As I landed in India, my cell phone worked for a few minutes before losing it's international reception. During the week I tried to contact my cell phone carrier, but no one was able to help with the issue.
In the meantime, I had been patiently waiting to see the street children in their school for Children's Day, which happens all over India. The school we were to visit was in a slum area and housed children from age 3-15. Children's Day finally arrived, just over a week into our trip and due to a couple hurdles, we were late and missed the whole program.
A little disappointed, we arrived while the children were still there. The smaller ones went home but the young teens were still there. I sat as they honored my team with song and dance. And then I was asked to stand and dance with them. One sweet girl was very kind in teaching me her Indian moves. All the chairs in the small room were moved aside, and it quickly became a dance party! Whether the kids were laughing at me, or with me, it makes no difference. I was having so much fun!
At the end of it all, we took group photos, grabbed our bags, and headed up to the office. The wife of the school's principal was preparing lunch for us. As I went to grab my phone, to take a few photos for later posting, I couldn't find it. We dumped out my bag and still came up empty handed. We went back to the classroom and nothing was there. I was a little puzzled... how could these children, who just honored me, then take something from me - while I was in the room with them?
As the principal reviewed camera footage, one boy was narrowed down. As all kids had already left, the principal jumped on his motorcycle, drove to this boy's house, and brought him back to the school. He was then questioned for a couple hours - all the while denying any wrong doing.
While this was taking place, I had my digital camera, so I exited the office and began to take photos of children on the streets while the interrogation was happening. The principal asked my friend, how was it that I was so calm? Why wasn't I angry? He began to doubt that my phone had been stolen because of my lack of reaction. My friend translated to him that I was angry on the inside, not the outside. But I told my friend this was not true. I asked her to tell him that I was an honored guest, and an honored guest doesn't get angry with the person who is honoring them. I then explained it's not the Christian way to get angry over any material item.
I think he became confused. His culture and his Hindu religion teach him that anger is normal and accepted. His culture tolerates husband's beating their wives. He was embarressed to sit down with us to eat, but I welcomed him to do so. After lunch I took photos of his family which showed honor to him.
This might possibly be the only time in this principal's life that he meets a Christian. It might be the only time he sees the role model of Jesus. It never even occurred to me to get angry. How could I be angry with a child who has no hope? How could I be angry with a child that might not have parents? How could I be angry with a child who saw an opportunity to trade something for a meal, and took that opportunity?
Join me in prayer for the boy who took my phone - not because he did something wrong, but because to steal something is his only way of finding hope. Pray that God will continue to send people into this boy's life who can offer him hope, hope of a different life. Pray that this boy will be offered a higher education, at no cost to him, so he can get out of the slums. Pray that he becomes successful, so he can offer hope to others.
Now as for cell carrier, had I received my international coverage, as I had on my last trip, I could have tracked my phone to an exact address and gotten it back. Apparently that wasn't God's plan. I rest in knowing that my Father is in control of ALL things, including those that are an inconvience to me when I'm back home. =)