Speechless for the first time EVER but compelled to type.

Greetings from Kolkata (Calcutta)!

We finally made it. 

That statement deserved its own line. Seriously. It takes some time to get to the other side of the world.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers.  We have felt them and we have been in need of them. 

As our final flight descended down toward Calcutta, commonly but perhaps slightly unpersuasively called “the City of Joy”, I was shocked by the lush landscape. Calcutta has a tropical climate and is completely covered with Palm trees. Who knew? The sight was totally not what I expected. I couldn’t wait to get outside and see it up close. But, then we walked off the plane.

And. It. Was. 120. Degrees.

Suddenly tropical weather took on an entirely new connotation.

Shortly after checking into our hotel we headed off to visit Mother Teresa’s burial site, a must for anyone and everyone visiting Calcutta regardless of theological or denominational tradition. Mother Teresa’s tomb is on the grounds where the “Missionaries of Charity” order is still alive and well. I fully expected myself to be emotionally moved by this particular moment. But I wasn’t. Let’s just say that my spirit was willing but my flesh was weak. I was hunched over on a bench because I was completely and utterly spent. The twelve and a half hour time difference (ummmm…where does the half come from? anyone?) and the two days of traveling without sleep and eating only a handful of Cliff bars suddenly wasn’t working for me anymore. And wait, did I mention the 120 degree weather? Apparently Calcutta hasn’t had this kind of heat wave in nearly 30 years. Even the locals are impressed (not the good kind) by the intensity of the heat. I was afraid that I would go down in history as the obnoxious American who puked in Mother Teresa’s burial room. Luckily that nightmare did not actualize and I finally gathered myself together enough to walk around the grounds. 

I noticed that the rest of the team had climbed a narrow set of stairs and so I followed them and I could not believe my eyes. There was Mother Teresa’s tiny little bedroom that would make a college dorm room seem opulent. It was in that tiny little room that Mother Teresa had lived for about forty years and it was there where she also died. While her tomb didn’t move me like it did others, her little tiny room did. Not only because the room spoke of a life of simplicity and earthly discomfort but also because it reflected a life of unimaginable dedication in one consistent direction. An entire lifetime devoted to serving the unloved and untouched of our world.

I was struck by a quote of Mother Teresa’s that was posted in the museum area. It said, “Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our fellow-men throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger.” What a simple yet weighty statement. It directly contradicts our entire world system: a system that shows unabashed impartiality to the rich, famous, and the beautiful people. A system that so quickly labels off the poor and diseased as lazy, weak-willed, and unfortunate. I pondered the quote in my heart last night but I experienced the profundity of it today when we entered our first project, one of Compassion’s several child development centers in Calcutta.

I was so not prepared for what went down when we climbed out of the van. The children were lined up in a drum-line in matching uniforms and they proceeded to march us into the project grounds where we were each presented with a beautiful sunflower. My chin was quivering so fast that I could hear my own teeth clattering over all the noise. The spectacle did not end there, however. We continued to watch the children perform demonstration after demonstration for us, dancing and singing songs like:

God’s love is so wonderful
So high you can’t get over it
So deep you can’t get under it

I thought to myself something in the same vein of Mother Teresa’s statement. Just a whole lot less profound sounding. I thought, “Who am I that I would be esteemed by these precious children who have dealt with more in their few years than I probably ever will in my entire lifetime? And for whom I have done so relatively little?” But then in the middle of my self-loathing episode I realized I was giving myself way too much credit. These children weren’t performing for me or even for the ten of us. They were performing for their sponsors. For them, the ten of us are the closest thing they will ever see that resembles and embodies their sponsors. They won’t likely get the opportunity to meet their individual sponsors in this lifetime.

Several of you commented on my last post that you are already sponsors of a Compassion child. Sponsors, let me speak to you in particular for a moment. I want you each to know that today was as much for you as it was for me. I may have gotten to witness it, but those kids weren’t clapping, singing, and celebrating that ten random and goofy looking Americans came to visit them. They identified with us because we represented to them their individual sponsors. Let me tell you, no let me assure you- your sponsor child knows your name. Not just your first name. Your last name, too. They lined up with drums to usher you into the place you’ve financially provided for them. A place of hope. A place where that abstract verb “to dream” becomes something that just might be tangible. A place where they hear for the first time that they have dignity and worth before the Most High God. They treasure the letters that you write to them. They don’t toss them in the trash. No, they store them in a safe place. And this will really get you. If you sponsor a child in India, you’re probably the only one who has ever told your child, “I love you.” Our Compassion India specialist told us that in the Indian culture, particularly among the poor, parents do not express love to their children. She said, “Even though the parents really do love their children, they don’t show it. Rarely does a parent actually come out and express their love for their child.” Can you imagine? Let it sink in. You, even though you might think you’re just a little sponsor person who hastily filled out a form during a concert, are most likely the only adult who has blatantly expressed love for this child. A real living and breathing child.

