THE PLAN (Part 1)
Let me warn you, dear sisters, this is long. Like, beyond long.
I have broken it into five sections to make it more manageable, and I encourage you to read it all.
Set aside time to read it all, the parts that are hard to understand, the parts that are hard to hear.
Read it all, dear sisters, for this is our world, our brokenness, our God.
I am still trying to make sense of my last few days.
I had a plan. The people I was scheduled to meet with had a plan. And then God shows up.
There he is, reminding us that contrary to how we feel and what we think, we have so very little control.
I was to spend the day with John, a simple Indian man who was mild in manner. John oversees projects for a non-profit that has a drop in center in the middle of the red light district, the second largest red light district in the world to be exact.
This drop in center is a place where women who work in prostitution can come and learn new skills, like sewing. The rest of my colleagues has visited the day before, so today I was riding solo.
It was too dangerous for my girl to tag along with me, so off she went with the rest of the group to take in the sights of India. And let’s just be a little transparent here, I think we were both needing a break from each other. Oh, sweet Jesus. Thank you.
John and I became acquainted as we rode through Mumbai. A few years old than myself, it was easy to fall into light chatter about our families and children and the challenges that come with juggling it all.
As we climbed out of the cab, my eyes had not a chance to even look up before my body was hit with a wave of foulness I had never encountered before.
I looked up.
It was like moving into a light room where our eyes need time to adjust, except this time it was the dark that I needed to adjust to. Conditions that demand a new word to be formed, Oh God, there is no word to describe this.
I had difficulty comprehending what my brain was cataloging.
I let my eyes fall down to my feet. Feces. Trash. Rotted out pipes… then up the sides of make-shift buildings, blackened out and falling apart. Open wires, threaded every which way. Barefoot children, playing in water that I am quite sure was not water, but probably more of a mixture between urine, run off and mud.
I grabbed my bags and quickly fell in step with John, who had started out as if on a mission. he walked tall and brisk, and I quickened my step to keep close to him, being careful to step over a dead rat that lay before me. We weaved in and out of alleys until arriving at the bottom of a small dark staircase.
I stopped using my nose to breath at this point, unable to take in the pungency without feeling my breakfast banging at the bottom of my throat, threatening to come back up.
At the top of the stairs came to a doorway.
It open from within and in we went. Into safety.
The Drop in Center.
A refuge in the middle of darkness.
Darkness I have never seen. Darkness I have rarely felt. Not like this.