I’ve spent the last two weeks with brain malaria, and now, after a lot of pain, hospitals, medicine, and lots and lots of your prayers…I find myself reeling and exhausted, but on the way back to being healthy.
As I make the slow journey toward recovery, I see an old and persistent message hunting me down, waiting ever so patiently for me to fully grasp the meaning of…
taking space to be…
For the next few weeks I will be taking a medical leave to recover and rest. But honestly, taking time off work is one of the most difficult things I could do here. Allowing myself the space and time to just be, not do, not work, not run around the city attending to a thousand other needs is much more difficult than I’d like to admit. I see that my fear of being purposeless and useless is deep and far reaching. If I take time to be, what will it tell about me. What happens when there’s nothing left to define me….as I recently wrote in my journal:
I can’t work, I can’t go, I can’t pour myself out for other people’s lives. I simply have to sit here, with myself and God and be…and I’m fighting with every ounce of my being against it. But if I haven’t learned by now that my worth is not in what I do, what more will it take…
As I reflect on this, I see how easily I create idols of my time and my service. How easily I lose sight of the space and quiet and being that we’re called into as believers. I’m realizing that it truly is a discipline to be, especially in this city of chaos and noise, dirt, constant crisis and demanding needs…
I find myself humbly asking difficult questions of myself and God. You all may not have brain malaria to stop you in your tracks and offer you a forced work leave, but as the holidays approach I share my own struggle with you in hopes that together we might rediscover what it means to know ourselves and live in a new kind of space. That together, we might allow the pain, awkward silence and disturbing and beautiful truths of who we are come into being and unearth a new kind of celebration, rooted in something greater than ourselves. As we celebrate the Advent season perhaps this is a good place to begin...
Looking back over the last few months there is so much to highlight. I hope this can offer a little glimpse into what we’ve been doing!
As the Field Director, I have been working a lot on the formation material and integration of our new staff members. This is an exciting process as we dream for how to make our field more sustainable for new staff entering the field.
We are continuing to work on the formation of the Sari Bari Trust, which will be the social work arm of our Sari Bari business. This is exciting because it will be a new avenue to support the work in the red light areas.
I continue to spend my time doing medical advocacy for our ladies who are sick or in need of emergency care, helping our ladies get their children into schools, and seeking opportunities to be a presence in the brothels through relationship building.
As I look ahead to the next six months, I’m hopeful to work on developing a mental health curriculum to enable our women to begin unpacking who they are and how they have been hurt and abused. I am hopeful through outside support and funding that we will be able to invite professionals to someday help in this development.
In October we celebrated the wedding of one our WMF Bengali staff members, Gita Mondal. It was a beautiful celebration! (Though it has only amplified the voices of our Sari Bari ladies asking when it will be my turn…)
As Christmas approaches, our community is working hard to plan all the Sari Bari celebrations. Each year we buy every lady a Christmas gift and this year each woman will receive a sari, a sweater and a pair of socks. Shopping for over 70 ladies will take some time, but it’s always a lot of fun, and celebrating Christmas with them is one of my favorite times of the year!!!
In January I will be attending a Regional Field Directors Meeting in Thailand, as we prepare for the next year and continue to plan and dream for our fields and staff.
As always, thank you so much for your continual support and prayer for me and our Sari Bari family. I wish each of you had the chance to experience the love and embrace of our Sari Bari family, they are my greatest joy and the reason I continue to serve and plant myself in Kolkata. They are my heroes and my inspiration and the best picture I could have of how Christ is present in the world… Though you may feel removed from what you support, please know what a difference you are making in their lives and in mine. Before I close, I would like to share honestly about my support account. For the first time in 3 years, I have been struggling with my personal support. Due to added travel expenses, the economic pressure in the states, and my recent medical expenses, my support account has been unable to recover. If you are interested if giving a one time donation or signing up for monthly direct deposits you can utilize the following information from our website:
Or you can send a check with the enclosed form to our WMF Office Address at:
Word Made Flesh PO Box 70 Omaha NE 68101
I would also love to send you a breakdown of my yearly expenses for those who may be interested.
Finally, if any of you are interested in being a part of our Sari Bari Christmas celebration…
You might not be able to fly over for our goat curry Christmas meal, but we would love to invite you to be a part of our Christmas party this year at Sari Bari. For $25 you can support one woman’s Christmas gift (sari, sweater, socks) and be a part of the celebration. If you are interested in being a part of this, simply send a check to our Omaha office with a note attached signifying it is for the Sari Bari Christmas gifts. Our office address is:
Word Made Flesh PO Box 70 Omaha, NE 68101
Also, if you are looking for Christmas gifts and want a creative way to support Sari Bari as well as be a part our ladies’ journey toward freedom, take a look at our Sari Bari website www.saribari.com
Again, thank you all for your love and encouragement…
Much Love and Merry Christmas,