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?

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  1. 1
    April says:

    That is so awesome!!! I just prayed for you guys and your trip… The LORD goes before you and prepares the way… He keeps watch over you both night and day… May you be a vessel used of God to bear much fruit for His glory, for His name!
    April

  2. 2
    Warm in Alaska says:

    A Polaroid camera (with LOTS of film and batteries) is great to take overseas b/c you can take pictures and then leave them with the people you meet. So many people have no photos of themselves. A Polaroid pic to leave with them can be such a fun blessing! (This wouldn’t necessarily be “the gift/s” for the two children – but just to have on hand to take pics and give away).

    Can’t wait to read your thoughts/impressions/questions/perspectives, etc.

    Have a great time!

    Watch. Listen. Pray. Write.

    Hugs from Alaska,

    Warm in Alaska
    (it really is – for once I’m not lying – it’s like 50 degrees. I need to go turn on my AC!)

  3. 3
    Cresanna says:

    I’ve been told that in India it’s very hard to get affordable notebooks for school. So maybe that would be a good gift?

  4. 4
    Denise says:

    My little 9 year old that I tutor asked me today for a cross necklace for his birthday. I gave him a Bible for Easter, and he loves it dearly. Any kind of ball is appreciated. What about a kite? Or a cool box with paper, markers, pens, pencils, etc. I teach 12 year old girls and they love jewelry, journals, Bibles, lotion,soap, nail polish, purses,flip flops etc. All girls love the same stuff! The most popular item we take on mission trips is the rubber bracelets with Christian sayings from Oriental Express. (100 for $20.00) All ages love them!

    Blessings and Prayers, Melissa! Your life will be changed forever!!

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    Sparkly – fake – jewelry is every little girls dream no matter where they live.

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:

    My 9 yr old boy likes legos and matchbox cars. My 12 yr old girl likes lipgloss and small little dolls like the tiny fairy dolls and the small little pets. Anything extra tiny that she can use her imagination with.

  7. 7
    Jamey Lynne says:

    Two things:
    I used to have terrible migraines too. I would get them almost everyday. My doctor prescribed Topamax, and it was pretty helpful. But the only thing that has brought me consistent relief was just getting on my knees and crying out in desperation. 🙂
    Also, I sponsor a child in India through world vision. She’s nine, and when I recently sent her a package, I sent a cute little notebook, girly-looking mechanical pencils, and some bracelets.

  8. 8
    Joni says:

    When I taught 2nd graders, the guys liked little pocket cars, scented stickers, and decorated pencils and different-colored ink pens. They liked those little “super” balls that bounce really high and anything that made noise–whistles, horn blowers. Girls of all ages like paints, diaries, pens/pencils, markers, and scented stickers.

    Melissa, I’ve got a critical temperament myself, and repeat often–“There is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus!” (A verse recommended by your mom in one of her studies) Also, in Things Unseen, Mark Buchanan suggests–“What did you just call me? Shut up and get back in the cage!” I love that one, too.

  9. 9
    Amanda says:

    Sitting next to Angie on the plane… oh, Melissa. Be careful of that!! You might have scars from what I hear!

    When I can’t think of what to give someone, I think of what I’d like to receive and there is never anything more touching to me than something someone made for me. Can you make your kids a frame with you and Colin’s pic in it or something like that. 12 year old girls might like some lip gloss or something innocent like that – I am not advocating a full make over. Or maybe something for her hair. I wish you the best, am praying for you all and CANNOT WAIT to read blog entries from you, Angie, and Shaun. I want to go next time!

  10. 10
    Kim says:

    I’ll be praying your requests. And peaceful government, and good weather, and safe food, and safe travel, and all that other stuff.
    For the boy and/or girl, a ball, a book, a Mead composition notebook to write in, #2 pencils, a manual, hand-held pencil sharpener, playdough (if you can get it on the plane w/o TSA thinking it’s explosives), watercolor paint sets/book, crayons, new underwear, new shirt, a toothbrush, an unbreakable mirror, hairbrush, flip flops, socks … how many bags are you taking?
    Peace,
    Kim Feth
    Apex, NC

  11. 11
    Anonymous says:

    When I went to Haiti with some brand-new stuffed animals, I thought whatever I brought to the kids they would get to keep. Turns out, I was wrong. I later learned that the toys & gifts brought to children are taken into market & sold for food to feed them.

