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. 1
    Christy says:

    Thanks for the posts Melissa, they have been great.

    And, in reading what you and the other bloggers are writing, I was prompted to pull out the letter forms to write to the two children my husband and I sponsor in Thailand and Bolivia – I just put the stamps on the envelopes and put them out for the mailman. I’m embarrassed to admit that I can’t remember the last time I wrote to them. I’m motivated to get back on the horse and be more consistent!

  2. 2
    Jesus Chicky says:

    Bless you precious friend. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.

    This is so moving!! I love the sentence about feeding children in Jesus’ name!! Glory to him for these works. We forget that everything we do we should do through Jesus.

    Love, Amy-GA

  3. 3
    Anonymous says:

    Just amazing and incredible, the sights and photo pic’s. PTL for a connection with Pete Wilson’s blog for an action filled blog on Vimeo to complete your word pictures! To experience the rickshaw ride and seeing the gorgeous Indian women with their babies waiting in line for you all, what an awesome sight! It had to make the “worst road trip ever” (Pete Wilson’s quote) worth it all. So thankful you are not getting sick, and know it is prayer power!
    Love and blessings to the beloved in India, this trip of yours is making it so real to me. I’ve been such a “chicken” I vowed I’d never go to India. I’m changing my mind and God is changing my heart!
    Pam H.
    So. Cal. Siesta
    Giving God all the glory for the incredible announcement that yesterday was the largest single day of child sponsorship for any Compassion trip ever! Glory! Glory! Glory!

  4. 4
    Christine says:

    More amazing words coming from your fingertips. It is such a blessing to follow you all on this trip. To see more than just the effects of crushing poverty, but to see the hope that comes from fighting it with an organization like Compassion. I was at a funeral last week for a dear man in our church and I overhead someone say they couldn’t fathom how someone goes through such sadness without faith in Jesus. I think the same can be said for a mission such as this one. I can’t imagine working against such unfathomable conditions without having the hope that comes from Jesus.
    Continuing to pray for you all…may the blessings continue to pour down.

  5. 5
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    OK…the pictures ar phenomenal! LOVE THEM!!!

    And…I will be praying for the sick…and for the continued good health of the non-sick…

    Thanks doesn’t cover what you guys are doing over there…

    Praise the Lord for working through you and thanks to you, Melissa, and the team, for being willing!

    God bless,


  6. 6
    Big Mama says:

    I am LOVING your posts. The child survival program was one of the things that just blew me away about Compassion. The fact that they are taking care of children that haven’t even been born by loving those mothers is amazing.

    So excited for what God is doing.

  7. 7
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you for giving us the behind the scenes look at what Compassion does. Just reading your story and the stories of the other bloggers has brought me to tears today. I will be going on to the compassion website to look for a child to sponsor.

    Thank you.


  8. 8
    Amanda May says:

    Beautiful…and heart-wrenching!

    Thank you for sharing!!

  9. 9
    Holly says:

    Thank you so much for opening my eyes and my heart a little bit more about India and the efforts of Compassion International. I’ve enjoyed your updates as your journey progresses.

    Love all the pictures–there is such beauty there!

  10. 10
    Anonymous says:

    I work in technology and the one thing I just can not get past in this experience is …… the technology that allows you to be in India, make some awesome pictures (I am into photography too), tell the stories of a people some will never see in this lifetime AND share them with us via technology! Your experience has brought on the tears, chills and lump in my throat, but it has also brought on the magnitude of a truly global experience.

    Leave it to God to use the Internet in such a truly unforgettable way!!

    Thank you, Melissa, for being His tool and bringing the story to all of us. Thanks to LPM also for being His tool and bringing the story to all of us.

  11. 11
    Kristin says:

    I just sponsored a little girl names Nessa from India. I cant wait for the future.

  12. 12
    lori says:

    I love reading this… and Melissa you are beautiful, I keep waiting for you to look at least a little rough, but Your a knockout in every picture..

    The kids are all so beautiful..Have you had an encounter with any certian child that made it extra hard to leave them.

  13. 13
    Leslie Lauren says:

    The porcelain adversary had me laughing, but the curry chips had me rolling on the floor!!!

    Keep the stories and beautiful pictures coming, they are a breath of fresh air!

  14. 14
    Rachel T says:


    Thank you so much for your updates from Calcutta. It's such a joy to be able to experience your Compassion trip in this way.

    This summer I will be traveling with a group on a similar mission and with a similar program. Having never been out of the south for very much at all, it's still hard to believe that I will be on the other side of the world for two weeks.

