The World on a String

Is that green stuff tape? Um. If not, what is it?

May 1, 2009.

A day filled with an endless number of paradoxical emotions and expressions.

Glory and sadness.

Joy and grief.

Laughter and tears.

This morning everyone was full of great excitement, for the day had finally arrived.

The climactic moment of our trip.

The day for which we’d all been waiting.

But I’m not ready to tell the whole story yet.

I don’t have the time to do it justice.

For now I will say this, after the kids arrived the whole crew of us set out to a place called “Science City” which reminded me a whole lot of a museum in the 80’s. Just a whole lot less advanced. We did all kinds of fun things. We went to a planetarium to see a movie on Mt. Everest. We walked through all kinds of trippy mazes. We listened to them giggle and scream in a 3-D movie.

Then we did something completely disturbing.

We rode on a gondola ride in the third world. I was completely and utterly against this idea but Shaun Groves and Spence Smith, our quasi-evil Compassion trip leaders, apparently wanted to send me over the edge of whatever sanity I have left at this point in my life and insisted upon on seeing the world of Calcutta from a string since this was “the plan” that the Compassion India leaders had already made.  As if I am not already in need of a lobotomy.  I was like, “Since when can plans not change in third world?” But my perspective was not taken into consideration and so we boarded the Gondola. A gondola ride which looked like it had been built in the 1800’s, I’ll have you know.  The kids you see in this video are my sponsor children and you’ll hear a lot more about them in two days when I get back to the States.

For now I leave you with this video that documents a serious Melissa meltdown. I promise, you’ll be “dumber”.

To be continued…

And P.S. In all honesty, Shaun Groves and Spence Smith are the best Compassion trip leaders. Ever. And as of about seven minutes ago, it’s Spence Smith’s birthday.  So if you have a minute go and visit him and wish him a Happy Birthday in Calcutta.  
And Mr. Fitzpatrick, if you’re reading. I’m coming home soon and I love you madly.

126 Responses to “The World on a String”

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  1. 51
    Maria says:

    Oh my Lord have mercy!!!….ABSOLUTLEY NO WAY!!! I would of been shaking….you poor thing…..the angels were on that ride…

  2. 52
    Tara says:

    Melissa, I have to say that when you said “gondola” I pictured a boat, like in Italy. But then, I realized that you meant a ski lift type thing. And girl, I would have been so panicked! I don’t like ferris wheels, especially when they stop. And I don’t know how you looked so pretty and remained so calm when on a stuck gondola in Calcutta! That is faith!

    I have absolutely loved reading your posts this week. I can’t stop thinking about things you’ve said or the pictures throughout the day. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the heart of India and into the heart of God.

    Praying for safe travel back home and can’t wait to hear more from you once you get back to the States! Much love!

  3. 53
    The Pifer's says:

    Hi sweetie, I found your blog through a friend and I hope it’s ok if I follow you!!!!


  4. 54
    fuzzytop says:


    As my daughter would say, “…You are one brave chickee!!!” and that’s a compliment!

    Praying for safe travels home for the team, and I’m looking forward to hearing about the rest of the day.


  5. 55
    Toknowhim says:

    It has been so awesome to travel this journey with you (a little) through this blog…Hope you are feeling better :), and can’t wait to hear more about your kids…

  6. 56
    Someday Sarah says:

    i shouldn’t laugh, i know, but that video was hilarious. 🙂

  7. 57
    Debbie from South Carolina says:

    Ok. Other siestas might be “dumber” from the video, but I acutally thought a Gondola would be a boat you rode down the river. Go figure.
    Embarrassed in SC

  8. 58


  9. 59
    Beth says:

    You should have had your parents’ permission to ride that thing!! What on earth???? I don’t even think that’s funny! OK, a tad funny but not REAL funny. COME HOME!

  10. 60
    Dionna says:

    Loved – loved – LOVED the video. I know you must have been scared but I’m so glad you did it. That’s one thing my husband has taught me, to soak in the experience at times. You’ll never forget it.

  11. 61
    Anonymous says:

    I think you handled that better than I would have!

    Kathy, Corinth

  12. 62
    Lauren Kelly says:

    Melissa, I’m sure it was a very exciting and emotional day for you. What a journey you’ve been on!!!