    Not the worst thing in the world, I guess. I'm glad it helped them to eat. It just made me kind of sad. I don't know if this happens everywhere, but it might be something to keep in mind. Anything of VALUE at all might be sold for food.

    P.S. Go have yourself an awesome esperience with God!

  12. 12
    The Farmer's Wife says:

    I’ve been praying for Robin Dance, already, for this trip, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to pray for you, too.

    I’m unsure what the conditions will be for the children there, with regards for the care packages. These other bloggers have such good ideas! I know little girls always love pretty, shiny things…they are a little like magpies, that way. And little boys like balls and things with wheels. When I stop to think of this, I look around at the abundance of blessings my children have, and am ever more grateful!

  13. 13
    Bobbie says:

    What an awesome opportunity, Melissa! I can only imagine what awaits you–an experience not to be taken lightly. You’ll be a blessing to all you meet.

    I know when our son was in Afghanistan they said the young boys loved soccer balls and bicycles (a little too big for you to take) and I’m sure all little girls love dolls.

    I can’t wait to hear your stories and know that we’re all praying for your health and safety and for Colin’s peace of mind while you’re away.

    Travel safe! Blessings, Bobbie

  14. 14
    Kari says:

    Legos are a BIG hit with boys – they can build, take apart, and rebuild. My son spends hours with them!

    Also, wanted to mention to you… I have migraines as well. Did some research and started taking a vitamin b combo – B-12, B-6, and folic acid. Supposedly it is suppose to work. I am praying it will!! Have you ever tried this?

  15. 15
    Melissa says:

    You ladies are THE best… I’m getting so many good ideas.

    And Kari- I’ve actually never heard of that vitamin combination….but let me know if it works for you and helps ease the migraines. That would be awesome.

  16. 16
    dinimae says:

    Melissa, I put my vote in for the girl on glitter pens, notebook in a cute little tote, my 12 year old granddaughter would LOVE it. I think the soccer ball is a great idea for the boy, long lasting and durable!!. I will be praying for you. Blessings, Dinimae

  17. 17
    Jessica says:

    I went on a mission trip to Mexico a few years ago and you will be amazed at how easy those children are to please. Our kids are so spoiled with “stuff” but they are happy with anything! But just a few examples of things we took were baseballs, soccer balls, dolls, etc. Take it all in, because you’ll never be the same

  18. 18
    Judy says:

    You, your family back home, and all of those traveling with you will be in my prayers.
    A ball and doll have my vote. Can’t go wrong with that.
    (Try an ice bag for the migraines….One on your forehead and another on the back of your neck at the base of your skull….10 minutes on and 10 minutes off…sometimes this will help release it.)
    Take care and we will be looking forward to hearing from you!

  19. 19
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa,
    I am so excited for you and what God is going to do in you and through you. I pray blessings and an anointing over every aspect of this trip. One thing that I do want to speak to though is your migraines. I have had them for years and I know how awful they are! But praise God, I have not had one for six months because at the recommendation of my doctor, she told me to take magnesium. I just take an over the counter supplement and it has taken them away. I don’t know if this will help you, but I felt the urge from the Spirit to tell you about my experience. I pray that you do not have a single migraine!

    Many Blessings,
    Sarah Rader

  20. 20
    Lynn says:

    I am ethnically Inidan though I was born and raised in the US. So India of course is VERY dear to my heart. I have only been there once and I would love to go again.

    From what I know of India – the kids would LOVE bubble gum and candy. But for more practical things – soccer ball for the boy (if you can). Twelve in India is a lot less mature than 12 here – she may still play with dolls. A pretty dress would also be something she would love. Art supplies, checkers or other simple games, sunglasses – for both:)

    Know that you all will be in my prayers everyday!

