An American in India

At 6:00 am I awoke to the eerie sound of morning prayers blaring from the outside speakers of the Mosque across from my hotel. I sat straight up in bed trying to figure out where I was. Oh yeah, India. After twenty hours of flying and the predictable jet lag that followed, I needed my rest but there was no way I was going back to sleep. My three week adventure in which I would travel thousands of miles across India had just begun.

My favorite experience was visiting an orphanage. The children were so excited to see us and they were eager to show us around. The boys showed me their sleeping area. I saw what at first looked like bunk beds with very thin mattresses. Imagine my surprise when I laid my hand on a bed and found that the mattress was nothing more than a piece of plywood covered by a thin blanket. Their life seemed so basic and simple, yet their smiles and laughter were so real and contagious that I feel shame at even the thought of complaining about what I do or do not have.

Some of the boys were telling me how they loved to play volleyball. I told them I loved volleyball too. They promptly asked me to come back and play with them. I told them that I did not think that I would have the time but I would try, knowing full well that there was probably no way with our jam-packed schedule that it would ever happen. As I was about to leave, the boys lined up and, one by one, stood square in front of me, looked me straight in the eye, firmly shook my hand, told me their name, and said “don’t forget me.” I thought about all of the people that had forgotten these children and the hard life they must live. I soon had to disappear into the dark Indian night as the tears ran slowly down my face.

Back in my hotel room later that night I woke up, knowing that I had to do something for those kids. The next morning I talked to the young Indian men that were with us and asked them to find me enough ice-cream for 150 children. We took ice-cream to the orphanage and handed it out to all of the boys and girls and then played volleyball. What a game it was! Every ball that came over the net the boys would set up for me; and every time I hit the ball back over the net a loud cheer would go up as if I had done something spectacular. Those kids loved the ice-cream but what they really wanted most of all was someone to remember them.

I have seen an incredible amount of pain and misery both at home and around the world and I know you have too. I would ask anyone reading this story to pray this prayer with me…

Jesus, I have traveled in this strange and miserable land long enough. I want to go home. Whatever must be done to finish the work, wherever I should go, whatever I must do, here I am, send me.

- Jim Reynolds