  13. 63
    Jacki says:

    Thank you so much, Melissa, for sharing your experiences, your heart, your pictures, your voice, your passion, and even your romantic side! As the mother of two teenagers who are quite interested in missions, I feel as though God is using all these things to prep me for things to come on their behalf. God is working through you in amazing ways — not just while you are there but for all of us who are reading and following your journeys. To God be all the glory!

  14. 64
    lori says:

    Glad you will be state side soon

  15. 65
    Bonnie/Momof3 says:

    Oh Melissa,

    I’ve had you on my mind and in my prayers all week, and had intended to write you all week. My heart is touched forever, just by experiencing this second hand through you. Thank you for including us in this ministry. Wow! How do we ever look at our own home and comforts the same as before? Precious faces, precious lives … God’s heartbeat!

    Love to you!

  16. 66
    Jerrianne says:

    Peter 1:8
    The Message
    Gastonia, NC

  17. 67
    Traci@TotalMomsense says:

    My, my, my… that is courage. Still praying for you guys and will add a specific prayer that your feet stay firmly on the ground until you get to the airport.

  18. 68
    Moose Mama says:

    So I’m sitting here thinking “You kids stop moving…..SIT VERY STILL”. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.
    That’s a lotta love for those children that you got up there. You’re a good woman Melissa.

    Looking forward to the rest of the story.


  19. 69
    Three Fold Cord says:

    Smiling. All I am doing is smiling. All of us who have ever been to another country have at one time or another have had “NO Words”. Continuing to pray for you dear sister and since you could post this video we all know you are safe…especially that sweet man of yours here in ATL.

  20. 70
    Anonymous says:

    I see where you have probably reached your emotional capacity….. “And Mr. Fitzpatrick, if you’re reading. I’m coming home soon and I love you madly.”

    I sense you are homesick and ready to reunite with your husband, family and community. BUT, OH, I bet you return very different …. different perspective, different goals, different mission, different ministry. How can you have such an experience and not be changed!!

    I am SO proud of you for stepping outside your natural fear and going for it! Your voice quivers, but you show incredible strength! Honey, you are SO cool and we love ya!

  21. 71
    Grammy and Olivia says:

    Laughing with tears, joyful and overwhelmed. I think the only thing that might get me on there would have been to chance to be with and see the joy on our Compassion child’s face. What an honor to get to share that with them.

  22. 72
    Heather says:

    I love a good ride and is it ok to say that I was laughing out loud at the video! Fun!!! The expression the little boys face was priceless, he was having a blast!! Actually if I had been on and it gotten stuck I probably would have wet myself or puked over the edge! At least you looked great while riding! Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  23. 73
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues ~

    Melissa ~
    I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the final scene of this blessed journey to India! What a story you will be able to share with your family and future children and grandchildren!!!!

    I am PRAYING ON MY KNEE’S for continued strength, health, and travel mercies for your entire group!

    I wish your sunglasses were off and we could see your eyes telling the story with your words during the gondola ride!

    Two songs keep coming in my mind and spirit ~

    Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow; praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heav’n – ly host; praise Father, son, and Ho – ly Ghost. A – Men!!!

    He Leadeth Me! O bless -ed thought! O words with heav’n – ly comfort fraught. What-e’er I do, wher-e’er I be, Still tis God’s hand that lead – eth me!

    With “Heaven Bound” blessings,
    Kim Safina

  24. 74
    Profbaugh says:

    It just reminds me how kids are kids no matter where they are!! Loved the video. You are one BRAVE woman. Don’t think I could have gotten on the ride. Nope. Couldn’t do it not even with a Xanax!!

    Much love,

  25. 75
    bigdogmom says:

    Beth and Amanda,
    Have you ever experienced Melissa without words? Is this something that we need to keep record of?
    Redding, CA

  26. 76
    Walking on High Hills says:

    One day, it will all be a really fun and great story to share with your little ones or someone!

  27. 77
    Anonymous says:

    That was so funny! Me – sitting in my armchair in Alaska watching you stuck on a gondola in India. Trust me – had I been in your party there’s no dang way I would have remained as composed as you did, even if I’d known a camera was rolling. It would have just been footage they would have shown at the trial of me strangling whomever drug me on board that contraption. I’m glad you survived. –and Colin, thanks for sharing Melissa And Her Pen with all of us.

    Warm in Alaska.

  28. 78
    Canadian Mom says:

    Bless your heart Melissa……..I was reading some of the comments from fellow bloggers and was moved to tears by Kim Safina's comment to you. Even though I don't know her…. those are words we can all be encouraged by!