    Blessings dear one,
    Sister Lynn

  21. 21
    Redeemed says:

    As a fellow Compassion sponsor, I can only say “You go, girl!” I so want to be able to go and see our sponsored child someday (he’s in Bolivia).
    Prayers will definitely be going up for you and for your husband.

    Might I suggest some small items for your children’s families? I have known some people to take inexpensive items like kitchen utensils, socks, household items, etc. (Of course, everything will have to be “airplane friendly”.)

    Also, a soccer ball? How about nail polish? I read one article about a man who went to see the girl his family sponsored, and he took along nail polish. The photos were so sweet, of him “doing” this girl’s nails, and also she “doing” his in return! (You’ve possibly seen these photos too)

    I have imagined what we would take our little guy if we ever get to meet him face to face. Oh, I’m so excited for you! Compassion Int’l is just the most worthwhile organization we’ve ever been a part of. I recommend them to everyone. GET INVOLVED. It will bless you.

  22. 22
    Carol says:

    Melissa,

    I am so excited to be following you on this trip! I made a trip to India 3-1/2 years ago and it was indeed a life-changing experience. The leaders of the trip I took called it a Vision trip instead of a mission trip. The purpose was for us to get a vision of how God is at work in India – and boy did we ever. I had the same responses before and after I went – it’s so dirty and wasn’t it depressing? But I found that although the circumstances of the people was oppressive and saddened my heart, the hope they have in Jesus far out-weighed all of that. In fact, where I started out with an attitude akin to pity, I left with a feeling more like envy – envy of how they can truly put their trust and faith in God, because they don’t have anything else.

    As for gifts, small stuffed animals are always great – even for a 12 year old. I found that they enjoyed American candy and easily went through several bags handing it out to various groups we were with. If you decide to take clothes, take note that the children are probably a couple of sizes smaller than the average size of the same age here.

    I’ll be joining you in prayer and can’t wait to hear your stories!

  23. 23
    colorado girl says:

    Hi Melissa,

    O.K. I am insanely jealous:)! What an amazing adventure you have before you. Thank you for letting us live a little vicariously through your blog.

    Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Chennai (Madras). We took the train to Kolkata, but only spent about 24 hours before we flew to Nepal for a little r&r. Never have I met so many giving, hospitable people, and I regret, to this day, that I didn't eagerly and lovingly share the gospel. That's what happens when you're a self-absorbed college student who thinks she's in India to just study biology.

    I fell in love with India–the PEOPLE (especially the beautiful children we met), the food, even the absolute assault on the senses, and the wild rides through traffic (I was so much more adventurous before having kids.) I would love to go back some day and actually give more than I receive. The people we came to know who had the least were the most generous.

    I would echo what many other siestas have said about your Compassion children treasuring anything you bring them. Also, the smart siesta who suggested bringing tp for yourself was right on the money. A tip I would add to the bottled water comment is to drink beverages without ice. I'm guessing you already know all this, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.

    Dang it. I was trying to keep this comment to a readable length.

    Know that this siesta in blogville is and will be lifting up your requests to our great God.

    Much love to you,

    Christy

  24. 24
    Anonymous says:

    Some Indian friends that go back home from time to time always take some sort of hard candies. This is a real treat for young and old alike over there.

  25. 25
    Anonymous says:

    Maybe in both cases a frame (and you can later send them a picture from your trip to put in it and a journal or paper/pens. It might be neat to get them something with their name on it, a bag or journal.

  26. 26
    Mischia says:

    We love Compassion at our house, always have some child we are sponsoring.

    We will be praying for you. Putting the dates on my calender as I type (really after I type). I know God will wake me up when He needs too, but I will also pray during the daylight hours. He is so good to know exactly what we need and time zones mean nothing to Him.

    Have a grand time loving the children and seeing them through God’s eyes.

