Friday, May 27, 2016

Emily's Birthday Party in India

          Each year, our family has traditions that we do together to celebrate Emily's birthday.  This year, though, I am on the other side of the globe in India to do teacher training at schools here.  So, yesterday, I asked Biswajit, our host, "What do you do to remember family members who've gone on to be with the Lord?"
          He said, "We help the poor and needy.  Would you like to visit a leper colony?"
          With just a day's notice, Bisjwajit arranged for chicken curry, dal, and rice to be prepared for 130 people and delivered to the leper colony in Emily's memory.  Today, when we went to the colony, Biswajit led the children in song.  (I was surprised to see children there, but whole families move there if they have a family member with leprosy.)  He then asked me to share Emily's story.
          I stood before the children sitting on the ground in front of men and women with just stubs for feet and hands. For a moment, I just stood there.  These are the "least of these" that Jesus spoke about. These are the social outcasts, the "untouchables."  I couldn't help but feel Emily smiling.  When she was alive, she taught our family so much, and -- even in this moment -- God was teaching me through her memory.
          As best as I could, I told them of the gift Emily was, despite her disability and health problems.  As Biswajit translated, his voice began to break as he paused for a moment in tears.
          You see, Biswajit and his wife Kuni also have a special gift in a precious little girl named Eva.  Biswajit's brother, Bapi, found Eva when he ran off a pack of dogs that was circling around a moving object on a sand pile.  The object was a baby girl less than a day old.  Bapi carried the baby through the village asking if anyone knew what had happened or if anyone would be willing to take her in. Several families told him, "If the baby were a boy, we would take it, but we can't afford to take care of a girl."
          Bapi then took the baby to his brother Biswajit and sister-in-law Kuni, who had been praying about having a child.  Eva is now 12, has developmental delays, and is not growing as she should, but she has the most beautiful smile and such a heart to help others.
          As Biswajit composed himself, I finished telling how God can use anyone to bless others and that every life, despite difficulties, is valuable to Him.
          We then distributed the "plates," which were large leaves connected together, placing them on the ground in front of each person.  A mound of rice was scooped out onto each plate and covered with gravy-like dal.  I had the honor of placing a bowl of chicken curry in front of each person.
          HAPPY 22nd BIRTHDAY, EMILY!  Only God could arrange such a party as this one.