Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Do I Justify Love?

"God only shares His secrets with little ones." 
-Sister Mercy Maria 

I have moved rooms for the third time in the last three and a half months. My good shoes have a hole in them. I love sitting in the dark chapel at Mother House, surrounded by Sisters singing and chanting, gazing on the face of our crucified savior. The kittens are gone. I bought the street family a stove. Then Asmirah and I danced and she taught me how to exercise with bricks. 

The BMS street family, as I call them, chooses to be on the streets. They have a house in a village, but the money and daily supplies they get from tourists far exceed the amount they could get on their own with hard work in the village. So, they stay, with their dirty clothes, children, and empty bottles crowding the sidewalk in front of the gates of my guesthouse.

They have caused me many a spiritual dilemma as I think about the words of Jesus, the actions of Jesus, and the path chosen by the adults of this family.  They don't ask for extravagant things. They ask for rice, for milk, for a cooking stove, for soap. 

But when they ask, I think, "Where is all that money you have received from tourists? Where is the money that French lady gave you, enough money to pay rent for eight months on your village home? Why do you ask me for things when you choose to be here? Why do you not work?"

Do I give out of charity even though I know I am contributing to a cycle of poverty? Is it really loving to give them things when they choose to stay on those streets and beg? How can I help them, really help them? 

I have prayed a lot.  It's a complex issue and what I feel God telling me to do is not necessarily what He tells everyone to do.  I have examined my intentions. Why do I feel my giving has to be justified? 

When I asked God about it, I felt in my heart this answer: That money isn't yours. Why are you afraid of giving it away? That money belongs to Me, and I will provide for that family through You, and I will continue to provide for You. There will never be a shortage. I am God of plenty. If they have hundreds, thousands of rupees on them, but ask you for rice, buy them rice. 

I am greedy and selfish, wanting to cling to money and things, and justifying this by saying giving to certain people isn't helping them.  It's a discernment thing and not all situations are the same, but for this one, God tells me to give without questioning them or trying to justify my giving. It's His money and I need to stop trying to hold onto it when someone asks for something, for soap, for rice, for milk. It's not mine. 

Speaking of money, I felt that I should give a financial update. Everyday I write down the amount of money I spend and what I spend it on. I haven't made a pie chart or anything, but I can tell you how much has been spent thus far on this trip. The amount is approximate since the exchange rate changes daily. I use an exchange rate of 55 rupees to 1 US dollar because that is generally the rate I get.  This goes from June 9 to September 9. 

Total Spent (combined expenses in India and bills back home in AZ) = about $3,840

Total spent in India alone since June 9 = $1,740 
- from this amount, about $600 has been on rent
- $56 has been on international ATM charges. I take out a good chunk of money at a time so I don't have to be charged often, but I am charged $7 total for each transaction on the US side. 
-$480 has been on traveler's health insurance
- the rest is food, travel expenses (bus, taxi), donations (including items bought for street families), minutes for my Indian SIM card, and personal items such as soap 

Total spent on bills in America = $2,100 
- this includes rent on my house (which I share with my siblings), phone payment (I'm on a family plan so there was no way to get rid of my share of it while I was gone), and donations to Saved By God's Grace. My car insurance was able to be dwindled down to about $2 because I took almost all insurance off of it before I left. 

So that has been for 3 months of living in India. I have about two and a half left, which we'll just round up and say it'll be the same amount, so another $3,840. I have about $6,000 in my account from donations and also from two unexpected checks from my last job. So, hopefully that leaves me about $2,000 to live on when I get back to the US. I don't exactly know my plans when I return, but God is definitely formulating something. But that is definitely for another blog post. 

And now some pictures to keep you entertained after that bit of business talk! This is from dinner the other night, our goodbye dinner for our friends Sam, Fouad, and Wissam. 

A strange man...
What were we so intrigued by?

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