    Love,
    Mischia

  27. 27
    Maria says:

    Hi, I just have to comment because i just returned from india and it was amazing, shocking, colorful, and life-changing. Slumdog millionaire, although incredibly difficult to watch is the perfect introduction to the standards of living there. By the way, I brought my two yr old too and niether one of us got sick. here’s some captions of my trip:
    http://johnsjournal-maria.blogspot.com

  28. 28
    Georgia Jan says:

    Oh Melissa – I can hardly wait to read what God gives you during your journey – I am SO PROUD OF YOU! And I love you. I remember sitting right behind you in Atlanta at 1st Baptist Woodstock when I got my paperwork to sponsor a Compassion child. Iduar is his name – he is 7 and lives in Colombia – oh I can’t imagine getting to see him. I know you will enjoy every precious moment.

    Melissa, from the time I’ve spent with you, I don’t see the cynicism you refer to. I see you as a thinker – you process everything that comes at you. I do get what you’re saying, but I just see it as such a pure and transparent heart – one of the traits about you that I love.

    I also wanted to tell you that I’m going to South Africa this August! My first mission trip and I’m twice your age! Isn’t God GREAT? My husband and I are going and will do field work to prepare to go back in 2010 to take another group during the World Cup games in Johannesburg.

    Get the little boy some Hot Wheels cars – they are easy to pack and he may be a bit older, but all boys love cars.

    You’re something else, did you know that???

    Much Love,
    Mrs. Jan

    PS: You are inscribed in the palm of His Hand, Isaiah 49:16

  29. 29
    Jabber Jaws says:

    Melissa,
    I asked my kiddos – 8 boy and 12 girl. As usual, my son ran by and said Uno cards and silly string. My daughter really thought about it and suggested a super soft pillow case and matching soft blanket with a windup flashlight so it doesn’t need batteries. Then, she said she would want some stuff that she could share with her friends – bracelets, glitter hairspray, lotion with glitter and popbeads so they could make stuff (Target – little girls section of toys made by Parents BUT the preteens LOVE them too). Finally, she said it would be neat if you left her a small photo album and stickers and she can keep pictures and letters from you in it. Maddy said she will pray for you – she wanted to know why you got to go and not her (my mission minded kiddo who has a dear friend in Africa). If I send you an email about our Compassion child in India, could you find out if you could meet her too? It would be everything to Maddy to send a small gift to her sister in India as she calls her.
    Praying for you!

    Jenny (Jabber Jaws)

  30. 30
    Donna Sava says:

    Melissa,
    Operation Christmas Child has a wonderful list of things that we pack into shoeboxes every Christmas for children overseas…here it is…hope it helps…
    Donna (the mom of twin boys)

    GIFT IDEAS
    TOYS
    small cars, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, small Etch A Sketch®, toys that light up or make noise (with extra batteries), Slinky®, etc.

    SCHOOL SUPPLIES
    pens, pencils and sharpener, crayons or markers, stamps and ink pad sets, writing pads or paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

    HYGIENE ITEMS
    toothbrush, toothpaste, mild bar soap (in a plastic bag), comb, washcloth, etc.

    OTHER
    Hard candy and lollipops (please double bag all candy), mints, gum, T-shirts, socks, ball caps; sunglasses, hair clips, toy jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries)

    A PERSONAL NOTE
    In a separate envelope, you may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. (If you include your name and address, the child may write back.)

    DO NOT INCLUDE:
    Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snowglobes or glass containers; aerosol cans

  31. 31
    Sarah says:

    So.. my nine year old boy loooves office supplies… like Post its and colored pencils and rubber bands… I think that would go over well. 🙂

    Also.. girl.. I feel for you with the migraines. I have had them since childhood. I have some tried and true remedies, as well as some reasons behind why they happen. I don’t want to write a book.. but you are welcome to email me to ask about it. 🙂 I will be praying for the whole experience. What an opportunity!

    tolsonhouse4@hotmail.com

  32. 32
    Jabber Jaws says:

    Melissa,
    I just looked and we have a nine year old girl in India (her bday is coming too) – 656 km west of Bhubaneshwar – does this happen to be where you are going? If I could just send a little (not taking up too much room in your luggage) something, I would get it to you asap. Just email me:
    jennyfergray at yahoo dot com

    Bless you!

  33. 33
    Mary Watkins says:

    Melissa,
    Last year in Tocantins, Brazil the children we met at the orphanage were thrilled to get anything. Bubbles was a big hit.

