Saturday in Kalimpong is market day, when the Heart Bazaar is filled with vendors: fruit, vegetable, spice, hardware, housewares, clothing, shoes... anything. As the sun rises it fills to the brim with people. The crowds flow like water through the windy streets occupying any empty place available.
Usually on Saturday mornings I hide under the covers for as long as possible and then creep out to leisurely drink coffee in my pajamas. Once I am ready to meet the world, the town and bazaar are too busy and too full to be an attraction to a western girl who sticks out like a sore thumb above the sea of dark brown heads.
I have always disliked looking out of place. Quite vividly I remember, from the missions trips I took to New York City when I was in high school, hating to feel like people could just look at me and see that I was not a city girl. Not that I want to be a city girl, I just didn't like the feeling that I didn't belong. Though I still try to adapt to the culture and fit in here, I have resigned myself to always be an outsider. Saturdays are suppose to be restful and I don't often find being stared at and sized up by an endless number of brown-eyes (no mater how beautiful they are) very restful.
But this Saturday was different.
Maybe it was the fact that I hadn't gotten out of the house much last week, or the fact that I am getting nostalgic as I mentally prepare to leave Kalimpong in just a month, but either way this Saturday I was drawn out from underneath my covers and down the hill to town, all before 10am.
I didn't have much of an agenda or shopping list. I just was hoping for some time to wander, think, and take photos. (I really wish that I could take photos with my eyes. Again I hate standing out as "that tourist” taking pictures of things locals would NEVER think about taking pictures of. Plus sometimes there is just not enough time to get the camera out... then that perfect moment, that exquisite image is gone.) As I meandered along the street I saw a precious sister. I have only met her once, but the love and light of our Savior emanates from every part of her. Seeing her face and bowing slightly in greeting as we passed, sparked my prayers for Kalimpong.
I walked on and talked to the Lord about his heart for these people, his heart for this city. Then my eyes came to the other side of the road, the less crowded side, where two sons walked gently quietly with arms linked with their father in-between them. The father was quite hung over from a late night of alcohol. I imagine how the wife and sons had fretted and worried until he was found. Now they had to walk him home and get him sobered up, attempting to save as much face as possible. This scene sparked even more prayer... “Father thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I looked up and saw it, a cross.
Atop a dirty little shack that sells fried snacks, noodles, and chips was clearly a cross, not put there intentionally but left there somehow from old electrical poles and shrouded with tattered Buddhist prayer flags, electrical wires, and dead vines. This image shouted to me, “The Kingdom is coming! I AM is already at work here. Watch and see.”
It also spoke to me of how tradition in the church and Buddhism have constricted the free movement of what the Lord wants to do here. Like the old raiments of a beggar, neglected, stinking, full of holes, and good for nothing, the remnants of stale tradition in the church and the spiritual strong holds of Buddhism need to be torn down from this place before a fresh spirit of revival will be free to flow.
But even still I know Christ is here and he is moving.