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. 51
    Shelley says:

    I like the way Shaun puts it: “Compassion: releasing Americans from their wealth”

    We sponsor a boy named Daniel in Mexico and we look forward to his letters and pictures just as much as he looks forward to ours. We put them up in frames in our home with our family photos, he is part of our family and hopefully we are part of his.

  2. 52
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, Thank you so much for the updates. I am praying for the digestive of the team. I went to Honduras on a medical mission a few years back and as “careful” as we try to be it hard not to have some GI upset when we travel. I was looking at all those young Mothers and my heart goes out to them and their children. I am so glad Compassion is helping them. At one of the medical clinics in Honduras, I was doing an assessment on a very young Mom who was in her teens. She had come with her toddlers, and she(the Mom) bit through the thermometer because she had never had her temperture taken before and she didn’t understand what to do. Thankfully she was not harmed, but I was stunned as I was a million times on that trip with how much I take for granted. One of the other Siestas’ mentioned the fact that we have DRINKABLE running water that comes INTO our homes and we are seen as rich because of that. What a humbling reminder. May God’s continued grace be on you all. In Jesus’ Love Kathy Knoblock

  3. 53
    Vicki Sandifer says:


    So, do you feel like a missionary now?? Girl you are! I have been on trips out of the country but have never to a place you would ride a rickshaw. We made one for the kids to ride in a VBS a few years ago, but not the heat index you are with!! I am glad you are not getting sick. We will continue that stays. Praying for you – may the Lord bless and keep you this day. Love from AL, Vicki

  4. 54
    Amanda says:

    Denise, here is a link to some of Compassion’s financial info:
    I know one thing about this trip is that they allow the bloggers to ask any questions, look through the offices, open the books, look in the drawers, etc. They strive to be transparent. I’m not sure what the answer is to your question about why so many kids can attend the school and learn about Jesus who aren’t paid for. However, I do know that sponsors can choose to give a little more than their original monthly donation and that money goes to helping support the children who are waiting to be matched with sponsors. I hope that helps!

  5. 55
    Megan says:


  6. 56
    Erin says:

    My husband and I signed up to sponsor a young boy, Samuel, from India about a month ago. What a God thing that you’re on this trip and giving us a peek at what Compassion is doing in the lives of children, including Samuel, in that part of the world! Thank you for getting out of your comfort zone. God is using your experience to inspire others to join the cause.

  7. 57
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the post Melissa…..May I never think again life is hard here. Father God, may I never take for granted the “luxury’s here in America”, like clean running water and bathrooms in the home. How easy I forget as I truck through the day how very blessed I am to live here.
    I will continue to pray for you Melissa and the team!!!!
    Bible Bunny in NO MI

  8. 58
    Toknowhim says:

    Whoever is taking these pictures is a genius with the camera…they are breathtaking and beautiful… I love the one of you and the children… You look so happy in all of these pictures…

    Everyday I am checking in to see your updates… Thanks for sharing the journey with us…

    Blessings and may you keep experiencing God’s presence while you are there…and beyond.

  9. 59
    hisfivefooter says:

    That your hair still looks fabulous is so not fair, still..moving on: The pictures are fantastic! Seriously, the pic of the hands on the water jug was great (reminded me of the bible verse about a cup of water offered up)and that Jesus becomes the Living Water. I also loved the pictures of the women and children, they are beautiful! Isn’t it interesting that aside from the actual and real poverty in that country, the women there are still wanting to know about identity and hear of who God says they are. Just like us…amazing! God is so gracious, is He not, to completely know the human heart that He made and still go out of His way to tell us our identity if we would like to know. Keep it up Melissa, you are speaking their language and His. I love you.
    Lisa in Kirkland, WA

  10. 60
    Sun says:

    I am just stunned as I read each post. I have no idea what to even write – much less encourage you with. I have friends who are missionaries and read stories all of the time – but to hear first hand accounts and to see – and I am not even there – mind blowing. Thank you for the posts – for being the eyes and ears for us here in the States that cannot go. May God continue to minister to each of you and use you so hugely in each life you contact there. Safe travel! Sunshine

  11. 61
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    To add to Amanda’s comment, you can also send one time donations to be put toward a general fund that they will use where needed…

  12. 62
    Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife says:

    Aside from the obvious wonderful things I could say about this update, I have to tell you that at first glance I thought you had called Pete “Toilet Trooper” instead of total trooper.