One of the children presenting us with a sunflower:

The Compassion kids in a drum-line ushering us into the project. Unbelievable. 

All 295 of the children in the project we visited today.  225 have been sponsored.  70 are still waiting for sponsors:

The kids and me playing with bubbles. They LOVE them: 

A family I fell in love with.  The little girl named Susmita is 13 years old and her Father died in an accident and then her Mother walked out on her.  Her uncle and grand-mother, sickly and frail, currently take care of her.  Susmita followed us out of the neighborhood as far as she could because she didn’t want to say good-bye.  It broke my heart. And it made my day:

This picture speaks for itself. Period. The end. 



163 Responses to “Speechless for the first time EVER but compelled to type.”

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  1. 51
    Ginger from Alabama says:

    “My” little girl is from Fortaleza, Brazil and she draws and colors pictures for me in every letter I receive from her. She knows that I grow roses so she makes sure to have flowers in each drawing. I always send stickers for her to have in every letter I write her….usually the first of every month since I pay bills then anyway. Joyce also loves receiving pictures of anything that has to do with me. For anyone who sponsors any child, not only tell them that you love them, but also tell them that you pray for them regularly and that Jesus loves them so much. Let me tell everyone that I am the one who is blessed in this relationship!!!!!!

    Siesta Ginger

  2. 52
    HisTreasuredPossession says:

    oh my. I am not sure if I can express my thoughts but I thank you for sharing and letting us glimpse into real life in Calcutta.

    Praying for you and all the team. Good sleep and the end of stomach bugs.
    with much love

  3. 53
    Mary Lindsey says:

    Thank you for posting, Melissa. We have adopted a little girl from China and this has made me want to communicate with her so much more. I am also praying about adopting another child. Must talk with the hubs first. Thank you for posting. I can only imagine all the feelings you are inundated with. Praying for you.

  4. 54
    JottinMama says:

    Oh my goodness…is all I can say.


    So totally touching. I can’t wait to read more about your trip.

    Prayers and Hugs,
    Kate 🙂

  5. 55
    Dana says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that! I’m so looking forward to more posts…

  6. 56
  7. 57
    Jill_in_AL says:

    Inspiring, humbling, encouraging, sobering. Thank you, Melissa, for being His hands and feet and for sharing. Thank you, Lord, for the Internet and this blog.

  8. 58
    Cheri-Beri says:


    Thank you so much for a note to sponsors. I tend to think that my sponsored child (in Mozambique through World Vision) doesn’t think about us very much. Thank you for that correction!

  9. 59
    Kimberly and Grace says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. What beautiful children! Will keep praying for you and the team. I know that God will work in you and through you throughout this experience.

    Hug them all for us!


  10. 60
    Leslie says:

    Thank you for sharing about these precious babies…to know that they don’t hear I love you breaks my heart.

    You all will continue to be in my prayers as your journey progresses-is it rude to ask the Lord to give y’all a cool breeze or 700 as the trip progresses?
    a utah siesta,

  11. 61
    3girlsmom says:

    My Compassion child is in Kenya. I hope to meet him one day face to face.
    Thanks for the glimpse into the lives of the people of India. Praying for you and the entire group!

  12. 62
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you Melissa for posting about the sponsors. I sponsor a child in Indonesia and have not corresponded as much as I intended to. I will do much better from now on. Thank you and your other team members for what you are doing and what you are showing us.

  13. 63
    Cindy says:

    I am so moved…beyond words.
    The memories you will have.
    Lake City, FL

  14. 64
    KellieC says:

    May the Lord continually pour out His Blessing and Direction on you during this trip. Lifting you up to the Father.

  15. 65
    Jessie says:

    BEAUTIFUL – those children are so beautiful…

  16. 66
    Lindsee says:

    I have so enjoyed reading everyone’s updates, and thouroughly enjoyed this one that brought me to tears…and I’m at work. I don’t sponsor a child through Compassion, but how can I not after reading about this trip? Maybe I’ll sponsor one of the 70 left in India. Thank you for this post. Praying for y’all!