    Both would like crayons, colored pencils, stickers, paper and bubbles. I think the little girl might enjoy a brush and comb. A soccer ball for the little boy.

    Count on my prayers, dear sister.

    You are going to see God’s demonstrated presence throughout the trip. I look forward to hearing all about it.

    God bless you and your teammates.

    In His grip,
    Mary

  34. 34
    lovin Him says:

    God will bless your obedience to His call – how true the quote Pete Wilson shared from Mark Batterson in Wild Goose Chase…
    “I tend to live the way I drive. I want to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time and by the easiest route possible. But I’ve come to realize that getting where God wants me to go isn’t nearly as important as becoming who God wants me to be in the process. And God seems to be far less concerned with where I’m going than with who I’m becoming."

    This surely won't be an easy route but you will becoming who God wants you to be as you open yourself to His leading. I'll be praying for your ears, eyes and heart to be open to His wonders, peace for you and Colin, and for no headaches (try Pure Peppermint essential oil – smell it, rub it on your forehead, even put a few drops in your water and sip it – it is amazing for headaches and digestion!)

    On our mission to Belize, the children loved photos of you & themselves. A bubble bath makes a girl who never had one feel like royalty! Chinese jump ropes can be shared with several friends. Pipe cleaners & twist ties of all sorts & colors are lightweight, easy to transport and can be used to create anything their imaginations can conceive.
    May His grace mercy & peace be yours in abundance as you step out in trust!

  35. 35
    revjen says:

    12 year old girls love anything pretty. Esp. if it makes them feel pretty. Nail polish, hair ribbons, inexpensive bangles, etc.

    9 year old boys like anything that they can kick, hit or take apart. Soccer balls, wiffle ball set, legos. Personally, I’d go for the legos. They’re small, inexpensive, won’t go flat, and can be made into a zillion different things over and over again.

  36. 36
    CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD says:

    HI MELISSA I CAN COMMIT TO PRAY FOR YOU AND YOUR SAFETY AND A GOOD FLIGHT GLAD THAT YOU HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO . WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHAT TIME YOU WILL BE LEAVING ON FRIDAY SO I CAN BE PRAYING FOR YOU. THANK YOU FOR BEING SO TRANSPARENT WITH US SEISTA’S LOVE YOU ALL YOUR FAMILY IS JUST AWESOME
    I FEEL LIKE WE ARE ALL ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY WILL BE PRAYING FOR MR FITZPATRICK ALSO. I THOUGHT ABOUT THE PLAY DOH STUFF TO.
    LOVE A BIG HUGS TO YOU AND BE SAFE MAY THE LORD PUT A HEDGE OF PROTECTION AROUND ALL OF YOU THAT ARE TRAVLING TO INDIA. LOVE CAROL ALBUQUERQUE NM CAN’T WAIT FOR PICTURES

  37. 37
    Maria says:

    Hi Melissa,
    I just returned from the southern india last week on a visit to my sister. It was life-changing, Slumdog millionaire although heartwrenching to watch is the perfect intro. I actually traveled there by myself with my two yr old and we did just fine, no sickies either!! here’s how my trip went:
    http://johnsjournal-maria.blogspot.com

    Blessings

  38. 38
    Tammy Nischan says:

    Melissa,

    Our family just got back from India!!! One of my blogging friends told me to come read yours for today…now I know why!!! (I love coming here anyway, but I was so excited!!)

    We spent time at an orphanage and I can tell you that the kids are honest to goodness JUST SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!!!!!!!!!! We gave them candy and they tried to give it back!! They were just so excited to have us there!!

    I think Play-doh was a great idea! Or Legos!! Or a puzzle…..something they can do over and over again in new ways!

    Of course dolls and balls are hard to beat, but you’ll do great! They will love whatever you take!

    I’ll be praying for you. You will see, smell, hear, and experience life like you never have before!!