    Sorry, Pete. HOpe you are feeling better dude.

  13. 63
    Kellye says:

    Praying for your continued health and strength and that of your group.

  14. 64
    Cindy - Lake City, FL says:

    Thank you Melissa for sharing with us. You have helped me to become so much more aware of the needs of those so less fortunate.
    Although there is such a great need for these lovely people, there is such beauty also. I am so moved by their beautiful colors…their beautiful skin, their dark hair and eyes and the beautiful bright colors of their clothing and their simplicity is so touching.
    God Bless you and your team.

  15. 65
    Sara says:

    There’s a good independent source that checks out charities – many, many of them:

    Compassion International is rated a 4-star charity, using only 7.5% of their budget for administrative expenses. This isn’t an ad for anyone; just passing along that I’ve found Charity Navigator very helpful.

  16. 66
    Joanne (The Simple Wife) says:

    Wow, again. I just love seeing the pictures and hearing the stories.


    And this is totally trivial, but did you pack your hot rollers? You’re looking beautiful!

  17. 67
    Fran says:

    Oh, Melissa! This is so exciting to see what Compassion does for the children we sponsor! And your posts have helped me to know how to be a good sponsor. I am a kindergarten teacher, so I chose Bindi, who will be 5 in June and start kindergarten. Next school year, my new students and I will enjoy having Bindi “in our class”!
    I hope your traveling companions feel better and you will all stay well and have a safe return trip home.
    Gulf Shores, AL

  18. 68
    Maryellen says:

    I keep thinking about Mother Theresa and how she lived her entire adult life in service of the poorest of the poor. She said at one point that she was just a little pencil in the hand of God. He was the author of life. He was writing the story, she was just an instrument in His hand. How I want that kind of heart. Thank you for reminding me of that hearts desire.
    God bless Melissa, you have blessed us.

  19. 69
    Missy says:

    Amazing…thank you for giving us such an inside look of Calcutta and of Compassion International. The pictures are precious and tug at my heartstrings! I’ve been sponsoring a child through World Vision for 6-7 years now, and I’ve loved it! It’s still hard for me to fathom the conditions those children (and adults) live in. It just doesn’t seem real..but it is! You’ll never be the same, Melissa. And that’s a good thing! 🙂
    Keep the blogs coming… (sending up more prayers and esp. for those who have gotten sick).

  20. 70
    Canadian Mom says:

    I was reading your post and then came to the part about poor Pete….You wrote,"He's a total trooper"! I mistakenly read,"He's a toilet trooper"……..laughed my head off!! Sorry!! I certainly will be praying for you all and the blessing of God to be heavy upon you.

    Smiles & Blessings

  21. 71
    DigiNee says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post Melissa —- my heart is being enriched as you share your travels – including the finer points of the exotic nature – sports bra and tp . . . can so relate to many points from mission trips to Moldova – and no bathrooms – just holes in the ground.

    Will continue to pray for strength for the team and healing and that no one else will fall ill.


  22. 72
    Evangelism Chick says:

    AWESOME!! Love it. Love them.

    Love HIM,


  23. 73
    DigiNee says:

    Can not look at the pics on Flickr without bawling —– they are so good! And they really tell the story . . .

    Here is the link again Siesta’s if you are not looking at them every day or have not seen them.

  24. 74
    Sharon says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! What a blessing! Also, I just sponsored my first child from India. Her name is Shubhangi, she’s 5 years old, and just precious!