  17. 67
    Judy says:

    Because of your blog, I researched Compassion and now have begun to sponsor a child. It is hard to know how to do something like this, so thank you.
    My prayers are with you and all whom you encounter on your trip.

  18. 68
    Kelly says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for inspiring with your words.

    Also, I am sure someone will tell you, but the reason for the 30 minute difference in the time is that India does not do daylight savings time. By keeping the clock off by 30 minutes it helps even out the oddities of no daylight savings time. At least that is what someone told me. 🙂

  19. 69
    Kim says:

    Melissa & Fellow Compassion Team Members,

    Thank you for sharing with us. Tears were stinging my eyes as I read your post and looked at the pictures. I consider myself blessed to be a sponsor for Lily.

    Keeping you in my prayers,
    Doswell, VA

  20. 70
    kctibs says:

    What an amazing post! Thank you for sharing it with us. Congratulations on experiencing something most of us will never. It is truly a blessing and I appreciated every paragraph, picture, sentence, word. I will continue to pray for your adventure and Compassion.

    Kelli in Colorado

  21. 71
    Toknowhim says:

    I sponsor a child through another organization, but have always been so impressed with Compassion too.. I am going to pray about possibly sponsoring a child through Compassion too… Now I think I am leaning toward one in India…

    Will be checking in daily to read your recap… Blessings Sister

  22. 72
    Tammy says:


    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experience. The children are precious!!! My heart is also swelling as tears came to my eyes. Please tell each one of those children you come into contact, I LOVE YOU, for me. Please continue to keep us posted and I will wait with great anticipation to hear more.

    We love you!

  23. 73
    Heather says:

    Wow! This really touched me. Praying for your continued impact for God’s glory and for your well-being.

  24. 74
    Xena says:

    Keep these coming Melissa! It really helps to see this big world we all live in! I love your description of India, it gives a great picture, hearing your heart!

  25. 75
    Leah says:


    Thank you for making the sponsorship that I am doing for a little girl in Tanzania a very tangible thing. I have only begun to sponsor her in the past month but I soooo do not want to fail her.

    God bless you as you love on these beautiful people. They are such beautiful people.


  26. 76
    Gayle @ thewestiecrew says:

    That first picture broke my heart. After reading that these children are never loved and then seeing that sweet face… :*(

    I know that this must be so hard for y’all so I am praying, praying, praying for each of you and for all of those precious, precious children as well.

  27. 77
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues ~

    Go Ye therefore and preach all nations and share your love!!!

    On my knee's for you daily!!

    As you share & open your heart ~
    This experience will touch every part of you so take it all in ~

    With "Heaven bound" blessings,
    Kim Safina

  28. 78
    Fran says:

    What a wonderful post! I am so happy that so many blessings are abounding all around you. Melissa, you have inspired me- I signed up to sponsor a child from India over the weekend, and I am so excited!

    I really was interested in what you had to say about the importance of sponsors telling the children “I love you”. I have been blessed to work with children in Ecuador. After 5 years of going on mission trips to Atacucho, Ecuador, we were told by one of the mothers of the children we had worked with over the years, “Thank you for everything, but most of all, thank you for teaching us how to love our children.” Every mission trip we had gone on was filled with hugs, kisses, laughter,adoration,and FUN with the children! These adults had never experienced this in their impoverished, hard lives. Children were seen as responsibilities, even liabilities at times, even though these people cared very much for their children.
    I couldn’t help but see the similarity in what you found out about the lack of expression of love and its importance. It is that LOVE that we must have this and everything else be all about!
    Love to you,
    Gulf Shores, AL

  29. 79
    Alex and Jill says:

    My heart hurts. There is no way that I can’t sponsor after this post. Thank you for being obedient and taking this trip…for sharing it with me.

    Praying for your entire team.

  30. 80
    Luv2Praise says:

    Beautiful! The words you write, the emotions you stir, and the faces of the precious people of India.

    I will forever remember the young man in Cambodia that I sponsored for many years. His name is Teguh Arianto Supardi. Although I do not know what became of him as an adult, I have an ornament he made me for my Christmas Tree with his picture on it. This was thirty years ago. I hang it on my Christmas Tree every year to remind us of the needs of many around the world.

    God Bless you on your mission and I can’t wait to look for more information about Compassion. I think it is about time to sponsor another child!


  31. 81
    fuzzytop says:

    I’m off to write to my sponsored child, who lives in Bolivia, TODAY! It’s been a couple of months since I wrote her. I needed this reminder of how important those letters are.


