Come Away with Me

I’ve been waiting for just the right time to tell you that I (Melissa) am going, along with four other bloggers, with Compassion International to Kolkata (Calcutta), India. The “right” time has quickly turned into “oh my word, SERIOUSLY, we are leaving Friday!!!” And so here you have it. The five of us will be led by a handful of staunch Compassion-folk on an exciting adventure; a journey I can only guess will be filled with moments of piercing sadness but also bursts of laughter and stimulating conversation. A journey that engages and confronts all of the senses in an unexpected way and that makes an impression that lasts not just a week or two, but for a lifetime. I will be attempting to put this journey into words for you straight from Kolkata on this blog next week, April 26- May 2.

The first day I learned of this opportunity to go along with Compassion to Kolkata, I knew I was supposed to go. Period. Sometimes the Lord makes something unmistakably clear. I won’t ever forget the seriousness in Shaun Groves’ voice as he said, “Take your time making your decision, Melissa.” He said, “I’ve never been to Kolkata but from what I’ve heard, this may be one of the more difficult trips.” Now, I’ve heard the dude speak and sing and I thought he was supposed to be funny. Well, he wasn’t throwing the jokes. He actually sounded really serious. Even so, I didn’t have to take my time making the decision. It was just one of those moments. I take that back, I did have to ask Mr. Fitzpatrick what he thought first and he said, “You’ve gotta go. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.” I was actually stunned by his absolute selflessness. Well, let’s just say that the closer it gets to Friday the less I am seeing him effuse this virtue. Actually he is getting quite controlling. Every time I so much as cough he looks at me like, “And you’re going to Kolkata?” *Grin.* I guess it was easier for him to imagine it all when it was still months away.

Let me tell you, over the past month I have gotten some crazy reactions from people about my going to Kolkata. Most people look at me like I’ve lost my mind and I know exactly what they’re thinking… “Why not Paris or Amsterdam or somewhere even slightly pleasurable?” I want to say to them, “Life isn’t all about fun.” But I don’t. I just keep my mouth shut. And anyway, they obviously haven’t met any of the team I am going along with. It’s an entertaining group of people. A group that I suspect could have a little tiny bit of fun even in the darkest of places. Can’t keep the sarcasm from dripping off my computer screen when I glance over their emails. Oh, and I even had one girl tell me that India is “impossibly filthy” and that I need to watch out for the rats. The negative reactions were becoming tiresome, so I was pleased when the popular, Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” finally came out on DVD. The timing was totally ordained for us, don’t you think? I finally started getting some positive responses from people. You’ve gotta love pop-culture. I’ve been conveniently leaving out that we aren’t going to Mumbai and that Compassion International probably cares very little about us getting to meet the beautiful Latika in the flesh.

In spite of all the strange reactions I have gotten, there really are no words to express my excitement about going to Kolkata. I know that I am going to see poverty unlike anything I have ever seen before, but at the same time, who better to see it with than Compassion International – one of the world’s most effective Christian relief organizations? We aren’t going just to sit back and observe the poverty. We’re going with an organization that actually has the resolve to try and do something about it. I don’t know exactly what to expect and I’m trying not to assume much. My heart’s desire is just to go – to go with my heart and mind open. And by the way, I actually get to meet two of the children that Colin and I sponsor through Compassion. Like I actually get to have lunch with them.

I will tell you more about the details of our itinerary as next week unfolds, but for now I just wanted to tell you the news and ask for your thoughts and prayers as we prepare ourselves to head out this Friday. If you would be so kind and thoughtful to pray, here are my personal prayer requests:

1. Pray that my own cynicism wouldn’t rob me of a blessing. I’ve gotta be honest, I feel sort of faux for going on a trip like this. I’m not a missionary. I’m not an activist. And I’m certainly not a nun. I have the “comfort” (whatever significance that word really holds) of knowing I’m coming back to the United States in two weeks. That is the honest truth. And so I fight my own self-defeating thoughts. Thoughts like, “Melissa, you’re really nothing more than a tourist, nothing more than a weak poser wannabe missionary going over to Kolkata and acting like you’re some Mother Theresa type.” Since I have an all-or-nothing personality, I tend to feel defeated if I can’t go all out. For example, since I am not taking a vow of poverty or moving to work in Kolkata for the rest of my days, it makes me want to shrink back from doing anything at all. My own personal fear of false piety could keep me from entering into this experience and I don’t want it to. I want every fiber in my being to be impacted. Pray for me – that I’m not my own worst enemy.

2. Pray for Colin’s peace of mind. It is his responsibility to care for me; so naturally, he is a little concerned about my safety and whatnot. Please pray the Lord would have something unique in this experience for him as well, even though he will be in the States. He is, after all, as involved as I am with Compassion. He was actually the one who suggested that we sponsor our first Compassion child, Aimar, who lives in Colombia. It wasn’t even my idea. In that moment, I was actually more concerned about hiding our cash under the hardwood planks of our apartment. Right next to the one hundred pound bag of rice and ginormous jar of peanut butter. Kidding. Sort of.

3. Pray for my health. Please pray that my own physical weaknesses would not be a hindrance to me or to the team. I’ve had a series of intense migraines for the past few months, and while I plan to stuff Excedrin Migraine in every crevice of my suitcase, please pray for a supernatural release from these migraines. Even if it is only for this two week period. (Praise Him – He has given me a release in the past week, but I do pray that they will not return during the trip).

Oh, and I almost forgot, I need your advice. I am taking little care packages for both of our Compassion children in Kolkata. As you know, Colin and I don’t have our own kids, so I need your help. I have no idea what kids like. I consider myself an adult person and buying for kids does not come naturally to me. We have a nine-year-old boy named Manot and a twelve-year-old girl named Pramila. What do nine-year-old boys like? And what do twelve-year-old girls like? Now, I don’t want to rush over to India in a naïve Santa-Claus costume with a bagful of toys. I’m not going to put on a red superwoman cape and presume I could save their day. I can’t save their day. But at the same time, I want to make their day. I want to make their day special without making them feel overwhelmed or intimidated by too many gifts. In your opinion, where is the line? Do you have any thoughts? Ideas?



201 Responses to “Come Away with Me”

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    くわめぱ says:

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