Brown Sugar Purges

“All emotions, even those that are suppressed and unexpressed, have physical effects. Unexpressed emotions tend to stay in the body like small ticking time bombs — they are like illnesses in incubation.” -Marilyn Van Derbur

After the wide emotional terrain the team and I covered yesterday, we met last night to debrief. We saw despair, darkness, trepidation. But we also saw hope, joy, and love. Several of us attempted to talk through those emotions, but although the words escaped our mouths, the emotional baggage held on tight. It wound around many of us like an anaconda preparing to feast on our remains. We couldn’t fight it. The emotional weight was so heavy that I couldn’t even blog, I believe we all slipped into a deep sleep that night.

Saturday morning, I wasn’t feeling so well. I was moving slowly and had an extremely light breakfast: a boiled egg, a spoonful of yogurt, three sips of coffee. I filled my water bottle with two cold bottles of water and dashed off for the bus. We were all beyond excited because today was the day we would see the Taj Mahal! Once we loaded the bus, I curled up in a corner with my back facing the window and opened my laptop. I sat there unsure of where to start with yesterday’s blog, so I paused and grabbed my phone. I started the devotional The Esther Challenge at the beginning of this mission trip. Today’s devotional talked about how Mordecai refused to bow to Haman and remained loyal and faithful to God regardless of the grave consequences. It went on to talk about how King Ahasuerus had forgotten how Mordecai was the one who helped spare his life from the men who were plotting to kill him.

I was so tickled after reading this devotion because what God was clearly telling me was to remain faithful to what He sent me to do, and part of that obedience was to not forget all of those who had helped me attend this mission trip fully funded and were reading my blogs daily.

So, I unloaded on my laptop. The commute to the Taj Mahal was 3.5 hours. I blogged for the first two. Ever so often, I’d lift my head to see our surroundings. When the village we were riding through caught my attention.20170701_152701

I’d seen these huts before in my history books, but in my mind they only existed centuries ago. Not today just 10.5 hours away. There were families out hanging laundry on a line, and children playing. My heart stung a bit, but I smiled and waved to the little boy standing on the side of the road. He was amazed at the big bus barreling by.

Once I finished my blog, I got up to go sit with a few others to jump in on whatever they were talking about. I needed adult conversations. This group of professional women had such insight on various topics. It was great to discuss college with one of our Axis students, careers, what our communities lacked, and ways to bring what was lacking to the communities since we can’t take the community to the resource.

The bus came to a sudden jerk (remember the traffic, right?) and I could tell we were close. The city of Arga looked a lot like Delhi. When we reached the entrance of the Taj Mahal, we all grabbed bottle water as we exited the bus. We were told that we would be surrounded by beggars, but not to make eye contact, and not to purchase anything.

We were given shoe covers for the Taj Mahal because you must either remove your shoes or cover them as a sign of respect, and our tickets for entry. Well, at that moment, the heat hit me with a quick right, left, uppercut combination and I bent over and placed my hands on my knees. Emilio asked if I was ok, and I told him I just needed a minute. We walked to catch a small shuttle to drive us closer to the entrance, and as soon as I sat down, I laid my head on the seat in front of me. I felt bad ya’ll. Stomach cramps, nausea, and I had sweat literally pouring from my body. Katie poured water on the back of my neck to help me cool off, and it seemed to help. We got off the bus, and I told Deirdre I was about to puke, and as if on cue, right there at the entrance of the Taj Mahal… Brown Sugar begins this violent projectile vomiting… Again, and again, and again.

I puked my way to the sidewalk, being mindful of the cow manure along the way, and squatted there for a sec. I was ready to crawl up and die in my embarrassment and that unnecessarily aggressive Indian heat when this eclipse happened, and the sun was blocked! I looked up to see Rohim standing over me with his cane and his best concerned father’s expression. He was holding a bottle of Indian lime soda, and told me to sip it. I didn’t want to, but at this rate I was willing to try anything. I sipped the lime soda and the stomach cramps immediately subsided! What tha??? So a few minutes later, I stood up and told the group, “Let’s mob.” They were all like, Are you sure??? We traveled 14 hours just to get to India, and 3.5 just to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We. Were. Going.

