Singtam, Sikkim 1999
Everything is brighter here. The clothes the lovely women wear are vibrant. The cloth hanging in the shops waiting to be made into saris sparkle with gold and silver threading. The buses we haphazardly hopped off and on in Delhi all the while confused about what we should do had too many colors to count. I smell it all too. I didn’t know everything could smell so poignant. This country is so beautiful. Pictures cannot capture the way the sunlight shines through the clouds and makes the mountains shine green. There are houses scattered places, but not many live so high. We went to a church yesterday that was hard to get to. We drove for a long time up a rocky mountain road. Then we hiked and climbed for two hours. It was very worth it because the people in the church were so kind and sincere. They had drums and one electric guitar! IT was fun to hear them sing loud and pray very passionately. I made a friend named Ramalia. She is 20 years old. She lives with a family in the village with the church. She was taken in with them when she converted to Christianity from Hinduism. Her family won’t speak to her anymore, and she has no one to arrange a marriage for her. What will become of her? I worried. She had vulnerable eyes, but she was committed in her countenance. Suddenly I am certain that she will be alright. I see the strength in her.
We hiked back down ravines and roads another two hours back to our jeep. We had to climb over a landslide to get to the jeep. I have to admit it was quite exhilarating to climb across the slippery cliff. The Indian men accompanying us who are both pastors, Steven and James, were laughing at us because we don’t run up and down the mountain as they do. As I went to climb in the jeep, my friend Shelly exclaimed to me about my legs. I looked down my long skirt and there were blood streaks running down my legs. I felt no pain. “Leeches…” Abraham said. I gasped, pulling up my skirt to inspect the damage. I didn’t see any leeches..only small streaks of blood in several places on both legs. They had gotten what they came for I guess and left. I admired their efficiency. “Well, my first leeches. I guess I’ve really lived now,” I said.
As we traveled back, I sat in the outside seat in the jeep hanging my leg out. The view was soul-quenching, and I was flooded with joy by the sight before me. You can always see the river here. Riding in this jeep is like East Texas mudding sometimes. The wheels spin, and the cliffs only get slicker and steeper. We climbed 8000 feet today, and we’ve traveled almost the whole way across the Himalayas. We stopped at another village, and we helped the people there with some medical needs. Then we sang and prayed with the people there. I just listened as the people there prayed so passionately. I never pray with that kind of passion. I couldn’t understand their words, but I knew they were praising God. Perhaps they were praising God for the medicine we brought or just as likely for the breathtaking view they wake up to on this mountainside every day. I knew my pictures would never do it justice just as I knew their prayers would never bring praise enough for this type of beauty.