    Much love,
    Sharon, NC

  25. 75
    Teri~Facedown says:

    Heavenly Father, I pray Melissa right now in Jesus name and ask that you would move over her in power for this task that you have set before her. Thank you for the servitude displayed in the members of the Compassion team- Father I ask that you would keep their energy high, heal those who aren’t feeling well, and direct and guide their every step in India. Father, you deserve all praise for the record numbers of children who have already been sponsored as a result of this Compassion trip! I pray that you would continue to move in the hearts of your people as they are touched by the testimony coming from these missionaries.
    Father let their time ministering to the children bring HOPE to those who are desperate for you. Touch each one Lord, for you are mighty. Thank you for these blogging brothers and sisters, move in them and out of them for your kingdoms sake. Father, I pray that you would run over them like a rushing river, refresh them as they serve you and bring your light to a lost and dying world.
    In Jesus name, amen.

  26. 76
    Paige says:

    What a blessing this trip is for more than just you! Your recaps of your days are amazing and I am honored to be able to share in it even if I am just a reader.

    Thank you Melissa. I will be praying.

  27. 77
    Warrior in Training says:

    Melissa, your posts have been an absolute blessing and joy to follow. I can’t wait to talk to my husband and kids about getting our own child to sponsor-maybe eventually getting one for each of our children to sponsor.
    What an honor to not only follow your journey but to have a door open that I didn’t even know was there.
    Thanks again for your beautiful posts.

  28. 78
    Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the photos
    I was wondering, what is a rackshaw?
    also, the children that are in school uniforms, are they the more well to do children? or are they just as much in poverty as the others?

  29. 79

    Melissa thanks again for those amazing pictures they are wonderful and to see all those women with there babies waiting for you all I can feel your exictment,the picture at the end there of mother and daughter was so sweet. Melissa you look amazing in every picture you are beautiful just like your sweet mama I am sure she is proud of you. Again thank you for sharing with us seista’s and it has been fun to be on the journey with you. Praying for you and continue health for you

  30. 80
    Anonymous says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I had to send this. I get daily e-mail devotionals from Joni Tada, they are from her “Pearls of Great Price” book this year. Below is today’s, just as I have been following your trip to Inida.

    Blessings, karen :):)

    Joni and Friends Daily Devotional
    April 29, 2009

    Rich In Faith

    Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the
    world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
    –James 2:5

  31. 81
    Leslie Young says:

    Totally captivated by your posts, and those of my new ‘friend’ Pete! I had heard of Compassion, but have always been unsure of which organizations were truly legit. Well, I’m convinced! Sruthi is my new ‘daughter’ – she shares a birthday with my birth daughter! How exciting to hear that we’re part of something big (and small) in India!

  32. 82
    pete wilson says:

    I can’t believe I’m on the front of the LPM blog holding a Bible and toilet paper. Are you kidding me?? 🙂

    Hey ladies, let me say this. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time observing Melissa over the past several days and she is the real deal.

    She’s a smart, compassionate, fun-loving, Christ-centered, leader and I’m proud of the way God is using her here in India.

  33. 83
    Barbra says:

    I can’t describe in words the impact that your quote from Compassion’s mission statement has had on me. It’s like a searing blade has pierced my soul. Can I say that about me… where I live? Do I even dare? The Lord only knows what He’s going to do with this.

  34. 84
    Beckycain6 says:

    Pete’s comment.

    Ha ha hilarious!

  35. 85
    Pastor Sharon says:

    Thanks for the post! It has increased my faith and my prayer life! I love that the one lady in the picture loves hearing the stories of Jesus!

  36. 86
    Georgia Jan says:

    Melissa – I am so loving these posts from you – thank you for keeping us connected. I can’t wait to be more connected with my little Compassion child – Iduar, who lives in Colombia. Your journey has made me so much more AWARE of the personal contact with the children and the validity of that – thank you so much.

    Pete sounds like a hoot – I love him already. Bless him Lord.

    Three things:

    #1. I can’t believe you rode in a rickshaw – I love that.

    #2. That royal blue is your color. (I know you are in India and on a serious trip – but I just thought how pretty you look in that color, okay?)

    #3. Come see me when you get home. Frito Lay has a HUGE plant in our county and I can hook you up with chips for life… 🙂 (And we’ll even go get a couple of cases of Moon Pies for your daddy.)

