I arrived in Kolkata last night after 30 hours of flying. Rakesh met me at the airport and checked me into the Punjabi Club near to his brothers home! It is great to be back in the company of such a great friend! I feared I would not get to spend much time with him on this trip and when he decided to come from Delhi to meet me it brought a sense of relief. I originally planned to be greeted at the airport by our Nishtha friends however I new that it would be late at night and with the short time I have in Kolkata for this trip it would be best for me to try and get a good nights rest. Nishtha has been extremely busy with there year end audit and paperwork to close out there fiscal year. they have also been extremely busy preparing for the completion for their first World Stock order. I can only imagine the pressure they are under. They have been so kind and gracious to host Nick Clark and Alex Park our interns that started up in Himachal Pradesh for the last several weeks.
Sunday morning I had a great reunion with Nick and Alex Park after not seeing them since last January. I can't believe how fast the past two months have passed. They looked good, and spoke freely of the wonderful experiences they have had working in India. We headed off to attend the LDS branch in Salt Lake City. The Church has a small house where they meet and we were greeted by about a dozen members and the First Councilor in the Branch Presidency. The meeting was vary simple, singing hymns without accompaniment and partaking of the sacrament. I was asked to bear my testimony and then both Nick and Alex gave two great talks. There parents would have been proud of their maturity and the ability with which they freely spoke about calling down the powers of heaven and following the spirit. There is something truly magical about watching young people grow and mature in the face of adversity.
I arrived at Nishtha late in the afternoon and was greeted by about a hundred girls that we had worked with in the fall that where attending a training at the Nishtha offices. I was approached several times and asked about the likes that were here in the fall. They wondered if our YMAD kids still remembered them and how they were doing. I felt obligated to pass along the love that has been expressed to me over the past several months by the youth and adult leaders that participated in the West Bengal expedition of 2009. I don't think it is possible to forget what we experienced last November. I know that I will never be the same.
Of all of the years I have been coming to India, I never cease to be amazed when I meet and come to know the kids. Their simple desire to gain an education and to freely give and receive love have left and indelible mark on my heart! It is so ironical that the future of these kids rest in the hands of adults and how much that is taken for granted.
Our plan for the next day prior to leaving this place is to determine how YMAD can best serve Nishtha in the future. It is all an adventure I am anxious to discover!