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. 101
    Tara says:

    What a beautiful post. What beautiful faces. What a beautiful reminder of what we are called to do and be as Christians.

    Praying for you, Melissa, and looking forward to your next post.

  2. 102
    Alta says:

    Melissa, thanks for sharing your heart and the wonderful pictures. You are such your FATHERS daughter”) You should look up Beth Waterman who is my good friend there. She ministers with Sari Bari for Word Made Flesh Ministry. She is a beautiful example of a life sacrificed for Christ. I hope you can seek her out. Lord bless you sweet girl”)

  3. 103
    Shelly says:

    WHEW! Praise to You our King

  4. 104
    Kacie says:

    How awesome is that? I started sponsoring a Compassion child in India my freshman year at Moody (which was also your freshman year at Moody). I don’t think you will see her, but it’s thrilling just to know you’re close. It’s also thrilling to watch her grow up… that’s something I didn’t realize would be so meaningful when I started this whole thing.

  5. 105
    Canadian Mom says:

    The photo's are very moving!! Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts…….I look forward to more "posts" and hearing how the Lord Jesus will manifest his presence to you and your team through this journey.

    Smiles & Blessings

  6. 106
    Sharon says:

    Dearest Melissa,

    Thank you so much for sharing with us.

    Much love and prayers,
    Sharon, NC

  7. 107
    Edna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve been a Compassion sponsor for years and just became an advocate about 2 years ago. I also just started sponsoring a little boy in India, so I was excited to read your post. I sent the link to all of the Compassion sponsors at my church.

  8. 108
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you, thank you, Melissa- I was in a “pity party” kind of mood- and your communication shifted my perspective- I’m so glad you are there and your brilliant loving young self will move the world because of your participation- my greatest hero is the late Brother Roger of Taize(one of Mother Teresa’s best friends) and the brothers who touch the young throughout our world- God Bless you and I am praying for a Holy cool front to head your way- Love, one of your older sisters in Christ

  9. 109
    Rachel says:


  10. 110
    KR says:

    I am so thankful to all of you for going and sharing the love. We are praying for you…by name each day. Thanks for being brave enough to go see…to do…and to share with the rest of us. May your sleep be sound and feel long.

  11. 111
    Sandi says:

    Melissa, I’m so glad you get to have this experience. I think travel to an under-privileged country should be a requirement of everyone in the flourishing world. Perhaps a high school graduation requirement… Seeing poverty first hand changes ones life forever. I’m so thankful I’ve had the opportunity to serve alongside Jesus to the least of these, and who am I? And I can’t wait to do it again, Let Your Kingdom Come Lord!

  12. 112
    screamofcontinuousness says:

    Melissa, thank you so much for your note to sponsors. I almost cried yesterday when I got my first letter from my sponsored child. I (for some silly reason) never expected it to be in his actual handwriting. It made the whole experience just that much more real, and it made Esteban that much more important to me.

    God is gonna so bless this trip and those children WILL have sponsors before another day goes by. All 70 of them.

  13. 113
    Amber says:

    Praying for you!! Your writing is such a blessing. You are bringing to life what is too much to envision. Keep up the great work!

  14. 114
    Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend says:

    Melissa…thanks for your beautiful words…We just found a little boy to sponsor …I let my grandson pick him out. We are so excited to write him and send him some gifts….Praying for you this week….

  15. 115
    Carla says:

    Mellissa I am so proud of you and your willingness and desire to go to such culture that you really wasn’t ready for. But isn’t those times that God gets really huge for us and has a surprise waiting for us that we were totally not expecting? I can see it all over your sweet face that you have been touched by the master and he knows you are standing before Him with arms up, hands open, and your heart emptyied of you so he can fill it with all of Him! Get ready girlfriend, gewt set, GOOOOOOO! I love you like my own daughterso take care and keep us updated as you can. Carla Lee

  16. 116
    pcb says:

    Thank you for being a face for sponsors and I pray that others will be blessed by sponsorship.

  17. 117
    Kristy says:

    Oh now my eyes are spilling with tears and my chin is quivering. What a blessing for you to experience this. Praise God.

  18. 118
    Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing Melissa . The pics ARE worth a thousand words.

    There's nothing like leaving the United States , to be in these other , poorer , non -Christian countries , to put our calling into perspective.

    It puts into perspective all the time we talk about our hair and how it looks , our shoes & handbags , what we think of the latest tv shows….

    What matters is what we do for the Kingdom. Period.

    Especially , as Jesus said , for the little children .

    I've stopped crying now.

