For those of you that have spent any significant of time around me in the past (almost) year, you have heard me talk about India on multiple occasions. It hasn't really ever left my mind, but these past few weeks it has been on my heart more then usual. I could share dozens of stories with you all, but today I am just going to share about one sweet friend that I made that will forever have a place in my heart.
On Sunday, my pastor mentioned a story from our India trip. It was not a long story or very detailed at all, and it didn't even have to do with who I am telling you about today. But for some reason, I sat there in my seat and remembered my dear friend and tears came to my eyes.
I met Lavender on May 24th, 2013. Our team was going through local neighborhoods, praying over families and for their specific needs. My team of three headed out, but soon realized that the "leaders" of our team, two sweet ladies from the church, spoke barely a few words in English.
This resulted in a lot of awkward smiles and nodding of heads by us and lots gesturing by them. Do we go into this random house? Is it okay to sit on the one chair they own? Oops, don't forget to take your shoes off at every door. The hardest part by far though was that I found myself becoming very routine in my prayer, as I did not and could not know the needs of these people I was praying over because of our language barrier.
About an hour after we had been visiting and prayer over families, we ran into two young teenage girls. The oldest came up to me with her younger sister behind her shoulder, smiling shyly.
"Hi, my name is Lavender. What's your name?" I'm pretty sure at this point I hugged her right there and let out a sigh of relief as I screamed, "YOU SPEAK ENGLISH!" She giggled, and replied sweetly that she did indeed speak English.
After introducing myself, I realized that if I could communicate clearly with this girl I not only wanted to know her needs and pray with her, but I wanted to really talk with her and find out if she knew the Lord. I asked her a question about if she knew of the church that we were partnering with and she said that she did. I began to tell her that we came from a church in America, to which she quickly interrupted me and exclaimed, "You are a Christian?! I am too!"
Lavender was such a blessing in our time of need. She walked around with me for the remainder of our time in that neighborhood and translated back and forth for me. Not only was she an answer to prayer in our time of need, but she taught me so much just from the two short hours I spent with her.
Lavender was then 17 years old, finishing up her last year of school. She planned to attend university after she finished her schooling. When I asked Lavender what she wanted to do when she graduated from university, she quickly replied that she has always wanted to be a teacher. I had a mini freakout inside (okay, maybe outside too). I told her that I wanted to be a teacher as well, and upon telling her that I wanted to teach overseas, she quickly told me that I should definitely teach in India. I told her I would think about it. Little does she know I still am to this day. Lavender wants to be a math teacher, and when I told her that my mom was a math teacher I don't think she could have smiled any bigger.
After talking about why we wanted to teach for a while we moved on to other things as we were walking though the streets of her neighborhood. She talked about her hobbies, her family, and she told me her testimony of how she came to know the Lord. Her courage, boldness, and quiet spirit amazed me. She had been through and was going through SO much at such a young age, but I don't know if I have ever witnessed someone that sincerely trusted the Lord that much.
Lavender lives in a small two room house in a poor neighborhood of Chennai with her parents and two siblings. Her family was slowly falling apart at the seams, and she was doing all she could to keep her younger siblings safe, happy, and fed. All the while, she is still going to school, and aspiring towards her dreams of teaching someday.
Whenever I remember my sweet friend Lavender, I feel so humbled. I may be hundreds of times more wealthy then her and have healthy relationships, but that's not where the hope that Lavender is clinging to comes from. She finds her hope, her treasure, and her assurance in her Savior alone.
While I sit here on my comfortable bed in my warm room, worrying about what next year will hold, I thank the Lord that I met Lavender and the lesson she taught me (and continues to teach me) about complete trust, hope, and abandon to the Lord.
As I did not purposefully take pictures during my time in India (more on that later if you want to know), I do not have a picture of Lavender. If I did it would be on my wall, right beside my bed for me to see everyday. Regardless, I pray for this sweet friend often and think of her just as much.
Maybe there wasn't really an "ending point" that I was trying to make with this post, but I just wanted to share about a young woman that challenged and encouraged me through her words and faith, and changed my heart. My hope and prayer is that someday our paths will cross again, if only for a short time.