    The preparation (physically & spiritually) have brought emotions of fear, excitement, sadness, being overwhelmed, and joy. It's funny how when God sends us on a mission we often go through the whole gammut(sp) of emotions.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, that I can "see" and read your experience in Calcutta.

    God Bless You and the entire Compassion Team!

    Waiting my turn,

  15. 15
    Anonymous says:

    As I look through the pictures on the flickr page, I can get over the sparkle in the eyes….amazing!! AND the colors….my goodness the colors are bold, brilliant and incredibly awesome. I know why Melissa is having a hard time taking it all in. I am just “flipping” through pictures and having a hard time taking it all in.

    God is so good….his imagination and creativity never cease to amaze me, but neither do His people!

  16. 16
    michellemabell says:


    The photos are just beautiful. Especially the clean water in the pot, and all the mothers lined up with their little children.
    What an incredible touching ministry….to be an expecting mother and experience what you described. I can’t imagine. The simple things…like giving your baby a bath in clean water.

    My daughters can’t wait for packet of information to come from Compassion regarding the little girls we have sponsored! Neither can I.
    Reading through your posts since being there in India has brought such a new reality to what it means to sponsor a child! Thank you so much.
    You are in my prayers.

    Love and Blessings,

    Michelle in Vermont

  17. 17
    amandawgoins says:

    Melissa, Thank you for your blogs. They are a joy to read and we are in constant prayer for you and your team. You are beautiful, just like your mom. Such an inspiration.

    Sorry to hear about the curry! Need us to mail you some ruffled lays?? Or we could steal some of your dads moon pies again and send them to you! I hear he has some double deckers!

    You have inspired me to sponsor a child. I’m praying about the decision now.
    Keep up the good work.
    All our love and prayers, Amanda Goins, Georgia

  18. 18
    Darla says:

    Melissa – Hey…I wanted you to know that I linked to your blog from mine. There was a big flood in Houston yesterday. It was so sad for me to see all the devastation from the flood so soon after Ike, but I know that we have a way to fix it. Resources, etc. And so many where you are have nothing. Anyway…I’ve already had some responses from those who didn’t know about Compassion. yea!

  19. 19
    Anonymous says:

    What an amazing blog! Thank You!!
    I am crying and laughing and praying.

    Enjoy your trip.
    Shawn, Georgia

  20. 20
    screamofcontinuousness says:

    true compassion, true love for fellow human beings does produce a feeling of agony and an impetus to DO something about the suffering we see.

    Making compassion a life long part of our every breath is a miracle only God can perform on our tainted hearts.
    Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”

    flesh that bleeds. Flesh that partakes of the passion of God and is moved in compassion to relieve the suffering of others.

    May God bless you in the richness of blood that flows fresh from His very heart Melissa. I pray for you constantly.

  21. 21
    Inksstillwet says:

    You’re doing an amazing work there in India and conveying the message of the people so very well. Thank you for sharing their stories and yours and for making the needs of the body of Christ in India so real to all of us! It’s an honor to know they want to hear and know the same God and Savior we know and serve. We’re praying for everyone’s health and quick recovery so they can return to the strides being made while you all are there. So grateful you said, “Yes, Lord, send me,” when He sent the call!

  22. 22
    Siesta OC says:





  23. 23
    Anonymous says:

    I wait in eager anticipation of what you are going to show us what God is doing in India. I had already checked the blog three times today before the fourth revealed this post. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you. I found myself today being grateful for things that I would normally take for granted because of your posts and am really becoming more aware of how much God truly cares for those in poverty…emotional, physical, and spiritual poverty. Thanks again for your part in opening up my spiritual eyes. You are a blessing.

    Praying for you,
    Sarah Rader
    Burlington, KY

  24. 24
    Larsen Family says:

    So glad that we are being able to go along with you on this journey of discovery. Praise God for all the new sponsors that have come forward because of this blog. May you remain healthy and maintain a tolerance for curry and masala throughout the rest of your time in India.

    FYI. If you think you look like casper the friendly ghost in those photos, I probably wouldn’t even register in the picture. I am so light complected.

  25. 25
    lavonda says:

    Melissa, I have looked at every single thing in my life completely different over the last 3 days.
    Not one aspect is the same. I’ve gone about every part of my day seeing these beautiful faces, some smiling, and some not.

    We live in such a sheltered environment, with everything we need and want at our fingertips. I feel guilty for that. My heart is heavy for these eyes I’m looking in to in everyone’s pictures. Why were we born here with everything we have, and those precious people and children born there into such poverty? I now want to make a bigger impact for Him in this life He’s given me.

