She searched for a Compassion child to sponsor- one with her same birthday and with asthma, a struggle Donna herself has also dealt with during her own lifetime.  That Donna was looking for a child with whom she could connect with really conveyed that she understood the heart of Compassion, the relationship between the child and sponsor. 

On to today.  This morning as I walked down to breakfast I noticed that two of our team members were missing, Spence and Anne.  Let’s just say that the spicy food, jet-lag, and 120 degree heat index finally got to them and so they had to stay behind for the day with a certain porcelain friend, or adversary, depending upon which way you want to spin it.  Pete was up all night running to the bathroom as well but came with us to the project anyhow.  He actually passed out during one of the home visits. Poor thing.  He wants to show you the two essential things every person must bring on a trip to India:

A Bible and a roll of toilet paper.  Poor guy.  He still had a smile on his face, though. Total trooper. He said he kept begging the Lord to take away the pain last night.  He kept telling Him, “I’ll do anything for you to take it away. I’d even go to India.” And then he was like, “Oh wait, I am in India.”  Absolutely hilarious. But then he took a Cipro and turned around like a champ.

One of my fellow bloggers, Robin, asked me five days ago if I liked curry.  Grossly overestimating my passion for exotic multi-cultural foods, I exclaimed, “I love curry! I just can’t wait to eat the food in India.”  From the look on her face, I gathered quickly that she wasn’t so sure.  Well, let’s just say that the curry in the States ain’t the curry in India. I’m not exactly sure how it’s possible but curry and masala are incorporated into all three meals here- breakfast, lunch, and dinner.   Curry pancakes.  Curry chicken.  Curry fish.  And not to be forgotten are the delightful curried prawns.  Apparently the options for curry are never ending. Oh, and yesterday my roommate opened up a cabinet in our hotel room and noticed several bags of potato chips.  It was as if Etta James’ famous tune “At Last” immediately came over a loud speaker and started soothing our spirits.  Chips are totally my love language so I said, “Yay! What kind are they???”  And then there was a pause.  Come to find out our choices were Spicy Masala Remix and Red Chili Bijli.  Egads. I should have known.  I shouldn’t have set myself up for a broken heart.

But back to today.  We had an extremely intense day as we left our hotel located in the heart of the city and went on an hour and a half drive out into the countryside on a bus and then got off only to jump onto rickshaws that would take us thirty minutes deeper into the rural area where our project was located.  Two words for any woman riding on a rickshaw: sports bra.  Maybe even two.  I won’t elaborate but you should be fully warned in the event that you ever embark on this adventure.  We spun into a total time warp the further we descended toward our destination.  There were straw huts scattered through the lush green landscape and people carrying buckets of water they had just pumped out of their local water-well.  Check out some of the things we saw from our rickshaw:

It was absolutely wild.  I’ve never seen anything like it except maybe in the movies.  I asked our Compassion expert if the poverty was more extreme in the rural areas than the urban areas that we have previously been to and she explained to me that it isn’t that they are worse but that they are different.  The rural areas are completely agriculturally based and so they rely completely on things like rice, which don’t produce for six months out of the year and there simply isn’t enough water for proper cultivation.  Because of these harsh conditions, the very survival of the children in this community is threatened.  In response, Compassion has instituted a project called the Child Survival Program.  This program starts with prenatal care for expectant mothers.  What is absolutely stunning is that these women rarely have left their own little shacks much less the village.  They are completely cut off from the rest of the world so they have no idea how to care for their own child.  They themselves are incredibly unhealthy because of their socially inferior status.  They basically just get the leftovers after a meal.  This program provides them with supplemental nutrition and teaches them the basics of caring for their baby.  For example, they learn how to prepare food for their baby, what vaccinations their baby needs, and even how to bathe their baby with the cleanest water possible.  It is an absolutely incredible ministry.  

Here is a picture of the Moms with their babies lined up waiting to greet us:

This precious woman told us that the reason she loves the Child Survival Program so much is that she hears stories about Jesus.  She says that she loves to hear what He says about her.  The theology of human worth and dignity that is so essential to the Christian message is so desperately needed in a country like India that is primarily Hindu.  Compassion helps to instill a sense of meaning and purpose that is so crucial for these women:

Just my perspective:
More beautiful children. I look like Casper the Friendly Ghost next to them. Hey, Keely, can you please photoshop a tan in for me next time? 
The picture below is taken of Sabita Parui and her child Bishan Parui.  We asked Sabita what her favorite thing about the Compassion program was and she told us that before she got involved with Compassion she could not read or write.  But now she can sign her name herself. And her favorite story about Jesus is the wedding at Cana in the gospel of John.  
When I was roaming around the Compassion offices in Calcutta I noticed the first section of their mission statement.  It goes like this:  “I am the Compassion in East India.  The day I joined this country office, this office also become part of me.  I can feel it running through me in agony and ecstasy.  I am Compassion and Compassion is me.”  These Compassion India folks are the real deal. They are in it for the long haul.  Needless to say, the poverty here is staggering and they are spiritually outnumbered by 95%.  That’s right. The Christians here comprise less than 5% of the population.  Yet, they keep trucking.  Keep fighting in the name of love and for the sake of justice in spite of the agony.  I suppose the glory of feeding one more child in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is just that sweet.   