    Smiles & blessings,

  29. 79
    Groovewoman ♫ says:

    Okay that video was hilarious!! Poor Melissa! I take it that you guys got OFF of the Gondala just fine. HEY, just chalk it up to an AWESOME story that you will get to tell over and over again. I "LOVE" those kind of stories where your heart races & your mind relives it as you tell it again.

    I am so happy to know that you all got to take the kiddos on an amazing outting and that they had a blast. They will NEVER forget that day as long as they live.

    With Love,

  30. 80
    Kathryn says:

    Wow Melissa! This reminds me of life and how sometimes we just go out in faith even though we are really scared and don’t really want to. I am shaking just thinking about it. God Bless You!! May God give us courage to face the days and give us a heart full of trust in Him. He loves us and He is faithful.

  31. 81
    Anonymous says:


    I have read your amazing blogs all week and am thankful you made the time to share this experience with us. Beautiful people and our hearts are stretched. You all were the hands of Jesus reaching out with love and compassion.

    My daughter visited a small villsge in Kenya and now I know there are hundreds of kids living out in the streets without parents, education, and a home. How can I help them?

    God bless and renew each of you.

  32. 82
    Maria Cristina says:

    wow, Science City looks almost surreal…. I cannot WAIT to read more about your two sponsored children – they seem like they really enjoyed the gondola ride!…

    OK – will you forgive me? I feel compelleed to add a semi random, silly perhaps, lighthearted, but totally true comment … your reaction on the gondola reminded me of my son (now adult, just a couple of years younger than you) and his adventure on a rickety ferris wheel planted in the middle of the Tuileries in Paris. Tuileries, you may say — how fanciful! how posh! NOT — this “fun fair” looked like it was straight out of a horror movie from the 70s. no matter, we were determined to get on their ferris wheel because, after all, what could be better than this to take in a full view of this lovely city?

    well, as soon as the wheel started turning, we realized the awful, AWFUL mistake we had made. the contraption was making the sort of groaning, grating noises that normally prompt the scream “TIMBER!”.. The individual wheel “pods” were violently shaking to and fro as, quite suddenly I might add, a sprightly (read: semi-gale force) wind had started to blow…. i could see my son Max’s face turning from the color of caramel to the color of DEATH. “mom… is this going to be finished, soon?” me “of course, my dear son! just a couple of more minutes! take in these beautiful views!”
    and then it happened. the wheel simply stopped at the very top of its turn, at the prompting of the “control guy” down below, who proceeded to walk off and smoke a cigarette and engage in friendly banter with a fellow fair “person”. My son gripped the middle pole of our pod and hung on to it for dear life, knuckles turning white. He lost all thought of self-control, self-discipline, self-esteem, self-whatever as he broke into a mighty scream : “GET ME DOWN! GET-ME-DOWN I SAY!!!!! YOU!!! YOU DOWN THERE!!! gET BACK HERE!! I WANT TO GET DOWN THIS THING!!! I DON’T WANT TO DIE UP HERE! PLEASE!! PLEASE!!! PLEASE!!!!!!”
    The man looked up, took pity, and thankfully returned to bring the wheel back in motion and set us back down to safe ground. As we opened the rickety door of the pod onto the ground, Max was very grateful for his superwide-brim hat, as he pushed it further down toward his nose.


  33. 83
    Linda Clark Whitehouse, Texas says:

    You are so blessed to be able to be on this trip. God has a plan and your entire family is blessed. Your mom has had such an enormous impact in my life. I will be going to Israel in June and I know the Lord is going to do great things.

  34. 84
    Anonymous says:

    What a blessing and amazing opportunity to have experienced the world from a global prespective, not just an American. It has to be amazing to see the world from a child’s perspective. Sometimes our adult fear is a child’s excitement, knowing all the situations that could possibly happen.

    The words of Mark 15 always come to mind,”I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it”. As we get older, life experiences harden us into seeing how fallen we are as humans and the “world” is.

    Praying for the team you are with as you are returning home and through technology thank you for sharing in writing how this trip has impacted your life and deepened your relationship with God.

  35. 85
    Lynn says:

    If you want to talk dumb… when you said you went on a gondola ride. I was thinking gondola like Venice – on the water. And I kep thinking well, how bad could that be. Then I saw the video… too funny!!!

    Your little Manosh is too cute for words. I just want to hug him.