    Much love to you my little sister,
    Mrs. Jan

  37. 87
    Gayle @ thewestiecrew says:

    Melissa, I know that you cannot answer each of these comments, but if you do get an extra minute, I was wondering how much the “Caste” system still affects these people… especially the ones in the rural areas simply because of traditionalism?

    I have read Elisabeth Elliot’s biography of Amy Carmichael and was very moved by it. I know that the Caste system was a great source of sorrow for her.


    I FINALLY have the chance to pick out our child TONIGHT (didn’t want to do it without hubby)!!

    Much love to you, sister.

  38. 88
    Isaac's Mom says:


    I can hardly wait each evening to climb into bed, open my laptop, logon to LPM and check to see if you have been able to send some pictures and a story or two from India. It’s incredible!! I’m loving it…the real deal.

    I wonder, so far, if the trip has not been quite what you expected? Better, harder, not as hard etc.?

    The women and children are so very beautiful. Thank you for taking time to share with us.

    Stay healthy and safe as we continue to pray for you and the others with you.


  39. 89
    Three Fold Cord says:

    Continuing to pray for you!! Today I really felt compelled to pray as I was getting ready to go out. Running water on my face, Clean water to brush my teeth and you and Angie’s faces came to my mind. I prayed for you and now reading your post it starts to make a little more since of the timing in which He had me pray.
    Loving you Sweet Sister!
    Charlotte in ATL

  40. 90
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    Praying God’s blessings on you and your new day! I pray for God to be with you in what you encounter today and that you would shine that light to India!

  41. 91
    Natalie says:


  42. 92
    Aunt Rhody says:

    Thank you, thank you, for being the hands and feet and mouth of Jesus this week to these beautiful people. May the Lord multiply one hundred times the funds, the love, the stories of Jesus to these women and children. In Jesus’ name.

  43. 93
    Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictures and stories. Thanks for sharing with us!

  44. 94
    Northern Lights says:

    Thanks so much for the posts!

    We have four children that we sponsor – through Compassion, World Vision and the African Children’s Choir.

    We got to meet the girl from the Choir last year as they toured through our city – and she actually stayed at our house for three days with three other Choir members. It was absolutely life-changing for my kids!! They were 2 and 4 at the time. You would think they were too little to understand or remember, but they have talked about her literally every day since then. I use the experience to point out that all the rest of our sponsored kids are also “REAL” people even though they can’t come to our house.

    This past week my son has been telling me he wants to go to Africa to see Jackie. When I asked why he said “I want to see her place.” He’s only 3, but he wants to know where she lives and what it looks like. They’re still too little for a big trip like that, but my “dream vacation” is a trip to take them to go see some/all of our sponsored children.

    Your posts just reinforce how privileged we are to be able to participate with these fantastic organizations in the work they do.

  45. 95
    Moose Mama says:

    So beautiful!

    Pete….we knew that. Glad you’re feeling better.

    Still praying!


  46. 96
    Anonymous says:


    Thank You!! Thank You!! and Thank You!!!!

    for sharing daily and for the pictures, so those of us that will probably never get the opportunity can experience just a taste of what India is like.

    Tracey Lewis
    Athens, GA

  47. 97
    Miranda says:

    SO wonderful!

  48. 98
    Anonymous says:

    Lots of appreciation and love being sent your way-

  49. 99
    Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) says:

    I cannot imagine eating that food. I cannot swallow curry even the mildest form in America. I would be sicker than anyone could imagine.

    Thank God for brave and adventurous women like you who are sharing these important stories with us.

  50. 100
    bigdogmom says:

    I am speechless. That is a rare condition for me to be in-ask my kids.
    I just don’t know what to say. I am convicted in my heart and moved to tears. I have so much…and complain too much…
    I am not sure which site I went to (Keely’s maybe?) But was able to hear the ladies blowing through the shells. That is so awesome. I also saw the ride in the rickshaw. No kidding sports bra(s). How long did it take for your brain to stop sloshing?
    Bless you and Bless Compassion for all they are doing. Kels, Redding, CA

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