Wednesday, October 16, 2013

She's Making Herstory

Is it still your blog if you tell another person's story?

My daughter Anna is on an adventure in India.  She is teaching English for 6 months at a Bible college and an English Medium School, preaching at youth meetings, working with orphans, and doing whatever else she is asked to do.  She is eating rice three times a day, wearing covering clothing on hot, humid days, dealing with almost daily power outages, unreliable internet connections, crazy traffic, and cyclones.  She is a celebrity...the very, very white girl with the very, very blue eyes.  Everywhere she goes people stare and the brave ones ask to have their picture taken with her.  Her students loves to pinch her skin, fascinated with how that white flesh turns red.  They are concerned about her losing weight from eating rice three times a day: "Ma'am, you are losing all your nice fat," they say worriedly.  The littlest orphans cuddle up against her, tucking their small bodies underneath her arms to feel the security and nurture they miss from their mothers.  She takes care of sick people and kills snakes.  She washes her own laundry and hangs it out to dry.  She prays every day, sometimes three times a day, and gets up early to do it.  She cooks regularly.  She is the first white teacher in the whole state of Andhra Pradesh.  She is a history maker!

Anna isn't a writer like Kate and I.  But she is pretty good at text messages like this: 

They call my braid an "elephant's tail."
The warden's wife thinks my zits are mosquito bites.
Jaya thinks the reason my hair sheds is because it's straight.
The girls are fascinated with my chubby cheeks. 

What Anna does best is talk...when we Skype, we talk a loooonnnnggg time!  She tells great stories and makes me laugh.  She sees humor where others would see poverty or dirt or communication barriers or culture clashes.  She sees the beauty and fun in a place of brokenness and hardship.  Not only does she make me laugh, she makes the kids laugh.  Her pictures are full of laughing children...they look like the most joyful, fun-loving group of children anywhere.  Why?  Because when they are cutting the grass by hand with bladed curved sticks, Anna takes pictures and makes it look like they are playing golf.  When they are scrubbing their clothes with a bar of soap on a concrete floor, Anna takes pictures and makes it look like the most fun job ever.  When they are standing in line for their plate of rice at lunchtime, Anna takes pictures and makes it look like they are at a hipster community lunch place in Portland.  When they are studying in their dorm rooms, Anna takes pictures and makes it look like a slumber party.

But in her heart, she is moved.  She bought a set of clothes for one little guy whose pants were tied up with string and shirt was reduced to two buttons.  She hid her camera when visiting the mud-and-thatch hut of one of her students to spare him the shame of making his home a Facebook spectacle.  She praises the orphans who say, "Ma'am, watch me!" when they do a trick or stunt for her.  They have no mothers sitting on a park bench smiling encouragingly at their children as they climb to the top of the slide or jump from a platform or hang from the monkey bars.  They have no one to say, "Mom, look at this!" to, as they color a beautiful picture.  There is no one to listen when they read a full paragraph aloud from their favorite book  So Anna is the "Watch me!" "Listen to me!" surrogate mother.  They love to perform, and she loves to praise.  She allows their little hands to explore her face, hair and white skin as they poke and pinch her in curiosity.  The littlest ones are simply content to hold her hand, soaking up the physical contact and warmth of an affectionate mother figure.  It's already breaking her heart to think of how she will have to say goodbye.

Who is most blessed?  The kids...because they are not only learning English---the ticket out of poverty in India---but they are learning it from a native-born English speaker.  They are in a godly atmosphere, learning that they have a destiny, purpose and call in a place of hopelessness and despair.  They are fed, clothed and sheltered.  And they are loved and touched affectionately.

But maybe it's Anna who is most blessed...because she is seeing a world so different from her own, where the simplest things have the greatest value.  She will learn to give sacrificially and work while everyone else on the other side of the world plays.  She will do things she was never trained to do, and do them well.  She will grow up.  She will be more compassionate, and more passionate.

But then again, maybe it's the rest of us who will be blessed...because our eyes are opened our hearts are touched by the stories and pictures someone else shares of a people we didn't even know existed.  And we, with our vast resources of time and money, can invest in those little lives across the globe.  We can share in their destiny on earth and their eternity in heaven.  We can affect millions because of one who affected a few.

Anna has only been in India for a little over a month.  She has five months before her.  What else will she see and do?  What else will she share with us?  I'm excited for her on this amazing adventure.  But I'm excited for all the people who will suddenly be awakened to the potential of redeemed lives in other nations.  Because of Anna, perhaps someone else will help people in Niger, Tibet, Dubai, the Amazon, Nunavut, an unnamed island, a remote mountain village, a slum in a city of millions.  I've already done some world travel, and yet she inspires me to do more.

Be used!

From youngest to oldest, beautiful girls in vibrant colors!

Anna's boys on wash day



  1. Such an experience, for sure. Anna is beautiful, and her heart is full of God's love for these children. I LOVE how the kids touch her cheeks, and pinch her, and look at her big blue eyes, and white skin. I am sure Anna will be a changed woman when she comes home to the States.

    Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.
    Proverbs 22;9

    My love and continued prayers for Anna. Sasa

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. I am so proud of what she is doing for those children. I would love to some day meet just one child that she has loved and laughed with. Cared for and encouraged. One child that she shared Jesus and his salvation with. She is truly a blessing and BLESSED! When she comes home...we are going to have a slumber party at 'Grammy's'. Family and Food. She can talk all night sharing her stories. Thanks Karyn for this post. It gives us an idea of what she's accomplishing. I keep praying that this adventure she's on will continue to get better and better!!!

  3. No matter where Anna is, she is a blessing! She has a vibrant personality, is willing to make things happen while having fun, loves God and people! I am thrilled for her experience in India.
    Thank you Karyn for using your gift of writing to help us "follow" what Anna is doing!
    Anna: I absolutely the pic your mom use for this. You are beautiful! Continue to be a blessing and you will receive yours in return!