Bridge to India

Invest in a Student, Change a Generation

God's Still Small Voice: Sallie

And I heard God's still small voice through the faces and voices of children in India

BTI-Sallie Polk Photo
Sallie during her visit to VMSS

I am sitting on an airplane in the dark, 5 hours into a 14 hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Washington DC and on to Charlotte. This journey home will take almost 30 hours. In the past 15 days, I have worked in 3 countries, 4 locations and 5 hotels. And, I am weary. But, in the quiet, I decided to write. It has actually been awhile because of travel and family activities on the weekend and I have missed the quiet soul time. It takes the quiet for me to connect what God is doing in my life and hear what that still small voice wants to breathe into my being. The reminder that there is more to this life than what often consumes my attention. There is depth and beauty weaved throughout every moment in this life. There is joy and love ready when your eyes are open to it. 

I had many blessings throughout this trip. But the culmination of this time was the opportunity to visit a school outside of Hyderabad India. My church has been actively involved in this school since it was just a God-inspired vision. I have been personally connected through student sponsorship and have wanted to visit for some time. It was a challenge to go as it was a long drive and I was leaving the hotel for the airport headed home at 2:15 am. But no matter how tired, I could not be so close and not see this miracle that God has engaged so many of us in. And so, Saturday after finishing a work offsite, friends from India and I set off on an hour and a half drive to visit with Pastor Caleb and the children. It is quite a trip to get there. In India, often the lanes don’t mean too much. Traffic is chaotic. They use horns instead of blinkers. We passed through construction and then finally a quiet, long bumpy dirt road in the dark. And then the school… The school was like a beacon of light in that darkness. But more than just a physical light in the darkness but a spiritual light!

We pulled up in front of the newly built, beautiful chapel. And I could see through the doors all the children sitting patiently on the floor waiting for our arrival. The minute we stepped out, I could feel the pulse of joy. I could see the love of Christ. I felt I was in a Holy place where God was at work. As we walked in, the children eyes lit up as they watched us come in. They knew I was from my church which bears the same name as the school. We are bonded as a community. We provide in love and they receive in love. And last night, they gave right back to me LOVE.

They sang and danced for us. They spoke passages from the Bible. They honored us and prayed for us. And on their knees, they sang the Lord’s Prayer at the end of the closing prayer. Those precious children’s voices singing touched me and my friend’s deeply. It brought tears to our eyes. And as we broke for dinner, these precious children surrounded me. They asked if I knew their sponsors. Their sponsors mean so much to them and their eyes lit up when I did. One of my best friends’s sponsored daughter kept coming back to me to let me know how much she loved my friend and asking how they were and would I hug them for her. They touched my hands and my blonde hair. They asked me my favorite colors and how many kids I had. I was surrounded by sweet children who wanted to know all about me. It was such a humbling and precious time. My heart was totally engaged with theirs. It took me back to my trip in Africa a year or so ago.

In Africa, my younger son and I were also surrounded by children on that mission’s trip. I remember asking my son after the first day, what struck him about the day. He said to me that he was touched by how little the children in Africa had and yet they were so joyful. And, I felt the same as I sat with these children last night. We have been so blessed where we live that we get distracted by it. At least for me, it is easy to lose perspective by all the excess and busy schedules. When much of it is stripped away, and your focus is on Christ and what he is providing and doing through you, his joy and peace flows through you. These children last night have been so blessed by being able to attend this school, build their chances for earthly success through education and most importantly reinforce their eternal success through the building of their faith. And joy was definitely flowing!

For those couple of hours, I slowed down and let God’s love flow in and through me. The rest of the pressures of life did not exist at that moment. I was present and I felt the hand of God. God has really been good to me in the past few years. He has sustained my heart even when it was breaking for my son. He has been teaching me about faith and to trust his sovereignty. And, he used my time at Stonebridge School last night to remind me that he is in control. He can build things that do not exist in order to provide for his children even connecting people halfway across the world. His hand is always there. I just need to look for it.

This idea of perspective had actually come to me earlier on my trip as I ran on the treadmill in Manila looking out over the streets. When you travel, you have to adapt to what the culture is. Often, moving through different countries, living in hotels, and trying to make your way through the day, you can be presented with challenges. It is not always easy and at different points, the lack of certain comforts can be frustrating and tiring. And before you know it, you get focused on those challenges and not on the blessings of the moment. 

On this trip, I struggled adjusting my sleep patterns and was tired by so much travel, airports, different hotels, etc. I missed watching the news. I missed my family and being in easy and constant contact. And yet, I was aware of what a blessing it was to experience the different cultures. I got to work across the table with colleagues I mostly know through phone and email conversations. I got to be with work colleagues who have become my friends and meet new people. I was treated with such kindness in the hotels. It is all in how you set your perspective. I could have narrowed my focus on the lack of sleep or some of the perceived inconveniences and lack of certain comforts from home. I could have let myself get overwhelmed by all the things left undone because of my work schedule. But I didn’t and I was blessed by being present and opening my eyes to breadth and depth of this world he has created and all his children celebrating the differences.

Before I began writing, I went back to read the very first post I wrote on both-and thinking. I am so much further along today than when I was in that dark struggle almost a year ago. I am sure that I will feel struggle again. But, my perspective has definitely been changing. One of the sweetest questions asked last night was “what was my ambition?”. Well at 51, I don’t get asked that question anymore. It is more likely to be “what do you want to do when you retire”! My quick answer to this sweet child was to build my faith but I think it is really my hope to not stay narrowly focused on the challenge but open my eyes to the breadth of my life. I want to honor what God is doing in and through me. I want my life to be an expression of those children singing the Lord’s Prayer on their knees. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven... That is what God’s still small voice breathed into my being in India. Amen!

I will run this week in honor of all those precious children at Stonebridge School, the staff, and Pastor Caleb!