    My prayer today is that He will use me too, somehow. I’m so thankful to be made aware of things outside of my own circumstances.

    Praying for you all over there!
    Thank you for being our eyes and ears back home. 🙂

  26. 26
    brandiandboys says:

    hi melissa… another great post. what struck me after seeing these photographs and watching the video on pete’s blog is how everything was rather muted in color (dirt, straw, brown water) until you see all those mommas lined up in their beautiful colors. they seem like such a breath of fresh air in the rural countryside.

    ps – and i didn’t know pete had passed out until i read this… women are essential on a trip like this one for the simple fact they can keep the wives at home updated! 🙂

  27. 27
    Amber says:

    Thank you for your wonderful posts! My husband and I adopted a girl yesterday! She is 14…I thought maybe I should pick an older girl…like maybe she was running out of chances to be sponsored. Her name is Anandhi…I picked her because my husband, baby and myself all have “A” names and I wanted her to be a part of our “A-Team”. Thank you for bringing Compassion to the forefront of all our minds. Our gym membership recently got cancelled b/c we didn’t know we had to actaully renew it, we thought it kept going unless we cancelled it. Anyway, I have 30 free dollars a month now! It is now going to Miss Anandhi!

  28. 28
    jeana says:

    I am so humbled that I often live in my own little world and do not even realize the needs of these poor children and people or just the brokenness all around me… your posts have inspired me to pray for God to open my eyes and heart and to use me how He chooses… The story of the 4 year old little girl and her family (and brother who sleeps on the cement floor) is heart-breaking… thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading more!

  29. 29
    Kelley with Amy's Angels says:

    I feel like a total compassion blog stalker. Your blog, Pete’s blog, Angie’s blog. (Shhhh…supposed to be working but reading about India. ha!)

    First time commenting here and I have to tell you, I love your posts on this trip. I did sponsor a boy from India on 4/7/09 and just got my packet to be able to send my first letter. I can’t wait for him to get it!

    Travel safe!

  30. 30
    Melissa says:

    Brandi! I’m so happy you’ve been commenting!

    Pete is doing much much better. We weren’t really sure if he just fell asleep suddenly or passed out but he was looking very very pukey and weak. And he was laying on the hard cement floor as well. We were pretty worried about him but he turned around after the Cipro.

  31. 31
    JottinMama says:

    Oh I cherish these updates from you, Melissa. Thank you SO much for sharing.

    That picture of the women lined up with their children – just totally grabbed me. Whoa.

    I’m praying for you,
    Kate 😉

  32. 32
    Anonymous says:

    I am riveted by what are you are writing each day. My emotions run the gamut from amazed, to stunned, from moved to tears, to joy.

    Being a Compassion sponsor myself, I have really appreciated your in depth writing about how the centers work.

    Jill S

  33. 33
    Katie says:

    “Keep fighting in the name of love and for the sake of justice in spite of the agony.”

    That sentence strikes my heart as I think what do we in America know about the agony of following Jesus Christ? Thank you Melissa for sharing this experience that we can be reminded what many of our brothers and sisters in Christ face and that Jesus’ love is not cultural but unbound by culture, race, gender or economic status. How sweet, and for many out there, bitter sweet.

  34. 34
    Sitesx6 says:

    I could WEEP at the beauty of these people!

    How much Jesus loves them!!!!!!

    Thank you for the great posts,I look forward to them.

    Kelly in Michigan.

  35. 35
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I am so excited about everything you are able to tell us about Compassion in India. I am praying for you and your team! On another note I spent about a month in India in 2000, and i can totally relate on the food front;) It reached a point where we would only eat rice in large amounts at every meal. Well if anybody ever doubted that carbs cause swelling my bottom could have proved you wrong. Well we reached a weak food point and we were staying in a rather nice hotel. (and by nice hotel I mean one that had real actual toliets instead of two cement blocks with a hole in the middle) Some of my dear friends saw chicken salad on the hotel menu, in their defense it looked and tasted like real ckn salad, and they ordered it. Some even had chicken salad wtih a fried egg on top. I know all I can say for them is they had been eating curry for 25 days straight and all their reason had left the building. Anyway needless to say they had some sickness like no other. So Melissa if you get this tell your team to stay away from the chicken salad!!!!!


