Beautiful Kolkata

Posted on Updated on

Never did I imagine in my wildest dreams that I would have the opportunity to live in such a beautiful city. Kolkata is a city bursting with culture and chaos with the perfect balance of peace and serenity. To be able to capture these beautiful memories on camera still does not do any justice for the beauty I have encountered over the past 3 months.

The most beautiful part of the city of Kolkata is its people. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s really been a huge blessing to encounter so many interesting and beautiful hearts. I am forever changed by my experiences here.  There is so much beauty in simplicity. Living more with less,  living a life that is not about the things we have, but about the people we surround ourselves with, the community we build, our hearts, and the God we serve.

The first 2 months living in a new country was a mix of emotion, excitement, challenges, fears, joys and everything in between. I am very happy to have overcome the trials and give all the glory in victory to God.  The support of family, friends, and my church family covering me in prayer has been a huge blessing. Sickness, various emotional highs and lows, embarassing cultural “no-no’s”, strange looks, and so much to do in so little time, have all been just a few of the interesting experiences I have had here.

Even though the work can be challenging and exhausting, there’s an undeniable joy and strength that comes from The Lord. He gives us strength in our circumstances and equips for everything He calls us to do. Praise The Lord we don’t have to do anything on our own.

 This feels like home. The people who I have come to know and love are my family. I am proud to call Kolkata my home for this season of my life. Thank you Jesus.

“All that I am and all that I have is God’s. He is in me and I am in Him, and that’s all that matters”

With love,

Maneesha

“Fight all your battles on your knees and you win every time!”

Posted on

These past few weeks I needed to focus on these few words, “I can’t but You can”. A dear friend of mine shared with me another few words of positive encouragement, “I am nothing without Jesus, but I can do all things through Christ”. Powerful, encouraging and a very necessary reminder when trials come our way.

I think very often we can be so aware of the certain stages of culture shock and even feel comfortable explaining and describing them, but we often fail to recognize when we are actually experiencing it for ourselves or in the “thick of it”.

Giving up should not be an option when it comes to serving The Lord. Rather than turning away, backing off, or retreating, we need to rest in His strength and His power for energy, joy, peace and comfort. 

Over the last 2 weeks I recognized the importance of rest. My excitement, anticipation and joy of being here made me dive “head first” into anything and everything. I was a “go go go” all the time, but I finally hit a brick wall and my body needed to rest. The good Lord is teaching me that we all need rest, and we all need to recognize when to say we are tired. I am learning His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He is also teaching me the importance of prayer! Fighting all of our battles on our knees! “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1)

Kolkata is a city that is fast-paced, full of life, vibrant, and chaotic at times. There is always something to do and see. Thankfully I have my “posse” of friends here to show me around, tell me what’s good to eat and not so good, and to keep smiling. The joy of The Lord is my strength. He is our strength. It doesn’t come from ourselves and our own power or might. If that were true, then we’d always fail miserably. We are human, we need rest, we need friends, we need laughter, we need to relax! When we find rest and reenergize in His presence, we are more well equipped to serve Him and others. 

“We draw near to God through prayer and by spending time in His Word. We draw near to God when we set aside time solely to listen to God and to wait upon Him for direction and guidance. We draw near to God when we periodically shut ourselves away, closing off all other influences that might distract us from knowing Him better. The better we know Him, the more we see His awesome power, experience His vast love, learn from His wisdom, and grow in our faith”

-Charles Stanley

Thinking of all of my friends and family back home and missing all of you! Love you all so much. Thank you for your prayers. I am feeling much better, feeling covered in prayer. 

Love,

Maneesha

 

 

Thankful to be in Kolkata!

Image Posted on Updated on

Cow hides drying...the smell takes some getting used to.
Cow hides drying…the smell takes some getting used to.

This past weekend in Canada many of you celebrated Thanksgiving. I’m sure you enjoyed a delicious meal around a table with family and friends.  Over the last few days I was thinking about turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and who could forget pumpkin pie. I missed spending this holiday with my dear family, but I was very thankful to spend it with the “family” The Lord has blessed me with for this season of my life.

I have no words to describe my amazing experiences this past month here in Kolkata, but I will sure try. I have met so many incredible people here and learned so much about myself and God in the short time here. I just love how our Great and Mighty God uses others to bless us and speak to us in ways we could never imagine. There is so much power in friendship, fellowship and prayer. I have been blessed with spending time with powerful women of God and the most precious children I have ever met.

I haven’t felt homesick yet, and hope to continue to live each day as it comes and thank the Lord for each moment and each day. There is so much joy in the little things and appreciating all that the Lord has done and provided for me.  One thing I have learned is to be very flexible with my schedule. I can’t tell you how many times I have been interrupted only to be incredibly blessed by a lengthy heart to heart conversation with a friend or new acquaintance. Getting to hear the heart of someone and their testimony is so very exciting.

