My sister, Kaye and I had been invited as special guests to a Christmas celebration in Calcutta, India and as we approached the city I knew this was going to be a memorable two weeks. As we descended I noticed a dark haze at about 5000 ft or less. It looked like fog but it wasn’t. I learned later it was the smoke from the constant burning of cow dung over the years. In Hinduism, cows are thought to be sacred or deeply respected. Since money was scarce in Calcutta, they couldn’t afford to burn wood. We landed and were met by our missionary friend, Dr. Mark Buntain, and were escorted to our hotel. We were told not to drink the water and be careful about what we ate. I’ve never seen such poverty as was in Calcutta. There were beggars everywhere and people lived, ate, and went to the bathroom on the street. It was a shock to my system and I’ll never forget what I saw. As bad as the city was, when we got to the church, there were happy faces everywhere. They sang loudly, Dr. Buntain preached with much fervor, and they loved their life in Calcutta. These people didn’t have much but what they had was enough because they knew Jesus.
We had a few days to get acclimated to the city before the concert series began. We were to be an extension of the outreach of the church to the Hindu officials who didn’t know Christ but came out to celebrate our Christmas concert with us. The week of concerts went very well and every night we sang to a packed audience of locals. After the week was up, we had a day to walk around town. We came upon a huge warehouse, walked inside and were shocked to see row upon row of cots for people who had been picked up from the streets and attempts were made to nurse them back to health. Many babies were there; some were surviving while others didn’t make it. Kaye held one tiny baby in her hand and that baby didn’t make it. It was heart wrenching and sobering. The person in charge of these caregivers was a lady by the name of Mother Teresa. Her ministry had touched the lives of many in that town. As we left, we asked one of the nuns where Mother Teresa lived. She gave us the address nearby so we thought we would go by and just ask if she was there. When we arrived at her humble home, we knocked and someone came to the door. We asked if Mother Teresa was there. To our shock, they said yes. We asked if we could meet her. Not 5 minutes later, she walked out of the front door. She didn’t speak English but greeted us warmly. Someone just happened to have a camera and took the picture we will cherish for a lifetime.
God works in mysterious ways and guides us daily if we ask. This day was a day we would never forget!