To be Humble
To be Grateful
The first two are what the locals in Assam taught me, the third is what I realized over the course of my journey there.
A few months ago, I was planning a trip to Europe to visit my aunt, very excited, and enthusiastic as I got the fares, and began planning the itinerary. However, every time I planned on booking the flight tickets I questioned myself, did I really want to go? One day, a friend of mine from my chapter posted a message about volunteering for a mission to Assam. At that point, there was no debating, no second thoughts. I immediately asked my parents and formators, applied for leave at work and booked my mission trip tickets.
In the days leading up to the mission, I kept asking those who had been on a mission before, to get familiar with the idea of it. All they told me was “It is a different experience“. And I was excited and curious about having this experience soon. At the start, there were difficulties and obstacles. I missed my connecting flight in Bangalore, reached Kolkata at around 1 am, and had to spend an entire night alone at the airport. But I believe God was with me. Every flight and connecting flight I took, had the sweetest people in my row and sometimes no people at all.
My first day in Assam, well, to say the least, was ‘different’. A stark contrast to Goa’s scorching hot weather, there, it was very cold.
The clay-like soil there gave rise to a mushy landscape that we had to walk through. For a girl who hates getting her feet wet and dirty in goan rains, this was something very challenging.
My team there consisted of 4 persons- 2 Assam natives and 2 from West Bengal. And this was when I realized my broken Hindi needed a makeover.
We were a set of 3 teams, each of which had to visit 5 villages. The program chalked out was on the theme ‘Households’ and we had to help the youth community there strengthen their relationships and the working of the household. I gave my first talk here, in Hindi.
The youth there were so kind, generous, and simple. Every time we had to leave for the next village, the youth from that village would all gather to bid us farewell and walk hours on end to drop us to our destination safely. We were very humbled every time a family washed our hands and feet, as per their custom. Also, every meal was arranged for by a different family, every day. Another beautiful thing I witnessed was the way they celebrate the Eucharist. The church isn’t fancy, neither are their clothes. They come for the Lord and the Lord only. At the time of collection, the native women offer grain, a sign of truly giving from the little that they possess.
The community bond amongst them is quite strong, they live together as one big family. One of the families that hosted us one night, consisted of only the grandparents and the two grandsons. Hence women and girls from the entire village came over to their place to help with the preparations. It was truly beautiful seeing them live in such harmony.
Not all is as rosy though, we learned that they have real struggles, real hardships. A few girls in my discussion group shared about their troubles, and I could only imagine all the troubled times they go through. But it was so nice to see that they haven’t lost hope and their faith is strong in the Lord. This was something I learned for every time I go through insignificant problems in life.
All in all, it was an amazing experience, where memories were made, tears were shed and the presence of the Lord was manifested. A truly ‘different’ experience, one that I will live to tell anyone and everyone I meet. To all you readers, just a note of encouragement- the missionary life has a lot to teach. If you ever get an opportunity to volunteer, do not hesitate. God is with you!