    Praying,
    Tammy Nischan

    Oh, if you get a chance to pop over to my blog and see the rupee that was just issued in 2008 and read about how special it is to our family after the loss of our son, maybe you’ll recognize it while you’re there and then say a little prayer of thanks for God’s unbelievably personal ways of saying, “He’s got everything under His control!!” Even the loss of a child.

  39. 39
    Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend says:

    Will be praying for a safe trip and incredible experiences….balls for the boy and a doll for the girl….you can’t go wrong there.

  40. 40
    Susan says:

    Hey Melissa,

    Just want you to know I’ll be praying for you and your entire team.

    You are about to go through a LIFE-CHANGING experience, like no other.

    You will see the hand of God move in ways you could never see here in the US.

    Your life will be touched to the core and you will have those children’s faces imprinted on your heart FOREVER.

    I haven’t been there, but many other countries like it.

    Something I have brought, and the kids LOVE is candy!! It’s easy to pack and it’s such a RARE treat.

    Suckers, gum, treats they have never experienced!!

    Blessings to you and your team♥

  41. 41
    missbojenkins says:

    What a neat experience, not only for you, but for your kiddos! Games would be neat- cards, Connect 4, checkers, etc. It would also be an opportunity to bond with them as you taught them how to play. Other things: jump ropes, coloring books and crayons, sea monkeys, cars (for boy), legos (boy), they have those kits to make bracelets/sand art/purses and other things for the girl, nail polish/barrets/jewelry for the girl, any kind of ball, bubbles (fun for ALL ages), puzzles….. I guess I could go on for a while. I will definitely be praying for you and hope you have a blessed trip!

  42. 42
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa! Just last night I dreamt that you and I went on a summer Wheaton program together. It was so fun and inspiring to talk with you and spend time with you (you were still single in my dream and told me your mom paid for you to go on the trip, which I thought very darling. She came to visit you and I so wanted you to introduce me to her, but I refrained and let you have your special time with your sweet mamma). I woke up thinking it strange to dream of going on a trip with you – as fun as it was – but now I know that it was my cue to go on this great adventure with you in prayer. I will pray pray pray for you and your family and your traveling partners, as well as for all the dear people you will meet. May God fill you and sustain you every moment and in every way, and pour His love, joy, mercy and healing all over them through you, His dear, chosen vessel.

    Linda in MN

    PS: Marbles(lots to share, easy for pockets, not a big target to steal or sell), tennis balls (light, durable), and rubber bands?! Our boys love playing with them!

  43. 43
    Miranda says:

    Praying for ya!!!

    I’ve actually been staying with a family with a 11 year old girl and a ten year old boy.

    They LOVE side walk chalk.

    Also they LOVE to fly kites!

    Hope your trip is wonderful! Blessings Melissa!

  44. 44
    Debbie says:

    Praying for you all to have a safe trip and a trip that is filled with Gods blessings. I pray for God to use you in an amazing way. I can not wait to hear the stories and see the pictures.

  45. 45
    Fran says:

    You are in for what I call a true “God Adventure”!
    Did anyone suggest stickers? I have been on mission trips to Ecuador a few times and we always take lots of these (you can get boy ones and girl ones) and bubbles (hard to take on the plane- we get wedding packs and enclose in ziploc bags). Have a blessed, safe, wonderful trip. I have a heart for India, too.
    Love in Jesus,
    Fran
    Gulf Shores, AL

  46. 46
    Bonnie/Momof3 says:

    Melissa,

    As the mother of 2 boys and a daughter, I can tell you that you can’t go wrong with toy cars or trucks for boys. He can sit for hours building roads, bridges, etc. for his cars to go on. As for the 12 year old girl, go with a craft jewelry set that she can make or a simple paint set. Also, doodle art kits would last forever where they both could draw pictures or write words and then erase them. Something that is entertaining and fun and just for their leisure … just like the best gifts at Christmas.

    Melissa, you are in my prayers. I can’t wait to read your blogs and to see and sense the area through yours eyes and words. God has many great things in store for you and for those you touch.

    Our family has been long time supporters for two children in Haiti through Compassion. We hope to go and see them one day. After letter writing for so long, I want to see and talk to them in person.

    God bless you Melissa! I’ll pray for Colin, too!

