As I sit on my bed at the Kalimpong, India Himalayan Hotel, I find myself once again at a loss for words. As I said to my wife last night, I feel very, very, very far from home. I can’t begin to adequately explain what I’ve seen and felt.
Yesterday morning we left Calcutta and traveled by plane to Bagdogra, and took a rented jeep through the mountains to Kalimpong. If all of that sounds exciting and exotic, let me assure you — it is. As the crow flies, Kalimpong is a very short distance from Bagdogra. In reality, it’s a grueling 3 and a half hours of hairpin turns, landslides and sheer cliffsides without guardrails.
I was already feeling sick in Calcutta. By the time we arrived in Kalimpong, I felt ready for hospital. We checked into our hotel, had dinner and, except for a short breakfast, I didn’t leave my bed until 3pm this afternoon, when Pastor Nandu came to take us to the Grace Children’s Home.
The Children’s home is attached to Nandu’s. As he told us tonight, “We have very little privacy. There are so many children.” When we arrived, the children were already dressed for the performance they had prepared to welcome us. All of the kids – the boys included – were wearing makeup. Many were in traditional Nepali garb.
A beautiful 10 year old girl, whose name sounds like “Elizabeth” introduced the songs in perfect English. Then all of the children, from three years old to thirteen, sang and dance and performed skits. I had just enough energy to take some photos, exchange some smiles and offer some words of thanks after the program.
The kids left the room, and Nandu’s wife brought out some snacks – samosas, puffed corn, some cashew creams. As I reached for my plate, I just about passed out. The room, it seemed, was spinning. And my arms seemed strangely distant, as if they were being controlled by some puppeteer’s strings. Not so good at all.
Over the next hour or so, I was only intermittently lucid. I remembered going into the room with the kids and showing them pictures of Cambodia and Thailand, and I remember playing the game where both contestants try to make the other one smile. I did unusually well, as my face felt as if it was connected to someone else’s head. I also remember having to concentrate with all my might to not drop the glass of water offered to me by one of the staff.
By about 7pm, dinner was served. It was delicious, and it helped to restore a portion of my strength. Now that I’m back in my hotel room, I feel once again like I’m going to pass out. I don’t know whether I’ve caught some bug, or I’ve somehow become dehydrated. Dr. John thinks it’s just mental, emotional and physical exhaustion from being “on” for three months straight.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll have church with the kids and with some of the local believers. I’ll be praying for some miraculous level of healing. We have a very busy week ahead of us. In fact, this next week will set the course for any future work we will do in India. Please join me in praying that I will fully recover, and soon.