On my first trip there, many of you know that I was extremely sick (H1N1) and spent almost the entirety of those two weeks in the bed with a 103-104-degree fever with almost no relief. The guys I traveled there with obviously had a lot of work to do (that's why we went... not to lay around like a bunch of sick folks!), so I was often by myself. But the orphans there really stepped up. These 7- to 15-year-old orphans would come in my house and pray for me and take care of me. I was blown away by their selflessness and their service to me. The crazy thing is that no one told them to do this... they would actually ask permission to come help me. Incredible kids.
Anyhow, one of the most special kids to me last time was a girl named Anjali. She was seven when I was there a couple of years ago and was so sweet. She was the least aggressive kid in terms of vying for attention while we were playing or spending time together. The rest of the kids would get in front of her to get my attention and she would just stand off to the side, looking at me in a way that said, "I want your time and attention, but I don't want to seem selfish." I was immediately drawn to her on that last trip. I'll also never forget that before we left for home, I crouched down to hug her and she gave me a kiss on my beard. I melted, they put me in a bucket and shipped me home.
Last fall, Anjali became very ill and almost didn't make it. I remember finding out about it and wishing there was something I could do to help. It was then that I really started hoping that I could get back to India again and see her.
This time around, I was able to spend a lot of time with her. We spent a lot of time playing in the field next to Edwin and Bujji's house everyday we were there. On the first day of the pastors conference, we decided we were going to wash the pastors' feet just as Jesus did to serve His disciples. During a lull in the pastors sitting down in front of us, I was able to pull Anjali onto the chair and got to wash her feet. It was such a great privilege to show love to this little girl whose parents left her.
At the first opportunity, she had me sit down and she washed my feet. It was pretty overwhelming.
As we were getting ready to leave Edwin and Bujji's house this time, I was up on the roof shooting some photos of the guys packing the van below. Anjali came up on the roof with me and began talking to me with a lot of urgency. She doesn't speak English and, of course, I don't speak Telugu, so I didn't know what she was saying. She ran and grabbed one of the other girls who speaks a little English and told her to tell me what she was saying. The other girl said to me that she was asking me please not to go. Part of me wishes she had never said that because leaving was already hard enough.
I just received an email a couple of hours ago that Anjali got sick again last night and they had to take her to the hospital. I ask that you'll pray for her health. Her tenth birthday is tomorrow, so please pray that she'll be well by then. Also, I'm going to be making a short video for her to tell her happy birthday. If any of you would like me to tell her happy birthday for you, let me know what you'd like me to say and I'll tell her who you are and what you'd like to say to her.