136 Responses to “Agony and Ecstasy”

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  1. 101
    Jenn says:

    Melissa.. it’s been so fun to take this journey with you. I live in nepal and it is almost exactly like India. I work with impoverished people all the time also. It is amazing the things it will do in your heart. I have to tell you I laughed my head off at your curry comment and how you don’t know how they manage to put curry in everything even potatoe chips. I totally identify with that after living in nepal these 2 years. Also .. my first year I felt like living in nepal i spent more time on the porcelein throne then at the throne of grace at times.. just kidding.. but cipro is right up there next to manna from heaven when you live here!
    praying hard for you guys
    Kathmandu nepal

  2. 102
    tealovingmom says:

    I anxiously await your beautiful reflections, Melissa. God bless you and Compassion richly for all you do to be Jesus’ hands and feet to these precious women and children!


  3. 103
    Maria Cristina says:

    chills of wonder as I read and re-read this post…………….thank you Melissa………..thank you.

  4. 104
    Luv2Praise says:

    Although poverty stricken, I am struck by the beauty of the people from India. From the smiles on their faces to the beautiful colors they wear. Who could help but be drawn to them.

    Thank you for teaching us about “Compassion”.


  5. 105
    Luv2Praise says:


    I just wanted to say that I wouldn’t change a thing about your beautiful glowing face. I am reminded of when Moses came down from the Mount and had to cover his face from the glow of being in God’s presence. Your face is lit with the love of Jesus! That is what at the people of India are seeing in you Siesta!! Don’t you dare photo shop a tan on that beautiful face!!! (lol)


  6. 106
    Michelle says:

    I am praying for you! And your whole team. And for funny comment. Just cracked up when you mentioned Cipro! Any shortterm missionary’s friend!

  7. 107
    Gayla says:

    Your posts have been life to me this week…reminders of what is truly important in the middle of our ridiculously selfish society. Our family has been newly reminded of the importance of us being Jesus in some way to the kids we sponser in Dominican Republic and Rwanda. I’m overwhelmed that they know our names and probably pray for us. God, forgive me for my complete selfishness. The world does not revolve around me and what I see and struggle with isn’t remotely close to the world’s reality. God bless you, Melissa, for taking this journey for us. May Christ be exalted in your body and mind today.

  8. 108
    Leelee says:


  9. 109
    Cookie Cawthon says:

    I am drawn every day to come and share in what you guys are seeing and experiencing, and I am certainly praying for the health and rest of all on your team (your posts have opened my eyes too about how to pray for my husband and his team as they prepare for Kenya in June).

    The children are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! Their faces, their eyes, and their smiles are images with staying power; they revisit me throughout my day.

    In my own very spoiled and comfortable life, I find myself in a season of wrestling – wrestling between the tragedies of life and the assurance of joy. Honestly, I haven’t arrived at a balance that allows me to reconcile the two. I find myself internalizing the pain of others at the expense of joy. I know He is always good and that no darkness resides in Him, but it’s more than I can wrap my brain and heart around at times. Relate at all?

    Thankfully, He is patient with my humanity and BIG enough for my questions!! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your journey!

  10. 110
    Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog says:

    Those are absolutely beautiful pics! I cannot even imagine all you are seeing and smelling and tasting but WOW! God is doing a great thing there and thanks so much for describing it to us. Praying for you and the team.
    Much love,

  11. 111
    Anonymous says:

    Sweetie, you may be pale, but look how tall you are! 🙂

    You heart is Compassion as well. You are blessing to read — thank everyone for the blogs and pix. This is such a journey for all of us through you now as well. Thank you for obeying.


  12. 112
    Anonymous says:

    Speechless, agony and ecstasy, perfect description. Amid the ugliness of poverty such beautiful people and the Light of Christ shines bright through Compassion’s ministry. Thank you

  13. 113
    Anonymous says:

    These woman and children are incredibly beautiful. Wow, my heart is breaking and full of joy at the same time.