    ( maybe thats not good )

    Take care of yourself over there and write more as you can ,
    Love ,

  19. 119
    balmingilead says:

    Thank you for an excellent post – I felt like I was right there…wow.
    [email protected]

  20. 120
    Crystal Renaud says:

    Melissa, I am so glad you’re on this trip… I am praying it is a life-altering experience for you and that what you bring home with you just pours out of you. Again, it was awesome having dinner in Atlanta a couple of months ago. You’re loved.

  21. 121
    Yankee Mama says:

    Wow. I am in tears. I know you don’t want to hear this but you must make you family SO proud! This was an amazing post. Can’t wait to hear more about the trip.


  22. 122
    Maria Cristina says:

    oh Melissa, thank you for your diary — it makes me feel as if I am treading the very streets of Calcutta with you! thank you also for detailing the impact that Compassion has on the sponsored children — I am absolutely elated!!! …to all of the Siestas who are able to sponsor a child through Compassion International, oh I do encourage you do to so if you are able… At the moment I am the “madrina” (as they call me) to two peruvian children — I pray that I will be able to sponsor a child from India, too, very soon. My dream would actually be to go visit “my” children in their villages — I pray that one day I am somehow granted this awesome privilege!!! Keep us posted Melissa! and may I say that you look gorgeous regardless of the 120F weather!!
    maria cristina 🙂

  23. 123
    Elaine says:

    Beautiful. Thanks.

  24. 124
    Shari says:

    I have been moved beyond words as I read the posts written by you, Angie, and others on this trip. I woke up this morning praying for each of you and was hearing the words of the Brandon Heath song “Give Me Your Eyes” in my spirit…
    “Give me your eyes for just one second,
    Give me your eyes so I can see, Everything that I keep missing
    Give me your love for humanity
    Give me your arms for the broken hearted
    Ones that are far beyond my reach.
    Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
    Give me your eyes so I can see”
    Thanks for your willingness to give Him your eyes to show us all what we are missing. I am humbled, I am moved, and I am broken hearted living in a state of such excess while so many around the globe have nothing…
    May God overflow you with strength, health, and all that your mind, body, and spirit need to be fully present in every moment of this trip.

  25. 125
    Anonymous says:

    Oh Melissa, I can’t stop weeping over your post. We sponsor 3 girls 1 from India and 2 from Thailand through Compassion, I had NO IDEA that we are the only ones to tell them that they are loved. Thank you for the sacrifice you are making on this trip and thank you for the encouragement to all sponsors. We are keeping you in prayer. in Jesus’ Love Kathy Knoblock

  26. 126
    Bev Brandon says:

    Your post so speaks that our personal pain so that “Christ be formed in them” – Gal. 4:19 – is what life should be all about. “Perfect in Beauty, let Christ be poured out of you.” Psalm 50:2. He is! My daughter taught kindergarteners at Mother Teresa’s orphanage so your pictures grab me this early morn. May God move many through your words, your heart to be His Hands. What pleasure to the heart of our beautiful God Compassion International brings!

  27. 127
    cmnb says:

    Oh, Melissa, thank you for allowing us to experience this trip with you. Your words and these photos touch my heart more than I can say. I have sponsored the same child in Ethiopia for 10 years and this is probably the closest I will ever get to meeting her. Again, THANK YOU!

  28. 128
    Susannah says:

    Hi Melissa,

    Glad to hear that you are so touched by India (my motherland). Here’s is why there is a 5 1/2 hour time difference from the GMT (that makes it 10.5 hour difference from the US Eastern time zone) – India is at 77 degrees East of GMT. For every 15 degree zone East time adds by 1 hour. 77/15= 5.133 that is rounded to 5.5 hours. So, if the time in GMT is 12:00, time in India is 5:30 p.m. Here is an easy way to calculate time in USA (Eastern zone) based on time in India – To the time in India add 2 hrs 30 minutes and convert it to the reverse part of the day. For example,

    India 5:30 (p.m.)+ 2.30 = 8.00 (a.m)USA
    India 8:00 (a.m) + 2.30 = 10:30 (p.m.) USA

    If your folks here want to calculate time in India the reverse is true

    USA 10:30 (p.m.) – 2:30 = 8:00 (a.m.) India.

    Hope this helps.

    Blessings to You!

  29. 129
    Anonymous says:


    Thank you so much for sharing with us your thoughts and feelings on this trip to Calcutta. Something has come through this for me as I read your blog and looked at the pictures. I was touched by what you wrote about Mother Teresa’s little room. There is just something in my in my spirit that says “Abandon all and let me be enough for you!” THAT is the kingdom. HE is the treasure worth abandoning everythng for.

    Something in the face of that little one at the end of your blog spoke VOLUMES to me – far more than you can imagine from the heart of God.

