The grace of Jesus was not just offered to orphans and widows or rebellious pastors’ kids; it was for me.
I didn’t want to go to India. The morning we were supposed to leave, I snuggled deep under soft covers in Colorado Springs, breathing in the scent of fabric softener and listening to my mom make chocolate chip pancakes. I didn’t like anything I’d heard about India; everyone said it was humid and I’d have to buy different clothes. I wanted to go to normal school with normal friends and cute boys. I wanted to be popular and have the kind of life I watched kids having on TV shows. When I finally crawled out of that comfortable bed, I cried a little.
For the next few days, we took the long trip to India. Each plane ride, I took the barf bag out of the seat in front of me and wrote a letter to the next person who would sit there. Most of the letters went like this:
Dear next person who sits in seat 23A,
My name is Kristin. My family is moving to India. I don’t even like Indian food.
We stopped in Korea and Thailand, and then finally arrived in Maharashtra, where we drove down unpaved jungle roads until we got to the church where we’d live for the next two months. Everywhere I turned, there were orange idols on mud slabs, children living in tents, cows stalling traffic, and pigs eating sewage. The smells of roasted peanuts and garlic mutton overwhelmed my senses, burning my eyes. When we stepped out of our jeep, we found out that no foreigners had ever visited that city before, and everyone was so shocked to see us that two drivers got into a car accident.
For the next two months, I slept on a straw mat on the cement floor next to my three siblings, where we swatted away an untold number of black jungle ants and thick furry spiders. Every night, we came up with creative ways of keeping …