    Thank you for your faithfulness to serve. This is a great opportunity for my children to consider sponsoring a child.

    Many blessings.

  14. 114
    Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for inviting us on this journey of yours!
    I have been eagerly reading all the posts each day to see where you have been and what you have seen.
    I am now trying to discern what I am to do with what I have learned. We sponsor two children from Compassion, one in Ethiopia and one in Mexico. I know FOR SURE that I need to make a better effort to connect with them. I would love to sponsor another child as well, need to pray about that. There are so many needs out there it would be easy for us to throw up our hands in discouragement, but seeing (especially through the videos) how Compassion makes a difference in the lives of individuals has had such an impact on me. Those individuals can make a difference in the lives of others as well, and so on…
    So thanks again, so much, for sharing!
    Asheville, NC

  15. 115
    Redeemed says:

    Your blogs are really lighting a fire in me!!!

    Each day I’ve been sharing with my husband what YOU are sharing with us….it’s just giving us more and more encouragement to sponsor additional children. Even in these “tough economic times” (a phrase we hear sooo often these days) THIS IS WORTH ANY SACRIFICE WE MAY HAVE TO MAKE.

    Thank you.

    I’m praying for your continued health and safety…as well as your fellow traveling companions!

    Keep these beautiful photos coming.

    Oh, BTW, you look stunning in every picture! You don’t even look as if you are perspiring! Angelina Jolie’s got nothin’ on you, girl.

  16. 116
    Rachel in Louisiana says:

    Can’t think of a more noble cause. And humbling.

  17. 117
    Kim... and Her Coffee says:

    Melissa, thank you for sharing this experience with us all. I can imagine that what you are seeing will stay with you for the rest of your life and you will forever be impacted. The pictures and the stories are so humbling… as I sit in my cozy home with hot coffee and all that I have. I’m thankful for a God who will use this experience of yours to awaken so many of us to be obedient to His calls and directions of reaction as a result. Praying for you!!!!

  18. 118
    Dee says:

    Thank you once again for your description of these beautiful, impoverished people. I find in the midst of their poverty such vibrant, gorgeous colors. That seems such a contradiction to me. You would think of dull and drab rags. I’m so grateful to the God of all creation for His blessing of color to these people. I pray that more and more hearts will be responsive to the command that we have to care for the poor, to share what we have with those who have not. May God continue to bless you. Deidra

  19. 119
    gena says:


    Thank you for the wonderful posts. I like Donna had never heard of Compassion either before I started following your blog. I was inspired and motivated to sponsor a child. Yesterday when I went to the site it was so hard to pick a child. I finally decided to pick a boy with the same exact birthday as my adopted son. 11 years ago I had no idea that a boy born in a small Texas town would come into my life years later and change my life. I know this other little boy born on the other side of the world on the exact same day is going to change and bless my life as well.
    Thanks again for sharing about this worthy organization.

    To God be the glory for the great things He hath done!!!


  20. 120
    Shellie Paparazzo says:

    I have wanted to sponsor a Compassion child for so long, but thanks to us getting ourselves enslaved to debt haven’t been able to. I can just barely feed my own family right now and 3 visits to the ER and medications golore are not helping. And yet I feel so selfish looking at what they live with.

  21. 121
    tootels says:

    To my knees with ache in my heart for all these precious children of God. Your real accounts are just what we needed to hear. We have been struggling with All that we have been blessed with and what to do with it all. Its a pity shame…The kids and I jumped right online and found a precious 6 yr. old girl named Demaria from ElSalvador to join our family! Luke & Sara are already writting letters and making care packages…we have always done the shoe box thing, wells with LIFE, etc…but this has touched us all to the core.
    Thank you for putting light on this desperate need.

  22. 122
    Mercy4Drew says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your trip! The church is a wonderful body especially our wonderful international Christians!

  23. 123
    bethany says:

    Continually praying for you Melissa! I love reading your posts and this trip is just impacting you in such an amazing way I know.
    I am prompted to write to my compassion girl Nathalia in Brazil.
    Stay stong sister!

  24. 124
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues ~

    Tally Hoooo ….
    Loved the video ( bumps and all) that was filmed on your journey by Rick ~

    I am on my way to Bible Study this morning with a big bag of chips,american curry chicken and diet coke with pop rocks too! LOL
    You will appreciate USA food when you return! We will have to ask Colin to have it ready for you!
    How is he doing without his beautiful bride?
    I continue to uplift you and NOW THE Toilet Team in daily prayer!
    Health, strength, loving spirit, and dreams of american food!
    With “Heaven Bound” blessings,
    Kim Safina

  25. 125
    Adrienne says:

    Melissa, I have so enjoyed your posts about your trip with Compassion. My husband, daughter, and I sponsor two children in Peru and it is so unbelievably incredible just to get letters from them and hear about their lives. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotions I would feel if I were ever able to visit one of the Compassion sites. I am praying for you.

