RICH IN SPIRIT
Angel & I are SO glad that we didn’t pass up the opportunity to be here. It’s so much more than we could have imagined.
We knew we would be doing service for others, with some fun and cultural experiences mixed in, but we didn’t anticipate being on the receiving end of so much generosity. Particularly from the local Indian volunteers, who live with so little material comforts themselves. (Read Albert’s blog – we second the sentiment!)
All the demonstrations of warmth and giving may be partly to help inspire us in our service, but mainly because this is just the way they are all the time! We were told this is ingrained in the Indian philosophy.
Our first day exploring the city, we walked around the “old part of the city”, past shops, street vendors, mosques, temples, cows and goats. There were families living in slum apartments there. One family invited us in to see how they live. Bharti said it would be normal that, if we had said we were hungry, they would have offered to share what little food they had. There is an Indian saying that “Guest is God”.
That same saying is posted in the Seva Cafe, which is open to serve 50 or more people every evening, for free. Payment is always only what you are able to give and inspired to give, to help keep the restaurant going. Most months, there is a profit, but whether or not there is, a fixed amount is donated to varous charities in the city.
Our service days have been pretty packed with activities. Playing games, doing crafts and dancing with the Manav Sadhna kids, bathing them and dressing them in the donated clothes, painting at a nearby school, visiting a school for the blind and another for mentally challenged (they performed for us!), cooking and serving at Seva Cafe, etc. We sang Christmas carols at a huge Christmas party at Manav Sadna. Don’t think we sounds too great; most of us have colds. ;-)
Re: communication, we’ve learned only a few basic words, but smiles communicate the most. Both ways. Quoting Laura from our group, the people may be poor in material goods, but they are immensely rich in spirit. There’s also “Namaste”, which for those who don’t know, means “I honor the God/spirit in you”.
Blessings to all here, at home and wherever you’re reading this!
Marcella & Angel (Jose)