Trying to Smile Too

We made it!

After 32 hours of traveling with just pockets of sleep here and there, we arrived in Kolkata this morning.

We checked into the hotel, got a quick (cold) shower and our first taste of India cuisine before heading off to the slum where we’ll be spending the next few days.

As tired and exhausted as I was, I’m thankful that I didn’t miss the gift of this opportunity.

We arrived at the school to whoops and hollers and a pathway of flower petals.  The children were excited and had prepared some of their best for us.  We heard songs, poems and recitations that they had worked so hard on.  (Ryan also taught them a song… funniest thing was watching the kids try to mimic his mannerisms and animated expressions!)

Then we fed them lunch.  For most of them this is their ONLY meal for the day.

As much as I expected to serve and love them today, I never anticipated the honor they would bestow our team.

I am humbled.

Here’s a pic of some of the gifts they showered me with today:

But the most important gift to me was their smiles – their smiles in spite of their circumstances.  These children live in a slum.  They live in tents.  They are surrounded by filth, waste, disease and turmoil every day.  And yet they are smiling.  They are celebrating.  They are learning.  And they are enjoying life.

I’m humbled…  and I’m trying to smile too.

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  • Randy Kinnick February 4, 2010  

    Jesus is there! …in their faces. God bless you on this journey.

  • Lindsey_Nobles February 4, 2010  

    Hard to believe I saw you on Monday and now…you are in India hanging out with the cutest kids ever.

    I know you are exhausted so thank you for the updates. Love hearing about your trip. And living vicariously through you until I can go.

  • Becky February 4, 2010  

    Beautiful! Keep smiling! 🙂

  • ash February 4, 2010  

    So proud of you, Jen. Thanks for taking us along with you on this journey!

    Is there video of Ryan teaching them the song? I can just imagine! Love you and am praying hard.

    • jcatron February 4, 2010  

      I think I got some video of Ryan teaching that song. Not sure how good it is, but it was funny!

  • Melissa Duncan February 4, 2010  

    Praying for you and the team. It is amazing how little "problems" in our day can cause us to have a bad day and yet these children face problems we never encounter.

    • jcatron February 4, 2010  

      Yeah, that's what I kept wrestling with. They have so many legitimate reasons not to smile and yet they do. They embrace the moments and opportunities they have and make the most of them. I needed that reminder!

  • aaronsu February 4, 2010  

    I spent some time last summer in a slum in Costa Rica. And 6 months later, the smiles on the children's faces is what I remember most. Unfortunately, I didn't see many smiles on the faces of the adults. The smiles seem to fade as the hopelessness associated with the extreme poverty settles in.

  • Holly Black February 4, 2010  

    Thanks for sharing this Jenni! Praying for you guys.

  • Janice February 4, 2010  

    It brings me to tears to see these precious children. Thank you for going and sharing your love and compassion and for being "Jesus with skin on."

  • brandiandboys February 4, 2010  

    beautifully said!!! so excited for you and proud of you, jenni!

  • Eve Annunziato February 4, 2010  

    WOW, just amazing! Hard to put in words. So proud and thankful of our CP mission… Thanks for sharing and look forward to reading more about your journey this week. Hope you're getting rest right now! Praying away….

  • Heidi February 4, 2010  

    I'm just so drawn to the pictures, to there humble gifts in which I know you'll hold onto forever, their eyes, your words, Thank you for pushing my heart and taking me on a journey.. Praying immensely!

  • Jan Owen February 5, 2010  

    Jenni, I have tears in my eyes as I look at the pictures of you with the kids. I know this will wreck your heart for the glory of God. Love you friend. Praying for you.

  • uberVU - social comments February 4, 2010  

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  • lorrie harden February 5, 2010  

    Wow, What beautiful pictures! The gifts they gave are beautiful. I love and agree with what Jan Owen said, "I know this will wreck your heart for the Glory of God." That is awesome! Thank you for sharing this with all of us here! Praying for you!

    • jcatron February 6, 2010  

      @Lorrie & @Jan – yes this is definitely wrecking!

  • Blake Bergstrom February 5, 2010  

    what a beautiful thought! we are praying for you guys! thank you for sharing your stories and your heart with us.

    • jcatron February 6, 2010  

      Thanks for your prayers Blake!

  • Brittany February 5, 2010  

    wow just blown away: how spoiled we are as Americans & we think we have the right to complain… Praying for your trip and excited about future opportunities for Cross Point to minister to these people!

    • jcatron February 6, 2010  

      @Brittany – it's so true, once you experience how people live in places like this I realize just how petty some of my concerns or "needs" are

  • lisa gardiner February 6, 2010  

    Jenni you look beautiful here serving these children what an amazing gift you are giving each other. I cannot wait to hear all about your trip. Praying for all of you.