  32. 82
    Peggy says:

    Blessings Melissa…thank you for sharing your heart and these precious children in India! Been praying for the team since last week and for all who will become sponsors for the remaining 70 + anymore that still are to come!
    Impressionable words & beautiful photos! I've posted twice for ya'll! May the 120s temps be reduced as you continue the week in God's grace, love & Compassion!

  33. 83
    Donna says:

    Melissa, What beautiful children!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with the Siestas. I look forward to more. God bless and keep you safe.

  34. 84
    lavonda says:

    just beautiful.

    I’d love to sponsor one of those 70 unsponsored ones there.
    Just knowing a child has never been told I love you has me in tears.

    and makes me want to get on a plane and go tell all of them.
    Please tell them that WE love them, Melissa!

  35. 85
    Anonymous says:

    Wow Melissa! Thank you for sharing the stories and the pictures. Will be praying for you for the remainder of your trip. God is definitely working in a big way.

    Many blessings,
    Anne in MO

  36. 86
    connorcolesmom says:

    Ok I to adopt them all!!
    their precious and beautiful faces make me smile and weep!
    Thank you for the update
    Praying for all of you!

  37. 87
    Darlene says:

    Oh, Melissa. What a beautiful and love filled post. You have carried me over to India with you. I was so excited to read about your experience… but what I was totally not expecting was this:
    Your words have brought me to tears and refreshed my spirit and deeply moved me about my Compassion sponsorships. I will be carrying the passion and enthusiam you express here right into the halls of our church next month when we do our Compassion Sunday.
    May God see that many more are sponsored.
    God Bless your journey. I will be reading… and praying for you all!

  38. 88
    Moose Mama says:

    Thank-you for typing. Bless you for going.

    Hug ’em for all of us.


  39. 89
    Joanne (The Simple Wife) says:

    Wow, Melissa, wow.

    Praying for you and just amazed.


  40. 90
    ocean mommy says:

    Tears. Seriously. That last photo…I could stare into those eyes all day.

    Praying for you all!


  41. 91

    Melissa thanks for sharing the pictures with us they are beautiful. The last picture touched my heart and the boys blowing bubbles with you how neat.
    I admire you for going and glad you got to go. I will be praying for you and your health and your migraines. Thank you so much your seista in Albuquerque NM
    Godbless you and keep you safe
    your family ROCKS!!!!

  42. 92
    Anonymous says:


    I have been pondering the idea of sponsoring a Compassion child. It’s a done deal now sister!
    God bless you as you glorify our Lord!

    In Him,


  43. 93
    Shana says:

    I found this post through Compassion’s feed, and am glad I read it. Thank you for posting it, and sharing this beautiful story. It reminded me that it had been some time since I last wrote to either of the boys I sponsor, so I went to Compassion’s website and typed up a couple quick notes to them both.

    Thanks again, and may God continue to use you and all of those with you on your trip.

  44. 94
    Mary Watkins says:

    Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    I am praying for you and the team. Each day will be full of new experiences. May the Lord hold you close as you walk with Him in India.

    You will be forever changed by this trip.

    “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

    Isaiah 49:16

    Looking forward to hearing more from you.

    God bless you, dear Melissa.

    Mary Watkins

  45. 95
    DigiNee says:

    So good to “hear” from you Melissa! Peace, peace, and more peace to you and the team. The final pic you posted brought tears . . .

  46. 96
    Karen McGee says:

    My family just sponsored a 10 year old girl from Uganda…today! We are so excited. Thanks for inspiring us.

  47. 97
    Barbra says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Our Compassion kids are in Kenya, but this still helped me to imagine them in living color.

    Will keep praying…


  48. 98
    whittakerwoman says:

    Oh now lets talk about jealousy! Girl I miss you! But am so excited to hear about everything! I LOVE it! And I loved how you get sponsors now! I could have never had words to explain it! i love that you are able to experience it! Love ya H

  49. 99
    Anonymous says:


    We love you, support and admire you for your sacrifice, and are praying for you.

    Oh, and I because of your example, just signed up to support two kids with Compassion!


    Thousand Oaks, CA

  50. 100
    Vicki Sandifer says:

    Melissa – You are a blessing!! My husband came in the room and he wanted to know what I was reading and he read it with me and his responce was that you write like your mama! Great compliment.
    BUT, the pictures and the kids – wow. Praying for you in that heat. I know you know to drink lots of water. Bless you Melissa – we are praying for you in Alabama

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