Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Transition from Kolkata

For the past 5 ½ years I have had the deep privilege of living in Kolkata, and being woven into the Sari Bari community. There are not words to describe what an honor this has been, or how much this place, and these people have changed me for the better. It is not possible to explain how deeply the women of Sari Bari have impacted me, how they have stirred my heart, what a treasure it is to know their hearts, to witness their courage, to journey with them as they understand Hope, Joy, and Restoration.  At so many points along the way, they have reached back their hands, to grasp mine, and invited me along to journey with them, to know love and loss, joy and sorrow, celebration and grief in powerful, soul crushing, life-giving and deeply transformative ways. This community, this place, these men and women have given me an indescribable gift, and I will never be the same because of their faith, hospitality, hope, and strength. My life will never be the same for having walked a few miles alongside my heroes.

And now, it seems that it is time for me to leave this place, and these people.  And I know that it is right and good and true for me to leave Sari Bari. And I cannot imagine leaving. How can this possibly be right?! Except that it is. You see, on what seemed to be an ordinary day in Sept 2013, I was standing on the verandah of Sari Bari, the most amazing man waltzed into my life (his name is Rishi). And I had no idea. I thought I would never see him again, but as it turns out, he is a kindred spirit. Eventually he asked me to fly kites with him, and I said “yes.” And I slowly began to know and be known, and we both discovered a partner. We began to share our hearts, our perspectives, our passions, joys, and sorrows, and slowly we realized that we are better together than we are apart, and even more slowly we realized that we wanted to be together, and we could be together. And then one day, (July 30th, to be exact) he asked me if I would take the greatest adventure and share the rest of my life with him. And I said, “yes!”

Rishi is an officer in the US Foreign Service, and at the end of May he finished his tour in Kolkata, and was assigned to Port Au Prince, Haiti. He is currently in Washington, DC, preparing for his time in Port Au Prince. In January I will join him there, we’ll get married, and in April we will move to Haiti together. A life of partnership, and adventure waits.

When I first learned of Sari Bari, I remember thinking that I had found “my people.” Folks who saw the world, and the story of Redemption in the same way I did. And that remains true. I am deeply thankful to Sari Bari, and similar communities around the world, and to the community of Freedom Businesses in Kolkata , for being “my people.” I have been encouraged by their honesty, struggle, and faithfulness, and by ways they are living, and loving those around them. Their authenticity in how they live, and how they see the world, created a safe space for me to be who I was, and to become who I am becoming.

A deep thanks is nowhere near enough to offer to those of you who have prayed for me, who have financially supported me, to those of you who have asked me “how are you?” and then waited around for my sometimes incoherent, rambling answer. But “Thank you” is what I have to offer right now, so “Thank you” to those of you who have been with me in the midst of questions that I could not answer, struggle that I could not have imagined, and joy, hope and community that I could not have conceived of.

To my city of Joy, I love you. I love you in the truest sense. You have shown me your weaknesses, and your ugliest parts, your injustice, fear and hate. You have shown me your beauty, your color, your hospitality, courage, life, love, joy and redemption. Thank you for welcoming this global vagabond, for letting me know you, for transforming me, and helping me become a better version of myself.

May you go out in Joy and be led forth in Peace.

With deep love,

A few “business” items…
·      My last day in Kolkata will be Jan 5, 2016. (I LOVE Christmas in Kolkata, and just had to squeeze out one more!)

·      As a part of my departure from WMF, if I have sufficient funds in my support account, I can continue to receive my salary and maintain my health insurance for 3 months after I leave my country of service. If you give on a monthly basis, and would consider giving through March, 2015, I would be very grateful.

·      I will be pursing some debriefing and counseling as I leave Kolkata. In addition to the transition of leaving Sari Bari, and getting married, there is a lot of emotional work for me to do in this transition. Over the course of the past 6 years there have been many losses and endless suffering that I have not fully acknowledged. I look forward to this next season of intentionally holding those losses, and grieving properly.  WMF allows these expenses to be reimbursed if I have sufficient funds in my support account.


Thad, Nikki, Lily and Nelson! said...

Mel, we are so happy with you and will be praying during these transition months. We have been so honored to be your friends and for you to share this journey with us. May God give you strength and peace as you prepare for this next chapter. Much love, The Rollers

Osbornes said...

Matt and I are in as long as you need us! What an incredible journey this has been in our lives to know you: from youth pastor to missionary!!! We love you, sister...

Rick Morgan said...

Lisa and I are so very proud of you and are delighted to support you as long you need. Were so grateful for your journey and cant wait to watch gods work in this next stage of life.

Nichelle said...

Melissa, Thank you! For all that you have done, and are doing, for women around the world. I love that without a doubt you knew where God wanted to use you, and you have been so faithful to that. I can not wait for you to marry this wonderful man you speak of. It sounds like together you will do many great things. Love, Nichelle