    Mmmm, mmm mmmmm……(thoughtful)

    Heidi in Georgia

  30. 130
    Stephanie says:

    WOW! I think that one word sums it up! Thank you so much for posting, especially the pictures. I know, for someone like me who often takes for granted the quality of life that we have here, that they drive home the need for me to live beyond myself and get over myself. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Compassion, here I come!!!!!

  31. 131
    a2fourmom says:

    Thank you for taking us you your trip via post. What a special thing God is doing in you and through you. I will continue to pray.

  32. 132
    Sam & Briana says:

    Great experience. Thanks for sharing with us.

    By the way, the half hour time is a result of India and Venezuela and possibly other countries that have chosen to arrange their time a half hour from the world.

  33. 133
    Redeemed says:

    Now I’m speechless.

  34. 134
    Momuv2 says:

    Having sponsored a boy though Compassion for over nine years, your post helped me feel a bit more connected to him. Beautiful post, can’t wait to hear more!

  35. 135
    Mia says:

    Beautiful… and what a beautiful child that last…

    I’ve read a lot about Compassion projects and one day… one day I WILL be able to consistently sponsor a child and I WILL go on a Compassion trip.

    That’s a promise I’m making to myself but now the whole world knows.

    You are blessed.

  36. 136
    Ina says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us while you are in India. So powerful.

    I was awakened numerous times last night and prayed for you, Melissa, aware that it was already TuesDAY there. Excited to read about what you all were experiencing today. And as a fellow migraine-sufferer, I am praying against them for you this week!

  37. 137
    CLAUDIA says:

    Oh my…..I am stunned beyond words. I want one of those 70 unsponsored. I am headed to the Compassion site to get me one. Thanks Melissa. Love on as many as you can for me okay?
    The team and the children are in my prayers. Love you,

  38. 138
    tiggerdaisy says:


    You have really touched my heart with this post. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Prayers and blessings,

  39. 139
    Rachel in Louisiana says:

    My heart is just broken for those sweet children. And I’m always amazed at the joy they have in such seemingly destitute life situations. Kinda makes me feel like I need a swift kick in the pants for ever being so shallow and needy. It would be an honor to sponsor a child.

  40. 140
    Juli Jarvis says:

    Wow — what a great perspective on your day! Thank you so much for speaking from your heart this way! I have been to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to visit my sponsored children, so I know exactly the feelings you are describing. I’ll never forget to say “I love you” in my letters again.

  41. 141
    CLAUDIA says:

    I just sponsored my first child! His names is Subham and he is 3 years old. He lives with his Father and Grandmother.I am crying my eyes out! How in the world am I going to work today? I can’t even see much less breath. I am shaking all over. WOW I feel like I am in heaven! He is so precious! I can’t wait to get my packet on him. I have to go now and pray for this sweet precious child of God. Thanks Melissa, I so needed this today! Love to you all.

  42. 142
    pete wilson says:

    It’s been an honor to serve with you this week Melissa. Love watching God work through you.

  43. 143
    Joni says:

    Thank you so much, Melissa. Your pictures brought tears. Unable to do any traveling, I felt like I was there. Thank you again.

  44. 144
    sharoni says:

    It really gets you right in the core of your gut, huh? We are so honored that GOD allows us opportunities to love His kids, both old and young. I get to serve another “forgotten people” here in Houston ~ those with Alzheimers and other various forms of dementia. The one thing I know ~ God’s love is big enough and literally, enough, for all of us. And sometimes that one smile, that moment, that instant when you connect with another soul and see their light come up is worth every little effort we have made to be in that moment with them, whether in Calcutta or a dementia unit in Houston or a person hanging around on the street just waiting for “whatever” to come along. We are the bearers of GOD’s love. What a joy!

  45. 145
    Nesha says:

    Amazing post! Thank you for sharing the pictures. They just made me stop right then and say a prayer for those children. Of course, prayers are coming your way and the team to complete the mission with health and love!

  46. 146
    Brenda says:

    Melissa. thank you so much for sharing with us. These children have captured my heart. I had a major meltdown while viewing these photos, God is definately speaking to my heart.
    God Bless you and all who are with you! I can’t wait to see more.

  47. 147
    Annalou says:

    Thank you Melissa. Though the children we sponsor are through World Vision, what you said still had the intended affect.

    Will continue praying for you.

    Anna in MO

  48. 148
    Miranda says:

    Wow. That is awesome! That’s what mission trips are all about. It’s amazing how the smallest thing to one person can be extremely big to another. Bless God.


  49. 149
    Shellie Tomlinson says:

    Beautiful, inspiring, and tear flowing humbling…Thank you, Melissa.

    Lake Providence, LA

  50. 150
    WOW says:

    Melissa, I am just in tears! My prayers will continue for you and your work there. Thank you for sharing. I know God will bless you.


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