    Love from your fellow Atlantan! Hope you didn’t lose electricity over the Easter holiday. We are in Norcross and really didn’t have many tree limbs down.

  47. 47
    Anonymous says:

    Brush, comb, hair bows for the girl. Hot Wheel cars for the boy.

    BTW, I have an all or nothing personality as well. I know EXACTLY what you’re going through. I’ll be praying for that in you on your trip.

    Love you Sweet Siesta,
    Kristi

  48. 48
    twinkle says:

    Oh Melissa! I’m trying to think of things to encourage you with and it is so overwhelming. What a blessing this will be for you, but what a “walk on the water” type of experience.

    Keep your eyes focused on Jesus. Don’t look down. He will keep you on the water and not let go.
    You will have to pray, asking Jesus to put those migraines out of your body so that you can follow Him. Ask Him to rebuke them and fill you with His Holy Spirit. Spiritual battle. Let Him defeat it.

    As you walk these poor roads, imagine you are so close behind Jesus that you can literally see the sand falling away from His sandals. Stay that close to Him.

    Remember that He was filled with compassion for those who were hurting. You will feel the same compassion. It will hurt. But love passionately. Your smile and your touch will change hearts for Him.

    Look into the eyes of those you see. Ask the Holy Spirit to allow you to be the Hands of Christ while you are there.

    The only thing I would add to your list of items to take would be one of those hard, plastic massage toys (or, two of them). They are usually shaped like a turtle and you can rub them on a child’s back. Can you just imagine the joy they would feel as you loved them this way?

    Something really cheap you might take with you are a few small stones with the name “JESUS” written on them. You might encircle His name in a heart. Use His name often as you touch and hold these kids. Tell them Jesus loves them. God will use this in His Perfect Way.

    Harmonicas? Music is such a blessing. Wish Colin could go and help with that one.

    Colin, thank you so much for encouraging Melissa. God will take good care of her and trust Him to be her Protector.

    Melissa, do not be afraid to pray outloud over these people. Even for healing.

    Luke 10…you are being sent out. Trust HIM to accomplish HIS mission.

    Father in heaven, bless this handmaid of the LORD as she humbles herself and follows Your call on her life. Prepare her before her foot touches the soil of the land You are sending her to claim in Your Name. It took so long to see Your Resurrection Power…centuries. But it came! Send Melissa out full of Your Power and Your Wisdom and Your Love. Keep her from any defeating thoughts, take them captive and replace them with Your thoughts. Her feet are nimble and quick. She is alive in You. Your Spirit is calling her. Catch her up, just like Philip witnessing to the Ethiopian. Speak Your directions directly to her heart and may she respond. Let her arms be Your Arms. Let her lap be Your Lap. Let her words be Your Words. And when hurting people look at her, may they see You, Jesus. And know You as Love Divine.
    Keep her, guarding her with Your Protection. Let her always hear, “Fear NOT!” And I pray that Chris Tomlin’s song, All The Way My Savious Leads Me, will comfort her. In Jesus Name. Amen.

    You will be in my prayers, little Lottie Moon…

  49. 49
    Smelling Coffee says:

    I will be praying for you and looking forward to your updates. May the Spirit of the Lord hover over all of you, and over those you are leaving at home.

  50. 50
    Carol - Pekin, IL says:

    I met my Compassion children two years ago in Peru and it was an awesome experience. Gifts are fine, but what they want most is YOU! Just take lots of smiles, hugs, a lap for holding and laughter for sharing. Lots of praise for them and the promise to write very often when you return to the US. It will be an experience like none other – you will be so blessed and your coming will bless your sponsored children and validate their worth to themselves – that you cared enough to come so far to see them.

    When I went, I took a doll for the little girl, hair bows, barrettes, school supplies and small gifts for the siblings in the family – for the boy, a soccer ball was tops plus a hand pump, a child’s Bible in his language inscribed from me, school supplies and gifts for his sister. Also, I took some hard candy and photos of my family to share – since they wanted to know all about me.

    You will be blessed with a memorable trip! I’ll be praying.

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