  26. 126
    Amaris in Wonderland says:

    I wish that I was in a place, financially, to support the efforts of Compassion… What I have determined to do instead, is to realign my focus on what I can do in the Brazilian community around me, where I live.

    In this society, there are the rich that drive imported sports cars, zooming past a barefoot man pulling a contraption much like a rickshaw, but more of a metal cage – holding recyclable materials that he has found in the trash. The callousness towards the poor in this country defies belief.

    The rich travel, buy overpriced imported US name brands, the latest technology, and complain about their housekeepers… while the poor rummage in the trash, don't eat regularly, and have no health care. I saw a news report of an 8yr old girl who was looking for recyclables with her family, in a town dump, and had gotten too close to a machine that compacts the trash – which resulted in her losing an arm.

    Until now, I didn't know what God had in store for me here, but I feel that the first step is to reach out to the local church here, and see how we can minister to the poor, and get through to the rich…

    I checked out several of the Compassion bloggers, and you have given me hope… and an added dose of gumption. <3

    Thank you for your wonderful posts and for personalizing it for all of us.

    Abrações (Hugs)

  27. 127
    His Girl says:

    Love your updates, Melissa – both in words and in photos!
    And I love that you can be jetlagged and in the middle of 40 degree heat, yet still have great hair and makeup!
    May God pour out His blessings on you and your team!

  28. 128
    absmith74 says:

    I get on the the blog every day to see what’s happening on your trip. It is so exciting to hear what you are experiencing first hand. God is opening my heart to missions in a HUGE new way. It is so exhilirating and scary at the same time! Keep sharing!!!

    Now, my question to you is how do you look so beautiful in 120 degree heat? Great pics! Keep ’em coming!

  29. 129
    Michele says:

    Hey Melissa,
    The part of your post about curry reminds me of Forrest Gump. Shrimp everything. Curry gumbo, curry pancakes, currykabobs… lol.

    Do you see how much God is doing through you? Not only are you over there being a blessing, but through your sharing, so many other children will be helped by folks who are encouraged to sponsor. Likely, those people will tell others, and it goes on. Thank you for all you do.

    Praying for God’s continued protection and provision for you.

  30. 130
    darla says:

    been praying for you Melissa! I have been following daily through Pete and Anne on twitter..I have such a love for India, and I do believe God is near to the broken hearted, both those who are natives there, and the team that is involved. Praying for you!

  31. 131
    Siesta OC says:

    Melissa – I just felt a fresh wave of living water rush over me when I was looking at the last picture with the woman and her son and reading that her favorite story was about the wedding in Cana. Just to think, these women are from another country, they don’t speak english, the don’t have our cvonveniences, yet they know about Jesus!

    And I wonder if while she is preparing a meal she thinks of Him and whe He is and maybe what He looked like? I wonder if the stories play over in her mind and if she prays and talks with Him.

    This post has changed me, thank you in Jesus name.
    Siesta OC

  32. 132
    Kelly @ Love Well says:

    Dang Melissa.

    I’m trying to go back and leave comments on all the posts that have grabbed me this week. (Bookmarked for my convenience.) And this one gets me EVERY TIME I READ IT. I can feel the tears catch in my throat.

    Those beautiful faces. All those moms lined up with their wee ones. The difference that Compassion is making.

    The fact that God gives us the chance to partner with Him in this kind of thing AT ALL blows me away. What extravagant mercy.

  33. 133
    Groovewoman ♫ says:

    Wow, the Compassion India statement says it all!!
    Praise the Lord for the Compassion workers for East India.

    I love reading about what the Lord is doing for these people thru Compassion. So AMAZING!!


  34. 134
    Nichole's Mom says:

    Beautiful. Hands and feet. It gives it a whole new meaning doesn’t it?

  35. 135
    Warm in Alaska says:

    I love all the beautiful faces. It’s weird reading your posts – they’re kind of like a “soul adjustment” (think chiropractor here) and make me go: “Just what was it I had a complaint about?…” After one paragraph and one picture – I can’t even remember the non-essential mundane things going on in my life. Looking at my laptop screen into the faces that so lack the essentials in life – Why so downcast oh my soul? You have a bed, house, food, clothes, soap, shoes, Jesus.

    Warm in Alaska.

  36. 136
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