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts after you have been home for a bit.

    much love and blessings,
    Sister Lynn

  36. 86
    Lora says:

    You are brave, very brave.

  37. 87
    Bobbie says:

    I think I’m agreeing with your Mom! I would’ve been very shaky on that “string”. The kids smiles said a lot tho! I don’t think I’ve seen such happy faces in a long time.

    Thanks for sharing your love for these children. Praying for safe travel home.

    Blessings, Bobbie

  38. 88
    afrobrit says:

    Psalm 91: 9-10
    If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
    no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.

    Michelle, Manassas, VA

  39. 89
    Donna says:

    Melissa, I am enjoying your posts from India…I laugh, cry and hurt with you…these are such beautiful people. I am waiting anxiously for my sponsor packet for my child and looking forward to connecting with her. I am praying that the things we have in common (birthday, health issues,& 'likes') will bond us immediately. Take care, sweet one, and come home safe. Loved your Mom's and Amanda's posts about your gondola ride.

  40. 90
    jerseygirlabroad says:

    If that’s the best you can do in terms of melting down, your sanctification is much farther along than mine – God be praised!

  41. 91
    TN Girl says:

    Melissa I find my self speechless just watching that video clip! But thanks for sharing because that moment is priceless. The shout out to Beth was hilarious although I think more appropriately should have been directed to your DAD!

    Can’t wait to hear more about your meeting with your sponsored children!

    Thanking God for your protection and praying for his continued care upon you and all.

  42. 92
    Terri Toman says:


    You make it all real! Were the children scared at all? Be safe getting home!

  43. 93
    "Grammy" Sue B says:

    I scrolled until I found Amanda’s and your Mom’s post because I knew they would have a few choice words. They didn’t fail me!
    Stay safe…Give and receive LOTS of (((hugs))) before you depart…and hurry home!*!*!*!

  44. 94
    Redeemed says:

    Anxiously awaiting the rest of the story…….

    P.S. I thought you kept your cool pretty well! Me? I would have been screaming my silly head off.

    Praying for your safe return.

  45. 95
    Nichole's Mom says:

    I forgot that whole “dumber” phrase!!! I loved that one, I’m going to start using it again! I’m sorry, but that was funny… Your very funny! Praying for the rest of your trip!


  46. 96
    Anonymous says:

    I just had to watch that video again….hahaha I love the part where you say that you are at a loss for words and have nothing to say and Pete says…”a favorite Bible verse” cracks me up! lol

    Listen to Pete’s messages when you get home, if you havn’t already. Backseat Jesus and Hope now are amazing!

    Praying for y’all.
    Shawn, Georgia

  47. 97
    matiaskardia says:

    I just finished reading all of your posts from India, in chronological order. I appreciate the levity of this post, but I am still in deep emotion from reading the earlier stories of your encounters with these children in India. Thank you to Compassion for their committment and their willingness to pour out the love the God has filled them up with onto these children. I’m really at a loss for words that will express what is going through my mind and heart right now, separately it seems. When I started reading, I figured I was in a good state of mind not to cry; I was only taking a break from preparing for my Esther study. Well, now I am well beyond a break, and I am entrenched in the lesson that God has for me in “compassion.” One blogger wrote that she thinks God’s compassion is behind His love for the poor and His instruction to His children to care for our most vulnerable. I agree. Thank you for taking the time to share with us. I imagine it is difficult to limit your posts to a few items, then it’s difficult to post even one thought because it’s all too overwhelming and no words can do it justice. As an encouragement to you, I deeply appreciate your eloquence in sharing the news and the lessons. My prayers are with you, the team, Compassion, and fervently for the children of India. All glory and honor and praise be to the Lord.

    Fort Worth, TX

  48. 98
    Alisa says:

    Oh Melissa, you must have nerves of steel – your Mother is right, you should of had your parents permission to ride that thing!

    I am forever changed because of your blogs over the last week. Thank you for taking me somewhere I would otherwise never have the opportunity to go to.

    Praying for you,
    Alisa in Cheraw, SC

  49. 99
    WOW says:

    thanks for sharing your “wild ride” with us! I hope you have some days planned for sleep and rest when you get back home!

    Safe travels!

  50. 100
    PamN says:

    I have enjoyed the posts about Melissa’s trip so much. I will be interested in hearing her lasting take aways in a week or two. Also, I hope Beth will post about the National Day of Prayer and all her activities as Honorary Chairwoman! Thanks for all you esp. the Bible studies!

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