After having attended a POWERFUL breakthrough conference here in Kolkata and hearing speakers from around the world and experiencing the Lord’s presence in a refreshing way I am forever changed. Being able to see God’s work from the other side of the world is quite the experience,  and I feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to witness some of His handiwork. 🙂

I have become very comfortable with the traffic, the smells, the bugs, creepy crawlies,  and have even had a certain sneaky mouse visit me under my bed. I am fortunate to be spending my time with some precious young ladies who love all creatures great and small. Yesterday we all gushed over some of the sweetest puppies I’ve ever seen. Of course, not as sweet as my own pups, Bentley and Chloe, but pretty darn close.

This past week I have been thankful for so many things, and as  I reflect on the past month, I realize the importance of counting my blessings.  My mind is slowly shifting from a North American perspective and amalgamating into a perspective that is open to accepting and appreciating the culture here. I truly feel like I am embracing my roots. I am thankful for this experience and thankful to Jesus for His love.

I never imagined this is where life would have taken me, and yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s definitely exciting and exhilarating to allow God complete control of my life; it hasn’t been easy, but looking back, it’s been totally worth it. I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah.

But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.

Isaiah 64:8

God bless you.

Maneesha

Indian Standard Time

Posted on Updated on

It’s really hard to believe I have only been here for 9 days. Honestly, it feels my stay here has been much much longer…and I mean that in the best possible way. Adjusting to Kolkata life has surprisingly been more exciting than challenging thus far. I have tried to keep an open mind to “embracing” all that encompasses living overseas; the power outages, the lack of air conditioning, overly crowded rickshaws,  various washroom environments, and the food which ultimately  reminds me to be thankful for Pepto Bismol.

My excitement of being here is still at an all time high, but the realities of living out of a suitcase and moving from place to place can be quite challenging and exhausting. I have really come to learn about living more with less. I am learning from the Indian people. They are quite resourceful in many ways; nothing goes to “waste”. However, the filth, dirt and garbage and ultimately the smell can be very overwhelming for my already keen sense of smell. I stepped in cow poop today. That was very humbling and embarassing. I looked around to see if anyone was pointing and laughing at me, but alas, no one seemed to care;  a very good reminder to watch where I step.  I am learning to embrace it all, and enjoying my time meeting new people, working alongside some FANTASTIC people and feeling very much a part of a new family in Kolkata.

The children I am working with are precious. They have already taught me so much about a childlike faith. We can learn so much about who Jesus is from children. I am so much in love with these kids. They each have unique stories and personalities, and the Lord God has an amazing plan for each of their lives. God has bigger plans than we have for ourselves, and I remind myself of that everyday. Never did I imagine that my life would take such an interesting turn and bring me to Kolkata. I am thankful that the Lord has brought me here. I am thankful that I have wonderful friends and family lifting me up in prayer and providing so much love and support for me to serve the Lord here. I am very grateful for a “new family” here in Kolkata to share conversation, love, laughs, and prayer time.

We have so much to be thankful for.  I am praising God for giving me this opportunity to serve here for a season and am grateful for the simple pleasures; a comfortable bed, the occasional hot shower, electricity, the sound of the children at the home laughing,  and the internet a few days a week to connect with all of you.

We can know that God is good and that He cannot do anything that isn’t consistent with His holy and righteous nature. Jesus said, “What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11) Thank God that however He answers your prayers,  you can know it will ultimately be for your good and His glory.

That’s all for now.

Love,

Maneesha

Kolkata: Quite literally the city of joy

Posted on Updated on

Where do I begin? I am overwhelmed. The sights, sounds and smells are anything but “ordinary” coming from my North American perspective. I’ve very quickly recognized that I am not a typical multi-tasker when it comes to absorbing a new culture. Yes, I do look Indian, but I am a COCONUT, brown on the outside, and very Canadian on the inside.

My new friends here in Kolkata have already become keenly aware that when I am quiet, it’s not because I’m shy as my friends back home will confirm to you, it’s because of all that there is to absorb and enjoy. The sights, the sounds, and oh the smells; some very pleasant, others not so much, all have become an exciting and exhilarating adjustment.

If you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere in the world. The drivers in India are quite literally the most patient drivers I have ever seen. Yes, there is a lot of honking and awkward maneuvering that is very often “toocloseforcomfort”, but this is life here in India, and I really do appreciate these little thIings that make me wonder why we get so frustrated driving back home when we have to wait an extra 30 seconds at a stop light.

One final thought for today:

The Indian people are always smiling. This makes me smile and fills my heart. Yes, life is so different here than for us spoiled North Americans, but no matter how little they have, they still sparkle and shine. This reminds me so much of Jesus. I love this. How much we can learn from those who live with so little. Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that it’s not about what we own or accumulate, the material things pass away, but it’s about our hearts. Ultimately that is what God looks at. He looks at our hearts.

That’s all for now.

Cheers.

This “Wel-come” banner makes my heart smile

Image Posted on

A greeting from the Sonarpur children.