Kolkata Update 2


“I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship towards Your holy temple, and praise Your name. For Your lovingkindness and Your truth, for You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” Ps 138:1

The anecdote of the day: I made a child cry – and not in a good way. This five year old boy started crying when I sat on the ground next to him. In Hindi he cried to his teacher: “who is this white person? She is too white, I am scared!” Always winning over the children…

~~~

With wonder and amazement I write again, overwhelmed by the goodness of God. It seems He has flung wide the portals and is accomplishing His work regardless of what we have humanly seen as impasses. In the past three days I have already seen transpire what we had planned two weeks to complete, and the Maity’s (the Indian missionaries I am working with) are filled with such excitement to see things unfold before us. It is one of those very pregnant moments in life when you are used as the instrument of hope in other people’s lives. And I am thankful for it.

We have determined that starting a trade school right in the heart of the red light district is not feasible right now. However, another place nearby has been provided at no cost, and it now appears that it is the wiser and safer place to conduct the work. In addition to this, I visited a slum children’s ministry this morning that is in an area of low-end prostitution (both women and children) and the building that is already being rented out and used for the children in the mornings is available for use in the afternoons. Though it would be a smaller school (~10 women/girls), it now appears that we might be able to open the doors of two trade schools (they will be called “Asaha Neketon”, “Shelter of Hope”). Instead of making jewelry, we are exploring making shawls/scarves for an international market. Cloth is in abundance here, and very cheaply bought, but sewing machines are not, so I am thinking through anything that can be made with beautiful fabric by hand. Scarves with beaded/braided ends was my first thought, looking into some others, but if any of you have some ideas regarding handcrafts with cloth that are easily taught and learned and don’t require machinery, please let me know! I would appreciate any input.

Would that I could recount the many stories that barrage my ears, eyes and soul every hour! The forgotten of the world surround me, and in the midst of the darkness the only true Light becomes increasingly the only beacon of hope, the only answer, the only redemption I can share.

I will try to write more regular updates, and attempt to keep them short enough for you to read. At the end of the week I will make a decision regarding the length of my stay. This will give the medication time to be in full effect and my body to be more adjusted. It is, however, nearly certain that my time will be shortened due to the air quality (or lack thereof).

Thank you for your prayers, your faithful petitions are coming to fruition before my eyes in wonderful ways.

In Christ’s strength,
Nicole de Martimprey

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Kolkata Update 1

26 January 2009

“Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.” Ps. 20:6

Greetings in the God Who created the heavens and earth.

I arrived safely in Kolkata after about 24 hours of travel, and was greeted by Diganta & Leena Maity, the directors of the mission here. I will try to paint the scene for you, that you might understand what is to come in future updates. If you have ever seen pictures of Mother Teresa’s Calcutta work, then you have seen what the streets around me look like. Dead rats and cats litter the streets while bone-thin stray dogs make a meal of them. Beggars, especially those with children and babies, would threaten to melt the most frozen of hearts. The piles and heaps of rubbish and human waist grow higher than me and swarm with flies and mosquitoes. The narrow streets are filled with people, cars, mopeds, bicycles, and buggies – so filled that one mile may take 30 minutes to drive through. There is no left or right side of the road – simply masses of people going about their business.

I have met with a group of women who are coming out of the sex trade, and we spoke about fever care. Those things which seem so commonplace to us are foreign thoughts to them (such as not bundling a fevered person up in blankets). And in a place where nutrition is expensive, many are gaunt and unwell, harboring illnesses of every variety within their beautiful bodies. I find myself surrounded by women who are in “economic prostitution”, i.e., they sell their bodies to buy rice for their children. I found out today that some of them do so for as little as 20 Rupees, or 60 cents US. There are also many who reside in the red light district and cost more than that, but certainly no great sum.

On the encouraging side, however, there are three women who I am working with who are Christian converts from such a life, and their joy and love is so great it shines through them. God has used two of them to convert their husbands, mothers, and in one case, father. And they are so willing and ready to help women out of a life of prostitution, they now give their lives entirely to the work of the mission here.

As expected, the work here is not as straight-forward as one could hope. Our desire to set up a jewelry trade school for women from the red light is not looking feasible. The beads and clasps, etc…which are needed to make the jewelry are not available for a sustainable price here. So, I will be working with card-making as a trade and looking for other ways that a profit could be earned by accessible handcrafts. There are routine police raids in the red light district, so many protocols and documents are needed for any legitimate school/business there – so this will take some more time. Efforts have begun for this, however, and Lord-willing perhaps we will have open doors within the next month. Of one thing I am sure: God has His plans, and they are good.

As I finish up this first update, I need to communicate an unforeseen problem that has arisen. Most of you know that I have weak lungs, which sometimes forget what their role in life is. Not having lived in polluted areas during my times abroad, I had not looked into the air quality of Kolkata. The air is so bad that the sun is always covered beneath an ocean of pollution. When I wash my face the cloth is black, or blow my nose it is the same. I have medication which should help, and a monitor so I will know if there is a real problem developing. But I would ask for your prayers in two directions, that either my lungs will be strong enough to last, or if my time must be shortened, my work here would be fruitful beyond imagination and that the Lord will fulfill His purposes for this journey. This is the most immanent prayer request I have.

Thank you for the encouragement of your thoughts, notes, and prayers. They come as such a comfort in the midst of the raw humanity with which I daily meet. And through them you become a very real part of my ministry here.

With blessings and love,
Nicole de Martimprey

Yes, I love to see the air I am breathing – trust it more that way….

The Cross of Christ

All the world is engulfed in darkness, there is only One True Light which can pierce it’s sordid color. I looked at this door, the shadow of light being cast across the floor, and desire only to be hid in that cross which can transform night into day. It is here where our strength lies, and in no other place. If we step outside the cross we cannot stand. Even if we tiptoe. My prayer as I see the dark night of sin all around me is that I might see it through this glass, through the power of the cross. That I may be hid in Christ and He in me. And it is in this place of security that the sights and scenes of India become a part of me because they are already a part of Him. The battle is His, and He is the Victor. What a glorious truth!

My New Year Quote

I am a great Sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.

When I was teaching still we had a speaker come and the way he quoted these words from John Newton with such conviction, penitence, humility, and gratefulness that they were branded into the thick hide of my mind:

I am a great Sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.

Being at a particular lack of New Year’s resolutions this year, I am simply going to try to remember those words every morning and evening, and not so simply, to grasp them with my whole being.

I am a great Sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.

May I not forget this year from Whom I come, by Whom I exist, and to Whom I go.

I am a great Sinner and Christ is a great Saviour.