Once inside, we met our tour guide who was AH-MAY-ZING! I sat down to hear the rich history of the mausoleum and the love story behind it.  In 1631, Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. Shah Jahan’s grief after the death of Mumtaz Mahal illustrate the love story held as the inspiration for Taj Mahal. It was hot. I felt like crap. But this story was one that simply captivated me.

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Here we were about to head through this temple to arrive at the Taj Mahal. It was 46,239 degrees, and apparently a quarter of the Indian population decided to visit the Taj today. The inside of the first temple was beautifully constructed.

I was thankful for this protection from the sun, but the humidity was another story. As soon as we exited this temple, I was taken aback by the beauty of the Taj Mahal. The massive ivory white marble mausoleum sat snuggly amid a beautifully manicured garden.

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The Taj Mahal (Crown of the Palace) was being cleaned for the first time ever! As you can see in the above photograph that the other three pillars are much brighter than the one with the scaffolds. The workers used clay to clean the marble. The tour guide told me to come stand near him, give him my phone, and hold my hand up. When I realized he was talking to me, I remembered he wasn’t there for the pukefest, but I went anyway. I was pleasantly pleased with the result, Mane! HAHAHA

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A few others snapped pics while I sat along the edge of the garden and took in my surroundings. How did I become so fortune to be here at this very moment? It was time to move along. I had a couple of people to tell me to wait. Anita told me she would sit on a bench with me and we could catch up to the group later. I told them I would rest when we got closer. But when I saw a monkey ran across my path, I wasn’t sure if I was hallucinating or not so I decided to rest then. While resting, I saw Rafiki was real…

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I glanced up, and knew I had to go see what I came for, so we put on our shoe covers, avoided Indians wanting to rudely take pictures with the “Americanos” and ascended the stairs of the Taj Mahal.

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Once we made it on the first level, the way the brightness and heat radiated off this building felt like the end of the road for me. It was blinding! Photos were prohibited inside, but our tour guide showed us where the guest house and tombs were, and which stones embedded in the walls illuminated with light. Just then traffic police apparently came through blowing their whistles and telling us to keep it moving. We maneuvered our way through until we reached the back of the mausoleum. As we exited the doors, I felt like we were on display. Indians are most attracted to white women with blond hair, and the darkest black people. It felt like paparazzi out there and we just wanted to hear the history and enjoy the architecture and design of this amazing structure.

We stopped for a restroom break, then headed to the exit. We waited there for our tour guide to catch a shuttle for us to take us outside where our bus was. Once on the bus, I changed out of my soaked Mane shirt into a dry fit long-sleeved shirt and curled up in Anna’s shawl. I fell asleep instantly. I woke up to Ananya giving us all pumpkin candy. i believe she said once the pumpkin has grown some, they put sugar cane in it and allow it to grow more. It becomes sweetened that way. I immediately drifted back to sleep again.

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When I woke up, we were at the hotel. I went through the security checkpoint, shuffled to my room, dragged myself into the shower, and collapsed in bed.

I can’t help but wonder what caused me to get sick this day. Some said I was overheated, or dehydrated, or it was simply the food. But sometimes, our bodies reject bad energy and the wrong emotions. I had not recovered from the emotional ailments from the day before, but in order to do the work I was destined to do here, I had to cleanse myself. I wasn’t sent to India just because it was a Damascus Road requirement, I was sent there for reasons that were being revealed in a manner that was similar to the peeling of an onion. This whole revelation reminded me of the promise of the Lord’s presence in Exodus 23:30, “Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.” If He gives it all to me at once, it’ll be too much and I wouldn’t be able to give my purpose the attention it deserves.

I couldn’t physically handle the it all yesterday – physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally. Now that I’ve purged myself of how to see these people and their lives through my personal eyes, I’m excited about being awakened to the fact that I should look at them through the eyes of the cross.

“Tenacity is setting a goal so BIG that you can’t possibly achieve it… then growing into the person who CAN!”

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