Journal Entry, June 1999
I am in Calcutta, India. It has been a full day. We went to the Mother House this morning for worship service at 6:15am. After some hot tea and bread, we met up with Michael who took us to Mother Theresa’s Home for Disabled Children. I held my bag tight as we rode a crazy bus. I held fast to the side rail as we rode a baby taxi. The three-story building was old. I learned the guys would stay on the first floor with the boys, but girls were to climb the stairs. I walked up nervously praying that God would help me love the children.
My eyes caught hold of a few girls laying on the main floor. One of the sisters handed me an apron. A volunteer named Anna who was from Mexico took me to the “Physiotherapy Room.” This was basically two rooms with thick, plastic mats covering the floors. There were several children on the mats probably eight kids at least in each room. None of them could sit up on their own and some had severe deformities on their little bodies. Several had bones for limbs, and most had very short hair. I stood there numbly, taking it all in. Another volunteer touched my arm and pointed me towards an older girl. I sat down beside her and learned her name: Maria. Reaching behind her, I sat her up. She smiled beautifully at me. I held her in a sitting position for a while and encouraged her to hold her head up. Then I carried her into the main room. A sister gave me some old-looking leg braces and instructed me to put them on Maria. She kept her smile on as I struggled to fit them and strap them onto her legs. The sister watching me said to have her stand for 45 minutes! I looked at Maria’s face with angst, but she seemed excited to get to work.
As Maria stood, I began to sing. I told Maria how strong she is. I pushed her hair back from her face, and there was that smile again. I kept singing. It was a long time for us to be standing together. Finally, I ran out of songs and we were finished. The leg braces came off, and I was sent for a tea break. I have to admit I was glad to sit on the hot roof with my hot tea for a few minutes. After the break, I fed Maria her lunch. As I was helping her, I was horrified to see ants crawling all over her bib. I tried to get them off and kill them, but Maria was impatient and hungry. I had to keep feeding her ants and all. After she was finished, I washed her dishes, and one of the sisters told me to take her to bed for a nap.
I picked up her heavy frame and laid her down in a large crib-type bed. She relaxed easily, and I sang once more to her. She smiled, and I touched her sweet face. I recognized that face. It was a familiar face. “I love you, Maria,” I said, “Thank you for today.” As I left her to nap, another sister feeding a child on the floor asked me how long I was staying. I asked her when she became a nun, and she said 23 years before. I asked her why she decided to spend her life as a nun, and she said, “Why did you choose to be married? No one made you get married. You chose. It was right. The same way I chose this.” I was sad and relieved to leave. I wanted to understand what I had just experienced. But I think I already knew. I had seen the face of Jesus in precious Maria. Thank God I was awake to notice.
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