  36. 36
    kimberly says:

    I’m really enjoying reading these posts. My family spent several months in central India on outreach after a training school, and these posts and pictures bring back so many memories. I can especially sympathize with you on the food – by the end of the outreach the only thing I was able to stomach were the chapatis, which were the only thing without curry in them. My brother got into the habit of eating twice a week, one Wednesdays when we would go to a big city for a weekly pastor’s conference and ate at a restaurant, and on Saturdays when our amazingly sympathetic cooks would make us fried chicken to help us feel more at home.
    I’m loving these pictures and the memories of villages that feel like you’ve stepped into an article from National Geographic. Mud huts, beautiful women in their saris, precious children. Thank you for posting and helping me see the desperation of their poverty and yet the joy and hope that Christ is bringing continually to their lives through Compassion.

  37. 37
    jennyhope says:

    man I take things for granted!!

  38. 38
    Gena says:

    Simply awesome.

  39. 39
    katiegfromtennessee says:

    Oh Melissa, praise the Lord that you are sharing with us…We need to know what Compassion does,and other programs like it. When I read about that woman learning how to read, it really struck me. I’ll keep praying for you all in India. The Lord has shown you (and us!) a bunch on this trip-understatement!

    Love in Him,


  40. 40
    Marla Taviano says:

    Wow, wow, wow.

  41. 41
    Cindy says:

    Your posts have been such a reminder of the great need that exists in our world. I pray that I will never be so comfortable that I forget the plight of the needy.

    It also makes me pray that much more diligently for my precious Compassion child.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Praying for you all.


  42. 42
    jennyhope says:

    I went to pray and pick out a child and as I looked into their faces, I saw the same face of my niece. Then, I saw that the age was 4. I did not realize that it was a boy, Kabir, and I thought about changing it to a girl so my daughter could write like a pen pal and etc. Then, I looked up and saw that his bday was on the same day as Morgans. Totally God!!

  43. 43
    Anonymous says:


    You are too funny! Thanks for the warning about the extra “equipment” necessary while riding in the rickshaw.

    Been following your posts and have thought about these people for the past few days. I have been looking on the Compassion website for a child and it’s heartbreaking. How do you pick one? Wished I could write a check to all of them!

    I’m enjoying your blogposts, though, because I one of those who likes to get all the details before making commitment/decision. And I’ve wondered if the monthly donation really goes to the child or administration costs, etc. And I can’t understand why all these children in the villages can go to school and learn about Jesus, and not just the ones who are paid for?
    Just not clear about this.
    Denise/Monroe, GA

  44. 44
    The B's says:

    Girl – I am SO with you on sports bras and rickshaws…they definitely go together! 🙂

    I absolutely L-O-V-E the picture of the ladies lined up with their children…how precions.

  45. 45
    Sara says:

    Your photos made me think, “Yes, that’s India – today!: April 29, 2009.” I think with our busy lives we tend to forget that there's a whole world out there, live & in-person, that needs us in some form or fashion. I thank God for the technology that brings your updates to us and moves our hearts. And, I thank God for Compassion being our hands and hearts on the ground there.

  46. 46
    Beckycain6 says:

    This ultimately defines your exercising of “Agape Love.” A love so perfect, that its fragrance is divinity.

    “We thank you, Lord, we thank you with humble human words. We lack the ability to describe our love and gratitude to you in its proper depth, Father….because our love for you is so out of this world. You are holy, and we praise you…..”

    Like I told Angie Smith in her comment section, (ahhh no, not a blog stalker, gasp) keep going Melissa. I don’t have to know you to know enough to tell you that our God has so much more to show you…. Watch and be attentive; some lessons we find are hidden in a little ole’ rain cloud. Perfectly, of course.

    Through the humble agape love of Christ…who we love so much we could just burst,
    Becky Cain

  47. 47
    Amy says:

    Woohoo! Been following all your blogs (was only a reader of this blog & Angie's before the trip) and have been so touched + moved by God's heart + love for all of us. It prompted me to write to my sponsored children (thru a diff org) yesterday.

    I've been wanting to sponsor a child thru Compassion for years now after learning more about it + seeing its ratings on charity evaluator sites, and with the approval of the hubs, we sponsored a little boy from India thru Compassion yesterday! So happy + privileged to be a part of His work in this boy's life.

    ~Amy 7634

  48. 48
    Julie in Idaho says:

    6 word phrases regarding Melissa’s trip and its impact on me:

    Child’s mentor, big job, get busy.


    New sponsor; heart overflowing with love.

  49. 49
    Lee Ann says:

    Quite humbling and convicting.

  50. 50
    Anonymous says:

    Reading your blogs from India on the edge of my seat! I can’t wait to adopt our new child from Compassion and write our other child from World Vision..I always wondered in the back of my mind if they REALLY received the letters and gifts, but having you go there and verify it is all true is as good as going there myself. Thank you Melissa!!

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